As I’m trying to think about my final thesis for my Philosophy class, I have come over several interesting thoughts and ideas for the last 3 days. On the road trip with 1 of the greatest guy that I know, Will, we’ve had a really great conversation about those.
I) The differences between Western philosophy and Eastern philosophy.
I started the conversation by stating out that the Western philosophy is based on logic and reasoning. It bases on the law of non-contradiction. If one is A, one cannot be not-A. If I’m in America right now, I cannot be in Viet Nam at the same time. This is the mode that Western philosophy operates on. However, Eastern philosophy, like Confucious and Buddha is having the notion of confusion. Contradictions can exist in the East. You can be A and not A at the same time, just like the symbol Ying and Yang. In the past, because of the disconnection on this simple notion, philosophers who believe in the East were ignored by their peers because it is obvious that one cannot be A and not-A. It is the premise that cannot be argued. Even a child can understand that. However, as Will and I both agree, Eastern philosophy is really post-modern in its thinking and people now having a new perspective on it. People start realizing its beauty and actually come back to the East. I’m still a novice on these fields so I have no detailed explanations about how they can resolve this differences.
One thing that Will points out to me that he sees Eastern philosophy in the view of religions. Both Buddhism and Confucism are religions. But somehow while it is considered religions, Will said that he found it is actually philosophy. I agree with him at this point. I think that Buddha and Confucious have many common points. They did not write. All of their teachings were written by their disciplines. Thus, it contains much more metaphor and harder to understand, since you have to understand the context of the conversation, the tone of their voices and many other factors. The meaning is not clearly articulated like written essays like what Plato and Western philosopher did with their thoughts. Thus, it is easier for their discipline to turn their philosophy into religions by using different interpretations. The second thing is both of them tried to teach the Way of Life. It seems that they had no God in mind, and they found some rules or Way that they thought people should live by and then spread it to other people. I believe that everywhere in the world, there is always a strong connection between culture, philosophy, and religion. In the East, those things cannot be separated.
II) Education. Creativity. True writers can relive their emotions due to external needs.
Because I have been struggling with my thesis for days, I start explaining about how frustrating it is to come out with something without detailed instructions. Will told me about his brother, who have the same issue with creative assignments. He does well with assignments that have specific questions, but he would have a really hard time if his teacher just gave him a book and say ” Hey, write something about it”. We talked about whether it is the fault of our education to diminish our ability to create something ourselves. We’re taught to be familiar with instructions, orders, and standardized tests, not creativity. When we were kids, if we told our teachers that we felt this should not be the right way to do things, we would easily be scolded and steered back to the curriculum. After a few times being corrected, we just stop doing that. Thus, developing the habit of creating our own things in college would take a long time.
A reason that we think that might be in place that is the difference between internal needs and external needs. There are sometimes that I feel like writing, I write a lot. That writing means something to me. It’s my internal urge that pushes me to write so I can devote my time and effort to it. However, final assignment, or final thesis, is an external need. I do not do this for my soul but rather for my grade. To me, that cause is not righteous enough so that I can raise my energy to find meaningful topics and ideas. I just do not know what I should write about, and even if I have decided the topic, I do not know what should be included in it. This is a painstaking process. Will told me that he had the same problem with his Great Books final essay. He had thought about it for days, but cannot find the right ideas. However, he was able to find something he was not so passionate about to write just before the deadline was due. He was not really happy about it, but he could pull it through. It leads me to the questions about professional writers and poets like Stephen King and Xuân Diệu. They are known to have disciplines about their writings. That’s how they’re really productive, and their works are actually good and full of emotions. They have trained themselves to not depend on emotions and develop the abilities to relive the emotions whenever necessary. I believe that is a right development for anyone whose profession is literature. I definitely need to develop that, at least for my final assignment.
My argument is this “If people focus too much on culture, they have to pay more for it”. For example, baseball and football are American’s culture. When it first started, it cost much less. In the 1920s, it only cost 25 cents to 1 dollar for a seat. Nowadays, you have to spend around 80$ for 2 people at a Major League Game because of the premium price of the tickets, the food, the drinks, and parking. Even if you takes into account the fact of inflation ( the dollars has lost 10 times of its value since 1920), you still pay several times of what you was paying back in the times. The same things happen with football(in America), soccer(elsewhere in the world) or even with organic food. Once the trend has been formed and people start noticing it, the price becomes higher. Will questioned my argument by putting the case of Halloween, a mainstream culture that actually helps to bring the candy’s price down. I doubt his example by pointing out that candy seems to me a scheme of candy’s manufacturer to sell more candies on Halloween’s day, just like what diamond industry did with engagement ring, or Alibaba does with Singles day. They just create imagined needs out of the blue, brand it culture, and enjoy profits. Will agrees with me about that, and told one example about how KFC sales rockets on Christmas. It appears that they advertised that Western people like to have KFC for Christmas. Since Japanese people at that times have no ways to verify that information, KFC’s manager found their stores getting filled by customers on 25 December. Until today, 3 days of Chrismas are still 3 biggest sales day for KFC all year. That’s not bad for an advertisement from 1974!!!
KFC for Christmas!! Yay Japanse!!! “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!”