Tagged: Human nature

Culture and Nature

No one who sincerely espoused an attitude worthy of the name “multiculturalism” would ever imagine that multiple cultures — let alone all cultures — could or should coexist under an umbrella of mutual love and acceptance; for this would be to denigrate the very notion of culture. As though the various ways of human living, developed over centuries of survival, poetry, and faith,...

Reflections on Human Nature

We all know less than we think we know — and more than we are willing to admit to ourselves.

There is no other known species with the ability to recast its weakness as strength and its defeat as swagger. Humans are uniquely resourceful at enslaving themselves and calling it freedom….

What You Need

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” says the proverb. And so it is — or nearly so. For it would be more precise to say perceived necessity. That is, invention is born of the subjective sense of need, rather than only of actual, natural needs, a truth which may easily be observed by considering the kind of invention typical of our age, most...

Finding One’s Identity

A student who has been investigating the subject of “identity” informs me that she became somewhat lost amid all the diverse explanations of this notion that one encounters from various sources, until at last she settled on an approach reminiscent of Socrates’ famous “second sailing” (Phaedo, 99dff), a path she explains as follows: I just thought, after talking with you about this topic,...

Culture vs. Self-Knowledge

The word “culture,” as used with reference to human societies or societal customs, has been one of the key theoretical constructs in late modernity’s assault on being. I never use it, except in the most casual conversational context, without the qualification that the term is artificial, names an idea that is not only ill-defined but perhaps indefinable, and runs counter to the basic...

Stigmatizing Human Breath

I just read a new headline from The Washington Post that absolutely crystallizes the essence of our hysteria pandemic: “The coronavirus is airborne. Here’s how to know if you’re breathing other people’s breath.” The details of the article, urging the use of carbon dioxide monitors as a proxy gauge for determining whether the air in any given space has traces of human breath...

The Tyrant As Caricature

Caricature: “exaggeration by means of often ludicrous distortion of parts or characteristics.” (Merriam-Webster) What is a human being, as ordinarily witnessed? A creature that devotes too much of its brief life and limited energy to the acquisition of goods that would only have ultimate value to a being that was going to live forever. And what is a tyrant? A human that devotes...

What I Do Not Believe

I do not believe that some people being egregiously wrong implies that anyone who happens to disagree with those people is right. We may call this the Law of Imbalance. I do not believe that I have to show compassion for, or even interest in, humans who have forfeited their humanity to the vices of existential cowardice, petty survivalism, and the sub-infantile willingness...

Spiritual Substitution

Feeling small compared to the cosmos is not an illness, but rather a sign of higher health, the strong soul’s humility. Seeking smaller surroundings to insulate oneself against that feeling of cosmic smallness is an illness. The need to feel “big enough” for one’s environment at all costs indicates a fundamental fear of the beautiful, the rare, and the great, which is to...

Independence vs. Cynicism

Expecting good from someone is the fastest way to be disappointed — and also the best way to discover a good person. Many people will let us down, to be sure. A rare few will not. You will never find the few unless you are brave enough to face and withstand the many.  Not expecting good from anyone is the easiest way to...