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Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Practice Of Arguing From Beliefs Back To Premises

Belief: College students are obsessed with food.
College students in this case mean eighteen- to twenty-four-year-old people who go to an institution of higher learning. There are people who go to college to learn who are not within this age group, but they are excluded for the sake of argument. An obsession with food is an exaggeration, for it is not intended to mean that college students literally have an unhealthy preoccupation with food which endangers their lives. Instead, it is meant that most college students (ages 18-24) are more preoccupied with their appetite than with virtue or intellectual matters.

Revised Belief: Younger people are more driven by their appetites than older people.
The appetite is one of the three urges which bring people happiness, the others being social and intellect. As a person ages, she or he shifts from letting the body dictate ones actions to the mind. It takes education, discipline, and time to develop virtues (or habits that bring optimal happiness). Being in transition between adolescence and adulthood, college students (18-24) use food both for the appetite and for the social urge. In other words, college students talk often about food, especially with other college students who share their food interest.

Premises: It is everyone’s natural desire to be happy, and optimal happiness relies on acting virtuously.
The three urges are different focuses of the one desire to be happy. The body maintains and enhances itself through the intake of substance, and it accomplishes this through urging the mind with hunger. Virtuous eating habits optimize the happiness gained in this process. Once the goal of eating is done, the person will only hunger again later. Happiness is in the moment for one lives in the present and not the past.

Alternate Premise: People search for happiness because their existence is empty.
What a strange predicament in which people find themselves. They remember the past, but finding that it no longer can be, they know that it is just as good as to them if the past never was. The present as well does not sustain the individual, for when the moment comes into being, it is immediately lost to the past. Through an act of constant striving, people seek happiness in the future. Sadly, they eventually find “when their life is at an end, that they have lived their lifelong ad interim, and they will be surprised to find that something they allowed to pass by unnoticed and unenjoyed was just their life — that is to say, it was the very thing in the expectation of which they lived” (Schopenhauer). Eating is just the part of the endless recycling of matter, and most people are unaware of it. The few people who do realize that they are but footprints in the sand and that nothing that they do is worth any effort. This realization is called Enlightenment, and Nirvana (or the cessation of striving) is the next step.
Works Cited:
Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. Trans. M. Ostwald. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1962.
Schopenhauer, Arthur. The Emptiness of Existence. Adelaide: The University of Adelaide, 2010. Accessed February 24, 2011. http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/schopenhauer/arthur/essays/chapter4.html

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