Friends and Fans — I have retired from my work as a public intellectual, so Philosophy in Action is on indefinite hiatus. Please check out the voluminous archive of free podcasts, as well as the premium audio content still available for sale. My two books — Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame and Explore Atlas Shrugged — are available for purchase too. Best wishes! — Diana Brickell (Hsieh)

Feeling Unproductive, Horror Movies, and More

Q&A Radio: 6 February 2014

I answered questions on feeling unproductive, the value of horror movies, and more on 6 February 2014. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host. Listen to or download this episode of Philosophy in Action Radio below.

The mission of Philosophy in Action is to spread rational principles for real life... far and wide. That's why the vast majority of my work is available to anyone, free of charge. I love doing the radio show, but each episode requires an investment of time, effort, and money to produce. So if you enjoy and value that work of mine, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, contributors can request that I answer questions from the queue pronto, and regular contributors enjoy free access to premium content and other goodies.

My News of the Week: I've been very busy training horses in Aiken, South Carolina, including a jumping lesson today with Olympian Will Coleman. Remember, live broadcasts will be on Thursday evenings for the rest of February!


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Segments: 6 February 2014


Question 1: Feeling Unproductive

Question: How can I overcome feeling like a slacker? I am a very productive person, with multiple projects going on simultaneously, both personal and professional. Generally, I handle juggling things pretty well, and accomplish quite a bit. I can usually attain most of my goals, and I like that about myself. (I'm also a pretty ambitious person so I have many big goals.) However, I also often feel like a complete slacker. I can see all of the things I accomplish, but I often feel like I could be doing more – one more thing, one more project. Sometimes, when I look at the things I've accomplished, all I can see are the things I wasn't able to do and it can be easy to feel defeated and negative about that. How can I reconcile the gap here? How can I get better at feeling the sense of accomplishment I think I should – and deserve – to feel? Do you have any ideas for getting rid of this mantle of slackerness I've saddled myself with – unfairly, I think? I've been making some changes that have helped, such as writing down my accomplishments each day, but I'm looking for more ideas.

Answer, In Brief: If you're the kind of person who unjustly thinks himself a slacker, you should (1) arm yourself with the facts by collecting data, (2) be realistic about what you can reasonably do, (3) introspect and monitor yourself to find ways to be more efficient, (4) beware of overcommitment, and (5) be kind to yourself!

Tags: Emotions, Introspection, Objectivity, Productiveness, Productivity, Psychology, Values

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Question 2: The Value of Horror Movies

Question: Do horror movies or books have any redeeming value? In The Romantic Manifesto, Ayn Rand argued that horror was the worst genre of art, "belonging more to psychopathology than to esthetics." Is that right? Might a rational person find some value in a horror film or book? Don't some horror movies have heroic characters – such as Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator?

Answer, In Brief: Horror movies aim to arouse intense feelings of fear via unknown and unmanageable dangers. Many are malevolent and unbounded, but not all. Some people might enjoy them to experience and overcome fear, or simply as a background for good plot and characters.

Tags: Aesthetics, Art, Emotions, Ethics, Film, Psychology, Psychology, Values

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Rapid Fire Questions (53:45)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • What would you say to the idea that the desire to pray is a form of obsessive compulsive syndrome? So, a person basically thinks, "I must do this irrational thing x (in this case praying) otherwise I will see bad consequence y."
  • Is it a sign of collectivism that people use words like "we" when talking about history to refer to their racial or national ancestors? (e.g. "We really helped out the French in World War I.")
  • Is it a breach of a child's privacy for a parent to disclose their names on social media? What is the best way to go about protecting a child's future interests while having a life on social media?

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Conclusion (1:01:36)

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Philosophy in Action Radio! If you enjoyed this episode, please contribute to contribute to our tip jar.


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The vast majority of Philosophy in Action Radio – the live show and the podcast – is available to anyone, free of charge. That's because my mission is to spread rational principles for real life far and wide, as I do every week to thousands of listeners. I love producing the show, but each episode requires requires the investment of time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value my work, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, regular contributors enjoy free access to my premium content.

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About Philosophy in Action

I'm Dr. Diana Brickell (formerly Diana Hsieh). I'm a philosopher, and I've long specialized in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I completed my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. I retired from work as a public intellectual in 2015.

From September 2009 to September 2015, I produced a radio show and podcast, Philosophy in Action Radio. In the primary show, my co-host Greg Perkins and I answered questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life. We broadcast live over the internet on Sunday mornings.

You can listen to these 362 podcasts by subscribing to the Podcast RSS Feed. You can also peruse the podcast archive, where episodes and questions are sorted by date and by topic.

My first book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck." My second book (and online course), Explore Atlas Shrugged, is a fantastic resource for anyone wishing to study Ayn Rand's epic novel in depth.

You can also read my blog NoodleFood and subscribe to its Blog RSS Feed.

I can be reached via e-mail to diana@philosophyinaction.com.

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