Logos

When people hear the term Philosophy they often think of either a course they didn’t ever want to take, or that blow-off subject about a bunch of old dudes. What most don’t realize is that they are being fed philosophy in many ways, even by pop culture.

I hope I can safely assume that everyone has heard the word Logic. That word comes from another one, Logos, which has many meanings through history but the one that I want to discuss today is the one that Aristotle gave it.

Before I lose you, did you know that the film The Matrix models Plato’s Allegory of the cave? Aristotle was Plato’s student, and The Republic has given a lot to pop culture, from dystopias to utopias. If you read The Hunger Games, the idea of a society divided by what their people produce or do for a living is right out of The Republic.

Rhetoric has become even a bad word in modern politics. I think a lot of the people that use the word don’t even understand where it came from.

Aristotle wrote the treatise on rhetoric. So before I am accused of using long words that I don’t understand, treatise is like an essay but more in depth; think of writing a thesis. So Aristotle is the dude who wrote the handbook on how to bullshit!

Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations.

While all of this has in some ways been tainted by our negative connotation of politics, it is not just about that. You can pretty much argue about anything, and the ancient philosophers used to. We don’t do that enough. We almost sit complacent on the thought that everything has been figured out for us. But, logos is what puts humans above the other animals.

So what the heck is Logos?

Well, on his bullshit handbook, Aristotle talked about the modes of persuasion: Logos, pathos and ethos.

Every single time you are trying to convince someone of something using language you are using logos. When you tell your spouse that you should eat at closest and cheapest restaurant you are using speech laced with logic.

When you try to convince someone that you have high moral character (or know more than they do, LOL) you are using ethos. So this is kind of what preachers or a college professor. We listen to them because they should know better than us, that is how they persuade us.

Pathos is when you try to appeal to someone’s emotions. Trying to put someone in an specific state of mind. I think this one is the one that has given politics a bad name, because you can use fear to drive your point home. Any human emotion really, so even a comedian is using a form of persuasion.

I often use pathos and metaphors when talking about a subject. Being able to relate is something that makes others able to understand the message you are trying to convey. That said, nothing beats logic. I don’t think that until you have an argument and simmer it down to pure logic is it really resolved or put to rest.

A lot of my conversations with my friends lately have been all about the logos. And there is a post about faith and worship coming up thanks to one of those conversations. Hopefully this post can help frame some things to come. Maybe it just shows to my teacher that at least I was not sleeping during my entire philosophy class.

Blame the Zombie

One peculiar thing about this topic in my head is that is in interconnected in what might seem logical to me, but not to others. Modern society is full of zombies and it is almost doomed to turn us all into them as well.

The news right now is buzzing with the Penn State scandal. I myself have joked about it, not to be insensitive to the victims but to gauge how people react to it. It seems that most people are so numb to the word “rape” that it is seldom truly understood. Play any online video game and you will hear the word thrown around like candy.

My feelings about the whole mess; besides pity for the victims, is that today everyone is more worried about letting someone else take care of the mess. The more people you tell, the less responsible you are.. right? someone else will do the right thing.

The bystander effect might be in full effect in the modern world (don’t click the link unless you potentially want to cry RIP Wang Yue), however I think that needs to change.

Sure, there are plenty of excuses (someone might get sued for trying to help someone) but humans need to go back to helping one another.

Are we really all becoming zombies that care only about wealth acquisition and people around us don’t matter all that much?

That might be a bit harsh, but I think it gets the point across. It looks to me like most people in today’s world think responsibility is about finding who it is to blame other than me, not about taking action when action should be taken. Some people assume responsibility simply for the benefits it brings, and whatever it is that they need to perform is secondary.

I joke all the time that left in the middle of the jungle I could survive. Also that if the zombie apocalypse happen I would also be a good ally. What about the real world, right now though. I am not CPR certified, and while I could perform it if I had to, I think it is something that we all should practice.

I hope I am never tested, but I do hope that if I am ever in a situation that requires me to assist another human being I can. I don’t want to be one of the zombies, so please don’t bite me.

Is Commitment a thing of the past?

I enjoy reading a blog called Satisfying Retirement, it is written quite well and it has a lot of great information, not just about retirement but also offering a great point of view of the world from a retiree’s perspective. The blog is both honest and candid about a lot of topics.

One of the articles that I enjoyed reading quite a bit was about commitment. With the economy the way it is looking, not just in the US but globally, it really makes you want to look for causes. I don’t want to look for someone or something to blame, but more of what behaviors can really affect the overall way we live.

I found that one of the biggest culprits is the lack of commitment in everything from relationships to people doing what they say they are going to do.

It was eye opening the first time I found out that there are people that will tell you that they will do something just so that they can get you off their back. Even though the have no intention of doing what it is that you are asking or suggesting, they just agree. The funny thing is that this culture is a lot more strict about communication in this sense. For example, in India, a yes means, I will try and you hardly ever hear a no to reply to a request. In this society, when you say yes it means I will do it. At least I thought it was supposed to.

Is this a value that has been eroded? Is bending the rules also part of the general consensus?

Follow my train of thought for a minute or two. The moment that the individual thinks of a commitment as something that can be broken, it is the moment that a system fails. Systems function based on rules. When you say something you are supposed to mean it, if not, then there is no accountability.

The post in Satisfying Retirement was more about how inconvenient it can be when business and people don’t respect a schedule, but this same thing permeates everything that we do. I have watched some documentaries about the economy recently and they all seem to have the common theme of not rule breaking, but lets see how much we can bend the rules. Eventually the rules just don’t apply and it turns into, lets see how much we can get away with.

I have also had interactions with people that love to see how far they can push others. They find it interesting to find others breaking points. To me this behaviors shows a lack of respect and it affects everything else in life. How about you, do you trust people’s word anymore? is that someone you value?

Addicted to Competition

Recently I read a quote that I have heard many times before.

“The rest of the world has culture, America has sports.”

Apart from the annoying thing that it is to have the United States just claim the whole continent; “Even someone born in the Patagonia is still American” the US has a real hard time getting their heads around what the culture here is. I mean, not like it is not annoying enough that American sports claims to have the “World” champions in so many sports. The more I try to explore the topic, the more it comes back to competition, individualism and in some extreme ways to look at it as narcissism.

The other conversations I have been having recently lead me to believe that more and more people don’t understand what it takes or don’t want to become adults. It is an interesting concept and I have seen it all my life. The taglines for this blog at one point was “just a child stuck in adulthood.” A lot of people told me that I had to grow up fast, or that I grew up too fast.

Considering myself an adult is something recent to me, and marriage did not do it… what actually did it was having to face the death of those around me and when the people I consider adults started to look at me for answers or advice. It was a weird feeling, and honestly I don’t know if I really like being an adult all that much. Responsibility is a tricky thing, and most of the time not a pleasant one.

Trying to anthropomorphize the United States to make a point seems valid in the discussion. If we look at the 60s and 70s as the teenage years, why does it seem like the country never came of age?

Is it because we have a nation of children that want to be taken care of at every corner? or is it because being a responsible adult is just not part of the fabric of this country any longer.

I think one of the basic principles in the culture of Colombia comes down to a simple proverb,

“El vivo vive del bobo” a good translation is almost impossible, “The clever lives of the simple minded (or dumb)” just does not encapsulate all the meaning that the phrase has for those that group up with it. It begins to teach you at a very young age that you will be taken advantage of unless you wise up. It does not have anything to do with competition though.

I was already a teenager when I moved to the US and not growing up in an average American household I have no idea what little proverbs were used to teach kids lessons. I do know what Hollywood always portrays… the rise of the underdog. The geek has to beat the quarterback at something to get the girl right?

I do think competition is good, but I don’t think it should be the only way to interact with other people. I have seen it ruin many of my relationships. Compromise is laughed at because there always has to be a loser.

I don’t hate sports, I actually love that many sports do teach a lot of lessons to kids about teamwork and sportsmanlike conduct. But what about those people that don’t get to play sports, where do they pick up those skills?

The next topic I want to discuss is chess and my love of that game. Even though the game is all about beating your opponent I think it does a lot for not just critical thinking but teaching healthy competition. Failure should not deter you from trying, it should make you want to try harder.

Is American culture just a mirror of what sports culture is like? only one winner, only one “World” champion?

Letting Others Think For You

The other day I was reading a blog and I came into a piece of writing that shocked me. I am totally going to paraphrase in the off chance that someone can actually trace it back to the post (and therefore the person)

“I continued to watch the show because it is one of the shows that smart people watch, even though I did not get the humor; I would try to laugh and I was going to force myself to enjoy it.”

Now, discarding the fact that it could be a complete BS blog written just to mess with people’s head (it kind of messed with mine if you could not already tell.) Would someone actually make themselves “like” something because others do?

I know I have done plenty of things that I did not want to do, and I do admit that sometimes I am wrong on judging stuff that I am going to enjoy. Forcing myself to like something though to be part of a perceived group of people though? That sounds more than a little bizarre for me. Isn’t kind of figuring out what you like and don’t part of developing a personality.

I guess every time that I go to a romantic comedy with Bea it is a similar exercise. I think the success rate of them is about 50% in not making me want the 2 hours of my life back. Overall I hate romantic comedies because they do to promote false sense of what relationships should be. I have an awesome relationship with my wife; but I am not that perfect dude from the movies. I don’t think that perfect dude really exists. That is what they sell… and people actually fall for it. I think some people that have a lot of issues dating are because they have built unrealistic expectation of that the ideal person should be; and yes I do sometimes blame romantic comedies for that.

The more I thought about it, the more we do try to like things that those around us enjoy. We read movie reviews, we listen to the critics, now social media makes it so our friends can also start sharing more and more of their opinions and probably having more influence in our likes and dislikes.

I guess the process can be mostly unconscious, my friends like something so I should find what it is that they like and try to enjoy it. I guess the part that freaks me out is thinking that if a certain group or type of people like something, then if I want to be like them I have to make myself enjoy what they do. Like if somehow I watch the discovery channel I will now become a scientist. Its just delusional. Is that what the newer generations are like? Do people really want to be told what to like? Do people really believe that personality traits via osmosis works in higher beings?

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