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Philosophy Cafe - Cafe Philosophique Message Board › Afterword: Red Lines, Slippery Slopes, and the Conditions of Life

Afterword: Red Lines, Slippery Slopes, and the Conditions of Life

Jeff G
Oakland, CA
Post #: 190
Here are some topic ideas for your own brief essays relating to our recent three-part Salon theme. The bolded nouns were actually played during the discussion (remember: they were blindly produced and randomly distributed!) Or if you wish to address a burning issue raised in the meeting, feel free!

* Explain what a "red line" is. Give examples. What parties (actors, agents) are involved in your characterization? Are they all necessary? What else can be eliminated, to get closer to its "essentials"?
* Why red? Why a line? What are their relevant properties? Can we extrapolate to other colors of line, other shapes?
* On what is this line drawn? Are there limits on where it can be drawn? Can it move? Consider changing cultural norms, for example.
* Make your best case that a smile exemplifies the "red line" idea.
* Explore the possibility that red line dynamics have led to other kinds of lines, like property lines.
* Do we always know who has drawn a line? Perhaps it really does "take two to tango"? Maybe the lines are already there somehow?
* Explain what a "slippery slope" is. Give examples. How does the topographical metaphor differentiate it from the red line?
* How can we gauge whether a characterization of a situation as a slippery slope is reasonable? Try developing criteria for individually judging slipperiness and slope.
* It seems like expectations can cause people to act like they are on a slippery slope, by rising or falling uncontrollably as a result of positive or negative feedback. Can this be reconciled with the image of a slope as a fixed geographic feature?
* Try to relate pride to the "slippery slope" idea. (It's okay if you need a prolog:-)
* Explore the interrelationship of red lines and slippery slopes.
* The phrase "conditions of life" is more nebulous than a metaphor: it just sounds like a catchphrase. The truth is that some phrases get picked up by a society and a standard interpretation is hashed out, over time. How would you like "conditions of life" to be used?
* Of our three themes, only "conditions of life" lacks a time element. How does this influence what it might come to mean?
* Picture Tweety Bird in her cage, Sylvester lurking nearby. Or Oliver Twist from Charles DIckens' novels of industrial England. Is confinement a condition of life? For some, or for all?
* Some things speak for themselves: in many places, (having) a car seems to be a condition of life. Yet even in Marin, people get by without one. What condition is common to all travelers' lives?
* Start with a dancer. The contours of her dance: invisible red lines? She seems pulled across the stage...down a slippery slope? If these conditions are restrictions, she is imposing them on herself. What's a more "affirmative" interpretation?
* This "landscape" that appears in every theme: what do red lines, slippery slopes, and conditions of life tell us about it?
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