Philosophic Principles, Part Four

Good-and-Evil is the horizontal axis. Good-and-Bad is the vertical axis. The horizontal axis measures the moral realm — practical and “human, all too human” — where the standard is right and wrong in a social context. The vertical axis measures the cosmic or theoretical realm, where the standard is either wisdom vs. ignorance (Plato) or life-enhancement vs. life-diminution (Nietzsche). That either-or is not a “choice” or a mere pair of alternatives. It is the central philosophic question of our age — “What is the defining purpose of the philosophic life?” — which, contrary to the acquired bias of the age, is indeed still a legitimate question.

Two models of education:

(1) Dive into the past searching for pearls of context to help us understand ourselves.

(2) Sift through the past searching for evidence of our superiority.

The second model is the default perspective of human nature, in the sense of being the instinct of emotional immaturity and intellectual inexperience; it is therefore very easy to reinforce. The first is more difficult to establish and maintain, as it requires considerable detachment from one’s vested interests and immediate comforts, resulting only gradually in an ability to be shaken from one’s certainties, and to truly see something else.

The second, therefore, when employed and deepened by design, becomes the chief mechanism of indoctrination. The first, which can only be achieved by great feats of spiritual generosity and intellectual struggle, is of the essence of genuine education.

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