Tag Archives: ethics

We need to trust the world before we can see

tWeeds or flowers I have become interested in virtue and perception.It began when I read  a little Aristotle about virtue being a habit.That was quite recent.Before that for many years I believed virtuous acts would follow from being able to perceive well.But when we are fraught our minds and eyes tighten up and so we perceive only what may be a danger to us.To perceive others well we need to be in a position to trust others and we need to feel secure.How is this possible?From my studies I read that our ability to trust begins with a trusted caregiver in infancy,[See” atttachment and loss “by John Bowlby reference to come] We may be able to become more secure later by good fortune,friendship and love.If not,I seem to get the idea that if we are insecure and nervous we cannot truly perceive others and they may be in the same position.If we are very afraid then virtuous acts may be hard to accomplish. The reason is obvious… when. we are concerned with  mere survival as a person , in that state what we do to others  may be impossible for us to consider.We cannot truly see them and so we cannot act well towards them except by good luck.Or if we are able to tolerate great anxiety,we may see better…. if not we are incapable…. Those whom we cannot see properly we cannot truly consider with feeling  and act on this feeling.We see them partly or mainly in terms of the fearful fantasies in our minds and cannot see them as  other and interesting.When we make a friend online we may feel safer but in fact we are more likely to misperceive them. When we are from a sad a or difficut background it may help greatly if we have some friends who might point out our errors if we trust enough to tell them.Or we may pretend to be hard and tough.Neither leads to virtue.If we trust God it may help but I believe we see God through the lens of our parents.. which is not good…depending on the parents. When we live in fear,we cannot see what is there before us.We cannot let go.We cannot accept grace and love nor give it.We will try to live by will power.Ironically people who are fearful inside can develop a shell of toughness and pride and so are not seen as vulnerable  and/or lovable.Tbey may seem frightening to others. This account may help to explain why politics is the way it is and also  we see that arguing is not persuasive when the other is not able to open up and see things more broadly.Arguing makes us tighten up and see less well.And it can be frightening too though some cultures find it more acceptable than others.

Here are some relevant blogs and articles

This author had a lot to say about perception… http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/obituary-marion-milner-1163951.html   http://susannanelson.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/happy-go-lucky/

http://glimpsejournal.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/the-real-bees-knees-stunning-micro-view-of-the-workers-behind-your-mothers-day-flowers/

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Living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – a survival strategy

Living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – a survival strategy.

A very good post and person.Do read it as it is  heartening

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Why and how Sylvia Plath disappointed me

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Until last year I had read only  the most famous of Plath’s poems like “Daddy”.Then I read many more and also many works of criticism and explanation.And then I realised she was one of the  most gifted poets of her era. But alas, her maturity as a poet coincided with the breakdown of her marriage.And so her talents were used to  express mainly rage and then meaninglessness and death.

Was it only the tragedy of  her life situation that brought about her mature voice ? I believe not. And so I grieve that her wonderful works were full of rage and destructiveness…. what would she have written otherwise.I also believe that her motives in marrying Hughe were mixed…. and so  were his to her.Marriage is entered into too lightly and without understanding.I almost feel arranged marriages were better sometimes

Now maybe it  is wrong of me to say this but I know we all are acquainted with anger, envy,jealous and other painful emotions .But  I believe to cultivate them is not moral. And to utilise them in Art is something dangerous and maybe destructive. And without specifying any religion or  ethical system I believe acting ethically is more important than art, music,writing and so on…not that there is always a conflict.

I may appear to counsel perfection but I merely grieve for the loss of a genius and what she might have written if she had been given support and help when left alone with two  tiny children in a foreign land.

If we have gifts let us use them for good and for the encouragement of our  human companions on this  planet and not for harm,destruction ,stealing wealth and creating evil

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Levinas

BionSexual healingvivian-gornick_0hannaarendtsudomenica16ye8TillichMargaretDrabbleBW75wittgensteinMunch-studio-Getty95002154I have got another book by Levinas.I am planning to spend a few days reading and meditating…so i should have much to write about next week.I am very affected by the notion of the meaning of how encounter another and how ethics is the primary essence of philosphy

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Meeting a person’s eyes:Levinas in ordinary life

Jean-Baptist_Camille_Corot_Breton_Woman_With_Her_Little_Girl

corot woman

Corot

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Face-to-face

The face to face encounter and its ethical meaning/implications is at the heart of Levinas‘ thought.Just today I was thinking over some personal events relating to this.

A few months ago I went into a cafe and found myself just behind an ex-colleague whom  I regard [note the word] as friend.I could see her husband sitting at the back of the cafe.She did mutter,Hello,but  instead of  meeting me eye to eye and  saying,”my husband wants to be alone”,she went through an elaborate pantomime of mime indicating rejection or keep a distance…which was unpleasant.I would been much happier with a straightforward look and a few words.

Today I had a similar event.I met a woman who used to be my physiotherapist ,again in a queue.She looked at me full on and greeted me  with pleasure.As she picked up  her tray she asked me to join her and her husband plus a grandchild.We had a pleasant time,But if she had said,we are with our family,or whatever,that woulded have been fine too.because she looked at me

I am not saying the first woman ought to have done that.But what interests me is the lack of a willingness to “meet” me with her gaze.I  am entirely happy if people wish to be alone whilst the have coffee but I prefer them to say so.

Some individuals with autism are almost unable to make eye contact…. and this is because others are not real to  them,If we are near someone who will not meet our eyes,it can convey the same feeling.On the other hand,every one has off days and so I feel no anger,just a discomfort as this woman is very articulate and highly educated.I think her husband is quite controlling.

So this made me think about Levinas and about Martin Buber‘s I and Thou

There is also an expression,”he looked right through me”which is also a negative way of facing someone.And also,Cutting someone dead.

Essentially not looking at someone is a form of killing them as you imply they are not part  of society.Like not responding  to someone verbally or in writing.You are saying,You do not exist.

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For the bold:Moral relativism

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If like me you get hooked on philosophy the NYT has many intriguing articles such has this one.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/24/the-maze-of-moral-relativism/

Is it the case that atheism will damage our morals or those of our children?Can you have morals without religion?Ethics may  or may not need a religious base.Now  Bible reading is diminishing  is that leading to trouble?

Quotes tagged as “relativism”  Goodreads
Michel de Montaigne

“When I play with my cat, who knows if I am not a pastime to her more than she is to me?”
Michel de Montaigne, Apology for Raymond Sebond

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More on Emmanuel Levinas

PIC00649.JPGSince I came upon the work of Levinas I  have found his writing interesting even though tough for me to understand,,

I just found this useful list of references to him and in case you are interested you can take a look

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