|Oddly enough, people who push the “law of attraction” claim that Plato accepted this principle.In the Republic, Book IV, Plato writes: “It would seem, Adeimantus, that the direction in which education starts a man, will determine his future life. Does not like always attract like?”It must be noted that Socrates is discussing education with Adeimantus and the others. He is not endorsing anything like the so called “law of attraction.” His view is that if a person is properly educated in his/her youth, s/he will tend to continue on the proper path. This is a far cry from the rather odd view of causality put forth in the “law of attraction” presented in works like The Secret.
If you doubt this, pick up a credible translation of the Republic and read Book IV carefully. You’ll see quite clearly what Plato is and is not claiming here.
It is also claimed by some that Aristotle held a view like that presented in The Secret. As a professional philosopher, I can assure you that is not the case. Again, if you have doubts I’d suggesting reading Aristotle’s writings. You’ll find some interesting stuff in there, but nothing like the “law of attraction” being pushed these days.
A brave Jack Russel Terrier died saving children from marauding pit bulls. The terrier, named George, held off the two pit bulls thus allowing five children to escape. George survived the attack but was so badly mauled that he was put down.
This incident shows that good dogs are truly our best friends-they are willing to die for us. It also shows that people create some very bad dogs and do not take responsibility for their pets. That is both sad and morally wrong.
I’ve had mixed experiences with pitbulls myself. I’ve been attacked by a pit bull while running (no injuries on my part, beyond some scrapes I received from sticking a fallen tree into the dog’s mouth), Isis has been attacked by pit bulls in the dog park and I’ve seen plenty of pit bull fights. But, I’ve also known some very nice pit bulls who are proper dogs.
In all these cases the main factor has been the owner. People who chose dogs from lines that have been “bred mean” and then encourage that tendency (I’ve seen people slapping their pits to make them mad enough to fight other dogs) are making the greatest contribution to the pit bull problem.
Because of these bad owners many places have imposed bans on pit bulls. For example, some dog parks not allow them and even some areas of the US ban them completely.
Because of my own bad pit bull experiences, I am very sympathetic to such bans. When I’m sitting in the dog park watching some genius slapping his pit bull puppy and trying to get it to fight other dogs, I think that such bans might not be a bad idea.
But, from one moral standpoint, pit bull bans could be seen as wrong because they restrict all pit bulls based on the poor choices and actions of some pit bull breeders and owners.
Of course, the ban could be justified on utilitarian grounds-although some good pits and their owners would suffer, the harms prevented by banning pits in general could outweigh this suffering.
At this time, I’m still divided on pit bull bans. My inclination is that it is probably better to deal with matters individually. For example, particular individuals could be banned from dog parks, etc. because their dogs are known to be vicious. Of course, if there are many bad pit bulls, dealing with individuals might be too costly in terms of time and resources. In that case, areas rife with bad pits might require sweeping bans to protect the many from the misdeeds of the few…at the expense of some innocents
Deputy Secretary of State Randall L. Tobias was best known for being a vocal proponent of abstinence and a purported opponent of encouraging condom use to help prevent AIDS.
Interestingly enough, he recently resigned for “personal reasons.” To be more specific, it was revealed that he was involved with the so called D.C. Madam’s escort service. He alleges that he was merely being massaged and was not engaged in sexual activity.
This specific situation and so many like it, such as Newt’s recently revealed affair, help to show that conservatives who endorse a very strict sexual morality seem to all too often violate that morality in their own practices. It is rather ironic that they condemn liberals and others for their immoral ways. After all, these bastions of immorality compound their sins by being hypocrites.
On the plus side, the D.C. Madam situation does raise some interesting questions about human sexuality and behavior. I suspect, as many do, that the more vocal a person is in condemning human sexuality, the more likely it is that the person engages in the very acts s/he purports to despise. It seems slightly better to be an honest sinner than a lying ‘saint.’
As almost everyone knows, Imus got in trouble for using both a sexist and a racist term to describe the members of Rutgers basketball team.
While saying such things is not morally acceptable, it is important to keep in mind two moral principles.
The first is that it is unreasonable to expect moral sainthood from human beings. Human beings are fallible and make mistakes-often stupid and serious ones. This should always be taken into account when passing judgment on others.
The second principle is that of reversing the situation. When passing moral judgment you should consider what it would be like to be the person on the receiving end. So, think about something unpleasant or cruel you might have said or done that you were truly sorry about. No doubt you wanted to be forgiven for that offense. If we are to expect others to forgive us, we need to be willing to forgive them.
If Imus said what he did because of a stupid mistake and is truly sorry for his words (and not just sorry he is in trouble), then the right thing to do is forgive his offense…as we would want to forgiven for our offenses. Naturally, if he is not truly sorry, then he should not be forgiven.
I am old enough to remember when Jesse Jackson made his infamous “Hymie town” remark. It was a stupid thing to say and he paid for that thoughtless remark. At the time I thought that he should not have said it, but I also thought that he should be forgiven for the same reason I now think Imus should be forgiven.
Of course, these remarks were not directed against me and perhaps I would think differently if they were.
As most people have no doubt heard, Florida A&M University is in some serious straits. The latest is covered here.
The gist of the problem is that FAMU has some serious financial management issues. At this point, FAMU is being subject to an audit and the state has given FSU financial control over the joint FSU-FAMU college of Engineering.
Some people have asked me if I think that there is racism involved. Although racism is still a serious problem, I do not think it is really a serious factor here (although the nature of the coverage of FAMU in the press does raise some questions…). The fact of the matter is not about black or white or any other color but green. The sad truth is that FAMU has been badly managed and the state is doing what needs to be done-stepping in and requiring FAMU to get things in order. Although I have my worries, I am confident that FAMU will get through this and emerge even stronger.
That said, I think that this same level of attention should be given to all universities and other public institutions. It would be interesting to see the results if, for example, the federal government were subject to such intense scrutiny and held to the same requirments as FAMU. I do not see that happening anytime soon. Politicians are often keen to check on other peoples’ houses (so to speak) but are loath to allow anyone to peak inside their house. And probably for some very good reasons (at the federal level: billions lost and misspent, pork, corruption, and many crimes).
Kermit Harrison II, one of my former philosophy students, is appearing in a new film. He is a philosophy professor (in real life) and is talking about race and identity in the movie. The film is opening at the Tribeca Film Festival. If you are in the NYC area, be sure to check it out.
Here is the press information about the movie:
“LILLIE AND LEANDER: A LEGACY OF VIOLENCE, a documentary directed by Jeffrey Morgan, produced by, Alice Brewton Hurwitz and Jeffrey Morgan. (U.S.A.) – World Premiere
Investigating the turn-of-the-century murder of her great-great aunt, a woman stumbles upon an explosive secret that hints at her own family’s involvement in decades of racially charged murders. More than a crime investigation, this documentary takes an uncensored look at a community trying desperately to bury its racist past.
Press Contact: Jennifer Morrill, Tribeca Film Festival / email@example.com / 212.941.2418“