Tearing Down and Building Up

A professor in one of my classes told us that a philosophy paper gets lots of other people citing it when it is an easy target. Papers get cited not because they are good and authoritative, but because they are flawed, and then they get torn apart.

I have experienced this often in school: We read a paper. Not many people had nice things to say about the paper: It was quite faulty and not written perfectly. There are problems with the argument and examples and structure. The author cites too much or not enough.

In philosophy, unlike Theodore Roosevelt’s quote, maybe it is the critic who counts. I really like criticizing things sometimes. It feels powerful and fun. Like I’m better than someone else.

Sometimes I look on Reddit and comments on news articles and I am amazed at the loudness of all the critics who simply think that they are right and other people are wrong, so that entitles them to be mean and say whatever they want.

But I don’t like always tearing things down. I want to stop tearing things down. Start building something up instead.

Remember “constructive criticism”? When we criticize, we shouldn’t be doing it with the sole agenda of destruction. We should be building something up–making something better, working on improvement, or coming up with an alternative.

And if you want to destroy without building something up afterwards, then maybe it’s not worth it to tear that thing down. Maybe it’s best just to move on. So if it’s a really bad article, don’t read it or discuss it. If someone does something you don’t agree with, don’t pass judgment and complain about it with someone else.

Try to find good. Try to construct truth. Try to connect.


School starts tomorrow for most of my kids. I need to go fold laundry so that they can find what they want to wear, though I think they may have sorted through the laundry already.

This doesn’t feel that different: we just fall back into the old routine that we had a few months ago. I wake up at 6:30, get my daughter on the bus, come back and get the other kids ready.

But then something new happens. I’m going to school too now.

I am excited about it. I’m excited to connect with other people. To have time where I can exist outside of my home and my kids, and to be able to grow and learn, and then come home and share a bit with my children. They probably won’t ever care. My daughter said that all my books were boring and were about algebra or something. Philosophy isn’t math, and she sort of knows that, but she just categorizes everything she considers hard and boring together.

My daughter isn’t like me in some ways. She’s outgoing; I was very shy. She love cartwheels and handstands; I could never do one in my life. But we both love reading, even though she likes more adventuresome books than I do. I love watching her simply be herself.

I will come home every night after school to my somewhat unfinished home, to my children and my husband. I’ve never come home before like that. I’ve always just been home. And I think I’ll like coming home.

Also, I am including an interesting picture. It is of me holding a goose in a bathroom. I was on my computer in the evening and I looked up to see a goose staring back at me. We have a magnetic screen door, and Amelia figured out how to get inside. I had to pick her up and take her back out and shut the door, but she and Abigail still really wanted to come back in. The duck was in the pond, quacking and being sensible.