Cups of poison tea

Hello ‘Netizens’

I’ve taken a couple of weeks off, obviously. During these two weeks I’ve had my graduation dinner, a couple of auditions (I think I nailed them, but that’s not for me to decide L ) and started playing a whole lot of new cool games. That’s all the good stuff. On the flip side I’ve also been through a couple of relationship issues which I’m not going to go into detail in but want to use as a basis of some food for thought.

For my first post back here on Composing Philosophy I offer a mind-game of sorts, or an analogy if you want to call it that. I’m unsure if any actual philosopher has made this sort of idea, I’m not even 18 yet and am quite embarrassed by the amount of philosophy I’ve actually studied….I’ve done it at IB Higher level but that’s all my academic study…currently working through Nietzsche’s “Twilight of the Idols” (or “Philosophizing with a hammer” which I find to be the greatest name for any book. Ever) and “Antichrist”. I’d like to say I love his writings but to be completely honest I don’t have a bloody idea what he’s saying.

tl;dr: if anyone’s made this sort of idea before, tell me so I can read up on their interpretations J

Anyway this idea is based upon a crude understanding and crude summary of the culture of my Chinese heritage. Chinese society bases itself very firmly on relationships between people, family is held at a high prestige, to be docile is to be good. As a result it becomes integral to be very polite. I understand that this is not that different from some more dated Western ideals, albeit these sort of ideals which often undermine the individual, are still prevalent even in the most ‘open’ of Chinese families. From what I understand this comes from the Confucian idea of respect, which is fine and in fact quite admirable: you must respect your elders, must respect others, must be polite etc etc.

However, in modern times where some people are being influenced by cultures outside of their own this ‘respect’ often turns into compressing the ideas and the actions of an individual in order to still appear docile and happy with the way things are because to argue is to ‘disrespect’ your elders. Here is where I draw the line. I think that at this point it is no longer ‘respect’; rather the individual is forced to lie in order to still be a ‘perfect’ person. But in a country where tradition is so strong, it is difficult to break from this mindset: parents can be hypocritical but will never admit to being so because it makes them ‘lose face’ in front of their children. Likewise, the child cannot argue against the parents because it is disrespectful. This carries on forever and ever and ever and quite frankly I find it embarrassing that so many people hold onto an obvious perversion of very good philosophy. Equally embarrassing is that John Stuart Mill already said that in “On Liberty” in 1859….and it still happens today…..

Perhaps though, many don’t see it as perversion and actually believe it to be right. Or maybe I’m completely wrong in what I say. Either way, introduction over, here’s my actual thing.
It’s called the “fallacy of reciprocity” or as I prefer calling it “A cup of poison tea”. Interesting note, I adapted this idea from a local Hong Kong TVB Drama I watched a couple of years ago; if I find the name I’ll put it here.

Let’s say that you live in a culture in which it is entirely rude to not accept a gift. To say no to a gift does not mean you are being polite and returning it, to do so would actually be insulting the other person for being foolishly close to you.

Now let us say that you have an enemy who means to kill you. He brews you a cup of tea and in it he puts a deadly poison, if you drink the tea you will die as the poison cannot be healed in anyway known to man. Out of suspicion you actually watched him brew the tea; you know that it includes the deadly poison.

You eye your cup as he politely pours you the tea, when he is done he signals for you to drink it. If you do drink the tea you are essentially giving up your own life in order to keep within the boundaries of your morality based upon being polite within the situation. If you do not drink it you would have greatly insulted another person, enemy or not this person has given you a gift and it would be incredibly rude to not receive it.

What do you choose?

I’ll confess, I don’t remember what happened in the TV show though I think he drank it.

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