Monthly Archives: January 2014

Sentence Patterns

5; Underlying this theme lays plenty of ammunition supporting or opposing mandating the Tetanus vaccine, which demands careful analysis before presenting the best possible approach to maximize benefits. 

7; What I will argue in this paper is that although the Tetanus vaccination is a public and collective good, because it provides immunization against a disease, it is not a public health issue.

1; The reason for this is that Tetanus is not contagious.

 7; An individual’s choice to deny vaccination does not impinge on herd immunity and does not pose harm on anyone but himself.

7; Based on weighing the costs of legal obligation on the individual and benefits of receiving the vaccination, I stand against mandating the Tetanus vaccine. 

1; The only exception, however, is that Tetanus should be mandatory in military service because if the individual got infected, it would have greater costs on the community.

7; Before delving into my reasoning, it is important to know that Tetanus is a non-contagious disease caused by the transmission of bacteria.

5; Areas of contamination include saliva or through burns, but the most common are deep wounds.[1]

 1; It is most transferable through moist soil.

 5/1; This implies that Tetanus is not as prevalent in the United States as in other countries.

 1; In fact, Tetanus is among the least prevalent in the United States today.

 1; This may be due to the fact that it is not contagious, so it does not spread to others in the community.

 3; According to the Center of Disease Control, even if an individual does get infected, there is an incubation period up to three weeks.

2; This is the time between the first exposure and the first set of symptoms, which are usually stiffness in the neck and difficulty swallowing[2].

 2; The symptoms are clearly not detrimental at this stage, which allows time for vaccination, if desired.

 7; The Center of Disease Control provides global incidence rates of about 30%, and mortality rates of about 10-20%.

2; But, these may very well be overestimates.

5; As Geoffrey Rose explains in Sick Individuals and Sick Populations, “the determinants of incidence are not necessarily the same as the causes of cases” (Rose, 36).

 7; These incidence rates may not necessarily imply the prevalence of Tetanus at all, or even contribute to the mortality percentage; there may be other causes for death when cuts are exposed to moist soil or rusty nails.

7; As stated above, because we know the environmental conditions where Tetanus is most prevalent, the United States probably is not the bulk of the number. 

 7; Interestingly enough, Tetanus came to the scene in the United States when the first case was tracked around the 1940’s; but as of 2000, there were only 41 reported cases of Tetanus in the United States[3].

 2; Clearly, because of the advance in medicine since then, the numbers by now must be at a minimal level.

 1; Regardless, the nature of Tetanus itself is important in deciding whether mandating the vaccine would have more of a cost or benefit for the public.



Peer Review 1

 I think that your paragraph is quite good. In the first sentence the word “first” before necessary might be an adjective describing necessary (describing the order in which it is necessary. In the second sentence the verb “sent” is correct, but I think that the full verb phrase is “sent to.” Once again, the “first” and “second” in the paragraph might act as adjectives describing level of importance.
    Next, after “blacks and whites,” would be is a verb. In the next sentence “have been” is also a verb (to be). In the next sentence I believe that “letter” is the only subject, and “the commissioner..” would be an adjective describing who the letter is to / the contents. In the next sentence – and the white race is superior to the black  – I believe that black is also an adjective, not a subject.
Other than these corrections I think that the paragraph is well edited; good job!

Words and Phrases – Punctuation & Grammar

In our CONTEMPORARY generation, we find ourselves living in a realm of contradictions. On one side, our world is expanding rapidly and we are graced with technological and medical advances that make our lives easier and should help us feel protected. At the same time, we also face a MYRIAD of “public health issues” day to day, which may challenge our health and safety. For the sake of specificity, I will focus in on Tetanus immunization as a public health care topic in the United States. Tetanus vaccinations (and vaccinations in general) spark great controversy and re-introduces the persistent theme of conflict; a central debate is between the clashing interests of two essential powers. The first resides with the individual and his liberty to make his own decisions regarding vaccinations, a right which is naturally granted to him by the Constitution. Disagreement ensues with the introduction of the second force, government, because of its right to intervene– even at a cost of infringing on individual autonomies—with the “interest” to protect the community.


I noticed some passive voice in my paragraph, which I can surely work on better avoiding. I also noticed that the paragraph was correctly punctuated, but could be better organized and could also have been described in better words / prose.  Although there werent many adjectives / adverbs in the paragraph, there is most certainly a surplus of verbs and subjects (as well as IO’s / DO’s)

The Clash of Powers: Autonomy or Intervention Tetanus Immunization old texts

In our contemporary generation, we find ourselves living in a realm of contradictions. On one side, our world is expanding rapidly and we are graced with technological and medical advances that make our lives easier and should help us feel protected. At the same time, we also face a myriad of “public health issues” day to day, which may challenge our health and safety. For the sake of specificity, I will focus in on Tetanus immunization as a public health care topic in the United States. Tetanus vaccinations (and vaccinations in general) spark great controversy and re-introduces the persistent theme of conflict; a central debate is between the clashing interests of two essential powers. The first resides with the individual and his liberty to make his own decisions regarding vaccinations, a right which is naturally granted to him by the Constitution. Disagreement ensues with the introduction of the second force, government, because of its right to intervene– even at a cost of infringing on individual autonomies—with the “interest” to protect the community.

Underlying this theme, lay plenty of ammunition supporting or opposing mandating the Tetanus vaccine, which demands careful analysis before presenting the best possible approach to maximize benefits. What I will argue in this paper is that although the Tetanus vaccination is a public and collective good, because it provides immunization against a disease, it is not a public health issue. The reason for this is that Tetanus is not contagious, so an individual’s choice to deny vaccination does not impinge on herd immunity and does not pose harm on anyone but himself. Based on weighing the costs of legal obligation on the individual and benefits of receiving the vaccination, I stand against mandating the Tetanus vaccine.  The only exception, however, is that Tetanus should be mandatory in military service because if the individual got infected, it would have greater costs on the community.

Before delving into my reasoning, it is important to know that Tetanus is a non-contagious disease caused by the transmission of bacteria. Areas of contamination include saliva or through burns, but the most common are deep wounds.[1] It is most transferable through moist soil, making it more prevalent in countries near the equator. This implies that Tetanus is not as prevalent in the United States as in other countries. In fact, Tetanus is among the least prevalent in the United States today. This may be due to the fact that it is not contagious, so it does not spread to others in the community. According to the Center of Disease Control, even if an individual does get infected, there is an incubation period up to three weeks. This is the time between the first exposure and the first set of symptoms, which are usually stiffness in the neck and difficulty swallowing[2]. The symptoms are clearly not detrimental at this stage, which allows time for vaccination, if desired. The Center of Disease Control provides global incidence rates of about 30%, and mortality rates of about 10-20%. But, these may very well be overestimates. As Geoffrey Rose explains in Sick Individuals and Sick Populations, “the determinants of incidence are not necessarily the same as the causes of cases” (Rose, 36). These incidence rates may not necessarily imply the prevalence of Tetanus at all, or even contribute to the mortality percentage; there may be other causes for death when cuts are exposed to moist soil or rusty nails. As stated above, because we know the environmental conditions where Tetanus is most prevalent, the United States probably is not the bulk of the number.  Interestingly enough, Tetanus came to the scene in the United States when the first case was tracked around the 1940’s; but as of 2000, there were only 41 reported cases of Tetanus in the United States[3]. Clearly, because of the advance in medicine since then, the numbers by now must be at a minimal level. Regardless, the nature of Tetanus itself is important in deciding whether mandating the vaccine would have more of a cost or benefit for the public.

So, who is the “public”? Who is affected by public health? The word “public” refers to the immediate population, and when introducing the word “health”, the definition extends to those that can be affected by the infectious disease or benefited by vaccination. In this sense, public health goods may be anything advantageous that is accessible, benefits, and provides pleasure to, the public. Collective health goods also fall into the broad category of “public health goods” but differ in that these “goods” require a collective effort to produce. For the most part, doctors or public health officials provide collective health goods to the community in creating Tetanus vaccinations against diseases. Therefore, Tetanus immunizations serve as both a public and collective health good. I recognize that as a public and collective good, the Tetanus vaccination does provide protection if an individual were to be exposed to certain high-risk conditions. Nevertheless, even if not getting immunized poses a potential risk, and receiving the vaccination would deter this chance, it must also be considered whether or not Tetanus is a public health issue.  The benefit of protection does not imply that a lack of protection would be a risk. Compared to the emergence of other more life-threatening and contagious diseases such as HIV, Tetanus is not a very prominent health concern anymore in the United States. The reality that the peak of the Tetanus outbreak declined decades ago around the 1960’s, combined with the fact that Tetanus is not contagious, signifies that it does not pose a public or collective health problem. In fact, the harm is isolated to the individual, so the decision to refuse immunization does not jeopardize any hope for “herd immunity” against Tetanus.

The current government policy requires Tetanus immunization, especially to enter schools, but I believe it deserves a re-consideration. In comparison to the tentative risks of infection, the major cost in hindering autonomy would be greater. Mandating vaccines give the government permission to limit the liberties of those who oppose immunization, and deny them a right to make decisions. Ideally, the role of the government is to serve in the best interest of the people. When implementing public health policies, it is important to make decisions adhering to a best possible outcome for majority by reducing costs and maximizes benefits. Especially in matters regarding personal health, I believe that the government role should be controlled and intervention should only be warranted under certain circumstances. In his book, On Liberty, John Stuart Mill argues, “there is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence; and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs as protection against political despotism” (Mills, 5). I completely agree with Mills in that he highlights the importance of individual independence as separate from political decisions. His belief that there should be a limit to government interference is crucial to maintain such autonomy. As such, I believe that the government should only exercise three essential duties regarding involvement in personal affairs. Beyond those boundaries, I support the power of the individual to decide on all areas of their private lives, as long as it does not harm others. The first role is that of a protector. In the case of contagious outbreaks or epidemics, where community is at risk, the government “power can rightfully [be] exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will… to prevent harm to others” (Mills, 9). I also agree with Mills on this mention of the “harm principle” (Beauchamp, 46) as a justified intervention of government in personal affairs to protect everyone else. In such circumstances, the benefits of mandating immediate immunization in protecting others and halting the spread of the disease would outweigh the costs of temporarily freezing rights.

But, unlike other “vaccine-preventable diseases”, herd immunity will not protect others from Tetanus[4]. In addition, immunity is not imperative because the disease does not spread, and denying vaccination does not jeopardize the health of others. Therefore, the choice to get the Tetanus vaccination should be a personal decision. A second role of the government is that of an educator. The government has a moral and societal duty to educate citizens on pertinent matters. Especially with health, the government and government-funded services are required to create, monitor, regulate, and reform public goods—such as the Tetanus vaccination.  This being so, it is the government’s responsibility to provide objective and candid health information to the public, including critical information on how it can be contracted, what are the symptoms, how to get vaccinated, and the potential consequences in not getting vaccinated. These facts should always be available in the doctor’s offices, for example, serving as a reliable ground to aid citizens in making educated decisions about their health. From this point, people themselves should be held accountable and decide where or not to get the Tetanus vaccine. This leads into the third job as that of a facilitator. The government should also provide the Tetanus vaccination for everyone equally (either through public or private health care measures). This includes economically and socially disadvantaged individuals, as well as the mentally impaired members of society who cannot afford, or do not have the means to receive, vaccinations. Under a duty and an ideal to do what is best for the people, the government must attend to all in the same regard and no one should have to live in fear of contracting Tetanus just because they cannot afford to be protected from it. Under these functions, the Tetanus vaccine should be highly recommended and readily available. On the other hand, the government should not coerce individuals to consent to it if they are opposed. This way, both sides are satisfied; the government can appeal to the public equally and reduce costs. In mandating too many policies on vaccinations, the government – as a protector, educator and facilitator– would run the risk of crossing into private territory with no justification. It is important, therefore, for the government to “pick and choose” its battles especially in private health affairs.

Although I stand firm that the Tetanus vaccine should only be strongly recommended, I do believe that mandating immunization should be required in military service because the probability of injury and the costs for treatment are too high. This actually presents an interesting argument because mandating vaccination for soldiers is not technically an exception because it does not directly infringe on their autonomy. The reason for this is that Americans are fortunate enough in that enlisting in the military is a voluntary service. Attached to this commitment, there are many specific guidelines, including a mandatory Tetanus vaccination. Because individuals choose to enlist, hence they still exercise their right of liberty, they agree to comply with the rules of the game and accept vaccination. This policy is rational because traveling to third world countries expose the soldiers to all diseases and significantly increase their risks of contracting Tetanus. As a protector, the government is justified in mandating vaccinations for soldiers for two reasons. One is to ensure that the mortality rates of soldiers run low, in the case that they do contract Tetanus and do not receive treatment. The other is to protect the citizens from expenses in taxes in the case that soldiers do contract a disease, and require medical attention. Therefore, soldiers’ refusal to get vaccinated, especially under the conditions where they travel, would not only increase their own risk, but would also have an immense cost (literally) on the government who funds the military. This effect would trickle down to the taxpayers and they would also be penalized. Preventing an economic liability, vaccinating soldiers is more beneficial than not. But even from a practical perspective, soldiers enlisting in the military knowing the risk of death are probably not the individuals who would oppose extra protection anyway.

As goes for most public health concerns, there will always be cases supporting mandatory Tetanus vaccinations. Those who support mandatory vaccination, and even government intervention in public health, believe that health always has some affects on the community. Under this belief, it is in the best interest of the people that it be regulated on a government level. Dan Beauchamp in Community, elaborates on this point and claims that “public health and safety are community or group interests… that can transcend and take priority over private interests if the legislature chooses”(Beauchamp, 46). I completely disagree with Beauchamp’s opinion on this matter. The basic unit of our individualistic culture is the individual; this is exemplified through general independence as human beings, the goals we set for ourselves, and our freedom to decide how to live our lives. This is especially true in the United States, which values diversity of opinion and self-sufficiency to high regards and ideals. As compared to collectivist cultures, individuals in the United States live for themselves, which is why it is contradictory in nature for the American government to impose so much on private affairs. Beauchamp’s perception that public health is a collective duty is sound only in the case that a disease may directly place the community in harm. Tetanus, however, does not do this. Therefore, because it is not a public health issue that involves or affects the rest, government should not “take priority over private interests” under no means. Beauchamp elaborates his points of view and states; “creating, extending, or strengthening the practices of public health—and the collective goods principle that underlies it—ought to be the primary justification for our health and safety policy” (Beauchamp, 53).  On this note I will also have to strongly disagree with Beauchamp. As I have mentioned previously, just because immunization against Tetanus provides a collective good, it does not imply that it is at all a public issue. Here, Beauchamp generalizes a vague principle to a controversial issue in the realm of public health. The “collective goods” argument in this case is certainly not enough justification to intervene on autonomy– especially if refusing vaccination does not impose any direct issue on the public.

I recognize the several benefits of immunization: it protects and prevents possible death, it is relatively cheap to administer, has few fatal side effects, eliminates school liability issues, and reduces the taxpayer duty to pay off hospital debts of unvaccinated individuals. I will first touch on the main worry that if an individual gets infected with the Tetanus bacteria, they may die unless they are treated. But, I believe that this is an extreme level of apprehension because it assumes that everyone who gets a cut and happens to be in a high- risk environment will get Tetanus. Although exposure to such infested environments (if unvaccinated) may increase one’s risk, it does not instantaneously lead to infection. The “cost” of death if one does not get the Tetanus immunization is not one that poses an imminent threat anymore. This lack of immediate danger to the individual and the community is not enough to allow the government to require Tetanus immunization for everyone. On the other hand, because the vaccine is relatively low in cost, simple to administer, and does not have too many negative side effects, receiving the vaccine is also relatively safe for those who do desire immunization.  But, the simple benefit that the Tetanus vaccine is inexpensive is just a perk; if anything, it only serves to make the vaccine more available and affordable for those who do choose to get it. This is not, however, in any way sufficient enough as a benefit to require immunization. The common side effects of soreness, headaches, and rare seizures, are also so minimal. This would only be another enticement, and is still not enough to convince me.

Another area where proponents for mandatory Tetanus vaccination could find my argument controversial is when dealing with children. For contracting the disease itself, the targets of concern are children who are “at higher risk” because of their carelessness on the playground. This is ironic because, according to the Center of Disease Control, more adults have actually been reported to die from Tetanus[5]. Furthermore, the irony extents to the fact that many adults do not even continue with booster immunizations, and still there has not been an increase in mortality rates! More debate in the area of children is centered on a minor’s inability to consent, and the “liability” it poses on schools if an un-vaccinated child contracts Tetanus. As a school entrance requirement–public or private—I do not believe that these institutions have a right to mandate the vaccine. But one may ask, how about the minor who does not have a right to consent and is not aware of the risks if he is not immunized? Legally, parents or guardians have the right to decide on their child’s key life decisions; as minors, they are dependent beings—financially, socially, and emotionally. The decisions parents make regarding their child on where they are educated, how they are raised, and what approaches to take (or not take) in their child’s health, are all personal matters. The government should not have a position to instruct parents on what constitutes as being in the child’s best interest, unless they are in imminent danger– which is not the case with Tetanus. As Mill explains, the government should allow people to live their own lives  (Mills, 61), and should have no right to assume what is good for a child, or generalize their subjective well-being in an objective manner that applies to all children. Mandating immunization, the government may interfere on parents’ decisions to deny the Tetanus vaccination to their children. This would undermine their rights as parents. So, I ask, who should assume the role as parents: the government or parents themselves?

Well, how about liability; what if parents sue a school in the case that their child contracts Tetanus on the playground? First of all, in private schools, this would be an insurance issue and not directly a government issue. In all private institutions, insurance is strictly a private matter, and is therefore a concern between the school and the insurance company that the school chooses for protection. Private schools should be able to determine whether or not they require Tetanus vaccinations, as part of enrollment and the government should respect the decision of the school authorities. There is a reason why private schools are called “private”—the government is kept separate from its matters. If the school decides upon mandatory Tetanus vaccination, then the parents of children should comply, but if parents refuse, attendance should not be denied. In this incidence, the school should require a consent form. This would outline and explain the risks if the child is not vaccinated for Tetanus, as well as an section where the adult agrees to the terms and conditions and sign off on personal responsibility of costs if their child gets infected and needs treatment. This would target the issue of liability and the parent’s choice to refuse vaccination for their child would not be the school’s “problem” anymore. The circumstance is different for public schools because the government has control. Therefore, if the government recommends vaccination, this regulation would apply to all public schools. One may argue this on the principle that if a non-vaccinated child gets infected and needs medical attention, this may harm the taxpayers of the community who would pay. A likely solution would be that similar to private schools where the government should requires consent forms as well. Signing this allows parents to assume responsibility of paying medical costs if anything happens to their child. This provides mutual benefit; schools would not worry about liability and individual rights are still prevailing. If parents value their legal right to make their own decisions so much, then they should be held accountable for all outcomes, or costs—literally and figuratively.

On this note, another major reason for mandatory vaccination is that if an individual does not get immunized from Tetanus and contracted it, treatment would have a negative external cost for taxpayers who would have to pay for the medical care. If people value their autonomy enough, they must really hold weight to an idea of personal accountability for their decisions. If their mindsets are that they are the “rulers of their own life”, then they should also accept a liability in the case of infection. But the fact is simple; Tetanus has an isolated and direct harm on only the individual. Fearing this potential cost that does not harm others does not, and should not, be enough of a justification for the United States government to mandate immunization.  It is true that non-immunization combined with dirt exposed to an open wound, may increase a risk. But, it does not guarantee infection. Mandating the Tetanus immunization is too much of an imposing measure taken to lessen a possibility. These steps are usually followed too much out of a worry for the future events. It is true that all benefits to vaccination are important, but those for Tetanus would probably hold more weight if Tetanus was more prevalent. In relation, I do not believe that those stated benefits are grand enough to outweigh the immediate cost of limiting autonomy, especially for those who oppose vaccination. Recommending Tetanus immunization is more ideal because it does not coerce individuals who either oppose it, or do not consider the infection risky enough. But, it still presents the option for those who want to take the extra step to vaccinate themselves and their children. So, why not benefit both sides by maximizing liberties?

I am not trying to undermine the fatality of Tetanus, or immunizations in general. I am simply arguing that government intervention should be careful when entering private lives. Especially in decisions, government needs to weigh the interests of opposing sides equally. Mandating a vaccine that does not pose harm on the rest would not be serving in the “best interest” of those who do not want immunization. I will conclude my discussion by questioning government intervention from an ethical perspective. As Beauchamp states, “public health belongs to the realm of the political and the ethical” (Beauchamp, 52). Having touched on the political aspect, I do not think interfering on autonomy is ethical. Is it fair that currently mandatory Tetanus vaccination is exempted under religious grounds, but not for choices on personal lifestyle? Both the rights of liberty and to exercise religion are granted to every United States citizen by the Constitution. As Mills argues, “each is the proper guardian of his own heath, whether bodily or mental and spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves than by compelling each to live as seems god to the rest” (Mills, 12). I also believe that the individual himself, and not any external force, is the only one who knows what is best for him. In allowing certain exceptions, the government does not equally respect the value of these rights. Because government generally avoids religious topics, it should also keep a distance with personal freedoms. Religion is indeed a choice of lifestyle, but isn’t health a lifestyle too? Perhaps discussions about controlling religion is not “socially acceptable”, but considerations in controlling freedoms should not be accepted either. If government does hinder anyone from practicing their religion, it should not deny anyone the freedom to make decisions that concern their private lives. Recommending the Tetanus vaccine would respect the rights of those who desire vaccination, and those who oppose it, equally. This being said, after weighing the costs of limiting autonomy and benefits of receiving the vaccine, I reiterate that Tetanus is not threatening enough to implement mandatory immunization.



“Tetanus (Lockjaw) Vaccination.” Center of Disease Control and Prevention. Department of Heath and Human Services. Department of Heath and Human Services. 29 September 2010. <;.

“Immunizations and Vaccines and Not Vaccinating.” PKIDs Online. 1996. Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases. Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases. 1 October 2010. <;.

[1] “Tetanus (Lockjaw) Vaccination”. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

[2] “Tetanus (Lockjaw) Vaccination”. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

[3] “Immunizations and Vaccines and Not Vaccinating.” PKIDs Online.

[4] “Immunizations and Vaccines and Not Vaccinating.” PKIDs Online.

[5] “Tetanus (Lockjaw) Vaccination.” Center of Disease Control and Prevention.

Hume: An Empirical Approach to Understanding the Human Mind old texts

David Hume philosophy is best known for its empiricist approach to investigating human nature. His philosophical account of causation is certainly revolutionary for its time, in that it assumes a mind-dependent perspective of how reality is manifested. He investigates the empirical foundations of what it means to have knowledge about objects, as well as what the nature of objects themselves are. In presenting a detailed explanation rationalizing our mind’s movement to immediately conceiving connections and beginning to draw causal inferences, he relies on the notion of constant conjunction and its significant role in causation. Hume’s analysis of this causation begins with the fundamental discussion of “relations” between objects we perceive. He posits that there are many different kinds of relations, particularly seven, which he terms as “philosophical relations”. This extensive list is interesting because when we take a closer look at what he says about these seven philosophical relations, we discover that they can be divided into two kinds: relations between ideas and relations between matters of fact. In this exposition, which I will explain in detail in the following paragraphs, Hume attempts to explain the connection between knowledge and causation; or in other words, how causation can give us knowledge of objects and things we perceive through our outer experiences, or sensations.

As a starting point, Hume begins with explaining relations between matters of fact. He presupposes that these sort of relations are independent from ideas themselves. To clarify this concept, take an example of this sort of relation: box and table.  The table, which occupies an extension in space, is a relation of place. The box, on the other hand, is located above (on top of) the space taken by the table itself. According to Hume, this relation between box and table does not depend on the idea that one holds about the box itself, or the table itself. Most importantly, is that this relation can change without any changes in the particular way one represents either component (box or table). Now, an interesting phenomenon occurs; when someone grabs hold of the box, lifts it, and moves it from off of the table. In this situation, the box is now located to the left of the table. It seems at this point that the relations have changed, without changing the idea of either the table or the box as independent entities. Like the relation of place, relations of identity work in this same regard as well. Relations of identities consist of the numerical identity of objects across different and un-interrupted perceptions of them. Identities, like place, are therefore another instance of a relation between matter of fact. They are not, however relations between ideas because relations of these sorts are dependent on each other.

It appears, through the above analysis, that those relations that can change between objects without any change of the ideas we have of these objects are relations between matter of fact. Due to the fact that these objects, or the ideas that we have of these objects, do not change; they appear to be non-contingent on each other. Moreover, these relations of matter of fact are not analytical relations because they are not part of the ideas that we hold of them. According to Hume, causal connections are of this sort: they are relations between matter of fact. This explanation is incredibly important to remember because it allows the reader to discover that Hume, when he analyzes causation; that part of what “causal relations” are is what he comes to call necessary connection. Necessary connection, as we will soon discover, is part of causal connection. It is important to keep in mind, however, that when utilizing the term “necessary”, Hume does not mean to imply necessary in the sense of relations between ideas. Rather, he suggests that necessary connection is always contingent.

The discussion surrounding causal relations is important, according to Hume, because it allows one to arrive at probable beliefs (probabilities) concerning the numerical identity of objects, as well as of time and place. Hume suggests that in none of these instances, the mind can go beyond what is provided by the senses, or sense perceptions. These relations, therefore, cannot be made use of reasoning insofar as they have a causal relation. Instead, one comes to have probable knowledge about the numerical identity of objects, or concerning particular relations of time and place, by first making predictions. The importance of predictions is grounded in the mere fact that they involve inferences; and in turn, these inferences play a significant role in reasoning.  As such, for one to have beliefs about objects requires more than sense perceptions; this process is dependent on inferences and reasoning.  More specifically, the inferences that Hume refers to in this account of obtaining knowledge are particularly causal inferences. For Hume, of all these relations between matters of fact; when it comes to having probabilistic relations, the causal inferences are the most important component.  From this point, in order to have justified and perfect understanding, one must trace the idea of causation back to its origin—beginning with impression, the first mental content, which bestows the idea in our mind—.  From this account, Hume notes that any idea, in order for it to be respectable and clear, is an idea that must be traced back to the impressions from which it all began. This applies to the idea of cause and effect, as well as the idea of causal relations, just as much as any relation in the mind.  It is this particular process, of mental back-tracking, which Hume regards as his methodology for epistemic discovery.

Following this suggestion, Hume then suggests several techniques that one may utilize in order to find the initial impression, which is critical to understanding.  He proposes the method of looking for a particular quality of what is supposed to be the “cause” and some particular quality of a thing that appears to an “effect”. By quality, Hume specifically refers to “non-relational properties”, or more commonly known as “modes”. However, Hume immediately dismisses this account on the grounds that it would be impossible to find a non-relational property that makes all causes, causes; and all effects, effects. Moreover, no matter what properties one may discover, it is not guaranteed that these properties will be able to answer the questions “what is a cause” or “what is an effect”.  From this stance, Hume contends that causation must be derived from some sort of relation.  It seems now that the goal is to discover one or more relations that are supposed to be always present when something is cause, and always present when something is an effect. He identifies these two relations—those relations which are always present when something is a cause and when something is an effect—as “spatial contiguity” and “temporal priority”. These two relations are certainly relations between matters of fact because it turns out to be a relation of place (space) as well as time. According to the analysis above, Hume has already explained that these relations of time and place are understood as matter of fact relations. From this point, Hume arrives as the understanding that in all cases of causal connections:

X causes y if and only if:

  1. x is temporally prior to y
  2. x and y are spatially proximate

Unlike other philosophers of his time, Hume discounts the popular notion that cause can be simultaneous with its effect. Rather, these two relations between matters of fact are universally present whenever there is case of cause and effect. Hume implies that nothing would be a cause of some effect if it were neither spatially proximate, nor spatially continuous.  In order to gain a deeper understanding of such relations between matter of fact, it is important to clarify what Hume really means by “spatial contiguity”.  Common assumptions readily hold that this term has a literal meaning, implying that two things actually (physically) have to touch each other in order to have “spatial contiguity”. However, this is not the case for the same reason that the sun may cause the elliptical orbit of the earth, but certainly does not touch the earth. It seems, from this example that the causation can occur without any physical contact between objects. If causation required physical touching, or if the sun had to touch the earth to cause its elliptical orbit, then the earth would surely overheat and there would be no earth at all. As such, it seems to Hume at this point that these two relations are not everything that is required for causation.

Spatial contiguity and temporal priority are among the sort of relations, as such that we can discover them to be invariably present when we are having sense perceptions, or perceptions of objects. However, while spatial contiguity and temporal priority certainly remain as necessary conditions, they are not sufficient in order to discover cause/effect relationships, which lend to the discovery over particular impressions.  A relation that is in fact superior to the previously mentioned ones is that of necessary connection. Again, necessary connection is not a relation between ideas, and still remains as a relation between matter of fact.  These three relations, Hume contends, are the necessary components of what makes up “causation”.  Accordingly, the following conditions are required:

X causes y if and only if:

  1. x is temporally prior to y
  2. x and y are spatially proximate
  3. x is necessarily connected to y

The big question remains, however: what is necessary connection?  As suggested previously, the idea of necessary connections now exists in the mind. But, according to the appropriate methodology, it is essential to trace this idea back to causation. It seems, at this point of the analysis that we have arrived to a dead end; it appears to be a difficult challenge to find other impressions of relations that can provide us with a source of the origin of “necessary connections”. If this feat is too difficult, the idea of necessary connection is no good at all; being that, without causation, we cannot assume knowledge of objects. Yet, Hume maintains that the discovery of the source is essential to understand causal connections; otherwise, it may result in a horrendous kind of skepticism.

Hume admits that the idea of necessary connection cannot be traced back to any impression of sensations. Impressions of sensation—or of perceptual experiences—gave us the idea of the other two relations, but seem unqualified to give us the idea of necessary connection. However, Hume is confident that this difficulty does not result in a skeptical argument and claims instead that there is another, very different, set of impressions. These impressions are termed “impressions of reflection”.  It is at this point where the reader is beginning to see the distinction between impressions of sensation, and impressions of reflection as two very different operations. The idea of necessary connection, therefore, is going to trace back to some idea of impression by reflection. In contrast, the other two relations—spatial contiguity and temporal priority—are dependent on impressions of sensation. Hume explains this phenomenon by first suggesting that impression of reflection is in itself an idea of reflection. Some of what is in our inner experience (reflection) is going to provide us with the right source of impressions. From such impressions, we will be able to understand the idea of necessary connections. As such, Hume posits that the idea of necessary connection is comprised of the following; it is in two parts a complex idea of sensation (outer experience) and in one part a complex idea of reflection (inner experience).  These two sorts of experiences are essential because experiences allow us to make inferences, and ultimately devise complex ideas of necessary connection.  Hume states that this explanation provides us with the insight of how the idea of necessary connection arises.  The answer, he suggests, relies on the key notion of “constant conjunction”.

According to Hume, we discover what is really occurring when we come to think that there are causal connections somewhere. In the mind, we begin to realize that there have been, in the past, many cases where things or objects of the same kind (x) have (always) been found to be in the relation of spatial contiguity and temporal priority.  By constant conjunction, Hume means that there are many cases of x-like objects, or perceptions of x-like objects; where what is perceived is temporally prior to a particular instance of perception of a y-like object. As a result, the mind receives a myriad of x’s and these are similar in some ways—similar within one particular kind—and we get a bunch of y’s that are similar in different ways—similar within its kind, but of a different type than x’s—. From here, the mind now thinks back through experiences of the past, and sees that there have been repeated instances of x-like things which are spatially continuous to, and temporally prior to, many y-like instances.  This is constant conjunction, a repetition of associate pairings of x’s and y’s, and the mind slowly becomes aware of this observable fact. As such:

X1 — (is paired to) — Y1

X2 — (is paired to) — Y2

… and so on, and so forth.

When the mind becomes aware of these past constant conjunctions (pairs between different kinds) it then, at some particular time, t, (present moment) becomes “impressed” by the parings. In other words, the mind realizes this pattern and the conjunctions become impressed within our inner experience. This is how impression of reflection arises, being that it is dependent on inner experiences.  This impression can be further described in a number of different ways.  In particular, the mind forms the impression of expectation and therefore begins to demand more of the same pairings. The mind comes to believe that the future will continue to display the same sorts of pairings, being that the mind presently has become aware of parings that were experienced in the past. The future works in the same way as the past; nature is uniform, and it will continue in the same manner, according to demands and expectations. This appears to be almost like an emotional reaction that the mind exhibits in response to the past experiences, which will eventually give us the idea of necessary connection. Most importantly, this is an idea of reflection, and it is by means of this reflection that the mind is able to form expectations of such pairings.

Similar to his contemporaries, Hume agrees with Descartes, Locke, and even Berkeley, that knowledge about objects requires inferences. Having an outer sense perception is nothing but simply perceiving all that comes before us as the particular content. We do not, strictly speaking, by means of our senses alone, represent objects in any way. Instead, to have knowledge of them, Hume highlights the importance of inference, or synthesis, because our beliefs about objects are always complex and therefore require this analysis. As such, Hume attributes causal connections as an essential mechanism by which we can eventually form empirical beliefs, and therefore maintain knowledge about objects. This is important because we have to engage in “causal inference”, but to explain this causal inference we must explain the nature of causality in general. As such, his reasoning allowed him to derive the idea that there are supposed to be three parts of the complex idea of causal connection. The third part, necessary connection, is the most important—not because it suggests “logical” necessity by any means, but rather that it is a relation between “matters of fact” (not ideas).  These complex ideas come before the mind when the mind turns to inner experience; this inner mind is the only possible place, according to Hume, that we can find the source or origin of the idea of necessary connection. As such, the idea of necessary connection resides within some impressions that arise before inner sense.

More specifically, the sorts of impressions or reflections Hume refers to are those that experience feeling, or emotion. As suggested, the mind is reacting emotionally to its own mental contents by means of expressing a desire for “more”, a determination. Furthermore, these mental contents are those of constant conjunction, and the mind comes to insist that constant conjunctions continue will persist in the same pattern from the past into the future. These constant conjunctions are important because they are paralyzed connections between things that are of a particular kind, or that are similar to one another in a certain way due to the regularity, repetition, relations, “contiguity”, and “spatial priority”. In each of these cases (X1—Y2, etc), some X1 is spatially contiguous to Y1, and the pattern perseveres in the same form.  Hume explains this constant conjunction in more formal terms, as the “invariable repetition or regularity of some pair-wise arrangement” (Hume, 192). In sum, it appears that we obtain these constant conjunctions in the past, and then Hume believes that the mind emotionally responds to the present awareness of past conjunctions. This response is unique, and is of a particular sort.

The mind comes to form a definite and strong belief (insistence) that the constant conjunctions—which are instances of the same kind of constant conjunctions in the past—will continue in the future. Hume posits that this is the “principle of the uniformity of nature”, which denotes a uniform correlation and suggests that the future is like the past and thus, continuous. The mind develops “customary expectations” which infers that the events of the past will continue. From this process, the mind forms customs and habits, which are ultimately responsible for our beliefs or expectations that this process will continue.  Most importantly, Hume thinks that the “necessity” (necessary connection), which we now ascribe to these correlations, has to be understood and explained according to the custom and habit that now exists in the mind.  This concept is certainly a revolutionary idea, which many of Hume’s contemporaries would criticize.  Ordinarily, one would think that necessary connections (matter of fact relations) are somewhere out there in the world; that they are completely mind independent, and it is up to the human mind to discover that there are such necessities in the world, as well as investigate which particular kinds of necessities there are.  An example of what I mean here is the kind of necessity required to make gravity work, among other observable and natural phenomena. However, Hume turns this idea on its head and suggests a different account; the kind of necessity that he refers to is to be explained by the mind’s reaction, or customary expectation, for these correlations to re-occur in the future. If the mind were not to become impressed by its present awareness, then there would be no necessary connections in the world. Connection, therefore, is to be completely analyzed and understood by the mind’s habitual expectations.  In short, Hume contends that necessary connection is mind dependent—specifically explained according to the mind’s emotional reactions. This idea of necessary connection, therefore, is primarily dependent on the idea of reflection altogether.

This whole account starts with outer sensation in order to arise at temporal priority and spatial contiguity. Then the story takes an inward turn to account for the third idea of necessary connection by means of reflection, or inner experience. As such, Hume holds both experiences (inner and outer) to a high regard, believing that they are equally important in enabling us to arrive at knowledge.  At this point, one might raise the objection of whether or not the mind is a reliable structure at all. However, for Hume, the concern is not about “reliability”; for there are these necessary connections in the world, and they are independent of how the mind works. It is the mind’s job to discover these connections; and he admits that sometimes the mind falters in the investigation. Hume would say that this is the wrong picture to maintain; he is trying to convince the reader that there is nothing in the mind-independent world to be discovered, but rather everything is mind-dependent. As such, all the manifestations are a function of how the mind works. Therefore, necessary connections are, for their existence, dependent on the mind’s functioning. Hume notes that all minds, for the most part (if they are working properly) will be working in the same sort of way as each other. All properly functioning minds will be able to form the same expectations; those that do not, are in some way or another, “defective” in their nature. He admits that there are deviations from the standard norm of universal human nature, but attributes this to something wrong with the particular mind itself.

Hume’s account of causation attaches a special importance to the nature of human experience. We remember to have had instances of one type of object, and we remember that these objects have had related cause and effect relations. As such, we call one “cause” and the other “effect”. Yet, in all cases where we reason—draw inferences—concerning them, there is only one that is perceived or remembered and the other is inferred. This definitely happens over time, as we come to form expectations. Interestingly enough, this parallels Galileo’s predictions; that the beliefs formed are rooted in inferences based on expectations. In other terms, this is “inference of prediction” which depends on the union of ideas—or the association of ideas that allow our mind to always put the x’s together with the y’s in an orderly, paired, fashion. This habit of the mind has developed to entertain the idea of Y1 when it has the idea of X1; where the belief in Y1 is based on the inference, and the belief in X1 is based on the mind’s customary expectation.

What Hume continues to emphasize in his account is that reason alone cannot demonstrate proof of causal principles. Rather, the internal impression by reflection allows the idea of necessity to arise, which is a key component of causation. If we were to lack an idea of necessity, we would be hindered from drawing causal inferences. In this case, we cannot justify beliefs about objects, we would have no knowledge, and we would ultimately surrender to skepticism. This (uncontrollable) necessity is nothing but that determination of the thought to pass from cause to effect, or effect back to cause, in accordance to their union.  On page 197, Hume elaborates on this idea of cause and effect, and explains concretely what he takes causal relations to be. His second definition is more complete, and he contends the following: a cause is an object precedent and contiguous to another; and soon united with it in the imagination (the mind things about them, obtains them in memory, thinking about past experiences and how things will be in the future), that the idea of one determines the mind to form the idea of the other.  It seems here that Hume’s analysis of causation, by constant conjunction, is essential in order to describe what empirical knowledge of objects are. A relevant question now arises, of what objects are; and Hume’s analysis of causation certainly has consequences for his analysis of objects. However, this is a separate topic that Hume delves into next and one that is not particularly important to this particular discussion.

The Burning Giraffe: Sexualized Objects and the Death of Patriarchy old texts

Widely considered to be one of the greatest artists of the twenty-first century, and certainly one of its more salient cultural figures, the iconic Salvador Dali has left an indelible mark on the public conscious. Emblematic of the Surrealist movement, Dali brought to the masses a heightened awareness of the unconscious landscape of the human experience. He was certainly a controversial figure, often made the subject of immense public scrutiny, with critics focusing more on his eccentric mannerisms and unique dress than his complex and symbolic cannon. However, despite all of this, he mastered the Surrealist genre, a style strongly linked to the humanity that his detractors sought to deprive him of. Heavily influenced by Freudian theory, Dali exposes the nuances and the intricacy of the psyche through his artwork. Utilizing certain symbols and precise, artistic techniques, Dali discovered his unique style—the world of the unconscious recalled in dreamlike states—propelling him to worldwide fame. And yet no less immune to the criticism and the fascination of the public eye was the founder of Psychoanalysis, whose ideas are in the backdrop of almost every Dali work. Providing context, Sigmund Freud delved into the unconscious and brought to light the various drives, motivations, and desires that humanity often represses. Focusing specifically on The Burning Giraffe (1937), I intend to analyze the artist’s work relative to his theoretical inspiration. Existing in a tapestry of symbols, we see union of theory and expression manifesting in a reflection of Dali’s own unconscious. Moreover, we see the intricate interplay of repressed female sexuality, male authority, and societal prescriptions in the painting. Soon after its production, the image of the burning giraffe and several others would become a reoccurring theme throughout Dali’s art, representing the Freudian concept of the death of a father and the rise of a new social tradition bound by restrictions. Although there are many points of comparison, I will focus primarily on the Freudian themes regarding women’s sexuality, fetishism, and the death of the father, and in addition, the symbols of drawers, crutches, and the burning giraffe.

The concept of Freud’s psychoanalysis, as part of his controversial yet influential Psychoanalytical Theory, is a type of narrative to recount one’s path of development as related to ones’ unconscious or inherent desires and impulses. However, while the majority of individuals across societies repress unconscious and “socially unacceptable” impulses, there remains a group who are unable to keep up with the societal demands. Freud terms these individuals as the “neurotics”, the “discontents” who remain fixated within the confinements of their primitive and infantile stages and seek alternative ways to satisfy their clandestine desires. Among Freud’s three types of “neurotics”, Dali most similarly resembles the “hysteric” whose symptoms manifest like artwork, serving a fundamental purpose in reproducing one’s own desires. Dali’s artwork certainly provides a window to his unconscious; his paintings are decorated with symbolic implication serving to report childhood memories, express veiled and delicate desires, and reveal unique perspectives on a reality that may very well not be real at all—all goals that psychoanalysis aims to serve. In this regard, one can make the case that Salvador Dali mirrors the “discontent”, the outsider stuck in a neurotic state of his own, overtaken by sexual fantasy, object fetishism, paranoia, and obsessive imagination.

Upon first impression, the viewer is impacted by the colors, the artistic technique, and the theatrical stance of the three isolated figures. Dali utilizes dramatic and vivid colors such as blue, black and red, and the desolate backdrop to construct a supernatural and dreamlike landscape.  Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalytical theories and analysis of dreams are two themes palpably discernable in his paintings.  Dali certainly invokes a comparably mysterious feeling in The Burning Giraffe (1937), tying in the themes of surrealism and dreams with this uncomfortably morbid and seemingly apocalyptic scene.  According to Freud, psychoanalysis acts like lucid dreams, which provide a window to the unconscious and imply unfulfilled desires. To some extent, therefore, this painting’s mystical and dreamlike technique is a deliberate implication of Dali’s unconscious side, a bold aspect of his character that he is willing to expose to the public.

Dominating one’s visual field are two painted figures, appearing to be feminine in their stature and anatomical build. This introduces a theme of feminine sexuality that is prevalent in much of Freud’s theories and Dali’s artwork. Within the ominous and bleak setting, the figures are positioned in a sort of procession, similar to a procession of the dead or the blind, or at the very least, those robbed of “life” and lacking direction and sight.  Their lack of individuality is evident in their featureless faces, and they are depicted as deprived of any fundamental sensory agency, including sight and hearing and speech. The lack of these qualities leads one to infer that these figures have been deliberately mutilated, and robbed of their perception and humanity; they have been silenced under the control of a higher powerful force. They have lost their sight and remain blinded from reality and stuck in an illusion, a world filled with ideals and limitations on individual freedom. This initial portrayal of the female figures, and primarily the center body, mirrors the long-lasting sociopolitical conflict of equality that women have struggled with throughout centuries—a point I will elaborate later in this essay.

The viewers’ eyes then fall to the center of the portrait around the pelvic area, becoming aware of the semi-open drawers ascending up the female’s leg. The drawers are symbolically and theoretically significant, as their purpose relates directly to Freud’s psychoanalytical theory. This theory posits that over the course of recent history, humans have learned to repress their inner and unconscious life, where infantile sexuality and impulsive desires are turned inward in order to adhere to what is socially acceptable in society. This resembles the concept of the “human animal”, a term associated with Friedrich Nietzsche to convey the repression of our animal instincts to redeem and prepare humanity for salvation in an afterlife. Like Nietzsche, Freud calls upon the realization that humanity cannot act on internal drives (“id”) because societal forces require them to be controlled. As such, internalizing these drives, or turning them “inward”, is an action necessary to “tame” the wild and unruly beast within us. Whatever we keep in a drawer is strictly our own and cannot be had by friends, family, or acquaintances. It is removed from public sight. What’s more, we invest elements of ourselves in the content of these hiding places. Although women are objectified, our desires and thoughts about them are stored in their person and when exposed, it reveals much about our true character. The drawers in this painting are a symbol for this conception; that our true inner beings are hidden away from the public, like drawers that store and protect private objects from others. To some extent, Dali utilizes the drawers on the woman’s body to demonstrate her repressed and hidden sexuality, a sexuality that may be regarded as sacred in some cultures or even dangerous in others.

Since the time of Genesis, and until today, a woman’s sexuality has been regarded as a feature that needs to be tamed and controlled because of its inherent power to tempt men.  As Freud claims throughout his works and particularly in Totem and Taboo, prohibitions arise and apply to those particularly strong innate human tendencies that must be controlled for the sake of social order. Freud outlines strong prohibitions on incest and cannibalism; two dominating human drives surrounding pleasure that must be repressed for a greater good. Similarly, a woman’s sexuality has a power that may cause a man’s weakness, and therefore, is threat to a traditional and patriarchal social order.  A reaction to a woman’s potent sexual nature is the marked portrayal of them as subordinate creatures to men, deeming them unworthy of achieving equal status as men and marking them as perpetuators of social chaos according to some cultural beliefs. Their seduction is what is threatening, and consequently deserves regulatory and preventative measures.

Prohibitions on feminine expression and limitations on public influence have been persistent issues throughout the centuries and even within more “civilized” societies. Although the most evident examples reside in the human rights movement for women’s equal rights, traditional religious practices also aim to contain a woman’s sexuality in private and public life. The main motivation for these constraints serves a higher purpose and one that is relatively independent from that woman herself; it is displaced to benefit the patriarchal order, a man’s masculinity and dominance in the public eye. In some religious practices and cultures, such as traditional Islamic Muslim society as an example, the evident expression of a woman’s sexuality is socially unacceptable and even regarded as taboo for more conservative Muslim societies. Regardless of a woman’s experience, motivations for such regulations, such as the use of hijab and burka, are introduced as a societal norm to protect the male authoritative figure from temptation and keep women’s bodies under male control and surveillance.

Therefore, is concealing our inner being a strictly natural and unconscious process? I would argue that to some degree it is not. In other words, it is not entirely a woman’s conscious efforts to conceal aspects of her unconscious being. Just as we fashion desks, homes, and equipment out of raw material, in order to truly posses them we must remove and separate their primal nature. Born no different that man, she is a feeling and thinking being; yet she is not a safe investment because her tendencies are dangerous to the man. However, if bound and fettered, she is extremely utile. Man and society must break her down. She becomes a fetished object subjected to the obsessive nature of man to own and rebuild her into a more perfect and useful object. Within this context, it is no coincidence that a popular theme of fetishism in Surrealism manifests in the fragmentation and mystification of the female sexualized body. Dali’s representation of the female figure in such ways—unbalanced, disjointed, mutilated, but also eroticized and dominating—mirror the psychological (inherent), sociological and sexual concerns of a woman’s sexual essence. The seemingly contradictory representation of women also expresses a further point connected to Freudian theory: the conflicted feelings towards a mother figure as both a sexual being and a devoted caregiver. This is figure that can only be obtained under the condition of her liberation—a freedom from another possessive force, the alpha male.

The crutches and stilts depicted act as this masculine architecture, providing shape, “stability”, and uniformity to a feminine structure.  The body of the center figure is notably unbalanced, and her facelessness shows a lack of direction and “vision”, aspects implying not only weakness and helplessness, but also ones rendering them dependent on a structural support as guidance. This construction represents the male power; the crutches demonstrate a structural (patriarchal) system utilized to rule over a woman’s sexual being—her body.  This obsession becomes an impulsive need, and thus a sexual fetishism. While attending to some detail, one notices the phallic structures protruding horizontally from the female figures’ backs, another claim of male assertion of domination on a woman’s body. Interestingly enough, the phallic symbols of masculinity are the solitary aspects of the figures seized by the crutches.  Could these be the crutches of reality, demonstrating the precise social situation of women? Relating to the treatment of women in most societies today, they are typically considered within the strict context of a male social, adhering to a masculine design and purpose. This painting brilliantly forces one to confront the hidden framework of a patriarchical society built amidst femininity, sexuality, and gender equality.

As Freud would contend, the fetishism linked with a woman’s sexuality is inherent in human nature. The son, who seeks to assert a similar autonomy and domination as his father, envies his father for possessing his mother as a caregiver and sexual being. He thus feels a deep seeded resentment and overwhelming desire to kill the paternal figure, and possess her for himself.  These emotions and ideas refer to the Oedipus Complex found in Freud’s Psychoanalytical Theory, a concept compatible to the image of the burning giraffe.  The concept of the animal is analyzed in Freud’s Totem and Taboo, where more primitive societies worship a “totem animal”, representative as the head and symbol of a clan. The totem animal is sacred and powerful, and one that must remain respected and untouched with the exception of one time a year when the members of that clan ritualistically consume it. This painting depicts the mighty animal of a giraffe, which may be regarded as a totem animal, that is positioned next to a small figure, possibly the son. The totem has another significance in that it reflects the role of the father within a patriarchal organization, both in a societal (public) and household (private) context.  Like the totem, the father is the protector and respected authority. Just as there are regulations that the father implements within the household regarding the rest of his family, the totem tradition involves very specific and rigid rules of adherence as well.  Thus, the giraffe is an anthropomorphic illustration of the father figure, with the miniscule son to the right, and the fire as representational of a vengeful and intentionally dramatic death.

The death of the father figure is the “primal crime” by the “primal hoard”, which Freud contends marked the transition from a primitive society to a “civilized” one with established religions and restrictions (taboos). Typically in many primitive societies, the herd or the clan has one alpha male who possesses all women in the community, leaving the son with none to his name.  According to Freud, this practice creates a deep ambivalence of the son towards his father; where he both loves him as his protector yet resents him for his greediness. Freud speculates that the “primal crime” is the turning point, where the sons’ jealous impulses overtake them (Oedipus complex), driving them to kill the alpha male and then consume him, which is perhaps a ritual to internalize and possess desired qualities of domination. The immense guilt as a result of this crime caused a collective neurosis among the hoard, inspiring them to transform the dead father into a godlike figure worthy of worship. The glue that brings the hoard members together is the common bond of guilt, in which all members are responsible for the primal crime.

Nevertheless, the primal crime is momentous in that it introduces and establishes a new social order colored with regulations tailored to reconcile collective interests by establishing taboos, or prohibitions to maintain a structure. Similarly, the burning giraffe symbolizes the death of the alpha male figure and the termination of original concepts of masculinity. Although for the sons, this represents liberation from the father and a temporary reassertion of their own autonomy, the crime simultaneously brings rise to a new order plagued by feelings of self-consciousness, guilt, and conscious attempts to repress our inherent natures. In this regard, Freud contends that all religions favoring a patriarchal order of some short result from the guilt of this primal crime. In a similar light, Nietzsche also touches upon these conceptions, and relates the rise of religious and rule-adherence to a sense of guilt for one’s own sins, or personal crimes. Thus, the burning giraffe represents the death of certain concepts of masculinity in a primitive context, but ironically reappear and assert themselves in a more “civilized” and rigid context of societal norms and taboos to restrict human nature.

Yet, the battle of dominance remains. As the sons of the hoard attempted, the woman too battles to assert her autonomy and release what is hidden in her drawers. The exposure of muscle on the central figure’s hands and forearms may serve to symbolize the peeling back of skin, the removal of what is seen (the conscious) in favor for the exposure of what is hidden underneath (the unconscious). This is the reassertion of what gives her power and what makes her a woman in essence, this is her sexuality freeing itself from a patriarchal control. Behind that flesh we find muscle, a necessary feature of the human body representative of strength and power. While the skin is brittle, weak, and malleable, the muscle has a inherent capacity to mature and become tougher and sturdier.  Behind the flesh, she is powerful, she has strength, and she has potential for action. In a similar respect, inside her drawers she is not much different than a man—she too is capable of dominating and worthy of power. She too can unleash what lays within and live freely. A similar action is occurring in the backdrop, where the second female figure is holding up fleshy meat, a very primitive and significant detail in this regard. The red meat symbolizes the return to a primitive nature, or as Freud would say, the return of the repressed. The repressed here does not imply the repressed individuals, but rather the repressed unconscious. The return of the unconscious, or the exposure of flesh in the painting, demonstrates the rediscovery of one’s inner being. As Nietzsche would contend, this inner being is our animalistic nature that resides deep within our soul but is unable to appear in societal contexts due to institutionalized guilt imposed on the human being if he were to express this inner being.

It is unsurprising that Salvador Dali’s childhood has been said to contain similar themes that he expresses in his artwork: his ambivalence towards his distant father, his sadistic obsession with female sexuality, conflicted feelings towards his mother, and his willingness to expose the idiosyncrasies of his character. Dali was armed with exceptionally rich imaginary capabilities, as well as psychological and emotional baggage, allowing him to successfully convey his erotic desires for women while delving deeper into facets of his unconscious. Yet, despite an initial negative public reaction, Dali was equipped with something special. He was able to take unsavory unconscious desires—which on the public realm was alienating—and transform it into something quite beautiful.  The tapestry of human emotion includes both the good and the bad, and ultimately, coupled with Freudian inspiration and artistic imagination, Dali was able to give meaning to his artwork as something liberating for himself.  As such, Dali has come to represent a hope for humanity; showing that perverse and unconscious desires are not meant to be repressed and regarded as vulgar or un-human, but rather revered as a beautiful and natural.


“The Burning Giraffe by Salvador Dali.” Scribd. Web. 12 Dec. 2011. <;.

Freud, Sigmund. Totem and Taboo. New York: W.W. Norton &, 1950. Print.

“Salvador Dali Paintings – Analysis and Interpretations.” Salvador Dali: Biography, Painting, Galleries, Posters, and Anaglyph. Web. 12 Dec. 2011. <;.

The Metaphysics of Identity & Persistence old texts

In Fred Feldman’s Termination Thesis, he argues for the view that when we die, we simply cease to exist. Feldman utilizes the term “annihilation” in order to demonstrate that the same metaphysical principle appeals to in both sides of the “evil of death” debate. He invokes the well-known Epicurean belief: “as long as we exist, death is not with us; but when death comes, then we do not exist” (Feldman, 2000) in tandem with his termination thesis to demonstrate why death should not be feared. Simply stated, when we die, we stop existing—we have no perceptions, no awareness of our death—so it would be irrational to fear death itself because at that moment, we lack the mental state to experience pain and other unpleasant sensations, or even think about what is occurring.  This raises important questions about the relationship between existence and death that I will explore in this essay, particularly because of the relevance to psychological continuity, personal identity, and persistence. Among such questions, I will also ask whether people and other creatures continue to exist after dying. Such topics appeal to the metaphysics of death, and present a dualism between mental and corporeal existence—or mind and body—. Feldman maintains that the person is a complex entity, comprised of body and soul; these are separated at the time of death and bring extermination upon the person.  In measuring “existence” it is therefore essential to take both “mental” and “physical” existence into account. Feldman argues for a materialist account that suggests a dualism between the two, maintaining that mind and body are distinct when discussing issues about death. He asserts that people cannot be identified with their bodies when they go out of existence because personal identity depends on the presence of a psychological mind. As such, he believes that psychological connectedness, or having a mind with functional mental capacities, is a necessary requirement for personal identity. Moreover, due to the nature of TT, Feldman also believes that people cannot exist after dying. I, however, object to both claims and contend that it is incorrect to discount the physical body when accounting for personal identity; both mental and physical components are equal contributors and are interconnected in ways that cannot be easily dismissed. I also maintain that people can exist after dying, albeit in a different form—that of a corpse.  To support my arguments I touch on notions relating to the close relationships between the body and mind, as well as the significance of identifiable biological structures to account for persistence.

Early on in his exposition outlining the importance of the termination thesis as a concept, Feldman briefly explains this question “whether psychological connectedness is the mark of personal identity” (Feldman, 2000). Other philosophers have seemed to suggest that if people continue existing without psychology—which we will take as a mental faculty, or mind, in general—when they die, then a person could very well be identical to “some later thing (a corpse) with which the person is psychologically unconnected” to (Feldman, 2000).  In other words, when people physically exist but without a mind, or mental awareness of any sort; they become comparable to a corpse, which may physically exist but is separated from his or her mental faculties entirely.  Such instances are exemplified in cases where individuals are left completely brain dead after a traumatic and unfortunate accident, and remain physically “alive” but mentally “brain-dead”. As suggested by Feldman and others who agree with his account, this individual under such circumstances would have no traces of personal identity, being that their mental states cannot function properly.

This begins to highlight the connection between psychological connectedness and personal identity.  Is psychological connectedness, or the presence of a mental faculty (mind) a necessary condition to establish some sort of personal identity? A popular expression claims that “What we think is what we are”, so could it be that if we do not think at all, we are simply, not? If one does not have a functional mind to think about past and future events, have feelings, act on these feelings and desires, experience other emotions and perceptual sensations, evaluate current situations, and so forth; is it sufficient to assume that this person is basically dead because all these functions are central to personal identity, what makes humans unique, and what separates one individual from another?  I would have to argue that regardless of the “mental state” (or non-state) of an individual, as long as the physical being exists, it is safe to assume that the being still exists albeit in a substantially different form—the form of a corpse. As such, it seems that mind and body, although mutually dependent on each other in many ways, remain independent in their very natures. Even if a being is “brain-dead”, but still physically alive, that individual still exists because the physical being is still alive. As long as the biological foundations function—that is, as long as blood is pumping, heart is beating, organs are, for the most part, functional, and so forth—the person is still “alive” and therefore, exists. Even if the person is mentally unaware, or unconscious of their current condition and may even never regain consciousness, it would be immoral to terminate their lives prematurely. This circumstance is comparable to murdering someone when they are in a vulnerable state and cannot defend themselves. Like the unconscious or “brain-dead” person, the vulnerable individual has been stripped of their abilities to defend themselves, as well as their options to have a choice in their current situation. Despite this lack of autonomy in both cases, it does not follow that they cease to be a “person” at all. Rather, they exist as a person under very unfortunate circumstances, and if they had a choice or say to alter their situation, chances are they would do so. Therefore, I would maintain that psychological connectedness is not the only condition to establish persistence, or existence.  The person, regardless of the mental state they are presently in, are still physically alive. Of course, such arguments such as these, which appeal to brain removal, coma or even brain death, are difficult views to argue for. Many are apt to be wary of deliberations like these imagined, but possible, cases; mostly on the grounds that we remain unsure of what is involved in circumstances of coma and brain death, and whether they actually entail psychological disconnection. For all we know, a person in such a state may be more self-aware than we may give credence to at all. Yet, advocates of such reasoning, such as I, believe that these are nevertheless cases of persistence—corporeal persistence, or existence—regardless of psychological continuity.

Along these lines, Feldman poses another pertinent question relating to the relationship between a person and his “remains” (Feldman, 2000) or his corpse.  The question is whether there is any relation, or association, between “person” (before death) and ”corpse” (the state after death). Do they belong to the same entity, or are they two substantially different entities, being that the former (corpse) has significantly altered states from its previous entity (person)? According to Feldman’s TT, he suggests: “no one is identical to his remains” (Feldman, 2000). This question invokes matters related to personal identity by means of persistence. He seems to imply here that “person” and “remains” or “corpse” are two separate entities, and therefore cannot be treated under the same considerations. His reasoning here hinges upon a materialist account, which would state that people go out of existence when they die, even if their bodies survive. This most obviously adopts a dualistic approach to mind and body, where the mind goes out of existence at the moment of death, thereby signifying “non-existence” even if the physical body remains. It follows from this materialism that people cannot be identified with their bodies; it seems as if “identification” or personal identity depends on the existence and proper function of the mind itself, not the body. Therefore, Feldman and other materialists would suggest that it is impossible to measure personal identity according to the existence of a body, whether it be a corpse or not.  I would, under this view, refute this idea as well. On the contrary, I believe that the mind and body are mutually dependent on each other, and play the same sort of role in accounting for “identity”.

In my defense, it is important to recognize the relationship between mind and body, and how one may influence the other. We see these in cases of illness, where the mind’s instability can surely inflict physical ailments or increase the person’s susceptibility of disease. In other regards, the state of our mind; what we think, what we feel, how we perceive certain situations, what value we assign to certain experiences, how we understand certain concepts, and so on, are important for our own self-construal. This self-construal, in the most general term, is how we think of ourselves. As such it seems obvious that personal identity is definitely linked with our mental states, our psychological connectedness. However, the physical body is another way of expressing one’s personal identity, especially because of its interconnectedness with the mind. What we think, feel, perceive, will, desire, and fancy, can all be expressed in our physical bodies: how we dress, carry ourselves, present ourselves, and what we look like, among other aspects. It would therefore be incorrect to assume a strict dualism between mind and body, whereby both are separate entities that barely interact with each other. Rather, the mind and body are mutually dependent on each other in more ways than one can even fathom.  The mind and body work in tandem with each other, and are therefore both essential components in our self-concepts, which may strictly reside in our mental processes but are certainly expressed in our physical bodies.  It seems, therefore, that the mind and body are equal contenders in establishing personal identity. The extinction of the mind, therefore, does not entirely take away from being able to correctly identify any physical body.

Another parallel of this idea that may be easier to understand is that relating to “gender” and “sex”. Sex is defined by the biological or anatomical structures that mark one as either “woman” or “man”. Gender, on the other hand, is a social construct that adheres more directly to the genderized social prescriptions (roles and rules) according to cultural expectations, which are typically defined as “masculine” or “feminine”.  For the sake of this explanation, we can take “sex” to correspond to the “physical” body, being that sex is measured by the physical appearance of certain male or female anatomical structures; and gender could represent the “mind” or how certain individuals—regardless of their sex—view and understand themselves. Many studies in Gender Psychology have shown sex and gender are independent conceptions, but simultaneously and inevitably depend on each other. For example, one may be biologically female, but not adhere to the “feminine” gender roles prescribed to her. In fact, there are many instances where women actually adopt more “masculine” roles, and the same phenomenon may occur for men adopting traditional “feminine” roles. An example would be working women who are more likely to adopt typically “masculine” roles such as being more agentic, dominating, and assertive. The same goes for men who hold “feminine” caregiver roles, who assume more gentle, nurturing and empathetic characters. Regardless of the mental state, or how individuals of both sexes perceive themselves under their particular roles, they still maintain a physical condition (their sex) that also serves to define them. It would be foolish, therefore, to assume that men who adopt “feminine” roles would regard their personal identity as “women”, and vice versa. In the same token, one must not presuppose that only physical conditions can account for personal identity because that would completely disregard all other mental constructions of the self, such as personality characteristics, for example, that hold equal weight. In this example, it seems that the physical being and mental being are two important components for personal identity, and it would be illogical to isolate one as a necessary and sufficient component.

In clarifying some possible misunderstandings of the termination thesis, Feldman points to the following tendency: “I have heard people say things like this: ‘when I die I will no longer exist. I will just be a corpse’. Such a remark seems self-contradictory” (Feldman, 2000). He goes on to explain this apparent inconsistency; when the individual claims that he or she will exist as a corpse, then he or she will surely exist—but in the form of a corpse. Feldman explains that it would be more consistent to claim: “When I die, I will no longer exist as the same sort of thing I am now. Instead I will exist merely as a corpse” (Feldman, 2000). However, regardless of this apparent consistency, he maintains that TT says nothing about existing as “a kind of thing”. Instead, TT is meant to be taken in its simple form—the individual will cease to exist overall. The argument does not entertain the possibilities of the type or kind of person that the individual will become; rather, TT implies that “when people die, they don’t go on existing as anything” (Feldman, 2000).

I would refute this claim on several grounds. Firstly, it is important to make a distinction between “people” and “dead people” in order to suggest that people continue to exist as people—albeit in a different state of existence—even after they die. The idea that supports this claim is the simple notion that if enough of an individual’s or animal’s biological components remain intact following his or her death, then the person or animal will continue to meet this condition for some significant time interval following the moment of death. That is to say, that as long as the physical body and its biological organization is somehow identifiable, or identical, to the individual’s state of being while alive; it is safe to claim that the “dead person” or “dead animal” continues to exist as a “person” or “animal” but in a different state of existence. That is, the “state” of being dead rather than alive. This is a view that is typically adopted by “animalists”, who claim that we are human beings and can survive for a time after death, but as corpses.  As long as the physical body of a dead person or dead animal remains in some identifiable form, the corpse of that person or animal still exists. As long as we can see it, we can recognize what species or what particular individual the corpse belongs to, we can touch it, bury it, and other actions such as these; if the body is there, it exists.

There is a tendency for people to assume that a continued life is required in order to account for the persistence of human beings. It is tempting to respond to this argument by bringing up a different perspective. That is, highlighting a difference between what one may call a “dead person”, which is not in fact a person at all, but rather a dead body or a corpse. This idea highlights a significant point, that where is no such thing as a dead person at all because what is termed as a “dead person” is really just another way of referring to a corpse.  It would seem, therefore, that if dead people are not really people at all, then they are irrelevant in this discussion of personal identity.  It is indeed a natural tendency to refer to “remains” as “dead people”, but this usage is certainly not self-contradictory as Feldman asserts.  On this more radical view, admitting that there are “dead people” who lay beneath a grave does not necessarily commit oneself to the assumption that there are really people in the grave, but that they are dead. Rather, “dead people” and “people” in general must be distinguished as meaning two significantly different things.

First of all, the word “dead” is simply an adjective to describe the current state of being of a what-once-was a living entity. Such a term undoubtedly exists, and can refer to a myriad of nouns—plants, dogs, butterflies, and so on. In an article by philosopher David Mackie titled Personal Identity and Dead People, he brings up a very interesting point about this word “dead”. He compares this adjective to another, similar one: “counterfeit”. He intelligently states: “For just as counterfeit money is not really money, so counterfeit rubies are not really rubies…. So if ‘dead’ is an adjective like ‘counterfeit’, then just as dead people are not really people, so dead roses will not really be roses… worse still, dead bodies will not really be bodies” (Mackie, 1997). He takes this example to point out that most people hold exceptions when it comes to defining humans, perhaps because of the personal significance it has. Within this understanding, it seems as if anyone would readily agree that dead butterflies are still butterflies yet hesitate to carry this association with bodies. As such, it is “doubtful whether anyone could seriously maintain that dead bodies are not really bodies. It is only when it comes to people, or persons, that we are at all inclined to hesitate” (Mackie, 1997).  What he means to say is that there is a special weight attached to “people” or “persons”, meaning that there ends up being no such thing as a dead person at all. This is certainly untrue.  According to Feldman’s paper, for something to be “identified” as a person, or for something to have any sort of “personhood” it must have some psychological endowment, or have a mind that is organized in some sophisticated and functional way. I do not deny this definition of what is the nature of a person, a view similar to Locke’s criterion of a thinking and sentient being. It would seem, therefore, that things that are dead fall short of adhering to this seemingly pertinent and necessary psychological/mental condition.

However, I wish to finally point out the ambiguity in the term “person”. Once this distinction is established, it may clarify my argument against Feldman’s assumptions of psychological necessity for personal identity, as well as persistence.  The first sense of the word directly relates to the common-sense assumption that personhood requires proper psychological or mental capacities. For the sake of this argument, we shall call this P1. There is another way of interpreting “person”, which includes “dead person” and I will call this P2. It can be immediately assumed that dead people are not people (P2 is not equivalent to P1), by the mere distinction I just outlined. As such, P1 are not the beings whose persistence, or existence after “death”, we are concerned with.  It may also seem that the “personal identity” question would eliminate P2 (dead persons) from the deliberation, being that they are not connected with a psychological component. However, I object to this common notion (of dead people not possessing any personal identity) by appealing to a question that Feldman proposes in his own exposition; what is the association between a Person at one time, and something at another time (presumably, the “dead person”), which renders these two identical?” In answering this, I maintain a previous claim that a body can continue to exist regardless of psychological continuity.  Feldman’s claim here is that when death comes upon someone, persistence comes to a full halt. That is, the being simply stops existing. However, he does not take into consideration existence or persistence as a person, a “dead person” (P2).  The association between a (living) person (P1) at one time, with the (dead) person (P2) at another time, is that the physical body—the biological foundations, the anatomical structures and physical appearances—remain the same throughout the time interval before and immediately after death.  It is not consistent to assume that the resulting entity cannot be identified with the original person. Although the dead person—the physical remains—may not be psychologically continuous, it would be incorrect to assume that they are nevertheless identifiable. As such, it would also be incorrect to assume that this dead person, the corpse, does not maintain an identical (physical) identity similar to the original (living) body.

While discussing these matters of personal identity, persistence conditions are central. However, as I have discussed, that dead people (P2) are not irrelevant to this personal identity question merely because they are not psychologically apt people (P1).  If dead people do exist, as I contend, they are identical to the earlier living human beings because of the bodies they still have. Although their mental capacities have—as many believe, yet it is difficult to prove this as such—been relinquished, the physical bodies are still, at least for some time, intact.  Therefore, they remain identifiable and identical to the original being. It can even be said that this being has passed from a state of being “alive” to a state of being “dead”; it could be that they are a brand new person in that sense, how they are categorized, but this in no way alters their true identity. To explain this further, I will elaborate on an example given by Mackie (1997) about a butterfly collector. If the butterfly collector were to become aware that what he collects are not in fact butterflies, he would be quite surprised. Mackie explains: “the items in the collector’s collection are dead; but that does not mean that they are not butterflies. This man goes out in the morning with a net, and spends the day catching butterflies. In the evening he comes home and mounts them” (Mackie, 1997).  Those philosophers like Feldman who strictly believe that members of certain biological categories cease to exist when they die, should also commit to believe that the butterfly collector does not mount butterflies at the end of the day, but some other completely distinct things—that is, butterfly corpses.  In other words, this assumes that butterfly corpses are of a different biological kind than butterflies. Or to relate it to human beings, it would assume that dead people are of an entirely different biological category than living people. The discussion about biology is important for both mentions because the corpses, just like the living bodies (of humans and butterflies alike), have all their features—anatomical structure, as well as their genetic composition—because they are members of a unique biological species. This is a certain and obvious fact of nature, and evolutionary science supports it with a myriad of evidence. As such, the sheer absence of life does not imply that butterfly corpses are not butterflies.

From this example, there is no reason to believe that members of our biological species are any different. As such, being dead does not evict the “dead person” from the category of “person” or “human being” in any way. Living people can easily become dead people through one event, but are still considered “people” as long as they are mostly identifiable as belonging to the human species. Of course, I acknowledge some exceptions to this rule for dead people, such as when bodies are cremated after they pass, or when the event of death occurs in a traumatic fire of which no remains are left. It is obvious in these cases, among many others, that the remains would not be an identifiable body of any form. Moreover, there would be nothing that could possibly identify the remains as a human body or distinguish it from any other animal or object that was also victim to the fire. In these cases, these “remains” would not be considered “dead bodies”, being that there are no actual bodies that have any identifiable features of any sort of biological species at all.  In such cases, the biological organism would lose a significant amount of matter, or substance. Due to the lack of any substantial remains in these cases, it is not enough to assume persistence. Rather, in cases where actual physical bodies—dead bodies or corpses—remain, we can claim persistence. Even though bodies that lie underground for long periods of time do come to disintegrate into the earth, they still persist (exist) as long as there is something substantial left to identify them. The persistence and personal identity conditions, therefore, seem to depend on the organism—human or non-human—retaining an adequate amount (or kind) of components, which are the product of their unique biology. This condition allows bodies to “persist”, granting them some existence albeit in “dead” form. Therefore, it does not seem as if life condition, or psychological connectedness, is necessary for persistence and personal identity.

Based on the arguments outlined above, I would reject the Termination Thesis. As far as I am concerned, Feldman’s arguments relating to definition, personal dualism, and personality; are all quite weak. He falls short of providing an adequate explanation of the difference between “people” and “dead people” which I have geared to be a central component for my own argument. His dualistic approach separating mind and body are two distinct entities is not a convincing approach in order to support his claim that the mind (psychological connectedness) is a necessary component of personal identity.  Rather, I maintain throughout my defense that the mind and body are interconnected, and perhaps more mutually dependent than one may fathom.  I propose then, as an alternative to the Termination Thesis, that biological “intactness” is just as indispensable in order to establish personal identity of any creature, human or non-human. It seems, also, that humans and issues relating to human bodies (or persons) are held to a different standard than other organisms. However, taking this approach may almost immediately lead someone to falsehoods. Like gorillas, dogs, cats, snakes, horses; humans are just another type of species. As such, human biological processes of life, reproduction, and death; do not vary too significantly from that of other species. Therefore, it would be inconsistent to hold human beings to a whole new standard than other animals when discussing issues of life and death. As I have demonstrated, the butterfly collector mounts butterflies on his walls; regardless of whether they are in a state of being “alive” or “dead”, they are nevertheless butterflies. These creatures look like butterflies, act like butterflies, and are in fact, unique members—and variations—of the butterfly species.  Simply because they have passed on to another state of being, from alive to dead, does not mean that they have ceased to be entirely. They still exist; their bodies are preserved in between the glass that is mounted on the butterfly collector’s wall. Any non-collector could very wall walk into the room and identify these items on the wall as butterflies because their perceptions unmistakably lead them to form the idea, and thus believe, that they are butterflies. The term “dead butterfly” is merely an adjective that surely describes a state of being, but it does not imply their non-persistence or non-existence.

As goes for humans; if I were to visit the grave of my recently dead hypothetical sister and unbury her, I would undoubtedly see the dead body of my hypothetical sister.  She still exists, regardless of the current state that she is in—that of being “dead”.  The butterflies and my hypothetical sister still maintain their personal identities despite their psychological un-connectedness.  This is greatly attributed to their biological foundations, which render them identifiable members of a distinct species, with unique features.  Despite this lack of a psychological component, the physical bodies still persist, which accounts for the persistence conditions by means of their identity as being in a “dead” state. As such, these organisms persist in a significantly different state than before, despite their psychological continuity, because they have maintained their personal identity as particular members of their kind. For the reasons outlined in my paper, as long as many others of which I could argue; Feldman’s arguments concerning personal identity, psychological connectedness, and persistence conditions, are all pathetic attempts to substantiate his termination thesis.


Feldman, Fred. The Termination Thesis. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, XXIV (2000). Pp 98-107.

Mackie, David. Personal Identity And Dead People. May 1997.


This semester I want to work on my style of writing as much as I can, especially before I graduate from college and begin writing on my own time. I want to begin writing short stories, fiction preferably, because I find them to be so interesting and engaging. In terms of stylistic issues, I would like to completely get rid of passive voice in my writing. I would also like to write more concisely and to the point.

I feel as though I “beat around the bush” or repeat many things when I write, especially in an academic setting. I would like to be able to adopt a style of writing that is minimally direct but also powerful with the use of strong rhetorical language and structure. I hope that this class will propel my writing style forward, cementing me with an advanced understanding of prose and different types of writing styles.