Journal Entry – Tue Sep 29

I know I said I would write, but it’s already Tuesday and I haven’t written a thing. I feel listless and sad and I don’t even know why. The US presidential debate is on today – I never watch debates, I think they’re bullshit because they have nothing to do with what happens when the winner takes office. People can say whatever they want, it’s what you do that counts.

My boss sent me a short vid of Sofia, she was on the floor trying to move around. He was like ” You wanna say hi to Sam?” and she starts doing her baby babble. I wish I could pet DJ, I think he needs some TLC. I can’t tell if he is better, maybe he is the same. He doesn’t seem to be upside down as much so hopefully that’s good. The bacterial bloom made the water really cloudy, but it’s starting to clear up now.

André didn’t go to school today. I didn’t even bother trying to wake him up this morning – don’t have the energy. I go in his room at like 1 pm …

“Are you ok?” He gives me the thumbs up.

“Do you need a hug, a kiss?”

“No Mom, I’m sure I’m ok. Is there breakfast?”

“It’s one o’clock in the afternoon. Your sister and I had dim sum for lunch. You can make your own when you get up. Please fix your bed and the dishes are waiting for you.”

“What’s wrong with my bed?”

“Fix the sheet!” The fitted sheet is completely off the mattress.

“I use that to cover.”

“No. You use your comforter to cover.”

“When I get hot I use the sheet for covers and I have this.” He rubs the mattress protector

“You’re not meant to sleep on a mattress protector.”

“So what is the mattress protector for?”

“The mattress protector protects the mattress. I will give you a flat sheet to cover with.” He looks at me puzzled. Like I’m not making any sense.

“I don’t need another sheet!” (OMG did you not hear anything I just said!)

“Yes you do because you don’t sleep on a mattress protector. You sleep on the fitted sheet because it covers the mattress and the flat sheet covers you. Fix your bed!”

Honestly, we are speaking two different languages – Adult and Teenager.

Do you ever wonder about the true nature of human beings or the definitions behind “nature” and “evil”? Probably not. Are we fundamentally good, evil, a bit of both (dualism) or neutral (indifferentism) like a blank slate and our environment influences who we become?

Mencius (optimist- Potential model of human nature suggests we have innate inclinations or potential) and Xunzi (pessimist – Foundational model of human nature suggests that our nature is complete at birth,) are two Confucian philosophers with opposing views.

Mencius thinks we are fundamentally good and all human beings share a common universal nature – we are born with a moral sense, that operates like any other sense organ. Xunzi thinks we are fundamentally evil, and that there is no such thing as an innate moral sense. Even though their starting points are different, they both believe that human beings are perfectible, through deliberate effort we can become good or get even better at being good (and alternatively, we can also get good at being bad).

If we are fundamentally good, then it is society and culture that corrupts us. If however, we are fundamentally evil then it is our natural tendencies that need to be corrected.

Paul Bloom, a Yale psychologist studied the moral lives of babies, maybe three to ten months, and he showed images of shapes helping each other. For example, a red square helping a blue circle up a hill. The babies showed a clear pattern of preference towards the helpful shapes vs the shapes that didn’t help or seemed to hinder other shapes somehow – I don’t know how he was able to discern that preference but he wrote a book if you are interested Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil .

Bloom believes that we have natural emotions that aren’t good, like anger and envy, but even positive emotions like empathy can blind us – so our ability to reason is essential to our moral development and perfectibility regardless of our starting point.

And then there is Gaozi (indifferentism-we start with a moral blank slate), another Chinese philosopher who believed that human nature is neutral/indifferent when it comes to good and evil. There is also individualism (hard and soft), that suggests there is no “human nature,” our dark side is a matter of individual determination (Roy Perrett and Jean-Paul Sartre)

The overall assumption is that no one is “defective” (sorry, can’t think of a better word right now) – everyone has a normal functioning brain, so psychopaths or maybe any diagnosis in the DSM 5 would be considered an anomaly, I’m guessing. This is what sucks when you are learning on your own, I cannot ask questions.

I am not certain how I feel yet. But I am leaning more towards indifferentism maybe soft individualism and I am guessing the nature v nurture would factor into the debate, it’s kinda the same argument. André loves to debate. He thinks that we are born with a blank slate.

(Source: Great Courses – Understanding the Dark Side of Human Nature)

I am going to tell you about my course as I learn because writing helps the info stick, otherwise, I’ll forget everything. When I was in university, my girlfriend hardly ever picked up her textbooks or took notes, she attended the lectures and tutorials and she’d ace the tests. I was envious.

I read somewhere that drawing activates the same part of your brain as meditation – I don’t think learning to draw counts, I definitely don’t feel calm when I am trying to draw, but if I doodle that’s different. Dee believes that’s true. When she took the CyberArts program in high school, she remembers making patterns with lines – but only when you are drawing for fun or de-stressing, not when trying to complete assignments. I think now to de-stress she plays the guitar

The doctor called me this evening – I am going up to 40 mg a day – I had the choice between 30 or 40. I thought I was on 10, but I was actually on 20. Turns out my appointment was next Monday not this one. Prozac at 40, I’m kinda nervous. I have to go outside tomorrow and pick up my meds. Technically I am defective, since my diagnosis is in the DSM.

Matt’s concerned about going to school now, he said the bus was packed on the way home. No one wants to wait and the driver has no way of controlling the number of people that get on.

I’m off to may cornmeal porridge – request from Dee.

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