Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sophie’s World Book Response 6

The book is getting more and more fantastical as we read on. As Alberto comes up with his secret plan, weaving in hints about it while teaching Sophie about Darwin and Freud, he mentions Freud’s emphasis on the subconscious of our minds.
In AP psych, we learned about how many of our actions may be driven by unconscious urges or desires. Many people don’t realize the power of our unconscious because when they remember things they did, they rationalize what they did using the most plausible reason their conscious minds fill the gap with.
The unconscious is most obvious when looking at the various states of consciousness people live in. While being awake, or conscious, and asleep, unconscious, are the most obvious; there are many states in-between. These can happen naturally, when very relaxed or tired, or be induced with drugs or even hypnotism. As Alberto suggests that the major may not be completely aware of his thoughts during or after his writing, there are many situations when people aren’t aware of what they are doing or have done. We studied a case in psychology where, once in a state of semi-consciousness induced by a hypnotist, a woman was convinced the number 4 didn’t exist!


I think it would be fascinating to be able to see or record people’s thoughts when in these altered states of consciousness. Truly unique ideas are created during free association- such as writing a philosophy book where the characters are aware they are being manipulated- and they are usually lost when the person wakes up and their thoughts are mediated by the ego and superego.

Class Reflection 6

In class this week learned about a new way to look at what is right and what is wrong. Opposing Kant’s idea that there are set moral rules, which dictate we should always, or never do (such as never lying no matter what), utilitarianism teaches that actions must be decided on individual circumstances. While Kant placed importance on the intent of one’s actions, utilitarianism focuses on the consequences of one’s actions. Utilitarianism is basically the belief that we should always choose the action that will benefit the most people while causing the least amount of damage to society.


While I do agree that every situation should be considered individually when deciding what is morally right, I don’t believe that utilitarianism is very practical to apply to everyday life. The lives of everyone around us are so complex and unique, I don’t know if it is possible to truly be able to make the decision that would benefit society as a whole the most because there will probably be things you don’t know about how a person interacts within society. 

In addition, people’s values are very different so one person’s contribution could be considered by another to be a detriment to society. For example, while the owner of a large company may help the economy and provide many products for consumers, some people may argue that underpaid workers of that company are being cheated by the owner. The thought experiment about the organ donor/neighbor seems to prove to me how unreasonable this philosophy is when applied to actual situations. Perhaps if the neighbor himself were given the choice he should choose to die, but I don’t think it should be up to anyone else to decide how much his life is helping society. However, I do think that it is important to try to consider things from an unbiased point of view when making a decision about what is moral in a given situation, while keeping in mind the most basic moral ideas-such as don’t kill innocent people even if they may make good organ donors.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Class Reflection 5

The past week, we have been focused on the sharp contrast between the Romantics' Idealism and Individualism and the effects the Enlightenment had on philosophers of the time. With the Enlightenment period in the 18th century came a slew of new ideas including “Return to Nature.” One philosopher, Rousseau, believed that while mankind and nature are initially good, civilization corrupts and therefore people living in society are all corrupted. Rousseau felt that people should return to nature because there they could maintain that childlike goodness and the natural education from nature would be more meaningful.


I thought this was an interesting idea. While all of us leaving our cozy homes to go live in a forest somewhere is definitely a bit extreme, I do think that Rousseau was on to something with his ideas about childhood being related in such a strong way with nature. Personally, my childhood was very centered around nature. My favorite memories include me running around in the forest behind my grandparents’ house, raising goats and ducks, and hanging off branches in my backyard. I think that I learned a lot from being outside all the time (my parents only allowed me to watch 1 movie on Fridays and that was the extent of my “screen time”) and I think it made me sympathize with animals and the environment more than people who mostly experience it on screens or only on the way from their car to their house. I think that as a society we should focus more on the importance of nature because it gives us everything we need to survive- water, food, shelter, and air.

Sophie’s world Book Response 5

 Sometimes, it seems that people are too focused on the “big picture” of their lives to appreciate the small, specific details in life. In the book, Alberto describes to Sophie a philosophy focused on those small details. Kierkegaard’s individualism was his reaction to the Romantics, who were so enchanted with the idea of all things being one that they missed the unique individual things and people in the world.

Hans Christian Andersen, the author of many of my favorite fairy tales, was also and individualist. He and Kierkegaard both lived at the same time, but while Andersen was focused on the rich details found in nature, Kierkegaard was more interested in how individual people were unique.

I was drawn to Kierkegaard’s philosophy because, unlike Hegel and the Romantics, it is very personalized. Hegel seemed to believe that humans are destined to only react to their previous era.  Conversely, Kierkegaard believed that we are “children of our time,” living in the moment and each and every one of us a unique individual.


He also believed that there was more than one reality, something the Romantics would thoroughly disagree with. Kierkegaard thought that because everyone is a unique individual, we all experience the world in our own unique way; our perceptions of the world around us being our own reality. I agreed with his idea, especially because it makes it easier to appreciate other people’s points of views when you remind yourself that they have seen the world in a different way than you have their entire lives.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Class Connection 3

The past week we have been focused on the idea of fate vs. free will, doubt, and the Problem of Evil. I found that in general I am skeptical of higher powers, be it God or Fate, which may control or influence our lives. My views tend to align more with the philosopher Descartes than the religious ideas of Spinoza.

When we took the Scale of Doubt Quiz I answered all no’s with the exception of two maybe’s. The two maybe’s were on questions 1 and 9. Question 1 asked if I believe that “a particular religious tradition holds accurate knowledge of the ultimate nature of reality and the purpose of human life”. I answered “no” because none of the religions I have come across have seemed to me to have a completely accurate view of the purpose of life. I believe that the purpose of life is basically to bring yourself and those around you as much joy as possible without negatively impacting others. Our time on Earth is short and because I am not certain of the existence of an afterlife I intend to live my life to the fullest, whatever that may mean to me throughout my life. My personal experience with religion has been a variety of Christian denominations. In all of them I never felt like I completely agreed with the ideas or beliefs of the congregation.


My second “maybe” question was if I believe that “any part of a human being survives death, elsewhere or here one Earth. I don’t feel certain either way about the existence of an afterlife or other post-death existence of human beings. My uncertainty doesn’t bother me because I live my life as I feel is the moral way and also try to enjoy my life while I live it so either way I think I’m good.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Class Connection 1

In class this week we learned about Greek philosophers: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. One of Aristotle’s big ideas was the golden mean. Aristotle believed that life should be lived halfway between any extremes. For example, in between cowardice and rashness is courage. I believe this relates to life because people, especially high school students, often don’t have a balance of the major things in their lives.

With some much emphasis put on preparing for college, including doing after-school activities, getting good grades, and visiting campuses, junior year of high school is easily overwhelming. It often seems there aren’t enough hours in the day or days in a week to get everything done. Personally, I am pretty balanced in all aspects of my life. However, many of my friends constantly struggle to do everything, not paying attention to the need for a golden mean.

A balance is needed in part of life, according to Aristotle. Applied to high school life, students should strive for a balance of classes they find interesting or fun and classes that are challenging and show they are applied students. They should have enough activities to keep them active, but not so many that they never rest. Speaking of rest, Aristotle would agree that students need to find the middle ground between studying all night and sleeping a lot without preparing for upcoming tests. In order to stay healthy, people not only need sleep but also to eat enough of the right food. I am guilty of not eating healthy food (because it is not easily available or cheap) and occasionally eating little to nothing from 7 pm at dinner to 12 pm the next day if I have to finish homework during lunch and didn’t get breakfast that morning. Some people are worse and refuse to eat anything “unhealthy” and go all day waiting to get home to eat their own food. People need to be between the extremes of waiting all day for healthy food and continually eating unhealthy and non-nutritious food.


Sophie's World Book Response 1

Before the fist Greek philosophers, people had to answer principal questions of how the world works using their imagination. In the chapter “the Myths”, Sophie receives a letter detailing what came before philosophy. According to the letter, “a myth is a story about the gods which sets out to explain why life is as it is.” Due to a lack of scientific understanding of some of the most basic natural occurrences and given seemingly reasonable explanations, stemming from various religious myths, humans believed mighty beings were affecting Earth with their lives.

Although it is easy to guffaw at the elaborate tales now that we have more scientific knowledge, I can see how and why people would turn to stories to explain the world. It is comforting to believe that you know the cause of the many chaotic things occurring around you in the world. In addition, the notion that there is some higher power, looking out for the little people here on Earth, fighting to balance evil with good, is still widely believed by a huge majority of the people alive today.

This chapter made me think, much like Sophie did, about how I would try to explain natural occurrences myself with a lack of scientific knowledge. From there, I considered how much of the science we take for granted as fact is truly proven. After all, many things we learn in school are called scientific theories. While some may argue that there is evidence to back up these theories and they are therefore incomparable to the myths of ancient civilizations, I would counter by stating that the myths had physical evidence in the real world too; such as the sun going across the sky was evidence of the story that Thor rode in a chariot pulled by two goats in the sky. In conclusion, I ended up questioning everything I know as fact and maybe science isn’t real.