Tagged: wisdom

Reflections On Not Being One of Them

It is standard among today’s professoriate to teach Plato’s Apology¬†with perplexity or mock-sophistication, agonizing over efforts to make sense of the charges against Socrates, seeking to persuade the students (and themselves) that those charges as recorded — impiety and corruption of youth — were “trumped up,” or perhaps merely a cover story for more immediate personal or political motives. For Athens was a...

The Attraction of the Sea

The sea is bigger than you are, more powerful than you are, more frightening than you are, and more permanent than you are. It is also more beautiful and desirable than you are. The sea is not impressed by you, and never could be. The sea will never think, “I am so fortunate that you have come to me.” It may never notice...

Two Myths of Enlightenment

The Enlightenment has thrived in today’s popular imagination and in the social sciences that are its children (products of the Enlightenment’s attempt to reduce human nature to just another subject of empirical investigation) on the basis of certain myths. As these myths are used to justify so many absurdities today, from our theories of public education to the sheepish surrender of our common...

What Is An Activist?

An activist is one who is so oppressed and tortured by his immoderate feelings that his only means of relief is to disperse his pain among others, demanding that everyone be oppressed and tortured by his (that is, the activist’s) feelings. An activist is one who is utterly without intellectual reserve, philosophic detachment, or the natural sense of irony born of learning to...

On Shrinking

The more uniform and repetitive the conversation, the more any alternative or outlying opinion sounds like irrational extremism.

The more everyone is encouraged to speak, the less most people have to say — and the less audible above the din is anyone who does have something to say….

The Philosophic Perspective

The principle of the thing matters more than the individual outcomes — and this includes also one’s own individual outcomes.¬†

There is no reality that, having finally revealed itself, cannot be accepted, and to which one cannot adjust oneself. This adaptability is not to be mistaken for….

Writing for the Age: Three Questions

Should I try to write more comfortingly? But I am of a nature to find comfort only in reality, and indeed to find the greatest comfort there. The kind of comfort that masks what is immediately unappealing to face, or that simplifies what is inherently difficult to comprehend, is false comfort, and therefore the most dangerous obstacle to learning and freedom — that...

True Dichotomies

Anything that cannot be justified as contributing to the advance of my ultimate human goal — the glimpse of eternity, a share of wisdom, god-like happiness, call it what you will — must be regarded as an obstacle and liability, and therefore rejected or actively diminished in significance in my life, as the case admits. It is the easiest thing in the world,...

Big Men

The bigger one appears within one’s view of the world, the smaller one actually is. One’s true size is determined not by how large one seems relative to one’s context, but rather by how large one’s context seems relative to oneself. For one’s context is oneself, whether that context consists of the most ephemeral and transitory aspects of individual existence, or of the...

Activism, Progress, and Thought

A young man should speak only in the form of questions, at least in public, while issuing his opinionated outbursts in private, preferably alone. To be perfectly clear, this is not to say that he should form no opinions, but only that he should be discouraged in every possible way, including through a well-honed sense of secrecy, from expressing them to anyone, let...