Moral Skepticism and the Foundations of Morality

Like most of my books, my books on meta-ethics are in storage. But was very interested in meta-ethics. In fact, the first iteration of my MA thesis was on meta-ethics. I was thinking about the foundations of morality today. I can’t say I have any answers–for all the searching I’ve done.

But my thesis was originally on value pluralism.

Emotions

I have been thinking about emotions lately. Specifically, whether and what they tell us. Emotions have been given a bad rap among some, but I have come to the conclusion that they are tied to the beliefs we have.

I have said previously that I don’t experience anger. And I don’t. So I don’t know what cognitive content anger has. Most times I have seen anger, I have thought it irrational. There may be such a thing as “justified anger,” but I don’t know.

If I love you, for example, I probably have some knowledge and beliefs about you. I could be incorrect. But these are the beliefs I have. (Note: I’m not an expert on philosophy of love and friendship.)

I see, recently, many people expressing emotions. I think these emotions tell us something. They tell us about the beliefs they have and the knowledge they have.

So, while emotions may have been given a bad rap as something to be quelled if we are to be “rational,” I think emotions are intimately tied to our knowledge and beliefs. I’m open to other suggestions, but that’s where I’m at right now.

Kierkegaard

Anyone who knows me knows I was sort of obsessed with Kierkegaard as an undergraduate. And, after undergrad, I took a year off to study both Kierkegaard and skepticism. I don’t really do philosophy anymore, but Kierkegaard came to mind today.

One of his seminal works is Fear and Trembling. I’m not a Kierkegaard expert, but I do know that this book has been important to me. Others find it perplexing.

I haven’t read Fear and Trembling for several years now and my copy is in storage. But Fear and Trembling tells the story of Issac and Abraham. The book focuses on Abraham and his choice to sacrifice his son–who he loved most in the world–because of God’s command. This choice and the feelings that came with it, along with the ethical dimensions of these choices, are the focus of the book.

The title of the book probably comes from Philippians 2:12:

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Kierkegaard was the father of existentialism. And I took a whole course on existentialism as an undergrad. The reference to Philippians has always been powerful to me. I try to understand it more almost every day.

Kierkegaard was difficult to understand and interpret because he used a method of indirect communication, dedicated his books to ‘that single individual’, and had a deep and abiding, if never consummated, love for Regine.

Once upon a time, I dreamed of going to Copenhagen to study Kierkegaard more in depth.

Our Herb Garden

A while ago–maybe two years now–we and our neighbors collaborated on an herb garden at our house. It’s a nice little place to sit and relax. There’s several herbs there and a bench. Our neighbor (and us) thought it would be nice to make it a community space.

Here you can see our potted herb garden. It’s little worse for wear because of the winter, but there’s plenty of mint, basil and more.

Here’s the bench. People sometimes come and sit for a while because…

…this is the message painted in front of the garden:

I often find inspiration sitting in the herb garden. I always wanted to bring a friend there to chat, but as yet I haven’t.

On Evil

As someone who studied ethics, I was interested in, of course, good and evil. Most people think of ethics as focusing only on good, but that’s not true. The fact is, evil perplexes me. I tried to study it as much as I could. I don’t think I studied as much as some other people I know, however, because I didn’t have the same opportunities.

But I have read about evil. I have studied dark periods of history, read philosophical treatises on evil, and more.

I’m pretty lucky to have not run across too many bad people in my life. All of my friends are good people. So I don’t have knowledge of evil first hand. Thankfully.

One of my favorite books on the topic, however, is a book entitled On Evil. This book lays out a theory of evil that is pretty compelling to me.

Reclaiming ‘Spinster’

The other day, I was with a friend at a coffee shop. I told her, “I’m a spinster.”

She said, “That’s not a feminist word.”

I said flatly, “I’m reclaiming it.”

The fact is, I have never been married and I don’t know if it will happen for me. A couple of people recently proposed to me, but I said no.

All of my friends have gotten married–some also got divorced. Even someone I know who I thought was against the whole concept of marriage recently got engaged.

So, I’m a spinster, I guess. We’ll just have to see whether I stay that way.

Love and Mercy

A while back, I read Brian Wilson’s new memoir, I Am Brian Wilson. I also watched the newest film based on his life, Love and Mercy.

The film could have been better, I thought. It’s difficult to depict mental illness in film. It’s very hard to show what struggling with mental illness is like.

But it was interesting nonetheless.

Counseling is for Everyone

The other day, I was with a friend who said I inspired him/her to go to counseling. This person seems well-adjusted and doesn’t have any mental illness that we know of. But it’s my opinion that everyone should get counseling just as everyone should go to the doctor.

Mental health is often treated differently than “physical” health and so the treatments are seen differently, too. But I think everyone should go to counseling no matter who they are.

So this is a win for me. I convinced someone to go to counseling.

A Year Without Makeup

I stopped wearing makeup about a year ago now. It’s been interesting. Before, I would never leave the house without being completely made up. Now, I leave the house however I feel like. This has been such a relief.

I think when I wore makeup, I had lower self-esteem. I may look less pretty than I used to, and I may have gained some weight, but my self-esteem has improved dramatically.

I stopped wearing makeup because (1) It’s expensive and (2) Because I have sensitive skin, which was irritated by the makeup.

It’s been about a year now and I can’t imagine wearing makeup anymore. It’s so freeing to not have to wear it. I know I’m probably not the most beautiful woman in the world, but covering myself up was symbolic, I think. I think I was ashamed of myself. Now, I go “naked” and I don’t care what people think.

“Still Waters Run Deep”

I’ve always been a quiet person. Sometimes, I’ve been chastised for this from people seeking more “personality.” But I’m actually pretty comfortable with myself. Very comfortable, actually.

I’m a content person most of the time and I don’t have wild emotions. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anger. Truly. I don’t know what it’s like to feel anger.

Having studied emotion, I suppose I could estimate that those emotions are essential to the human condition. But I lack them, I guess. And I’m pretty stoic in the philosophical sense. As in, the Ancient Stoics.

I was talking about these differences with a friend today. This friend has to actively subdue wild emotions so s/he doesn’t do anything irrational. Now, I’ve done irrational things, but that’s when I’ve been psychotic. And I guess most people don’t know what it’s like to become psychotic. So we’re even.

My dad, who I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, was a perceptive person and he noted my calm and stillness from childhood. He always told me, “Still waters run deep.” And my inability to feel anger has actually helped me in many endeavors.

UPDATE: If you are interested in some of the latest philosophical work on emotion–and specifically anger–check out Martha Nussbaum’s new book.

Living Openly with Schizophrenia

In case you haven’t noticed, I live openly with schizophrenia. I came out publicly to all my friends and everyone in my life over a year ago. I was welcomed warmly. I thought I would lose friends, but I didn’t. That just goes to show what great friends I have.

It’s always difficult meeting new people, though, and telling them. One never knows how they will react. There’s a bunch of stereotypes and misconceptions about schizophrenia that people have.

One thing I often worry about is dating with schizophrenia. I read a study that 70% of people would not marry someone with schizophrenia. So far, so good, though.

I know it probably seems like I function pretty well because I can write. But I do live with daily struggles, and have a new treatment plan for this year, which I am planning to follow. I have never had to manage a serious health condition before. Growing up, I was always pretty healthy. But I’m getting a handle on it.

Right now, I don’t work. Every time I have tried to work–eight times, since becoming ill–I have ended up in the hospital. My doctors don’t think I can handle the stress of working.

Coming out publicly about my living with schizophrenia was one of the best things for me. I couldn’t keep such a huge secret and major part of my life from my friends. It was too much of a burden. I know other people keep quiet about their illness, but coming out was the best decision for me.

Coffee Redux

Phew. I went and had coffee with my friend. It took a lot out of me. I’m an introvert, for one thing. For another, I’m ill.* I’m used to spending time with just a few people and other introverts. But it was nice. We already made plans to do a lot of things together.

Fortunately, my friends don’t mind me having budget issues to deal with. The friend I met with yesterday suggested many, many free or cheap things to do together. Plus, my friend says they have fun doing small things. I do, too, honestly. So, stay tuned. I’ll be posting about my adventures as they come.

 

*People with schizophrenia usually have issues with socialization and getting out. I certainly have. That’s one reason why one of my goals this year is to try to get out and socialize more.

Socialization on a Budget

I admit it. I’ve become somewhat of a hermit. This past year was rough for me in several ways and I stayed in a lot.

This year, I’ve decided one of my goals is to get out more. I’ve made several new friends and I want to do things with them. But it’s difficult on the budget I have. I know people who are much more well-off than me and I simply cannot afford to do the things they do. But I am determined to do what I can. So, today I’m having coffee with a friend I made recently. We are going some place close to me because, having no car, I can’t travel very far. But I can get to the place we arranged and I have enough to buy a coffee for myself.

I hope to enjoy a few hours with my friend and have great conversation. Here’s to 2017’s new goals.

Nature Photography

I live with my family in a house on a lake. The back yard is mostly wetlands, and we were told last year (2016) that the lake and wetlands are now a protected environment.

Living in a rustic-type atmosphere is good for me. According to studies, people are more likely to develop psychotic symptoms in urban environments. And, in fact, I had my first psychotic break when I was living in Jacksonville, Florida–a large, urban city.

Because we have been told our lands are protected, we do little to most of it. If you love well-manicured lawns, our house is not for you. We let the majority of it–the protected parts–go back to their original state. This is good for me because one of the my therapeutic hobbies is photography. Now, I’m not saying I’m particularly good at it. I simply enjoy doing it. It relaxes me. It keeps me in a calm, steady state.

Every day, I go outside to look around and see what I can photograph. There’s usually tons of flowers I can shoot. It’s winter now, so the flowers are less than the rest of the year, but there’s still some.

Here’s a picture of the wetlands.

Wetlands are a delicate, essential part of the environment.

Here’s a picture of a flower I took on 1/1/2017:

I’m not sure what kind of flower this is, but I’m pretty sure most people would consider it a weed. If you dislike weeds, you’d dislike our yard. The only real modification we do is get rid of invasive species when we identify them.

New Year’s Day

I had a good New Year’s Eve. But on New Year’s Day, it’s time to spend time with my family. We have a tradition. Maybe you do, too. We always eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck.

Here’s hoping 2017 is full of great things for us all.