Tagged: wisdom

On Changing

If you absolutely need something to be true, that would be an excellent place to begin your most painstakingly openminded inquiry. For emotional investment is the hardest obstacle for the mind to overcome, and therefore the greatest bar to discovery. A philosopher, essentially, is a man whose investment in a certainty never supersedes his desire for the truth. Consistency across time is not...

Three Reflections On Being Human Today

Party life.— Stay out of the partisan ruse that passes itself off as politics today. No taking sides, no “lesser of two evils” rationalizations, no caring about the parties’ mutual assured destruction shadow play as though you were not their intended victim. To care is to delude oneself that there is something within the realm of practical possibility which would be better, and...

The Writer, The Past, and The Progressive

The writer’s primary goal is not to appeal to readers, nor even to appeal to good readers, but rather to be worthy of good readers. He cannot control whether any such readers will exist, or whether, if they do exist, they will ever discover or appreciate his writing. He must concern himself only with what he can control — though even that only...

The Smugness of Ignorance

When you encounter a theoretical or artistic work that has been highly regarded by advanced societies since before you were born, perhaps even before your great-great-grandparents were born, the reasonable point of view is to assume that the work must have some sort of merit, perhaps even greatness, that justifies its longevity and enduring admiration. This is not to say that you must...

An Observation on Artificial Intelligence

Can machines think? Well, as everyone says, machines can do what their creators can do, only faster and better. But their creators are humans, and humans of a purely practical, materialist orientation — doohickey specialists and thingamajig experts. Such humans do not and cannot, in the strictest sense, think. Zero times a million equals zero. Therefore, machines cannot think. Calculate, yes. Compile and...

Openness

The open-minded person says, “I will always try to give a fair hearing to words and ideas that I do not like, or which make me uncomfortable; for my preference and comfort are not valid measures of the true, the good, and the beautiful, which will as often as not prove to be cleverly hidden behind some discomfitting word.” The closed-minded person says,...

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...

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...