Category: Ideas and Reflections

Two Reflections: Art, Abnormality

The purpose of art is to reveal truth. Not facts, not slogans, not trendy attitudes, and certainly not the ephemeral feelings or passions of the artist himself. Truth, meaning something unchanging and essential to a proper understanding of some element of reality, whether regarding human nature, the structures of civil order, or the ordering principles of the cosmos. Anything, therefore, which purports to...

Three Reflections On The War

Knowing all the facts in the world grants not the least bit of understanding of what is actually happening, let alone what is likely to happen, anymore than reciting the dates and numbers of history grants the least wisdom about why events transpired as they did. What is needed, rather, is an understanding of human nature, including its most common weaknesses, defensive postures,...

Democracy In Essence

If democracy, in its essence, is reducible to the principle of one man, one vote, which is to say if, in its purest, most unadulterated instantiations, democracy amounts to some form of simple majority rule, then there is almost no limit to the horrors that might be perpetrated and perpetuated under the auspices of democratic self-government. Furthermore, the special danger of such democratic...

Aristotle’s Analysis of Friendship, Crystallized

There are three types of people whom we commonly call friends, namely those who have proved useful to us in our practical lives, those who share pleasant activities with us, and those who mirror our virtues. Accordingly, the three types of relationships may be referred to, by way of analyzing the general notion into its constituent parts, as friendships of utility, friendships of...

Random Reflections on Where We Are Today

To despise and vilify millions of fellow human beings as one’s enemy and a force to be defeated and eliminated, on the basis of disagreements about practical matters, is implicitly to despise and vilify oneself. For who among us has not significantly altered his own beliefs and attitudes over the course of adulthood, such that his own past views and statements might strike...

On Popular Intellectuals

Being a popular or public intellectual, particularly in this era of digital communication and global fora, demands two things above all, namely that you tell your audience what they want to hear, and that you phrase your every statement with the kind of absolute certainty and lack of circumspection that reassures the audience that they need not have any reserve, hesitation, or doubt...

Notes On Saving Democracy

We are told in a thousand ways today that we are engaged in a global struggle to save democracy. Perhaps we are. If so, it would do us well to take a moment to ask what it is that we are trying to save, exactly, and furthermore, whether or in what sense it deserves to be saved. Democracy, we like to say, was...

Three Reflections on What People Need to Believe [Updated With Trumpiness!]

You can make absolutely any factual claim you wish, supported with the boldest and most unflinching evidentiary assurances to back it up, by merely promising that this overwhelming supporting evidence will be made public very soon. How about not making any factual claim at all unless you are prepared to present the evidence at the same time you make the claim? But no,...

Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot — Please!

Nothing typifies New Year’s Eve more than the image of crowds drinking alcohol to excess. And nothing typifies social drinking more than the desire to forget. To forget moral restraints, frustrations and heartaches, concerns and fears, people and events — all the things that one ought to remember, the remembrance of which gives life its depth, its texture, its motivations, and its pathway...

On Circles and Straight Lines

Everything that indicates human greatness, to the extent that it does so, is an obstacle to immediate popular appeal. For greatness is by definition not of its time, and therefore intrinsically too detached from current norms — theoretical, moral, political — to be either fully visible or fully comprehensible to those who are immersed in, and thus collectively definitive of, the present. One...