Archive for the ‘ToK’ Category

The Seven Sins, Unwound

September 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Response to “Is Greed Ever Good? the Psychology of Selfishness”


Th article had the age old message that anything in excess is bad, yet it maintains that even the most frowned upon traits today are good in small amounts. No matter how unfamiliar this sounds to our ears, it makes perfect sense and this has been ingrained in society for ages. I agree with it completely. The article explains how instead of branding these “7 deadly sins” so negatively, we should instead practice them moderately which we are pretty much doing today. The only difference is that we don’t name it as such, I notice that we refuse to make the connection between our self-ish caring to being selfish even if they are the same in all but matters of degree. Perhaps this shows how we actually tend to not acknowledge the nature of  the things we do if they are associated in a bad light. Added to this is how we also do this to uphold our cognitive biases on what is right and wrong and give us a clear black and white picture of things that suit our needs and wants. It shows how much we are susceptible we are to symbolic reduction fallacy in which we try to simplify things as much as possible such that we loose all the other shades in between.

Another issue I gleaned from this article is how we create “negative stereotypes” that are supposed to be our moral compass in what we shouldn’t do. Notice how being greedy, or lustful is bad and shouldn’t be exercised?  Well truth be told, these are really spectrums of certain attitudes in which the difference between being selfish and self-ish or honor and hubris and humility lie in. In all actuality, these so called “7 deadly sins” encapsulate almost the whole range of emotions, values and virtues that we have, all that is different is the extent. Like my example earlier, humility, honor and hubris are all aspects of pride but humility is a lack or opposite and hubris is an excess.

Apple’s dictionary defines sloth as a “reluctance to work, or make an effort” seems like a pretty broad definition to me, yet we already think of it as bad. Then again, it is also a spectrum where rest or relaxing and laziness fit in. I mean we don’t really frown upon someone who rests but we do for someone who’s lazy. The difference between the two isn’t much since you can rest while being lazy but they can also be two different things. Context is what distinguishes both, if a person after a hard day’s work doesn’t do anything, lets say wash the dishes, he falls under the definition of “a reluctance to work”, but we leave him alone because he is tired, but compare this to a child who despite sleeping the whole day refuses to wash the dishes after dinner when his mother tells him to. This is considered as laziness because he was sleeping the whole day, there is nothing to justify his “reluctance to work”.

There are several points that the article presents to us. The first of which is how humans tend to tune their moral compass in the terms of what not to do as compared to what to do. Perhaps because the negative connotations presents to us the exceptions of things and allow for a larger base for options. It is a lot nicer to hear someone saying, lets say from a base of 100 options, “you can do everything except this” instead of “you can do all these 99 things but you can’t do this one” the former gives us the notion that there are more that we can do as compared do the latter which restricts us to what we are allowed. This leads to our inherent symbolic reduction fallacy in which we tend to forget the important things and stick a general idea to one thing and forget everything else. In the case of pride, we just want one big label saying “THIS IS BAD” and forget everything else. We thus fall into a world of binaries and stereotypes, only black and white, no shades of the rainbow, a world I don’t think anyone of us would like to live in.

Categories: ToK


September 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Bryan Giger
Knowledge claims:
1. System Analysis and Programming
-What does this process play in our lives?
-Among the sciences, programming/computer science seems closer to us in the sense it focuses and reflects on how we think act and reason in contrast to the others that look into the outside world. What does this say about being human?
-This process directly relates to how our mind works.In life, we get to see problems and come up with ingenious solutions but at times, there seems to be no way to translate it to reality. How does this reflect the relationship between our reason and reality?
2. Patent Watch
-How will this technology affect our relationship with our gadgets, and how will this in turn affect the way we act? Will it help us be more in touch with reality or separate us from society because we now have a more “real” gadget.
Why do people like to feel something as compared to feeling nothing? Why do we like our senses stimulated?
How will Haptic feedback influence the way we will value future gadgets? Will its sensitivity affect the mind of a customer the way the RAM of the computer affects us when we purchase a new one? What does this say about the way we value things?
3. New Glasses-Free 3-D Approach Could Work on Thin, Flexible Displays

-3-D again shows how we want to be in touch of reality in everything we do. Why are humans programmed to be like this?
-This article shows how we have understood how we perceive things, in the physical sense at least. Now we try to simulate the real thing with artificial things. Should we really use artificial products to give us reality? Will the day come that everything will be artificial and nothing left natural?
-Another thing show here is how we are able to manipulate the environment to suit are wants. Is this truly a result of sound reason? To use it to cater to our wants when we still have many needs not catered to?
Reason is the sole thing that separates us from just having an id way of thinking and paves the way for the ability to have ego and super-ego personalities. It gives me the chance to foresee the consequences of my actions and make sound judgement to improve the world I live in and make my life more comfortable. Reason also allows me to be the master of my faith at lets me know what can and will happen to me. It gives me a motivation to do my best and perhaps leave a mark in the world.
As Pascal said, “Man is only a reed, the weakest to be found in nature; but he is a thinking reed.” This is what makes all the difference, to be able to think, and this is what makes us the master of nature despite the fact that she can crush us at anytime and turn us into nothingness.
I struggle to rationalize many things, the reason I am here for one. Another is why do I live like this and am not some starving boy on the streets. Why do we act the way we do? Why are people so susceptible to vices and their personal self interest? It all boils down to why everything is where it is and why everything is the way it is.

Categories: ToK

Reason, a deterrent to truth

August 11, 2011 1 comment

Our perception of the world relies much on our senses as our brain’s analyzing of them. The thing is, we cannot really just rely on one sense to give us the real truth of a thing, we need the others to counter check what we perceive to bring us as close to the truth as possible. Of course, we being human cannot really rely on our senses alone, we need our brain to receive, analyze them and give us a conclusion of what they are and what do they mean in relation to us, to our lives.

These senses also determine the decisions we make as a human being. I quote “10% of life is made of external factors the other 90% is our reactions to it.” Then how can we know what these external factors are let alone know what they mean without our perceptions and more importantly how does the brain deduce from the data gathered by our 5 senses and why and how does it relate one to another.

I believe that all of us experience some degree of synesthesia. This is because, at times, when we think about an idea, or a replica of a perception retained in our brains, the mind incorporates another idea with that idea you think about making you view that idea in a different light than when you actually experienced it. For me for example, whenever I think of the letter A, I associate it with red, but then again, how can I see it in red? How did the color incorporate itself to the image of the letter when I usually see the letter A in the color of black? where did this color come from, isn’t it a separate entity altogether? one possibility is it’s the brain’s mechanism to differentiate one idea from another or to highlight it and make it easier to remember. I mean just as the picture in the first part of the blog proved. It is very hard to separate the twos from the chart of fives because they were all in the same kind of font and in the same color as compared to the lower picture where the digits were highlighted in different colors. now imagine, what if our brain just viewed the world that way, just as it is, the way we see it, then we will be limited to what we see and what we see alone, we would not be able to create things in our mind because the way I see it, when the paragraph talks about associating other properties to a perception, isn’t it akin to creating things with our mind. I mean when we see the world as it is and only as it is where we cannot give another idea the properties of another, how then can we invent things? or more commonly create fictional stories? Aren’t most of them created through interchanging some of the properties we see with each other forming a new thing altogether? creating something that we can turn into reality and not just perceiving reality as it is, being able to change the world we live in.

Now what I really want to ask is through this, how much do we rely on our senses to understand the world outside. The quote to see is to believe but then how do we know that what we see is the real truth and not perceived in a different light by our senses. I mean how do we know the perceptions that our senses send to our brain are the real deal? Or that what the brain interprets is the exact same thing our senses perceived? As Immanuel Kant  said, how do we know that what we perceive is the real truth and that it exists independently from everything else? Meaning it exists outside our interpretations and therefore is not subject to bias from our brain. He says something like we view the world from the rose tinted spectacles of our reason.In relation to the article we read, the McGurk effect is a proof of this, despite what we see is correct, our perceptions are correct, the interpretation from the brain is wrong. Therefore how can we say that all what we sense is correct and not subject to the same biases of our reason as what happened when taking the McGurk effect experiment?

Categories: ToK

ToK for Me

July 6, 2011 Leave a comment

I have never yet encountered a subject who’s aim is to connect everything we learn and ToK seems to do just that. So far, it appeals to me because of the way the subject is taught. It does not rely on the teacher to teach the subject but us to teach ourselves. ToK is what gives IB an edge over other curriculums.

After the course, I hope to be able to think critically, to be able to master the skills of analyzing and deducing.

Categories: ToK