Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Normal – a Fictitious Concept

“The normal does not exist. The average does not exist. We know only a very large but probably finite phalanx of discrete space-time events encountered and endured.”

Timothy F.X. Finnegan

 

What is it to be normal, does normality exist?

As a society we have rules and codes to follow. We have certain ways to view things; certain ideas of what is politically correct and ethically okay. We, as a society have a strong belief in normality. The word normal can be defined as the usual, average, or typical state or condition. What exactly is the usual, average or typical state of condition? How can we measure the usual? How often does something need to occur for it to become a typical state or condition?

Our society is run by its belief that everyone should behave and act a certain way. If they don’t conform to that behavior society may reject them, and they are labeled as “strange” and “abnormal”.

However, normal does not exist.

Humans are diverse, we are all different in some way or another so how can you classify us all into a spectrum of norm? This idea of normality is about unquestionable measures of reality and conformity. Humans can be unpredictable, but we try to remove the unpredictability by creating predictable behavior to create guidelines for acceptance and by doing so, we invent the norm.

Just as we create the norm, we prove that it cannot truly exist. There are many different cultures around the world that all have their own ways of living, their own beliefs and their own traditions. Cultures can contradict each other; they can be very different from one another. So how can we label any one of them as “normal” when they are all so different? Recall, the definition of normal is the usual, average, or typical state. If we were to calculate the averages of different beliefs of culture, we would end up with classifying cultures like those that exist in Asia as the norm purely because they have the highest population of people who follow that structure. Is then every other culture abnormal? Do we then have the right to say that no other culture is right except for the one with the highest average of followers?

Social norms are different around the world. For example, if I were to go to store in Canada not wearing shoes than I would be kicked out, because here the norm is “no shoes, no shirt no service.” However, if I went to a store in my home country, South Africa, without shoes people would not even notice; it would not a big deal in the slightest for people do it all the time.

An objective society is impossible to create.  Never will every mind agree with every other mind. What is real depends upon our values, and these values depend upon our personality and our experience. If there is a disagreement between society and an individual how do you determine who is right? If you ask one hundred people a simple question worded the exact same way every time no two individuals will respond exactly the same way.

How can normal exist when no two people are alike? Psychological diversity is a fact of life and so there cannot be a ‘normal’ person.

The craving to be normal is the craving to be average, it stems from the need that each individual has to be accepted and welcomed in their society. Be that as it may, the word in its literal meaning cannot exist. There can never be anything that is truly normal for there can never be any two things that are truly and exactly identical.

 

 

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Heaven Is Probably A Place On Earth

the-meaning-of-lifeI will try my best not to delve too deeply into paragraph upon paragraph of religious bias. If you don’t enjoy the topic, skip ahead now.

A great number of people live because there is supposedly a God, or another superior form waiting to submit them into heaven, an afterlife, or anything else that is far greater than the flawed Earth we live on. But, the question is: do we need something greater to live for? We are all alive, but we can only live based on what we choose to believe. For instance: faithful people require a purpose in life to secure their purpose in death: admittance to paradise. It’s satisfying to firmly believe that “death does not bring about their complete annihilation” (MHR Philosophy Unit 2: Metaphysics, 114).

Three Saturdays ago, just before I was about to leave my house to catch a bus, a Jehovah’s witness quietly knocked on my front door. Not wanting to be rude, I entertained him by watching a video he had pre-loaded on an iPad. It attempted to answer why, if there is a God, there would still be suffering and grievance. For those of you not interested in religion-related media: basically, the Bible says suffering happens because there is an “evil power“.

Although I didn’t appreciate having to once again be pummelled with the dodgeballs of religion, I suddenly understood why this is comforting for some. Many people don’t like to think that humans are at fault for terrible happenings! If a higher power is responsible for turmoil, it must mean all humans are innately good.

However, it is not a source of despair to refute a higher power. We have what we have: an “impossible universe full of awe and wonder … [and] an infinite number of questions we can work on”(Jillette, God, No!, 229). We must live by leaving it be, not by letting faith guide us. This is my bias, but am I enforcing this upon you? No. Choose to believe whatever you want, because you will always be an individual.

Trash_Religion_b-on-w_no-siteThe core of “living” is individuality. Humans can never have a common, shared life experience, no matter how much they are in each other’s company. I can’t think, thought-for-thought, in the exact same manner as the brains currently in this room.

  • Can we know that there is a superior being?
  • Can we know that there isn’t?

The frustrating short answer is no, but the existence of superiority should not prevent us from living on our own “rational” thoughts: well, that is a whole other subject.

 

 
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