Human Perfection

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Is it true that no one is perfect? Is perfection an impossible goal? Or are we perfect as we are? What does it mean or would it mean to be perfect? Does perfect mean to be flawless? Does it mean to be "suitable to one's purpose"? How are we to know our purpose? Do we settle for mediocrity and decide not to strive for perfection because we are taught that perfection is not attainable? What would be on the list of "essentials" for human perfection? Is "carrying one's own weight" an essential element? Is doing one's fair share a subjective judgment or an obvious objective fact, when "all the dust has settled"? Does a virtue have to be objectively obvious to be an essential element of perfection? How about not laughing at the shortcomings of others and forgiving transgressions without hesitation? Are these essential elements of human perfection? Is it always appropriate to forgive? Is it wrong to have feeling of Schadenfreude (delight in another person's misfortune) even if one does not express them outwardly? Can one and should one control one's inner feelings, in order to be perfect? Does perfection also require making the most of one's talents, pursuing one's passions, and never selling out? What else might belong on the list? What can we say about physical perfection? How about perfection of temperament or personality? Aren't we born with some imperfections that we cannot change? How are we to pursue perfection? Is it a simple act of will? Is a personal transformation required? What are the roles of attitude, motivation, social context, support, and intervention in the pursuit of perfection? Isn't service to others part of perfection, especially in helping others to achieve their own perfection? Wouldn't a perfect person recognize that accomplishment, love, happiness and joy multiply in sharing? And even if perfection is not absolutely attainable, can we not strive in its direction? Does perfection not beckon us like a beautiful sunset on the distant horizon, perhaps out of reach, but guiding us and inspiring us nonetheless?

 

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What Is Liberty?

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Is liberty just a quaint and outdated word for freedom? What is freedom? Can we talk about one without the other? Is liberty personal, social, or political? Who decides our liberties? Our government? Our culture? Our conscience? What are we to be liberated from? Who or what oppresses us? Can we ever be completely liberated? Can we ever be completely free? Are wild animals free? Was Robinson Crusoe free on the deserted island? Was he liberated? Can we be free if we must continuously struggle for basic necessities? Does society curtail our freedoms or enhance them by providing a structure that eases the burden of survival? To what extent is freedom a question of attitude? To what extent is liberty a question of law? Does freedom for one come at the expense of freedom for another? Is it right to suspend civil liberties in the name of defending freedom? Is fear the enemy of freedom? Do our fears enslave us or protect us? Is it possible to have too much freedom? Does absolute freedom corrupt absolutely? Is liberation always a good thing? Doesn't national liberation lead to chaos? Doesn't personal liberation lead to the anxiety of choice? If we don't exercise the freedoms we have, do they matter? To what end do we seek freedom? Is liberation an ends in itself, or just another beginning?

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Essentials for the Good Life

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Are there any universal prerequisites to living the good life? Is the question totally subjective, or are there any objective measures? Is good health an essential element? Do physical impairments preclude living a good life? Do pain and suffering? How about impaired mental health? Must one have passions to live the good life? From whose perspective is one's life to be judged as good? Are pleasures, contentment, and happiness reliable indicators of a good life? When a sexual predator is fulfilling his passion, is he living the good life? Might passion be necessary, but not sufficient to a good life? How do we distinguish the essential prerequisites FOR a good life from the hallmarks OF a good life? Is peace of mind essential? Is it a cause or an effect? Can one's life be judged in progress, or must it be judged as a whole only after it has been completed, as one might judge a book or movie? What does it mean to be contributing to the goodness of the world? Are externally applied criteria any more objective than internal judgments? Can one have a good life by just appreciating the present moment? Is a spiritual framework necessary for a good life? Are the essentials for a good life the same throughout ones life? Is there a preferred or natural order to the unfolding of one's life? What does it take to stay on one's course, given that everyone's path may be different? What role does gratitude play in living the good life? Are not most of us living far better lives than even the kings and queens of previous centuries?

 

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The Ethics of Friendship

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Are friendships optional? Are they necessary to live the good life? Is there a universal need to give and receive affection? Where do our feelings about friendships come from? Why do we treat our friends the way we do? Are friendships more "disposable" than they used to be? How do friendships come to be? How much is it by choice? How much is it by chance? Does it require willful action? What are friends for? What are the motives for making and keeping friends? How can we know if a friendship is "true"? What do we expect from friendship? How do expectations differ? Are friendships meant to last forever? What are the ethics of ending a friendship? Is friendship an investment? Is it ethical to end a friendship with unequal investment, "an unbalanced account"? Is it ethical to just fade away? Must we know and must we give a reason for ending a friendship? How do we reconcile the need to grow and to be free with the expectations of friendship? Can we ever fail to profit from our friendship "investment" so long as we see friendship as its own reward without any further expectations?

 

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Good Philosophical Conversation

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What makes a subject matter, philosophical? What makes a conversation style, philosophical? What is required for effective conversation of any kind? Is a cooperative style better than a confrontational style in philosophical discussions? What does it take to understand another's point of view? What is the objective of a good philosophical conversation? Is the search for meaning an essential part of any philosophical conversation? What fosters philosophical thinking in others? What stifles it? Are all philosophical questions timeless and universal? Are all timeless and universal questions philosophical? Must the philosophical topic lie outside the bounds of other established disciplines? Is a conversation about philosophical conversation, a philosophical conversation? Must the philosophical question be answerable? Must it be amenable to examination? What methods of examination are philosophical? How does one measure the success of a philosophical conversation? Who benefits from the conversation? What are the benefits? Are the benefits strictly intellectual? What does it take to benefit from a philosophical conversation? Can one find philosophical insight in any conversation? Can one find philosophical insight in entertainment? How can we find philosophical insight in any present moment?

 

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