Journal #5 – This Way? That Way? What is Ethical? What is Right?

Posted: March 2, 2011 in Weekly Journal Entries

Today’s lecture caused me to take a step back at times and just wonder more about certain things.

There was a little chart sort of thing that the Professor had displayed that was called “Expression of States of Character”.  While there were combinations of “Good, Good, Good, Good, and Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad”, I was actually wondering if there were more combinations available than the four that were shown.  Is it ever possible for a person to have a ‘Good’ emotion while having ‘Bad’ intention?  I guess I’m a little confused as to what emotion actually pertains to.  Is it, similar to the column for ‘outcome’, based more on society?  Or is it based on the individual?  Wouldn’t then a person who is “Evil” have “Good” emotion for their “Bad” intention?  Perhaps someone can clarify that for me, or maybe I’m just thinking too hard about this.  I mean.. wouldn’t a super villain who is “evil” feel quite happy about their bad intentions?  Guess that’s just the fantasy world perceived in cartoons?

Another thing that came across my mind during lecture was about the Emotional Range.  While we came to an understanding that it is not necessary to live only a moderate lifestyle, especially when passion comes into play – which spectrum do we end up swaying towards with passion?  Just on first thought, I thought passion could only push us into the direction of “excess” where we become so dedicated to ideas or actions that we are in favor of.  Could passion work the other way around and make us passionate into being “deficient”?  It doesn’t sound right to me as passion tends to suggest a stronger emotion or feeling for something which would lean on the end of “excess”.  Is the deficiency spectrum, then, something that we are supposed to avoid?  Or, like passion, are there times where swaying across to that side of the spectrum is natural and expected?

The reading has seriously started getting more and more dense in terms of subject material.  It was so enjoyable reading about the Enneagram and the various concepts regarding types that jumping into ethics and other spectrum of philosophy seems so abrupt and unappealing.  While readings like the excerpt from Introduction to Ethical Reasoning and Virtue Ethics provide some good ground knowledge of key terminology and concepts, other readings such as Kant’s piece and Plato’s are just so long-winded and redundant that I find myself more annoyed than interested while reading.  Plowing through Apology (or Socrates’ Defense for a better title), there definitely were some good messages to be gained.  Acknowledging that one has no wisdom is something that really stuck out to me.  Amidst all the speaking to Athenians and the judges, that message alone really speaks out and shines.  Is this acknowledgement a sense of humility and even-temperament?  Is it something that those who are established in the moderate level of emotional range are able to express more than others?

As such, I question Socrates and his willingness to surrender his life so easily.  Not so much for his own life, but the life of his family.  To leave behind his sons and wife.. although he acknowledge that he had gained much from life and saw no point in fearing death, what about fear for the well-being of his family?  Was he so devoid of that to reconsider arguing for his own life?  While one can argue in favor of Socrates based on what was expressed in Plato’s writing, I just cannot tolerate the thought of leaving behind your family when you are fully capable of saving yourself.  I know it’s important to recognize self need, but I have grown up with the need to protect my family before all else.  And to read Apology just frustrated me upon the reading’s end.  How can it even be considered ethical to leave your family behind?

One last note: I was REALLY disappointed by the lack of guided centering/meditation today! Meditation is at times difficult for me and the guided meditation really allows me to refocus and better improve my practice.

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