V5 (5 Points 1 Topic)

Topic: What’s going on?

V5 is a monthly piece in which we list and annotate 5 different things going on regarding 1 specific topic. 

Ooof, there is a lot going on in the world, and that would make for an interesting V5. Perhaps one day that will be an interesting V5, but for today I’m staying local.  So, let’s just stick with what’s going on in Carrot’s life.  Although Carrot’s life isn’t the most interesting life in the world, maybe a short break from the life of Will Smith and Chris Rock would be welcome.

  1. In intro to Philosophy, we are studying the determinist philosophy of Baron D’Holbach.  D’Holbach said “Man’s life is a line that nature commands him to describe upon the surface of the earth, without his ever being able to swerve from it, even for an instant”.  Essentially, we had no choice in our being born, or our upbringing, we had no choice in the current function of society, or in our nature.  And it is from these four conditions that we come to persist as we live our life, chained to a line that is beyond our control.  We are determined in everything that we say, think, and do.  Interesting sidenote, The Baron used to run a lavish Parisian Salon from 1750-1790, in which some of the greatest thinkers of the time would attend meetings twice a week to discuss and digest the world and man’s place in it.  French economist André Morellet described D’Holbach’s Coterie as “the place to hear the freest, most animated, and most instructive conversation that ever was…in regard to philosophy, religion, and government; light pleasantries had no place there”.  Guests included Diderot, Grimm, Rousseau, Adam Smith, Hume, and Ben Franklin.  To be on the “line” that led one to The Coterie, would be some fortunate set of events1.  
  2. In Ethics we are covering Moral Luck.  Moral Luck describes circumstances whereby a moral agent is assigned moral blame or praise for an action or its consequences, even if the agent did not have full control over the action or its consequences.  Essentially, Moral Luck offers an argument which absolves an agent from praise or blame due to luck (good or bad) that is beyond the agent’s control.  A sociopath doesn’t pick to lack empathy or emotional intelligence, it’s just a matter of bad luck that their brain operates in a significantly different way.  In a like manner, a saint or hero doesn’t select their circumstances, or personality, but given the right mix of tangibles a person who would otherwise be utterly forgettable, could now be considered a hero.  The person who makes front page news for saving a ferret from a burning building is still just Pam from accounting if the building she rushed into never caught on fire.  In the case of the fire, I guess it’s good luck for Pam’s heroism that wires were crossed, and good luck that she loves ferrets.  
  3. In Logic we are covering ways to translate common language into propositional notation using logical operators.  Proofs are right around the corner.  These students are so LUCKY that their determined LINE brought them to logic!  What could possibly be better?
  4. In terms of climbing, this semester has been kind of rough.  The last two years I was teaching remotely and asynchronously, meaning I had a lot of flexibility in my schedule.  Meaning I could be at the gym first thing in the morning.  Meaning I was able to be in decent climbing shape.  Fast forward to January 2022, and I’m back teaching 8 AM classes.  Meaning I’m back to grading each afternoon and prepping each evening.  Less time in the climbing gym means less gains, and more losses.  It has been a struggle to rediscover the balance that permeated my life prior to quarantine.  But summer is right around the corner, and hopefully that can serve as a means to future equilibrium. 
  5. Is it just me or does it seem like a flex when this happens…

Helen: How are you doing?

Carrot: I’m doing good, how are you doing?

Helen: I’m doing WELL.

  • I get that there is a difference between good and well, and that one is an adjective and that one is an adverb.  One applies to the nature of your deeds, and one applies to your state of being.  I also get that there are context clues in language, and when others feel the need to correct by emphasizing a word, then that makes them an asshole.  Yes, I also get that D’Holbach would say that Helen was conditioned by external forces, and that Moral Luck proponents would say that Helen was just very unlucky to have been conditioned in ways that make her the worst person in the world.  I understand that if I was raised by Helen’s parents, or grew up in Helen’s circumstances I too would ostentatiously let people know the correct way to express personal well-being.  In that case I wouldn’t want people to consider me an asshole (even though it’s objectively clear that it’s an asshole move), and so we should give Helen a break and just accept that she was unlucky, and that her bad luck has spilled out onto all those with whom she interacts, because now we are all determined to suffer from her inescapable “line”.

V5 – 5 Points, 1 Topic.


1. If any independently wealthy thinkers would like to reintroduce D’Holbach’s Coterie to the world, I make a mean absinthe (this isn’t true, but for the chance to run a bar with a crowd like this, I could learn).

11 Replies to “V5 (5 Points 1 Topic)”

  1. I grew up in a family of Helens. However, we were taught to keep our helenisms amongst ourselves. I hope as I age I can continue to helen in my mind only. Tis terrible when work gets in the way of play. And, when we retire, and have the playtime, sometimes the body just isn’t up for it. So climb on. Thanks for warming up my preordained brain this morning.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Miki, this is so nice…thank you! More than anything I love how many ways you were able to use the concept of Helen. Helen as a verb is spectacular!


  2. Thanks for the “break.” Regarding good v well. With all the made-up words of the “younger” generations [and worse, the older generations trying so desperately to appear young] what’s to worry over good or well. We know what you mean. I dearly love the grammar police, side with them most of the time, but c’mon, man! Languages evolve. It’s good when it’s natural, stinks when it’s contrived. Eh? Good read. Or should that be “well” read?

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Goethe also believed that it was all “luck” where, when and to whom we were born. I think so, too. There’s a little part of me who half believes there is an intrinsic personality that persists in its struggle for existence (realization?) through the whole morass of luck. I know my world view is influenced by Medieval thinking (which, other than the whole Catholic morass) makes sense to me, that life is similar to a game of snakes and ladders. As for redemption? The medieval view that doing good at any opportunity gets a person a few points toward Heaven also makes sense to me, Heaven being personal peace with the world in which we find ourselves. In all of this (and I don’t know of a philosopher other than Goethe who thinks this) it’s useful to have a nature that LIKES being alive. You can probably tell me. I kind of gave up on reading philosophy my sophomore year when my prof said, “You’re an artist.” She was right.

    I think your students are very very very lucky to have logic part of their philosophy cocktail. To me, the ability to reason is one of the most amazing gifts we have, the willingness to question and seek an answer, even the answer that nobody knows.

    Liked by 3 people

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