It was at the end of the semester when I was behind on my grading and my mother jokingly told me, as I complained to her the amount of papers I had to read to grade, to throw them down the stairs and grade them depending how they fell: A’s to those that made it to the final step, F’s for those that were still on the top step. This surprised me– I secretly wondered if there was a possibility of getting away with it, so to prolong this secret fantasy I approached my husband. He suggested using a dart board; I stupidly thought he meant to affix the papers to the board and never mind the punctures …

Grading a Human Life?

We grade papers.
We grade coins.
We grade diamonds.
We grade all gemstones.
We grade eggs: chicken and human. If you don’t believe me, go look up human egg donors.
We grade qualities of meats. Think USDA prime.
We grade things to show a level of competency or their rank. What grade are you currently in? What grade did you achieve?

We are a culture that thrives on grades and grading.

Can we grade human life? Is there something fundamentally wrong, especially in a democratic society, to grade human life? Does it matter if we do this before life is initiated or after birth?

This week we’ve read Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas</em>, Harriet McBryde Johnston’s Unspeakable Conversation, and Michael J. Sandel’s The Case Against Perfection. There are some linked themes here, but I think the one we must first look at is: do we believe that there is a criteria, a check list to grade human life. Is there a check list if you will to decide which person deserves life more than another? Are there criteria that would distinguish one’s life as better? Is someone more human than another?

We then must also consider the element of suffering. Is there a criteria for that? Consider Peter Singer’s position regarding selective infanticide.

Do we, as they did in Omelas (FYI: The author came up with this name by reading a sign for “Salem, Oregon” backwards)? Do we stay in the land of joy purchased through the life of an innocent, or do we walk away?

Can we grade this?


OK! So, I have four different posts in process right now, and I have hit a wall: I feel I need to revisit them when I am not focusing on finishing your final essay grades…

So instead, let us go down the “rabbit hole”….

We have been watching the movie :What the Bleep Do We Know?

And I would love to hear your initial impressions….

Pretty wide open topic, huh?
Impress me with your honest thoughts.
Impress me further with these thoughts by drawing parallels to what we’ve been reading and discussing.
Blow me out of the water by drawing these connections to our class and other ideas you’ve been exploring!

Use links, share ideas! And…..GO!

So this post is to address some of the limitations we face as humans in our pursuit of “The Truth”!

So often we find that people wish to live as Plato’s prisoners: within a lie that their senses provide them. To live with the deception that our senses convince us as truth.

I am reminded of this cartoon that came out in response to the film/ book by Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth.
An Inconvienent Truth

Cartoon courtesy of

I am struck by the fact that although we often profess our desire to know the true, we often line up as obsequiously and complacently for a heaped serving of the lie. Why do we humans consistently do this?

Perhaps we are limited by our own very construct or nature that we are not capable to exist with the “Truth”? Perhaps there are other contributing factors to this phenomenon?

We’ve read a number of pieces that address our construct and understanding of our limitations with truth:

Ken Wilber’s chapter from A Brief History of Everything.

The article by Jon Gertner, The Futile Pursuit of Happiness .

And the Dalai Lama’s The Need For Discernment.

Consider how each of these authors might recommend we address or modify our search for truth. You may reference one or more of the authors and you may also refer to earlier reading within your comment.

PS– Should I remind you that I LOVE when you make connections to ideas you are encountering in your life?

PPS– here is a link to a fellow blogger who posted a short story about truth and branding in marketing…


Thank you for being a part of this community.

So far we have read for class: Parker J. Palmer’s Community of Truth, Adrienne Rich’s Claiming an Education, Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, and Plato’s (Allegory of) The Cave.

The ideas we are initially wrestling with are those of education, truth and classic structure of arguments, but specifically what purpose an education provides society and the individuals therein.

What I would like to ask you to contemplate is Palmer’s mention of “the grace of great things.” Do you hold in your heart an affinity for something that may fall under this category? Something that speaks to you to know it further?

I look forward to hearing what inspires you!



“Art is the lie that tells the truth.” Pablo Picasso

“We all know that art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.” (The Arts, Picasso Speaks, 1923)

Consider the three portraits and photo that are in your text of Picasso– and or the ones below:
Picasso self 1

Picasso self 2

Picasso Self 3

Considering what Picasso has outlined in his essay, and both the essays by Langer and The Royal Bank of Canada, reflect on the above quotation from Picasso and the nature of artistic truth compared to any of the other truths we’ve been discussing. How is that a “lie” can make us realize a truth? Or as he states, “the truth that we are given to understand?”

I found of one of our classmate’s comments that didn’t post in the site’s spam basket– (as an aside, I would like to remind you that I am relatively new to this blogging technology, and because of that I need you to email me when you are having problems. I might be able to help you! In this student’s case, her comment got posted to the “spam” pile! Can you imagine how surprised I was when I saw that she was not the only one who had tried to post their submission a number of times, but all the copies never got there– and can you imagine how FRUSTRATED they are? — Chrislynn, Rudy, Steepy, and Jamie- the problem has been rectified!)

But as I was reading her response I felt that this might be a nice one to include as a revisit. Remember, we have been using the lens of truth to visit the topics we’ve been reading about in this class. The lens offers us the ability to question what truth is and its meaning, as well as whether there is a truth. It also allows us to look at how different disciplines substantiate and validate the truth their disciplines support. This week’s Stephen W. Hawking’s and Bertrand Russell’s essays are no exception. Here are two writers approaching the topic of science and religion’s relationship to the Universe. We have been discussing the history of the struggle of scientists and religions in answering the questions: When was the Universe created? and How was the Universe created?

What is important to remember is that finding an answer to these monumental questions has been linked to the penultimate question of: What does it all mean? Human kind has been searching for meaning in the universe and in our existence. We have been looking at the postulated theories of why we are here and what meaning that may have.

So what I invite you to do in commenting on this blog is to read through Chrislynn Porta’s response, think over the semester’s reading through to now, pick one of the quotations that she has offered about truth, and relate that quotation to one or more of the reading that we’ve read and of course the topic of truth!

And if you have about six minutes you can watch this!
or if you have about an hour, this!

Credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

I would like to revisit the very first blog on truth (in case you haven’t noticed,
I like that one!) Ever since that blog was posted, I realized just how much of life
is based on truth.

This past weekend I attended a leadership/ diversity retreat and one of the
workshops was about truth. Here are a few quotes we briefly discussed ..

“There are no whole truths: all truths are half- truths. It is trying to treat them
as whole truths that plays the devil.” – Alfred North Whitehead

“Believe those who are seeking truth; doubt those who find it.” – Andre Gide

“We know the the truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart.” – Blaise

“Most truths are so naked that people feel sorry from then and cover them up, at
least a little bit.” – Edward R. Murrow

“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to
discover them.” – Galileo

I find Murrow’s quote to be very interesting. I think it implies that truth is
always changing. Most people embellish the truth as to protect other’s feeling. When
they embellish the truth, it changes, whether it be a lot or a little. I feel that
when a truth changes, it stops being a truth. There is evidence to support the original
truth, but not this new “truth” a person has come up with.” Chrislynn Porta

answer all the questions
So, this weekend I spent some time with a good friend and her sister. I had met my friend’s sister before, but for some reason I didn’t have a recollection of her. The sister was nice, and I enjoy my friendship with my friend, and the evening was enjoyable, a melange of discussion about “deep issues” and Britney Spears’ new hairdo. Needless to say, that is possibly a blog unto itself, and what I am really here to address is a topic that came up in the course of our conversation that was NOT directly related to Britney’s shaved head.

The topic which the three of us bounced back and forth and which inspired today’s blog was that of ignorance. What became apparent in our discussion was that each of us had a different definition of ignorance. So for our purposes I shall define mine.

I am not speaking of stupidity… that is altogether a different topic in my definition of the word, stupidity indicates an inability or an incapacity to attain or retain knowledge…However, ignorance: the quality or state of being ignorant, is really quite different. And that of course really doesn’t clarify the meaning until I address the word ignorant. I do not mean illiterate, or an inability to read or write because might be a lack of training or it might fall into the definition of stupidity. I do not mean unlettered, which implies again a schooled learning or one based on our concept of schooling. Uneducated and untaught describes a lack of “formal” education, which in my view diminishes the ability for a human being to think, so that isn’t quite what I am seeing as ignorance although there are qualities of ignorance. Untutored and unlearned again implies a sort of “formal” education which isn’t what I’m referring to. I realize that by defining what I do not mean, I may not have necessarily clarified what I do mean!

But the main element that I see as a component of ignorance that of choice. To me, ignorance includes an element of choice. There is a choice in ignorance, whether it is fear based, laziness, or comfort levels, one chooses to not think. One chooses to not question or wonder. One chooses to remain confident in not knowing more. And that is a dangerous place to be.
Continue reading ‘Limits, Bounds and Deprivation of the “Glory of Thinking” (week six, blog one)’