Monthly Archives: December 2013

Clarity in Confusion

*Daily Prompt 

It was the late 90s, San Diego, at a little cafe called Espresso Roma.

Planted in my usual reading spot, Philosophy books and notes were stacked in front of me and a hot mocha cooled off to my right.  I interrupted the study session to ask my friend and fellow philosophy major: “Don’t you sometimes wish you didn’t know what you know?  It was so much easier when I didn’t think about these things or even know these things were questions.”

Literature in philosophy involves taking one’s mind on a trek outside of the ordinary.  We read arguments for Free Will only to be followed by equally compelling arguments that there is no Free Will.  What constitutes truth?  How do we know when we know something especially when everything we think we know could be debunked in 50 years as we have debunked “truths” previously believed?  What makes knowledge knowledge?  Reviewing logic supporting the existence of God, and then arguments systematically dismantling that logic also threw my Catholic school upbringing into a menacing tailspin. And what in the world is a “Right”?  Do we always protect the individual, or do we always protect the greatest number sometimes at the sacrifice of an individual?

Facepalm. Facepalm.  More facepalm.

Philosophy compels one to ask questions where one didn’t even realize a question existed.  An intellectually secure footing in the world seemed impossible.  Yet, despite this, I couldn’t help but entrench myself further into the study and devour the arguments. This everything-but-clarity feeling hit me when I took a moment at the cafe to stop memorizing information for an upcoming exam and paused to churn over the ideas I had been studying.  Everything made sense and nothing made sense.

“I’m confused,” I said.

My friend, understanding the look of mental turmoil splashed across my face, smiled and said, “Ah, yes.  But now you are confused at a higher level.”

*Tell us about a time you’d been trying to solve a knotty problem — maybe it was an interpersonal problem, a life problem, a big ol’ problem — and you had a moment of clarity when the solution appeared to you, as though you were struck by lightening.

Pros to being Introverted

1. Research shows that people develop envy and feelings of emptiness when scrolling through social media news feeds like Facebook and Instagram.  Not so for the introverts.  This is an entirely foreign phenomenon to the introvert.  Pictures of others out and about never summon feelings of envy.

2. Letting people know we are introverts gets us out of awkward conversations quickly.  “It’s not you.  It’s me.  I’m an introvert and must dash off.”

3. This works as well: “Oh no, I can’t go to that thing.  I’m an introvert.” (Sounds much better than “I’m totally into this mystery book at the moment, so…I’m staying in.”)

4. We have “introvert radar.”  When spotting fellow introverts we can have entire conversations comprised solely of eyebrow movements.

How Others Benefit

5. Introverts are awesome sources for book recommendations.

6. That one weird guest who hasn’t noticed that everyone has left the party but still feels like hanging out.  Yeah.  Never the introvert.

7. Gift shopping for us is less than mysterious.  Comfy clothes and coffee will always be the perfect gift.

* Number 1 inspired by the blog post Oh no! FOMO!

You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch

WordPress Daily Prompt: What is your least favorite personal quality in others?

This is a mischievous little question, for one’s answer inevitably discloses more about the self than the other.  That is, any quality one finds annoying in another actually reveals the depths of one’s own personality.  But, in the spirit of participating in the prompt, here goes:

Convention.  Rules.  Must’s.  Should’s.  Will Not’s.  Never’s.

My least favorite personal quality in others is the adherence to a static conception of the world and refusal to ask “Why not?”  I spend my work and my free time emerged in the study of philosophy, a study underscored by wonder.  Every breakthrough in thinking, be it scientifically, in art, in literature, or in technology, has been sparked by someone who questioned assumptions about their reality.  When I encounter a person fearful of stepping outside of their comfort zone and thereby relying on a construction of the world given to them, I simply cringe.  Life is too short to not explore, try new things, and engage in thinking anew.  Why oh why follow fads and trends for the sake of keeping up with what is presumably acceptable?

For example, in philosophy I marvel at thinkers like Wollstonecraft, Descartes, and Martin Luther King Jr., to name a few, who dared to crack convention.

Wollstonecraft argued for women’s education and proposed that women could be rational beings.  Imagine!

Descartes rid himself of every assumption in order to build a strong foundation for science.  He asked the bizarre questions: What is real?  How do I know if I’m dreaming or awake?  Can I rely on my senses for knowledge?  How do I know that wax is wax?

Martin Luther King Jr., offered a new definition of a Just Law, namely, one that “uplifts human personality.”  An unjust law, he wrote, is one that is imposed on the minority by the majority but is not binding to the majority and not voted on by the minority.  What a significant and insightful challenge to the accepted foundation of existing law in his time.

I love the curious and the rule-breakers!  It is natural to be afraid of what we are new to, but that is precisely why we must launch ourselves forward.  In order to grow personally and intellectually it is important to identify our limits and then chip away at them.  This means trying different food, listening to others with opposing views, travel, and take a shot at being a little uncomfortable.

“In principle I am against principles.” Tristan Tzara

Student Drawings on Exams Part II

Here are more doodles discovered while grading.  Enjoy!   (For Part I click here.)



From Tolstoy's My Confession, a depiction of an Eastern Tale.

From Tolstoy’s My Confession, a depiction of an Eastern Tale.

Kant's Theory

Kant’s Theory

Just because...

Android “fixing” Apple!

Thinking face?

Thinking face?

photo 2

Just because.

photo 4

“I’m 50 Shades of done with this midterm.”

photo 1

Not a doodle, but still funny.  A power point slide for a presentation.

Not a doodle, but still funny. A power point slide for a presentation.

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