Tuesdays With Morrie Essay, Research Paper
Life’s Greatest Lesson
Morrie Schwartz was an intelligent, interesting senior citizen that touched
a lot of people, especially Mitch Albom. Morrie passed on a lot of his knowledge
in the last few months of his life, due to amyotrophic lareral sclerosis (ALS). This
paper will touch on Morrie’s philosophy of life, what he says is important and
valuable, and also the struggles and problems of life. I will also compare
Morrie’s message with other philosophies and also give my opinion about
Morrie’s theory of human nature and philosophy of life.
Morrie’s philosophy of life is full of many ideas and to better understand it
it’s easier to break it down into parts. One of the philosophies was to cherish
family and to be more open about your emotions so that you will not regret it
when you or a loved one dies. Another one of Morrie’s philosophies is to be
open to forgiveness the following quote shows how Morrie regrets not forgiving
one of his closest friends. “ Over the years, I met Norman a few times and he
always tried to reconcile, but I didn’t accept it. I wasn’t satisfied with his
explanation. I was prideful. Mitch…a few years ago…he died of cancer. I never
got to forgive him” (Albom p. 166). That quote showed how Morrie deeply
regrets not forgiving his friend, for something he should have, and how not
forgiving him will bother him for the rest of his life.
Another part of Morrie’s philosophy has to do with culture. The following
quote shows how strongly he felt about the way American people should live.
“You start making money a god. It is all part of this culture…..The little things I
can obey. But the big things- how we think, what we value- those you must
choose yourself. You can’t let anyone or any society determine those for you”
(Albom p.154-155). This quote shows that Morrie does not agree with the way
many American people live their life. Many let the culture tell them how to live
their life but his philosophy is that you must be your own person and don’t let
anyone else tell you how to live.
Morrie put a lot of emphasis on what is important and valuable in his
philosophy of life. One value that he felt very strongly about was that people
look at material things to judge others instead of looking on the inside and getting
to know them. One quote that supports this statement says how we should not
depend on material things to find happiness and love. “They were embracing
material things and expecting a sort of hug back. But it never works. You can’t
substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness or for a
sense of comradeship” (Albom p. 125). This quote shows one of Morrie’s
strongest values, it tells how he felt about money and material items. Morrie felt
that people look to much at what others have and base their friends on money.
You cannot turn to cars, money, or mansions to get love and be liked by others.
If someone is your true friend they will love you for who you are and not what you
Morrie also had ideas on the challenges faced by humans and our human
nature. He highlighted some of the struggles and problems faced by most
humans. The following quote shows how Morrie felt about people basing their
lives on money instead of simple pleasures. “Morrie had always been taken with
simple pleasures, singing, laughing, dancing. Now, more than ever, material
things held little or no significance…We’ve got a form of brainwashing going on in
our country…..More money is good, more property is good, more commercialism
is good…The average person is so fogged up by all this, he has no perspective
on what’s really important anymore” (Albom p. 124-125). This quote shows how
Morrie feels about the country and the way people live. He sees more pleasure
in simple things such as singing and dancing, but the American people look at
pleasure as having more money than someone else or more property. Morrie
sees this as being a big problem in the country today. He feels that people
should be themselves and have fun without looking at how much they own.
To better understand Morrie’s philosophy I will compare and contrast it
with some other philosophies. First, compare the philosophy of Karl Marx to
Morries’. One point that Marx and Morrie would agree on would probably be
what Marx calls historical determinism. Historical determinism according to Marx
is how we respond to history in predictable ways. It’s how we have freewill to
change and react to things (Stevenson p. 140). Morrie would support this theory
and could use the example of not forgiving his friend. He had the freewill to
choose wether to forgive and how he reacted when his friend died and his
chance to forgive him was gone.
The next point Marx makes is that there is no individual human nature.
Every action of every human potentially effects others (Stevenson p. 140).
Morrie would agree by saying that what one person does can greatly effect other
people. For example how the laughter of other people makes him feel good, but
the sorrow other people have for him and his illness makes him feel bad.
Lastly, Marx says that the largest impact on individuals is their work
(Stevenson p. 140). Morrie would also greatly agree with this because of how he
looks down upon the people who are caught up in material things. He talked a
lot of how humans are caught up in work, and material things in general.
Morrie and Marx would probably disagree on a lot of things and the first
one would be the first point in Marx’s theory. Marx says that economics is the
key to all history and it’s the way we understand society and individuals. He
goes on to say money and wealth affect us personally and that it’s our individual
human nature. Morrie might agree that this is how society is but he would
disagree that it’s the way society should be. As I stated in the paragraph before
Morrie looked down upon those who thought money and material things proved
who you were.
The second philosophy I will compare to Morrie is Jean Paul Sarte.
Sarte’s main point is called Aesthetic Extentialism, which has three parts. Morrie
would agree with the first part which states that we value the individual. Every
individual is a unique being that has it’s own purpose in life ( Stevenson p. 170).
Some of Morrie’s main points also state that a individual should be valued as
being unique in it’s own way. Another point Sarte makes is that every individual
chooses their own attitudes, purpose, values, and way of life (Stevenson p. 170).
Morrie would also greatly agree with this statement. Morrie says that those
people that choose to value the wrong things in life or choose to have a grumpy
sad attitude are lost in this world. Morrie believes you should have a good
attitude, pick a purpose in life to help others as well as yourself, and to always
value nonmaterial things over material things.
The part of the philosophy that Sarte and Morrie would disagree on would
be on the topic where Sarte denies the existence of one truth. Sarte says that
multiple realities exist, life is absurd, and life doesn’t make any sense
(Stevenson p.175). Morrie would disagree with this statement with out a doubt.
The statement about life being absurd would really bother Morrie. Morrie says to
always cherish life and live it to it’s fullest. Morrie would probably say Sarte was
cherishing the wrong values and was not looking at life in a nonmaterial way.
The last philosophy I will compare with Morrie is one of Simone
DeBeavoir. DeBeavoir has five levels of humaness she uses to look at all types
of people. Every individual fits into one of her five categories according to her.
Morrie would agree with parts of each level and disagree with parts of the same
level. So to better compare these two philosophies I will look at each level and
state which parts Morrie would agree with and which ones he would disagree
The first level is calls subhuman, which DeBeavoir says is denial of
humaness. The individual sees themselves as locked in and that they have little
significance in their own life (Zink class notes). Morrie would agree that people
are locked into their lives and have no freedom in some instances. He would
also on the other hand somewhat disagree because he would encourage these
people and try to teach them how to take control of their lives.
The second level is called serious people, which is when people loose
themselves in objectivity. These types of people believe there is logic behind
everything, they never admit that they can posses a personal value, and they
never question anything (Zink). Morrie would greatly disagree with this type of
person even though he would agree there are a lot of people out there like this.
Morrie is a huge supporter of questions. He believes there is always a question
to be asked and says you can never ask to many questions.
The third level of humaness is called the nihilist level. This type of person
challenges every set of values, accepts nothing, and finds fault with everything.
They are the type of people who overcome everyone and every idea other
people have (Zink class notes). Morrie would agree with this type of persons
attitude. He would like that they challenge everything with their own ideas and
that they just don’t sit back and do whatever someone else says. He would also
disagree with the persons attitude about wanting to rule everything and that they
would ruin any ideas that someone else had.
The fourth level according to DeBeavoir is called the adventurer. The
adventurer is the type of person who is absorbed in action. This person will be a
part of everything that comes along but there will be no meaning or content
behind the persons action. These types of people always let you know they are
there and seem to be independent but are really dependent on the action (Zink
class notes). Morrie would totally disagree with this type of person. He would
agree with them wanting to be involved with everything but he would want them
to be genuine and put feeling into their actions.
The last level is Passionate, which is explained as the person who is
always looking for the answer. This type of person is the person who always
wants more, they seek possessions but are never fulfilled (Zink). Morrie would
want to help this person, he would want to answer their questions and help them
find their answers. He would agree with their need to find their answer and that
they always want more, always get the most out of life.
To summarize this paper I agree with Morrie and his view of human
nature and his philosophy of life. I think you should always value family and
friends more than material things. You should also live life to the it’s fullest and
share your thoughts with others because you never know when you or the other
person might not be around anymore. As for adding anything to Morrie’s ideas, I
don’t think I would. Morrie’s philosophy would be a good one to live by and the
main point to remember would be you never know when the person you care
about will be gone. So tell them how you feel about them and share your
knowledge with everyone that you can.