By Kim Sung-joong Professor, Faculty Advisor Dept. of English Lang. & Lit.
Surfing the Internet, I happened to see some funny questions under the title, "The Are You Romantic Test."One of the questions in the test goes like this: "What would you prefer to get for Valentine's Day?"As a professor of Romanticism, I was relieved-since this could mean my field is not antiquated yet-to see that a lot of people are still anxious to be called "Romantic"instead of "realistic."If you answer to that question by saying "a car," you would be labeled as "realistic,"but if your answer is a bunch of flowers, then you would be called "romantic.?Of course, there exist differences in meaning between the word "romantic?and the artistic movement of the early nineteenth century in Europe, but they are not so different as you may think.
According to an English dictionary, romantic means "unrealistic"or "given to feelings of romance."Actually, this is the starting point of the Romantic Movement. Being unrealistic and emotional is one of the key characteristics of Romanticism. Rationalism believes that reason is the only necessary tool for accurate judgement. Against rationalism which tries to explain everything in a rational and scientific way arose Romanticism which emphasizes individual feelings along with creative and spontaneous spirits. Being rational means being realistic. If you are a rational person, you would ask for something useful for your gift.
Jeremy Bentham, a philosopher well known for his motto, "The greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation," believed that there were objective and calculable ways to measure happiness for every individual: such as love of money or a pleasure of possession. He thought that humans are born with self-interest and thus happiness should be the fundamental moral principle for them. However, Thomas Carlyle, a Victorian Romanticist, said, "What act of legislature was there that you should be happy?"His point is that each person is unique and there is no way to compare the pleasure and pain of one person with that of another.
Do you agree with Bentham's idea that pleasure for individuals can be judged by using only objective evidence and a scientific method? Do you think everyone is subject to the same measure for their happiness? Would you be happy if you can buy a car with less money? Or, would you be happy if you can eat more beef and more fruits with less money? Recently a study has revealed that rich people are not happier, and that adding wealth to your life does not increase your sense of happiness unless you live below the poverty line. Mass media, however, seem to brainwash people into thinking that the more you have, the happier you are: in other words, material happiness is everything. This is the value system which today's society leads us into. If you feel uncomfortable
Kim Sung-joong Professor, Faculty Advisor
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