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Tuesday, March 18. 2008
From a report of a talk titled "The Need for a Philosophy" by Chesterton in 1923, which is introduced thus:
Read the whole summary here.
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Huh. I posted on a very similar topic today and linked back to you on this.
"Some people, especially those who do not think, imagine that thinking is a painful process, but to my mind it is the best game in the world, and connected thinking of some kind - knowing what you mean and not following catchwords - is necessary for us all. "
Couldn't agree more. But connected thinking will never be available to us all (not that it ever was) because the media and now, blogs, do it for us. The trick is to pull back and synthesize it all so that you hook up the connection so that it all makes sense. Good luck trying to get everyone to engage in original thought. And I think it will only get worse. We have too much to think about.
Thinking consecutively is difficult. I suspect that few can do it well. That's why we need thinkers to link to.
"There are some, like myself, who hold a mystical philosophy, a belief that behind human experience there are realities, powers of good and evil, and the final test for things is their influence for good or evil. The good power intends us to be happy and we are justified in being happy, but the real question is not whether we are happy, but whether, behind the things wherein we seek our happiness lies the, power of good. Are they parts of the good or of the evil? "
"That's why we need thinkers to link to." (BD)
Well then, pick a thinker. This guy admits to holding a mystical philosophy, and he's not sure if behind the things wherein we seek our happiness lies the [,] power of good because maybe they're evil. Sheeesh.
Here's a clue: What's the difference between good and evil?
YOU give it power. Why agonize over it? The stupid don't, it seems; only those who over-think or who are muddy mystics have to wonder if evil lurks in their laughter and joy.
Didn't read the assignment, dear, or just forgot what GKC wrote already?
Evil empowered Nero's passion, that which made him happy.
"To take a typical case: that of Nero. It is possible to condemn him on merely social and practical grounds, burning people is a disintegrating element. Here is a good case for an utilitarian test. Nero was a nuisance. But there is the other point of view which holds that he was possessed with a positive passion for hurting people and that was not only an evil on account of what it produced, but was an evil in itself. It was not relative, not negative, but a positive poisonous thing in the soul of man that was in itself wholly evil. You may insist, in the Language of modern popular science that Nero was mad - what some of us would rather call possessed with a devil- but to say that such a state of mind is madness does not decide the issue. The ego in man in that condition,is evil in itself. It is akin to demonology. It is incidentally bad because it corrupts society but the harm done from that point of view is only a symbol, for it is really bad because it is related to evil realities that exist behind our life. It is not true to say that cruelty is bad because it destroys a community, it is rather true to say that it destroys because it is bad.
Meta, calling Chesterton "this guy" is an unfortunate tell on your part. GKC was prominent in the early part of the 20th C - friend and debater of Shaw, and half of Shaw's famed "Chesterbelloc." He rapidly went out of fashion and would certainly qualify as obscure in the academy. But his perceptiveness and ability to see the essential in an argument despite the distractions of pseudointellectuals have kept his writings alive among those who love clear thinking, good sense, and an interesting turn of phrase.
You might aspire to be counted among that group rather than being quickly dismissive.
"...calling Chesterton "this guy" is an unfortunate tell on your part." Good. Too bad Shaw wasn't mention with him and it'd be even gooder.
"You might aspire to be counted among that group rather than being quickly dismissive." No thanks. I don't have the cojones for the kind of bloody cynicism espoused by their thinking; and I sure as hell prefer writers who don't aspire to carnivalesque linguistics.
Now. What you have attacked here is my casual disdain for the 'thinking' - that shows up in this article as balderdash, and you've taken on my feelings about how to handle good and evil. Stick to the content next time and don't insult me.
Ah, now I see. You didn't understand what he wrote about the powers behind. Or perhaps you understood, but fail to see the possibility that something might be pleasurable and still evil.
As to insulting, if you find my assessment that you were quickly dismissive (second paragraph) after giving evidence for that (first paragraph), I fear that a great deal will strike you as insulting.
mmm, yumm,yumm--systems, connections--the whole picture. WOW!
And if we could flow time back to before the "modern 'isms'", the 'isms' that are supposedly such a threat to our continuation as a species... at what point in time would we say, stop, this is it, this is the ideal. And what would we then have... 'more' connected thinkers. And that would make the world different, or better, how?
I don't know... it just puzzles me how change in the cultural matrix is somehow always linked to a disaster in the making of one form or another.
Sigh. A philosophy professor of mine asked my class to write a 2000 word response a question of ethics. Something along the lines of is it better to choose death or an evil means of avoiding death. My response was to write in 2000 words that it would be impossible for me to write in 2000 words which choice was preferable. I wouldn’t have been able to scratch the surface of the subject within the framework he had provided. What is life? What does “death” mean? Does evil exist and what is its nature? What is the context of the choice? Are there offsets to evil, which might redeem me in the unfolding future? Should I make the choice to live, might my life somehow serve to deter an even greater evil? Is choosing death in and of itself the greater evil? Delving into the history of philosophical thought, 2000 words would not suffice to complete an introduction to the question.
I received three grades for the paper. He gave me a B- and scratched it out. He gave me a C- and scratched it out. He finally settled on a D- for the paper. I was unmoved.
Philosophy is the love of wisdom—human meaning, proper conduct and all of that business. Pressed forward by conflict, the clash of moral imperatives, we wrestle with the great questions and ideas evolve. Methodologies of ideation evolve. We strive.
Now look at the notion of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. It’s brilliant but limited by our finitude. Dialectics are not progress of thought; rather the method is an advance of ideas that wobble around the axis of human inquiry. There is no pinnacle of philosophical thought that transcends human experience. Philosophy is not the output of desiccated academics; it’s an understanding of what works in human experience. People don’t need a “philosophy”! You don’t hear people saying, “I’m an existentialist. I suffer what this life brings and act as though it has meaning, albeit with a patina of ennui.” Humanity has gone on without explanation from its beginnings, but life is short and brutish and we strive for an understanding to comfort and guide us. That understanding won’t come from pure reason alone, but it comes with wisdom.
This is the end of my comment. Grade away.
"That understanding won’t come from pure reason alone, but it comes with wisdom." You are correct. So was Sophocles in 400BC when he said this:
"Wisdom implies knowing what you are,
Knowing your place in the world,
Being able to take the wide view,
With a due sense of proportion."
Nor will it I think. Great quote Meta... sums it up well.
Would have been an A+... but you left out a 'to' :) So, A.
Yeah, I saw that after I hit the "you won't be able to edit this again" button. But I'll take the A... Thanks.
Where can one buy Evil Offsets nowadays? How about Evil Offset Futures?
Well, BD, I just happen to have an (slightly used) evil offset that's going to be perfect for you. It's an industrial strength investment in vicarious expiation, today only, for the low, low price of one thousand dollars. That's right, not three, not two, but one thousand dollars in three easy payments of $499. Get a head start on the road to righteousness with guaranteed evil offsets while supplies last. You won’t be disappointed..
((pssst...BD, you can bargain him down -- i got my offsets off him for fitty cent a bushel))
He who learns must suffer, and, even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.
(i've always felt a bond with the Aeschylus, the 'father of tragedy'--for instance, he fought Xerxes at Salamis, I fight Tofu with Salami)