Thursday, October 19, 2017

Telling a Lie to Save a Life

I am a student of philosophy and really appreciate Kant. I love the phrasing of his Categorical Imperative and only wished that it really worked. I never really understood Kant’s connection between reason, will and duty. However, I just read a paper by Greg Ganssle, renowned university professor. I now understand.

Kant, Reason, Will and Duty

A good friend has taken refuge in your basement

An evil murderer is at your front door and

Wants to kill her

He tells you

I must know the truth, please tell me the truth

Is she here?

Do you tell the truth and say, yes she is here?

Or do you lie and say, no, she is not here

If you tell the truth, he kills her

If you lie, you save a life

Perhaps the greatest moral good
Kant claims that one is always morally obliged to tell the truth

Others claim that, sometimes, one has a moral responsibility to lie
To protect a friend who is innocent from the criminal who is evil

To be truthful (honest) in all declarations is a sacred and unconditionally commanding law of reason that admits of no expediency (including philanthropic or lifesaving expediency) whatsoever...

Kant believes that reason was designed to influence the will

To produce a will that is not merely good, as a means to further some end

But is good in itself

Rational beings are able to will the good and the bad

Infinite desires, the least of all, happiness

But how does reason produce a good will?

Kant gives no detailed response for this important reality

He moves on to duty

Duty, like a good will, holds

First place in estimating the total moral worth of our actions

Duties to others recognized by Kant correspond to the subordinate principles

 Not to lie, to be beneficent, not to steal, not to deprive others of liberty, etc.

Rational beings use reason to derive duty

When actions are done out of duty as determined by reason

They promote the development of a good will, per se

When we act out of duty, we so not to achieve some purpose of the will

For example, happiness


Isolation brings to mind awful images of complete loneliness

Which can be an end state of life

It is used as punishment in many criminal institutions

And by other disciplinarians, as a way to correct bad behavior

Mothers and teachers call it time out

A withdrawal of love

Go to your room and, no electronics nor items of enjoyment

Or stand in the corner and face the wall

I just conjured up Dr. Benjamin Spock (60-70s) and his often deleterious

Theories and findings on child rearing

They only worked in certain socio-economic groups

All disciplinarian methods have some untoward effect

There can never be a panacea method of discipline

Individualizing treatment seems more appropriate

Imposed isolation certainly has deleterious effects

As immoral and sometimes, criminal

Time Out is

Sometimes, known as a love withdrawing technique,

 Has had its share of woe

The immediate goal of isolation is punishment and

Providing time for self-evaluation and reflection

But isolation can yield good things as well, 

It doesn’t always have to be punishment

Self-isolation can be used as a moment of deeper reflection

Isolation from family and friends and possessions

A period of some self-imposed deprivation

Some denial of the will         

To better understand life in its rawness and


To become unity with

Mind, Body and Soul

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Telling the Truth to Children

A Peruvian friend has a problem telling his 11 year old daughter that he smokes weed. She smelled it in the car and asked him if he smoked mota, (marijuana). In Latin America, family is supreme and parents are rather protective of their children. The values of the country are conservative, to say the least.  He asked for my opinion. I shuddered at giving a response in such a delicate situation. But the reality of the truth struck me so very hard, that I expressed to him this idea, Always Tell the Truth

Telling the truth to ones children

Is probably the most important thing that a

Parent can do for his or her child

After a moment of deeper reflection

I responded

Tell your child the truth at all times

She will respect you

And your word always

The truth survives everything, including death

Why not teach children truth, so freeing and so permanent?

There is a way to tell the truth to children

In ways that they comprehend and respect

Children are naturally curious

And will learn the truth one day, nevertheless


The basis for the knowledge, wisdom and understanding

Of Life

Lies distort life, being, and what is true

And  have destroyed many lives             

And do no good, whatsoever

The truth sets us free, to live freely and fully

Nothing more important in life than the truth

Children need to know the truth

As a matter of fact, we all need to know the truth

Respect comes from truth

His daughter will always respect his word

For a man’s word is his bond

And his bond is his word

Aged family secrets don’t help either

Decision Making

For many of us

Pondering and waiting to make the final decision

One of life’s great dilemmas       

With so many other good options to consider

Options that are also heavily weighted

In the entire scope of things

There must be a truly more correct decision

And choice!

Somehow, a comfortable answer comes

Often at crunch times

At the intersection of life, where a decision must be made

Acceptance of one or more negative consequence is necessary

For no decision is perfect                                                                   

Decision making on the important matters of life

Can be a tortuous process, but

Satisfaction, relief and relief of mind should be an end product

A first consideration should be degree of happiness obtained

In the process of choosing, one must also think of the other

Otherness is very important in having a

Meaningful life

Making good decisions in life is very important

We often wait and ponder and wait and ponder…….

The final decision or answer to come

And it does

We, often, make wrong decisions with the best of intention

And what disappointment, but

They teach us about life

The greatest phenomenon ever in total existence!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Middle Children

Middle Children

Don’t necessarily recognize they are middle children growing up

They just do what they do, as children

Considered to be neglected, resentful, have no drive, have a negative outlook, etc.

 A birth order syndrome, a Stanford University Study, called

“Middle Child Syndrome”, 

I am a middle child

And the study is not complete

I am a middle child and represent none of their findings

I am the youngest of two older brothers

And the oldest of three sisters

So, I and my oldest sister are the middle children

We were like twins in many respects

Learning to balance things well

We had a special love for each other

Understanding things and, especially,

The dynamics of a family, including

The issues of the two older brothers

And the needs of the two younger sisters

Psychologists have said different things about

Middle children, but one that might be true is

They become more independent                

To think outside the box, feel less pressure to conform

And are more empathetic

A Smiling Heart

A Smiling Heart

Is a reality for most humans

The heart of hearts, the heart within hearts

It is indeed the vehicle of passage for

Good things

Pleasant things

A smiling heart

Affects every part of humans

It is a sense of well being

A sign of hope

A smiling heart

Speaks to one's self and human dignity

The heart does not always smile

But when it does

Appreciate it

A Wonderful Life Experience

Backpacking is one of the great adventures in life

Seeing the world on a low budget

Staying in hostels

That can house more than 20 beds in a single dorm room

One can pay as little as $5 a night in certain countries

And benefit from diverse creature comforts, such as

Kitchen, laundry service, free Wi-Fi, TV in central room, etc

But, one must be prepared for the worst occurrences

And to move on, starting anew

Immediately, no time for brooding

From losing passports, credit and debit cards, lost lodging

The loss of “some privacy

The torture of daily life

Sometimes, tumultuous events

But the experience of backpacking is ineffable

Most of all meeting

Different persons from across the world

Cultures, ways of thinking, different ways of being in the world

A backpacker is usually prepared, from within, to meet the challenges

And from the positive and encouraging emotional and mental input

From other backpackers

To mend things as quickly, as possible,

Is a wonderful moment in life

Meeting other similarly minded individuals

There is a brotherhood among backpackers

“There are others who share my dream”

Of seeing and experiencing the world

My ultimate sorrow is not

Seeing again many wonderful people 

That I have met while backpacking