Knowing

Image(The Jameson Rating: 25% One of the worst films I have ever seen. Horrible acting, horrible script, horrible everything. When people ask why I dislike Nicholas Cage’s acting, this is the film I reference.) In the past few weeks we have done a lot of talk on all the different types of syllogisms. Whether hypothetical or categorical, whether with “all” terms or “some” terms; we have spent countless weeks on them. That being said, it only makes sense to write a blog on them. The origin of a syllogism dates back as far as Ancient Greece, and are thought to have been discovered by Aristotle. An excerpt of his book “Prior Analytics” in which Aristotle describes a syllogism reads: “a discourse in which certain (specific) things having been supposed, something different from the things supposed results of necessity because these things are so.” You really have to wrap your head around this concept to try and understand it. This whole thought can be written in a simple equation:
All A are B
All C are A
Therefore all C are B
The funny thing about syllogisms is that no matter how preposterous the statements may be, and no matter how socially incorrect they may be, they can still be classified as valid. For example (and I do not at all suggest this as my own opinion);
All things involving guns are fun
All killings involve guns
Therefore, all killings are fun
Obviously this should not be seen as they are written, for it is a very inappropriate statement to make, but it is still called valid. Syllogisms can be found everywhere in everyday life. Songs, literature, and films. A particular movie I think of is one of my cousin’s favourite’s, Alex Proyas’ “Knowing”. Nicholas Cage’s character investigates a series of numbers found in a time capsule from 50 years ago. These numbers all reveal to be dates of natural and terrorist disasters in the past years. A few more dates remain on the sheet, which the character suspects to be more disasters. The character goes through a lot of searching to find that the last one written is the date of the apocalypse. His discovery can be incorporated into a simple syllogism:
“Earth is about to be destroyed
Humankind lives on Earth
Therefore, Humankind is about to be destroyed.”
After some more poor acting and a couple of cheap side plots, his discovery proves to be valid, and the Earth is destroyed along with humankind.

Les Miserables

Image (The Jameson Rating: 75% A moving and powerful production superior to the latest adaption. One of the few roles I’ve seen Liam Neeson in where he performs as a mighty actor.) This week myself and two other classmates had to make a seminar presentation on one of the many views on human nature. The view that we chose, or rather, was one of the few remaining by the time we got to choose, was the Traditional Western Religious View. We learned very quickly that the whole presentation could not just be done overnight, like I’m sure many of the other presentations will be, as it covers a very broad range. At the same time though, the topic was very difficult to grasp an understanding of. Human nature as a whole is seen by the traditionalists of this view as rational, purposeful, and independent. Humankind is capable of holding a relationship with a greater being, God, to understand love and compassion. By having a relationship with God, humans can learn many lessons about the difference between what is right and wrong. One of the greatest lessons that God teaches us is that it is only natural that we all make mistakes, it we can still be forgiven for them. In the 1998 adaption of Victor Hugo’s novel, “Les Misérables”, one of the characters learns the same lesson from a priest. Jean Valjean is a refugee in the times of revolutionary France, and is desperate for money. While sleeping on the streets, nuns point him in the direction of a local priest’s home. There Jean is welcomed with open arms, given a dinner, and a place to rest. Despite these lovely gifts, Jean Valejean awakes in the middle of the night, steals silverware of the priest, and takes off into the night. The next day officers bring Jean back to the priest’s home with the silverware, and he lied claiming that the priest gave them to him. The priest defends his story, despite it being a lie, and adds that he forgot the silver candlesticks. The priest then tells Jean in private that he has to promise to be a better man. It is such powerful examples of human support that connect to God’s lesson that is seen in the Traditional Western Religious View.  

Freaky Friday

Image(The Jameson Rating: 65% A Disney classic that could mend any fight between mother and daughter. Now a little out dated, making it is difficult for modern mother-daughter movie nights.) This week we watched an RSA Animate video on empathy. Previous to the idea I only saw empathy as a sort of feeling one has for another when they are experiencing a hardship. For example, if someone had just lost someone very close to them, I would feel empathetic. That’s all the word meant to me, until I saw this video. It turns out that there’s a whole lot more to empathy, and it isn’t all about being warm-hearted and caring. If anything, as the narrator describes, empathy is actually quite dangerous. Empathy can lead to revolutions of human relationships. There are two types of empathy: affective empathy, in which a person shares another’s feelings by watching them experience those feelings, and cognitive empathy, in which one puts themselves in another’s shoes entirely. One of the most famous examples in movie history of people in a state of cognitive empathy is the 1976 Walt Disney original “Freaky Friday”. In the film only the worst imaginable for a teenage girl that could ever happen, happens. Annabel Andrews switches bodies with her mother, Ellen Andrews, after a strange incident on Friday the 13th. The two must both spend a day trapped within each other’s body, while experiencing a whole new world. Ellen must experience what it’s like to be a teenager in the modern world with technology in a typing class, and Annabel must understand what it’s like to be an adult while having to organize a banquet. It was because of this film that over a couple dozen more body-switching movies were made. It teaches the audience that you have to try to understand other people’s difficulties, and perhaps be a little more empathetic (in the good way) for them.

Oz

Oz Poster (The Jameson Rating: 70% An interesting spin-off that’s time period lies between the original film and the musical “Wicked”. As a family-friendly film with many silly and shocking scenes, I would recommend it for a Gulyas Family Outing this upcoming long weekend.) On the weekend I went with a fellow philosophy classmate (Walt Olson) to see the film, “Oz The Great and Powerful”, at the cinema. At a point in the movie the Wicked Witch’s evil minions believe they are attacking the heros, but they are actually attacking straw dummies in a field that will make them fall asleep. Watching this reminded me of a type of fallacy I learned about in class last week. Very similiarily to the scenario, it was the Straw Man Fallacy. The Straw Man Fallacy is an arguement strategy used when a person knows they cannot provide a better argument than the one the opponent provided. Instead the person makes it seem like their opponent has made a weaker arguement, and they then attack and defeat that argument. It is difficult to explain, so perhaps this example may help: “While representing the U.S. Senate, President Obama has decided to cut the military budget to fund cancer research, but I (John Smith) can’t believe that he would want to leave our nation defenseless from terrorists.” As preposterous as such a conclusion is, John Smith can still convince a great deal of people that President Obama is alright with making it easier for terrorists to make attacks (which isn’t good, because he already has enough on his hands). Despite the fact that the President may have had extensive research proving that this cut was all a good idea, John Smith’s accusation has “defeated” the President’s. The Straw Man Fallacy clearly has a flaw, but can still prove to be effective.

Hotel Rwanda

hotel_rwanda (The Jameson Rating: 75% A dramatic movie that will leave viewers breathless for (what one of the characters would say:) as long as it takes to make dinner. Otherwise flawless acting and well informing. I can see why it is referred to as the African Schindler’s List.) In Mr. Gulyas’ absence for part of this week, we watched “Hotel Rwanda”. Despite the fact that the true plot line of the film is nearly a decade old, it still remains to shock it’s viewers. The movie covers the situation in Rwanda in the spring of 1994 in which tensions rise between the Hutu and Tutsi people. While most any wonder how the families that persevered through the devastating time did so, I questioned another side of the story. Being a fan of the human mind and how it ticks, I wondered as to what motivated the extremists that destroyed their nation. Could it be because they had nothing else to live for after suffering from unjust acts performed against themselves? Did they have an unidentified leader that motivated them? Or did they perhaps see the separation between the Hutu and Tutsi as similar to the line between good and evil? It is questions like these that leave me thinking, long after the film is over. I researched afterwards as to what motivates terrorists to perform the acts they do, and there was an almost direct correlation between the answers revealed and my thoughts. Many terrorists were at some point traumatized (most often times in their childhood) through witnessing horrible attacks like robberies, abuse, and murders. From these experiences many terrorists find that they can find a balance of right and wrong, by performing the same horrid acts. Unfortunately this can result in a continuous cycle.

Matrix

the_matrix_-_poster_1__1999_ (The Jameson Rating: 85% A stand-out film that really makes one thing about what truly is real. This is the kind of film that will be viewed for generations.) During this week I viewed the Wachowski siblings’ 1999 hit, “The Matrix”. Although the technology in the film is a little dated, the brilliance of the overall concept still applies, as it will for years to come. In a nutshell, the setting of “The Matrix” is a modern day world, with a dark secret that’s hidden from most. This secret is the fact that the whole world is really just a computer simulation run by a secret organization. The frightening fascination of this whole idea is that it may very well be possible, and it may be existing right now in society as we know it. The main question asked in the film is that if you had the ability to choose between living in what feels like an ordinary world, with no knowledge of anything outside of it, or if you could understand the scary world you live in with a much better and deeper understanding, which would you choose? Obviously the main character chooses the option to explore, or the movie would end with a very bland finish. But this question is still asked in philosophy classes, online forums, and in our minds everyday. I myself would choose to stay in my ordinary world, and embrace it. I would much rather live in a world where I can think, ask questions, and wonder. If I were to know the answer to what life is all about, and every other philosophical question, I would strangely enough feel empty. With nothing else to search for, I would feel my life was completed, and completion is not always as good as it sounds.