CLST 211 Case Study: Darion’s Brewery
The following work sample was created for a UBC philosophy class between November and December of 2017. This case study demonstrates my ability to think critically about philosophical ideas. It shows my conflict resolution abilities and my writing ability as well. I am proud of this work not only for its content but also for what it represents to me. I worked in a brewery for a year and later went on to volunteer at an addiction recovery center; through this assignment I have been able to reconcile, at least to some degree, the seemingly contrasting perspectives of each institution. I am also proud to present a piece of writing which incorporates a philosophical theme and as a result of this exercise I am better able to weave these larger ideas into narratives.
The Downtown Eastside (DTES) addiction crisis is a central issue in local politics. Associated problems of homelessness and mental health plague this part of Vancouver and the rapid development of the downtown core is slowly pushing these people out of the area, leaving them with fewer and fewer options. Yet the city’s growth is also a sign of a healthy economy. The influx of artisanal food shops and other businesses is evidence that people of any background can establish themselves, pursue their dreams and live happily here. Some see the development of the DTES as a much needed change, but many within the community see only the gentrification of what is one of Vancouver’s most historic and culturally rich neighborhoods. Here I will explore this conflict from a philosophical approach by examining the case study of Darion’s brewery in relation to ideas and beliefs popular to Greek antiquity. Through a basic critical analysis I will summarize the motivations and concerns of each party and finally I will attempt to mediate the disagreement presented by suggesting some possible solutions.
Darion is a long time resident of Vancouver and has experience in the liquor industry. He has even become a resident of the DTES himself in his effort to save money for creating his business. From what we can tell he is an honest businessman who is seeking legal business licenses. He also plans to hire and train within the community. Darion is pursuing the Greek poetic ideal of aretē (excellence stemming from an examined life) by establishing a brewery that does things differently.
The residents are skeptical about Darion’s business and about alcohol generally. They are more concerned with ancient Greek notions of dikē (justice) and seek good for the polis (group at large); like Hesiod with his brother Perses, they may think that Darion doesn’t “know the half of the whole / Or the real goodness in mallows and asphodel” (56-57). In other words they could see Darion as a man who disregards the value of their poverty, desires “only the power to compel” and believes that “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must” (Thucydides, Melian Dialogue). Finally and perhaps most importantly they demonstrate a concern for the vulnerable people who would be more exposed to alcohol if Darion opens his business, particularly the youths who frequent the community center across from the proposed site.
Other Motives and Arguments
Due to the pressures each party faces they may have other reasons for the sides they take which are not discussed. Darion, for one, could be making false promises in an effort to garner good publicity. It could be that he truly believes as Thrasymachus does that dikē serves to further only his personal advantage (Plato 343A-D). But, he may be pursuing eudaimonia (happiness) through energeia (fulfilment) toward his Aristotelian higher calling and may therefore think that he is operating on the basis of sound reason (Griffin 6-8). Though he is a resident of the DTES his move is a recent one and he has likely come there for much different reasons and with much different expectations than many of the current residents. In order for him to present himself in a favorable light he will have to demonstrate that he is an integrated and positive contributor to the community.
The Community residents too may have ulterior motives. Considering the chaos that surrounds them their fears of addiction may be heightened. Darion’s proposed business represents financially focussed development that could potentially separate them further from the social support that they need. Due to their being marginalized, many residents of the community likely have experience with false promises and may think like Heraclitus that “most people are bad, and few are good” (Proclus). A brewery in their community is a big risk and it will bring in a younger and more affluent crowd that could push the current residents out altogether. For them to accept Darion’s business proposal his promises will have to outweigh the potential risks and they will have to be upheld.
Xenophanes might say that differences between Darion’s and the community’s beliefs are the inevitable result of their differing personal experiences (Clement 5.110). But this doesn’t mean that the two can’t come to terms. By following the teachings of Socrates and disciplining themselves to use the logos (reason) to govern their thumos (emotions) and epithumia (desires) they can reach a level-headed compromise.
Under their unified pursuit of true eudaimonia Darion and the community could undertake a written agreement that legally binds the business to its promise to employ and train community members. Darion could release special products with a percentage of their proceeds going toward local community services. He could even write scholarships specifically for members of the center across the street who display a dedication to the improvement of their district, thereby encouraging them to lead a socratic life of selflessness and reason. In this way Darion would be promoting academia as well as perhaps lessening the chances of the youths’ being trapped by substance abuse issues.
Just as Darion can set aside his desires for them the community can set aside their feelings for him and with their co-operation they can emerge from Plato’s allegorical cave and then return to free every other member of the Downtown Eastside from their bonds to guide them into the light (Republic VII).
Clement. Miscellanies 5.110.
Griffin, Michael. “Athenian Thought 4”. pp. 6-8. 2017.
Hesiod. “Theogony.” Anthology of Classical Myth: Primary sources in translation. Edited by Stephen M Trzaskoma et al., Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2016, pp. 131-60.
Plato, Republic. I, VII.
Proclus and Westerink. Commentary on Plato’s Alcibiades I 117.
Thucydides and Warner, Rex. “Thucydides: History of the Peloponnesian War”. 1972. Penguin.
January 10, 2023 — 2:33 am
I will provide a brief critical analysis of the situation, outlining the main arguments and concerns of both sides, before offering a few compromises in an effort to resolve the conflict.