Sunday, April 24, 2011

Blog #46 - Hellenism today

I kept wondering how Hellenistic philosophy applied to today's world as we briefly discussed it on Wednesday.  I didn't have a lot of time to really go in depth with it, so I included summaries and bumper sticker slogans that could apply, but I still didn't feel like it was enough.  So, I thought, why not dig into this school of thought on the blog?

First, Epicureans - as we explore most philosophy (and most likely religions as well), there seems to be a denial of pleasure or the association that pleasure is at best, a necessary evil. The philosopher, Epicurus, said that the "best sort of one that is free from pain in the body and from disturbance in the mind. That sounds a rather negative credo for a 21st-century devotee of the good life."  There are so many pleasures out there in life that we have been told to stay away from or "wait until you're older."  And, in fact, Epicurus "condemned all forms of over-indulgence, and recommended a simple diet."  But, as you become an adult and temptations increase, where do you draw the line?  Was Epicurus right to withdraw into his garden with friends and live a simple life of pleasure?  How can that work in today's fast-paced, interconnected society?  Do you pull a Henry David Thoreau on everyone and go to live in the woods, simply?  Or is there something in between completing dropping out and total hedonism?

I found an interesting article online: "Epicurus Exonerated":  All the quotes above are from this article. 

Stoicism - When I think of this, I mentioned the British palace guards who tourists like to mess with and try to get them to smile.  But stoicism is much more than that, especially when dealing with such an uncertain, violent world.  This particular quote from Marcus Aurelius, one of the last great Roman emperors, could fit perfectly in our time period:

“I shall meet today ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All of these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill… I can neither be harmed by any of them, for no man will involve me in wrong, nor can I be angry with my kinsman…” - Marcus Aurelius

Stoicism doesn't mean standing idly by while crazy stuff happens.  I think, in many ways, it has to do with the ways in which you react (or don't react) to all the sensationalist news, Chicken-Littles, and Boys-Who-Cried-Wolf out there in the media.  If we believed everything we saw and heard about our world that's dangerous, we'd never get our kids immunized for fear of them getting autism, we'd never buy certain brands of products b/c of an email circulating the globe about the product's danger, and we'd certainly never leave the house. 

This article, "The Modern Wimp's Introduction to Stoicism", is rather crude but funny and tries to dispel the notion that being stoic means not flinching when boys get punched in the groin: 

This article talks about how to be stoic: 

 - However, do we ignore all of the warnings out there about impending doom?  Too many people ignored the oncoming freight train of death that was attached to the subprime mortgage bubble, and you see where that got us in 2008.  Too many people were busy making too much money to listen to the Pollyannas saying, "hold on a minute!"  And sometimes, sifting through the town crier's messages, isn't there just the call for moderation?  If global warming isn't happening exactly as Al Gore said it would, what's wrong with cutting back on our dependence on foreign oil and driving more fuel-efficient cars?  What's wrong with getting involved more with the 3 Rs - recycle, reuse, and reduce?  I don't know who is correct in the global warming debate, nor do I care, but there can't be anything wrong w/ America reducing its carbon footprint. 

Cynics - the ancient Greeks who followed this school of thought often rejcted materialism and strove to live life simply. Cynics today, however, at least the word cynic, generally dismiss peoples' good intentions as having ulterior motives. There is a strain of persistent disbelief and irrational thought that can lie in the cynical outlook today. With the number of politicians and celebrities that have lied to us while embracing the opposite of what they hold dear, while corporations say one thing and do the other, and our government fails to follow through on its promises, it's no wonder Americans didn't become full blown cynics before the Vietnam War and Watergate in the 1960s and 70s.

 - Has cynicism led to an unhealthy belief in conspiracy theories?  When common sense or persistent, reasoned questioing can poke holes in most of the conspiracies almost immediately, why do they still continue to stay alive?  Should we believe in our politicians and leaders and their promises, or just expect them to let us down again? 

Some comments in this paragraph come from:

Skeptics - this school is probably the most easily applicable to today's world because of our almost religious belief in modern science, which practically demands a skeptical viewpoint of the world.  And in many ways, having a healthy skepticism is helpful for a scientist, philosopher, and in general, being an intelligent human being with all the flood of bogus news out there. 

Where skepticism differs from cynics is that with cynics, you've already lost before the battle has begun.  You will not be able to convince your opponent, rhetorical or otherwise, of any good intentions, etc.  If you win, the cynic will probably claim that the game was rigged, and if they win, you weren't a worthy opponent.

I believe that a healthy skepticism in today's life means many things, but I find it hard to explain it w/o resorting to cliches.  "I'll see it when I believe it."   "Proof is in the pudding." 

Craig Damrauer's print from "Modern Art" which
I think sums up the art cynic in all of us.
However, I always leave room for belief if something has been proven correct.  This can extend to just about anything in my life.  I sometimes fear that skeptics have been cast as those who don't believe in anything, and maybe that is where the confusion lies w/ cynicism. 

Your job: Pick one of the four Hellenist schools of thought and explain in 250 words or more how it applies to your life.  If you're having trouble just sticking to one school of thought, or you take issue with something I've said here, then by all means, jump into the fray! 

Due Wednesday, April 27 before class begins


  1. Skepticism.

    For the majority of my childhood, I assume that none of the Hellenistic schools applied to me. I wasn’t conscious, that is to say, I wasn’t completely aware of the world around me, until I was about ten or eleven years old. I finally reached that major turning point in which I understood where I was and how special it was that I was here.

    Last winter, while undergoing the toils of seasonal affective disorder, I began to think more and more about what I believed in and how it was that I lived my life. Resoundingly, I cleared my mind of everything I knew-- figuratively, not literally, of course. What was left was a few basic beliefs in the hard facts of math and science. Beyond what I could sense and examine, there was no truth. As a child, I became blind to Santa Claus. Now, as a young adult, I became blind to Jesus, Allah, Zeus, and YHWH.

    “There is no God,” How ignorant one must be to say that! Not that there is a God; I believe that there isn’t. But the fact remains that I cannot prove there is or isn’t. Even Richard Dawkins, arguably the most renown atheist in the world, acknowledges that one cannot definitively know that there is no God. Unlike those who claim to know there is a God, I cannot state that I know there is no God until it has been proven definitively.

    To me, it is obvious why math and science reign supreme. They are constants in our ever-evolving world. If something is proved wrong or incorrect, it is reformulated until it is correct once more. Unlike theodicies that guess at what God is hinting, scientific theories and facts have proof to back up what they are stating. I myself once stated that I would remain a theist until science proves there is no God. Now, in order for the statement to be correct, I will remain an atheist until science proves there is a God.

  2. Out of the four Hellenistic schools of thought, the one that I think best applies to my life is Epicureans. I like to live life very simple and easy going. I do not like to think about the future very much, but more for just what is going on today. I would not go as far to say that I am a modern day hippie, but most things in my life I go about living for today. I like to surround myself with just close people in my life. I do not like to think of things negatively and be around negative things in general. But I can say that I do like to be out in the world and seeing and experiencing new things in life. So that’s where I do conflict with the Epicurean way. Yes, sometimes just being secluded with your close friends and family is great. But I think everyone needs to go out in the world and be free. For a modern day world sense I think of it as you and your friends just go to someone’s house and hang out for a little, that is my way of being secluded from society. I would never go to the extent of totally dropping off the face of the earth and going out to the middle of nowhere to live with just a few people you think are all your ever going to need. I think you can go in and out of being a hermit and being a social “icon”. There has to be balance in order to be happy and live life the right way, in my eyes.


  3. I'd have to say that I am a skeptic. I am one of those people who struggles to understand the whole concept of blind faith. A few years ago, I went through a crisis of faith, during which time I began to look at my religion and other religions. After a few months of research, I began to doubt my faith. A few months after that, I had pretty much abandoned it completely, and had become agnostic. I am skeptical in matters other than religion as well. For example, I am very skeptical when it comes to politics. I do not take one party's word over the other, but instead question the motives and reasoning behind each party's argument. Because of this, I do not identify myself with either the Republican or the Democratic party. I am so skeptical that I am often mistaken for being a cynic, as I tend to not to take sides in cases where there are sides. I also have found that some people mistake my skepticism of the things that they believe in as meaning that I believe otherwise. Just because I have a hard time believing that all war is unnecessary and wrong does not mean that I think that all war is good and necessary. In some ways I am also a Stoich, as I am a "shit happens" kind of person. This does not mean that I do not sometimes despair when said shit happens, but for the most part I try not walk the "poor me" and "my life sucks and nobody else understands" path.

    -Brian Mark, 2nd hour

  4. I have worked to understand certain classes and groups of people at schools such as Groves, Seaholm, Brother Rice, Troy High and Lahser and so far all I have found out is how to skeptic about some people or groups over the other. I can confirm that a certain group at Seaholm will ask people to hang next weekend but never to actually come through with any plans so I should be skeptical when talking about attending a social event with them. I found it easy to be skeptical of a lot of things when interacting with people at our age level. Often if one does not know another person in another clique by their junior or senior year it may be hard to really trust these new friends and one should be skeptical. Skepticism has helped me use critical thinking to understand people though. It has also helped me find a deeper meaning or better answer to questions. Often my friend comes up with a subject and he may come to a consensus on his thoughts but I try to continue and try to say why something may not work and be skeptical of his finals thoughts to entice further discussion and possibly a better solution or consensus. Skepticism may not always work when trying to debunk a question or theory but it is helpful in the sense that it offers alternatives and defensive claims.
    +Timothy Moore 2nd Hour

  5. I would have to say I agree with the Cynics. It sounds like Buddhism. Reasons why I agree with the Cynics, is because I do not believe in materialistic objects to make us happy. Yeah sure they make us happy for a while and then after it runs out. “Oh man I just got the new Call of Duty", 3 months later, "This game blows, and it is the worst game I've ever played". True happiness lies in good relationships, family, love, and friendships. To be free is to cut all strings to material objects. To limit what we want to what we need. Everything in America, well in this entire world is based off of wants. The economy wouldn't run if people didn't want things. How would Forever 21 make money if they didn't get Clothes- Hungry women to shop there? My economics teacher told me “In the economics material things makes us happy". To be happy we must be free from materialistic objects. Being free is amazing. We can become slaves to our wants and passions. For example our cell phones, oh I'm sorry, pocket computers now. We always use them, texting, calling, face-booking, and all this other sh*t. We become obsessed with them. And when we don't have them we freak out, and there isn't anything else to do. We become slaves to our passions. Your phone isn't holding a whip telling you to touch it and use it. (Get your Mind out of gutter). My faith teaches me to cut strings to material objects. Monks do it. Another reason why I follow the Cynics is because of conspiracies. We have been cheated, and deceived by the government. All this censored sh*t. CNN propaganda, covering for the government. A major thing I believe to exist is the illuminati, and the free masons. I won’t get into that. But Mr. Wickersham please takes a few minutes to watch this,

    The government covers up a lot. They never tell you about the thousands that die. All of the innocent people who get killed. We are over hear saying “Kill them terrorists", when really we are terrorizing innocent people over there.
    Please listen to what he says. He clearly says this happens every day in the Middle East.

    You never see any dead bodies on the news. Al Jazeera will show you the deaths and the ugliness that we have caused and been doing.

  6. When it comes to Hellanism, All the theories can be related to today. The world is full of skeptics, Cynics too, although not as many, are all those conspiracy nuts. But in high school, and to my life now, the most important and valid hellanism school of though is stoicism.
    Aaaaa stoicism. When I think of it I instantly go to Greek soldiers, like Achilles or Odysseus. It's not the lack of emotion, it's just not showing your emotion. In high school you kind of have to be stoic, people can be mean, teachers can be cruel, and if you show a little weakness, then blammo, you'll have a target on your back for the rest of your high school career.
    Honestly, if you saw someone crying in the middle of the halls, you'd just look at them and think "loser" I know it sounds harsh, but come on, it's true. Emotion makes you look weak, and weakness makes you look vulnerable, and easy to manipulate, it's best to avoid that.
    The thing is, life is painful regardless who you are. If you don't accept pain, accept fear, you'll wind up stuck in your house hunkered behind a mattress holding a shotgun, praying that you're not the one in a thousand who gets killed, and tortured. Stoicism is the best school of thought, because to me, it's the only one that is perfectly honest.

    Jeremy Kazdan

  7. For this blog, I wasn't sure which one to write about because for the most part I feel like each of the schools of hellenism apply to me. But, I really agree with the cynical aspect yet I think especially with the area I live in you can't truly follow their ideas. To me, when it comes down to it, I really don't think materialistic items are important. Of course I love my laptop but I could probably live without it. I like to buy clothes all the time but I know I could probably do without but I feel like with the way things are, you can't truly avoid living a materialistic lifestyle. When you have money, why not spend it? Yet when it comes to fun, I think I have more fun without the help of things that are materialistic. The best memories I have are ones just with my friends doing the most random things. If it was possible, and I hadn't been brought up in a materialistic society I probably would be much happier living in simplicity. But since I wasn't, I really don't know how to. The other part of cynicism, which has to do with trusting people and dismissing good intentions is something that I feel the same about. I know that it is kind of a negative way of thinking but I really don't think anyone is truly good. Just because you don't physically act on it doesn't mean that you're not thinking about it. And, all of the bad things that have happened are huge examples. Too many people have been trusted just to let us down. It seems that anything considered "good" is always "too good to be true". If someone wants to give you something for free that has any value you(i) automatically think why and almost never think maybe they want to do it for the common good. I have just experienced way too many bad people and it has lead me on to thinking very cynically of people. You really can't trust anyone but yourself.
    -Natalie Garr

  8. I think that the Hellenistic school that best explains my life would be Cynics. I am a big believer in that material things cannot make you happy. Material things like, a big TV or a convertible is only temporarily happiness, but family, friends and healthy relationships can make you permanently happy. I have had a privileged life, for the most part if I want something, I can get it. At the end of the day, I’ve found that no laptop, I-pod or shoes make me has happy as people have. As humans, we grow and learn from people, we cannot rely on material things to do the same. Growing up, I realize that I have a hard time trusting others, so I feel like that makes me more like a Cynic. I have always questioned people’s sincerity, even when I know them well. How come we never believe those computer ads that say we can have a free Apple I-phone? Its simple, because those ads cannot be trusted. Nowadays, it’s hard to believe anything you hear on the news, such as wars in the Middle East and around the world. I hear the conditions that my aunts and uncles are living in, but then I see how the news covers up the real truths, like families who have no electricity or water for days. These past few years, it seems like politicians have been harder to trust more than ever. I find it difficult to choose who to vote for, because they say one thing, and do the opposite. How can anyone believe in their sincerity when politicians lie most of the time? I would fit in as a Cynic, because I question people’s sincerity, and I don’t believe material things can make you truly happy.

    -Riam K.

  9. I would say my lifestyle fits somewhere between the teaching of the cynics and the Epicureans. The past half year or so, however, I have shifted my attitude towards an Epicurean belief. When Alberto Knox explained the Epicureans in Sophie’s World, he brought up the example of eating too much chocolate. He said that if you eat all this chocolate in one sitting, it will be very tasty but afterwards you will face some bad consequences. This is what I have tried to do with my life recently. Although gorging me on Pizza or McDonalds or guzzling down a huge Slurpee is very tasty, it will have both short term and long term consequences. (Imagine doing that 2 to 3 days a week!) I used to eat a LOT but I have cut down on my sometimes excessive eating. Heavy stress is an awful thing for teenagers to go through, but many teenagers do nothing to avoid or cut down on it. I have been doing a lot to cut down on my stress, even though this means I might not to do as much stuff. Rather than stay up late playing video games or watching TV or on Twitter, I go to bed early, so I am relaxed in the morning. This fits right with the Epicureans belief, of avoiding pain or suffering by cutting down on temptations or impulses.
    ~Kyle A. “The Fruit Ninja” Gray

  10. The viewpoint that I believe that I fit into would be a skeptic with a touch of stoicism. Lets start with the touch of stoicism first, first example: why should I give a crap about what a deep hole Charlie Sheen is in? Or any other piece of nonsense that "E!" spouts out about Justin Beiber's pet guinea pig or something? None of that affects an average Joe's life in a drastic way! Now here is where skepticism fits in: religion (of course). Never mind God, there are some stories that people believe are true that I just cant believe without the most recent scientific fact. But I don't think skepticism is just a "the proof is in the pudding" kind of thought. I think it can be more of thinking beyond what you see. Take the news for example. I can't help but think that there is more going on than what the media is allowed to reveal, or is too scared and corporate to (by the way, what ever happened to investigative journalism?). I also think of a skeptic person as someone who uses reasoning and asks questions to get to the best possible answer. Also, I think the opposite to a skeptic is someone who is gullible. A gullible person does not use reason or asks question or cares about how the proof got into the pudding, or why there is proof in the pudding in the first place! To me, blind faith is a very unsettling thought.

    - Ariel M.

  11. Philosophy Blog #46
    Braxton Allred
    Wickersham 2nd hour
    I would have to say that for the greater part of my life I haven’t truly been affected or even thought about these Hellenistic theories of life. Although I would have to say that bits and pieces of the teachings of each of the individual’s schools of thought can be found in many places of it, no single belief really overrules the over, but Cynicism and Skeptics are more easily found in my life than the other Hellenistic beliefs. For example, it’s not only my belief but my whole religions belief that we shouldn’t become too attached to any material object on this mortal earth (things like crack-berries, computers, sports, video games, etc). I’m not saying that it’s wrong to use and take advantage of mankind’s technological advancements, since they truly help with our tasks, but we shouldn’t become dependent on them. Instead of obsessing over getting a gun in Modern Warfare2 for the x-box, we should spend our time stimulating our minds by reading or learning something, you can even spend time with your family and friends and develop relationships that will last forever (wither they are eternal or not doesn’t matter because all these activities are healthier for us anyway). But at the same time, it’s my personal belief that we should question everything were told so we can know the true behind something (goes with being a skeptic). I mean, it’s not really healthy to blindly believe in something because first of all, it might be wrong so by questioning the virtues and thoughts of the thing we believe in, we can see the whole picture of something and decide for ourselves it’s the right thing for our own reasons. A good example of having blind faith is a Christian’s belief in God. I know that in my religion (and most likely many other religions), many people only attend church services because it’s what they’ve been told to do their whole life. They have absolute, blind faith in something they don’t even know that’s right just because they’ve been told to have faith in God by their parents or other people. But to truly develop your own believes it’s necessary to question your religions teachings, and truly search and ponder to see what right. For some people like atheists, the answer could be that there is not God and were just a random occurrence in a random, depressingly gigantic universe. But for others, they do see God in their lives and his hand in the creation of the world and mankind’s history. In the end, we should have some level of skeptism so we can develop personal opinions at the same time, we need to keep an open mind and see the whole picture before creating these opinions (therefore we need to remember BALANCE/GOLDEN MEAN or whatever else you want to call it in every place in our life).

  12. Skepticism.

    For the entirety of my life, questions have made up a healthy portion of my contribution to the millions of conversations I've taken part in throughout the span of my existence. From an early age, I have used questioning as a way to explore every aspect of a situation or theory, in order to gain a full circle understanding of said situation or theory. Therefore, as the question is such an important part of my everyday, I would strongly consider myself skeptical in every sense of the word. While always present in my personality, Christian school really was the catalyst in allowing my skepticism to reach its true potential. I remember my grade school days repeatedly being marked by questions such as: "If death is the punishment for a creature's sins on earth, why does a cow have to die?" (to which I received no answer) Religion class always filled my mind with questions, and I had an extremely difficult time accepting the same blind faith which my peers so ferociously fed on. I believe that it is completely naive to place faith in something you have never felt or seen because it sets our psyche up for immense disappointment when prayers go unanswered or science completely discredits an aspect of the Bible/Qu'ran/Torah (not saying this has happened, just hypothetically). While, as you have stated it is cliche to advocate for a "seeing is believing" mentality, I have accepted said cliche as my mantra (and by mantra I mean safeguard against disappointment).

    -Christopher R.

  13. While I’d love to have the power to follow the Epicureans, my mind does not work that way; my chemical make up leaves me a cynic. I’m in a constant state of doubt in regards to the things around me. I find no pleasure in materialistic possessions. I live as simple a life as any cynic. While my thoughts are intricate and complex, often times overwhelming me to the extreme, my actions are straightforward and frank. Every path I take is chosen to provide me with the least work possible. I’m lazy, I’m childish, I’m skeptical, and I’m obstinate. I’m stubborn in my beliefs to the point where I need to be proved wrong multiple times for me to accept it. I take what others say to me with the slightest bit of belief. Often times, I attach my own reasons to various everyday encounters. Whether or not I’m correct is irrelevant, because it takes a lot to change my mind. However, being a cynic, I don’t even accept myself. I try to live my life as the Epicureans did. I am constantly trying to discard the erratic and overpowering tangles of my mind. I am consistent in my wanting to just feel, and act on how I feel. With the way I think, however, I don’t allow myself that freedom. My own mind has learned to tune out the emotions and feelings that every normal human experiences. While this may sound depressing, and even immature, it is a way for me to remain intact. If I weren’t able cut off my ability to feel, I’d get caught up in my thoughts.

    -Julia Chesbrough

  14. If I have to choose one, that would be the skeptics. Blind belief in something is never a good thing, and can lead to both suffering and tragedy. I think that without really consciously knowing it I've been a skeptic all my life. Growing up I remember refuting any sort of fact that I couldn't "see with my own eyes". I always wanted proof if I were to believe something.
    Before I saw science as the total truth, and the only thing we needed. But as I grew older and I guess wiser, I realized that if you have a belief that everything that a scientist says is total truth, then you are on shaky ground. For example when I started researching the theory of evolution, I realized that this theory about where life came from is standing on very thin proofs. But because science has no better way of explaining the origins of life, this theory gets widely accepted and all the evidence which exists that refutes its truth gets brushed aside in school books and popular media. This is a good example where some "healthy skepticism" is good to have.
    My skeptic view to the world is something I still have today, and it is what I base my beliefs about the world on. I am a firm believer in God, and what I did was to ask Him: Hey if you're real, you have to reveal yourself if I'm going to believe in you. And He did, so therefore I decided to believe in Him. Simple enough!
    So anyhow, to sum it up: my Hellenistic model is skepticism, because I believe when I get real-life proof. Seeing is believing!

    - Rasmus S.

  15. I think the school that applies the most to my life is the school of skeptics. I think it is very important to not believe everything you hear because if you do I think the world would be a pretty confused place. If nobody questioned anything than how would we know what was true and what was a lie? Believing everything you hear doesn’t make sense because how can you be 100% sure that the source it is coming from is being truthful unless you are the source yourself? I think a healthy dose of skepticism is good because it makes us think through the issue at hand instead of believing it the first time we hear it. I do believe though that you shouldn’t completely disregard the thing that someone has told you. Take into regard what they have said and figure out after the fact if what they have told you is truthful or not. There is also the possibility that what the person has told you is the truth, but there can also be another truth along with that.There is always two sides to a story, so question not only if what the person has told you is the truth but if there are also other truths to what you have been told. You should doubt not only what you hear but what you see because even thought you were the person who saw whatever happened, it might appear different to others than how it actually did to you. Always question everything you hear because you can never be sure it you heard it correctly.
    Melanie E.

  16. As ironic or mocking as this will sound, I am skeptical about being skeptical. That is to say, I have a certain degree of disbelief in everything around me and that includes my religion and the ground I walk on. I doubt my own existence. Yet as many others on this blog have written, I do not find this as a suitable ground to discount religion or god. My own attempt at existence results in some morbid conglomeration between cynicism, stoicism and skepticism. I doubt the motives of others, I strive for simplicity, always wear my poker face, close to hate materialism and consumerism, and of course doubt everything because I can’t truly trust myself. I don’t particularly ascribe to the Epicureans because I think there is more to life than just personal happiness, but I won’t ever say no to feeling good.
    But back to religion. Forget god for a minute. Tell me what is charge. Tell me what is life. Tell me what is time. Don’t describe properties or its effects, tell me what it is. For all our “knowledge” and “science” we still can’t answer even basic questions and I have a hunch in the future we will be colonizing other dimensions without understanding exactly what we are colonizing. If you can’t tell me what charge is, which holds together life, which is governed by time, then how can you tell me what whether God exists or not or more specifically, whether I exist or not. Since I can’t be sure of my existence, I don’t have any more proof to accept your existence, I have no reason to accept any material objects existence (thus holding on to objects is points = cynicism), and accepting the variability of existence forces one to maintain a stoical stance on life because you’ve accepted anything can, will, or has happened.
    -Nasir S.

  17. Out of the four Hellenistic schools of thought I would say that the one that applies to me the most is Cynics. Probably my main reason is because I want to live life very simple and I don’t value all these expensive material possessions as much as others. Secondly I feel for the most part people have other intentions and reasons for doing things. There are only a few people I think that may actually just want to be helpful. I think the majority of people will only help someone if it has some benefit for them, that is more than just so they can feel good inside. People are always formulating opinions on others so sometimes people go out of there way just to make it appear like they have an acceptable image. This is the case for many celebrities and athletes. They are always saying that you need to do the right thing and that something’s are bad. But then you see them in the news for getting arrested or doing an action against what they have been preaching to everyone.
    Lastly I wouldn’t go as far to say that I believe in all these conspiracy theories that big events bring along. But when it comes to everyday life and peoples motives for doing something I think there is actually something else behind it. Are society is influenced by the media and it has taught many people into a way of thinking only for themselves and to do whatever it takes to get to the top.

    Bretton G. "BRG"

  18. Personally I think I fit in most with the school of skepticism. It seems like that’s the most common/popular choice, because it comes off as the "safest". It’s easy to not fully engage yourself in something, like not to believe until you have a proof of some sort. I am like this with almost everything I’m unfamiliar or weary of. It could be as broad as whether or not to agree with the existence of a god/gods or something simple like "are we really going to use these random classes in real life?" (Not philosophy, that one’s always applicable). I think I live my life more on the air of caution, but in return I think it prevents me from doing something stupid or foolish. I also believe there’s a splash of cynicism to me. I will more times than not see people and have a pre-determined judgment of them and it can be hard to break. I also feel most people do good deeds solely to reap the rewards like a physical asset, or even to receive "good karma". Or that a lot of people have cruel intentions behind the mask of a friendly face. You see this lot with adolescent girls. They may compliment each other, or say the ever popular "oh my gosh! we should hang out!!" and no sooner does it leave their lips that they turn to their real friends and say how much they dislike that person, or how they think their shirt is ugly, or their hairs frizzy, whatever it may be.

    -Lauren N.

  19. I find that the Skeptics school of thought is very applicable to today’s society. Skeptics differ from cynics in that they don’t reject everything someone proposes, but they are still suspicious and rely heavily on proof and evidence to validate claims.
    Modern science in today’s society could not provide a better example of the skeptics’ view. Any reputable claims made in science are based on evidence and research, not “senses” or suspicions. For example, we use science to explain most of our world events: The creation of the world itself, the universe, and other components that shape our reality. Sciences like physics and chemistry are often used to back up claims made about the age of the earth or the origin of a specific species. People devise theories and philosophies and then attempt to back their theories with scientific proof.
    People tends to be more skeptical about things that have not been proven or show little proof and less skeptical about things that have a lot of research or proof behind them. People in today’s civilization basically say, “I know what you believe, but do you have any evidence to back that up.?”
    Recently, I watched a movie called The Case for a Creator (Lee Strobel). Lee Strobel, a journalist for The Chicago Tribune, takes the viewers along his journey in attempt to prove “God” because he is an atheist and feels that if there is a God, he would need proof if he would ever believe it. Amazingly, he found such proof. I won’t go into all the details for sake of time, but one observation that I found particularly convincing was his exploration of DNA and the complexity of it. DNA is nothing more than a giant biological library. It stores the instruction ever organism needs to grow, reproduce, and function. There is no other source in nature (or out of nature) that stores such an intricate and incredibly complex system of instruction. Darwin’s theory of evolution is based on a series of random and gradual changes that occur over time, but consider this: If I take all the letters in the alphabet and put random letter together, will I ever compose Shakespeare’s Hamlet. No. Even if I were to do this an infinite number of times I would never end up with a specifically designed masterpiece. DNA could not have been a random incident. It is far too perfect, far too “composed” to be a result of mere chance.

    Krista Dudley 2nd hour

  20. I read over the definitions and examples of each school of thought several times before I could come to a conclusion of which best describes my life. I didn’t feel as though any of the four described my lifestyle. Although Epicurus’s belief sound like a good way to live (only taking in what you really need), I do not find myself living that way. When it comes to school work v. relaxation, I tend to do more relaxation then school work leaving myself to the school work late at night. If I were a true Epicurus, my closet would most likely have a lot less clothes then it does. I would not say that I am a stoic because I am a very emotional person and do not endure pain well. Not to mention that I fear the destruction of the earth. I do try to do my part by recycling, etc, something a stoic may find unnecessary. While I try to avoid being materialistic and agree that family is more important than any material object, I still would have trouble distancing myself from materialistic things such as my phone or car. I most definitely am not always in disbelief and questioning people. I tend to believe and have faith in others until proven otherwise. However, I do try to see things from both sides. For this reason, I most closely identify myself with Skepticism. I have opinions on many important topics of today’s society but am always open to listen to others opinions and facts and accept that I can be proven wrong. Once proven wrong, I change my stance on the topic.


  21. I have been skeptic for most my life. Since I was a child, I have always demanded proof for things that I was told. If a kid at school told me a rumor about so-and-so doing this-and-that, I would not believe it until I heard it myself from that person themselves. Lately, I've been trying to sort out whether I truly believe there is a God or not. I do belong to a Methodist church and go there every now and then, but while listening to what they're preaching to us, I just feel left out. I myself have never had any sort of passion for religious beliefs, due to the fact that I have never had a legitimate experience with God or anything of the sort. I've never seen Him or felt His presence. So how can I know He's really there? When I was very young, I was told that if I pray, He will answer. So I prayed and prayed and prayed, but never got a response. It got extremely frustrating. I feel that this was the start of my skepticism of God. Today, I hear people preaching about Gods love for us all and how He will answer our prayers when we are in need, but I just can't truly believe that and I won't it until I get some sort of sign or proof that He really exists. It's not that I am calling these people liars. I certainly have a bit of hope that He really is there and I feel that if I ever do get a sign then it will be life changing for me. But until then, I will have to "see it to believe it."

    Jackie G

  22. Of the four Hellenistic schools thought, I tend to be a skeptic most of the time. I think I am a skeptic because I tend to live life in the moment. I try not to fret on what is ahead of me in life, or what previously happened to me. Every day I try to focus on what I am doing at the moment. Maybe I am a skeptic too because I know what happened in the past cannot be changed no matter how hard you try to change it.
    Going back to the example from our worksheet about what college a person attends. My entrie life I have been told that I does not matter what college to attend it matters what you do with the education you receive. You do not have to go to Harvard or Yale to be successful in life, you can go to a small community college and save money and still thrive. The name of a university will only get you so far in life.
    As I stated earlier, I think I am a skeptic most of the time. Sometimes it is hard for me not to focus on the future or not to wonder what may happen. I am a curious guy and sometimes I often wonder if I do this will this happen, I know that goes against the average skeptic but I do not think that someone can be skeptic, stoic, cynic, and or epicuric 100% of the time its just impossible.
    -K. Luyckx

  23. When I look at all the different Hellenistic Schools, I believe I am most like a skeptic or a stoic. When I am presented with a new idea or a new thought that someone talks about, I am almost always the person who first questions it by going “How so?” or by telling them to elaborate on their position. I do this because when something is a new idea I usually am very skeptical about it and not sure that it is true.

    Recently I started to view my religion with more and more skepticism. This caused me to doubt a lot about my faith -- not to doubt if there is or isn’t a god but instead I doubted the whole idea of being a part of a religious group. I saw too many flaws in the ideas of the group (Church) too make me believe it was something worth following and believing in.

    Though I feel that being skeptical is the Hellenistic thought that relates with me the most, I also feel that being stoic is something that I hold as a very important idea also. When I approach a difficult or stressful situation, I try and approach it as emotionless as possible. The reason why I do this is because the situation I am approaching is probably already complicated enough without adding my own emotions to the mix. But there will always be the times that my emotions get the better of me and I get mad – but it takes a lot to actually get me really mad at something.

    -Dan R.

  24. Which Hellenist schools of thought applies in my life? I would have to say that I can see myself being a skeptic (I noticed a lot of people chose skepticism). Over the period of my high school time or period or whatever you would like to call it, every year I began to disbelief a lot of things and keep growing mentally (for the best or worst?) My disbeliefs began with me just cutting religion out of the picture; I had numerous debates about it and listed to both sides of people who believe and people who don’t believe. I have also done the whole praying thing and as I look back and looking at me it’s pretty funny, but more so sad. What’s funny about both of the sides of the belief/disbelief is that they both sounded crazy. So I began to not give a damn at all. Then I thought changed, and not just in the religious way, in school I began to doubt all sorts of things, including our backbone in schools, which are the teachers. I began to think that there is no way that teachers actually like what they do, that and some actually suck at what they do and I have no idea how they got into this school.
    Kind of driving away from school, and more of a world open topic, my skepticism ran through more than just school. I began to wonder if all that we knew was well…what we knew. For example, most people as they grow become skeptic in their goals, they stop aiming big because someone and most of the time it’s not just a someone it’s a lot of people and the denial of “oh you can’t do that” ect, well I sort of have begun to be a skeptic of that whole “get older, lower your standards” thing, I don’t get how dumb you really have to be to listen to what other people say, knowing you’re the only person that knows how your life works…

    -Nicolas Morgan

  25. I would agree most with the Cynicism beliefs. The way they lived supposely was a simple life, or at least as simple as they could naturally be. I like simple things a lot. I like the way simple things can be really impressive sometimes without any complications. Their goal is happiness, which is a nice goal to have. Happiness is a good feeling, and when your mental attitude is positive it is a lot easier. Nartural things are really interesting and they believe a lot in that, which is a main reason why i agree with them.


  26. Over the past few years, i've really grown to know a lot about myself. I feel out of all the Hellenistic schools, epicurean applies most to my life. I wouldn't go as far as to say that I think im extremely different than most people, but having gone to school with the same people for four years, I know that i've removed myself from the day to day drama that goes on. When friends come to me and tell me their problems they are having with friends or family, i find myself wondering why I even bother listening. This sounds harsh but I literally think that most conflicts at this time in our young adult lives are pointless and caddy. Maybe I feel this way because i'm fed up listening to the same stories about backstabbing, or I think my friends/peers waste their time stressing over things that wont matter in a year from now. I always try to live my life honestly, and to the fullest. I dont waste my time around people/things that make me unhappy, and doing this has made me become a more rational person.

  27. I personally believe that skepticism describese the best out of all the viewpoints mentioned. For a long Time, science has been a big part of my life. In the long run this has shaped my beliefs over opinionated matters, especially religion. I find it hard to devote myself to matters such as religion for this reason. I feel that there is no reason to fully believe in it when there is absolutely no concrete proofs or facts supporting religion. Even in other matters I find myself doubting if the truth is actually the truth. I feel as if skeptics don't let the frenzy of opinions take over. If you arent 100 percent sure about a topic, there is no point in devoting yourself to it because skepticism can potentially occur.


  28. I can really relate to the ideas of stoicism and I feel they are clearly reflected in the way I live my life.
    With media as wide spread as it is, and the entire world being connected via the internet, there have been an increasing number of "sensations" that create a huge buzz and then disappear. Some of them are simply for entertainment purposes with other more serious examples being political scandals or natural disasters. Either way, stories that may be the headlines of one day are forgotten the next, because something more interesting is already happening somewhere else in the world.

    The key is to not let this constant barrage of sometimes information affect how you live your life. Everyone cant get up in arms over every issue, and since ultimately most things in the news have no effect on our lives, it isnt worth the effort. Not to say we shouldnt watch the news and remain up to date on current events, just that the president isnt going to decide to pull out of Iraq because he saw your bumper sticker. Just relax, kick back, focus on your own life and whats actually in your control, and everything will turn out alright.

    Jake Pawloski

  29. Out of the four Hellenist schools of thought, I think that the one that resonates with me best is Epicurean. Though I think that future outcomes must be taken into account whenever making decisions, I don’t think we should allow ourselves to over analyze the future. The only thing that we truly have complete control over is our actions in the present and therefore the present should take precedent. Many of my friends try to plan out social activities to the dot, leaving no room to be spontaneous. This annoys me. I think that the best way to live is to just go with the flow: do what you want to do when you want to do it, eat what you’re hungry for when you’re hungry for it. To me that just makes more sense.
    While I agree with the “Carpe Diem” aspect of Epicureanism, I tend to disagree with Epicurus’ vision of the “best sort of life is one that is free from pain in the body and from disturbances in the mind.” I think that in order to actually appreciate what life is and to be enlightened at all you must experience some form of pain or emotional disappointment. How can you even appreciate happiness without having anything bad or painful to weigh it against?
    Lastly, I don’t think that this philosophy should be taken to the extremes of Epicurus and Thoreau and drop out of society completely. People must find the “golden mean” between the Epicurean way of life and societal responsibility.

    Michael Schwartz

  30. I have no idea what Hellenistic school I adhere most to, which is why I didn’t do this blog in the first place. I think I belong to Teenagerisdom as of today. On one hand, I do believe you must live in the moment like the Epicureans did, and I did for a long time. And it got me nowhere good. Also the Epicureans were in a way so broad with their ideas that I’m pretty sure everyone would somehow belong to those ideas. Live in the now but weigh present pleasure to future pleasure? Yeah, thanks real specific. Then comes Skeptisism. I want to say I’m skeptic because I do believe society brainwashes us in a way and I want to be able to think for myself and to do this I must be skeptic about what I may accept as a truth. “There is no absurdity so obvious that it cannot be firmly planted in the human head if you only begin to impose it before the age of five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity” But then comes the question what is the truth which just sends me into question after question leading to a headache and sleep and before you know it, I forgot to do that blog for class. Sometimes I think it’s simply not worth the trouble and I wish I could just shut off my mind but I can’t. So if I am in a way Epiurean AND skeptism, how can that work? On one hand I live in the now and on the other I constantly question the now instead of staying simple-minded and enjoying it! And obviously if I just went around showing the complete turmoil my mind is in people would think I’m nuts so I have to hide it and be stoic. Which leads me to stoicism. Personally, I had a close friend who never let anything affect her, she took everything as it was and showed little real emotion. I later found out she was cutting as a way to 'get relief from the numbness' she had trapped herself in. Therefore, I'm convinced shutting ones emotions out leads to trouble. I wasn't completely sure what stoicism was so I did some research and visibly they said that a person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer strong emotions. To me shutting everything out, focusing on thoughts, becoming numb...that's easy. Living is hard, actually allowing yourself to feel emotions so deep they are in fact very dangerous, is a sign of amazing strength. Which I guess is contradictory to what I tend to do by showing a facade of a person that I'm not rather than having the courage to be myself and risk getting hurt. And it's late now so I'm gonna go straight to the cynics without trying to find some clever transiton.I do believe you can only find true happiness in yourself because everything your need is in yourself. However, being a tad bit epecurean, I also find great happiness in eating a twix bar. I mean, we have so little time in the material world so we might as well enjoy it. I guess I’m being a bit harsh on these various philosophies because I wish there was one specific way of life I could follow and believe in so that I wouldn’t have control over my choices and life would be a lot easier because I wouldn’t be able to blame myself for all the crap that happens. I’m going to regret that stringy sentence in the morning :P

    -Marie P


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