|Le Penseur, by Auguste Rodin|
To follow up on last week's nerd confession, why don't I go the whole way and say I love philosophy.
As you will see shortly, nerd or not... philosophy has a role to play in our daily life.
But first, a short, nerdy intro:
It was not enough that I read Plato's Symposium (among other philosophical pieces) during my teenage years, I also used it for my Master's thesis, which is based on another text by a very philosophical French writer. As an undergrad, I had taken as many philosophy courses I could (as electives), and if it wasn't for the fact that everyone told me there were no jobs in the field, I might have majored in it altogether.
Philosophy temporarily lost ground to more down to earth considerations when I became a mother and got busy with the diaper and milk overflows I mentioned in a previous post.
One day, however, the kids received, as a present, a subscription to a children's magazine that contained a section entitled "les petits philosophes" (the little philosophers). This philosophically flavored section aims at teaching young children the basics of ethics. E.g. A mouse and an elephant are eating cake together. The elephant serves himself a very big piece, and serves the mouse a very small piece. Is that fair? Why?
My kids are now 7 and 9, and the little philosophers they are have graduated to more complex concepts. Here, a recent conversation I had with R as we walked the dog together:
- Mom, what's my behavior now, from A to Z? (Yes, I use letter grades to give feedback to my kids... the nerd in me again.)
- A. You've had a very good behavior.
- What kind of behavior would Z be?
- That's an interesting question. What's the worst thing someone can do?
- Er... to kill someone else?
- I think you're right. What would stealing a pack of gum in a convenience store be?
- Hmmm... Q.
- How about calling your mom dumb?
- Well it's not a crime, but it's not nice at all, so L.
- How about throwing your trash in the woods?
- That's polluting, and if we do too much of it we could become extinct, so P.
- What about touching someone's private parts when they don't want to?
- Well, I think it's Y. It's very wrong.
- We could say Y minus.
- I agree.
If we can have such conversations now, I can't wait for what we'll talk about in a couple years!
Now, there are some grown-ups out there who obviously haven't done their philosophy homework, especially the section on ethics! See for yourself with the following anecdote:
I recently happened to look at a bag of Swedish Berries. That raspberry-shaped candy contains (per tiny portion of 11 pieces):
35g carbohydrates (or 12% of the recommended daily intake)
NO fiber, protein, vitamins or minerals whatsoever
Apart from the sugar amount and the fact that this provides you with more than a tenth of your carbs without giving you any nutrients (better options include, uh, let me think... fruit and vegetables, maybe?), what bothers me the most about this "food item" is the claims on the packaging, namely:
"Made with real fruit juice"
"A fat free food"
"To be enjoyed as part of a healthy, active lifestyle"
Seriously? Could it possibly be more misleading? Am I the only one who feels like screaming "bullsh**!"
And what about those Nutella commercials who claim their "sh*t" (er, I mean, product) contains milk and hazelnuts? Have you ever calculated how much milk and hazelnut you get in a portion? As for "providing you the energy you need", I would imagine it does with the sugar peak... only to be followed by a sugar low, and we all know what that does: zzzzzzzzzzzzzz...
Speaking of Zs, aren't you tired of being treated like an idiot by unscrupulous companies?
Philosophy, ethics, conversations with children, misleading food packaging... tell me what you think!
For more around the theme of philosophy: