Sunday, May 31, 2015

Aristotle: On Experience & Virtue

In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle places great emphasis on the need for experience in virtue. He states that an individual develops virtue through experience, or his "practical wisdom."

"While young men become geometricians and mathematicians and wise in matters like these, it is thought that a young man of practical wisdom cannot be found. The cause is that such wisdom is con- cerned not only with universals but with particulars, which become familiar from experience, but a young man has no experience, for it is length of time that gives experience." ~ Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Heidegger’s “Reunion Speech” of 1934

Heidegger has always been accused of being a Nazi. This speech that he gave in 1934, shows his support for German socialism and Nazism. 

[Courtesy of the translator, W. H. F. Altman, here is the text of Martin Heidegger’s speech, delivered on the occasion of a 25th anniversary reunion in Konstanz, May 26-27, 1934.]

[Via: Stephen Hicks]

Martin Heidegger, The Reunion Speech

Twenty-five Years after Our Graduation, Reunion in Konstanz on May 26-27, 1934

Dear classmates!

Our reunion—after twenty-five years and more—might well incline us only to be concerned with remembrance and the past. But even granted that such is not the case, nevertheless our first communal action must yet remain the thought of our fallen comrades.

Each human being dies his own death. And this last and ultimate business of existence can never be performed for anyone by another. Death remains the deepest mystery of life. This is why we grow so little used to it and are hardly in a condition to think it out in its essence.

The representation of death and the relationship to it is for the individual human being, for groups of human beings and even for an entire nation, always the measure of its currently dominant conception of life.

Our comrades died an early death; but this early death was the most beautiful and greatest death. The greatest death: because it could become the highest sacrifice for the destiny of the nation. The most beautiful death: because they died this death not in the ebb, or flight and shattering of their life-impulse while in the still (…) time of the (…), but rather when this death was a lavish self-expenditure out of the still undiminished fullness of youth’s life-force.

That which in the old days here at Konstanz—again now as if new—invaded and held us captive: the lake and its magic, the incomparability of its shores and its peace, these scenes probably gathered themselves together one last time as the last manifestation of life before the inner eyes of our dying comrades.

But this unhelpful chatter about their death becomes all too easily a distortion. The dead would not want to hear such speeches: for now they hear only—as the wisdom of the ancient Greeks tells us—the silence and the stillness. Silence—let that be our conversation with them. And so I ask you: please rise and think of them.—

But what is going on in this mere memory of the fallen? We are making the death of our comrades the subject of a personal, comradely recollection. This gives the appearance that we are reaching back to a past event that by now is already some twenty years distant from us—an event that we might gently relegate to some place in our memory—as though it depends on us whether it might still be there today or not.

But that is all an illusion. For the Great War comes over us now for the first time. Our awakening to the two million dead in all those endless graves—which the borders of the Reich and German Austria wear like some mysterious crown—only now begins.

The Great War becomes today for us Germans—for us first and foremost among all peoples—the historical actuality of our existence for the first time. For history is not that which has been nor even what presents itself but rather what is to come and our task with respect it to it.

We still are all too ready to repeatedly gauge everything around us with traditional concepts and the measurements of the long-winded talker.

But the actuality of this gigantic event that we call the First World War is even now gradually entering a realm beyond the question of the guilt or innocence of its origins, beyond all questions of imperialism or pacifism.

The War, in its immediate conclusion, has indeed still not produced any decision, neither for the winners nor for the defeated; the mere result of the War is certainly not the decision. This yet stands ahead of us: it is a spiritual matter that concerns the entire earth.

The question to be decided is: which nation possesses the inner strength to grow towards the great test that now for the first time has emerged and becomes manifest.—It is the question to the nations about the originality of their national arrangements, about the rank and legitimacy of their political will to lead, about the cohesion of their spiritual world, about the health of their national life-force, about their strength to withstand this historical disaster.

The World War puts these questions about the entire living totality of each individual nation. And the deciding of this question divides the nations into the declining and the growing.

We stand in the midst of this decision.

And when we try to understand the meaning of the new German reality, then we must say: the new movement, which now courses through this nation, is the deepest and widest concern for our nation’s freedom.

For us, freedom does not mean the unchecked license of actions and conduct but rather: adhesion to the innermost law and the institutions of our essence. Freedom means: the gathering of each power that confirms the nation in its historical and spiritual position. Freedom means the awakening and commitment of the will of the nation to its own innermost mission.

That is the authentic sense of German Socialism. It signifies no mere alteration in the conception of society, it does not mean a barren equalization, it does not signify the spontaneous striving for some undefined common good.

German Socialism is the battle over the measure and laws of our nation’s essence-oriented institutions; German Socialism wants an order of merit based on inner confirmation and achievement: it wants the inviolability of service and the absolute honor of all labor.

That is what we mean by national freedom.

The liberation that leads to this freedom demands a complete reconstitution of the entire structure of the nation—its groups, occupations, classes, and every individual.

But this reconstitution can only be the product of an ongoing re-education. This again stands on the basis of two great pre-preconditions.

The first is the overcoming of the whole bourgeois essence; in other words, of that behavior which from first to last only sees what is repellant, inadequate, and noisy; the behavior that absorbs itself in minutia and half-way measures; the behavior that never wants to see and never can see the great and most distant, the unique and truly powerful.

And the second precondition for the future re-education of the nation is: destruction of that strange unreal world of illusion in which we moved about before the War and which flared up once again after the War and degenerated into lawlessness: that characteristic mish-mash of phony humanism—an empty patriotism and a Christianity grown indecisive—with which a cowardly mendacity in all essentials comes along in tow: cant on the one side and impertinence on the other. All of this must now be completely burnt to ashes.

We stand before the gigantic assignment: to apply the transformative power of the Great War—which now is taking hold of our people and taking them out beyond—first and foremost to our future actions and being.

And our generation is the passage and the bridge.

It is not the twenty-fifth reunion but the need for a spiritual decision that brings us together today in a new comradeship. It is not we who, through memory, recall our dead for the fleeting moment of a memorial service but rather it is they—the dead—who are compelling us to a decision and to the confirmation.

From us is demanded the enduring courage, the clear knowledge, the genuine measures, the belief in the mission of the people.

The Great War must now be spiritually won by us, i.e., battle will become the innermost law of our existence. And we are taking up anew that deep wisdom which one of the greatest and earliest thinkers of the Greeks pronounced—that people related to us by race and by essence—that saying of Heraclitus, which we generally know and repeat only in its well-worn and mutilated form: “Battle is the father of all things.” It says: [Fragment 53]: ‘Battle is the producer of all things—but of all things also the ruler—; it indeed makes some manifest as gods, the others as men, some it gives forth as slaves, the others as masters.’

This would tell us that the power of battle holds sway in the whole being of things and humans in a double sense: as the power of production and as the power of preservation. Battle produces things not just to replicate itself from them as soon as they are established and have discovered their actuality; but rather battle preserves and uniquely maintains things in their essential condition.

In general, therefore: where this productive battle is absent begins stagnation, equalization, mediocrity, backsliding, harmlessness, atrophy and decay.

For the bourgeois, battle is always only argument, quarrelsome wrangling, and a disruption.—For essential men, battle is the great test of all being: through it is decided whether we are slaves to ourselves or masters, whether we incline to live so as to make what is already small even smaller, or whether we bring forth the will and inner power to continuously make greater that which is great.

Human beings must first become great in the ground of their essence in order to see great things and advance in obedience to them.

What that false doctrine of modern thought would have us believe is absolutely untrue: that a civil society, formed from collected individuals, is the precondition for a cohesive obedience. Rather is it the exact reverse: obedience, that binding of oneself to the will of the leader, first creates community.

We who belong to this fully mystical comradeship with our dead comrades; our generation is the bridge to spiritual and historical victory in the Great War.

But only that which has been prepared long in advance can build from the ground up for the distant future—, only what has been decided and which maintains itself permanently in that decision is able to decide for distant centuries.

Mere opinions and theories are not effective, programs and organizations have no binding power but only this alone: heart to heart and shoulder to shoulder!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Politics is to economics as mind is to body

"Politics is to economics as mind is to body, or as an abstraction is to one of its concretes. Politics identifies the principles that should govern every social field. The right political system thus includes as one of its aspects the right economic system. Morality determines politics, as its application to organised human interaction—and politics then determines economics, as its application to the field of production and trade." Dr. Leonard Peikoff in OPAR (Opening lines in the Chapter on "Capitalism")

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ayn Rand is to Aristotle what Kant is to Plato

"Ayn Rand is to Aristotle what Kant is to Plato. Both sides of the perennial duel, in their pure form, have finally been made explicit. Kant's philosophy is Platonism without paganism. Ayn Rand's philosophy is Aristotelianism without Platonism." ~ Dr. Leonard Peikoff in OPAR (The Duel Between Plato and Aristotle)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Having Knowledge...

"If a man grasps truths that can not be other than they are, in the way in which he grasps the definitions through which demonstrations take place, he will not have opinion, but knowledge." ~ Aristotle

Anyone who says that economic security is a human right, has been too much babied

"Anyone who says that economic security is a human right, has been too much babied. While he babbles, other men are risking and losing their lives to protect him. They are fighting the sea, fighting the land, fighting diseases and insects and weather and space and time, for him, while he chatters that all men have a right to security and that some pagan god—Society, The State, The Government, The Commune—must give it to them. Let the fighting men stop fighting this inhuman earth for one hour, and he will learn how much security there is." ~ Rose Wilder Lane in The Discovery of Freedom

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Government is a necessary evil...

"Government, as Jefferson said, is a necessary evil. It is evil because it is a use of force, and force has no morality and no moral effect. It is necessary because—to date, and perhaps forever—a few men stupidly use force to injure others, and nothing but force will stop them." ~ Rose Wilder Lane in The Discovery of Freedom

Luxury can be virtuous

"If luxury were ugly, it would not be found at the feasts of the gods.”- Aristippus (The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers)

"Virtue is sufficient for happiness, and for virtue nothing is requisite but the strength of Socrates.”- Antisthenes (The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Might does not make right

This cool quote from Paine rejects the idea that might makes it right:

"There is something exceedingly ridiculous in the composition of monarchy; it first excludes a man from the means of information, yet empowers him to act in cases where the highest judgment is required. The state of a king shuts him from the world, yet the business of a king requires him to know it thoroughly; wherefore the different parts, by unnaturally opposing and destroying each other, prove the whole character to be absurd and useless." ~ Thomas Paine in Common Sense

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Nature of man is the real danger in democracy

“We have done nothing surprising, nothing contrary to human nature, if we accepted leadership when it was offered and are now unwilling to give it up.” ~ Thucydides (History of the Peloponnesian War, Book I), commenting on the reasons behind the fall of the Athenian Empire 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

John Stuart Mill on this Father - in The Autobiography

"His aversion to religion, in the sense usually attached to the term, was of the same kind with that of Lucretius: he regarded it with the feelings due not to a mere mental delusion, but to a great moral evil. He looked upon it as the greatest enemy of morality: first, by setting up factitious excellencies—belief in creeds, devotional feelings, and ceremonies, not connected with the good of human kind— and causing these to be accepted as substitutes for genuine virtue: but above all, by radically vitiating the standard of morals; making it consist in doing the will of a being, on whom it lavishes indeed all the phrases of adulation, but whom in sober truth it depicts as eminently hateful." ~ John Stuart Mill 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Kant inspired socialism

Here is Ernst Cassirer’s assessment of why Immanuel Kant matters to the history of socialism:

“Within the movement of German neo-Kantianism the close connection between Kantian ethics and socialism was strongly emphasized by Hermann Cohen and Paul Natorp [1854–1924]. They pointed out that socialism was a necessary consequence of the Kantian categorical imperative and that the socialist movement was essentially a moral movement whose philosophic basis is best expressed in the Kantian moral philosophy.”

Via: Stephen Hicks

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Good company

If you are not lonely when you are alone, you are in good company...

Kant's disastrous slogan - "God, freedom, and immortality"

Most of the traditional opponents of determinism have regarded free will as mystical, as an attribute of an otherworldly soul that is antithetical to science and to man's this-worldly reason. The classic expression of this viewpoint is the disastrous Kantian slogan, "God, freedom, and immortality," which has had the effect of making "freedom" laughable by equating it with two bromides of supernaturalism. What reputable thinker cares to uphold volition if it is offered under the banner, "ghosts, choice , and the Pearly Gates"?

~ Dr. Leonard Peikoff in OPAR 

Reverse Swing: The reforms hogwash

It is hogwash to say that Manmohan Singh was the architect of the reforms that won India its independence from Nehru in 1991.

Forget “desi” paternity. The Indian reform process sprang from the emphatically foreign loins of IMF mandarins. They imposed conditions on India in exchange for an emergency loan of $2.2 billion, secured by 47 tonnes of gold reserves which had to be hauled to the UK. Another $600 million was secured by pledging 20 tonnes to the Union Bank of Switzerland. Bharat wasn’t always “mahaan”.

Narasimha Rao unveiled some reforms a few hours before Singh’s maiden budget in Parliament. But the reason Singh was given “architect” status (as Swaminathan Aiyar has argued in a recent blog) was that he’d be the nerdy fall guy if things went awry. As a respected technocrat with no political base, there’d be little opposition to Singh’s recommendations.

Click here to read more 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Anatomy of Compassion

“Compassion is a wonderful thing. It's what one feels when one looks at a squashed caterpillar. An elevating experience. One can let oneself go and spread--you know, like taking a girdle off. You don't have to hold your stomach, your heart or your spirit up--when you feel compassion. All you have to do is look down. It's much easier. When you look up, you get a pain in the neck. Compassion is the greatest virtue. It justifies suffering. There's got to be suffering in the world, else how would we be virtuous and feel compassion?" ~ The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Past is the key to future...

"One faces the future with one's past." ~ Pearl S Buck

Chaos theory proves that unpredictability is built into our daily lives

“And now chaos theory proves that unpredictability is built into our daily lives. It is as mundane as the rainstorm we cannot predict. And so the grand vision of science, hundreds of years old – the dream of total control – has died, in our century. And with it much of the justification, the rationale for science to do what it does. And for us to listen to it. Science has always said that it may not know everything now but it will know, eventually. But now we see that isn’t true. It is an idle boast. As foolish, and as misguided, as the child who jumps off a building because he believes he can fly.” (Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park).

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Birth of Deconstructivism

Production is profit; and profit is production

"Production is profit; and profit is production. They are not merely related; they are the same thing. When a man plants potatoes, if he does not get back more than he put in, he has produced nothing." ~ Isabel Paterson in The God of The Machine

Friday, May 8, 2015

Idea of the “supernatural” is an assault on everything man knows about reality

Supernatural,” etymologically, means that which is above or beyond nature. “Nature,” in turn, denotes existence viewed from a certain perspective. Nature is existence regarded as a system of interconnected entities governed by law; it is the universe of entities acting and interacting in accordance with their identities. What then is a “super-nature”? It would have to be a form of existence beyond existence; a thing beyond entities; a something beyond identity.

The idea of the “supernatural” is an assault on everything man knows about reality. It is a contradiction of every essential of a rational metaphysics. It represent a rejection of the basic axioms of philosophy (or, in the case of primitive men, a failure to grasp them).

~ Leonard Peikoff in Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Poetry is of greater importance than philosophy ~ Aristotle

"History tells what has happened, poetry what is such that it could happen. That’s why poetry is more philosophical and more serious [about ethics] than is history; for poetry tells more of the universal, history of the particulars." ~ Aristotle in Poetics

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A free society has to be an informed society

“A free society has to be an informed society. … The more specialized and diversified a society, the greater its need for the integrating power of knowledge; but the acquisition of knowledge on so wide a scale is a full-time profession. A free society has to count on the honor of its intellectuals: it has to expect them to be as efficient, reliable, precise and objective as the printing presses and televisions that carry their voices.” ~ Ayn Rand, For the New Intellectual 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

There is geometry in the humming of the strings... ~ Pythagoras

“There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres.” ~ Pythagoras

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Immanuel Kant's scary views on education

In his On Education (1803) Immanuel Kant makes the following points on imagination and fiction:

“Children generally have a very lively imagination, which does not need to be expanded or made more intense by the reading of fairy tales. It needs rather to be curbed and brought under rule.” (Section 73)

“Novel-reading is the worst thing for children, since they can make no further use of it, and it merely affords them entertainment for the moment. Novel-reading weakens the memory. For it would be ridiculous to remember novels in order to relate them to others. Therefore all novels should be taken away from children. Whilst reading them they weave, as it were, an inner romance of their own, rearranging the circumstances for themselves; their fancy is thus imprisoned, but there is no exercise of thought.” (Section 69)

Quotes via Stephen Hicks

Friday, May 1, 2015

What happiness is ~ Aristotle

Aristotle thinks we can all agree what to call the highest human good: it is eudaimonia, happiness. But as for what happiness is, people disagree vehemently and sometimes even contradict themselves at different times of life.

The many think it is something palpable and obvious, for example pleasure or wealth or honor. Some think it’s one thing and others think its another – and often the same person thinks it’s different things. When he is sick he thinks eudaimonia is health, but when he is poor he thinks it is wealth. (Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics)

It is well-known that “happiness” can be a misleading translation of eudaimonia and this passage shows why. The goods mentioned here may cause us, as we say, to feel happy, but it is hard to see how they could be what happiness itself is.