The Value of Comedy

Comedy is often in our lives for reasons we don’t stop to think about. There’s comedic movies, stand up comedians,  television shows, and then there’s just those funny people we like to be around. It feels good to laugh, that’s no secret. In fact there’s actually many health benefits to laughing, but comedy itself also signifies a deeper meaning to the viewer.

Much of the comedy we watch is absurd, wacky, unrealistic, and yet we still love it. Think of some of the popular comedies on T.V. like Family Guy, South Park, Archer, The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, ect. These are all cartoons, having little basis in reality. Other popular shows like The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, The Middle, Parks and Recreation, are sitcoms that have at least some basis in reality. This first group of shows, the cartoons, are in a sense meaningless. That being that they are sporadic, subject to change, don’t follow to concrete story line, and aren’t purposefully set up to teach a message. There are some exceptions to these, but in general these shows are there to make the viewer laugh and forget about reality. The second group of shows, the sitcoms, allows the viewer to enjoy the show as they make jokes about things that are meaningful to them. Things that have basis in reality like jobs, politics, relationships, ect. Read More »

Advertisements

On Stoicism

Even if one is not interested in the philosophy of stoicism, it is extremely useful to decipher the spirit of the Ancient Roman people, just by the popularity that stoicism once held. Historians often points out the range of stoicism, being popular from slaves all the way up the Emperors themselves. No doubt this was because the practicality and usefulness of the philosophy.

To give a brief overview of stoicism, taking one of the many meditations of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius sums it up perfectly:

“Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness – all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil. But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness, and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother (not in the physical sense, but as a fellow creature similarly endowed with reason and a share of the divine); therefore none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading. Neither can I be angry with my brother or fall foul of him; for he and I were born to work together, like a man’s two hands, feet or eyelids, or the upper and lower rows of his teeth. To obstruct each other is against Nature’s law – and what is irritation or aversion but a form of obstruction.”

Read More »

Politics and Ethics

There are philosophers, Epicurus comes to mind, that would preach against the involvement of politics. Epicureans in general wished to live a solitary life, free from the stress of the city. They view happiness as an end unto itself, the meaning of life, and reached through ataraxia. It’s an interesting notion that happiness comes through inner peace, although not an uncommon one. What’s even more interesting is the fact that people like Thomas Jefferson and Christopher Hitchens considered themselves Epicureans.

This complicates the issue. For now we will have to take for granted that pleasure is the highest good, that being the most base solution we can work with. Jefferson and Hitchens were involved in politics just about everywhere they went, which, as it turns out, is pretty bad for someone’s inner peace. In fact a survey found that politics is the factor that induces the most daily stress in our lives. In their own words it was “hearing about what the government or politicians are doing” that causes that anxiety. Of course someone could make the argument that less stress would be created if the government functioned as it should, but that is ridiculous since there is no single consensus on what the government is for, and even if there were, there is no single consensus on how to go about achieving that purpose.Read More »

In The Case of Optimism

It seems like the best way to tell if someone is an optimist, is to observe how much they value the idea of optimism. The phrase is popular “I’m not being a pessimist, I’m being a realist.” As if the two are closer together that optimism is. This could reflect the pessimistic attitudes of the culture, or it could just be a sign of one’s age.

Optimism is a curious thing. First of all I’d like to define optimism. It’s no doubt that it is more made up of a chemical makeup of the brain, but it’s also a state of one’s condition. We can accept it as “The feeling of good outcome, even despite evidence to the contrary.” Of course the word ‘good’ being dependent on the person. This definition leaves open to a few types of optimism.

The first type of optimism can be a limited case. This is typically when the individual reassures himself with phrases like “Maybe I will get that new job,” or “that cancer is benign,” or even “Yes, that girl does like me.” These cases or all instances of a specific outcome that brings some kind of good fortune to the person and has little effect other people in society.Read More »

Analysis of Luck

The phrase “I’m feeling lucky” is a phrase that is not just misused, but also doesn’t really make sense. In gambling, people often rely on using their luck to guide them through a game, or even worse, to justify entering the game in the first place. People can claim to have either good luck or bad luck, but only when something good or bad happens to them. It takes an analysis of the term ‘luck’ to understand why.

When people do claim that they have good luck, often times it is a mystical claim. The phrase admits that their being is outside of their control, and the forces they claim to provide them with either good situations, or bad situations. If a person loses a hand in poker he may say “Oh I have bad luck,” instead of “Oh, I shouldn’t have played that hand,” the second phrase which assumes the blame to be on the person instead of the idea of luck. One reason people may claim to have bad luck is to shift the blame from themselves to the mystical force of luck.Read More »

Teaching Philosophy in High School

Philosophy has been called “The Dead Science,” in fact back in 2011 Stephen hawking boldly claimed that “Philosophy is Dead“. And yet it has more need in modern culture than before. People forget that at its very base philosophy teaches the use of reason and logic in life. It is much more than just metaphysics and unanswerable questions about life.

So teaching philosophy causes a few things within a person. Firstly the person begins to start asking their own questions about the way things are, things they would never have noticed before. The person learns to make logical conclusions based on their own thought. In an essence it is learning how to think rather than what to think, such as most people are taught in school.

The Huffington Post wrote a fabulous article on the subject a few years back. A few of their arguments detailed how philosophy makes a person more whole, how rationality should be used in politics, and how ethics helps a person conquer fear and live a happier life. But sadly, this gives little incentive for schools to begin teaching philosophy. As we know the public school system is harshly underfunded and many times only focused on meeting state requirements. As a student I know this too well. The core classes are pushed down the student’s throat until the time they graduate, and by then they don’t know anything else besides math, English, science, and a few terms of history.Read More »

Can a Secular Nation Ever Exist?

Following the supreme court ruling on gay marriage, it wasn’t too difficult to predict the whole Kim Davis incident. The friction between the religious agenda and secular agenda has been at a special high these last few months, and will likely continue for the coming months. Just for some specific background on the U.S. a poll in 2012 found that while 95% of the nation said they would vote for a female president, only 54% said they would vote for an atheist. Interestingly enough, 91% said they’d vote for a Jewish person, 80% said they’d vote for a Mormon, and 58% would vote for a Muslim.

Early in our American History, many of the immigrants that first came to the new world were religious refugees leaving persecution in Europe, mainly puritans. Considering this it’s obvious why the founding fathers wanted religious freedom for the country because they didn’t want to see a repeat of what happened. To reinforce this, the country was founded on the idea of a secular government – the separation of church and state- so that people would be free to practice whatever religion pleased them.Read More »