討論會行事曆

December 2016
【12/2 (五) Hygge
【12/9 (五) 8pm 思‧英語討論會】
【12/23 (五) 8pm 思‧英語討論會】
【12/30 (五) 8pm 思‧英語討論會】

January 2017
【1/6 (五) 8pm 思‧英語討論會】
【1/13 (五) 8pm 思‧英語討論會】
【1/20 (五) 8pm 思‧英語討論會】

February 2017
【2/3 (五) 8pm 思‧英語討論會】

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Hygge


So, coming across this article about hygge (please don't ask me how to pronounce it, I really don't know) in The Guardian suddenly brought up a lot of questions for me. Taiwan is moving from being a deeply homogenous society to dealing with what is now termed "New Taiwanese" (新台灣人). Despite being a society of immigrants, I believe Taiwan's particular experiences with being colonised/governed by outside powers created a strong singular social identity, which is now being challenged as Taiwan has been opening up to the wider world and new kinds of immigrants arrive.

What does this have to do with hygge? Well as I understand it, Denmark is a highly homogenous society with high levels of social welfare (and the taxes to support it!) that is now experiencing a lot of immigration. So there are some parallels with Taiwan that we could explore to illuminate our own situation.


Here are the questions that came to me as I was reading the article:
What’s Taiwan’s version of hygge?
What basic assumptions of how life should be are there in Taiwan? What would you name as the core good-life values in Taiwan?

What values are used as social parameters/control in Taiwan?
Do the core good-life values mentioned about ever also function as a form of social control?

Can society only when homogenous? Can common social values exist in a heterogenous society? Are the only happy societies closed societies?
If all society’s member’s basic needs are covered, would that promote or break down social togetherness?


What is Hygge?
…hands cupping warm mugs; bicycles leaning against walls; sheepskin rugs thrown over chairs; candles and bonfires; summer picnics; trays of fresh-baked buns. To look at them is to long for that life, that warmth, that peace, that stability – for that idealised, Instagrammable Denmark of the imagination.

“For me it’s a lot about family. Being together. Candles. It’s never about being posh, about cakes from the ‘right’ place. It’s cake you baked yourself. It’s a feeling. It’s something that has meaning in itself, it’s not a means to becoming a better person, like doing exercise. I associate it with being a child, the smell of my mother cooking onions in the next room. The smell of the Christmas tree.”

Over lunch the following day, Davidsen-Nielsen and her colleague, media commentator Lasse Jensen, debated the meaning of hygge. “Intellectualism is not hygge,” said Davidsen-Nielsen. “Severe debates on philosophy and ideas – that’s not very hyggelig. Alcohol, sugar and fat are the three key ingredients of hygge.” He added: “It used to be beer and aquavit, now it’s wine.” She said, “There’s something about socks and hygge.” He added, “Handknitted socks.”

Rethinking Infidelity

Esther Perel asks so many good questions in this TED talk. Also, it's a very good example of storytelling! She gets her points across with humour and clarity. Watch!




Why do we cheat?
Why do happy people cheat?
When we say "infidelity," what exactly do we mean?

Narcissism and the American Election

Let's talk narcissism, or more specifically, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). This is a little-understood pattern of behaviour that can really mess up relationships or groups, and I think it's worth investigating. But, what has this to do with the American Election, you ask? Well, I feel that our Republican Candidate shows strong signs of having NPD.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a serious condition which affects an estimated 1% of the population. Narcissism is characterized by an extreme self-interest and promotion with an accompanying lack of concern for the needs of others.

People with NPD show a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
3. believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
4. requires excessive admiration
5. has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
6. is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
7. lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
8. is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Pyramid of Needs

We’ve talked about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs before. It’s a theory that in order to actualise our selves, or become fully-alive human beings, we need to satisfy several levels of needs.

So there’s an online cartoon that I read regularly, and a few months ago they posted this:

www.threepanelsoul.com/comic/needs


And then again recently they posted this:
www.threepanelsoul.com/comic/progress-continues-apace

Universal Basic Income

So Odinsblog on tumblr imagined what it might be like if every person in their country had a guaranteed basic income (UBI). I would like to discuss how this might work in Taiwan, and what some of the numbers might look like, i.e., how much should the UBI actually be, how would that affect taxes and corporations and general economic issues, and also personal life. Haha probably we'll only get to the personal life stuff, but let's talk about UBI!

Update: Below the original story I added some more information points from other news sources.

Odinsblog: Can you imagine the changes to the workforce and how we treated workers if no one HAD to work to survive?
Like often I see these complaints about a universal basic income that are like “well then no one would work!” and I think there are lots of people motivated to have more money even when they have enough to get by, but I also I think, that’s kind of true, if regular employment looked and functioned the way it does now.

But with UBI if both employers and society wanted people in certain jobs those jobs would have to offer more than just “you need us to survive”. They’d have to offer satisfaction and community and purpose.

Male Friendships and the Culture of Toxic Masculinity

Last week we got into a side discussion on the differences between male and female friendship. I looked into English media on the topic and quickly found a lot of complaints on what makes male-male frienship difficult. American culture is particularly hard on men IMO, but how about Taiwanese culture? How does male friendship work in Taiwan culture?

An American cultural contempt for male friendship
The contempt for male friendship is a cultural failure on an epic scale. That contempt is everywhere. The friendships between women in popular culture are the source and choicest fruit of their maturity. At the end of Frances Ha, Frances glimpses her old friend across a crowded room. "Who are you making eyes at?" somebody asks. "That's Sophie. She's my best friend." …
For men, it's just the opposite. Male friendship on any given sitcom, is a retreat into thoughtlessness, crudity. The Big Lebowski hilariously painted male friendship as an extended and colossal fuckup. The Hangover movies turned it into a series of epic degradations. But … the greatest buddy movie of them all is Dumb and Dumber. Men get together onscreen to be idiots with one another.
To mature as a female person is to mature into female friendships. To mature as a male person is to mature out of male friendships.

The Limits of Relationships

Limits are boundaries. A boundary is a marker between two different states of being.
Tonight we're going to explore the boundaries of relationships.


There's one kind of boundary, between the the classifications of the kind of relationship a person has with us, for example, what's the difference between a lover, a girlfriend/boyfriend, or a wife/husband? That one's easier to answer than asking what's the difference between a casual friend, a good friend, and a best friend, right? That one's a lot harder to define, but why?


There's another kind of boundary, which has something to do with how you like to live your life, and the ways in which you feel comfortable doing things and being with people. On a broader level these boundaries could be created by morals or ideals, culture or social convention, but on a personal level they could also be created by beliefs or feelings, or even learned behaviours.

Sometimes a boundary is invisible to our own selves until someone crosses it; suddenly you know it's there, and it's real! Also when someone does push that boundary, your perception of them changes, and maybe your perception of yourself changes, too.


What makes you see a person differently...

...in a good way. Do you have any stories about a person showing something to you about themselves and afterwards you like them a whole lot more?

...in a bad way. Do you have any stories about a person who crossed a line with you and you couldn't think of them the same way after that?


Let’s Talk Colonization

It could be argued that Taiwan's culture today is a product of many years of colonization. This book “How Taiwan Became Chinese” discusses how Taiwan’s initial colonization was by the Dutch, using Chinese settlers. This book’s introduction also argues that while the European powers were colonizers, China was not. However for much of its thousands of years of empire, China used what in English is called a vassal-state system.

So let’s talk colonization. Is there a material difference between colonies and vassal-states? Is cultural expansion and takeover an inevitable part of globalization? Is globalization under capitalism any different than globalization under empire?

The Wikipedia article argues that Chinese expansionism over the centuries, or “The traditional Chinese international structure” was “different from many other systems developed in other parts of the world.” So Chinese expansionism was different than European expansionism because “it was premised on the belief that China was the cultural center of the world and that foreigners were "less civilized" or "barbarians.”” This sentence entirely ignores the fact that Europaen expansionism was predicated on exactly the same belief. I wonder if any expansionism is not based on the belief in the originating culture’s superiority?

These are just some of the questions these articles brought up for me. What questions do they bring up for you? Let’s talk about it on Friday :DD


Which shapes your values more, your nationality or your profession?

Do people from the same country operate the same at work?
Researchers and businesses have often operated under the idea that work-related cultural values are defined by country -- just think of stereotypes about countries that are known to have hard workers or are team-oriented. A new study finds that nationality is actually a bad proxy for work-related cultural values, and points to other groupings -- such as occupation -- as more reliable indicators.


Issues to look at regarding this issue
To examine the issue, the researchers looked at data from 558 studies on work-related values. The studies covered 32 countries from around the world, including the United States, Brazil, France, South Africa and China.

Specifically, the researchers evaluated variation, both within each country and between countries, on four work-related cultural values:

Individualism, which measures the extent to which a society places emphasis on individuals as opposed to groups;
Power distance, which measures the importance of status and hierarchy in work settings;
Uncertainty avoidance, which measures the extent to which cultures are willing to accept ambiguity or the unknown; and
Quantity versus quality of life, which measures emphasis on competition and material wealth versus emphasis on societal welfare and well-being.

The researchers found that approximately 80 percent of variation in these values was within countries. For example, at the low end, only 16.6 percent of the variation on individualism was between countries -- 83.4 percent of the variability was within countries. At the high end, 20.8 percent of variation on power distance was between countries -- which still left 79.2 percent of the variability within countries.