Philosophical Story Challenge

images (4)Hey guys. It’s Saturday again so it’s time for another philosophical story challenge. I’m going to keep this weeks challenge short and simple. Love. Love is a concept that can be rather difficult to pin down; it both goes against our nature and is also a part of that nature. Everyone craves love to some extent, and it seems like a lot of people are proponents of the idea that love would solve a lot of our problems. If more people were loving and less selfish the world would be a better place, it’s probably true. Your challenge this week is to write a story with two conditions. One, the society within the story must have some fixation on love, and two, the main character/characters need to question this fixation. As always, keep your stories under 1,000 words if you want to post them on here, but feel free to write more! Have fun!

Philosophical Story Challenge

41w69X7v-8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Good morning everyone. I apologize for the late post; my power was out briefly last night and when it came back on I had completely forgotten that I needed to write this. Regardless, it’s Saturday so I’ve come to bring you another philosophical story challenge. I’d like to make this week’s challenge revolve around some theories of knowledge so without further ado let’s begin. Two of the main theories of knowledge are known as Idealism and Empiricism and they can roughly be defined as follows: Empiricism believes that all knowledge is gained by empirical means (e.g. through experience via our senses) whereas Idealism is the belief that knowledge (or at least certain knowledge) is innate. Some common examples of innate knowledge would be things that are definitionally true. For example, if you tell me that a person I have never met is a bachelor I can know without seeing or meeting him that he is an unmarried male. If you tell me that you work in a triangular building I know roughly what your building will look like without ever seeing it. In our world today we are just beginning to emerge from a time period of radical empiricism where science has reigned as the only means to true knowledge; but before this there was a period where Idealism held a strong footing; where it was recognized that empiricism has its limits. It seems to be a bit of an ebb and flow throughout the history of philosophy going back and forth between these two ideas (or descendants of them). For your challenge today I want to choose one of these ideas and write a story with it as a theme. As always, have fun, and try to keep it under 1,000 words if you want to post it up here, otherwise feel free to write more.

Philosophical Story Challenge

Neutral-monism-300x210Hey everyone, it’s Saturday once again which brings us to another philosophical story challenge. For this week’s challenge we’re going to be dealing the idea of Monism. Monism can be described as the belief in a single reality or substance. That is, at our essence, all existing things go back to one distinct thing or source. There are multiple theories of Monism that usually distinguish themselves by what they believe the source is (e.g. matter vs mind vs ‘the universe’). Even Platonism and Neoplatonism hold to a form of monism with their theories of the forms.

According to Wikipedia (very trustworthy, I know, but this isn’t a research paper it’s a blog post!) there are three basic types of Monism.

  • Substantial monism, “the view that the apparent plurality of substances is due to different states or appearances of a single substance”
  • Attributive monism, “the view that whatever the number of substances, they are of a single ultimate kind”
  • Partial monism, “within a given realm of being (however many there may be) there is only one substance”

With this information at hand, your challenge this week is to write a story that involves at least one form of monism, either as an over-arching philosophy behind the story or as a belief held by a specific character or group of people within the story. Good luck and have fun!


Archetypal Heroes: The Classic Hero

2887324-captain_america_movie_2011Hey everyone, it’s time for another post of my archetypal hero series. This might be the last post I do in this series, but I haven’t decided for sure yet. Anyway, for this post I’ve chosen to discuss what I consider to be the classic hero. I consider these characters to be classic heroes in a two-fold sense of the word classic–they are most commonly found in older stories and mythologies and they are also what I believe to be the subconscious ideal that most people have of a hero. In many ways these characters are a combination of the Willing Hero and the Reluctant Hero; but often without the flaws of either. The Willing hero often lacks heroic abilities and the Reluctant hero fears his abilities; the Classic hero has heroic abilities and has no fear of using them. Often these characters are seen in mythologies as demi-gods or princes; people of nobility and power. They go on some quest which demonstrates their heroic nature through a variety of challenges. It is easy to look at this descriptions and think that this sounds boring or cliche, and you might be right, but this is a classic character for a reason. Unlike some of the past heroes I’ve written on that are based on the audience relating to their humanity, the Classic Hero draws people in for the opposite reason. We do not see ourselves as ever being capable of their heroism, but they inspire us to be better nonetheless. We know we can never succeed but they also show us that we have to try. In the recent past I can only really think of one story that contains a classic hero as I have defined it: Captain America. The story of Captain America is one of idealism that I think fits this character archetype perfectly. Even before he became Captain America, Steve Rogers would have been a Willing Hero as evidenced by him jumping onto that grenade. It was his willingness to be a hero that made him a Classic Hero when he gained the abilities to match his idealism.

Philosophical Story Challenge

MV5BOTI5ODc3NzExNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzYxNzQzMw@@._V1_SX640_SY720_Hey everyone, sorry for the lateness of this post. Anyway, it’s Saturday again which means I’m here to bring you another Philosophical Story Challenge. For this week’s challenge I want to look a philosophical theme instead of a specific philosophy, and for the theme this week I’ve chosen the idea of redemption. Most everyone should be familiar with the concept of redemption and how it works, but in case anyone isn’t I’ll give a brief explanation. To redeem means gain or regain possession of something in exchange for a payment. So when you buy something at the grocery store you are redeeming that item in exchange for some money. However, this definition is not complete; redemption can also mean to make up for the faults of something. When it comes to redemption of people this can be difficult because people are all flawed; one flawed thing cannot redeem another which is why it is commonly accepted that, as a general rule, something contained within a system cannot redeem that which it is contained in. So a normal human cannot redeem humanity, someone from earth cannot redeem the earth. You need someone or something that is outside of the system to come in and choose to redeem it. That’s why the Doctor is only part human and why V from V For Vendetta has to let Evee set off the explosion at the end. The Doctor is redeeming the world from space and time and V is redeeming a world that turned him into a monster, but the world he is making is not something that he can be a part of. Only someone who belongs to the redeemed world is qualified to make the choice to create it. Your challenge this week is to write a story that centers around a redemption story. As always, please keep them under 1,000 words if you want to post them on here, otherwise feel free to write more!

Archetypal Heroes: The Mentor

Hey everyone, it’s time for another installment of my archetypal hero series. For this post I’ve chosen one of my two personal favorite hero archetypes, the Mentor, to write about. We all know this character; he’s the wise sage who gives advice and/or trains the protagonist; often sacrificing himself on the quest so that the protagonist can live. He is Gandalf, and he is Morpheus; Grandmother Willow and Uncle Iroh, Yoda and Rafiki. These characters are the embodiment of wisdom and they exist for one main reason and only one: to be a guiding pillar for the protagonist. It is the mentor’s job to make the sure the hero has the right morals and the right path to take. We love these characters because they make the story simpler in a charming, lovable way. They give advice and provide most of the practical life application for the audience to receive the moral lesson. I think ultimately, though, we love the mentors because we wish we had them in our own life. That’s not to say that we don’t have our own mentors throughout life, but that life would be simpler and more enjoyable if I could sit down to tea with Uncle Iroh and have him talk me through what moral lesson I ought to be gleaning from the day’s experiences. I’m sorry but nothing beats that for me. Nothing.

Not only do these characters provide important moral guidance to the protagonist, they also help keep the audience interested in the story. They provide unusual, often unpredictable encounters which should make the readers more attached to both the main character and the mentor. Ideally, the reader should share a similar level of emotional attachment to the mentor that the protagonist does. Authors want their readers emotionally invested in a story, and what better way to create emotional investment than to kill of a character that the isn’t necessary to the end of the story but that the audience shares a deep emotional connection with?

Simply put, we like these characters because they simplify the story and create emotional attachment. Authors like these characters because they can be simple to write and we get invested in the story because of them.

Philosophical Story Challenge

screen-shot-2011-12-11-at-9-03-25-pmHey guys it’s Saturday again so it’s time for another Philosophical Story Challenge. This week I want us to take a step away from the ethical challenges we’ve been dealing with and instead focus on Epistemology, or the theory of knowledge. Specifically I want us to focus on the Gettier problem. The Gettier problem comes from the Philosopher Edmund Gettier who published a short article called “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?” Prior to the publishing of this work it was commonly accepted that if you had a justified true belief you had knowledge. What this means is that you hold a belief to be true which actually is true and you are justified in believing it to be true then you have real knowledge; Gettier, however, disagreed with this and posed two scenarios which challenged this idea. The easiest way to explain the problem involves a man with a broken watch. His watch stopped working at a certain time without his knowledge and 12 hours later exactly he decides to casually glance at his watch for the time. He believes his watch to still be working so he believes the time that it tells and he is justified in this belief, and it happens to be true–is this real knowledge? Gettier didn’t think so and most philosopher’s today don’t think so either. Your challenge today is to write your own short story that portrays the Gettier problem of a justified true belief being true by chance alone (making it really an unjustified true belief that is only thought to be a justified true belief). As always please try to keep your stories under 1,000 words if you want to post them on here; otherwise feel free to write more!

Philosophical Story Challenge

ethicsHey guys, it’s time for another Philosophical Story Challenge. This week’s challenge comes from ethics, and specifically, morality. I’ve written several posts before regarding morality and objective truth but this week I want to steer clear of that discussion. Instead, I want to focus on a few alternate theories of morality. More specifically, I want us to look at pragmatic ethics and role ethics. These two ethical theories derive morality from society, though in slightly different ways. Pragmatic ethicists believe that morality is derived from society and that it progresses much like scientific knowledge: through little developments over the course of many lifetimes. On the other hand, role ethics holds that morality is found in a person’s relationship with their respective community. Everyone has a specific role within a given community and the morality of an action is based on how it fits into your role. Both of these theories are an interesting contrast to the idea of divine morality that has been present for many centuries. Your challenge this week is to write a story which exemplifies one of these two ethical theories. As always, if you want to post your story on here please keep it under 1,000 words, but otherwise feel free to write more! Have fun!

Philosophical Story Challenge

The-clockHey guys, it’s Saturday once again so I’m here to bring you yet another philosophical story challenge. I want to keep this week’s challenge fairly simple so I’ve decided to give you all a topic that we’ve touched on once or twice before in past Philosophical Story Challenges: time. Philosophically speaking, time is a very interesting and confusing component of reality. Not only is it a somewhat arbitrary concept that would have no foundation outside of a solar system, but according to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, it is also relative to speed. So we are faced with a sort of existential problem; our lives revolve around time and our concept of its passing, and yet it seems as if the only reason it exists is because we say it does and it is a convenient way of understanding our observations. So your challenge this week is this: write a story involving an absolute time. That is, instead of our arbitrary concept of time based on the revolutions of our planet on its axis and around our sun, create a setting in which there is an absolute time that holds true anywhere in the universe.

Archetypal Heroes: The Anti-Hero

avatar_the_last_airbenderHello again everyone, I’m here to bring you the fourth installment of my archetypal hero series. So far we’ve looked at the tragic hero, the willing hero, and the unwilling hero; to continue the series in this post we will be looking at the anti-hero. Anti-heroes are often some of our favorite characters–characterized by their distinct inability to be heroic despite whatever noble intentions they may possess. They are often comedic characters with a propensity towards failure in their actions which leads, in part, to their anti-hero status. To give you some examples of characters I think of as anti-heroes I would have to list both Sokka and Zuko from the Nickelodeon show Avatar: The Last Airbender. While these two characters are both very different in their nature, I think they both serve as anti-heroes to the story in the earlier seasons. Sokka is more of a traditional comedic anti-hero who also serves as the comic relief throughout much of the series. He has a noble heart and desires to be a hero but lacks the ability to bend an element. Zuko, on the other hand, is an antagonistic anti-hero whose goal is to capture the protagonist and prove himself as a hero to his father and sister. He does not serve as a main source of comic relief, however it is hard not to laugh at some of his early failures in this area.

Anti-heroes can be very important characters to any story; they provide a sense of realism that readers can appreciate and often relate to. We love our virtuous and willing heroes because they give us something to aspire to, but we love our anti-heroes because we can see ourselves be them. All fantasy literature is, I  believe, escapist; but to quote Patrick Rothfuss: “If you want to write a fantasy story with Norse gods, sentient robots, and telepathic dinosaurs, you can do just that. Want to throw in a vampire and a lesbian unicorn while you’re at it? Go ahead. Nothing’s off limits. But the endless possibility of the genre is a trap. It’s easy to get distracted by the glittering props available to you and forget what you’re supposed to be doing: telling a good story….” What I mean is this, a good story is escapist because it draws the reader in and makes the audience as much a part of the story as the characters themselves. It is easy to abuse the freedom of fantasy literature and write an awesome story that is so unrealistic no one gets attached to it. We desire escapism so long as what we are escaping to is a believable universe, and anti-heroes help us to feel that by being a little less heroic and a little more human.