Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Blog #6 - The Most Perplexing Questions Imaginable

We've tackled heaven and hell, good and evil, perception and reality. What awaits us after we die? Anything? Catholic Purgatory? Absolutely nothing? Is evil an objective or subjective term? Who defines what or who evil is?

I know that there are many questions still left out there unanswered. What the heck was Plato thinking with his Forms? Why did Socrates allow himself to be put to death? Where is the novel going to go now that we know it's really a novel?

What if the whole Lost series is really going on in Hurley's head? Could the island be purgatory and everyone be dead waiting while their sins are washed away? What if you had a chance to reinvent yourself, who would you become?

There are many more questions to be answered, places to go, people to meet and we can't possibly cover them all in 12 weeks. Obviously, I'm just showing you the path to help you begin your journey of self-discovery, you'll have to do the rest on your own.
These are just a few examples of some questions that you can ask for this blog entry. 200 words minimum. Due Thursday, October 30th.

P.S. I apologize for posting this so late - had to go grocery shopping, make dinner, get my wife's new laptop going, and then Mario Kart Tournament. I got 2nd. If you need another day to do the blog, that's fine. Cute picture of my dog, Izzy, below.


  1. My question is what happens if scientists somehow find other humans on an unknown planet and these humans tell us how the universe was created. Will mankind on Earth go completely insane? Will wars breakout, believers vs. nonbelievers? I know this is a somewhat a depressing question to ask for those who are religious because one might believe that we, humans on Earth, were the primary creation God crafted. This question can somehow relate to Spinoza. He believed in the eternal perspective. In other words, “we’re just a spec on the Earth in the universe.” However, these beliefs cause
    Spinoza to be exiled from the Roman Catholic Church. In addition, what will happen, besides Derrick yelling, “I told you so” if the truth comes out, religion was a hoax to hide these “humans.” I guess I’m asking more along the lines of what is Earth without religion? Humans have yet to exist in a world without history supporting the existence of a God, whether through scripts, the Bible, etc. Would humans feel worthless to know that religion is no more? Would morals and laws be disregarded, considering even America’s Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence mentions God within the text. How would humans take the news of this discovery?

    Leah Cenko

  2. I’m not entirely sure what this blog is asking; I guess you want us to ask questions about things we’d like to discuss but haven’t, or something like that? Something like that.
    We’ve talked about evil, hatred, murder, and all sorts of other associated negative things like that. What we haven’t yet paid much attention to is the opposite side of the spectrum: philosophical questions regarding topics generally considered to be “good”, or whatever antonym of evil you want to use. One such topic is love and that which is related to it. To quote the great philosopher-singer Haddaway, “What is love? (Oh, baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me no more)” This is of course in part a psychological question, but I’d say there’s a good deal of philosophy involved as well. Why do we feel the need for companionship? Why do some people seek strong relationships, while others are just looking for casual sex (Or are they? Perhaps, deep down, they too want a truly loving relationship?) How can a lack of love or companionship distort a person’s worldview? We’re far from being the only species on the planet that makes love, but I don’t think it would be a stretch at all to say that we’ve complicated the entire concept of love way more than any other animal – quite possibly, way more than necessary. The high value placed on virginity, for example, is a purely social construct – how did that come about? And why is it that some cultures (namely, American) are much more prudent about sexual matters than others (namely, almost everyone else)? While some of these questions may seem crude compared to “Is there a god?” and “Why are we here?”, they are philosophical questions nonetheless, and I think that if it’s worth talking about the nature of evil, it’s worth talking about the nature of love.

  3. Is choosing to live or die a sin or ultimate free will?
    Nearly all people who are not clinically insane believe that murder is wrong. That is partially because the ability to choose if someone should live or die is unnatural. Like many Christians believe that the right to create and end is life is solely God’s. When you murder someone you decide when and how they will die. When you commit suicide you decide how long your life will be. So are we playing God or taking control of our lives in an extreme way. When people commit murder and suicide they prove that humans have the power to control our lives and to an extent that of others. Maybe as humans we have just never known our potential. Or maybe we are afraid of our capabilities. Could that explain why we look down on murder and suicide? Perhaps our morals are actually a method devised by a higher being to control us. If this theory were true than humans would be equal to God and that could explain why God, who wants to remain in control, would never want humans to reach their potential. The moment humans realize that they are equal to God who knows what would happen. If we look back in Genesis we see that when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge God punished them. But if God could punish them does that imply that He has some authority over them. I guess the true question is how does one gain authority? Is it inherent or is it allowed? I think authority has to be ordained in some sense because otherwise we would all be equal and we would live in an anarchist society, yet we live in governed societies. I think even if humans are all powerful they are not all knowing so they need something or someone to tell them no sometimes.

  4. When I was younger, this reoccurring thought would pop into my head, which is-I think- the subconscious reason why I decided to take this class. I would frequently start thinking about the world being stuck in a black hole of nothing. I would terrify myself with the idea that we (as human existence) get one shot and that’s it. I thought of the idea that the earth and everything that inhabits it are the only things that exist, and it just popped out of nowhere. I thought we got one shot, and I would scare myself with the idea that once we die, it’s all gone, and once the last person dies, there will be virtually nothing. I feel as though I’m not explaining this correctly, because when I read this it’s not nearly as terrifying as what I think about, so please forgive me for the lack of a better description, but truthfully, its hard to describe nothing.
    I know this seems like I am wondering about where the world came from, but that’s not what I’m asking about. I’m asking about the idea that this world is here and there’s nothing else, one day it was created, and one day it will cease to exist. I just picture a blank, black space, where there is NOTHING, but no one knows there’s nothing because once the earth leaves, it (and us) goes “pop” and it and everything it stood for and housed was gone. What if this is how it is? What if one day, humans, the earth, stars, and the rest of the planets—all of existence-- disappear, then what was all of this? What was the purpose of having it if there’s no one else to reap the benefits? Or is there some other kind of existence we don’t know about? Not like heaven and hell, but another world, or many other worlds, on the same plane as the earth?

  5. I still have a couple of questions that I’d like answered, or at least discussed. For one thing, while we did consider at the very beginning of the term how the universe began, I feel like we didn’t go into as much depth with it as some of the other questions. I’m curious as to whether any philosophers came up with answers more specific than “the universe has always existed” or “something came from nothing”. Also, we never really considered whether the universe would end, and if so how, which in my opinion is a much more pressing question.
    Also, I would like to consider the question of how we determine if other species are “intelligent”. After all, chimpanzees use tools, and they dolphins and gorillas are capable of recognizing their reflections. By some measures they’re at least as intelligent as the average three year old human. I’d like to discuss whether we today have a moral obligation as individuals and as countries to “go green”, considering the state that our planet is currently in. After all, at the rate we’re currently going the Earth will be pretty much uninhabitable in just a few years. Therefore, I feel like the question of the individual’s right to do whatever they like versus the human race’s survival is pretty relevant.

  6. There is a lot of things that although I would like to think that I have a satisfying answer for, I can't really prove it.

    I wouldn't consider myself a true skeptic, however, there are defiantly certain things that need to be questioned. One of my greatest questions is what prohibits certain people from seeing things the way I do?

    I know that people are brought up different ways and that your experiences affect your overall outlook on life, but it still interests me how people can have completely different views on a similar topic. Is it that the minds of two people are so terribly different that they cannot come to the same realizations. What makes certain people have personalities that they do? For example, some people are naturally hostile, wanting to disagree publically until everyone else sees their view. On the other hand, there are people that although their views may differ from the norm, remain silent because they are perfectly satisfied with their own beliefs.

    Part of this assignment was to come up with a solution to this problem. Okay. Well heres the easy answer, but I'm just not thrilled with this. People are all brought up with different experiences which makes then see things in different manors. Depending on how they were exposed to different people at young ages effects their overall methodology of logic.

    This answer doesn't do enough for ome because I want to know WHY this is.

  7. There truly lies one question in the confines of my mind. It is a question pertaining to life outside of earth.
    I have been told numerous viewpoints from friends, family and other aspects of the modern world. There tends to be a dividing line down the middle of those who believe that we are not “alone” and those who do not. My viewpoint is a combination of the two. I do not think that there lies Super advanced alien life forms hidden on mars, but I do believe that we are not alone. The pastor I once had told me that god looks over all mortals and that he believed earth was the only bastion of living creatures. This made me question if god only held sway under earthlings. If there is a god, for all we know he could be an overseer of not just Earth but the entire universe. The lifeforms I expect to see on another planet are farther down or equal to us in the chain of evolution. People do say that if they were as smart as us then we would know about it. The easy contradiction to that is Hypocrisy. I say this because we as intelligent lifeforms have had no means of communication or identification of intergalactic lifeforms either. Hell, we haven’t even made a hospitable trip past our own moon, and an unmanned trip out of our own solar system. If aliens were as smart as us, then they probably have not made it out of their own system yet. I believe however that we are on a basic conveyor belt to the sun. I believe that the lifeforms most recently were on venus, if this conveyor belt was to move closer billions of years ago, then venus would have become a scorched wasteland (like it is) and earth would have been set at the perfect temperature and other conditions to develop an atmosphere and along with that, life. This would explain why planets get smaller toward the sun and have a higher gas concentration (save for Pluto… which isn’t exactly a planet anymore) toward the back. I believe that we should discuss life on other planets because one day it may lead to a breakthrough the likes of which we have never seen.
    August Orlow

  8. Darwin’s theory of evolution states that organisms in order to advance the species adapt to the environment to evolve, or die. My question is why hasn’t this had to be changed to say, except humans?
    The last time that we had to adapt to anything was changing to the warmer climate after the Ice Age when we killed the Neanderthals. After that we have changed the environment to suit us. One adaptation was domesticating killers, most notably the big cats and wolfs. The thought was, they were bigger, faster, stronger, and stealthier. So instead of getting bigger, faster, stronger, and stealthier we made them smaller, slower, weaker, and losing the killer instinct. Another big one is farming. It became harder to find food in the forest by scavenging, or hunting, because the other animals were beginning to adapt to humans, so we clear large areas and plant immobile food. I think that the ones that couldn’t hunt, but had the smarts to find something else, were the main factors in this movement. They changed the environment to benefit them.
    Things didn’t change that much for some time later, until we over grew our surroundings due to limited resources. So the farming took another step forward by combining it with domestication. We now had the food ready to be eaten sitting in the pen. Since that point there was a shift to the people that had the most land, crops, and animals. This also contradicts Darwin because in nature only the strongest and fastest survived.
    From that moment it didn’t matter who you are or how incapable you are, all that matters is that you have the connections. I use the example of Helen Keller, she was blind, deaf, and mute, in nature she wouldn’t survive a week because she would have been a sitting duck for predators. By the time she was born there were no predators because we have killed them all, domesticated them, or forced them change to us.

  9. The exercise we did in class about the tensions really made me see questions I want to be answered. One tension that stuck out in my mind was Tension 2: Can you put a price on human life?
    On my sheet, I said that I agreed that the right to life is so fundamental that financial considerations are irrelevant in any effort to save lives. I believe this to be true. If you have a family member in the hospital in need of financial assistance, I believe it would be unethical not to help them pay for treatment if you had the means to. Personally, I would spend all my money if it meant that I could save the life of someone I love. Also, I think it is important to give back to charities and other organizations supporting the developing world. However, this is where my tension arises.
    I disagreed with the statement: Governments should be allowed to increase taxes sharply to save lives in the developing world. Altough I believe in the cause, I don't think the government should decide how much money you need to give to charities. I think there is a difference between making a choice to help someone and being forced to. I think this adds too much government involvement.
    To put a rest to my tension, I don't believe you can put a price on a human life. And if you could, by what means would you base your consideration for donation? Would you consider their morals, their job, their belongings? If these were being considered, everyone would have a different amount they would be willing to pay for a particular person and that is not fair. Human life is precious and ultimately, priceless.

    -Rachael Malerman

  10. My question that remains unanswered about society is how come we have wars? That sounds like a very broad question, and I realize that it’s because of differences in culture and whatnot. But the way I see it is that we are all kind of in the same boat. The citizens of whatever country want what is best for their own selves and country. If we all want the same basic things, then I don’t really see what the point is of fighting in wars. I would imagine that if you ask any leader of any country if they would rather get what they want resulting in tons of deaths, or in a way where nobody died, they would say they’d get it in the painless and easiest way possible. I think by now we should realize that fighting in wars really gets us nowhere. Currently, I feel that we have forgotten the reason of war. I feel that after wars go on for so long that they lose their meaning, and people forget why they are fighting in the first place. I feel like once war is declared, those fighting don’t even think about what it is they are fighting for, they just try to kill as many people as possible on the other side. I don’t see how killing more people can get you what you want.

  11. Why does the human race tend to give answers for things that are uncertain? This question has been very troubling to me because one bit of “knowledge” that I have taken to heart is that the only thing man knows is that man knows nothing. This is clearly an extreme statement but most of what we claim to know is still so uncertain, but we still manage to give reasoning and answers for the unknown.

    One of the best examples I can think of is the night sky. Scientists claim to “know” that stars are big balls of burning or burnt up gas that has light rays projecting through space into our eyes. Planets are out there as well, along with moons, rocks, black holes, and other galaxies. Space is so massive and impossible to trace that while I accept these “facts” I still sometime gaze up at and wonder if I should. All I can know is my own reality about these stars. I haven’t studied them except on clear nights with my own two eyes. I can’t see that these are balls of gas held together by gravity but I can see their beauty. I know that they can make me feel lucky to be alive and so powerful to experience them since they can’t experience me, yet, at the same time, so insignificant because I am just one person in all of the world, galaxy, and universe.

    These contradictory feelings are part of the reason that I think we give answers to the uncertain; we are scared of the few realities that we as humans know. Just like making fun of someone, we make answers to hide our own insecurities. Despite having some miniscule answer to this uncertainty (I feel a little hypocritical answering this), it still frustrates me.


  12. What if the whole Lost series is really going on in Hurley's head?

    Before this class I had never watched Lost, and did know much about the show at all. I have really grown to enjoy the show, and hope I am able to catch up on all the seasons before the new one begins. I don’t know if I believe that the whole series is Hurley dreaming, if it is he must be in a coma. If the series is in Hurley’s head maybe the people on the island are patients in the same hospital, or maybe they are people he has come in contact with in his life. I am starting to think that the crash wasn’t an accident. I think the “Others” had something to do with the crash; it’s almost as if they wanted those specific people to be stuck on the island with them. It is almost as if it was fate that so many different people were on a plane together. Also, what would they have done if there wasn’t a doctor on the plane? So far, anything is possible because it’s almost as if we don’t know the outcome of anything. I do know that I would like them to get off the island, and I would like to see more of what there life is like at home. So I guess my question isn’t really whether the whole series is in Hurley’s head, but whether or not it was fate that these specific groups of people were on the same plane that happened to crash?
    -Shayna S.

  13. The idea of forever to me is completely incomprehensible. When I'm in a certain mood, I can just sit and think about forever, yet accomplish almost nothing. First of all, is there such thing as forever? Everything we know as humans has a beginning and end. Even the saying, "diamonds are forever" isn't correct, because eventually the carbon atoms get sick of sticking together, and the thing turns to dust (that's the perspective from someone who hasn't taken chemistry in two years-i apologize). Whenever I would ask in my Sunday school class how long we go to heaven for, I would always get the answer, "forever." How long has god been around? Same answer. Or, in some cases, "Since the beginning of time". Well, that means very little to me. The idea of time somehow stopping is also difficult for me to comprehend. I remember seeing a movie when I was in about fifth grade called "clockstoppers". In the movie, this kid's dad creates a watch that "freezes time". In the movie, everyone around him would freeze while he could move. Yet time still passed; it still takes time for him to do the things he does while time is "frozen". Perhaps Stephen Hawking could come up with a scientific answer for these things, but the idea of time stopping, and the idea of forever are very hard for me to wrap my head around.
    Something else that has just recently become hard for me to comprehend is the question of my own reality. This idea was brought up in Berkeley, Bjerkeley, and the lost episode where Dave tells Hurley that nothing about the island is real. Firstly, I do believe I'm real, because I feel emotions, and can react to others, who also appear to have emotions. However, something that Libby said to Hurley in Lost really made me question reality. When Libby said something along the lines of, "I buried alot of bodies, that happened to me, don't tell me I'm not real", I got stumped, if you will. I understand the idea that she could be just a part of Hurley's brain. I'm not a believer that if I'm not there for something, it doesn't happen. Yet then I thought, what if Libby isn't real,and she's only telling Hurley that so he can get something from it, like questioning reality or learning a lesson? I then thought, what if everything that happens to me, my emotions, experiences, etc. only happens to add complexity to the idea of someone else? Something strange could happen to me, but what if it only happened so I could share it with someone who is real to learn something, or to make me more complex so that they might understand people better? This thought is very perplexing, and something I can't seem stop thinking about.
    Love is also something I want to discuss. Mainly, how do we know what real, true love is? Is it just something in the brain, those chemicals we get when we say, eat chocolate? A mere endorphin rush? Can it just be something in the brain? Or is it something you create yourself? This question arose when I was talking with my friend about fate versus free will. I wanted to believe in the idea of fate; that two people were destined to be together. Yet my friend summed it up in a way that almost entirely changed a belief I had held my entire life. He said something like, "To me, free will in terms of that is better, because it's better than someone setting you up to love that person, you love them yourself, you create that love. So it's almost better in a way because you make it for yourself." That completely messed with my head also. I know i love people; I love my family and friends. To me there must be some degree of love, because there are so many people I do love. In English last year, we had to write an analytical essay on someone's expression that there, "must be different degrees of love for us to understand the highest one". In essence, so love isn't just neutral, there must be levels of it, just as there are of any emotion. But is love an elevated emotion of enjoyment? Can there be any levels of love at all? This question is one that's applicable in every day instances, one that is perplexing and completely interesting to ponder.

  14. Thank you Captain Beefheart for reminding me to do this blog. “Bat Chain Puller” jolted my memory at the last minute.

    Anyway, the greatest unanswered question, I think, is, “Does there really need to be government for society to function?” We all have our ten cents concerning this issue, but it’s all theoretical, even with the people who say there needs to be an establishment.

    We’ve witnessed the State do terrible things: war, the placement of artificial shortages, murder, theft, the list goes on and on and on. And yet these things are acceptable because people can’t imagine a world without government. Government, we say, is a necessary evil. But is it really? Is there anything the government can do that we cannot? The government protects us from foreign invaders, people say. But is it not with our money and our human capital that it does so? If I have a gun, what separates me from a United States soldier? Why should I not be allowed to protect myself when the government has been proven to fail in this instance? Why should I be forced to support this failure? The government helps keep things equal, people say. But that in itself is not true: there is a massive canyon separating the ideals of equity versus equality. Equality cannot exist under the heavy hand of the State; there is a massive pecking order with a political class on the top, followed by various tiers of the political class’ chosen favorites, followed by the “disenfranchised minority”, and then the majority. There is no equal opportunity, and any attempts to achieve equity only result in the forced removal of individuals’ hard-earned money. So long as the State exists, it will coercively maintain this hierarchy and either throw those who disagree with it in jail, smear their record, or bleed them to death with taxation.

    But inversely, can humans rule themselves? We are sheep: what’s to say another Hitler won’t come along and start a massive genocide? We ask ourselves, if the government does not exist, who will save us from genocide? But was it not through the strong-arm coercion of the Leviathan that Hitler successfully came to power?

    Even if we maintain the falsehood that we can achieve world peace and be protected from one other (with or without government), so many of us seem to be terrified of ourselves: how can we have integrated communities without government forcing us to do so? How can we have love and peace if the government does not force us to comply with their doctrine? These questions are the most terrifying, both to those asking them and those who hear them. It almost seems as if we keep the government in place to protect us from ourselves—it seems as if we are so terrified of the darkness that lurks within us that we allow the Leviathan to curl up beside us despite the rancid stench of decay on its breath and the stolen gold wedged between its scales. Is this what we want? Or is this what we need?

  15. Over time man has always pondered this simple question; “what came first? The chicken or the egg?” it is seemingly impossible to answer this question however I feel I can answer it. The egg because in order for there to be a chicken to lay the first egg there had to be an egg for that chicken to hatch out of. The opposing argument to this is that the first egg had to have been laid by a chicken. According to Darwin’s theory of evolution the mutations causing a formation of a chicken happened in the prenatal state. The first chick must have been extremely lonely, similar to that of the ugly duckling. Lucky for him he was able to produce the offspring that was the predecessor to our friend the modern chicken. Chicken or egg we may never know what really came first, but one thing is certain this question will be on the minds of scholars and laymen alike for the rest of eternity. In order for anyone to properly answer this question one must determine how life and the universe generally came to be. We would have to travel back through the pages of time to see the beginning of all things.

  16. The question I want to talk about deal with the fate of humanity. We have focused mainly on the individual, or how we got here, and things of religious and political nature but have yet to discuss the future of humanity. The biggest question, why are we here, what are we doing here, etc? It has not been touched on. I want to know why humans are so different than any other animal and why we are continually advancing. Is it possible that we have been advancing at a rate in which we destroy ourselves? Is that our fate as a species? Is it all leading up to something in the end? When would be the end? Sometimes it seems as if we are little workers, and that there is something much bigger and much more advanced out there. We have come SO far as people, we figured out so much just by being on the planet for so many years. It makes you wonder how much more we can advance; in a million years will we have destroyed ourselves or be in a new amazing environment. Is the entire point to advance to the point where we can find or meet extraterrestrial intelligence? We haven’t talked too much about that either, because sometimes it sounds kind of hokey to talk about aliens, but really it a good topic. To ponder what else is out in the universe and wonder were we lie within it in terms of intelligence. It’s almost obvious that there IS something else out there. Space and the universe are so infinitely large that we don’t know all that much about it, so there just must, within all that space, there just must be some form of intelligent life.

  17. A lingering question that I want to answer is the question about Hurley and his make believe comma. I think there is no way that the whole lost series is going on in Hurley’s head. Relating back to Berkley, that is just another perspective and sensory bubble among the island. To be completely honest, I think that the idea of the whole lost series going on in Hurley’s head is the least realistic and believable perspective on the island. During the season of lost we learn a little bit about every character on the island; there background, love affairs, family problems, and secrets. I have learned about jack and Locke and there “daddy issues”. I learned about Kate and her criminal record. The creators of lost showed me all this information and without Hurley even knowing. Hurley didn’t know Locke was paralyzed before the plane crash. So if the whole series of lost is going on in Hurley’s head how can they show me that if Hurley has never seen it before. I think that Locke’s idea of fate and the island bringing them. Locke’s perspective is the more believable one. There is no way that the series is all going on in Hurley’s mind. Although it is possible that he could be in a comma and making this all up in his head, I refuse to believe that it’s true. Dave tried to convince him to eat and tried to convince him to run away from the rehab center, and now Dave is just trying to convince him to believe something that is not true again. COMEON!!!!!! THINK ABOUT IT!

    I am hopeing it will post now. Last time it didnt work. I am also going to email you it. Sorry about the mess up.

    Ryan Bertrand

  18. Before this class I had never watched the show LOST. After watching it in class, I began to think more and more about it. I guess I have become a LOST fan because I am looking forward to the next seasons to answer my questions. After watching the Dave episode, I began to think that what if it is all in Hurley’s head. It would be very disappointing. It makes a lot of sense that it is all in his head, the plot of the others, the magnetic field, and the fact that the island can not be seen makes the whole idea seem very far fetched. It could very well be part of his imagination. On the other hand, it seems impossible that he could create these characters that are all somehow connected. Each character is indirectly related to another. I do not understand how Hurley could make connections between all these people. But if what if they are truly on the island? Something must have brought them there together. Did the psychic that sent Claire know all along? I would really like to know the answers to these questions. I know this will not be possible until the series has ended but the show has captivated me and has gotten me very curious.



Thanks for commenting. Your message will appear as soon as Mr. W. approves it. Thanks.