Active Proposal


Working Title: What is bad?

Description for my field of Study:

I am in 300FA. A fancy name for what boils down to: I’m in Cegep but I really don’t know what to do with my life. My courses are only in the 200 options (mid-level) for now, ranging from Patterns of Prejudice (systematic racism in Canada) to Abnormal Psychology, and Environmental Issues. I may have deliberately chosen the most pessimistic courses during my profile registration.


I was maybe, five years old when I rammed my head straight into my Mother’s beloved porcelain elephant statue. I remember that soon after, my forehead felt wet and the shards of porcelain scattered on the ground became tinged red. My Mother screamed, of course and then, hurried to me. I knew right then that I did something bad.

Investigative Question:

There is such a broad spectrum of “bad” that is infinitely more interesting that “good.” To what extent can our rationale quantify what is bad?


We all like to identify ourselves as a good person, and it is usually easy to align ourselves with qualities that are considered morally acceptable. The question; “what is bad?” has been a timeless philosophical quandary, one that many would have a valid opinion on. I chose to focus on what is bad because it is more fun to write about things that rile people’s nerves than feel-good stories that may not elicit questions.

In Relation to my studies:

I am supposed to study people. Racism is bad. Not caring about the environment is bad. Mental abnormality is, depends on how you see it. Bad. The question, “what is bad?” is broad enough to encompass my field, rather than the other way around.

Proposed Publications:

I am fond of the Walrus for their well-written general interest stories, written by Canadians, for Canadians:


What is Bad?


My teacher might find my topic too broad, or worse, pandering to an audience without uncovering some great moral truth, hereby wasting everyone’s time. But I do find it interesting and engaging. The idea first came to me while recalling a conversation I had with some friends while being ignored by the waitresses at a restaurant on top of a mountain in Anhui, China. He said that one of the worst insults in the Putonghua language can be loosely translated to “Your mother has a stinky vagina.” As travelers we find that cultures often run contradictory to each other yet, almost all countries have their own flowery versions of the phrase “son of a bitch.”


There’s no greater insult than saying the person who carried you to term and nurtured you is impure. It’s an idea that we can all agree on, is universally bad.


But then, how rare are these instances? With so many different cultures, languages, religions that most people would ground their identity on, how do they agree what is bad? This truth is most apparent in the 613 mitzvots of Judaism. Breaking the rules of Kashrut by mixing cheese and meat? That’s a paddling.


I wouldn’t know how to conclude this. Not yet. I don’t expect to give a black and white answer such as. X is bad. Rather, I would like to end by inviting the reader to think of the things that he previously thought of as reprehensible and perhaps, maybe that behavior isn’t so bad after all.




I would really want this paper to give as much objective and scientific facts as possible. Even if unfortunately, I haven’t started to look yet. There are things that excite me, like crime charts or policies that contradict each other, between different countries. There wouldn’t be a need for an interview, from what I can gather at this point. I would rather draw on personal experiences for humanizing the topic and bringing it back to a micro scale. Places to visit: I would like to go to Senegal for the March break but I seriously doubt it will be useful for my research paper.


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