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Confessions: How can we talk about character and ethics?

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The Oklahoma County Courthouse facade,  facing Park Avenue in  Oklahoma City, Okla.  Several role plays in the new prison curriculum lacked realism, she said . And she wanted to know how I got a job writing character-training material for prisoners. It was family day  for the faith and character pods at the Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ Mabel Basset Correctional Center. She had a tear tattooed in the corner of her eye, and I had a feeling her...balogna...meter was finely tuned. The DOC had contracted with my then employer, Character First, to see whether character-based programming could―in connection with anger-management, cognitive behavior change, and other programming―change the culture for long-term prisoners. Apparently it was obvious I didn't have much experience in prison. But her question triggered two questions in my mind. First, on what basis can we talk about ethics? Because we talked about various character qualities―aspects of personal integrity―we had to giv

Confessions: Poetic Intuition

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" Portrait of RenĂ© Descartes ," By Jan Baptist Weenix . Public Domain. Respect for Descartes notwithstanding, “I think; therefore, I am,” is an odd statement. Rocks don't think...as far as we know...but anyone who has had one in a shoe knows rocks exist, even though they don't think. If I understand, Descartes began his search for truth by rejecting things he found occasion to doubt. He observed the senses might be deceived, and the body is mostly perceived by the senses. The thing he could not doubt was his mind. We realize we are because we can think. But human thought depends on human bodies for existence. And none of us thought about existing...before it happened to us. There are different ways of discussing existence, in science and art for example. There are some things more true or more to the essence of things, but there are only real things. Unreal things are theories or constructions or jokes that depend on some reference to what's real in order to hav