…entre nous soit dit…

between me you and the gatepost.

I’m so stupid…

It is currently 2.45 and there is just over 2 and a half hours until I have to get up and get ready for work tomorrow – I’m going to be dead… or not be able to wake myself up…. which would result in me losing my new job. Why can’t I just be sensible and go to sleep?!?!?

Anyways, I have to write an assignment – an outline of what my folio piece is going to be for my creative writing unit this semester. I did the same thing last year except on a higher scale because it was a second year unit – this one is only a first year unit (and yes I’m aware of how strange that seems working backwards, but anyways!

I’m trying to choose what story I might want to write about. i just read A Street Car Named Desire by Tennessee Williams and that got my passion for plays thriving again (it was previously started by Shakespeare). Problem is, I don’t know if I’d be able to write a play, as much as I’d like to. My creative writing is usually very subtle and plays should be dramatic or bold, so I don’t think I would convert well to that. So for the mean time, I’m sticking with a short story idea. These are my current ideas:

  1. A story from the point of view of a person inside a village in Vietnam or Cambodia during times when there were attacks constantly
    eg1: in Vietnam the story of the naked vietnamese girl (Kim Phuc Phan Thai) running from her village after a napalm attack, but from the point of view of someone else in the photo. Over 65% of her body was burnt and the photo taken of her in 1972 by Nick Ut became the most iconic photo of the Vietnam war.
    eg2: from the point of view of the Khmer man that used to cut palm trees for a living and was one of the first to notice the killings going on in the main killing field on Cambodia, and one of the first to step forward and actually talk about it – OR – from the point of view of a prisoner guard that didn’t want to be there but was forced to work at Tuol Sleng Prison (S21).
      
  2. A autobiography style extract about my parents as I grew up and the mayhem they caused – especially and particularaly in reference to my grandfathers death – OR – turn those memories into a fictional (and less whiny) story about a boys relation to his grandfather seeing as his parents were always fighting and neglected him.
     
  3. A story about a sad old house that is basically a representative of the little old lady inside it. Each house room is like a memory or part of the woman and as she dies, the house seems to as well, yet the world keeps moving.
     
  4. A rape scene, which is only a small portion of a book that I started to write once upon a time years ago. I unfortunately wrote this scene (which is traumatising enough) and then lost it when my computer crashed shortly after. I haven’t been able to bring myself to rewrite such a chilling scene, but this could be a cause – OR – I could try writing the ending scene from the novel in which one of the characters kills himself… but considering I haven’t decided how he’s going to do that yet, it’s a bit hard.
  5. A scene of a past romantic memory between a girl and the boy she’s just lost – either he can die or be leaving.
     
  6. Create the memories/reflections of one of the children I met at the orphanage in Cambodia – he had a family that included a sister who wasn’t all there in the head either as a result of how they were brought up with a violent father, who was sent to jail for beating the mother so badly; and a mother that eventually ended up going crazy from all the beatings to the head, and had to be tied to the floor in order to stop her from harming herself or others – she died whilst tied up.
     
  7. A guy that goes around killing people so he can harvest one organ from them – there’s always one really good quality one that he just can’t resist. Except he seems to be tormenting the main character by only killing people that she knows and meanwhile she’s stuck in a giant red maze. (It’s a weird dream I had)
     
  8. Flashbacks from the point of view of a girl as she is giving birth. She looks back on how she was sent away from everything she knew because she got pregnant (which is outrageously shameful in her time and age). Looks at the shame of her family, her isolation and her thoughts.

So my question for you is, which story idea seems the best so far, because I’m stuck and out of ideas. So far I’ve written three very very short stories, but the best is the one about the house and the old woman. So this is my call to PLEASE TAKE YOUR VOTE AND DECIDE WHICH IDEA IS BEST!!

Thanking you very kindly gentlemen and ladies. And now I’m going to get my measly 2 hours of sleep – Lord help me tomorrow.

March 29, 2010 Posted by | essays, homework, My Story, my writings, photography, procrastinating, university | 4 Comments

Subjects to Ponder…

I have just joined the team writing the University Newspaper and today I went to my first meeting. I managed to get quite caught up in the theme of ‘America’ and ended up volunteering to do both an article on the theme, as well as a music review. Seeing as I live in a college at University, I decided to write an article on college life and how it is not only considered a social aspect, but also a almost necessary and important aspect of university in America. College life here is not common and rarely done by the average student, but I think we should be adopting a more American or British style in this aspect. So this is a shout out to anyone who feels like sharing an opinion or two about that, because for my article, I’d really like to get an idea as to the American’s perspective on College life as well.

Another research topic that I have to cover is one that I have to present for politics: 

“Is the current military operation in Afghanistan by NATO and US allies such as Australia a just war. Discuss with reference to all the conditions for a just war.”

Not only do I have to research and present this topic to my tutorial group in 8 weeks time, but I also have to read up on all of this information and the facts in order to be prepared for discussion group at college next week. Tonight we discussed the style of curriculum at our University and whether or not it should be changed, but when thinking of a new topic for next week, I mentioned our involvement in the war on terror as a topic of discussion. Everyone chose this topic, however no one really knows much about it specifically and accurately. As a result, seeing as I’d mentioned I have to write an upcoming piece on it, I was volunteered to find out all the facts and figures on it for next week. It doesn’t exactly help that I was one of two students there that did politics – most of the students in the discussion group were either Engineers or Commerce students (or both), as is most common in my college as a whole.

So, looks like I’ll be doing my research seven weeks early – I think this could possibly be a new record for me! So another shout out for anyone that stumbles across this, if you know of any websites or articles relating to the war on terror, the war in Afghanistan or anywhere else (or anything else relevant to my question), please leave me a comment and let me know, so that then I can at least get a grip on a few different perspectives and facts.

Well I’m off to do my french assignment and then look at the questions for my philosophy essay due next week… The joys of overloading at university… *sigh*

August 18, 2009 Posted by | college, essays, homework, my writings, Politics, university | 2 Comments

Philosophy Essay Two: The Meaning of Life.

“Human life can only have meaning if God exists and there is an afterlife.” Demonstrate why this claim is true or false.

Many people hold different beliefs as to what the meaning of life is, and for thousands of years, philosophers and theologians have pondered over the truth of it – some producing theories on the subject. Among them are Epictetus, a Greek-born Roman slave who developed theories on stoicism and Robert Nozick who wrote about ‘The Experience Machine’ [1] and held an anti-hedonistic viewpoint. While both of these philosophers developed different ideas, they both shared a common goal: trying to understand what the most important thing in our lives is. Many believe that through theology and belief we gain meaning to our lives, but what if there is no God and no afterlife? Can we still have meaning? Atheists believe that there is no meaning to our lives, but we seem to be unable to accept this so we ‘have to invent meaning (and as a result we create) religions and areas of study which help structure and give explanation and purpose to our lives.’ [2] Although some believe this – that we use religion as an explanation for the meaning of our lives – others such as Nozick and Epictetus developed other ideas and tried to prove that there can in fact be meaning to our lives if there is indeed no god or afterlife.

While neither philosopher directly denies god and religion, each one says that there are other things more important. Epictetus writes that what matters for a good life (for most) is a peaceful state of mind that is tranquil. He insists that ‘all your attention must be given to the mind’ [3] and that the ‘price of a quiet mind’ and ‘freedom from passion’ [4] is by only caring about the things that are within your control – this includes everything that is our own doing – and to ignore all that is not in our control. Robert Nozick, on the other hand, does not condemn passion and desire or focus on the tranquillity of the mind, but instead says that in our lifetime it is not only our experiences and happiness that give our lives meaning, but also the contact with reality that we have. Nozick states ‘What else can matter to us, other than how our lives feel from the inside?’ [5] He then proposes for the reader to imagine that there is a machine that can simulate any experience we want, and asks the question do you plug yourself in? Nozick takes the stance that it’s not merely the experience that creates meaning in your life, but the lessons learnt and how actually doing those things forms you as a person, however for this to occur you can not have a simulated and unrealistic experience. This is completely contrary to a hedonistic view, which dictates that happiness is the only thing that matters in life – no matter how it is gained. Other philosophies can be seen to draw from hedonism, such as utilitarianism, which believes in the maximisation of utility for a good life [6]. The common factor throughout all these theories, however, is that mankind can search for, or reach, meaning in their life without the necessity of God or an afterlife.

Nozick and Epictetus seem to clash on the ideas of the involvement of emotion, passion and desire. While Nozick is relatively ambiguous as to how much weight must be given to happiness and contact with reality, he is certain that they must both be present. It can be assumed that to be happy you must have passion and emotion, and care for things that are “not in your control” as Epictetus would say. Based on this, with this happiness comes the contact with reality that Nozick describes as necessary, and in turn the downside of life that balances the out the happiness we are granted through our experiences. Without this touch of reality, we would be plugged into the theoretical “experience machine” unknowingly and without any individuality. We would not form self-identities and we would not be able to question reality. Of all the things granted to humans, some would argue that the ability to question “Why?” is one of the greatest and we need this contact with reality in order to use this ability. However, these emotions that comes with Nozick’s ideas are not included in Epictetus’ idea of a good life. Epictetus believes that all we need to have is a tranquil mind at peace with nature, and in achieving this, we shall also achieve contentedness. In a modern day society, Epictetus’ ideas may be seen as being submissive and impassive, but this is how he intends them. He says that ‘you will only be harmed, when you think you are harmed’ [7] and that the signs of a person that is making progress at achieving this tranquillity ‘blames none, praises none, complains of none, accuses none, never speaks of himself as if he were somebody, or as if he knew anything’ [8]. All of these aspects, nevertheless, would go against Nozick’s ideas of experience and contact with reality, because they veto the person from both feeling and passion, as well as the ability to adeptly question “why?” Despite these differences, both theorists have created plausible theories that would give, what they consider to be, meaning to our lives without the need of god or an afterlife.

Both stoicism, as described by Epictetus, and anti-hedonism, as argued by Nozick, can produce viable theories about what gives meaning to mankind’s individual existence without the need of God or an afterlife. Each philosopher comes to his own conclusion through different ideas, both with their positive and negative aspects to the lifestyle. Stoicism disregards emotion and passion for contentedness and tranquillity of mind, and in return doesn’t allow the person to be either hurt, or conversely, experience the joys of life fully; and Anti-Hedonism, which allows both as much happiness as we can gain, as well as contact with reality through our real experiences, that help to shape the person we become. Both theories involve self-development and education of the mind, whether it be questioning reality and life, or disciplining it to be at peace with nature. Neither of the theories involves the blind following of a religion created to satisfy our need for meaning to our existence, and in turn the necessity of a God or an afterlife.

 

References:

·      Manual’ extracted from: Oates, W.J. (ed), (1940). The Stoic and Epicurean Philosophers. (New York: Random House)

·      BonJour, L. (ed), Baker, A. (ed),(2008) Philosophical Problems: An annotated Anthology, (Second Edition) (United States: Pearson Longman)

·      The Experience Machine’ extracted from: Nozick, R., (1974). Anarchy, State, and Utopia. (New York: Basic Books)

·      Hawthorn, E., (1998). Atheism for Survival. (Australia: The National Library of Australia Cataloguing in Publication)

May 20, 2009 Posted by | essays, homework, life, morals, observation, philosophy, School Work, university | Leave a comment

Philosophy Essay One: Ethical Egoism

Question Six: Is Ethical Egoism a viable ethical theory? What is the relation between psychological egoism and ethical egoism?

An Ethical theory proposes how morality can be gained in terms of ‘…right and wrong behaviour, and especially of how people ought to behave in relation to each other’ [1]. This means that a set of justified guidelines can be drawn up from this theory of moral behaviour that any man could adopt and live his life by. Egoism is a theory concerning the selfish behaviour of people and the action of pursuing ones own-interest. Philosophers have developed two strands: Psychological and Ethical. Theories have many facets upon which they must be judged before they can be considered viable. In terms of continuing the development of the human race and the world as it is presently, there can only be negative aspects seen within ethical egoism and as a result, in this respect, it cannot be counted as a feasible theory. In societies of this century (and many more previously), the human population has become an inter-dependent, socialising species and humans would not be able to survive with the same ongoing positive advancements if ethical egoism was proven as viable and became the adopted theory. This is because humans would become an antisocial and disinterested race as a result of this moral theory. In order to continue with our society as it is today, it makes more sense to follow the common sense theory which can been seen to be slightly reflected with Egoism, but still as counting against it. For the purpose of this argument I will look precisely at just one aspect of the feasibility of ethical egoism – whether or not it is viable judging by the impact that it would have on society.

Psychological egoism is a simple theory that claims to explains all human behaviour: that people are capable of doing nothing other than pursuing their own self-interest, human nature being what it is. Ethical egoism proposes that in order to be virtuous every person ought to wholly pursue his or her own self-interest, but does not claim to be a human motives theory based on psychology. The difference between the two theories lie in whether promoting our self-interests is the only thing we can do and the only thing we ought to do. While ethical egoism says to be virtuous we ought to follow our self-interests, it doesn’t say that we are not allowed to help others at all – only that you don’t need to promote other’s interests at the same time as yours. However, both of these proposals present a number of problems. The first and foremost, is that if one is true, then the other can’t be – psychological egoism insists that we have no choice but to act selfishly, whereas ethical implies that there is a choice, but we ought to anyway. Of the two theories, ethical egoism is the most disputed, because it still works on so many levels.

One issue that is commonly raised and of great interest is that ethical egoism is compatible with Commonsense Morality. If ethical egoism can combine the commonsense morality, it would be a very good argument as a viable theory. Of the commonsense principles, the duties not to lie, to keep our promises, and not to harm other people, emerge as the most important in order to maintain relationships. James Rachels raises this point in The Elements of Moral Philosophy, with the moderate view of ethical egoism accepting commonsense morality. Without these principles being enforced in society, there will be a resulting deterioration of relationships due to the lies, injuries inflicted and lacking of trust. There is also the likelihood of jail sentences for more people and the possible breakdown of the legal system due to the lacking of need to tell the truth. Rachels argues that these principles are accepted by ethical egoism because it is in our own self-interest not to break them, however this argument both works for and against ethical egoism. While it proves that the theory does not promote morally unacceptable behaviour (by non-egoist standards) which is positive, it also shows that for this to be true, the person would not only be thinking of his or her own self-interest, which goes against the idea of ethical egoism. For example, if a child’s self-interest is to steal a cookie before dinner, they know as a result of satisfying this self-interest, it’s also in their best interest to lie to their mum and say they didn’t take it (and that it was probably their sibling). The reason they know this is because they know it’s in their mother’s self-interest not to let them have one before dinner and therefore she won’t allow it. However this thought process, which allows the child to decide that lying will be the best option, shows that they have to take into account their mothers self-interest as well. This again goes against the ideas ethical egoism, because we don’t have to consider others self-interests at all – it is just a happy coincidence if they concur with our own. Pure ethical egoism would see the child take the cookie and not care about whether or not the mother knows.

In order for the more radical and pure form of ethical egoism to be in place, people would have to become more detached without emotional ties to people so that they are able to focus more solely upon themselves. Rachels also admits that when dealing with friends and family we often have close and personal relationships. He states simply, ‘Bargaining and calculating play a much smaller role, while love and caring dominate.’ [2]. This bargaining and calculating would be essential for any form of egoism to be true and the intimacy would have to be pushed aside in order to make purely selfish decisions. However, this straight form of ethical egoism will result in the break down of human relationships and on an even larger scale societies and populations. Presently, nations are interdependent and every individual relies on a network of other people in order to survive. With this breakdown people would be forced to become more independent, because at the end of the day the only person you could wholly rely on and trust would be yourself. This argument shows that the commonsense theory is vital to our way of living, but does not and cannot be an essential principle within ethical egoism, because it involves considering the self-interests of people other than yourself.

For a person with common sense and good logic, ethical egoism could work. Despite the problems faced in ethical egoism it could be considered to be a viable theory based on the grounds that a person uses logic, common sense, and to and certain extent emotions, to sensibly and rationally assess what their self-interests are.  However without commonsense morality being combined into the theory of ethical egoism, it will only result in chaos, and the deterioration of the populations and societies. Thus on a moral ground, the theory is not a viable one in this respect.

April 4, 2009 Posted by | essays, philosophy, School Work, university | Leave a comment