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Youth and Mental Health – The Power of Philosophy

In the words of All Tribes Mental Health, “All colors. All colors. All Tribes.” People of all colors, cultures, and tribes deserve the opportunity to explore themselves and feel a sense of pride within their community. I hope that this blog post inspires someone out there to educate others and spark a passion, just as it did in me. - Shrey Raju



The Power of Philosophy: Tools of Mental Wellness and Critical Awareness

By: Shrey Raju


Everyone has their own methods of self-care in an often harsh and cruel world – some read, some sleep, some do yoga, and others still struggle to find what works. Something I never thought would change my life, but did, is reading philosophy.


Critical theory provides a social approach to philosophy that critiques various power structures in society. This field of study is powerful not only for its rich academic analysis but also because it provides an opportunity for marginalized identity groups to learn more about their community.


I particularly appreciated this area of literature because it helped me understand my experiences. I often felt alone and clueless – the queer community is so large and diverse that I couldn’t find where I fit in. Queer theory equipped me with a perspective – it educated me about the queer community, provided me with experiences to relate to, and reaffirmed that I’m not alone.


Below is a list of books for several identity groups to help navigate the complex world of philosophy and provide a starting point. The purpose of this article is not to promise that reading philosophy will secure your mental wellness – I only hope that people of all colors, cultures, and tribes have the opportunity to explore themselves to a deeper level via this route should they be interested.


This list is by no means exhaustive or perfect – it is the knowledge of one passionate high schooler. Please contact All Tribes Mental Health if you find an error in the descriptions or want us to add anything to this list.


Without further ado, let’s get reading!


1. Black Studies

Afropessimism

Afropessimism argues that anti-blackness is not simply a physical or social structure, but an ontological structure deeply embedded in the fabric of society.


Although not necessarily a pessimist, “Black Skin, White Masks” by Frantz Fanon uses clinical observations and philosophical analysis to describe psychological feelings averse to black people, both internal and external. He then advocates for looking outside of the White gaze. Although he offers the possibility of hope and rebellion, his psychological findings lay the groundwork for several Afropessimists in the future.


One such Afropessimist is Frank Wilderson. In “Afropessimism,” Wilderson argues that blackness must be viewed through the perpetual lens of slavery. This creates a condition of social death, where black people will never be accepted by society as fully human. The three tenets that create this condition are natal alienation (black people lost ties to their culture beyond the Middle Passage), general dishonor (the association of blackness with criminality), and gratuitous violence (cruel & excessive physical violence black people face).


Afrofuturism

Unlike Afropessimists, Afrofuturists argue that society can change the ontological conditions of blackness. In other words, black people don’t always have to be seen as subhuman.


In “Freedom, Justice, and Decolonization,” Lewis Gordon utilizes a philosophical theory known as existentialism to justify that human beings can develop and be perceived differently as we experience the world more and more. It is harmful to lose hope because it is equivalent to giving up.


Another author on the more futurist side of the debate is George Yancy. In “Black Bodies White Gazes,” Yancy argues that hopelessness is exactly what whiteness wants. If we give up on trying to make change, it’s essentially surrendering to the other side. Rather, because norms are changing, Yancy advocates for a strategy of countergazing, where black people view themselves as a site of possibility and flip the narrative outside of the White gaze/narratives.


Miscellaneous

While a binary might be easy, the field of black studies is far richer than just futurism and pessimism.


In “Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics, and Black Feminist Theories of the Human,” Alex Weheliye plays on the legal right to habeas corpus to create the concept of habeas viscus. Habeas viscus is a lens to understand the world through which accents how race is inextricably tied to our understanding of humanity. Weheliye critiques the obsession with legal reform because fundamental to the state is the idea of inclusion, which always creates an excluded out-group in relation to the in-group. One example is how Stonewall advocated for queer rights as a whole yet only white gay folks were granted humanity while other groups were further pushed out. Wehelye instead advocates for actualizing various alternative networks into a more robust understanding of what it means to be human.


Another author that goes beyond the binary is "The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study” by Fred Moten and Stefano Harney. Moten and Harney argue that traditional institutions such as academia are both white-centric and limit opportunities for liberation. Instead, they call for the “undercommons,” or hidden communities of cooperation and solidarity to engage in more radical, creative means of liberation.


2. Class-Based Studies

Besides the phenotypical characteristics of each individual, the issues of income and class also play an irreplaceable role in critical theory today.


The majority of class-based studies culminate in socialist/Marxist thought. Capitalism, or the system of private ownership and profit, is dominant in America and often criticized for various reasons.


The classic is arguably “The Communist Manifesto” by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. This pamphlet lays the groundwork for modern literature by attributing society’s ills to the struggles between the bourgeoisie (capitalist elites) and the proletariat (working class). They then justify a revolution and explain what alternative systems could look like.


Now, the literature base on capitalism is significantly more decentralized. There are still critiques of capitalism as a whole, such as “Alienation” by Rahel Jaeggi, which draws from Marx’s theory of alienation and criticizes capitalism’s exploitation of labor. She considers capitalism alienating because of coerced labor (someone else determines what we must do) and the commodification of workers to their monetary value. However, she adds to Marxist theory by relating it to contemporary concerns and ethics writ large. She argues that to resist alienation is not to desire more capitalist wealth but to detach from the system of capitalism entirely and embrace our own pursuits and freedoms. Alienation is not about lacking material resources but feeling constrained to act against your volitions and interests, which creates a compelling case for following your passions.


There are critiques of capitalism in nearly every sector of society, such as healthcare, education, democracy, the environment, social justice, and trade. Depending on the reader’s particular interests, it may be advised to do some individual research before creating a reading list. Here are some potential examples to go off of:


1. “When Schools Become Dead Zones of the Imagination: A Critical Pedagogy Manifesto” by Henry Giroux discusses the nature of capitalism in education and how that removes students’ creativity. Students are more focused on jobs that give them higher pay and contribute positively to society, which is also seen in higher education through college applications.


2. “Testo Junkie Notes for a Psychoanalytic Forum” by Paul Preciado discusses how systems of capitalism exert control over the body through monopolization and profit over gender-affirming care, gender-expressive clothing, etc. Even the pride collections at your local Target are complicit in capitalism because it utilizes the celebration of equality as a means of self-interest.


It is also important to preface the fact that nearly every other book listed in this article has some relation to capitalism, class, and income. This is not only because individual identities intersect a lot with class privilege, but also because the system of capitalism is a very broad governing force that impacts various aspects of society.


3. Disability Studies

Disability studies are very relevant due to how broad a term disability can be. Many other areas of study often intersect with disabled studies because the assumption of biological degeneracy is how several forms of violence are historically situated (ex: homosexuality is considered a disease or Native Americans are considered savage and incapable of feeling).


Authors in this field often critique the medical model of disability as a defect that must be remedied. Rather, they argue for a social model that focuses on how disability is viewed in society writ large. Often on the more pessimist side of critical theory, “overcoming disabilities” should not be used as a narrative of personal growth because that reifies the stereotype that disability is less or disgusting. Instead, disability should be viewed as beautiful in and of itself.


“The Disability Drive” by Anna Mollow argues that the societal view of disability is one of pity. By “feeling sorry for the disabled kid,” people assume themselves to have moral superiority and are obligated to help them out of pity. Mollow then discusses how this feeling, the disability drive, has real-world applications in various aspects of life.


“Crip Pessimism: The Language of Dis/ability and the Culture that Isn't” by Michael Selck adds to Mollow’s thesis by arguing in favor of rejecting pity because it assumes disability is bad, and replacing it with a view that disability is beautiful.


“Affective Labour, Disability, and Communicative Stress” by Joshua St. Pierre provides a pessimistic analysis centered around capitalism specifically. He argues that the drive towards economic productivity creates an image of a hard worker and often puts disabled folks who don’t conform to this image on the back burner.


St. Pierre also discusses the idea of affective labor, which requires workers to control their emotions and act a certain way (ex: flight attendants always have to act friendly), which excludes disabled folks that may express their emotions differently.


In “Becoming Dysfluent: Fluency as Biopolitics and Hegemony,” St. Pierre then argues that we should embrace dysfluency. Rather than feeling like we have to understand the world around us, we should revel in the fact that parts of the world will always be unintelligible to us. Throughout the piece, the ills of this world are analogized to how society views disability, ultimately advocating for a rejection of investing hope in the future.


4. East Asian Studies

East Asia is a broad region, referring to countries such as but not limited to: China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan.


Model Minority Myth

At the heart of East Asian studies lie criticisms of the Model Minority Myth, the idea that Asian Americans have achieved more success than other minority groups. This idea is particularly problematic because it places undying pressure on Asian Americans to meet the ideal standard when in reality, not every member of the group fits the stereotype. This not only delegitimizes Asian-American experiences but also marginalizes other folks, such as black people who are asked why they can’t be like the “good Asians.”


Several authors write about this in their own unique ways:


1. “A Dialogue on Racial Melancholia” by David Eng and Shinhee Han discusses the feeling of melancholia associated with the myth. Melancholia is described as a deep and complex emotional state associated with sadness and profound sensitivity to the impermanence of life. Often from a place of shared trauma and found in cultural aesthetics, Eng and Han discuss the deep and melancholic feelings associated with the myth.


2. “Chapter 4 Contesting the Model Minority and Perpetual Foreigner Stereotypes: A Critical Review of Literature on Asian Americans in Education” by Jennifer Ng, Sharon Lee, and Yoon Pak focus on how the education system reinforces the stereotypes of the hardworking Asian and how that psychologically impacts people today. They also explain how the myth plays into our daily understanding of race.


3. “Replenishing the Ranks: Raising Critical Consciousness Among Asian Americans” by Keith Osijama provides the solution of conscientization, which means being more open to learning about experiences that are often ignored. Osijama advocates for highlighting marginalized voices in academia to better comprehend what Asian Americans are going through. But beyond listening to others, conscientization is also about understanding the history and cultural significance of these myths to identify the root cause.


Yellow Peril

With the recent fears of Asian Americans post-Covid, the concept of Yellow Peril has regained attention within the literature.


“Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco’s Chinatown” by Nayan Shah discusses the history of Chinese immigration and how “Chinatown” was seen as a hotspot of disease, triggering a paranoia of East Asians as “dirty” and “contaminated.”


With the onset of Covid, “Bio-orientalism and the Yellow Peril of Yellow Life” by Quinn Lester discusses how the Yellow Peril trope has evolved and still exists today.


Finally, “Representations: Doing Asian American Rhetoric” by Luming Mao and Morris Young discusses the solution of counter-memory. Similar to conscientization, counter-memory means highlighting East Asian poetry and performances and viewing their culture as human and beautiful rather than sick and wretched.


Orientalism

“Discourses Of ‘China’ In International Relations: A Study in Western Theory as (IR) Practice” by Chengxin Pan discusses how East-Asian countries like China are viewed by the West as a danger. Furthermore, the construction of the Chinese Orient as a threat is used to justify Western imperialism and construct the US as a global savior, resulting in a plethora of oppressive practices. For those interested in politics and international relations, this is a great place to introduce yourself to East-Asian studies.


East-Asian Philosophy

A common theme of criticism in East-Asian studies is the importance of exposing oneself to East-Asian culture and history, a big part of which includes philosophy.


The number of philosophies go beyond what can be listed in an article, but some main ones include Confucianism and Taoism. The former discusses a list of virtues humans should try to act by (such as Ren, or benevolence, and Zhong, loyalty) while the latter focuses less on personal qualities and more on humanity’s pursuit of harmony with the natural world (i.e. the Tao). Unlike Confucianism, Taoism encourages humans to adhere to their own nature and their own path rather than a set of moral virtues to go by.


For those interested in Confucianism, "A Review of Stephen Angle’s Contemporary Confucian Political Philosophy” by Tongdong Bai is a good starting point.


For those interested in Taoism, “Taoism and The Concept of Global Security” by Ralf Pettman is a great starting point not only because it explains Taoist ideals in-depth, but provides real-world scenarios to apply that knowledge.


5. Feminist Studies

The history of feminism is rich; from the four waves to #MeToo and beyond, the literature has diversified beyond the extent of this article. However, this article does a great job of classifying the various branches and as such, I will go by this for this blog post.


Black Feminism

Black feminism addresses the unique intersections of violence for black women. A prominent black feminist within the literature is bell hooks. In “Love as the Practice of Freedom,” hooks discusses the importance of an ethic of love, which emphasizes values such as love and compassion to guide our actions and relationships with others. She highlights the importance of intersectionality and analyzes issues such as consumerism in black culture.


Cultural Feminism

Cultural feminism analyzes society’s assumption that some traits are masculine and others are feminine. One such example is an ethic of care, which argues that care is assumed a feminine trait (maids, housewives, mothers) and should instead be an essential trait for all ethical matters. Rather than needing to demonstrate power and violence, an ethic of care calls for people to focus on their particular relationships and show vulnerability and compassion. The goal is to prioritize “feminine” traits and overcome the idea that only women should demonstrate care or that masculine values are better. “The Ethics of Care: A Feminist Approach to Human Security” by Fiona Robinson is a great starting point for those interested in these philosophies.


Ecofeminism

Ecofeminism identifies the intersections between environmental and gender studies. “Ecofeminist Sociology as a New Class Analysis” by Ariel Salleh identifies a correlation between the patriarchal, objectifying assumption that males can control the passive female with the capitalist idea that autonomous humans should be able to control and exploit the passive environment. Ecofeminists critique the masculine virtues of rage and power because it results in reckless harm to the environment and by extension, humanity.


Mainstream Feminism

Mainstream feminism is what one would consider “modern.” Issues of how gender is performed, reproductive futurism in the context of abortion debates, the objectification of women, etc are all central to mainstream feminism. For more information, I would recommend reading into the Queer Studies section because gender and sexuality studies are very interconnected.


Marxist/Socialist Feminism

Marxist feminism emphasizes the intersections between capitalism and patriarchy. The issues of solidarity between feminist communities, reproductive obligations women face in the labor market, and saturation of masculine values in economic spheres are all issues this area of the literature attempts to address. For those interested, I recommend starting with “Marxist Feminist Dialectics for the 21st Century” by Nancy Hartsock.


Multiracial Feminism

It is important to note that not all women are the same. In different cultures, the sexism that women face often differs. Multiracial feminism highlights the unique experiences of women in various cultures, examples of which are attached below:


1. Latina Feminism: “Ambivalent Sisterhood: Latina Feminism and Women's Studies” by Margaret Villanueva emphasizes the importance of solidarity and sisterhood between Latina women due to shared experiences regarding colonialism and immigration rights.


2. Islamic Feminism: “Theorizing the Politics of 'Islamic Feminism'” by Shahrzad Mojab highlights the importance of reinterpreting gendered texts in Islamic culture (ex: Qur’an) and discusses the possibility of significant legal reform regarding marriage, polygamy, inheritance, etc.


Radical Feminism

Radical feminism advocates for an overthrow of systems entirely. One great example of this is the strategy of feminist killjoy. Unlike most authors previously mentioned which advocate for feminine traits such as care and empathy, killjoy advocates for calling out misogyny and having uncomfortable discussions. Being called sexist may not necessarily be convenient, but killing the joy out of misogyny is critical to creating change in the eye of these authors. For those interested, start with “It is not the time for a party” by Sara Ahmed.


A compatible strategy called feminist rage discusses the rightness of being angry with misogyny. Rage is a positive emotion that validates women’s experiences and criticizes the assumption that women are passive. This is a means of empowerment and fuel for activism. “Cultural Sexism: The politics of feminist rage in the #metoo era” by Heather Savigny is a great introduction that uses politically modern examples like the #metoo movement to assess the effectiveness of rage.


6. Queer Studies

What’s unique about queer theory is that there are so many different branches of literature, each distinctive in its own way. “Queerness” consists of various genders and sexualities, and may not even refer to queer in a literal sense. Because queer is such an umbrella term, it is important to preface that these select authors do not even begin to touch on how broad and diverse this literature base is.


Gender

As queer theory originated by extension of broader feminist/LGBTQ+ movements, the question of gender is at the heart of queer theory. Queer theory began to gain momentum in the early 1990s, primarily due to two authors.


1. "Gender Trouble" by Judith Butler starts from the assumption that identity is not fixed and can be changed as people have new experiences. How we express this identity to others is called “performativity”; identities are the effect, NOT the cause of our performances. That is why some people are considered “masculine-presenting” and others “feminine-presenting.”


2. "Epistemology of the Closet" by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick utilizes a historical analysis to understand why coming out of the closet exists in the first place. She explains why heterosexuality is seen as the “default” and argues for a more fluid and inclusive understanding of gender rather than trying to describe everyone through “fixed categories” like straight and gay.


These two books are a great starting point because they refer to very broad experiences that apply to both queer folks & non-queer folks alike and form the basis for the rest of the recommendations listed in this article.


Queer Negativity

Most queer studies tend to take a negative perspective on society, which often means advocating for the negation of society and opposition to investing hope in the future.


One prominent piece of literature in this field is “No Future” by Lee Edelman. A common response to someone coming out as gay is often “Where are my grandchildren!” Edelman criticizes any investment into the future because it is premised upon the figure of the Child, i.e. the figure for whom we are creating a better future. For example, Bill Clinton’s emotional pitch as the “defender of children” raises rather intuitive support. Why wouldn’t we help the children? Why shouldn’t we improve education or drug use? How could anyone dare take the other side? The Child is seen as an innocent, vulnerable figure needing protection at all costs. However, wouldn’t that justify the question, how could you DARE be gay and not reproduce? How could you DARE have an abortion and kill the child? Edelman calls this obligation to reproduce part of a larger system of “reproductive futurism,” where the Child is provided such emotional value that no one could dare oppose it. The solution, then, is to oppose the figuration of the Child and stop investing in the future, as any investment is reliant on the Child to begin with.


Another great book discussing queer negativity is “Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times” by Jasbir Puar. Puar discusses the nuanced relationships between terrorism, nationalism, and sexuality, thereby coining the term “homonationalism.” Broadly speaking, homonationalism refers to the fusion of homosexuality into Western agendas. Through analyzing various events such as the War on Terror and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Puar argues that the Western culture of security often results in the exclusion of certain identity groups, particularly Muslims, and the extensive surveillance of queers in the name of danger. Puar traces historical pictures of homosexuality seen as perverse and deviant, thereby creating an analogy to how terrorism is viewed in society now. In “Left of Queer,” Puar (with David Eng) elaborates on her former thesis by explaining the intersections between homonationalism and other groups such as disability, race, and class.


Queer Futurism

On the contrary, critics of queer negativity are placed in a field called “queer futurism.” “Cruising Utopia” by José Esteban Muñoz is one of many books that discuss this.

The main criticism is that there are ways to utilize the Child that are not antiqueer. Positing that there is no hope for queer people comes from a position of privilege because many queer folks need hope to keep themselves going and explore new possibilities. For example, many kids today tell themselves that once they go to college, their home conditions will improve and they won’t have to stay in the closet. As such, Muñoz advocates for investing in the future in ways that are not complicit in reproductive futurism and can be a powerful beacon of hope to people today who may feel that all is lost.


Miscellaneous

In addition to theories that describe queerness as an umbrella term, particular branches of queer theory discuss specific identity groups, such as asexuality and bisexuality.


“Asexual Erotics: Intimate Readings of Compulsory Sexuality” by Ela Przybylo starts with a historical analysis of how asexuality has been classified as a disorder; the asexual is coldhearted and incapable of feeling love or affection for others. This causes the medical-industrial complex and state to control populations either by hypersexualization (ex: white women were told to reproduce to keep the race going) or desexualization (ex: gay sex was problematized due to the AIDs epidemic). Przybylo then advocates for a strategy of asexual erotics, which reconceptualizes the term “erotic” to refer to a shared energy and enjoyment for refusal and revolt against oppressive systems such as sexualization. To clarify, "erotic" no longer refers to sexual arousal but is extended to the joy we feel from mundane tasks like riding a bike or hanging out with friends as well. Asexuality is not referred to in a literal sense, but in a figurative sense that anyone can participate in, such as the Puerto Rican sex strikes where women refused sex to their husbands in the name of feminist education.


Another example of queer theory for a specific identity group is “Bisexuality: A Critical Reader” by Merl Storr. Storr isolates various stereotypes that bisexual people face, such as bisexuality being a phase or moment of indecisiveness. She then analyzes how these tropes interact with race, gender, etc, and debunks the mentioned stereotypes, encouraging a new way to conceptualize sexuality and question our individual biases/assumptions.


7. Settler Colonial Studies

Settler colonial studies primarily center around the lived experiences of Native American tribes.


Native Criticisms

A great starting point to learn about indigenous studies is arguably “Settler Common Sense” by Mark Rifkin. In this book, Rifkin comprehensively analyzes the history of colonialism in the US and the extermination of native tribes for American civilization. Through various historical documents, legal cases, and cultural milestones, Rifkin argues that settler colonialism is a structure, not an event; even though we think of colonization as just another event in the history textbooks, it is an ongoing process that still hurts native folks today. The modern logic of property rights, individualism, etc are complicit in the same ideologies that justified historical colonialism in the name of territory and conquest. So many aspects of life are assumed true or taken for granted, such as our homes, privilege, and culture. The extermination of indigenous folks that led to what we have today is often overlooked and ignored, which creates a culture of what Rifkin terms “settler common sense.” The goal of his book is to forward an important criticism regarding indigeneity in modern culture and highlight various strategies used by Native authors to combat this.


Various authors add to Rifkin’s thesis as well. For example:

1. “Being or Nothingness: Indigeneity, Antiblackness, and Settler Colonial Critique” by Iyko Day discusses various methods of indigenous refusal, providing historical examples such as Idle No More which deviate from the colonial state.

2. “A Third University is Possible” by la paperson (or K. Wayne Yang) discusses the relationship between educational spaces, settler colonialism, land grants, and modern environmentalism.


These authors are extremely important not only for indigenous folks but non-indigenous folks to read as well. They explain how education tends to ignore native voices and why it is crucial for society to problematize this. It also provides powerful explanations for indigenous erasure which act as a powerful source of inspiration and activism to indigenous folks today.


Native Philosophy

In addition to criticism, another underlooked branch of indigenous studies is native philosophy. Similar to how many Western authors today write about various codes of ethics, indigenous tribes write moral theories, too. Something important to recognize, however, is that every tribe is different and should not be homogenized. Below, I will provide a brief explanation of the philosophical ideas of one specific tribe, but that may not apply to Native Americans as a whole.


Brian Burkhart, a citizen of the Cherokee nation, published “Indigenizing Philosophy through the Land: A Trickster Methodology for Decolonizing Environmental Ethics and Indigenous Futures” in 2019. Burkhart criticizes Western philosophy’s arrogance in assuming that we can determine a moral code for all cases. He argues that humanity is instead defined by the relationships individuals have with not just other humans, but nature as a whole. Burkhart posits the idea of unity, a community where we can all live in harmony in peace over conquest and war. But to do this, we have to analyze the particular relationships we have with the world around us and posit solutions from a bottom-up approach. The relationships Burkhart discusses are called kinship, which means that the world around us is to be treated from a place of respect and sacredness. We cannot ignore kinship relationships but must work to form more of them, as that is what will one day help us reach the ultimate ideal of harmony and peace with nature.


Similar to the previous books mentioned, Native philosophy is equally as important. It not only provides insight into the history and cultural customs of various tribes but opens up new ways to think about the world and act in our daily lives.


8. South Asian Studies

South Asia is a broad region, referring to countries such as but not limited to: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.


Dalit Studies

Dalit studies originate from India’s caste system. Dalits were considered the “untouchables,” and the lowest caste. “The Poetics of Postcolonial Atrocity: Dalit Life Writing, Testimonio, and Human Rights” by Pramod Nayar presents a robust analysis of why Dalit trauma not only culminates through physical harm, but through social alienation that lacks a single point of cause.


Muslim Studies

Most discussion in modern Muslim studies centers around the stereotypes of Muslims as terrorists post-9/11. In “Racing Madness: The Terrorizing Madness of the Post-9/11 Terrorist Body,” Shaista Patel discusses the implications of the Muslim terrorist stereotype. She discusses the impacts of not listening to Muslim voices and assuming they’re all barbaric and irrational. She then discusses how this trope intersects with other systems of violence like disability (the “terrorist” is seen as mentally ill), imperialism (the West needs to be a global savior of irrational, underdeveloped nations), and security (paranoia of another 9/11 justifies atrocities in the name of the greater good).


South Asian Philosophy

The field of South Asian philosophy is rich and often underexplored. For example, India classifies its philosophical teachings into two schools of thought: āstika and nāstika. The former is based on the Veda, which contains some of India’s most ancient scriptures, whereas the latter is based on other sources of authority.


One prominent philosophy in the nāstika is Buddhism, which is based on the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, and the pursuit of enlightenment. The field of Buddhism is very vast with very distinct applications. For example, Buddhist economics highlights the importance of finding value beyond the price tag; happiness is not determined by what we consume but by what we learn and who we are as people.


“Buddhism and Money: The Repression of Emptiness Today” by David Loy critiques the dualism that we can only be good by ending evil. He argues that much of human suffering actually comes from the attempt to solve human suffering because there is a constant drive to fix the world just a little more. When we simplify thoughts into a binary, it precludes more nuanced analysis. Instead, the solution is to simply forget oneself and let go. This often takes place through meditation: letting go of all of one's thoughts, desires, and consciousness. As absurd as it may seem, humanity’s greatest fear is their hands slipping off the wheels of their destiny i.e. losing control. Only when we are willing to make this sacrifice, however, can we see a new side of us detached from the constraints of capitalism and society to unlock a new ethical dimension of ourselves and live a life of true satisfaction; this stage is called enlightenment.

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