Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Truth as a Puzzle

                Today, I watched a little girl about 5 try to put together a jigsaw puzzle. As time went on, she continued to try to place pieces where they didn’t belong. She would force them to fit and with joy called out, “I did it!” Not knowing it wasn’t right, despite there being a little hole in the middle. Occasionally, she would take the right piece and attempt three ways of putting it in and give up, not realizing the fourth was the way. I must admit, it was adorable, but it got me thinking. This is a good allusion to truth and how we treat it.
                Some people make the case that truth is relative. Of course, that claim is dependent on that being not relative. While in some cases, that may be true, for truth in general, relativity isn’t right. However, like I said, it is correct for some cases and those are pieces to the giant puzzle.
                Many people have pieces of the giant puzzle, however, that does not mean anyone has every piece of the puzzle. Some people have duplicates. We share knowledge and ideas. However, some ideas don’t belong to the puzzle, but we try to force them to fit anyways. While others might point out that it is wrong, we can be stubborn and insist we are right because it might be inconvenient to fix it. Of course, this sort of behavior will lead to trouble and controversy later.
                 So why, if we don’t have the right piece, do we try to fit other pieces in? The thing is that, despite not having the piece, we can infer. We may not have the exact piece, but we can guess what goes there based off the other pieces we do have and what appears to fit. This does work occasionally, and since it works, people will use it. After all, it is based off the pieces we do have that we determine whether or not we accept another. The other problem is whether or not the pieces we are basing our decision on truly belongs to the puzzle.
                This is the fundamental reason for education. We need to learn how to judge what pieces belong to which puzzle, and if a piece is fuzzy, how to make it clear. Logic is the basic tool of determination. Science is the process of obtaining new pieces, valid or not. Of course, if you cannot articulate your ideas, then no one will accept the pieces you have found. The purpose of rhetoric is to make it easier for other people to accept your pieces, whether through written or oral persuasion. As a result, the goal of education is the progression of truth.

Monday, March 18, 2013

On Creativity

A while back, I wrote about what I called the “Three Marks of Humanity.” In there, I mentioned Wisdom containing Creativity. However, the subject of Creativity is vast and worth delving into.
It is important to not confuse Creativity with Wisdom. The relation between Creativity and Wisdom comes from the aspect of order. Creativity uses the order seen through Wisdom and plays with it. It makes use of the imagination to create worlds and ideas. Possession of the former does not necessarily mean possession of the latter, especially in various fields. Also, the portrayal of the order used in creation can also be wrong. Creativity is a tool. As a result, Creativity is not the most important aspect of humanity, even though it is perhaps one of the most important for it.
The reason for why it isn’t as important as the “three marks” I mentioned in the other essay is what it does for the individual. Growth in creativity can be helpful later in life and help progress, but it doesn’t necessarily do anything for the person’s character. The greatest artist can at the same time be evil or turn to improper methods for “inspiration.” If a wise man becomes evil, it is because he saw the truth and chose against it.
So how is Creativity important? While it might not necessarily do anything for the artist, it can do a lot for the people who see the creation. While the artist may not possess the “three marks,” he can create characters who do possess them. This is important for humanity as a whole, because it makes it possible for the public to see heroes to emulate, despite that they may not exist in reality. While there are plenty of excellent models throughout history, everyone has flaws but a fictional hero can be “perfect.” The ability to create a “perfect hero” allows people to grow in character through example.
I have seen this work in reality. Through my own experience, I know that the main reason why I was able to perform some good deed or push through some trial is because of the example of fictional characters. Sometimes it was even my own characters that inspired me. While this could serve as an example of growing the artist’s own character, it is important to realize that some creations are used to inspire evil actions as well.
It may appear that I am only discussing stories in this. However, this does apply to the rest of the arts. While an instrumental song may not inspire Wisdom, it can enforce courage or help the spirit of the listener relax. Likewise, a piece of art can help the viewer to recognize and appreciate beauty in the world. All forms of art can help lift the spirits of another and by doing so, give hope or energy to perform a task. At the same time, one must be careful because creation can likewise be used for vice.
The fact that Creativity is a tool means the audience needs to be careful. Just like works of art can be used to inspire good, it can be used for evil. Yet, even the black and white paintings are not simply good or evil. Many virtues and vices are mixed in a single work. It’s actually because of this that the liberal arts, though tedious, are important. When everything is confused, the audience needs to be able to sort it out. It is also important because sometimes the audience places evil where it did not exist in their interpretations. Creation is a great tool, but also a dangerous one.
Creation is a neutral tool that depends on the artist’s, and sometimes the audience’s, representation of the work. It may not be the greatest of human attributes, but it is to be admired, for it can inspire all of the great virtues. At the same time, we must realize that not everyone can be creative, but everyone does have the potential to be good. If we are to encourage Creativity, it is important that we encourage proper use that inspires the good of men and progress.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Three Purposes of Government

This week, I don't really have much to comment on. recovering from a cold and allergies really affected my ability to think deeply. As a result, this essay isn't so great, but it is still the result of some observations, even if there isn't much of an opinion inside. Oh well, here is a look at what are probably the Three Purposes of Government (with one debatable).

                What is our government supposed to do? This question has been debated throughout history and continues today. While some people on one end argue for a small government, others fight that the central government should be very involved in the lives of its people. What I propose to do is write about what I consider to be the Three Purposes of Government and their relationship to each other.
                The first and perhaps most obvious purpose is Defense. A government should protect its people from foreign enemies. The question that becomes interesting is “how does that work in peace time?” Does immigration count as a threat or a blessing? For immigration, that is just too difficult to answer. When it comes to nations, it’s probably a bit easier to figure out allies and foes. People, on the other hand, are quite unique and don’t necessarily represent their native home.
                The second purpose is Order. This is domain of judges as they deal with trouble within the nation. They must try to settle disputes fairly and justly. Not much to explain here.
                The last, and most debatable, is Progress. Even I have not yet decided if this should be the case or not. However, it is one that people recognize and argue. I acknowledge the aspect in that the government should create an environment that is habitable for the nation to grow and become successful. On the other hand, should it force its own ideas for progress or leave it to others and the “professionals” of their fields?
Considering the case of America, its involvement should probably be limited. The main reason is the constant changing of leaders, who have different ideals. Also, since they aren’t in office for too long, the constant change of requirements would actually hinder progress. On the flip side, there does need to be some accountability and communication between the various industries.
As you may have noticed, these purposes kind of correlate with the three branches of government. The Executive is in charge of Defense, the Judicial deals with Order, and the Legislative has some concern with Progress. It isn’t a perfect correlation, but the checks and balance system that the U.S. implements does contain one important aspect. To properly run a nation, all three purposes need to be in communication and properly addressed. You cannot achieve ideal progress without peace, and defense or order that oppresses its people is no good either.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Using Pennies

                In a society like America where most people use credit cards for most things, cash can be a real challenge, especially pennies. A lot of people see these little things as worthless. However, it is actually quite easy for these to accumulate and become worth something. I remember quite a few occasions where I discarded a few pennies thinking they were worthless only to realize later that it was all I needed to buy the item I needed.
                The way to use pennies and keep them from building up is simple. Take four pennies whenever you go out with cash. It’s just four lightweight coins. In fact, sometimes they can be used for entertainment while waiting or help you decide on something. If you add a nickel, you’ll be even better off. Since your bill will most always come out to have 1-9 in the one’s place, you’ll use them. Not only does it make it easier for the cashier, the cashier probably wants the pennies! Since they have to give them out all the time, they run out fast and slow things down.   
                Now, if you are still going to discard them (some people just throw them in the trash), do it charitably. A penny may be worthless here, but it is worth quite a bit somewhere else. In fact, the amount of pennies thrown away by 500 people could feed some families. I’ve seen the results myself.