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Notes on video lecture:
Laozi and The Desires of the Eye
Choose from these words to fill the blanks below:
differ, purchase, state, basic, Thoreau, appreciating, products, salary, prosperity, belly, ramping, contentment, artificial, condos, sophisticated, negative, have, starving, insatiable, dress, nice, reactions, Daodejing, snapping, relative, rank, Escalade, paralyzed, North, Confucian, content, advertising, socialization, nature, exacerbating, important, adapt, hedonistic, fleeting, monkeys, Spacey, lifestyle, point, nature, partake, life, foods, GDP, normative, supermarket, slacker, bump, fashion, endless, good
the desires of the           
simple desires which constitute our basic             
few and finite
the desires of the eye
the things you can see that are far away that you don't         
that's the problem with them: they aren't things that are here that we are                          with our belly
created by society and                           
they are infinite
society can keep churning out new things that we might want
they are                     
differences
where the desires of the belly are few and finite
the desires of the eye are infinite
desires of belly satisfy our basic nature
desires of the eye lead us away from our nature
desire of the eye for Laozi
sophisticated tastes that                    culture is trying to impose on the population
taste for music
appreciation of fine           
etiquette
how to sit properly
how to            the right way
Laozi feels that developing                            tastes is a terrible idea
the desires of the eye in modern                       
has a tendency to create                new desires
endless new things to chase
distorts our idea of what it is we need to be                and happy
the most obvious example fo this is SUVs
this phenomenon in            America of people driving these SUVs
the got bigger and bigger
there was the                  and that wasn't big enough so they had the Hummer
why are people driving these vehicles?
often the furthest off roads they get is the                       
it's a good example of a                up of what you think you need
you see this behind any kind of lifestyle marketing
luxury items
luxury             
luxury hotels
sold by convincing people that there is a new way of being that we are not yet experiencing yet but we could be
you see these people in the advertisements that kind of look like you but they're better looking and happier
so whatever you're doing is not quite enough
but it's right around the corner
if you could just purchase this condo
you will then have this new                    which is better than the one you have now
the problem is, once you get this lifestyle, there will be another lifestyle that is slightly better which you can also                 
modern consumerism
corporations want to sell you new                 
they don't want you to be happy with the product you have
we are always chasing the next               
the                    and the primitivist movement
a reaction against this consumerist problem
resonates later attempts to oppose capitalism, consumerism and large economies
Henry David               
had similar insights
"The head monkey at Paris puts on a traveler's cap, and all the                in America do the same."
there is a human thirst for new patterns
corporations are driving this and making money off of our need for this
we have perfectly          clothes and yet we go clothes shopping
Laozi's solution to the constant creation of                      needs
"know the contentment of                       "
know to be content with what you have
but this depends on having simple              which does not always need the newest thing
avoid the                      treadmill
the need to have new things is probably built into human psychology
pleasures are                 
people who win the lottery
had an immediate          in happiness, they revert back to thei baseline happiness level
the same is true for                  events
you eventually return to the            of happiness you previously had
probably has to do with a phenomenon called adaptation
when we are exposed to a stimulus, at a certain point we stop noticing it
if we didn't have this, we would be                    by too much information
a feature of animal sensory systems so that we can note minute changes
you don't want to be constantly focusing on all the leaves moving and all the wind blowing
you want to notice a twig                 
this extends to hedonistic pleasure
we become used to a certain amount of pleasure and well-being until it becomes merely background information and we look for particular points where we don't have certain pleasures and well-being and concern ourselves with getting more
the emotional                    to value in the world seem to follow a similar trajectory
this also explains things called the        puzzle
within a society, typically the richer you get the happier you get, up to a certain           
it tends to level out once you get your            needs met
but if you have a society with a very high GDP and a very low GDP, the happiness levels tend to not              that much
it seems to be that people            to their level of material wealth
you have a warm place to live and food on your place
when you have been                  this is an amazing thing, your happiness levels spike
then you adapt to it an it just becomes part of your         
you get used to having food on the table
the you want really          food on the table
happiness as keeping up
it seems to be the case that absolute levels of pleasure and comfort and well-being as                  levels
in terms of happiness, whatever you make as a              is not quite as important as what my salary is relative to my neighbors
relative wealth seems more                    than absolute wealth
people seem more sensitive to          among other than to absolute status
we don't care so much about absolute                      but where we are in the pecking order
this characteristics of humans seems to make sense at an evolutionary level
if you are going design animals that fight to survive, you probably want to design into them the desire to find it important where they fit in compared to other animals
you would want to design animals to be less like the                Jeff "the Dude" Lobowski
and more like the Kevin              character in House of Cards, never satisfied with where he ranks among other people and is always scheming about the next person he is going to knock off
in this way the Laozian concept of the desires of the eye being a corruption of human nature is problematic as an accurate description of human beings
so when Laozian is talking about the dangers of the desires of the eye, it makes more sense to understand this as a                    claim than an accurate description of how human beings actually are
Laozi, or the authors of the Daodejing, seemed to be aware that it was a natural tendency to desire too much
but the Confucians were                          it
the advice of Laozi is to retreat and not               

Spelling Corrections:

conneseurconnoisseur

Ideas and Concepts:

The philosophy of Laozi and modern advertising, via this morning's Ancient Chinese philosophy class:

"The desires of the eye for Laozi were those sophisticated tastes that Confucian culture was trying to impose on society, e.g. tastes for music, the arts, appreciation of fine foods, and an obsession with etiquette such as how to sit properly, how to dress the right way, etc. These created desires which Laozi felt were unnatural and made humans want to attain unnatural goals.

In today's consumer societies, the desires of the eye have advanced beyond those of Confucian society, as one sees in modern advertising which creates in us endless new desires, endless new things to chase, distorting our idea of what it is we need to be content and happy.

The most obvious example of this are SUVs:this phenomenon in North America of people driving these huge off-road, rugged vehicles often merely for short urban or suburban trips, to the store and back, or to work and back. Over the years they got bigger and bigger. There was the Escalade and that wasn't big enough so they had the Hummer. It's a good example of a ramping up of what you think you need.

You see this behind any kind of lifestyle marketing:luxury items, luxury condos, and luxury hotels, sold through convincing people that there is a new way of being that they are not yet experiencing yet but that they could experience if they would just purchase a particular product or service. You see people in the advertisements that kind of look like you but are better looking and happier than you are and it is implied that whatever you're doing is not quite enough, but the solution is right around the corner. If you could just purchase this particular condo or stay at this particular hotel, you would then have this new lifestyle which is better than the one you have now.

The problem is, and this is Laozi's critique of the desires of the eye, once you get this lifestyle, there will be another lifestyle that is slightly better which you could also achieve if you would just purchase another particular product or service. And you set yourself on a path of endless desires, attaining a state of always wanting more than you have, and not being satisfied with what you do have."
Consumerist vocabulary via this afternoon's Ancient Chinese Philosophy class: "Hedonic adaptation is the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes. According to this theory, as a person makes more money, expectations and desires rise in tandem, which results in no permanent gain in happiness. During the late 1990s, the concept was modified by Michael Eysenck, a British psychologist, to become the current "hedonic treadmill theory" which compares the pursuit of happiness to a person on a treadmill, who has to keep walking just to stay in the same place. This concept dates back to such writers as St. Augustine, cited in Robert Burton's 1621 Anatomy of Melancholy:"A true saying it is, Desire hath no rest, is infinite in itself, endless, and as one calls it, a perpetual rack, or horse-mill."
Economic concept learned via this morning's Ancient Chinese Philosophy class: "GDP puzzle, n. a phenomenon which is based on the fact that typically within a society, the wealthier you get, the happier you get. This is true up to a certain point, as it tends to level out once you get your basic needs met. The puzzle is that when you compare two societies, one with a very high GDP and one with a very low GDP, the absolute happiness levels tend to not differ by very much. It seems that people have a natural tendency to adapt to their level of material wealth and assign it a relative value within the society, e.g. after you and your family has been homeless and starving, when you finally have a warm place to live and food on your plate, you experience a spike in happiness. But then you adapt to this level of happiness and it just becomes part of your life. You get used to having food on the table, and you begin to want really nice food on the table and to want things you didn't have before, and therefore become less-than-happy until you get that fancy food on the table, or that flat-screen TV, or that second garage, or that remodeled house."
Laozian concepts as normative, not descriptive, via this morning's Ancient Chinese Philosophy class:

"It seems to be the case that absolute levels of pleasure, comfort and well-being are less important than relative levels. For instance, in terms of being happy, whatever you make as a salary is not as important as what your salary is relative to your neighbors' salary. Relative wealth seems more important than absolute wealth. People seem more sensitive to rank than to absolute status, i.e. we don't care so much about absolute prosperity as we do about our relative pecking order.

This characteristic of humans seems to make sense at an evolutionary level. If you were going to design animals that fight to survive, you probably want to design into them the desire to find it important where they fit in compared to other animals of their species. You would want to design animals to be less like the slacker Jeff "the Dude" Lobowski and more like the Kevin Spacey character in House of Cards, never satisfied with where he ranks among other people and is always scheming about the next person he is going to knock off.

In this way the Laozian concept of the desires of the eye being a corruption of human nature is problematic as it does not seem to be an accurate description of what human beings actually find important at a primary level. So when Laozi is talking about the dangers of the desires of the eye, it makes more sense to understand this as a normative claim than an accurate description of how human beings actually behave."
The Definition of Religion
Mind/Body Dualism and Cognitive Control
Deontology, Utilitarianism, and Virtue Ethics
Wu-Wei, Dao, Tien and De
The Shang Dynasty (1554-1045 BC)
The Beginnings of Written Chinese History
Eastern Holistic Thinking and the Paradox of Virtue
The Golden Age of the Western Zhou (1046–771 BCE)
Philosophical and Conceptual Innovations in Zhou Thought
Confucius and the Analects
Confucius: I Transmit, I Do Not Innovate
Confucius' Use of Ritual as a Tool
Confucius' View on Learning vs. The Enlightenment
Confucius and Holistic Education
Confucius and the Art of Self-Cultivation
At Home in Virtue
Non-Coercive Comportment, Virtue, and Charisma of the Zhou
The Transition to Becoming Sincere
The Primitivists in the Analects
Laozi and the Daodejing
Laozi: Stop the Journey and Return Home
Laozi and The Desires of the Eye
Laozi: He Who Speaks Does Not Know
The Concept of Reversion
Laozi on Shutting Down the Prefrontal Cortex
The Guodian Laozi
Mozi and Materialist State Consequentialism
Mozi's Idea of Ideological Unity
Mozi's Doctrine of Impartial Caring
Mozi's Anti-Confucian Chapters
Mozi's Religious Fundamentalism and Organized Activism
The Language Crisis in the Warring States Period
Yang Zhu and Mid-Warring States' Focus on the Body