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PlaidStallion (30): ACTING: The purpose of politics is not simply to protect economic or personal freedom, it should make us better people and enshrine moral values. There are things money cannot buy.
We sometimes think of moral reasoning as a way of persuading other people. But it is also a way of sorting out our own moral convictions, of figuring out what we believe and why.
Justice is inescapably judgmental ... questions of justice are bound up with competing notions of honor and virtue, pride and recognition. Justice is not only about the right way to distribute things. It is also about the right way to value things.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (23): ACTING: The good ruler will build a strong and successful state that provides prosperity and peace for its citizens; maintaining it sometimes requires action at odds with the morals of the day.
And you are to understand that a Prince, and most of all a new Prince, cannot observe all those rules of conduct considered good, being often forced, in order to preserve his Princedom, to act in opposition to good faith, charity, humanity, and religion. He must therefore keep his mind ready to shift as the winds and tides of Fortune turn, and, as I have already said, he ought not to quit being good if he can help it, but should know how to follow evil courses if he must.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (25): ACTING: What you believe to be true may be only a poor and distorted reflection of reality. Philosophy opens the door to higher knowledge, which can be used to serve your state and community.
[The form of the Good is] the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual ... this is the power upon which he who would act rationally either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.
Until kings are philosophers, or philosophers are kings, cities will never cease from ill: no, nor the human race; nor will our ideal polity ever come into being.
The State in which the rulers are most reluctant to govern is always the best and most quietly governed, and the State in which they are most eager, the worst.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (15): THINKING: Because the way we think determines what we know, psychological research plays an important part in the search for philosophical truth.
Extreme predictions and a willingness to predict rare events from weak evidence are both manifestations of System 1 ... And it is natural for System 1 to generate overconfident judgements, because confidence ... is determined by the coherence of the best story you can tell from the evidence at hand. Be warned: your intuitions will deliver predictions that are too extreme and you will be inclined to put far too much faith in them.
My personal hindsight-avoiding policy is to be either very thorough or completely casual when making a decision with long-term consequences.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (2): BEING: Happiness comes from expressing what we have rationally
decided is good for us over the longer term. Happiness is not pleasure, but a by-product of a meaningful life.
[We] become builders by building, and we become harpists by playing the harp. Similarly, then, we become just by doing just actions, temperate by doing temperate actions, brave by doing brave actions.
And just as Olympic prizes are not for the finest and strongest, but for the contestants – since it is only these who win – the same is true in life; among the fine and good people, only those who act correctly win the prize.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (50): Human beings have a natural and healthy urge to be creative and powerful, and morality only suppresses and distorts this.
Psychologists should bethink themselves before putting down the instinct of self-preservation as the cardinal instinct of an organic being. A living thing seeks above all to discharge its strength – life itself is Will to Power; self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent results thereof.
The falseness of an opinion is not for us any objection to it: it is here, perhaps, that our new language sounds most strangely. The question is, how far an opinion is life-furthering, life-preserving, species-preserving.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (34): THINKING: We want to make the world seem an orderly place, but the frequency of truly unexpected events should tell us that we do not really know what causes things.
Linear relationships are truly the exception; we only focus on them in classrooms and textbooks because they are easier to understand. Yesterday afternoon / tried to take a fresh look around me to catalog what I could see during my day that was linear. I could not find anything, any more than someone hunting for squares or triangles could find them in the rainforest.
We, members of the human variety of primates, have a hunger for rules because we need to reduce the dimension of matters so they can get into our heads. Or, rather sadly, so we can squeeze them into our heads. The more random information is, the greater the dimensionality, and thus the more difficult to summarize. The more you summarize, the more order you put in, the less randomness. Hence the same condition that makes us simplify pushes us to think that the world is less random than it actually is.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (19): SEEING: Rather than a linear accumulation of facts, knowledge can be
seen as the replacement of one worldview with another.
All historically significant theories have agreed with the facts, but only more or less.
[The] new paradigm, or a sufficient hint to permit later articulation, emerges all at once, sometimes in the middle of the night, in the mind of a man deeply immersed in crisis.
The transfer of allegiance from paradigm to paradigm is a conversion experience that cannot be forced.
Assimilating a new sort of fact demands a more than additive adjustment of theory, and until that adjustment is completed – until the scientist has learned to see nature in a different way – the new fact is not quite scientific at all.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (16): ACTING: In a rational world based on science, is there a place for moral law?
Human reason has a peculiar fate … it is troubled by questions that it cannot dismiss, because they are posed to it by the nature of reason itself, but that it also cannot answer, because they surpass human reason’s every ability.
No one, indeed, will be able to boast that he knows that there is a God and that there is a future life ... No, the conviction is not a logical but a moral certainty; and because it rests on subjective bases (of the moral attitude), I must not even say It is morally certain that there is a God, etc., but must say I am morally certain, etc.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (47): ACTING: We are born a human, but we become a person through fulfilling a responsible role in society in a selfless way.
Tsze-chang asked Confucius about perfect virtue. Confucius said, “To be able to practice five things everywhere under heaven constitutes perfect virtue.” He begged to ask what they were, and was told, “Gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness. If you are grave, you will not be treated with disrespect. If you are generous, you will win all. If you are sincere, people will repose trust in you. If you are earnest, you will accomplish much. If you are kind, this will enable you to employ the services of others.”
The Master said of Tsze-ch’an that he had four of the characteristics of a superior man – in his conduct of himself, he was humble; in serving his superior, he was respectful; in nourishing the people, he was kind; in ordering the people, he was just.”
Fan Ch’ih asked about benevolence. The Master said, “It is to love all men.” He asked about knowledge. The Master said, “It is to know all men.”… (mais)
PlaidStallion (28): ACTING: A free society raises up and ennobles its citizens, but also entails giving up some of our personal liberty for the needs of the whole.
To renounce freedom is to renounce one’s humanity, one’s rights as a man and equally one’s duties.
The social pact, far from destroying natural equality, substitutes, on the contrary, a moral and lawful equality for whatever physical inequality that nature may have imposed on mankind; so that however unequal in strength and intelligence, men become equal by covenant and by right.
Every man having been born free and master of himself, no one else may under any pretext whatever subject him without his consent. To assert that the son of a slave is born a slave is to assert that he is not born a man.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (31): BEING: There is no essential nature at the heart of our being. We are free to invent a self and create a life as we wish.
Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.
I am responsible for everything ... except for my very responsibility, for I am not the foundation of my being. Therefore everything takes place as if I were compelled to be responsible. I am abandoned in the world ... in the sense that I find myself suddenly alone and without help, engaged in a world for which I bear the whole responsibility without being able, whatever I do, to tear myself away from this responsibility for an instant.
[H]uman reality does not exist first in order to act later; but for human reality, to be is to act.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (24): As we have little to lose by a belief in a higher power, and plenty to gain if it is true, it is rational that we believe.
Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.
The only thing that consoles us for our miseries is diversion, and yet this is the greatest of our miseries. For it is mainly what prevents us from thinking about ourselves ... diversion amuses us and guides us imperceptibly towards death.
For after all what is man in nature? A nothing in relation to infinity, all in relation to nothing, a central point between nothing and all and infinitely far from understanding either He is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness out of which he was drawn and the infinite in which he is engulfed.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (12): BEING: Human existence is a mystery, and the authentic person is one who reflects on that mystery and yet lives in the
real world, making the most of their possibilities.
Why are there beings at all instead of nothing? That is the question… Of course it is not the first question in the chronological sense. And yet ... we are each touched once, maybe even every now and then, by the concealed power of this question, without properly grasping what is happening to us. In great despair, for example, when all weight tends to dwindle away from things and the sense of things grows dark, the question looms.
We have defined the idea of existence as an ability-to-be, as one which is in each case mine, is free either for authenticity or for inauthenticity or for a mode in which neither of these has been differentiated.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (17): Total trust in an absolute or spiritual reality is not a weakness, but is life’s highest expression.
Faith is a marvel, and yet no human being is excluded from it; for that in which all human life is united is passion, and faith is a passion.
The knight of faith knows it gives inspiration to surrender oneself to the universal, that it takes courage to do so, but also that there is a certain security in it, just because it is for the universal.
No, no one shall be forgotten who was great in this world. But each hero was great in his own way, and each was eminent in proportion to the great things he loved. For he who loved himself became great through himself, and he who loved others became great through his devotion, but he who loved God became greater than all of these. Every one of them shall be remembered, but each one became great in proportion to his trust.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (14): THINKING: We can never assume that an effect is the result of a certain cause, or that a certain cause will have a definite effect. Humans like to see patterns and interpret stories from events, but there is no causal necessity between objects (or at least not as far as the human senses are able to tell).
When we look about us towards external objects, and consider the operation of causes, we are never able, in a single instance, to discover any power or necessary connexion; any quality, which binds the effect to the cause, and renders one an infallible consequence of the other.
The most perfect philosophy of the natural kind only staves off our ignorance a little longer: as perhaps the most perfect philosophy of the moral or metaphysical kind serves only to discover larger portions of it.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (8): Every age has unconscious assumptions about how the world is ordered, making the flavor of knowledge quite different from one era to another.
Historians want to write histories of biology in the eighteenth century; but they do not realize that biology did not exist then, and that the pattern of knowledge that has been familiar to us for a hundred and fifty years is not valid for a previous period. And that, if biology was unknown, there was a very simple reason for it: that life itself did not exist. All that existed was living beings, which were viewed through a grid of knowledge constituted by natural history.
PlaidStallion (35): SEEING: Language is about meaning, not words. Yet language cannot express every kind of meaning.
For naming and describing do not stand on the same level: naming is a preparation for description. Naming is so far not a move in the language-game – any more than putting a piece in its place on the board is a move in chess.
Does one say, for example: “l didn’t really mean my pain just now; my mind wasn’t on it enough for that?” Do I ask myself, say: 'What did I mean by this word just now? My attention was divided between my pain and the noise —”?
Philosophy is the struggle against the bewitchment of our minds by means of language.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (27): ACTING: The best societies are those that do not simply offer personal freedom, but lessen the lottery of life by giving fair chances for all.
A theory however elegant and economical must be rejected or revised if it is untrue; likewise laws and institutions no matter how efficient and well-arranged must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust.
Men are to decide in advance how they are to regulate their claims against one another and what is to be the foundation charter of their society. Just as each person must decide by rational reflection what constitutes his good, that is, the system of ends which it is rational for him to pursue, so a group of persons must decide once and for all what is to count among them as just and unjust.
The general conception of justice imposes no restrictions on what sort of inequalities are permissible; it only requires that everyone’s position be improved.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (9): Bullshit pervades our culture and we need to know how it is different from lying.
One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomena has not aroused much deliberate concern, nor attracted much sustained inquiry. In consequence, we have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (11): SEEING: The real story of human development is not scientific advance, or “discovery of the world,” but rather the awareness of consciousness itself and the way it seeks expression through people, politics, art, and institutions.
To help bring philosophy closer to the form of Science, to the goal where it can lay aside the title “love of knowing” and be “actual knowing” – that is what I have set myself to do.
History, is a conscious, self-meditating process – Spirit emptied out into Time.
PlaidStallion (33): BEING: Free will is an illusion, but by mastering our emotions and appreciating the perfection of universal laws we can lead a good life.
Particular things are nothing but affections of God’s attributes, or modes by which God’s attributes are expressed in a certain and determinate way.
As for the terms good and bad, they indicate no positive quality in things regarded in themselves, but are merely modes of thinking, or notions which we form from the comparison of things one with another. Thus one and the same thing can be at the same time good, bad, and indifferent. For instance, music is good for him that is melancholy, bad for him that mourns; for him that is deaf, it is neither good nor bad.
Human infirmity in moderating and checking the emotions I name bondage: for, when a man is a prey to his emotions, he is not his own master, but lies at the mercy of fortune.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (1): BEING: The nature of being human is to do the unexpected, and every
birth carries with it the possibility of a changed world.
With word and deed we insert ourselves into the human world, and this insertion is like a second birth, in which we confirm and take upon ourselves the naked fact of our original physical appearance. This insertion ... springs from the beginning which came into the world when we were born and to which we respond by beginning something new on our own initiative.
The task and potential greatness of mortals lie in their ability to produce things – works and deeds and words – which would deserve to be and, at least to a degree, are at home in everlastingness.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (21): THINKING: All our ideas, simple or complex, originate in sensory experience. We are blank slates; morality and character are not innate.
From what has been said, I think it past doubt, that there are no practical principles wherein all men agree; and therefore none innate.
If it shall be demanded then, WHEN a man BEGINS to have any ideas, I think the true answer is, – WHEN HE FIRST HAS ANY SENSATION. For, since there appear not to be any ideas in the mind before the senses have conveyed any in, I conceive that ideas in the understanding are coeval with SENSATION.
If by this inquiry into the nature of the understanding, I can discover the powers thereof; how far they reach; to what things they are in any degree proportionate; and where they fail us, I suppose it may be of use to prevail with the busy mind of man to be more cautious in meddling with things exceeding its comprehension.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (38): The concept of “Other” helps us understand the position and power of women through history.
One is not born a woman: one becomes a woman.
The individual life history of woman – because she is still bound up in her female functions – depends in much greater degree than that of man upon her physiological destiny; and the curve of her destiny is much more uneven, more discontinuous, than the masculine curve.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (22): The mass media and communications technology are not neutral inventions but change the way we are.
The family circle has widened. The worldpool of information fathered by electric media ... far surpasses any possible influence mom and dad can now bring to bear. Character is no longer shaped by only two earnest, fumbling experts. Now all the world’s a sage.
Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicated than by the content of the communication.
The wheel is an extension of the foot, the book is an extension of the eye, clothing an extension of the skin ... electric circuitry, an extension of the central nervous system ... Media, by altering the environment, evoke in us unique ratios of sense perceptions. The extension of any one sense alters the way we think and act – the way we perceive the world. When these ratios change, men change.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (4): We no longer live in a world where signs and symbols point to truth; they are the truth.
Today abstraction is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror, or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being, or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor does it survive it.
No more mirror of being and appearances, of the real and its concept the real is produced from miniaturized cells, matrices, and memory banks, models of control – and it can be reproduced an indefinite number of times from these. It no longer needs to be rational, because it no longer measures itself against either an ideal or negative instance.
We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (7): SEEING: Metaphysics, aesthetics, ethics, and theology are all meaningless
subjects, because nothing that is said in them can ever be verified.
Philosophy, as it is written, is full of questions ... which seem to be factual but are not.
If now I ... say “Stealing money is wrong”, I produce a sentence which has no factual meaning – that is, it expresses no proposition which can be either true or false. It is as if I had written “Stealing money!!” – where the shape and thickness of the exclamation marks show, by a suitable convention, that a special sort of moral disapproval is the feeling which is expressed. It is clear that there is nothing said here which can be true or false.”… (mais)
PlaidStallion (6): ACTING: In democracies, power silences dissent through the abuse of language.
The operational criterion for what counted as a war crime at Nuremberg was a criminal act that the West didn’t do: in other words, it was considered a legitimate defense if you could show that the Americans and the British did the same thing ... And this is all stated straight out – like if you read the book by Telford Taylor, the American prosecutor at the trials, this is the way he describes it; he’s very positive about the whole thing. If the West had done it, it wasn’t a crime; it was only a crime if the Germans had done it and we hadn’t.
Despite what you always hear, U.S. interventionism has nothing to do with resisting the spread of “Communism,” it’s independence we've always been opposed to everywhere – and for quite a good reason. If a country begins to pay attention to its own population, it’s not going to be paying adequate attention to the overriding needs of U.S. investors. Well, those are unacceptable priorities, so that government’s just going to have to go.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (26): THINKING: We advance in understanding not by proving theories, but by attempting to falsify them.
According to my proposal, what characterizes the empirical method is its manner of exposing to falsification, in every conceivable way, the system to be tested. Its aim is not to save the lives of untenable systems but, on the contrary, to select the one which is by the fittest, by exposing them all to the fiercest struggle for survival.
The old scientific ideal of episteme – of absolutely certain, demonstrable Knowledge – has proved to be an idol. The demand for scientific objectivity makes it inevitable that every scientific statement must remain tentative for ever.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (40): BEING: The advanced person tries to live less according to the blind urges of their will (or ego) and more in attunement with whatever is eternal and beyond the self.
The world is my representation: this is a truth valid with reference to every living and knowing being, although man alone can bring it into reflective, abstract consciousness. If he really does so, philosophical discernment has dawned on him. It then becomes clear and certain to him that he does not know a sun and an earth, but only an eye that sees a sun, a hand that feels an earth; that the world around him is there only as representation ... If any truth can be expressed a priori, it is this.
[T]he objective world, the world as representation, is not the only side of the world, but merely its external side, so to speak, and ... the world has an entirely different side which is its innermost being, its kernel, the thing-in-itself.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (48): THINKING: Most forms of knowledge are a conceit; it is a big enough task trying to know something of ourselves.
So, reader, I am myself the substance of my book, and there is no reason why you should waste your leisure on so frivolous and unrewarding a subject. Farewell then, from Montaigne, this first day of March, 1580.
Let the man who is in search of knowledge fish for it where it lies; there is nothing that I lay less claim to. These are my fancies, in which I make no attempt to convey information about things, only about myself.
We are all convention; convention carries us away, and we neglect the substance of things ... We have taught ladies to blush at the mention of things they are not in the least afraid to do. We dare not call our parts by their right names, but are not afraid to use them for every sort of debauchery ... Convention forbids us to express words things that are lawful and natural; and we obey it. Reason forbids us to do what is unlawful or wicked, and no one obeys it.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (10): BEING: Our actions are the result of our brain states at any moment, which are in turn subject to prior causes. It is useless to blame people for what they are.
Free will is an illusion. Our wills are simply not of our own making. Thoughts and intentions emerge from background causes of which we are not aware, and over which we exert no conscious control. We do not have the freedom we think we have.
What I will do next and why remains at bottom a mystery, one that is fully determined by the laws of nature and the prior state of the universe.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (18): SEEING: The meaning of something is found not in the descriptions given of it, but in its essential properties.
Could we discover that gold was not in fact yellow? Suppose an optical illusion were prevalent, due to peculiar properties of the atmosphere in South Africa and Russia and certain other areas where gold mines are common. Suppose there were an optical illusion which made the substance appear to be yellow; but, in fact, once the peculiar properties of the atmosphere were removed, we would see that it is actually blue ... Would there on this basis be an announcement in the newspapers: “It has turned out that there is no gold. Gold does not exist. What we took to be gold is not in fact gold.”? ... It seems to me that there would be no such announcement. On the contrary, what would be announced would be that though it appeared that gold was yellow, in fact gold has turned out not to be yellow, but blue. The reason is, I think, that we use “gold” as a term for a certain kind of thing. Others have discovered this kind of thing and we have heard of it. We thus as part of a community of speakers have a certain connection between ourselves and a certain kind of thing.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (46): We want to see the universe in mechanistic and determined terms, but reality, because it involves life and time, is in fact fluid and constantly open to possibility.
That adaptation to environment is the necessary condition of evolution we do not question for a moment. It is quite evident that a species would disappear, should it fail to bend to the conditions of existence which are imposed on it. But it is one thing to recognize that outer circumstances are forces evolution must reckon with, another to claim that they are the directing causes of evolution. This latter theory is that of mechanism. It excludes absolutely the hypothesis of an original impetus, I mean an internal push that has carried life, by more and more complex forms, to higher and higher destinies.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (5): SEEING: The human way of perceiving separate objects and creating categories is an illusion. Reality is in fact unbroken and undivided, and all phenomena are simply perturbations in this single whole.
Thus, the classical idea of the separability of the world into distinct but interacting parts is no longer valid or relevant. Rather, we have to regard the universe as an undivided and unbroken whole. Division into particles, or into particles and fields, is only a crude abstraction and approximation. Thus, we come to an order that is radically different from that of Galileo and Newton – the order of undivided wholeness.
So it will be ultimately misleading and indeed wrong to suppose ... that each human being is an independent actuality who interacts with other human beings and with nature. Rather, all these are projections of a single totality.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (36): Capitalism has become an ideology that does not allow alternatives, yet it is ill equipped to face major environmental, scientific, and social problems.
[Compare] the reaction to the financial meltdown of September 2008 with the Copenhagen conference of 2009: save the planet from global warming (alternatively: save the AIDS patients, save those dying for lack of funds for expensive treatments and operations, save the starving children, and so on) – all this can wait a little bit, but the call “Save the banks!” is an unconditional imperative which demands and receives immediate action. The panic was here absolute, a trans-national, non-partisan unity was immediately established, all grudges between world leaders momentarily forgotten in order to avert the catastrophe. We may worry as much as we want about the global realities, but it is Capital which is the Real of our lives.
No longer can we rely on the limited scope of our acts: it no longer holds that, whatever we do, history will go on regardless.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (32): ACTING: Giving to those in need on a systematic basis is an important part of living a good life.
Most of us are absolutely certain that we wouldn’t hesitate to save a drowning child, and that we would do it at considerable cost to ourselves. Yet while thousands of children die each day, we spend money on things we take for granted and would hardly miss if they were not there. Is that wrong? If so, how far does our obligation to the poor go?
Giving to strangers, especially those beyond one's community, may be good, but we don’t think of it as something we have to do. But if the basic argument presented above is right, then what many of us consider acceptable behaviour must be viewed in a new, more ominous light. When we spend our surplus on concerts or fashionable shoes, on fine dining and good wines, or on holidays in faraway places, we are doing something wrong.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (49): THINKING: The efforts we make to improve ourselves morally are concrete. Trying to make some empirical measure of this would be ridiculous, and cannot lessen or undermine its reality.
We need a moral philosophy in which the concept of love, so rarely mentioned now by philosophers, can once again be made central.
[W]hat is at stake here is the liberation of morality, and of philosophy as a study of human nature, from the domination of science: or rather from the domination of inexact ideas of science which haunt philosophers and other thinkers.
‘Self-knowledge’, in the sense of a minute understanding of one’s own machinery, seems to me, except at a fairly simple level, usually a delusion ... Self is as hard to see justly as other things, and when clear vision has been achieved, self is a correspondingly smaller and less interesting object.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (39): THINKING: I can doubt that everything I perceive is real, but the fact that I doubt tells me that I think, that I have consciousness. And if I have this, I must exist.
But immediately afterwards I became aware that, while I decided thus to think that everything was false, it followed necessarily that I who thought must be something; and observing that this truth: I think, therefore I am, was so certain that all the most extravagant assertions of the sceptics were not capable of shaking it, I judged that I could accept it without scruple as the first principle of the philosophy I was seeking.
And the whole force of the arguments I have used here to prove the existence of God consists in this, that I recognize that it would not be possible for my nature to be as it is, that is to say, that I should have in me the idea of a God, if God did not really exist.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (44): A belief or idea has value only if it “works” – that is, changes our world in some way. Other notions and ideas, however attractive or elegant, should be dismissed.
A pragmatist turns his back resolutely and once for all upon a lot of inveterate habits dear to professional philosophers. He turns away from abstraction and insufficiency, from verbal solutions, from bad a priori reasons, from fixed principles, closed systems, and pretended absolutes and origins. He turns towards concreteness and adequacy, towards facts, towards action, and towards power.
[A]n idea is “true” so long as to believe it is profitable to our lives … truth is ONE SPECIES OF GOOD, and not, as is usually supposed, a category distinct from good, and co-ordinate with it. THE TRUE IS THE NAME OF WHATEVER PROVES ITSELF TO BE GOOD.
Rationalism sticks to logic and the empyrean. Empiricism sticks to the external senses. Pragmatism is willing to take anything, to follow either logic or the senses, and to count the humblest and most personal experiences. She will count mystical experiences if they have practical consequences.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (37): ACTING: On Liberty: Unless a person’s actions cause direct harm to others, they must be allowed. The priority in any open society must be freedom, not policies that purport to be for people’s own good.
The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.
[T]he individual is not accountable to society for his actions, in so far as these concern the interests of no person but himself. Advice, instruction, persuasion, and avoidance by other people, if thought necessary by them for their own good, are the only measures by which society can justifiably express its dislike or disapprobation of his conduct.
In proportion to the development of his individuality, each person becomes more valuable to himself, and is therefore capable of being more valuable to others.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (45): Fate: The case for us being simply products of fate is strong, yet paradoxically it is only in accepting it that we can realize our creative power.
But if there be irresistible dictation, this dictation understands itself. If we must accept Fate, we are not less compelled to affirm liberty, the significance of the individual, the grandeur of duty, the power of character.
History is the action and reaction of these two, – Nature and Thought; – two boys pushing each other on the curb-stone of the pavement. Everything is pusher or pushed: and matter and mind are in perpetual tilt and balance, so. Whilst the man is weak, the earth takes him up. He plants his brain and affections. By and by he will take up the earth, and have his gardens and vineyards in the beautiful order and productiveness of his thought. Every solid in the universe is ready to become fluid on the approach of the mind, and the power to flux it is the measure of the mind.
A breath of will blows eternally through the universe of souls in the direction of the Right and Necessary.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (43): ACTING: An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation by Jeremy Bentham: A just society is most likely to be achieved by using an objective calculus of maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain.
Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as determine what we should do.
The business of government is to promote the happiness of the society, by punishing and rewarding. That part of its business which consists in punishing, is more particularly the subject of penal law. In proportion as an act tends to disturb that happiness will be the demand it creates for punishment.
Pleasures then, and the avoidance of pains, are the ends that the legislator has in view; it behoves him therefore to understand their value.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (20): BEING: The world that exists must be the best of all possible worlds.
[Since] God made the universe, it was not possible to do better.
God, having chosen the most perfect of all possible worlds, had been prompted by his wisdom to permit the evil which was bound up with it, but which still did not prevent this world from being, all things considered, the best that could be chosen.
It is true that one may imagine possible worlds without sin and without unhappiness, and one could make some like Utopian or Sevarambian romances: but these same worlds again would be very inferior to ours in goodness. I cannot show you this in detail. For can I know and can I present infinities to you and compare them together? But you must judge with me ab effectu [from the effect], since God has chosen this world as it is. We know, moreover, that often an evil brings forth a good whereto one would not have attained without that evil. Often indeed two evils have made one great good.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (3): THINKING: The brain and body provide us with a strong and continuous
sense of self, which gives us freedom to create who we are.
The idea of the self as a construction is one that many want to resist, because it seems to imply that it is not real. But of course constructions can be perfectly real.
You, the person, is not separate from these thoughts, the thing having them. Rather you are just the collection of these thoughts... This is the heart of the Ego Trick. The trick is to create something which has a strong sense of unity and singleness from what is actually a messy, fragmented sequence of experiences and memories, in a brain which has no control centre. The point is, that the trick works ... There is no single thing which comprises the self, but we need to function as though there were.… (mais)
PlaidStallion (41): ACTING: On Duties: What is right and what is expedient can never be separate things.
For what, in the name of heaven, is more to be desired than wisdom? What is more to be prized? What is better for a man, what more worthy of his nature? Those who seek after it are called philosophers; and philosophy is nothing else, if one will translate the word into our idiom, than “the love of wisdom.” Wisdom ... is “the knowledge of things human and divine and of the causes by which those things are controlled.” And if the man lives who would belittle the study of philosophy, I quite fail to see what in the world he would see fit to praise.
While the whole field of philosophy is fertile and productive and no portion of it barren and waste, still no part is richer or more fruitful than that which deals with moral duties; for from these are derived the rules for leading a consistent and moral life.… (mais)