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Oh, Becky: an application of philosophy to teenage problems

by Willard


Let's say, hypothetically, there was a girl named Becky who, hypothetically, wants to die. Becky doesn't exist, but I don't feel like diving into existentialism at this time. 

Anyways, her want to die doesn't stem from depression or the bees in her bonnet that gives her a coronary attack every time a pin drops. It's all caused by a mixture of peer pressure and social anxiety. Not the typical "i-am-a-good-kiddo-i-listened-to-DARE-in-school", but the one where you want to give in, you're just afraid of how your body/mind would react to it. This makes Becky afraid, because her aspirations to go to a film school might be dashed if she ends up becoming an alcoholic before Freshman year. However, it only seems right to alleviate stress, pee on the beehive and set aflame the tree that housed it.

In a similar, anecdotal situation, a lapse of judgment yesterday almost had me accepting non prescribed pills from a castmate before the spring play. I wasn't really stressing out or sad, just confused and uncertain about everything I was feeling at that moment.  The confusion led to a period of resignation, however, so I wasn't sweating bullets trying to make a decision on how or if I would start a pill addiction.

In the cases of mine and Becky's, what would be the most just approach to take? What would make it right? (Before you ask, a friend told me that taking the medication was a terrible idea, so I never went through with it.)

The Trolley Problem, an ethical question made by British philosopher Philippa Foot in 1967, is applicable to almost every situation, although easily distorted. There's a trolley going full speed and can't stop. For some crazy reason, there are five people on the rails and one on the siding. You are right by a lever that could pull the trolley onto a siding, avoiding the five people but consequently killing the one. What morals would you base your decision off of? Would you pull the lever for the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people (utilitarianism) or because you aren't going out of your way to harm somebody (Thomas Aquinas' Double Effect Theory)? If you wouldn't, would the reason be that you don't weigh instinct over duty (deontology) or there's no reason to care because life is meaningless (Nihilism and any of its offshoots)?

Long story short, morality is gross, and that is an understatement.

Becky would consider a few reasons to make her decision; would the intention of ridding all her anxiety be just, or could she only qualify the situation once she is completely removed from it? She could have been going through an absolutely devastating day, so anything to affect her serotonin would be reasonable. 

If we're being honest, nothing can be defined as right. While the idea of consequentialism and utilitarianism are most popular among the moral consensus, that cannot be the objective definition. It's all situational, a hodgepodge of circumstances at the current moment could and should be the only thing that influence you. There's no reason to be a slave to one concept when you can switch it up all the time. It's like an open relationship or going to Swinger parties.

Realize that who you are isn't an idea, who you are is a human. Existence precedes essence, as Jean Paul-Sartre would say when he was busy trying to get rid of consent laws in France, and if you didn't exist, you wouldn't be in these kinds of situations. Live life free, be genuine, attach a loving attitude to everything.

Everyone is made up of influences, and if those influences pressure you into doing something, maybe it'll be for the better.

Unless it's heroin or mass murder.


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Mon May 15, 2017 10:46 pm
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Werthan wrote a review...



"Long story short, morality is gross, and that is an understatement."

Best line out of context ever. In any case, this is the most confused-sounding thing I have ever read and that's cool. Mostly it just reminds me of when I was in high school and obsessed with philosophy and then we started talking about it in an English class and I knew the stuff and sometimes had to correct things (mostly pronunciations of foreign terms, but unfortunately not only that). And it reminds me of awful philosophy classes where even the book-writer simply can't understand Nietzsche because the Germans could do philosophy at the same level of the Japanese building robots now, and they try to force things down your throat and then deny it and force that down your throat too. This whole thing feels sort of incomplete without mentioning Schopenhauer, Nietzsche or Goethe though, considering they're more relevant to the conclusion than Sartre is (although definitely keep him in there for the part with " Existence precedes essence, as Jean Paul-Sartre would say when he was busy trying to get rid of consent laws in France"), but at least you hit the cliché of the trolley problem, which is a bare minimum.




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Mon May 15, 2017 7:50 pm
StupidSoup says...



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Willard says...


Didn't mods already tell you to keep all ypur "xD troll" comments off my works?



StupidSoup says...


I'm sorry if this comes off as rude but this is quite sincere. I firmly believe everything I state in the comment above and this is the way I found to format it. If you would like me to rephrase it then I will. I just don't want to come off as cruel.



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Mon May 15, 2017 11:31 am
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BluesClues wrote a review...



Okay, I'm going to attempt to review this.

First, some favorite lines.

Becky doesn't exist, but I don't feel like diving into existentialism at this time.


Long story short, morality is gross, and that is an understatement.


There's no reason to be a slave to one concept when you can switch it up all the time. It's like an open relationship or going to Swinger parties.


Existence precedes essence, as Jean Paul-Sartre would say when he was busy trying to get rid of consent laws in France


(Wow, morality is gross.)

maybe it'll be for the better.

Unless it's heroin or mass murder.


I thought the trolley scenario was an interesting tie-in. On the one hand, it's a nice idea to save as many people as possible, and I like the idea of saving more people, regardless of who they are, better than saving fewer but in-your-mind more important people (cough cough SLJ in Kingsmen saving all the wealthy fabulous people cough cough), deciding who deserves to live.

On the other hand, I'm a sucker for fictional characters who sacrifice the world or betray their friends just to save that one person who means more to them than life itself.

Which just throws my entire theoretical idea of morality in this scenario out the window.

ANYWAY.

I got a bit confused during the Q-and-A part of the trolley scenario, though.

Would you pull the lever for the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people (utilitarianism) or because you aren't going out of your way to harm somebody (Thomas Aquinas' Double Effect Theory)? If you wouldn't, would the reason be that you don't weigh instinct over duty (deontology) or there's no reason to care because life is meaningless (Nihilism and any of its offshoots)?


I think it's partly because I'm not myself familiar with these philosophies. That's fine, because I don't think you can really expect all your readers to be familiar with them. But I think it's also the wording. I understood the Nihilisim bit (although to be fair I also know basically what Nihilism is), but the rest...I think it might be partly because there are two parts to each question, but they're both in answer to the same potential decision (pull the lever or don't pull the lever). If that makes sense? Also I don't understand how deontology (which I am admittedly not familiar with at all) ties in, because I don't understand what part of this scenario is instinctual. Is the thought that it would be instinctual to pull the lever and get the trolley off course? I'm not sure.

Other than that, I think you could tie teen problems back into this better at the end - since that's what we start off with and the title of the whole essay. If you don't want to actually add to it or cut anything you currently have, you could probably just alter the ending so that Becky is a stand-in for the "you" you're addressing. I like the message of the end (and the humor of the last line), but it would be stronger if you tied it back to the "teenage problems" mentioned in the title.

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Sun May 14, 2017 1:12 am
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birk wrote a review...



Hey Will.

I don't know why I'm writing a review for the first time in such a long time. Suddenly I found myself doing it. Guess I liked your piece.

Or, I don't know, it lessed as I read through it again, more analysing mind and whatnot. Right now I feel like you wrote this very pompous, and sort of lost your point in the process, or made it overtly in your face. A very good thing, depending on how you look at it, is that as I read this I thought of how you should read the works of D.F. Wallace (which you might already have), for this piece hails of his voice and syntax, almost to the bone though it flails off towards the end. Unpolished, of course, as I'm not even sure he himself excelled at it. It has increased chances of turning up a hodge-podged mess of writing. This didn't, but still feels whacked. I don't know, I say it's a good thing. Your writing is very interesting.

However, it only seems right to alleviate stress, pee on the beehive and set aflame the tree that housed it.
In particular, this line is excellent.

I've heard of this Trolley Problem thing, but I don't really thought it fit into this? It seemed shoe-horned in. You do throw a lot of heavy words into the following paragraph though, so any lit teacher is sure to like it I suppose.

Morality is gross.

Not much more I have to say. I don't really review you anymore, cause you mostly stick to your poetry, and you've evolved far further than I'll ever get, but here you did something else for a change. I liked this one.

As always; you've got good titles.

See ya around, bud.
birk





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