Monday, May 1, 2017
The Office and Philosophy
In the first installment of The Office and Philosophy we talked about Michael’s lack of empathy and his ignorance. Also, we talked about Pam and Jim’s flirtation relationship, and the effects of their relationship in the office. In the second installment, we will be further discussing the philosophy of moral from the essay “Getting to Know Yourself: Some Species of Moral Failure.”
Moral Philosophy is concerned with the nature of right and wrong, good and evil, and with our capacity to engage in one sort of action than another. This being the underlying premise of the television show The Office. The essay breaks down moral philosophy into three categories: ignorance, malicious, and akrasia. The essay also shows how the characters show these traits of moral.
The first trait is ignorance. We might fall under this by not knowing the right thing to do, maybe because we don’t have all the information or we don’t know the correct moral principles. Pam from the episode “Christmas Party” is ignorant to the fact that Jim had given her a gift not only of their personal jokes, but a card explaining his feelings for her. However, in the episode, Michael bought an iPod with his big Christmas bonus he received for firing an employee. He further got upset that no one else bought him a gift as expensive as he bought for Ryan. Michael then turned secret Santa into “Yankee Swap.” This is where Pam unknowingly traded Jim’s personal gift for Michaels iPod. However, later in the episode she realized that the teapot was a special gift and traded the iPod to another employee which shows that knowledge helps change an outcome or situation dramatically.
The second trait is maliciousness. We discussed this trait briefly in my first installment, but I wanted to go into further detail about some of the actions of the employees of Dunder Mifflin. In the essay, it reflects to certain philosophers and that they presume that some people are just plain malicious. I gave the example in installment one about Creed, who throughout the series represents a complete malicious person. Some of these actions are: stealing a pint of blood out of a blood drive, selling the company’s computers when everyone thought Dunder Mifflin Scranton was being closed, stealing the lost and found, and harassing female employee’s clothes. On the other hand, another malicious personality on the show is Andy. He briefly showed his self interest in the episode “Traveling Salesman”. He talked down on another employee, Michaels assistant Dwight. This shows that people can be spiteful all of the time or when it is for their self-interest.
The third and last trait is akrasia. Akrasia is when one’s desires overpower one’s rational decision making. A perfect example of Akrasia is Jan Lebanson-Gold, a former employee of Dunder Mifflin and Michaels former lover. Throughout their crazy lover affair Jan says several times that Michael is completely wrong for her and lowered her standards by dating him, yet contradicts this by saying she’s physically attracted to him. However, their relationship gets worse when she sues the company for firing her and has Michael testify against the company. Did I also mention that Jan is Michaels direct superior? So, their sham of a relationship, Pam giving away what could have changed her life forever, and Andy throwing another employing under the bus to gain friendship with Michael are just a few ways the employees of Dunder Mifflin Scranton show moral failure. It really opens your eyes to see how easy it is to fall under this type of philosophy and lifestyle.