Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Karl Marx

"Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions."

(from Marx's Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right)


What if this is a heartless world full of spiritless situations? What if people can't handle real happiness because they can't exist without such illusions? Wouldn't religion then be a very much-needed drug for which the people must have in order to relieve their distress?

Wouldn't this argument then also serve as validation for religion, since certain economic conditions and realities have both allowed and necessitated its existence?

On Dating

1. A guy worth dating is a guy to whom you are attracted physically and intellectually, and who has impeccable character. But of course, you also have to be what you want.

2. Someone who genuinely likes you will make his intentions clear. If you're left wondering how a guy feels about you, then he's just not into you enough, and you need to make the conscious effort to move on. There are too many people in the world whom you haven't met for you to be stuck on a guy who isn't totally into you. Have some self respect.

3. Actions speak louder than words. No matter what he says, what he does must back it up. Go with your gut on this one.

4. (I'd prefer not to give away all my thoughts. This one's private.)

5. A fulfilling, healthy relationship consists of two individuals, independently happy with their lives, who come together to make each other happier.

6. Love should not be so complicated. Be honest and straightforward whenever possible. Don't tolerate guys who play games.

7. Never lower your standards. You are not being unreasonable in having the resolve and integrity to stand by what you want. Only by doing so will you truly be able to make yourself happy in the long-run.

8. Be good to people, and the ones worth your time will be good to you. Be good to yourself. Eat well, exercise, and pamper yourself. You deserve it!

9. Really think about what you want—not just in a guy, but in your life, career, etc.

10. The most important relationship you have is the one with yourself (and by extension of that, your family). Be your best self in your most natural, happiest state. The rest will take care of itself.

Be good to people...

Be good to people, and the ones worth your time will be good to you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand

Egotism and altruism may be opposite poles representing two very different ways of being, but let's not forget that there is also a sliding scale. Ayn Rand writes in The Fountainhead: "All that which proceeds from man's independent ego is good. All that which proceeds from man's dependence upon men is evil." She may be playing devil's advocate to illustrate a point, but my conjecture is that this is what she really believes. All power to her, and to her fervent followers, for that matter. I simply do not count myself to be one of them.

The novel, first published in 1943 by Bobbs-Merrill, is a story of one architect's dedication to being himself in a world that disapproves of him in every way. Each situation and circumstance is employed to paint a picture of why the author regards man's ego to be the fountainhead of human progress. Rand is an excellent, logical writer well able to capture your attention and hold it for the more than 700 pages of this book (which in itself is quite an achievement). She also describes man and society in a probing, debate-inducing way. Notwithstanding, I find her perspectives to be too extreme.

Human beings, by nature and inherently, are social creatures. In each of our own pursuits of happiness, we do and will depend on other men to make ourselves happy. Contrary to Rand's view, there are many people who actually genuinely enjoy being altruistic because they derive pleasure from the (private and personal) knowledge that they are making a positive contribution to society. Not all acts of charity are acts to seek or gain approval from others. Moreover, it's not possible or practical to be entirely selfish all the time, for to do so inevitably and ultimately infringes upon others' pursuit of happiness.

What Rand speaks of are ideals in a substitute world. It is good to have your own ideals and to live by them. That is the crux of integrity, and I very much respect her ability to clearly elucidate hers. But even if I were to follow her line of thought and "reason...alone", I would still disagree with the application of her drastic principles. So by nature of her argument that we should be independent thinkers, she actually encourages us to be free to pick and choose ideas and philosophies from various thinkers, ourselves included. And that freedom, perhaps, is what I feel most compelled to accept from this classic piece of literature.

Rating: 5/5