Ethics: am I doing the right thing?

I do not believe that after this TOK lesson on Ethics, I would be doing things differently, or let the things we have discussed affect my decisions.

In my opinion, the discussion did not have an answer – much like most topics we’ve covered in TOK, but is open to discussion. Like science, we deduct and try to falsify theories, hence why we had discussed Kant and Bentham.

I believe that the society, the environment in which one grows up in, helps form one’s morals. For example, I grew up with my mother telling me not to lie, thus, I find it morally incorrect for me to lie. However, as per the example Mr.Saha was talking about in class – if a murderer were to ask of the location of someone I know – then I would lie, as another moral principle overlaps the other. I would lie because I value the life of others more so than my morals of not lying. I find it wrong to kill another person, and by telling the murderer the location of the person they want to kill, is indirectly my responsibility, and because I find the act of killing more ethically incorrect than lying, I would lie.

In class, I was thinking more about animals. Why is it that humans have the consciousness, the feeling, of doing something wrong? Why is it that we perceive things such as cannibalism as incorrect when animals thought to be man’s great ancestor or cousin – the apes – don’t? (I have found that there are indeed several documentations of cannibalism within apes)

The difference between humans and animals are our societies and laws. Our way of thinking, our conscience is based off of what society has told us is right or wrong. In an animals perspective, an example would be pets, like dogs. We tell them where to do their business, what to eat and that biting others is bad, and if they disobey, then there will be punishments. By doing so, the dog knows what’s right and what’s wrong. This can also be seen in human society. The government sets laws and punishments are set if the law is broken, hence the society now has a sense of what’s right or wrong. Rewards are given to people who have done good, hence the society strives to do the things that are labelled as good.

That would be, my more cynical thoughts on ethics.

On the other hand, I also believe that, when weighing on one’s decisions, the people involved in the situation must also be considered. One should not do something that would cost other people, even if it’s for your own happiness. There must be an alternate way, even though it may seem naive and optimistic. For example, if I were to have a million dollars right in front of me, but at the cost of many lives, then I would not take it because it is morally incorrect. Hence, I would still be able to achieve a million dollars if I were to work hard for it.

What frustrated me most with the test Mr. Saha gave us for prep, were the questions like; If you had to sacrifice your child for the lives of 10 other children, would you?

I was frustrated because even though my morals say that I should save the 10 children because the situation involves the happiness of others, the loss of your own child, or any child, for the life of 10 others, does not sit well with me.

I feel that, after our TOK lesson on ethics, I have a more detailed perspective on what ethics is and how ethics may effect the way our society progresses.

 

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Poetry in Translation.


– 김춘수
내가 그의 이름을 불러주기 전에는
그는 다만
하나의 몸짓에 지나지 않았다.
내가 그의 이름을 불러주었을 때,
그는 내게로 와
꽃이 되었다.
내가 그의 이름을 불러준 것처럼
나의 이 빛깔과 향기에 알맞는
누가 나의 이름을 불러다오.
그에게로 가서 나도
그의 꽃이 되고 싶다.
우리들은 모두
무엇이 되고 싶다.
나는 너에게 너는 나에게
잊혀지지 않는
하나의 눈짓이 되고 싶다.

Translated from native Korean: Yun Shin Grecian

Flower

Kim, Chun-su

Before I called his name
He was only
An object that meant nothing to me

When I called his name
He came to me
And became my flower

Like I called his name
Thou call
My name that matches my colour and scent

I want to go to you and also become your flower

We all want to be something meaningful

Me to you
You to me
Want to mean something, that
Can never be forgotten.

Translated: Britney To Deputy Grecian

Flower

Kim, Chun-su

Before I called his name
He was only
An object without meaning

When I called his name
He came to me
And he blossomed into a flower

Like I called his name
Thou call
My name, my colour, my scent

I want to go to you
to blossom into a flower
as you had done

We long for meaning

Me to you
You to me

Want to blossom into a flower, a
glance unforgotten

 

 

As I am fluent in Chinese, I would have thought to choose a Chinese poem. I grew up studying Chinese poetry in every shape and form, memorising them, reciting them and analysing them – I think that is exactly why I didn’t choose one. Despite the fear of doing the original poem injustice, I felt that there would have been so many important and crucial things that would be lost in translation. As I grew up knowing the language, it is extremely difficult for me to translate it as the text is something that I understand already but I can only understand it in that form. That is my opinion.

For the Korean poem that I have chosen, I thought that a Korean poem would be interesting as there are many aspects of the language that is similar to Chinese – and also knowing how to speak a little Korean myself (only the basics). This particular poem inspired one of the songs I listened to – Serendipity by Park Jimin.

The poem expresses the concepts of meaning, how an object only has meaning if it is called upon. The poet believed that every human being was solitary and seeks intimacy, using flowers as a symbol of relationships and existence. He emphasises the importance of a name, the feeling of being needed and called. I thought this was something beautiful and really enjoyed translating it.

If anyone would like to help me with my translation, that would be wonderful.

Logical Fallacies to Political Strategies

As someone who is from Hong Kong and is Chinese, I really wanted to look into the logical fallacies that Communist leader Chairman Mao had used in his speeches and in general. This topic is sort of personal as, even though I wasn’t born yet, the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 killed many students in China and even some from Hong Kong who went to protest as well. June 4th is considered a day of bad luck as it was the day the protests were forcibly suppressed by martial law. Troops with automatic rifles and tanks killed at least several hundred demonstrators trying to block the military’s advance towards Tiananmen Square. The number of civilian deaths has been estimated variously from 180 to 10,454.

So many internet sites, Google, Facebook, Youtube etc. is banned in China as the Chinese government fears the idea of revolution and all articles on the Tiananmen Square Massacre was wiped clean.

mao-12

The “Thousand Flowers” Fallacy: A sophisticated, modern “Argumentum ad Baculum” in which free and open discussion and “brainstorming” are temporarily allowed and encouraged (even demanded) within an organisation or country not primarily in order to hear and consider opposing views, but rather to “smoke out,” identify and later punish, fire or liquidate dissenters or those not following the Party Line. The name comes from the Thousand Flowers Period in Chinese history when Communist leader Chairman Mao Tse Tung applied this policy with deadly effect.

The full quotation, taken from a speech of Mao’s in Peking in February 1957, is:

“Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land.”

“Let a thousand flowers blossom and pluck out 999 of them”

This campaign led to the many deaths of teachers in schools, setting back China’s education – around 5 million children had their schooling terminated. By doing so, Chairman Mao was able to instil fear amongst the educated classes who were now less willing to stand up to him.

Which pill would I choose?

The blue pill ; the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe

 

The red pill ; you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes
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The Matrix. 1999. Morpheus

Which pill would you choose? If given the circumstances in which you discover that your whole life is a lie, would you face reality or go back to your ‘life’ knowing that it isn’t a lie?

When Mr. Saha asked if we would choose the blue or the red pill, I had a long thought about it and hesitantly put my hand up when he asked who would take the blue pill.

I was a bit skeptical when the clip from the Matrix was played and Morpheus was explaining the situation. How do we know what Morpheus is saying is true? How do we know that what Morpheus thinks is the truth, is the truth? I don’t think you can ever stop questioning the liability of someone’s words. Also, by giving in and answering his question, does that not mean that you have put what you currently define as ‘reality’ in the hands of some guy who just has a red and blue pill? The fact that Morpheus told us that our normal lives may just be a lie, could be a lie in itself. How can we define reality? If we think that we are living our lives normally, without knowing what the ‘other force’ is, then wouldn’t that be our reality?

I’m writing this and realising that the above might not make sense, but if you think about it, if you don’t know that your life has been a lie then it isn’t.

The one reason that pushed me to raise my hand up when Mr. Saha asked if we’d take the blue pill, is that there are more risks of being led to somewhere even more dangerous, Morpheus’ “Wonderland”, than waking up and being completely unaware of it. The fact that this other force wouldn’t affect my life in any sort of way made me go, “then what’s the point?”. Wouldn’t I be in more danger exploring the “Matrix” than waking up and going on with my life?

I’d do what makes me happy, and waking up not knowing that there is some sort of strange supernatural thing going on in “reality”, would probably keep me alive for longer.

In some ways, wouldn’t ignorance be the right way to go?

Where No One Goes

I was told to choose a song that represented what I felt like was the Theory of Knowledge. At first I was confused, how would a song describe the theory of knowledge? I scrolled through my Spotify playlist, fifteen minutes past my bedtime and found one of the soundtracks from How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Where No One Goes by Jonsi. Not going to lie, I was a bit embarrassed to put a song from a children’s movie onto my blog, but I really felt that this song represented what I thought was TOK.

The title itself already interprets what TOK felt like to me – a place where no one goes. Well, no one except all the IB students. All the lesson til now have been discussions of things that I don’t think has an answer to at all. Like some sort of oblivion, a place where no one knows the answers to but yet we are there learning about it. The feeling of being in the unknown scares me, yet interests me enough to question it. Our recent discussion on the sense of perception really shocked me, especially the BBC test. It is scary to think that our perceptions could be manipulated to easily, and it kind of makes me feel vulnerable, yet I still want to know howHow do we know things are real and how do we identify what is known as “common sense”?

I think everyone has these questions roaming around their heads some time in their lives, but they never truly try and answer them. I think this class really represents a place where no one goes, as we are, in fact, there – discussing and trying so hard to answer all these unanswerable questions.

Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.

MY first impression on T O K

Theory of Knowledge, otherwise known as TOK, was and still is a complicated subject that I have been looking forward to for the past few years of my MYP. Unlike other students, I have been following the PYP and MYP curriculum in my past school before coming to CH to finish my Diploma years. Thus, I have been well acquainted with this ‘TOK” subject, although not really friends.

My sister also did the IB and took the TOK assessment, but that was eight years ago and the curriculum must’ve changed. I remember she told me about ‘thinking outside the box’ and taking a look on different perspective of things. I was looking forward to questioning the world and looking into philosophical theories etc etc, but I was still a bit uneasy on what this subject really is. My complete and honest first impression, was interest. In spite of the long essay and presentation I have to write and prepare for, I was somewhat excited to learn more about the world and what we know.

When I arrived at my first lesson of TOK it sort of hit me that I didn’t really know what the Theory of Knowledge is. What are we going to learn? What sort of factual knowledge are we going to be taught? It is then that I realised that this subject will be taught and understood completely differently than the other subjects I have been taught of before. When Mr. Saha first asked, What is Knowledge? I found myself a bit baffled.

I thought: Facts – Evidence to backup those facts – Experience to further justify the fact. Then I thought, well, fact: I was born in Hong Kong, evidence: my mother told me/birth certificates and records, experience: I grew up in Hong Kong. However, when Robert (classmate) explained something like so, Mr. Saha immediately questioned the liability of this knowledge. What if my mother was lying and I was never born in Hong Kong? What if I was adopted? The liability and truth of a source greatly theorises knowledge itself.

To be honest, after the first lesson, I was a bit afraid and still am. This topic seems so large and vast, it’s like we’re discussing things that don’t have definite answers to them and we won’t ever know where it leads to in the end. Although we have only talked about the credibility of sources in which we retain knowledge from, I could only wonder what sort of strange and unknown things this will lead up to, and what will I learn from questioning knowledge.