All posts by Kelvin

Guiding: A Key Aspect to Good Design -Kelvin M.

The handout ‘Taste for Makers’ resonated with me very much, being an art student and occasionally taking commissions from others for designs and illustrations. Of the aspects of good design mentioned in the article, two struck me harder than the others:

‘Good design is suggestive.’

‘Good design is simple.’

These two aspects are fundamental in the arts, similar to how literature does not send messages but raises questions. Good art and design can resonate with its audience and create suggestions and arise further thought about the piece of art. Many artists and designers, including myself, at times, mess up in these aspects. When designing, it is vital to avoid, by all means, the thoughtless piling of different elements. I say this because repeating the same element can be done in a very aesthetically pleasing manner. In contrast, overuse of different ones would only confuse, or worse, disrupt the further imagining of the audience.

This common misconception of ‘complexity = good design’ is widely spreading, as the internet fastens the pace of media consumption and the easiest way for a piece of art or design to leave an impression is through simply piling up popular elements. However, as Mr. Paul Graham said, good design must be simple and suggestive, or in my understanding, guiding. The key to a truly good, memorable design, through my own experience, is guiding the audience onto the parts the designer wishes them to focus on.  This technique is similar to using foil characters to better establish the protagonist in literature. Having many points of focus is not impossible, by all means, such as an ensemble cast, but it is impractical for a design.

Thinking about design in such a way can really help and project onto other aspects in life, such as writing, or something even more daily, cooking. When you cook a steak, it’s not a good idea to serve your steak with another slice of pan-seared salmon as a side dish, the two would fight one another for your attention, clashing tastes and overconsumption of protein and fat would soon make you feel sick of grease. Instead of this, how about just steak with some simple potatoes and asparagus to elevate it’s rich protein taste, followed by some nice dessert, like a sweet slice of Mr. Macknight’s favorite pumpkin pie?


Human Sciences: Reliable? -Kelvin M.

Many doubt the ‘scientific reliability’ of the human sciences, as they differ drastically to the natural sciences where a proof for hypotheses is often in the form of exact data and evidence, social sciences often extract only data from a relative group of people to the entire population. They thus can only use models and graphs to represent the situation. This method causes a lot of problems.

One example of this is the recent events of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, which heavily involves the study of social geography, human migration, general health, etc. Many nations, except for China, being ground zeros of the outbreak, had a low initial number of confirmed infections, but over time, as the situation escalates, suddenly sees a significant rise in the number of infections. From this process, we can see the flaws of the methods of the human sciences. Due to the practice of social sciences not being able to test infections on the entire population, a large group of infected is not tested on and therefore ignored by the initial numbers. But as the death count rises, a gap is formed between the infected and the dead. The errors start to be recognized.

This is why currently, both Italy and Korea have relatively higher death rates than China, as China has tested for the virus on a much more significant percentage of the population to gain relatively accurate numbers. In contrast, Italy and Korea have counted deaths but ignores a large amount of hidden infected. America, just yesterday, had seen a rise in infection count and, with over 100 thousand infected, is now the country most severely affected by the Coronavirus. This situation is due to the officials recognizing the importance of gaining accurate data, and conducted tests for infection on a large percentage of the population, finding those that were infected but not confirmed before and listing them on the data, thus the sudden rise in numbers.

From this very recent example, I believe that is can once again be seen how the methods behind human sciences can be quite skeptical at times. However, these errors cannot disprove the importance of these studies to human beings. Business and economics are relevant to all our lives as long as we actively act as consumers to cooperations, and Geography has proven to be important situations such as recently. Like humans ourselves, it is flawed but of importance.

Emotion -Kelvin M.

I can see how emotion is brought up during our studying of ethics as emotions, and emotional experience can affect our judgment severely. It is quite common agreed and experienced that negative emotions, sadness, anger, remorse, depression, hold a more significant impact within the human mind than positive ones: happiness and joy. These negative emotions last longer due to them being settled beneath surface-level emotions, while positive emotions tend to be triggered by simple dopamine production. Simple examples of this are trauma, such as childhood trauma, and its further effects of PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. Both positive and negative emotions can easily affect judgment when released in a large effect. From something as simple as knowing it would harm your health, but still consuming another chocolate bar to something as harsh as killing someone you love from an everyday quarrel. Both emotions and rationality of judgment make up an essential factor of human beings, and the irrational nature of emotion is especially intriguing to me.

Ethics: Universal Moral Values -Kelvin M.

I believe that universal moral values do not exist. Universal moral values can simply be put to this: a line is implanted within our minds the moment we gain consciousness, that line is equal for everyone at any time and it restricts us from doing what is beyond that line, what is ‘immoral’. That line does not exist. We do create lines in our heads, however, it is not implanted by some higher being or the universe, it is built by ourselves, each and every one of us builds our own line. We base the line from our time, our society, our conditioning. What we are conditioned to believe is wrong tend to be built into the line easily, one example of this is the action we define as murder. However, if we are conditioned in another way, we might not believe the action that is defined by murder is wrong. For example, Hitler murdered tens of thousands of Jewish people during his ethnic cleansing in Europe, but that action is exactly what we would define as murder. You may argue that Hitler did not consider the Jews as human and that in his interpretation that action is not a murder, therefore ‘One shall not murder’ stands as a universal moral value. But everyone has a different interpretation of everything and considering that: If we cannot even agree on our interpretations of what murder is, how can we decide whether it is good or bad?

Theories of Ethics: Nihilism -Kelvin M.

My preference in both philosophy and ethical theory is Nihilism; in philosophy, more optimistic nihilist. In Ethics and Morals, Nihilism is the theory that there is no morality, or rightfulness and wrongness, in anything. This theory of ethics deriving from the philosophical nihilist theory: there is no meaning in life. Though this theory of ethics may simply sound like anarchy, it is more than that. To me, Nihilism is a sense of controlled chaos, since there is no true ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ towards things, I would always choose the action most beneficial to myself without harm towards others. Compared to other things as Altruism and the Golden Rule, I believe Nihilism is a much more practical theory of ethics, as there is one cruel fact of humanity: that is that all of us are selfish.

Ethics: Distinguishing between right or wrong -Kelvin M.

Though many believe the distinguishing of good or bad ultimately comes down to a ‘feeling’, I believe most of our morals and judgment is due to conditioning of thoughts and ideas by society and the respective time periods. The strongest aspect of society that affects moral judgment is the law, and the laws are always created by those with high authority. Before it was kings and emperors, now it is the public and parliament. For example, we right now believe killing and theft are wrong, and that idea rests deeply in all our minds. But if you think back to medieval ages: a knight may plunder a civilian’s house and take all their valuables as loot, yet no one would judge him as wrong, but rather praise his actions as claiming glory. Another example is William Golding’s famous novel: Lord of the Flies. The boys, stranded on the island, slowly present a regression from civilization to savage, yet during the final scene, Jack and all the other boys team up on hunting Ralph down without a ‘feeling’ of what they’re doing is ‘wrong’. This is what I believe: our moral judgment is based on society, in which an invisible peer pressure forms a somewhat unified standard that allows us to decide what is right and wrong.

TOK: Plato’s ‘Meno’ -Part 5

Part 5 of ‘Meno’ continues its topic of discussion from parts 3 and 4: whether virtue can be taught or be born with. But differently in this part, they came to a conclusion: that virtue cannot be taught or born with by nature, but a grace of god. Able to be brought out from any man by guidance and recollection:

Socrates: When we stated that knowledge is the only guide of right action; whereas we find there is also true opinion.


This theory of recollection then takes us back to part two, when Socrates proved all knowledge is within the soul, just waiting to be guided to recall. Socrates’ final ideas presented: Knowledge is not limited to rights or wrongs, but much more. It has always been a failure of Meno to perceive what virtue truly is, and hence he cannot understand what makes a man to be virtuous and good. Good guidance and right opinions are equally valuable as knowledge.



Plato, and Sir Walter Rangeley Maitland Lamb. Laches. Protagoras. Meno. Euthydemus. 1962.

TOK: Plato’s ‘Meno’ -Part 3 & 4

In these two parts of ‘Meno’, Anytus is introduced, and Socrates and Meno moves on to discuss the question whether virtue is born with or taught to. As always, Meno seeks not true virtue, but power and wealth. Socrates replies Meno’s questions in a very intriguing manner:

Socrates: By this argument, virtue being profitable must be a sort of wisdom.


And as for his own views, Socrates replied:

Socrates: In men, all other things rely on the soul, while the things of the soul rely on wisdom.


I find The debate between Socrates and Meno specially interesting in these parts as they discuss the questions of perception: if one commits wrongs yet think they are virtuous, is that virtue? The unawareness of right and wrong deepens their discussion on seeking virtue, and also presents the question that cannot yet be answered even now: What is right, and what is wrong?



Plato, and Sir Walter Rangeley Maitland Lamb. Laches. Protagoras. Meno. Euthydemus. 1962.

Logical Fallacies: Changing the Subject Kelvin M.

Though referred to in Stephen’s Guide to Logical Fallacies as a logical fallacy, the technique of changing subject is very effective in debate. Or at least, I, personally, find it very effective when used correctly in my past debate experiences within class and is quite fond of practicing it unto my opponents.

Changing the subject subtly during debate can become a trap for the opponent to step into. Once the opponent chases you into it, it would be easy to disrupt his train of thought or even turn around to call your opponent guilty of changing the subject and drifting afar the debate question. This often works in a debate as both sides are actively engaged it thinking about their points, so that sometimes they ignore a subtle dirty move that is changing the subject, quote out of context, or simple misinterpretation.The most important aspect of applying this technique to real use is to do it subtly. If the intention is discovered by the opponent, it would become a flaw in your argument and let the opponent gain the upper hand.

Though when unknowingly used, changing the subject is a typical logical fallacy, it cannot be denied that it is a effective technique in debate when successfully executed.

TOK: Plato’s ‘Meno’ -Part 2

In part 2 of Meno, Meno and Socrates engage in a discussion about the importance of doubt and inquiry. Socrates first debates with Meno, then moves on to teach a young boy about maths and geometry. The boy (nameless in the script) answers to all of Socrates’ questions in a similar fashion as Meno in part 1, but in comparison, more displayed the purity of children as Meno cared only about fame and wealth.

In teaching the boy geometry, Socrates reveals his thinking: that knowledge is not gained through learning or being taught, but through recalling and recollecting during the process and motivation of inquiry and curiosity.

Socrates: I remarked just now, Meno, that you are a rogue and so here you are asking if I can instruct you, when I say there is no teaching but only recollection: you hope that I may be caught contradicting myself forthwith.


This theory, Socrates proved by his conversation with the boy about geometry: he has taught the boy nothing, only guiding him to inquire, and the boy moved from ignorant to knowing towards geometry through his own recollections.

Socrates: And a figure of this sort may be larger or smaller?

Boy: To be sure.

Socrates: Now if this side were two feet and that also two, how many feet would the whole be? Or let me put it thus: if one way it were two feet, and only one foot the other, of course the space would be two feet taken once ?

Boy: Yes.


This is another display of Socrates’ theory of knowledge: That one is ignorant, but wise if acknowledging that fact and holding a heart of inquiry. This theory that one holds knowledge, it is just yet to be discovered is truly fascinating as a topic to be discussed in Theory of Knowledge. This part of the script also proves once again the importance of simple will to discover and inquire, that motivation to ask whatever unknown just might lead to all the answers one may ever need.



Plato, and Sir Walter Rangeley Maitland Lamb. Laches. Protagoras. Meno. Euthydemus. 1962.

TOK: Plato’s ‘Meno’ -Part 1

Part 1 of Plato’s ‘Meno’, a socratic dialogue scripted by one of Socrates’ followers, Plato, describe the conversation between Socrates and Meno, on the topic of the definition of virtue and whether or not it can be taught or learnt. The conversation reveals several interesting and deep theories, and discusses in a deep manner the techniques behind logical reasoning and defining certain terms with a single definition instead of multiple others.

Meno is surprised by Socrates a several of times due to Socrates words contradicting what Meno himself believes is the wisest man in all of Greece, such as:

Socrates: so far am I from knowing whether it can be taught or not, that I actually do not even know what the thing itself, virtue, is at all. And I myself, Meno, am in the same case; I share my townsmen’s poverty in this matter: I have to reproach myself with an utter ignorance about virtue; and if I do not know what a thing is, how can I know what its nature may be? Or do you imagine it possible, if one has no cognizance at all of Meno, that one could know whether he is handsome or rich or noble, or the reverse of these? Do you suppose that one could?

Meno: Not I. But is it true, Socrates, that you do not even know what virtue is? Are we to return home with this report of you?

Socrates: Not only this, my friend, but also that I never yet came across anybody who did know, in my opinion.


Meno is constantly struck by Socrates, as he truly believes he would gain a complete answer from what he believes is the wisest man of all. Yet Socrates provides him with the examples of ‘figure’ and ‘colour’, which he uses to hint to Meno that he is on search not for those who fall under virtue, but the one true definition of virtue.

Socrates: And in making it, do you mean to say that round is no more round than straight, or straight no more straight than round?


Yet arrogant and ignorant as Meno is, he simply does not catch the hints of Socrates and only easily exposes his intentions behind asking the question: to gain power and wealth. He believes that an absurd answer to the definition of colour seems excellently put simply because that it is put in the style of his teacher Gorgias.

Socrates: So now “conceive my meaning,” as Pindar says: color is an effluence of figures, commensurate with sight and sensible.

Meno: Your answer, Socrates, seems to me excellently put.


Reaching the end of the conversation, Socrates finally debates Meno fully:

Socrates: Because after my begging you not to break up virtue into small change, and giving you a pattern on which you should answer, you have ignored all this, and now tell me that virtue is the ability to procure good things with justice; and this, you tell me, is a part of virtue?


Thus by here, the essentials behind the dialogue can be concluded: Socrates attempts to gain a definition of a concept from Meno, who implies he knows. Yet after discussion and debate, it is revealed that nor Meno, who claims to know and Socrates, who is the wisest man, is unable to provide one exact definition. Proving that the wisest of Socrates is the fact that he acknowledges the fact that he is ignorant, and accepts this as a motivation for everlasting recollection in order to learn.



Plato, and Sir Walter Rangeley Maitland Lamb. Laches. Protagoras. Meno. Euthydemus. 1962.