Many of us had never heard of the Zika Virus until recently, when it first took the media by storm. The Zika Virus, first discovered in Uganda Forest of Zika in 1947, is a mosquito-transmitted pathogen similar in nature to yellow fever and the West Nile Virus. This May, it made its first appearance in the Western Hemisphere, with an outbreak in Brazil. Now, the virus is running rampant, and has spread to numerous other countries, even making as far as the U.S. in Texas.
The current crisis in Syria differs from other conflicts. It exists in a power vacuum in the space between two fractured national boundaries. To the West, Bashar al-Assad, with the support of Iran and Russia, makes use of barrel bombs and brutality to pound back opposition forces. To the East, the Islamic State continues to resist the Iraqi army and free Kurdish forces attempting to take back territory.
The United States and Russia announced on February 11 a “cessation of hostilities” in Syria. The plan includes increased humanitarian aid, in addition to the ceasing of hostilities, and does not include ISIS or the Nursa front as they are both UN-recognized terrorist organizations. The plan, if executed as announced, will be the first formally declared end to fighting in Syria since 2011. While the plan is a step forward in stopping the five-year conflict, is this humanitarian aid and tentative cessation really enough?
A Black Police Officer’s Fight Against the NYPD (New York Times)
by Saki Knafo
“Over the last two years, Raymond has recorded almost a dozen officials up and down the chain of command in what he says is an attempt to change the daily practices of the New York Police Department.”
When Parents and Surrogates Disagree on Abortion (Atlantic)
by Katie O’Reilly
“In January, Melissa Cook, a 47-year-old California surrogate currently pregnant with triplets, sued the commissioning father, a single 50-year-old Georgia postal worker, who wanted her to abort one of the fetuses.”
Why Political Correctness is So Annoying…and Why It Works (Micropolis)
by Arun Venugopal
“Among the many striking aspects of the 2016 presidential race is this: ‘political correctness’ is regularly touted as one of our greatest societal evils.”
Does Ben Carson Suspect His Campaign Was a Scam? (Atlantic)
by David A. Graham
“Carson has taken in incredible amounts of money during the race. His campaign has raised more than any other Republican presidential rival, though they’ve raised more when super PACs are included. But he’s also spent more than any of them, so that despite his prolific fundraising, he has barely $4 million in cash on hand.”
The Scourge of the Female Chore Burden (Atlantic)
by Olga Khazan
“All over the world, women are doing work they’re not getting paid for.”
Texas academics told to avoid ‘sensitive topics’ if gun law goes into effect (Guardian)
by Tom Dart
“Students and academics have warned of a chilling effect on freedom of expression ever since Texas became the latest state to pass a “campus carry” law last year. It compels public universities to allow license holders aged 21 and over to bring concealed handguns on to most areas of campus.”
The Evolution of Shaming (Atlantic)
by Ed Yong
“So why bother? Why censure someone who hasn’t harmed us directly? Some scientists have suggested that it helps to cement human societies together by enforcing social norms and discouraging selfishness or bad behavior.”
The history of mental illness is riddled with what are now horror stories: mental illnesses “treated” by bleeding patients with leeches, dousing them with hot or cold water, or simply putting them to death. From the 1600s to the 1800s in Europe and in the newly established United States, it was common for mentally ill people to be locked away in asylums, sometimes chained to the walls in what were essentially dungeons. Movements in the 1800s by activists like Philippe Pinel in France and Dorothea Dix in the northeastern states of the US helped to change these dungeons into what better resembled hospitals, with more comfortable housing and medical doctors.
This post originally appeared on December 4, 2014.
When I was 8, I started ballet. I was a disciplined kid who took everything seriously, and dance quickly became a great passion of mine. But for many years I wasn’t that good; I felt I lacked the natural physical abilities that bless talented ballerinas.
One day something changed. I was observing the course immediately after mine. In the center of the studio, Laura, the first in her class, was performing a step in which one leg is elevated above 90 degrees. She was very similar to me in many respects, rich in determination but lacking in natural talent, her legs and feet modeled only by hours of obstinate exercise. Her leg was so much higher than mine had ever been! She looked fierce and strong, and I wished I could be like that. But beneath her smiling face, I could see the strain: she was sweating a lot, and her leg was shaking slightly. I felt a complex, painful emotion. I was ashamed both of my inferiority and of minding it so intensely. At the same time, I was inspired and determined to work harder: if she could do that, so could I! I kept dancing, with renewed enthusiasm, and by the time I graduated from my dance school I, too, was the best in my class.
I believe that what I felt that day toward my peer was what we can call emulative envy. It is a kind of non-malicious envy that has two fundamental characteristics. First, it is more focused on the lacked good, rather than on the fact that the envied has it. In my case, I was more bothered by my lack of excellence than by the fact that Laura was excellent. Therefore, this kind of envy has an inspirational quality, rather than an adversarial one. The envied appears to the envier more like a model to reach, or a target to aim to, than a rival to beat, or a target at which to shoot. When the envier is, vice versa, more bothered by the fact that the envied is better than them, than by the lack of the good, the envied is looked at with hostility and malice, and the envier is inclined to take the good away from them.
Second, emulative envy is hopeful: it involves the perception that the envier can close the gap with the envied. When this optimism about one’s chances is lacking, being focused on the good is insufficient to feel emulative envy, because we don’t believe in our capability to emulate the envier. Thus, we may fall prey of what I call inert envy, an unproductive version of emulative envy in which the agent is stuck in desiring something she can’t have, a dangerous state that can lead to develop more malicious forms of envy. In Dorothy Sayers’s vivid metaphor: “Envy is the great leveler: if it cannot level things up, it will level them down” (Sayers 1999).
There are two possible ways of leveling down: in what I call aggressive envy, the envier is confident that she can “steal” the good. Think about a ballerina who secures another dancer’s role not by her own merit but via other means, such as spreading a rumor about that dancer’s lack of confidence on stage. But this kind of “leveling down” is not always possible, or at any rate does not appear possible to the envier. In such a case, the envier is likely to feel spiteful envy, as it may have been in Iago’s case: he could not take away the good fortune Othello had, but he was certainly able to spoil all of it.
Spiteful, aggressive and inert envy are all bad in one way or another, but emulative envy seems void of any badness. Here I cannot detail the ways in which it is different from the other three, but I’d like to conclude this post with one very interesting feature it possesses. Empirical evidence (van de Ven et al 2011) shows that emulative envy spurs one to self-improve more efficiently than its more respectable cousin: admiration. This result is less surprising once we think that admiration is a pleasant state of contentment, and thus is unlikely to move the agent to do much at all. As Kierkegaard aptly put it: “Admiration is happy self-surrender; envy is unhappy self-assertion” (Kierkegaard 1941).
Kierkegaard, S. 1941, The Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition For Upbuilding And Awakening (1849), New York: Oxford University Press.
Sayers, D. 1999, Creed or Chaos? Why Christians Must Choose Either Dogma or Disaster (Or, Why It Really Does Matter What You Believe), Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press.
van de Ven N., Zeelenberg M., Pieters R. 2011, “Why Envy Outperforms Admiration,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37(6): 784–795.
Under ideal circumstances, the dinghy should have only held eight people. The same could have been said of the many boats that preceded it, in search of beaches in Greece. Yet, just as those before them, the rubber dinghy left the shores of Turkey’s Bodrum Peninsula in the early hours of the morning. Among the twelve people onboard were three-year-old Aylan Kurdi and his family, refugees from the besieged Syrian town of Kobane.
Stop Bernie-Splaining to Black Voters (New York Times)
by Charles M. Blow
“It is not black folks who need to come to a new understanding, but those whose privileged gaze prevents them from seeing that black thought and consciousness is informed by a bitter history, a mountain of disappointment and an ocean of tears.”
If Republicans block Obama’s Supreme Court nomination, he wins anyway (Washington Post)
by Linda Hirshman
“What a moment for Scalia to depart: The court faces a wild array of closely divided decisions. It is an election year. And President Obama has stacked the lower circuit courts with Democrats.”
Is a Surrogate a Mother? (Slate)
by Michelle Goldberg
“The United States is one of the few developed countries where commercial, or paid, surrogacy is allowed—it is illegal in Canada and most of Europe. In the U.S., it’s governed by a patchwork of contradictory state laws.”
Why aren’t all the primaries on the same day? (Vox)
“The power of the media, and how people respond to earlier results, makes a huge difference. A win in Iowa or New Hampshire can give candidates momentum in later states, and a loss can force others to drop out before most states even vote.”
The Power of Buying Less by Buying Better (Atlantic)
by Elizabeth Cline
“Combatting this wastefulness is at the heart of a growing number of clothing brands offering alternatives to so-called ‘fast fashion,’ the trendy, throwaway method of selling clothes pioneered by companies such as H&M, and the cultural force to blame for the world’s overflowing and underutilized closets.”
Finished reading? Check out this video from MTV: Are the Primaries Racist?
This post originally appeared on November 18, 2014
Imagine you check your email and find a congratulatory message from your boss announcing that your colleague has just been promoted. This colleague joined the company at approximately the same time as you did, and works in your sector. You were in line for the same promotion and were anxiously waiting for the outcome. How do you feel?
It’s reasonable to suppose that you might feel a burning, intense, painful bout of an emotion hard to confess even to yourself: envy. It doesn’t matter that you like this person, that she works hard, that she is brilliant and competent, and that she fully deserves this honor. If anything, being fully aware of her merits is likely to make you feel worse. Even if you acknowledge that it is an objectively just outcome, you can’t help but ask “Why not me?!”
Let me assure you that you are in good company: envy can be found in all ages, with all genders, and in all strata of the society. According to anthropologists (Foster 1972, Lindholm 2008), it is panhuman phenomenon, whose disquieting traces can be found everywhere in human history and culture. The Bible, the sacred text for Jews and Christians, is filled with stories of envy, most notably Cain and Abel. The fall of Adam and Eve, Satan’s rebellion against God, and Christ’s crucifixion have all been interpreted as caused by envy (Acquaro 2004, Schimmel 2008). All main human religions condemn envy, and most peasant and tribal societies share the superstition of the evil eye, a destructive power emanating—usually involuntarily—from the look of an envious person. Many publicized crimes and intergroup conflicts have been attributed to envy (Schoeck 1969, Beck 1999). Young children are warned about the evils of envy when hearing the fables of Cinderella, Snow White, and many others. There are countless literary tales of envy and the misdeeds it provokes, but we do not need to look into fictions to see what envy looks like. As advertisers, economists, and psychoanalysts all know, envy populates our daily interactions. (Beck 2008, Vidaillet 2008, Zizzo 2008).
Notwithstanding its ubiquitousness, envy may be the only “deadly sin” that is still considered unforgivable and difficult to confess openly and straightforwardly. As Francois de la Rochefoucauld vividly put it: “We can often be vain of our passions, even the guiltiest ones; but envy is so sneaking and shameful that we never dare confess it.” (Maxims) Even though it may be not framed in moral terms for everybody, feeling and expressing envy is still stigmatized and seen as a social taboo. And yet, feeling and acting on envy is as widespread as ever, as the popularity of novels, self-help books, and editorials that deal with the topic shows. This is unsurprising: class inequality has not only not disappeared, but it has possibly increased in some affluent societies, like the United States. Furthermore, there will always be scarcity of some goods, such as honor and “coolness,” and hence competition for them, and envy for those who succeed in securing them.
Envy thus has an important positive signaling value: it reveals to us what we care about, what we feel we lack, and what we are prepared to do to get it. But is it otherwise always bad? In my work I argue that while envy undoubtedly shows a dark side of human nature—our tendency to covet the possessions and talents of our neighbors, cast an evil eye on them, and rejoice of their misfortune—it also presents a more luminous one: our tendency to work hard in order to reach and surpass those neighbors, and strive for excellence.
Furthermore, I don’t believe that envy necessarily involves hostility and aggression toward the envied. Social psychologists and philosophers are divided about whether a non-malicious emotion can be appropriately categorized as envy. I defend the view that what I call “emulative envy”, while being a kind of envy proper, is neither morally nor prudentially bad. In my next post I am going to describe what this emotion looks like. In the mean time, what do you think about this: is envy always malicious? Have you ever felt a “benign” kind of envy?
Aquaro, G. R.A. 2004, Death by envy: The evil eye and envy in the Christian tradition, Lincoln, NB: Universe.
Beck, A. 1999, Prisoners of hate: The cognitive basis of anger, hostility, and violence, New York: HarperCollins.
Belk, R. W. 2008, “Marketing and Envy,” in Smith, R. H. (ed.), 211–226. Foster, G. M. 1972, “The anatomy of envy: A study in symbolic behavior,” Current Anthropology, 13: 165–202.
Lindholm, C. 2008, “Culture and Envy,” in Smith, R. H. (ed.), 227–244.
Schimmel, S. 1997, The Seven Deadly Sins: Jewish, Christian, and Classical Reflections on Human Psychology, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Schimmel, S. 2008, “Envy in Jewish Though and Literature,” in Smith, R. H. (ed.), 16–38.
Schoeck, H. 1969, Envy: A theory of social behaviour, San Diego: Harcourt, Brace & World.
Smith, R. H. (ed.) 2008, Envy: Theory and Research, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Vidaillet, B. 2008, “Psychoanalytic Contributions to Understanding Envy: Classical and Contemporary Perspectives,” in Smith, R. H. (ed.), 267–289.
Zizzo, D. J. 2008, “The Cognitive and Behavioral Economics of Envy,” in Smith, R. H. (ed.), 190–210.
With the increased prominence of LGBTQ issues and the implications of former Olympic superstar Bruce (now Caitlyn) Jenner transitioning from male to female this year, it comes as no surprise that the International Olympic Committee has turned a fresh eye to its regulations and practices. An announcement was made January 24th indicating that new guidelines had been released, and would be in effect for this year’s Olympics in Rio.
There are lots of ways to get involved with Prindle! Find out the different internships and roles Prindle has to offer DePauw students by coming to our event.
The event will be held on February 25th at 11:30 AM in the UB Ballroom. Lunch will be served.
We will be giving information on the different internships available and the application processes.
Want to learn more about the different positions you can apply for? Click here to explore the different roles and what the applications look like.
Ai Weiwei’s Photo Reenacting a Child Refugee’s Death Should Not Exist (Hyperallergic)
by Nitasha Dhillon
“Why was this image created, and why is it circulating?”
What happens next in Aleppo will shape Europe’s future (Guardian)
“It is hardly a coincidence that the bombardment of Aleppo, a symbol of the 2011 anti-Assad revolution, started just as peace talks were being attempted in Geneva.”
Formation Doesn’t Include Me — And That’s Just Fine (Medium)
“How many centuries were our black brothers and sisters relegated to the position of audience — the thrills of competitive sports, television and movie screens, even the petty dramas of middle class servitude demanding their attention.”
Understanding a White Perception (The DePauw)
by Taylor Jones
“You acknowledge that bombing and burning churches is a little extreme, but Black people are out of control for thinking that an infant’s body exploding to pieces or the burning of the only place that brought a run-down community together to pray, eat, and sing is enough to stop someone else from going to work. Why should a city shut down for Black people?”
We May Not Need An Electorate Of Scientists (NPR)
“Here, then, is a recipe for a more effective democracy: Everyone needs to know science.”
Letter of Recommendation: Cracker Barrel (New York Times Magazine)
by Jia Tolentino
“Based on my recent investigations, it’s possible to spend an hour, as an adult of middlingly sound mind, enthralled by the offerings of the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, the soul of the Cracker Barrel experience, a buffet of slightly cranky kitsch.”
Why Zika is a huge Catch-22 for pregnant women (Vox)
by Emily Crockett
“Right now, the only sure way for women in Zika-infested areas to avoid giving birth to a baby with microcephaly is not to get pregnant at all.”
Chicago Professor Resigns Amid Sexual Misconduct Investigation (New York Times)
by Amy Harmon
“The professor, Jason Lieb, 43, made unwelcome sexual advances to several female graduate students at an off-campus retreat of the molecular biosciences division, according to a university investigation letter obtained by The New York Times, and engaged in sexual activity with a student who was ‘incapacitated due to alcohol and therefore could not consent.'”
When Texas defunded Planned Parenthood, women got less birth control and had more babies (Vox)
by Sarah Kliff
“This new Texas study is important because it demonstrates that there is a risk that comes with cutting Planned Parenthood out of public programs: Women won’t get the care that they used to, and births can increase as a result.”
What Is Sexual Orientation? (Philosophers’ Imprint)
by Robin A. Dembroff
“Inadequate understandings of sexual orientation can reinforce heteronormative assumptions…”
A South African mayor is under criticism for the decision to award 16 university scholarships to women on the condition that they remain virgins. The mayor and her office argue that the decision is to “reduce HIV, Aids and unwanted pregnancy,” and is therefore a moral choice. Human rights groups have condemned the move as unethical and discriminatory.
With the 2016 presidential election looming, we’re inundated with a number of messages from both major political parties. Many of these messages invoke patriotism as a reason to support one particular party or candidate over another. Republican candidate Ted Cruz, for instance, refers to “faith, family, patriotism” as fundamentally conservative values. Lest one think that only Republicans appeal to patriotism, in a Veterans’ Day speech, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders said: “If patriotism means anything, it means that we do not turn our backs on those who defended us, on those who were prepared to give their all.” It’s no surprise that both the DNC and the RNC have adopted the colors of the American flag for their logos and websites. After all, who would object to patriotism—love for and pride in one’s country?
I think it’s important to keep in mind that while patriotism can be a political virtue, it can also go wrong. One need not conjure up images of Nazi rallies in the 1940s or pro-Taliban demonstrations in Afghanistan to see instances of patriotism that many in our current political climate would take to be problematic. Our own political history should teach us that we ought to be cautious about patriotism given the opportunity for it to run awry. As just one of many instances, consider how claims of patriotism have been used in the US to justify discrimination against individuals with disabilities, particularly disabled immigrants. At numerous times in our nation’s history, immigration law has been used to keep out individuals that we think would ‘pollute’ or ‘dilute’ our country. Loving our country, it was thought, requires us to protect it. And protecting it requires us to keep the wrong kind of people out. The ‘Red Scare’ following World War I led to tightened controls on immigration as a way of keeping out those who had different political views.
But it’s not just suspicions of anarchism or socialism that led to restrictions on immigration. The US has a long history of using disability to the same end. The Immigration Acts of 1882 and 1924, for example, allowed for government officials to restrict the immigration of those who were either disabled or even likely to become so. In the early 20th century, immigration officials were told that “any mental abnormality whatever … justifies the statement that the alien is mentally defective” (Nielsen, 103), a judgment that could be used to prevent an individual’s immigration into the US. (Perhaps not surprisingly, such laws resulted in a higher deportation rate for individuals from Asia than from Europe.) These, and other laws, were used to exclude people from immigrating or to push them underground once they were in the country. In the late 19th and first few decades of the 20th centuries, numerous cities—from San Francisco to Chicago—enacted laws that prohibited those with disabilities or other ‘mutilated or deformed bodies’ from being in public.
The use of ‘disability’ as a way of marginalizing or discriminating against individuals in US history does not just apply to the disabled. It was also used to justify slavery in the 19th century. For instance, Samuel Cartwright, a medical doctor and proponent of scientific racism, argued that “blacks’ physical and mental defects made it impossible for them to survive without white supervision and care” (Nielsen, 57). In the 1870s, influential educational leaders argued that attempting to educate women led to their becoming disabled. And as late as the 1940s, the claim that Native Americans were particularly prone to disability was used to justify failing to extend full rights to indigenous population.
Finally, the US has a long history of using appeals to patriotism as a reason to forcibly sterilize the disabled. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ claim that in the service of the “public welfare … three generations of imbeciles is enough” defended the constitutionality of such a practice, which is not only legal but still practiced in numerous states. The reason for such sterilization, presumably, is for the good of the American people.
So, this coming election, feel free to be patriotic. But make sure that the vision of our country that you’re supporting and working to enact is one that is worthy of your love and pride. For not all patriotism is worth it.
Quotations from Kim E. Nielsen’s A Disability History of the United States (Boston: Beacon Press, 2012). For a discussion of how eugenics influenced US perceptions of disability and contributed to immigration restrictions, see Daniel J. Kelves’ In the Name of Eugenics (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press: 1985).
Humanitarian intervention is an oft-discussed section of ethical debates. The issue of when, how, and where to send aid regularly plagues the world community. The flip side of the coin, which is less discussed, is the toll that such aid work takes on the workers – and whether it is ethical to harm the helpers in order to save devastated populations.