Dear Mr. Sherman; This is the write up of the ethics practicum assigned to me by you for this period of time. It is 17h05 and no one was in the classroom when I got there at 16h30. For this reason, I realized this was to be an impeccable test of what you have been teaching me even before I got to CCC campus.

I began by deciding to show up at the final late because when trying to buy junk food in a hurried manner before arriving on time, I got distracted and ended up buying fresh fruits and vegetables for my allies, which I had to take from Safeway to their nearby apartment. The utility calculus I intuit led me to find at the time that the fruit/vegetable delivery yielded more benefit than a half-hour of test-taking time.

My next experience was to enter a room in which I expected my peers and sensei to be examining me for a final judgement of my character. When I realized that it was empty save for some brilliant beams of sunlight, (no fluorescents for this exam; they'd distract) it dawned on me that I had been perfectly prepared to judge my own ethical value -- that really I'm the only one capable anyway -- and that I could have at any time but that it took expecting a room full of people to be judging me and being left with only one option.

After arriving, I wrote a proof on the board as a flowchart, assuming some of the exam to be written, most likely. Though the rubric is about as hard to understand as I would expect the one for an ethics class final exam to be.

Loosely translating the flowchart into text, here it is (I assume it was the written part of the exam):

If you take away my atoms, I stop existing. My atoms always exist. I always exist in the same way.

I was a different person when I was 3. I am, really, always becoming new people constantly. I never exist in the same way.

Logically irreconcilable; logical conclusion: I do not exist!

Corollary: Therefore, <3 (the therefore was three dots and the heart was vertical when I wrote this on the board)

Then, I thought about the conclusion I had constructed, and lay supine upon the floor, feeling that I was not there as I appreciated the peace, and the contrast between the brilliant beams of sunlight, and the relative peaceful shade of the remainder of the room. This led me to appreciate the meta-contrast between that concept and the test hall I was expecting and the peaceful room I had found myself in. They evoked analogous perceptions of beauty in me.

Then, the ductwork made a pinging noise. And then another, and another. The pings moved about me in my perception. The ducts had probably been pinging the whole time, but only then did I start to notice, and my observation led my mind to conclude (whether by "reality" I'll never know) THAT THE PINGING WAS MOVING AROUND ME. The capital letters in the previous sentence are not to my taste. I hit caps lock by accident but when I thought to change it to the "right" way I realized the story would probably be interpreted as more gripping by you if I left it in as-is, but it felt deceptive to cause you to experience narrative vigor that I must admit I did not bring to be through free will, which I do not think I have at this point, and also don't really know. Nor could I prove either way. Anyway, insert something about being found worthy in ancestors' judgement and how this is indistinguishable to me from pinging ductwork and I may as well assume the one that makes me happier because why would I lower global utility for no gain anyway.

Then, I left the room to take the practical exam. I wanted to take the bus (though I didn't yet and might not because I'm in the computer lab writing this and I can't see the future), but I only had a $5 bill and $1 in change (the bus required $1.25, and the bus driver isn't allowed to provide change for any overpayment -- I would have needed to pay $5.25 to take the bus in this case). So I asked the first person I saw if they could spare a quarter so I could take the bus. They said they didn't have a quarter or $0.25 (no change), but said they'd give me a $1 bill (allowing me to take the bus). So I said "yeah, that would work." When they produced the dollar to give it to me, I quickly handed them the $5 bill without warning. "It's just pieces of paper" I said, walking away quickly to prevent return. "What matters to me is that even though I could've just asked you for change, you were willing to help me even though you didn't know you'd get anything [tangible] out of it." It seemed like a better option than asking for change directly. I calculated that if that person never sees me again, then that interaction should end up in their "stranger" file in their mind. I tend to lump all strangers together. I assume others are like me (*and also know this is very wrong), so therefore I decided I'd try to make someone perceive strangers who ask them for things as people watching to see if they care about them. It was the best way to maximize the feedforward multiplication that I know of.

I hope I passed my ethics final! (To be fair I'm 15 mins. over, submitting this at 17h30. Please don't remove too many points for this oversight. I tried hard to write this up quickly but well.)

P.S. Please tell me if there's a "real" "ethics" "final" I missed.

Much love and alliance, [$name_redacted_due_to_nonexistence]


Until I got the response I have copied and pasted below, I had taken my professor's statements that the purpose of the class was to make us better-educated and more well-rounded students at face value. I thought that the only reason he was assigning tests was because they were required by the college, and that he cared if we developed our ability to use the ethical theories presented in his class to make more ethical decisions in our own lives. I thought that the precise timing of the exams, the rote memorization required by them -- and even the grades assigned to them -- were only there because of the college system itself, not because of my own professor's preferences.



Showing up a half hour late for a final exam is unacceptable. You can take the exam tomorrow, Wednesday, at 2 pm in room 458, and I'll mark you down one grade, or alternatively, you can take the exam Friday, at 11:30 am in rm. 504 and I'll mark you down two grades.


Keith David Sherman

Instructor, Philosophy & Spanish

Coconino Community College

Flagstaff, Arizona

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