In week one, I immediately found myself interested and alert as I tried to absorb as much as possible from Examined Life. It was difficult to find a balance between taking as many good notes as possible, with making sure not to miss anything these eight philosophers had to say. I took to heart many of the thoughts and ideas that were shared throughout the film. The first that struck a cord with me was that it is not necessary to find meaning. At first that sounds contrary to philosophy at its core, because I find that is usually what we ponder; the meaning of whatever it is we are thinking, doing, or discussing. I realized that sometimes it is fine for things to just be, and not know why. Much of the film has to do with how we think, and what we do in private. Collectively, through these moral and ethical acts (or lack of them) we can impact the public. Also by sharing these thoughts and concepts with the public in the documentary, it can affect our thoughts and actions in our private lives; I know it has at least for myself.
One of the earliest topics in the film that I took note of was the ethics of certain matters, in a way that I had never considered before. The first, was the ethics of how we spend our money. An analogy was proposed by Peter Singer, who said he had asked many people this philosophical question in the past, and always gets the same answer. The question is, at its root, if you could save a child from drowning, with no risk to your own safety, but you would ruin your nice pair of shoes, would you do it? This is what I call a no-brainer. Nearly all would save the child, myself included. In turn, one would be out the cost of those nice shoes. However, Singer's point is that one could take the cost of those shoes beforehand and donate it to certain charity's who could potentially save the lives of one or more children. This, though, is not something most people consider before they spend their money. I had never thought of this, and I believe that analogy could encourage many people to reconsider the ways in which they spend their money, and to donate more. This goes hand in hand with another concept that was later discussed; we have a moral obligation to help, just as we have an obligation to do no harm. I have always considered myself as ethical and moral, but I have done so in a passive way. I appreciate having a different perspective to consider.
The other ethical concern that grabbed my attention was that of using animals as we see fit. I am not a vegetarian or vegan, and while I do see why some choose to be, I had never considered becoming one myself. The way it was brought up in the documentary however, was very convincing to me. What gives us the right to do consume the flesh of other living creatures just because we have the power to do so? If I weren't raised as a meat eater, I don't believe I would have ever had the desire to hurt, kill, or eat animals.
One of my favorite parts, was when the meaning of life was...