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Showing posts from April, 2012

Prof. Louis Levy on Love

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Woody Allen's fictional philosopher Prof. Louis Levy in the film Crimes and Misdemeanors has some interesting thoughts to share...


* “You will notice that what we are aiming at when we fall in love is a very strange paradox. The paradox consists of the fact that when we fall in love we are seeking to re-find all or some of the people to whom we were attached as children. On the other hand we ask of our beloved to correct all of the wrongs that these early parents or siblings inflicted on us. So that love contains in it a contradiction, the attempt to return to the past and the attempt to undo the past.”
* “But we must always remember that when we are born we need a great deal of love to persuade us to stay in life. Once we get that love, it usually lasts us. But the universe is a pretty cold place. It’s we who invest it with our feelings. And under certain conditions, we feel that the thing isn’t worth it anymore.”

She pretended not to see me

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Revitalizing the Abortion Debate: Virtue Ethics

I would like to talk about a very insightful paper in this post and some future ones: Virtue Theory and Abortion by Rosalind Hursthouse. In this article Hursthouse defends virtue theory against some of the common criticisms against it which arise from an inadequate understanding of the theory, and illustrates the usage of virtue ethics by applying it to the issue of morality of abortion.
In this post I am going to briefly summarize how her discussion of abortion from a virtue ethical perspective is radically different from much of the contemporary philosophical literature on this topic.
Most debates on the morality of abortion tend to revolve around two considerations: 1) the status of the fetus 2) women's rights with regards to their bodies
Virtue Ethics transforms (and refreshes, I'd say) the whole moral debate on abortion by showing how both of these considerations are fundamentally irrelevant to the morality of abortion. Consider women's rights. If we assume that a wo…

Post-Prozac Nation

Post-Prozac Nation: The Science and History of Treating Depression This is among the best articles that I've read on the patho-physiology of clinical depression in the context of the debate surrounding anti-depressant medications.

The Desire for a Desire

Me: It's interesting how we can have desires to have other desires. An example that occurs to me as I revise endocrinology: a patient with low libido may often still have the desire to have the sexual desire. It is not just the unfulfilled desires that trouble us, but also at times the absence of desires.
Aati: Interesting observation. Why do you think it is so?
Me: A number of reasons, I suppose. One important and common one is to possess a memory. A patient who once had an active sexual life remembers the pleasures of a fulfilled sexual desire, now lost to him. Compare this with someone who never felt sexual desire at all ever in life. Another reason that comes to mind: social norms. It is normal for a teenager to be obsessed with sex. An asexual teenager may end up feeling abnormal for lacking an interest in sex, and the desire for conformity may cause him to desire to have sexual desire.
Aati: And my two cents to that... it's like puberty in reverse, emotionally. Lack of desi…

Susanna as Naked and Nude

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I happened to read an interesting paper today Women in the Nude: A Study of Susanna and the Eldersby Han Xinzhen Pema, which is a comparative analysis of two paintings based on the biblical story of Susanna and the Elders; one by Jacopo Tintoretto and the other by Artemisia Gentileschi.


Susanna and the Elders by Jacopo Tintoretto

Susanna and the Elders by Artemisia Gentileschi.

Some excerpts are below:
* "One of the most popular themes was a story from the apocryphal Book of Susanna, Chapter 1, about Susanna and the Elders (1:1-1:64). Susanna was the beautiful wife of the prosperous Jew, Joacim. As Joacim was wealthy and honorable, many Jews came to him for counsel and two Elders who were elected as judges that year frequented Joacim’s house often. They began to lust after Susanna and conspired to seduce her together. Hiding in the garden where she bathed, they sprang on the unsuspecting Susanna and threatened to accuse her of committing adultery with another man if she did not su…

Pretense

Perhaps all self-identity begins with a pretense.

Reproduction and Moral Obligation

An excerpt from The Case Against Kids by Elizabeth Kolbert on New Yorker:
'Benatar’s case rests on a critical but, in his view, unappreciated asymmetry. Consider two couples, the A’s and the B’s. The A’s are young, healthy, and rich. If they had children, they could give them the best of everything—schools, clothes, electronic gaming devices. Even so, we would not say that the A’s have a moral obligation to reproduce.
The B’s are just as young and rich. But both have a genetic disease, and, were they to have a child together, that child would suffer terribly. We would say, using Benatar’s logic, that the B’s have an ethical obligation not to procreate.
The case of the A’s and the B’s shows that we regard pleasure and pain differently. Pleasure missed out on by the nonexistent doesn’t count as a harm. Yet suffering avoided counts as a good, even when the recipient is a nonexistent one.
And what holds for the A’s and the B’s is basically true for everyone. Even the best of all poss…

Marriage

Twotweets by Alain de Botton (@alaindebotton):
* Society had to stop caring whether we're married to reveal that our motives for marriage are far weirder than social pressure. 
* Perhaps we get married in the hope we'll never have to suffer because of love again.