February 26, 2009


These days I listen a lot to a Berkeley social psychology class, which I downloaded for free from here and then here: iTunes. I have started to put recommendations from my google reader to the little gadget you see at the side and hope you enjoy some of the things I don't find the time to blog about, but really liked, without much of a comment.

When I surf the web I usually go about collecting a lot of little bits and pieces everywhere, like meaningful aphorisms, funny pictures with meaning and nice quotes. I am gonna share a pretty random selection with you today, so I hope you enjoy!

Learn from everyone! Follow no one! Watch for patterns! Work like hell!

Moral skill is chipped away by an overreliance on rules that deprives us of the opportunity to improvise and learn from our improvisations. And moral will is undermined by an incessant appeal to incentives that destroy our desire to do the right thing.
Barry Schwartz on TED.com

And I will leave you with one of my favorites : )

February 20, 2009

Reflections on Morality

I am writing an essay for one of my political seminars these days. The title might seem a little cryptic to you: "Legal positivism or natural law - Reflections on legality and legitimacy in the context of South African transitional justice".

I also have been reading two books in the last week, both of them I had actually read before. But it is funny with books. Although the words have remained the same they relate to your life and your experience in such a different way so that how you read them changes completely. Both books talk about love and guilt, about the past and about morality in the face of lies and responsibility.

Suffice it to say that my view of what is to be considered right or wrong has been challenged and mulled over these days. And so the books have hit me with a lot of intensity.
The books are Milan Kundera's "The unbearable lightness of being", which I had totally forgotten until a good friend gave it to me a short while ago, and Bernhard Schlink's "The reader", which is currently in cinemas and aspiring to an academy award.

I would like to give you some quotes that I found relevant when I read them...

He told himself the real question was not: Did they know or not?, but: Is man innocent, because he is ignorant? Is a dunce on the throne free of all responsibilty, just because he is a dunce?
He went about pondering, until he finally reached the conclusion that it was actually normal for him not to know what he wanted.
You can never know what to want, because there is only one life that you can neither compare to former lives nor correct in ones to come.

I am not saying that thinking and deciding have no influence on action. But action does not simply follow what has been thought or decided before. It has its own source and my action is my action in the same independent way that my thinking is my thinking and my deciding is my deciding.
No, I am not talking about order and obedience. The hangman does not follow orders. He does his job, doesn't hate the ones he executes, doesn't take revenge, doesn't kill them because they are in his way or because they threaten or attack him. He is completely indifferent towards them. He is so indifferent that he may just as well kill them as let them stay alive.

Take a moment to think about this,
don't be indifferent to other people,
ask why you are doing what you are doing
and remember that this is the one life that matters!

Take care everybody and have a great weekend :)

February 11, 2009

Some quotes...

...worth thinking about! --- Enjoy your week everybody :)



I'm not frightened by not knowing anything.

Richard Feynman, physicist and nobel laureate (1918-1988)



Love is everything it's cracked up to be. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk everything, you risk even more.

Erica Jong, US-American author (*1942)



There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart.

Jane Austen (1775-1817)

February 04, 2009

February 01, 2009

How to live

Today I got an email with this list of ten things that can really make your life happier. I just wish everyone knew that. Don't be grouchy, keep learning, just be grateful for life. Amen to that!


1. Throw out nonessential numbers.
This includes age, weight and height.
Let the doctors worry about them.
That is why you pay them.

2. Keep only cheerful friends.
The grouches pull you down.
(Keep this In mind if you are one of those grouches.)

3. Keep learning:
Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever.
Never let the brain get idle. "An idle mind is the devil's workshop."
And the devil's name is Alzheimer's!

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud.
Laugh until you gasp for breath.
And if you have a friend who makes you laugh,
spend lots and lots of time with HIM / HER.

6. The tears happen:
Endure, grieve, and move on.
The only person who is with us our entire life, is yourself.
LIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love:
Whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever.
Your home is your refuge. How about your relationship with God?

8. Cherish your health:
If it is good, preserve it.
If it is unstable, improve it.
If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips.
Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county,
to a foreign country, but *NOT* to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love
that you love them, at every opportunity.

Lie to me

Yesterday my mother found an article about the world's best lie detector. However it is not a machine, but a human being, Dr. Paul Ekman. A trained psychotherapist and scientist through and through he dedicated himself to the study of human emotions and their manifestation in nonverbal language. Nonverbal language comprises everything from body language, to facial expression and the tone of your voice.

Here you can watch some videos about his work which is fascinating, but also has a scary aspect to it. Yes, at first it seems like a superpower, but the ability to detect any lie, and that is what Ekman claims for himself, has serious moral implications and can definitely change your life forever, not always in a pleasant manner.

You probably don't really wanna know that your best friend hates the present you gave them or that your family is only being polite about the meal you cooked with so much love. And of course knowing about others' feelings does not necessarily render you capable of dealing with that knowledge in the best way possible. You have to be able to distinguish when to ignore a lie, confront the liar or ask diplomatically if there is anything wrong. In some situations your life could depend on telling truth from lie, but in other situations you are just invading someone's privacy. And you need to be conscious of the fact that you may know the emotion, but not the reason for it. Take into consideration that "the average person lies three times per ten minutes of conversation" for totally different reasons.

Take a moment to reflect on that and think about the reasons you have for being less than truthful in your daily life. Let us at least try to lie for the right reasons, if we can't avoid it entirely :)