Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Highlanders (Honors-9/10/13)

We started on the topic of Happiness. We discusses some of the characteristics of happy people, some of which were being self-actualized, curiosity (desire to learn), patience, open-mindedness, understanding, and empathy.  The concept of empathy as a trait for happiness was called into question.  Is not being happy a selfish thing?  Subconsciously, we will do things with selfish reasons even if we do not think of it as selfish.  Also the idea that just because there were selfish intentions for doing a kind act, does it really detract from the value of that act of kindness?  Does the recipient of kindness truly care the intentions behind it if they still benefit from it?
We also went into a contrast of the philosophies of Anne Rand (work and strive for one's self) and Buddhism (try to separate from "self").  That brought up the question of does this Buddhist idea of Enlightenment and reaching Nirvana have selfish motivations behind it, even though they feel that they "have separated from self?"
Question brought up in our discussion: Do we attach the wrong meaning to the word "selfish?"  We have this bad connotation behind the word.  People think that it means we do things completely for ourself with no cares for others.  Is this the right way to look at this word/concept?
We also slightly touched the philosophy of slave relations in the past and race relations from the past until now.
We also touched on gay marriage/relationships and the legalization of marijuana...we feel that it can lead to interesting conversation in the future as well as today.
With Marijuana the thought of "If you have to do it illegally, people will do it irresponsibly, so if it is legalized then people would be more responsible with it and it use."


  1. Is happiness a sense of accomplishment you have done for someone else, or is it just any form of pleasure?

  2. Hey there! Section 17, represent over here.

    That discussion about happiness and the true meaning/ulterior motives behind acts of kindness seems like it would be incredibly fascinating. I would have to say that I would care if I found out that someone had helped me only as a means of helping themselves. True, the act itself would still have merit, but the meaning behind the act has changed: it's simply for their own personal gain, and I would rather them not do anything at all than use me as a stepping stone for their own gain.

    And I kind of agree that it is rather difficult to find an act of kindness that is truly selfless. After all, making someone else happy makes us happy, and we sure do like feeling happy, do we not? To reference my favorite TV show "Friends," to have a truly selfless act of kindness would require doing something for someone that makes them happy, but that we ourselves hate or have nothing to gain from.

    1. Nathan,

      It's an interesting question that you pose, whether or not there can be any truly altruistic act and whether or not the meaning of said act changes with the motivation behind it.

      Looking at your first comment, regarding learning that someone had done something for personal gain, I have to make a point in opposition. Consider, for popular example, the schools Oprah Winfrey builds and funds in Africa. Arguably, her motives are not pure in building those schools. Even IF she doesn't do it for the publicity (debatable), she still does it because doing a good thing makes her feel good. That being said, I can guarantee you the hundreds of children in that school who would not otherwise be receiving an education have not stopped and said, "Well, I would rather she hadn't done this at all." Nor do I expect the impoverished people at food kitchens look at the food their receiving and turn up their noses just because a class of elementary kids brought the cans in trying to get an ice cream party.

      Just something to think about!

  3. Factual Question: Which Ancient Greek Philosopher was born on the Greek Island of Samos? (Answer: Epicurus)

    Discussion Question: Have you ever thought about your own death? What thoughts did you have on it? Do you think it is natural to think about these things?

    Comment: I really enjoyed the variety of our discussion. It may seem like we went on a few tangents, but I think that one of the finer points of philosophy is not just being able to discuss abstract concepts, but being able to apply them practically to the real world. (Sorry, Plato.) I really thought our discussion on motivation and altruism was fascinating, and how it branched into discussions of 'self' and 'selfishness' and the often negative connotations of those terms which don't necessarily apply to the word in all senses.

    Link: A brief commentary on Ethical Hedonism.

  4. It seems to me there's a difference between simple pleasure and true happiness. Pleasure, as a rule, is the ultimate example of ego-centrism, since pleasurable activities are pursued merely as a means of satisfying personal desires. True happiness, on the other hand, assumes some kind of fulfillment which cannot come from merely satisfying one's own desires--meaning happiness is something more than pure pleasure. Pleasure demands more and cannot be satisfied, whereas fulfillment is synonymous with satisfaction, which is permanent. The question then becomes how we achieve that fulfillment, since pleasure can't. CS Lewis said, "If I find there are desires in me that nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another.

  5. Whoops,forgot to close the quotation: ...for another." There we go.

  6. I believe it was your group that had a discussion on happiness that was similar to ours. Happiness, in my opinion, is selfish in many ways. But in response to whether or not selfish reasons detract from a kind act, I feel that an individual's happiness relies heavily on that of friends and family, and doing something that benefits both parties shouldn't be degraded for that reason. When we give to charity, we feel good about ourselves -- whether we gave for the pat on the back from others or not. Someone who relies on that charity for help will still receive it, regardless of the intentions behind it. (H3)

  7. Factual Question: When did Pyrrho live? 365-270 BC

    Discussion Questions: I found it really interesting about Phyrro talking about how you can't experience your own death, because once it happens you won't be around to experience it. Do you agree or disagree? Do you think you will understand and know when you die?

    Happiness was a huge topic for our group. I think it is really interesting because happiness differs for everyone. What makes me happy could make someone else happy. If you think about that and the fact that many people base a successful life off of being happy, then there are huge interpretations open to what would classify as a successful life. This was very interesting to me, because then would that mean that success is based off your own opinion of success? If so that is super contrary to the society that we live in today's version of success. For the other groups, The Philosopher's Guild, I think that philosophical counseling could be very beneficial to people. Personally I have no experience with this, but it does sound like an interesting thing. However, I do not think that philosophical counseling would be beneficial to people with serious mental illnesses. Those are things that actually need to be cured instead of just taking a new way on looking at it.

    For my link here is where you too can even sign up for a session:


  8. Olivia (The Highlanders)11:00 AM CDT

    Factual question: Who was considered to be the most extreme sceptic of all time? A: Pyrrho

    Discussion question: Do you think it is morbid to dwell on your own death or do you think it would be a way to improve your living?

    Comment: Before this discussion, I had never really thought of the connotation behind the word "selfish" or how that could really affect happiness or charity. I am glad to say that I can now think of things a little differently, although I still believe that people can do things and be completely selfless.

    Link: Here is some info about Pyrrho! http://www.philosophybasics.com/philosophers_pyrrho.html

  9. It is interesting to think about happiness in a new light. Not so much in the terms of a feeling of personal joy, but instead bettering society through actions and actions that you as a person influence.

  10. Jennifer (The Highlanders)12:36 PM CDT

    Factual Question: Who believed that fear of death was a state of mind to be overcome? A: Epicurus

    Discussion Question: Do you fear death? Why or why not?

    Comment: I thought our discussion on happiness and selfish motivations was very enlightening. I will be concentrating on what my own motivations are behind my actions in the future to see if there is always some kind of selfish motivation.

    Link: Here's a pretty long article from Stanford University on the philosophical viewpoints of happiness:

  11. Factual: where was epicurus born?
    (Greek island of samos in aegean)
    Discussion: Do you agree with Epicurus's idea about death?
    Comment: I liked our discussion, especially because I never really noted that selfish didn't have to be a negative idea.
    Quote: "Death is nothing to us; for that which has been dissolved into its elements experiences no sensations, and that which has no sensation is nothing to us."