Friday, May 1, 2015

Civil Disobedience and Laws

Does anybody else find it ironic we're talking about civil disobedience right now so that it coincides with the Baltimore protests?

The first set of written laws was the Code of Hammurabi, a compendium of 282 laws that outlined how every citizen should live. Most of the laws were extremely harsh- punishable by death- forcing the citizens to behave in a way that he could later on alter those laws to be more lenient. Since then, we've had dictatorships and democracies, laws written by a single individual or a group of people. Regardless of the intent, there will always be someone suffering from it. Suffering exists in the world, after all, and there's nothing you can do to stop it.

For the most part, the laws today are pretty fair and just- you steal something, you go to jail for it. Who decides it? A judge or a jury of your own peers. Pretty fair, right? The judge has to go to law school for it, and the jury are a group of civilians. Cool. However, there are some cases that make you sort of do a double-take on the decisions. Have you heard of Junko Furuta? To summarize, a group of four teenage boys kidnapped a 16-year-old girl for over 40 days, torturing, raping, and mutilating her body the entire time. The sad part is that one of the boys' parents were present at the time- during one instance when she escaped, they found her, fed her, and then put her back in the room she was locked in. Why? Because they were "too afraid of their son." She did die eventually, and they disposed of her body in a drum filled with concrete. Mind you, this happened in the early 1990s. The fun thing? All her murderers are already out of jail by now; the shortest and longest sentences were 8 and 20 years respectively. For kidnapping, murdering, and raping a girl. Was there any civil disobedience over this? Not at all. Because Japan is vastly different from us, in both morality and community. There's a famous proverb in Japan: the nail that sticks out gets hammered down. Get the picture?

On the other hand, Americans are on the opposite end of the spectrum. We will riot. We will freak the fuck out if anything is too unjust, such as the Baltimore protests going on. Just like Wall Street. We have a very different sense of morality than Japan does, which goes without saying that morality is not universal and is extremely subjective, from individual to individual. Many people value animal lives much lower than a human's, but I do not; a year or two for taping a dog's mouth shut and letting it starve to death? (This is a real case, by the way). That deserves far more than that. But just because I think that doesn't mean others do; my opinion is in the minority. There's a law set in place for these kinds of things, and it seems to be working for most people apparently.

A law may or may not be fair. It depends on which side of the fence you're sitting on.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Religion In Philosophy

When talking about religion, especially academically, people like to stay as unbiased as possible due to the backlash that would come from taking one stance or another. Thankfully, as one of those fence-sitters, I'm pretty unbiased as they come; I like religion for the stories that are told through the sacred texts, but think of them as nothing more than folklore or moral stories. I don't believe in God nor do I dispute the lack of one, but I can see how it affects people to have someone, or something, to lean against for support.

As I wrote on my Discussion, for there to be a belief in religion of any kind, there also needs to be a suspension of belief to an extent. I've noticed that within the topics in philosophy we've looked at, a common theme is transitive property; if A is B, then B is C. Logic and reasoning, which would heavily go against the suspension of belief, would it not? Those kinds of set-ups make it very hard for you to argue from a logical perspective, but religion doesn't require logic. I remember during the lecture, there was a philosopher (can't remember the name) who said something like: all people have mothers, so we can assume that humanity as a whole has a mother. I can't remember exactly what he was arguing for, but I remember thinking that this was very odd; if you look at it from a scientific view, you'd see that humans evolved over hundreds of millions of years, and that our only "mother" is the single-cell organism that was able to develop and thrive in the primordial soup.

I guess before I start ranting too much about science, I should stop. In the end, although philosophy and for example, faith, have nothing to do with each other, it shares the same relationship as religion and science: they're trying to argue the same thing from different perspectives. And really, when you get down to it, that's pretty much any kind of study, be it scientific, spiritual, or what have you.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wait, Feminism is a philosophy?

24th of February, 2015

This week is more of a rant than a reflection of what I read; Feminism. I did not know it was part of philosophy, but rather, a social movement for women to have equal rights. It's relevant because while watching Her with a friend for the philosophical skepticism/rationalism argument, we had a large debate on, unpredictably, feminism. My friend, a big activist for Anarchy and equal rights and all that-- I guess you could call her a social justice warrior-- opened the movie with the lines, "I don't like that he has ownership of Samantha (the computer program), but I'll see how it goes."

I proposed to her that Samantha had no gender, and he had the option of picking a male voice if he wanted. This was met by a haunted stare. I then proposed whether she would be okay with it if the genders were reversed, so that a woman "owned" a man instead.

"Well I don't know, I'd have to see the dynamics for myself to judge."

To me, this is the large crux of what Feminism has devolved into. Growing up, I, like many children, indulged in cartoons with very adult subtext, such as The PowerPuff Girls. In one episode, there was a femme fatale who was supposed to be the embodiment of Feminism, but when she was caught, she asked for a more lenient trial. Does that strike you as odd? It should, but should not surprise you as that is how a majority of women, in my opinion, think, who tote Feminism as the end-all of arguments.

It isn't about "equal rights" but rather, equal treatment. While those two words may sound similar, I don't believe they mean the same. A woman, of course, should receive the same pay as a man for doing the same job, that is a fact that is sadly not upheld. However, if she commits the same crime as a man, she deserves the same treatment, not lesser simply because of her ovaries. I'd like to point you to Susan B. Anthony, who demanded she be taken to jail for voting as opposed to a slap on the wrist.

Of course, I'm getting all huffy over the kind of women who yell "equality! equality!" but call men un-chivalrous for a man to not hold a door for her, or, God forbid, someone hit her back if she hits someone. She's a girl, after all!

Monday, February 9, 2015

"The only me is me. Are you sure the only you is you?"

The Ninth of February, 2015

        There are many different topics within Philosophy, and one that has been stumping many philosophers and many over the years, oftentimes through a journey of self-discovery, is the perception of the world and how they see it. This week, we looked at Descartes and Plato. To me, while their questions and doubts of what they perceived to be true or not was quite interesting to read about, it was relative to me. Does it matter if what I perceive to be true is not true? If it makes me happy, then that is my perception of that truth. This topic in itself is far too broad for any one person to discuss without centuries or even a few millennia passing by. Life is so short already, so why waste time pondering over it? In the same vein, if you spent all your time keeping your house spotless and clean, then what time do you have to enjoy the benefits of it being clean? You would just continue to spend more and more of your time with its upkeep and not seeing what you already have.

Something that struck out to me was Descartes' belief that the only thing he could believe in was his own existence, and that everything he thought was implanted within him from a greater, cosmic being. If that were the case, why would that being implant within him the doubt he needed to question it? Many people, especially within his era, devoutly believed in a God, so what cause would there be for such a God to implant such a concept to him when God was already known? For self-awareness? That was what Socrates had already believed in. To me, it doesn't make sense for him to question his existence in such a way unless he was a bit of a masochist.

Of course, I also identify myself as a rational man, but accept some, if not many, of my beliefs and idealism is a combination of both society's doing and my own brain. For example, the concept of Innate Ideas; Leibniz believed that it is a predetermined shape and form in our own minds. While I can't refute this concept, I propose that it's a combination of reasoning and instinct, and given shape and form from society.

Later on, Plato talks about the concepts we have and what shape they are given, such as Justice, Beauty, and Goodness. How then does he know what Knowledge is? You can't go into this debate without then questioning the meaning of life. To me, I believe there is no meaning; we were all brought here by a mere chance. Look at all the other different universes in the galaxy, and how many planets there are. Pure chance. And borne from that chance was us humans. Everything we have is artificially created; we don't have the means to survive naturally in this environment, so we subjugate other animals to our will, including our own. We can argue forever on semantics about reality, our perception of it, and our ideologies, but then we would be stuck in that mindset and unable to enjoy what we have.

Do we have a purpose on this planet? No. But we've given ourselves a purpose. While Socrates can go on questioning others for the sake of knowledge, to me, a peasant who lives a quiet and happy existence with his family and friends, with all the warm bearings and cruel truths the world has to give him, is enough. Knowledge can be something that you strive to attain for the rest of your life because you've acknowledged you don't have it, or it can be as simple as living out a quiet existence.

Objectivity in the eye of the beholder.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Second of February, 2015

        While you would like me to talk about the ramifications of having Philosophy in our life or not and its correlation with Liberation, I shall do no such thing. I will talk about Words and our association with them. In this week's reading, very early on, we explore meanings behind the words and their impact. It may be the Psychology class I attended an hour ago talking, but I felt this was compelling enough to write about. "How do you know what Intelligence means?" my professor asked me. To me, Intelligence is not what you know (because there's a word for it. I'll give you a hint: it ends with "-edge." No, Intelligence is the ability to think for yourself in all situations and applying common sense and empathy to others. However, said professor argues that we only know what Intelligence is because we are told what it means. And he is absolutely correct.

Because we are told what something means, such as God, Good, Evil, and what have you, we think we are experts on the words because it's such a common thing to talk about everyday. Yes, I am aware that sounds quite similar because it's from the book. We don't know the true extent of what a word means. And how can we truly know something we don't know? By accepting that we are ignorant in the eyes of knowledge, just as Socrates has.

The citizens of Athens has shielded their eyes from such knowledge, and choose instead to shun their great philosopher. This, along with what Socrates talks about in his Allegory of the Cave, as well as what the article talks about trickles down to the same vein: being aware of what you don't know and being able to accept it while still willing to learn about these foreign concepts.

As a rational thinking man, I, of course, have my own comfort zones and bias towards everything. Yes, I would like that chocolate cake. No, I would not like to be punched in the face. However, in that same vein, I am not unwilling to listen to reason other than my own; perhaps that carrot cake might taste pretty good. Maybe I would like to be punched in the face. It is the experience that comes from accepting these other realities foreign from my own that allows me to grow as a person.

While not related to Socrates himself, there is a French philosopher's whose words I live by: Jean Jacques-Rousseau. "We are, so to speak, born twice over: born into existence, and born into life; born a human being, and born a man."

To me, this is two-folds: by accepting that I am still young and ignorant to much of the world, I am still born with the ability of compassion and empathy. I don't know what I don't know, but that's okay. By continuing to learn and grow as a human being, I will be born again, but with a purpose; so many people in this world live their day-to-day lives on autopilot. They live without a purpose. You don't call that living. That is existing.

Such a cruel thing, is it not?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Input Desired Caption Here

The Twenty-Seventh of January, 2015

        As I sit here, enclosed in layers of warmth and comfort, reminiscent of bygone days gently lulled in my mother's gentle and loving embrace, I can't help but notice the raging blizzard dancing beyond my meager and fragile wall of glass. Perhaps this blizzard is a personification of my own turmoil and doubts- I suppose as humans, we all must have them- in regards to the future and what it holds. The room is bathed in a blue luminescence, cast with a cold glare from this contraception that serves as not only my prison, but my escape.

Escape from what, you may ask?

The silence, near-deafening in its howl.


(Hi, this is my dummy post for my Philosophy blog entry.)