morality from a cultural perspective.

I’m taking an education class this semester called “cross-cultural perspectives of child development”
i keep telling people i don’t like it because of the way it’s taught.

but tbh, it actually has given me a very broad introduction to psychology and child development, especially pertaining to the social, cultural, moral, developmental aspects of it.

i wanted to write a few words about my reading this week.
The essay I read this week “Culture and Moral Development” actually has gotten me to think a lot actually.

It relates to Kohlberg’s stage of moral development and Turiel’s social interactionist theory. don’t let the names scare you. it’s actually very simple
Kohlberg states there are three states: preconventional, conventional, postconventional.
think of preconventional as doing things because you like them, conventional because society permits them and postconventional because it is morally right to do them.
you can see how the consideration of the actions grow from one person to the universe in the last stage.
he states that human beings advance through these stages.
i learnt about this theory at the beginning of the year and I loved it. cause i was like i’m definitely at the postconventional stage. i’m so awesome.

the second theory is social interactionist theory
which maintains that there are two types of right/wrong
moral truths: stuff is right/wrong regardless of the context
conventional: stuff is right/wrong because of some conseus-defined social practices.

the essay actually does a very good job at theoretically pointing out the flaws of the two theories (and has researching findings to back it up. but it’s all just stats which makes for skimming)
so i loved the Kohlberg’s theory. what’s wrong?
a. the interview required people to speak like moral philosophers. and our ability to understand differs greatly from our ability to articulate
b. if probed correctly, even little children understand rights and wrongs.
c. Kohlberg’s definition of postconventional stage is very specific to discretionary features of the moral code he chose. his theory assumes some normative moral code which is not applicable to everyone.

what’s wrong with social interactionist theory?
a. people in other cultures don’t separate these domains. they sort of seem them as one thing.
an example is Hindi beliefs that eating beef is a sin because cow was our first mother.

the moral of the story (pun intended) is that:
1. a moral code must have some sense of justice.  treat like cases similarly, treat difference cases differently, there’s a sense of justice.
2. a moral code must have a natural law guiding it. something is wrong regardless of the context
3. a moral code must something it is trying to protect, rights, duties, wrongs.
and as long all three parts are non-contradicting, rationally defendable then you have a moral code.

this in some ways is more meta than philosophy.
i guess it’s interesting to realize that all humans are bound to be caught in some cultural mode of thinking. the more big picture way is to look at the different cultures.

but it also coincides with some things i’ve been hearing lately from different sources
on realising you’re never better than someone. any theory that supports that is self-assuming. we’re just different.
it could be said we’re always wrong. the fact that we keep changing over our lifetime seems to point to that fact.
on this realization we are wrong all the time comes the consequence that we are vulnerable beings. we have to embrace that


world values survey

been spending a lot of time on wikipedia lately.
found this article about a survey that measures countries by their cultural values. take a look.

one comment though is that china, japan, taiwan are ranked very secular-relational, which means “These societies place less emphasis on religion, traditional family values and authority. Divorce, abortion, euthanasia and suicide are seen as relatively acceptable.” it makes sense with this statement “while in China only three percent considered religion very important” found later in the article but it’s weird when you look at the graph below and see that USA is identified as being a lot more traditional. i’m quite puzzled. whilst religion may be less common in China, i think divorce, abortion, suicide is more accepted in USA. and without a doubt, east asian countries place more emphasis on traditional family values and deference to authorities (obedient asian kids and crazy asian mothers, anyone?)

at least the east asian countries are grouped together. the list of key people of the organization also seems quite euro-centric-ignorant, further proven by the concentration of european countries in the top right corner, countries identified as secular-relational and self-expression, which i would think to be the indicators of a more developed and liberal society.

graph from wiki

File:Inglehart Values Map.svg

midsummer night manifesto from a couch

You lose a lot of hope in the world when you read the paper each day. Millions dying in the Horn of Africa, more people dying from wars, the newest released figure of an increasing disparity between the rich and the poor.
Reading books though make me realize that we have not seen a period of more peace, more economic prosperity in the history of man.
And I also realize that this unprecedented movement of people and information has given us more information, more horror stories than we ever need or are responsible for.
But we can ask the same question from the opposite view. this unprecedented movement of people and information has given us more knowledge, but also perpetuated increasing unfairness in this world.

Lack of information allowed us ignorance. But wealth of information has now seen inaction. It is the same conversation Andreas had with his mom in the book about our duty to everyone else as the top 1% of the world. To me, it is an unanswerable question.
It’s a guilt that will live with me till the day I die. A guilt that will constantly ask me why I haven’t donated all my money to save more people. A guilt that will be forgotten by the relentless waves of life, and rekindled in the moments we see horror with our own eyes again.

I’ve been thinking about myself lately, not in the narcissistic sense, but in a critical sense.
Multiple examples, which include not caring whether I look presentable and leaving things to the last possible minute, have shown me that I am irresponsible when it comes to planning my own future. I am utterly irresponsible and I seem to have no problem with that. I expect the world to ask nothing of me but I ask everything of the world. I expect my life to be naturally successful and smooth. I am trying to live a carefree life right now.But I realize that living a carefree life requires an expectation that it doesn’t matter what happens. But I do expect something. So we have an imbalance of expectations, the world and me. You can’t not care. You need to give a fuck before someone else gives a fuck about you. I have been really ungrateful, basking in the glory made possible by those around me, including my parents but not thankful. Being grateful comes from realizing how much was needed to get me where I am now. Yes, I want a carefree life. who doesn’t? Who ever stops wishing for it? Who doesn’t want to wake up and have unlimited wealth and have eternal handsomeness and have everyone falls for him/her? The world is real. It is not a one-way street. It goes both ways. Favors are only reciprocated. Wealth is only earned. Success is only plowed. Mom’s right. You can be stupid but you can’t be naive.

Culture is a difficult question. I already discussed this briefly before. I will never be authentic, a product of only one culture. It was not going to be like that since I was born. It’s a statement I make when I realize the difficulties of making true friends sometimes. I’m not from the Bay Area or this town. I don’t know this person. I don’t know the school either. You watch what show? Whose that line by again? Sometimes, I can’t laugh, can’t relate. and it’s difficult. it’s frustrating. and it is true that humans need to relate. the same reason I appreciate talking to people who have been to China or who have stayed there so much. and realizing that I also have this need to be related to so I ain’t so high and mighty either. I admit that I feel like I’m being gobbled up by American culture. Assimilation is the wrong word, more like acquisition. It’s a two way street again. I need to move closer to the middle and I hope they come my way too.

change but i have change to-and-from

so i’m back and it’s interesting as i tell other people, to realize how i’ve changed

some things i realize
a) i’ve become more american, how i will explain
b) asians like game-show humor
c) americans open doors for other people.
d) confucianism demands that we don’t create trouble for other people
e) people don’t smile and say thank you here.

this comes from reading paper tiger as well. just being in a Chinese society, living around Chinese people who act differently slowly morph me back into my Chinese self. so it’s going to be some interesting three four years. changing to-and-from, back-and-froth. as i’ve been reading the book social intelligence by Daniel Goleman, pre-frontal cortex development continues our early twenties. and what will these back and forth four years mean for me?

usa – u suck ass (the country that once stood for propersity)

Stuck at the airport for the second time,  it was kind annoying why fate has yet once again played a trick on me. It was hard to not be fucking mad esp about the country’s fucked up system, the retarded people and their dumbass president who should have been assassinated a long time before he was elected president.
The fact that their country is really screwed up from the health care system, to politics, to the country’s obesity problem, drug problems, the country had a good vision in the beginning of its inception, of a free country where everyone is free from prosecution and discrimination of race, religion, appearance, where this country was suppose to be a country that stood for liberty, justice and freedom.

The starting goal is good but it must be said right now that there are a few ground rules that everyone mustabide by more than the few included in the country’s constitutional law
The country’s health care problem. I don’t wanna sound like obama on this issue. But it must be said that the country’s healthcare is in a mess.  With 2 billion people all from different races the ranges of disease and illness are more than a medical dictionary can contain.
The country’s obesity problem. Everywhere you look, people over 200 pounds or even three hundred regularly meet your eye. It is no wonder why the health care system is so screwed up, the number of people who die from heart attacks, cholesterol problems could account for I assume 1/3 of the population. The problem is that everything in usa is too big. The food portions, the sugar concentration, the fat concentration. If they could count down on all of this, we would probably have already alleviated the health care problem
The countr’s automobile problem. The country’s concept of suburbism started during the early 1900s, the conception of living in a house with their own lawn, garage and yard appealed to everyone, become synonymous with the American dream. That was ok until gas prices reach $4 per gallon. The people suddenly have transportation costs consuming up to ¼ or even 1/3 of their income. People start complaining but if it wasn’t their president’s stupid decision to attack an oil exporting country, I’m sure everything would be fine.
The country’s black and latino problem. As with any country with more than one dominant race, a problem is bound to arise. From the culture mixing to the very distribution of federal speeding of the different races. For the beginners, the country has no dominant culture, the blacks haven’t assimilated nor have the latinos. They have just incorporated their own heavily individual culture such as rap music, drugs, pimp cars as well as their problems of laziness, obnoxious. Lations have also incorporated their own heavy family based culture; which has created a large influx of latino immigrants who keep brining on their families and relatives. It will not be long before USA declares mexico as it’s 51 state.  These two cultures contrast too much with the community heavy culture of Caucasians, creating many misunderstandings, misconception, confusion which has created this corrupted, broken down system of usa.
The country’s suppressing institutions. There are a lot of geniuses out there, but the problem is that there are also obnoxious senators, house of representatives who think they know everything. If the country can just harness the power of some of the geniuses in the country, I’m sure it would have ended up ten times better than it were today.
Despite all the problems. If there is one thing have learn is that most americans are nice, friendly. If you are nice to them, they are very naturally nice to you. The only thing we need know is a visionary leader (obama/mccain don’t really fit the description, with one being dumb, and the other being fickle). I hope both of them get assassinated.