On Why These Happen

My roomate, Kyle, proposed the following situations to me, and asked why they don’t occur:
1) A light turns yellow, and a car should slow down. Instead, the person speeds up or continues driving because he or she thinks he or she can make the light before it turns red. The driver is unable to do so, and continues through the intersection, through a red light. On the other hand, rarely does anyone stop, let the cars pass, and then move through the light. In both cases, you break the law. The net result is breaking the law.
2) It is normal to stay up late and watch movies, but rarely does one ever get up early to watch movies. In both cases, the actor is up at “abnormal” hours. The net result is breaking the body’s homeostasis to watch a film.

I’m going to take an Aquinasian approach to this.

I answer that, The proposed situations are only odd since we commonly view them from outside of the situation. Surely, anyone in the midst of these scenarios would most likely carry out what is usually executed. That is, a driver will most likely attempt to speed through a yellow, but never leave when it is red; and that one will remain into the early hours of the morning to watch a film, but never wake up early with the intent to start a session. When we divorce ourselves from the situation, we drastically examine each scenario out of its context. In the scenario’s context, we may discover natural comforts which cause us to do what is most likely done.

Reply to scenario 1. It is obviously illegal to speed through a yellow or to proceed when it is red. However, a driver is in his or her confidence when gauging whether it is safer to stop in response to a yellow, or to speed to preserve the welfare of the drivers behind. Those in charge of street lights are cognizant of these tendencies; there is a short respite between a side changing red, and the other to green. Yet, since Kyle has proposed that we can break the law either way, let us examine why it is not. In the first, we see that the driver is in motion. In the second, we see that the driver has stopped. When the driver is in motion, they possess a rationale to excuse their illegal deed. When the driver is halted, they possess no rationale to excuse their illegal deed; their only reason is because they chose to break the law and run the red. It is a matter of comfort and confidence.

Reply to scenario 2. Clearly, humans enjoy a screening when it is closer to night; that is explanation for the existence of matinees and more showings at night at the cinema. However, Kyle proposes that is equivalent to stay up late to watch a movie as it is to get up early to watch one. Let us examine this as we did the first, since the scenario is, once again, a matter of comfort. In the first, the persons remain awake to watch a film. In the second, the persons must awake to watch the film. Here it is evident that in the first scenario, nothing needs to be done besides remaining awake. In the second scenario, considerable effort must  be exerted in order to achieve the activity. Therefore, we can conclude that, on the basis of effort, it is easier to stay awake and watch a film later at night than it is to rouse oneself from a deep slumber. Conclusively, it is a matter of comfort. Humans will stay up late to watch a movie because it is more comfortable than waking up to watch one.

Departing from this Aquinasian approach, let me share a thought. We like to be comfortable. Comfort breeds unoriginality. Never stay comfortable because then you will encounter things people will never have ventured into because they remain comfortable. If you want to discover new things, create new things, and change the old, you might begin by running reds and getting up early to watch movies. I wouldn’t necessarily endorse those two examples, but to each own, his own.

This is, of course, a very silly entry, but I suppose it has elicited some truth. I did this thought experiment in lieu of studying for my Biochemistry exam. I have also started a discourse on the meaning of life, if such exists, during my Biochemistry lecture. It sure beats hearing jargon about how old the Earth is and how many base pairs exist in E. Coli. ((When will such information ever be relevant? And how is either directly relevant to the study of Biochemistry?))

1 comment
  1. kyle said:

    Great analysis, sir. It seems that humans will, in general, ALWAYS follow the path of least resistance. I never thought of applying that concept to these situations. Fulfilling our immediate desires (i.e. speed and entertainment) and encountering no resistance (i.e. braking and waking-up) seem to constitute a recipe for human rationale.

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