My worldview as it relates to my work as an educator

I am of Asian origin and hence Asian philosophy is ingrained into my psychology. I particularly embrace the Buddhist worldview and it manifests in my professional life as well. My approach to educating my pupils is taken after some of the principles of human nature that I had learnt from my parents and Buddhist texts. In terms of categorizing my world view under the four systems proposed by Ibrahim et. al., I would say mine contains shades of all four except the Pessimistic/Deterministic worldview. I would elaborate on this in the following paragraphs.
There are elements of the Eastern/Buddhist worldview that converge with the Optimistic worldview of Ibrahim et. al. For example, the ideas of living in harmony with nature and focusing on inner spiritual development are basic to Buddhism as well as the Optimistic model. A corollary to this understanding is that sustainability of the environment is to be kept as a cherished goal. But in contemporary society short-term goals have . . . Read More

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Synthesis of select War Literature by Tim O’Brien, Ann Jones and Michael Herr

The hallmark of good literature is that it combines art with raising social consciousness. This is certainly true of the 3 classics perused for this essay. Falling into different genres like fiction, nonfiction and reportage, the three works treat the social consequences of war in their own unique ways. The rest of this essay will show how themes of love, loss, perception and reality are adequately addressed in these works.

The Things They Carried is an assortment of short stories penned by Tim O’Brien based on his first hand experiences in Vietnam. O’Brien was part of the platoon called Alpha Company, which was actively engaged in combat with the Vietnamese. As a result, though the stories contain fictitious additions, they are mostly based on real events witnessed by the author. Several themes recur through these stories. Chief among them are love, camaraderie and courage. Love is most pronounced in the relationship between Cross and Martha. Cross agrees to narrate his . . . Read More

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Why we should read To the Reader (from Fleurs du Mal) by Charles Baudelaire

Thesis: Charles Baudelaire expanded subject matter and vocabulary in French poetry, writing about topics previously considered taboo and using language considered too coarse for poetry. Analyzing To the Reader makes a case for why Baudelaire’s subject matter and language choice belong in poetry.

Dear Reader,

Any work of art that attracts controversy is also likely to be interesting. This can certainly be said of Charles Baudelaire’s Fleurs Du Mal (Flowers of Evil), of which Au Lecteur (To the Reader) serves as a preface. There are many reasons why I would recommend Au Lecteur to you. The utilization of sharp sensory imagery, deliberation of topics considered taboo and a freestyle choice of vocabulary are major attractions in the poem. But instead of detracting from the value of poetry, these facets of his art only enhance its appeal. Through the rest of the letter I hope to convince you of this, my friend.

Having known you for many years . . . Read More

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Notes on Film Noir (1972) by Paul Schrader

The author begins by acknowledging the difficulties in defining film noir. Contrasting it with other established genres like horror or western, Schrader reckons that the differentiating quality of film noir is its subtle yet dark tone and mood. More than qualities inherent to the film, its periodic setting and its production in the forties and early fifties are better markers of the genre. There were four key socio-political conditions during this period which were instrumental in the birth of film noir. The first was war and post-war disillusionment. The second was the gaining popularity of post-war realism. Thirdly the German influence on Hollywood was getting traction. Finally, the growing prominence of “hard-boiled” school of writers within mainstream cinema. What also distinguishes film noir is its stylistic elements and themes. In terms of style, the dominant night scenes, elements of German expressionism, lighting emphasis on both characters and props, as well as the . . . Read More

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Towards a Definition of Film Noir (1955) by Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumeton

In the excerpt Towards a Definition of Film Noir, authors Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumeton address the problem of defining film noir. The main issue is the diversity and interrelationships across genres that make the task daunting. While the term film noir may have been coined by influential critics in France, the birthplace of the genre is Hollywood. Many adjectives come to mind when thinking of film noir, but any given film can contain any permutation of these qualities. For example, qualities such as night-marish, weird, erotic, cruel or ambivalent can readily be associated with the genre. Yet this list is not exhaustive. Thrillers such as This Gun for Hire, The Big Sleep and The Lady in the Lake are as much part of the genre as are the more experimental Call Northshid 777, The House on the 92nd Street and The Naked City. Whatmore, compounding the problem of definition of film noir are the various renowned directors who have embraced the genre. Household names like Billy . . . Read More

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Honour v Shame in Medieval Literature

Feelings of shame and honour are intrinsic to human nature. They are also universal across cultures and eras. In the three select works of medieval literature we see expression of honour and shame in different contexts. They vary in relevance and intensity in each of the classic works. But what is common is that honour is universally perceived to be a desirable and cherished value. In the same vein, shame is looked down upon and condemned. The rest of this essay will depict how shame and honour are manifest in the three chosen medieval literary works.

In the Tristan and Iseult legend, there is no definitive version of the actual turn of events in the story. Since oral tradition and anonymous/multiple authorship was common to literature of this period, many interpretations and variations have been added over the years. Yet, some strong unifying themes bind the variants together. Notwithstanding the version, we find that shame and honour are recurrent themes in the Tristan and . . . Read More

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Are we going to be the last generation of humans?

The prospect of the annihilation of the human species no longer the subject of science fiction plots. There are numerous threats facing the survival of our species. The foremost and the most sudden is through the method of nuclear warfare. With more than a dozen nations equipped with nuclear arsenal, and national defense policies getting ever more hawkish over the years, it is a real and present danger. If such an event were indeed to happen, there is likelihood that much of the human population would be wiped out. Even as far back as 1945, the examples of Hiroshima and Nagasaki showed the devastating human consequences of atomic bomb explosions. In the decades since that tragic event the power and penetration of nuclear weapons have only become more potent. The technology to create such weapons has now been mastered by many countries. On the basis of this looming catastrophe, it is not outlandish to predict that we may well be the last generation of humans.

Global warming is . . . Read More

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The growth in the concentration of media ownership around the world: A Case Study of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp

Concentration of media ownership is a serious problem across the world. Since the media is considered the ‘Fourth Pillar’ of democracy, it is imperative that it remains diverse and free of commercialization. Unfortunately, the reality is quite the opposite. In this context, Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, stands as a symbol of this dire imbalance. News Corporation, under the leadership of Rupert Murdoch, has unparalleled power and reach in the news media industry. The Murdoch Empire spans several continents, with significant footholds in Australia, United States and the United Kingdom. Founded and headquartered in Australia, the company now boasts of being the number one newspaper publisher in the world, with a cumulative daily readership of 14 million in these three countries alone. Murdoch has a near monopoly in the media space in Australia, owning two-thirds of all newspaper circulation in the country. Across the Tasman Sea, in New Zealand, he owns nearly half. Further, he . . . Read More

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‘Why Evolution is True’ by Jerry Coyne

When Charles Darwin published the theory of evolution a century and a half ago, there were still some unanswered questions about the theory. But today, with so many advanced archaeological, biochemical and mathematical techniques at our disposal, there is resounding proof in its support. Jerry Coyne’s book is a persuasive account of the irrefutability of the theory of evolution. I approached reading the book with an open mind, allowing myself to either agree or disagree with the author if logic warranted. But as I progressed through the chapters it became obvious to me that evolution is not ‘one’ among ‘many’ contending explanations for the unity within diversity of life. To the contrary, it was strongly impressed upon me how evolution through natural selection is the ‘only’ explication.

Coyne cites numerous evidences in support of evolution. Firstly, the fossil records of various extinct species fit into a grand ‘tree of life’ where every surviving species . . . Read More

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Difference between descriptive ethics and normative ethics

What is the difference between descriptive ethics and normative ethics? What role do values play in each of these two approaches to ethics? Provide examples to illustrate your points.

Descriptive ethics is founded on the belief that humans are ‘hard-wired’ to be selfish. That is, they are for the most part absorbed in fulfilling their own desires and goals. The capitalist economy is a good example of this instinct in humans, whereby, ‘greed is good’ is an accepted mantra for business corporations and individuals alike. Descriptive ethics promotes a ego-centric decision making model, whereby, an individual is morally entitled to pursue his own happiness through independent action. Cultural relativism is another term coupled to descriptive ethics. This school of thought contends that what is right or wrong is specific to the particular cultural milieu. Normative ethics, on the other hand, takes a more didactic approach to human action in that it . . . Read More

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