Reflection Essay

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The perspectives program has played a crucial role in my development as an individual and as part of society. It has given me the means to critically question my cultural influences and has thereby enabled me to strive towards excellence both in terms of becoming a better citizen, capable of contributing to a society of publics, as well as becoming a better human, by seeking excellence through friendship. Culture can be curse and redemption at once. Growing up in western society we passively gorge ourselves on the ideas of the great thinkers of our past taking their thoughts for granted. The legacy of few men becomes generalized to cultural norms. With little or no understanding we spew forth catchphrases and consider ourselves wise for knowing…show more content…
I came to Boston College well familiar with the forms of many shadows and believing to be great at distinguishing and recognizing them. Some I even arrogantly believed to be of my own origin. I had already been exposed to the ideas of many thinkers that I studied in my four years of “doing good and avoiding evil” through my cultural experience, but merely in a lesser shadow form. Although I was raised without religion and even believed myself to be an atheist, my ethical sensitivities were formed by my home life to be essentially eudemonistic. Through my formal scientific and economic education and my exposure to consumerism and an ever growing liberal contingent in Germany I was familiarized with the ideas of the enlightenment and liberalism. I was exposed to Rousseauean, Kantian and Marxian ideas by my ethical and political education and my friend group, who for the most part were conditioned by their cultural environment to be politically quite socially oriented. I also lived with the family of a friend of mine for two years, who have been fighting for a more social Germany for three generations now, despite their experience with the failed revolution of the proletariat in Russia (the grandfather spent more than ten years in as a prisoner of war, first in a Nazi labor camp for being a communist, and later in a Russian one for being a German).…show more content…
The notion that others can only gain at my cost is detrimental to the formation of true friendships. Instead what is formed are temporary bonds of utility and pleasure for the most part void of any care for the excellence of the friends. This lack of friendships, both political and personal is part of a vicious cycle of lack of caring. The isolation and competition brought about by capitalist culture makes the formation of friendships more difficult, while a lack of friendship promotes a narcissistic way of thinking that reinforces the capitalist culture. As Schall implies in his essay on Aristotle and friendship, even a virtuous life lived without sharing one’s virtues with others through friendship loses meaning. People alienated, due to their capitalist culture of narcissism despair at the meaninglessness of solitude, and turn to consumption in order to distract themselves from the
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