Danine's Reviews > House and Philosophy: Everybody Lies

House and Philosophy by Henry Jacoby
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Feb 17, 2014

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Read from May 21, 2012 to February 16, 2014

I thought this was an ok collection of essays. The first several essays were good and a few good ones were scattered throughout. It was a bit watered down for my personal tastes, but I'm always happy when an attempt at philosophical ideas is brought to the masses.

The biggest idea I'm bringing with me from this book is Sartre's ideas about why we dislike people. 1) Other people represent potential obstacles to our freedom. 2) The way other people objectify us. Primarily because we do not (and cannot) experience their experiences but interact with them as objects. 3) Others rob the individual of their sense of primacy and control. Even after a few days of going through the list of people that I do not admire, respect or just think are annoying; I've put them in one of these categories. Even though I have a better understanding of why they annoy me they still annoy me.

The book compares House with Holmes and also Socrates. Both House and Socrates know that things must be experienced in order to understand them fully. Enter the examined life. Aristotle believed in the rational animal, whereas Socrates doesn't believe that leads to an examined life; or a life without reason and curiosity. A life where one does not seek the truth is no greater than the life of a lower animal.

p.12: "An examined life is one in which you seek the truth. You are curious. You want to understand. You do not just accept ideas because they are popular or traditional; you are not afraid to ask questions. This is the life of the philosopher." And if you don't care and just think life is meaningless then you are a nihilist. Yay. I guess. Good for you.

p.11: Not only does "meaningful" not equal "getting what you want," but "meaningless" isn't the same as "not getting what you want."

-Eastern philosophy is self eliminating while Western philosophy is self promoting (ego).

-Confucianism thought is about one's appropriate role in society (conventionality) whereas Daoism stresses finding one place in the universe (spontaneity).

Zen philosophy:
p.90: "The Zen master does not impart data or discursive knowledge direct to students, because 'insight' or 'enlightenment' is not information that a person learns (like algebra or the metric system). Instead, it's based on a change in the way a person looks at and is oriented to the world, in its entirety.

p. 91: "House's and Zen's dismissal of sense and appropriateness is for the sake of, and depends on, those usual, everyday standards of sense and appropriateness.

"Zen practice focuses on eating, sleeping, walking, sitting and solving problems of the day as they arise. Zen practitioners contend that by paying attention to the simple, everyday issues, one can consequently understand very important or difficult issues."

My favorite topic, though, was about moral luck and control principle. We don't blame someone for something that is not their fault. However, paradoxically we do blame someone more when their actions cause harm than when those same actions, through "luck", cause no harm at all. Moral luck is when when are responsible only for what we control, and yet we are responsible things beyond our control. Example: I'm in charge of taking care of my children. They are under my care. But because of sleep deprivation I fall asleep and while I'm asleep the kids somehow get hurt.

The book also covered bioethics, Occum's Razor, Principlism, and Utilitarianism.
Principlism: bioethical approach-Don't harm anyone, help people, let people make their own decisions and be fair. Nonmaleficence is the oldest of the principles and requires people to avoid harm. Beneficence requires people to take action and help. Where does House fit in?

There are two types of utilitarian: "act" and "rule". Act utilitarians judge each individual action according to the consequences resulting from that specific action. Rule utilitarians hold that we should act according to rules or principles that, in general, result in the best consequences. Which one am I?

I will end this review with one of my favorite House quotes that was discussed in the book:

"You can have all the faith you want in spirits, and the afterlife, and heaven and hell, but when it comes to this world, don't be an idiot. Cause you can tell me you put your faith in God to get you through the day, but when it comes time to cross the street, I know you look both ways."
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02/16/2014 marked as: read

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