Archive for November 16th, 2009

Nov 16 2009

Profile Image of min01pd2011

Military Servie: a duty or a right?

Last English class, Ms.Edmunds handed out a poem that was ‘meant’ to be inspirational. The poem is called “A Call to Arms”, written by Callinus, translated by Richmond Lattimore. Here is the poem:

How long will you lie idle, and when will you find some courage,

you young men? Have you no shame of what other cities will say,

you who hang back? You think you can sit quiet in peacetime.

This is not peace, it is war which has engulfed our land.

A man, as he dies, should make one last throw with his spear.

It is a high thing, a bright honor, for a man to do battle

With the enemy for the sake of his children, and for his land

and his true wife; and death is a thing that will come when the spinning

Destinies make it come. So a man should go straight on

forward, spear held high, and under his shield the fighting

strength coiled ready to strike in the first shock of the charge.

When it is ordained that a man shall die, there is no escaping

death, not even for one descended from deathless gods.

Often a man who has fled from the fight and the clash of the thrown


Goes his way, and death befalls him in his own house,

and such a man is not loved nor missed for long by his people;

the great and the small alike mourn when a hero dies.

For all the populace is grieved for the high-hearted warrior

after his death; while he lives, he is treated as almost divine.

Their eyes gaze on him as if he stood like a bastion before them.

His actions are like an army’s, though he is only one man.

Callinus is a Greek poet who lived in the 7th century BC in Ephesus. During his life time, Asia Minor was frequently invaded by Cimmerians. For this reason, he wrote this poem to inspire Greeks to stand up and fight for one’s country. As the powm implies, Callinus believes that one would be considered ‘divine’ and honorable when one fights for the country. In contrast, he deems one a coward if one does not take any action when a war erupts.

As my classmates came across this poem, the debate about military service rose to the surface: should military service be a duty or a right? The best example I could find was military service in Korea and the United States: for Koreans, military service is a duty, whereas, for Americans, military service is a right. But is there any answer to the posed question?

However, before serching for an answer to the question, I have to acknowledge that I am biased towards this issue because I am a Korean. Also, because I have heard from Koreans who have gone and will go to military, but none of Americans, my view towards military service is certainly biased.

First of all, why is military service a duty in Korea but a right in the United States? I, as a knower, looked at this question from cultural perspective, in detail, the founding principles of the country. In the constitution of both countries, there are statements specifically about military service. Interestingly, the statements deliver different ideas by using different languages.

Constitution of Korea clearly states that serving in the military is a duty as a Korean:

Article 39 [Duty to Military Service]

(1) All citizens have the duty of national defense under the conditions as prescribed by law.

In contrast, Constitution of the United States expresses that serving in military is merely a right:

That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and sate defence of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

Statements in Korean Constitution use words that are straightforward and concise and have strong connotation, for example, “have the duty” and “prescribed by law”. Moreover, these words stress the importance of the duty. On the other hand, words in the U.S. Constitution are relatively moderate, such as, “have a right” and “civil power”. Additionally, these words emphasize the concept of freedom.

In brief, whether the military service ’should’ be a duty or a right is stated in the constitution. Constitution is crucial for a nation because it’s the founding principles of the country. In other words, it is designed according to people’s mindsets and thus it reflects people’s perceptions in specific nation. As a result, people in different culture perceive the issue of military service differently.

Apart from cultural implication of the military service, there is also historical implication to this issue. Korea is actually “in a war”: South Korea and North Korea reached an armistice, but Korean war was never declared to be ended. In contrast, the United States is not in a war like Korea does. Hence, it would be considered inevitable for Koreans to think military service as a duty instead of a right.

In fact, there is no answer to the question. I believe it is not justified to ask whether it ’should’ be ot not because decisions are made by a community that has indigenous culture. Every culture is unique, so does every underlying perspective of different cultures. Thus, acknowleding difference is one of the criteria that one needs as a ‘knower’.

<Works Cited>

“Callinus (Greek poet) — Britannica Online Encyclopedia.” Encyclopedia – Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Web. 16 Nov. 2009.

“ICL – South Korea – Constitution.” Web. 16 Nov. 2009.

“Second Amendment to the United States Constitution -.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web. 16 Nov. 2009.

No responses yet

Nov 16 2009

Profile Image of leslie01pd2010

Grades? Or is it the learning experience?

Filed under Uncategorized

dony0500rigrades_gradesMarks, Results, GRADES! When I am at school, everyday I would come across some student talking about their grades or test results. However, it is rare to hear someone talk about the wonderful learning experience they had. This makes me wonder: does the actual learning experience matter? Or does our grades indicates the success of our future? Before I go into a deeper analysis of this topic, it is crucial to define the following terms: grades and learning experience. According to Merriam-Webster, grades can be defined as “a position in a scale of ranks or qualities”.  In order words, grades represent the student’s place amongst other students. Although I am aware of the other possible definitions and representation of grades; but for the purpose of this post, I will be using this definition and the American grade system, Grade Point Average, as the central meaning of grades. This is because I am biased due to my nine years of education in an American international school; therefore, my views on this matter might be limited. Learning experience is the events and activities from which we learn from experience (McCluskey). However, the source of the definition is from an article that is somewhat informal because I couldn’t find a formal article with the definition of learning experience in it. Thus, I decided to use a stipulative definition based on McCluskey’s definition. Learning experience is a broader concept that takes into account of morals, interaction with others, as well as academics. Both grades and learning experience is important; although, which one should students emphasize?

Many might argue that grades should be emphasized because they are the “keys to university achievement” (Attwood). However, some might argue that nowadays universities also focus on extra-curricular activities such as sport, art, and music. But from my experience, I would think that statement is somewhat limited. This is because during my research for universities, most of them still highly emphasize grades by setting high minimum requirements. Even so, this might be limited to only the universities I was researching, but I think this is still rather relevant because university representatives also emphasized minimum requirements. Also, my experience wouldn’t necessary represent everyone’s experience. Therefore, to an extent, grades are important as they can potentially indicate our future success in higher education, which will provide us with the foundations for our career.

On the contrary, other might argue that the learning experience is more important because it also takes into consideration of morals and how we act with others. Morals can be divided into harm, fairness, loyalty, respect, and purity (Haidt). The knowledge area of moral would highly emphasize learning experience because learning experience can form our personality and what we are. Yet, some people might not see this as that important because this might not necessary be needed for success in university. Hence, should the learning experience still be emphasized? I personally think yes because our morals and our personality can still help us find success in other areas like communicating with others.

However, which one should be emphasized all comes down to what you see as more important: success in university and earning large amounts of money in the future or being able to interact and communicate with others? Anyhow, it is important to note that I am not claiming that if you get good grades it means that you are not good at communication with others. I am just listing two extremes to get you guys to think what is more important? So what do you think: grades or learning experience?

Work Cited

Attwood, Rebecca. “School grades are key to university achievement.”

Time Higher Education (2008): n. pag. Web. 6 Nov 2009.


“grade.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009.

Merriam-Webster Online. 6 November 2009

Haidt, Jonathan. “Moral Foundations”.

University of Virginia. 6 June 2008


McCluskey, Alan. “Tracking Out Learning Experience”.

Life Learning. 6 June 2008


No responses yet

Nov 16 2009

Profile Image of charles01pd2010

I Love You, But I’d Also Love To See You Crash and Burn

Filed under Uncategorized

Have you ever wondered why you get a warm, tingly feeling whenever you see the villain at the end of a movie dies/gets arrested/gets eaten by sharks?

Well there’s an explanation for it! The German’s call it Schadenfreude and the English; well they call it Schadenfreude as well. Merriam-Webster defines Schadenfreude as “enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others” and this phenomenon is one that I personally have experienced, continue to experience on a daily to weekly basis and would now like to analyze through the lens of a TOK student.

From the area of knowledge of science, Schadenfreude is a verified phenomenon. It has actually been captured on an fMRI scan in a study led by Japanese scientist Hidekiko Takahashi in which 19 participants read a passage about a wealthy, affluent person, which was meant to incite feelings of envy. He then had them read a passage about that same persons down fall and performed an fMRI scan and found that all of them had heightened activity in the ventral striatum, the portion of the brain which contains the rewards system. Although several scientists reject the studies scientific merit since there is activity in the ventral striatum for almost all processes, most accept that the heightened activity is significant in establishing the existence of the phenomenon. Thus, we can conclude that from a scientific area of knowledge, Schadenfreude is a well-founded psychological phenomenon


Bumbling fool! My horns laugh at your misfortune!

So, to some extent, we are able to verify this phenomenon through a scientific area of knowledge, however, what about the ethics of it all? Is it morally “correct” to rejoice in the misfortune of others? For this, let’s turn to television. The Three Stooges were one of the most popular and well-known comedy acts of the mid-20th century and continue to be widely recognized for their physical humor. Their humor was based largely on physical harm to themselves and to each other and for some reason, us as a society had embraced them as comic geniuses and even now their lasting stamp on popular culture is still present. We outwardly express out joy at watching Curly tumble down a set of steps vaguely as humor, however could it be that watching a stranger tumble down a step of stairs or slip on a banana peel incites a more insidious part of our nature and causes this reaction of happiness? And if so, should we still continue watching these shows knowing that it’s because we delight in pain and misfortune?

So what does this mean for us as a society? Are we all sadistic people that revel in the pain of those that we envy or even sometimes don’t know? Fortunately, no. While we do experience some pleasure in the misfortune of others, we should also consider from an emotional way of knowing that we as humans experience different feelings associated with misfortune such as compassion and pity and thus the feelings of schadenfreude are merely one facet of human feeling. The phenomenon of schadenfreude raises many interesting issues.  For example, is it something in our nature that makes us this way or is it society that has brought us up this way? Through the ways of emotion, science, and morality, we can see that this relatively simple phenomenon branches into various knowledge issues and extends into far more complicated moral and psychological/scientific  and isn’t strictly confined within out own personal lives

Works Cited

Begley, Sharon. “Your Brain on Schadenfreude.” Newsweek. 12 Feb. 2009. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <>.

“Schadenfreude.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009.Merriam-Webster Online. 16 November 2009 <>

“The Three Stooges.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 12 Nov. 2009. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. <>.

No responses yet