Werner Herzog’s ‘Into the Abyss’

Conversations with death row inmate Michael Perry and those affected by his crime serve as an examination of why people – and the state – kill (IMDB).

In class we talked about Werner Herzog’s Into the Abyss. The discussion questions are below if you click on the image.

into the abyss

For your review it would be great if you engage with the big questions the film poses rather than just critique the methods/techniques used in its production. In your answer you might like to include:

  • Your opinion(s) about the legitimacy of capital punishment
  • Your reasons for it
  • Some arguments and points made by different philosophers (especially Bentham and Kant)
  • Some mention of the case of Carla Faye that Captain Allan mentions
  • Some religious view points
  • A detailed and reasoned explanation as to which opinions you agree/disagree with and exactly why

The following might help:

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Kingdom of Heaven Challenge Year 3

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Jesus had this massive idea to try and explain to people. To help them get it he gave lots of pictures. Try and work out what you think the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ really is…

To post your paragraph click on ‘leave a reply’ below. Just put your initials in the name box, your school email (it won’t come up) and leave the web page blank, then paste your answer from word or pages… Try and make your answer the very best you can, it will be a major part of your final S2 report…

Thank You :)

End of term Buddhism task…

Hello, heard two people the other day arguing about whether these Kula Shaker songs from like 1996 were ‘Buddhisty’… You’re all experts… tell me what you think… usual story; make sure you explain why you think what you think…

At The Moment That You Wake From Sleeping
And You Know Its All A Dream,
Well The Truth May Come In Strange Disguises
Never Knowing What It Means.


Hidden in the misty forest that desire send
Mesmerised like fireflys falling through a flame

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring – your reviews 2013!

In the midst of the Korean wilderness, a Buddhist master patiently raises a young boy to grow up in wisdom and compassion, through experience and endless exercises. Once the pupil discovers his sexual lust, he seems lost to contemplative life and follows his first love, but soon fails to adapt to the modern world, gets in jail for a crime of passion and returns to the master in search of spiritual redemption and reconciliation with karma, at a high price of physical catharsis… (IMDB)

Click on the speech bubble (above and right) to paste in your review. Same rules as usual: use your school email and put initials for your name (unless you want your post to be what comes up when people google you)…

A really good revision question…

Every so often i get a really good question emailed to me… Here’s the latest… Hope it helps and pleas keep them coming….(james@ibphilosophy.org)

You know the five skhandas are they there the Buddha’s way of proving there is no self and that the the five skandas are things which people argue make you who you are and the Buddha is saying that is rubbish in his own holy buddhist way?

And here’s the reply:

Ye you’ve nailed it. The skhandas are five of the things that the Buddha thought most people wud say make as the same over time. But all five are IMPERMANENT and so cannot be the thing in me that’s the same today and tomorrow. Because of this, he thinks that people who believe in a permanent self have got it wrong.

The worst thing about this is that belief in the self leads to some pretty strange behaviour and usually increased DUKKHA suffering. Hatred, greed and delusion usually all stem from not just believing in a self but that ‘I’ am better/more deserving of things than other people.

Hope your having a good weekend, in the quiz the other day you knew loads so you’ll be totally fine…

See ya Monday

What was the BIG BANG? 6KU (Int 2 / Higher RMPS)

The Big Bang: What was it? When was it? Why do so many of us believe in it?

You need to answer this as if it was an 6 mark question and be confident that you are going to get full marks. Expect to talk about Hydrogen atoms, gravity, cooling and gases. Obviously you need to give more information than this poster.

Some Euthanasia Definitions

For those of you all who have prelims coming up and are starting to notice that there is a lot of jargon in the medical ethics section. Quite often there are questions that require you to understand one of these terms (or more). If you don’t know what they mean, you’ll really struggle – so flashcards are the order of the day….

Euthanasia – a person kills another or allows her to die for her own benefit

Active Euthanasia – a person does something that intentionally results in the others death

Passive Euthanasia – a person allows the other to die, even though keeping them alive is a possibility that is open. this usually involve withholding a treatment or food.

Voluntary Euthanasia – euthanasia where the person dying is able to, and does, express his wish to die

Non-voluntary Euthanasia – euthanasia where the patient is not able to express a preference (even if it may seem fairly obvious)

Involuntary Euthanasia – the death of the person is against their compentent wishes, this is usually where people mention the Nazis’ use of the word ‘euthanasia’. There are, however, cases where it is arguable that euthanasia against the person’s wishes, may be in their best interest. We usually use ‘Involuntary Euthanasia’ in this sense.

Suicide – someone intentionally kills themselves

Assisted Suicide – one person helps another to kill themselves (when they wish it)

Physician Assisted Suicide -as above, where the agent is a doctor.

The idea to write these down in one place came from ‘The Very Short Introduction to Medical Ethics’. It has a really good chapter on Euthanasia that should be useful for revision… It could have been written for Higher/Int 2 RMPS.

Today’s Int 2 RMPS Prelim Revision Lunch

Today we had a revision lunch for int 2 rmps students about to sit their prelims after the holiday. It was focussed on the Buddhism section of the course and we talked about the eightfold path, meditation and the unit as a whole…

First of all I gave you the page numbers and questions (from the Joe Walker book Buddhism) to practice on your weak areas:

Then we looked at my (purposely incomplete) mindmap of the whole unit:

And the talked quickly through an easy way to remember the eightfold path…

and meditation:

Click on any of the images above to get the files….

Cheers Cheers…

The Case for God? – BBC Documentary

With religion coming under increasing attack from atheists and sceptics, The Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, goes into the lion’s den, putting his faith publicly on the line by debating with some of the sharpest critics of his faith. Howard Jacobson believes ritual demeans religion, Alain de Botton doubts that any one faith has the truth, Professor Colin Blakemore thinks science makes religion redundant, and Professor Lisa Jardine questions why God allows evil and suffering in this world (BBC).

China arrests after kidney sold for iPad (BBC reports)

Five people have been arrested in southern China after a teenager sold his kidney so he could buy an iPhone and iPad, state media have reported.

Those detained include the surgeon who removed the kidney from the boy in April last year.

State-run Xinhua news agency says the group received around $35,000 (£22,000) for the transplant.

The student is said to be suffering renal failure, according to prosecutors in Hunan province quoted by Xinhua.

Only identified by his surname Wang, he is said to have received about $3,000 for his kidney.

The 17-year-old was reportedly recruited for the illegal trade through an online chatroom.

Organ shortage
The case was discovered when his mother noticed the new gadgets; when asked where he got the money, he admitted selling a kidney.

The group behind the operation have been charged with causing intentional injury and illegal organ trading.

While Apple iPhones and iPads are very popular in China, they are priced beyond the reach of many urban workers.

And there is a constant shortage of organ donors.

Official figures from the health ministry show that about 1.5 million people need transplants, but only 10,000 are performed annually.

Executed prisoners have been often used as a source of organs, but last month China vowed to phase this out over the next five years. (BBC WEBSITE)