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From Ben Shapiro to Stefan Molyneux: How the Right Uses Philosophy – Merion West

Posted: January 20, 2020 at 11:52 am


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For the many activists and intellectuals on the Right, who identify with the ambiguously defined Western civilization, a nostalgic and selective association with Western civilizationsphilosophical grandeur can be extremely appealing.

Introduction

In a piece for Merion West several months ago, I discussed the various uses and misuses of philosophy. In this piece from this past September, I hinted that some ways are better than others when it comes to employing philosophical concepts and argumentation. Heated arguments about what philosophy is (and what philosophers should do) go back as far as the trial and execution of Socrates for corrupting the youth of Athens. This often assumes a very political dimension. For instance, the political left has often had a love-hate relationship with philosophy. In his Theses on Feuerbach, Marx famously chastised the philosophers and theorists for merely trying to interpret the world, when the point was to change it. This, of course, did not keep the erudite Prussian radical from devoting the rest of his life to writing dense theoretical works trying to interpret the world in all its dialectical complexities. These tensions carry on until today, with Current Affairs recentlyproducing a scathing article lacerating Slavoj iek foramong other sinsobscurantism. At the same time, Youtube channelssuch as Philosophy Tube and books like Give Them An Argument: Logic for the Left by philosophy professor Ben Burgis are generating much discussion.

One of the more interesting phenomena is that this ambivalence towards philosophy is not shared by the political right (and especially the far-right), which has frequently tried to gloss up its intellectual credentials by appealing to philosophical tropes and icons. Ben Shapiro was christened the cool kids philosopherby the New York Timesand recently published a work of theory trying to live up to that honorific (spoiler: the book has serious problems. I review it here). Dave Rubin has had a large number of Objectivist and nationalist philosophers on The Rubin Report. The far-right is no different than these commentators when it comes to a desire to invoke philosophical tropes. Much has been made of the far and alt-rights interest in philosophical luminaries like Nietzsche. Some of the major figures of the far-rightincluding Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneuxhave gone a step further and attempted to give their own readings of the history and uses of philosophy. Southern, famous for hawking conspiracy theories about the evils of Islam and the great replacement, has written a book about how tenured hippies have undermined the great Western intellectual tradition going back to the Greeks. In her words, we have traded Plato for bell hooks. Molyneux, who recently declared himself the most influential modern philosopher has even written a book called Essential Philosophy: How To Know What on Earth Is Going On.

Why is the Far-Right Interested in Philosophy

Now none of this is to say that these invocations of philosophy are especially rigorous or thoughtful. Generalizing broadly, the standards tend to get lower the more reactionary the figure in question. Sometimes they are actually very confusing. To give just one example, take Molyneuxs book. In Essential Philosophy,he offers a few definitions of the subject. In the space of a short book, he calls philosophy the study of truth, the methodology that helps you determine the difference between subjective experiences and facts then goes on to say, the heart of philosophyis morality. He also claims, the purpose of philosophy is to get you to change your moral habits. He asserts that the, very essence of philosophy is to differentiate between various states, to point to the best preferred. He says, philosophy is the rational hypothesis of empirical action, and he calls philosophy the, largest circle of mental disciplines. He suggests that, all philosophy is founded on hostility to authority, as well as that, the practice of philosophy is the creation of arguments. And he also writes, philosophy is like exercise. The same confusions pertain when he tries to define ethics. He defines ethics as the study of virtue, when listing it with the four other branches of philosophy (he lists metaphysics, epistemology, politics, and ethics but seems to miss logic and aesthetics). He calls it a theory of universal preferable behavior, as well as a discipline which needs to be taught. He considers it also to be a a moral framework within which there are specific ethical theories which must be based on moral arguments, which are rational. He describes ethics as a system and as a theory, as well as, generally dealing with deeds, not words. He says that ethics is generally deal[ing] with actions, not thoughts and that it is generally statements or preferred actions that are binding on others, as well as a set of rational ethical propositions, and as a relationship rather than a commandment. How and whether all these definitions of philosophy as a whole and ethics in particular are simultaneously tenable is a question I will leave to more patient readers. Certainly Molyneux is not providing many answers.

But pointing out these serious intellectual deficiencies does little to explain why the far-right is interested in philosophy in the first place? Why not simply ignore itor pull a Steven Crowder and insist that wasting money on a philosophical education is a bad life choice? I think there are a variety of answers to this question, and I will try to present them below.

The first and most obvious is that the far-right (despite its consistent trashing of cultural elites and intellectuals by figures like Tucker Carlson) desperately wants some form of intellectual credibility. This is why they will trash-talk education one minute and then insist on their academic credentials the next. It is also why Molyneuxin the same book where he describes academics and sophists (often the same thing) as highjacking philosophyalso goes out of his way to insist that he received an Ivy League education and was awarded top marks on his Masters thesis. A great deal of the animosity directed towards elites generally belies the far-rights anxiety that their intelligence and ideas are not respected. This is where appeals to philosophy can be exceptionally attractive. By glossing up otherwise questionable arguments with appeals to a venerated discipline and its icons, the far-right can posture as both intellectual credible and even somewhat dissident. To their followers, their ideas may not seem empty but, in fact, dangerous. Like Socrates or Nietzsche before them, the philosophers of the far-right are challenging an academic stranglehold on ideas exercised by sophists too afraid to get into a real argument. And notably these paragons of Socratic dignity seem to get flustered when they actually get what theyask for from professionals.

The second reason I think the far-right finds its skewed vision of philosophy appealing is more complex. This relates back to what Fredric Jameson might call their post-modern tendency to nostalgically construct a pastiche-like identity from cherry picked features of the past. For the many activists and intellectuals on the Right, who identify with the ambiguously defined Western civilization, a nostalgic and selective association with Western civilizations philosophical grandeur can be extremely appealing. It enables them to situate themselves in an auspicious tradition including Plato, Aristotle, Locke, and many others. In turn, this orientation allows these commentators and writers to speak with a certain degree of self-ascribed authority, given that they can present themselves as heirs to this tradition who have to defend it against the unworthy and the foreign. It also enables them to frame a philosophical enemy: an enemy in the form of cultural Marxism (or even post-modern neo-Marxism) whose goal it is to undermine Western thinking and replace it with various forms of egalitarian sophism. This is very fitting for the far-right, a fundamentally resentment-driven movement that needs to define itself through opposition. The far-right, after all, often needs to frame itself through the lens of opposition since it struggles to make its points constructively, as evidenced by the frequent ambiguities and incoherence in their claimsMolyneuxs book being a prime example.

Limits to the Far-Rights Reading of Philosophy

Of course, this nostalgic reading of Western philosophy misses a great deal, including where even some of the Golden Calves erected by the far-right contributed to the undermining of their more sacred ideals. To give one example, many of the far-right thinkers claim to be rationalists or empiricists, while also disdaining the collapse of reason and logic into nihilism and cynicism. This misses that for many philosophical commentators, the turn to Cartesian skepticism and Lockean empirical nominalism were foundational in the transition away from the big picture ambitions of the Greek and Christian philosophers. These early modern thinkers insisted that reason was fundamentally limited in its ability to understand the world with full objectivity; this is a project that would later be radicalized in the hands of figures like Immanuel Kant, who argued we can never know things in themselves but only how they appeared to us as phenomena (interestingly enough, Kant also did more than most to advertise making reason a priority in socio-political life).

Now, of course, one could push against this in defense of the fundamentally reasonable vision of modern philosophy, as, for instance, Jrgen Habermashas in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity. My point is that the far-right often ignores these historical and philosophical complexities in favor of a radically simplified narrative that everything was all right and that philosophy committed to Big T Truth until some progressive radicals came and mucked everything up. This obfuscates the debt radical schools of thought from Marxism down to deconstruction owe to earlier theoretical and philosophical arguments. Indeed, even Socrates himself was something of a radical, undermining the religious and political authorities of the day and imploring the youth to think critically for themselves.

But, ultimately, the far-rights appeal to philosophy is not about philosophical ideas or the history of Western thought. To some extent, it is about presenting the far-right as smarter, as evidenced by the numerous SJW fail videos and memes generated in the dark places of the Internet. However, most importantly, it is about bastardizing the canon by skewing it in a politically correct manner, twisting the real history to give credence to a contemporary narrative. Like so much on the far-right, it is philosophy on the cheap designed to rationalize positions which are intellectually untenable and morally reprehensible.

Conclusion: What Should Philosophical Analysis Become?

In this concluding section, I want to sketch some thoughts about what a genuine Left interpretation of philosophy might look like. Contra the far-right narrative that progressive thinking is all about the cynical trashing of Western thought, I would argue that a progressive approach to philosophy actually tries to redeem what is best in the tradition, while incorporating a variety of other voices into the narrative. The modernist project has always been about emancipating human beings from the strictures of traditionalist reasoning (and a naturalistic teleology), which insists we have a fundamental purpose set be external powers that we are bound to live up to. By contrast, the moderns insisted that there was no such external power we could knowand that the function of philosophy is, therefore, not to know our purpose as ascribed by another but to construct it for ourselves. In the form of critique through the Marxist tradition and onwards, philosophy has rigorously exposed the ways that traditionalist reason has been instantiated as authority structures, which are falsely naturalized as inevitable and desirable. This is, of course, the narrative put forward by the far-right today. In its most reactionary form, uncritical ideology insists that the world as it exists today cannot be realistically changed and can merely be accepted and retroactively justified. But because we exist in a historical world where change is, indeed, inevitable, the paradox of such a reactionary view is that it will be forced to transform the world to try and keep it and its calcified hierarchies the same. The only way it can reconcile this paradox is through the application of force and fiatin some cases literally trying to build and arm a wall to keep the changes brought about by neoliberalism and traditionalisms own contradictory logics out. By contrast, a critical philosophy insists that we recognize all forms of authority as fundamentally contingent and subject to critique and reconceptualization. It rejects the tyranny of ahistorical naturalistic rationalizations and insists that because the world exists in time, its contours are never firmly set. The seemingly frozen relations, which are naturalized by defenders of the status quo, can be conceptually broken open through the proper application of critical philosophy, which can service the generation of novel political and economic possibilities.

Today, the most important task for such a critical philosophy is to think past the limitations of neoliberal society and its post-modern culture. Ironically, this means rejecting the cynical socio-political withdrawal associated with the Left by its critics and recognizing that the reactionary ascendency of post-modern conservatism is inherently unstable, representing the material overdetermination of an unequal system that is increasingly unable to reconcile its competing tendencies. The most obvious example is the incompatible reactionary demand that capital be allowed to commodify all spheres of life (in line with the logic of neoliberalism), while still maintaining homogeneous and meaningful cultures that provide sufficient existential direction to citizens and pacifies their democratic potential. Trumpism, its offshoots, and its various far-right defenders are a symptomatically inadequate reaction to this tension, which can only try to manage these difficulties through the application of force and executive fiat. A critical philosophy, instead, points us to the future, where recognizing the false necessity of the status quo is the first step towards developing a more emancipatory and equal social form. This is in service of fulfilling the ambition of the modernist project to overcome the limitations of naturalized authority and power. At the same time, it must overcome the limitations of modernism itself in incorporating those voices it excluded. The potential is, therefore, realized through the generation of new kinds of democratic and egalitarian politics.

Matt McManus is Professor of Politics and International Relations at Tec de Monterrey, and the author of Making Human Dignity Central to International Human Rights Law and The Rise of Post-Modern Conservatism. His new projects include co-authoring a critical monograph on Jordan Peterson and a book on liberal rights for Palgrave MacMillan. Matt can be reached atmattmcmanus300@gmail.comor added on twitter vie@mattpolprof

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From Ben Shapiro to Stefan Molyneux: How the Right Uses Philosophy - Merion West

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January 20th, 2020 at 11:52 am

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How We Perceive the Past Has a Great Bearing on How We Live Now: Art Historian James Meyer on Why the 1960s Wont Fade Away – artnet News

Posted: January 18, 2020 at 4:44 pm


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In the opening pages of the curator James Meyers new book, The Art of Return: The Sixties and Contemporary Culture, we find ourselves on Marthas Vineyard in August 1971. It is the Summer of Love, and a mania for nude swimming and sunbathing has overtaken the beaches.

Meyer and a friend, determined to prove our independence, break free from their families and decide to hitchhike across the island. They walk and walk until theyre finally picked up by a man driving a VW bus. He has a beard, long hair, and he shouts,Come on in!

Meyer is only nine years old.

So begins the art historians perceptive study of the long 1960s (which actually covers roughly 1955 through 1975), and why that era continues to animate the imagination of artists, writers, and historianseven if, like Meyer, they mostly missed the period in question.

The books impressive sweep, which looks at 20 international artists, is motivated by a range of probing questions. What purpose do historical reenactments serve? How do events from past eras shade our understanding of the present? What are artists doing when they remember moments from before they were even born?

Artnet News spoke with Meyer, a curator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, about the books genesis, his turn toFriedrich Nietzsche, and how todays right-wing politics grew from reactions against 1960s progressivism.

Anri Sala, still fromIntervista (Finding the Words) (1998). Courtesy of Idale Audience International, Paris; Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; Galerie Esther Schipper, Berlin; Galerie Rdiger Schttle, Munich; and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York/Paris.

What would you describe as the greatest challenge of the book?

Figuring out the topic itself. What I am writing about? What is the 60s return? How do you define it? How do you understand that history is not static, that it impacts later periods or bleeds into them?

My earlier workmy books on Minimalism and my exhibition on the history of the Dwan Gallery in Los Angeles and New Yorkreflected a structuralist understanding of history as a set of discursive, economic, and institutional conditions specific to their time. This book understands the long 60sthe period stretching from the mid-50s to the mid-70sas over and not over, a past that is not past.

Nietzsche, in his essay On the Use and Abuse of History for Life, proposes that history is a dynamic force. It can be a chain that binds us to the past, and a model of emulation. How we perceive the past has a great bearing on how we live now. As he says, we need to strike a balance between remembering and forgetting. It is vitally important to remember, yet not to the degree that we get stuck in the past. I discuss Kerry James Marshalls paintings about Civil Rights-era memory, the Souvenirs, along these lines.

Kerry James Marshall, Memento V (2003). Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri. Kerry James Marshall. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

What about inserting yourself into the narrative? You write about your childhood early in the book. Was that difficult?

It was a challenge to write myself into the story. It was counterintuitive to my training to inscribe my voicemy memory and nostalgia for a period I experienced before I could understand what was happening around meinto my work. It turned out to be at the very core of what the book is about.

My generationthe children of the 60s and 70swas deeply impacted by what now appears to us as the last revolutionary period on a global scale. Revolutionary eras produce a surfeit of memory. They last longer because theyre more traumatic and more impactful than more quiescent eras. They return. I was forced to consider how my experiencethe impressions of childhood we each havehad inflected my research, and the work of so many others: why it is that so many artists, writers, scholars, and filmmakers of my generation, give or take 10 years, have felt compelled to revisit that time? The more I looked into it the more I realized the phenomenon is international and quite broad. My book discusses more than 20 figures from the US, UK, Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. I considered 90.

Martha Rosler, Election (Lynndie), from the series House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home, New Series (2004). Photomontage. Martha Rosler. Courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York.

In the book, you make a number of connections between the George W. Bush years, with the Iraq War, and the turmoil of the 60s. What are the connections between the long 60s and the moment were living in now?

The most obvious connection is between Watergate and the growing scandal involving Russia and Ukraine. The adjective Nixonian comes up a lot, and you see Watergate-era veteransJohn Dean, Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward, and so onon TV regularly. What we have come to understand is this isnt Watergate. Practices of return, as I call them, force us to see the differences between then and now. The misinformation campaign and hacking of the DNC server by Russian state intelligence was a highly successful espionage action by a foreign government, damaging to the Clinton campaign and US democracy. The impact is ongoing. A failed burglary in DC seems almost quaint in comparison.

Martha Rosler, Red Stripe Kitchen, from the series House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home (ca. 196772). Martha Rosler. Courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York.

The book was written over the course of a number of years. Were you ever concerned that its relevance might expire in the gap between writing and the books ultimate publication?

Just imagine, my first essay on the subject was published in 1998! I was indeed worried that the book would lose its contemporaneity. What I discovered in the course of writing it is the very point the book makes: there is the historical 60s, a period that came to an end, and a 60s that returns, each time differently, depending on whats happening in the current moment. It doesnt go away.

During the Bush era, comparisons were made between the Vietnam and Iraq Wars, and between the anti-war movement and the relative lack of activism on campuses during the 2000s, connections I explore in works by Martha Rosler, Nancy Davenport, and Matthew Buckingham. Watergate is clearly germane right now. But it is important to recognize that the fissures we are experiencing between red and blue electorates came into play then, with the emergence of the New Left, identity politics, and Johnsons Great Society programs, on the one hand, and the rise of Nixons Silent Majority on the other.

One could say that the reactionary turns since the 60santi-busing during the 70s, the election of Reagan in 1980, the rise of the Tea Party in 2010 and Trumpism in 2016are extensions of that division. Right-wing efforts to disenfranchise voters of color, the Supreme Courts 2013 gutting of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the administrations efforts to curtail the Immigration Act of 1965 are other attempts to repeal the progressive gains of the 60s.

Amy Granat and Drew Heitzler, T.S.O.Y.W. (2007). Amy Granat and Drew Heitzler.

What about the other side of the battle? Are there connections between the popular movements of the 60s and the movements of today?

The Civil Rights, anti-war, feminist, and LGBTQ movements emerged then; each had a powerful constituency that developed around a particular issue. One can hope that climate politics and the Black Lives Matter and gun-control movements will be so impactful.

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How We Perceive the Past Has a Great Bearing on How We Live Now: Art Historian James Meyer on Why the 1960s Wont Fade Away - artnet News

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January 18th, 2020 at 4:44 pm

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What Nihilism Is Not – The MIT Press Reader

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In order to preserve nihilism as a meaningful concept, it's necessary to distinguish it from pessimism, cynicism, and apathy.

By: Nolen Gertz

Nihilism, not unlike time (according to Augustine) or porn (according to the U.S. Supreme Court), is one of those concepts that we are all pretty sure we know the meaning of unless someone asks us to define it. Nihil means nothing. -ism means ideology. Yet when we try to combine these terms, the combination seems to immediately refute itself, as the idea that nihilism is the ideology of nothing appears to be nonsensical. To say that this means that someone believes in nothing is not really much more helpful, as believing in something suggests there is something to be believed in, but if that something is nothing, then there is not something to be believed in, in which case believing in nothing is again a self-refuting idea.

It is easy therefore to fall into the trap of thinking Everything is nihilism! which of course leads to thinking Nothing is nihilism! Thus in order to preserve nihilism as a meaningful concept, it is necessary to distinguish it from concepts that are often associated with it but are nevertheless different, concepts such as pessimism, cynicism, and apathy.

If optimism is hopefulness, then pessimism is hopelessness. To be a pessimist is to say, Whats the point? Pessimism is often likened to a Glass is half empty way of seeing the world, but since its only half empty this scenario might still be too hopeful for a pessimist. A better scenario might be that, if a pessimist fell in a well, and someone offered to rescue him, hed likely respond, Why bother? In the well, out of the well, were all going to die anyway. In other words, pessimism is dark and depressing. But it is not nihilism.

If a pessimist fell in a well, and someone offered to rescue him, hed likely respond, Why bother? In the well, out of the well, were all going to die anyway.

In fact, we might even go so far as to say that pessimism is the opposite of nihilism. Like nihilism, pessimism could be seen as arising from despair. The fact of our death, the frustration of our desires, the unintended consequences of our actions, the tweets of our political leaders, any or all of these could lead us to either nihilism or pessimism. However, where these two roads diverge is over the question of whether we dwell on our despair or hide from it.

To be with a pessimist is to know that you are with a pessimist. But you can be with a nihilist and have no idea. Indeed you could yourself be a nihilist and have no idea. Such a lack of awareness is the point of nihilism, as nihilism is all about hiding from despair rather than dwelling on it. This difference was illustrated by Woody Allen in his movie Annie Hall (1977) when his alter ego Alvy Singer has the following exchange with a couple he stops on the street for advice:

ALVY (He moves up the sidewalk to a young trendy-looking couple, arms wrapped around each other): You-you look like a really happy couple. Uh, uh are you?

YOUNG WOMAN: Yeah.

ALVY: Yeah! So h-h-how do you account for it?

YOUNG WOMAN: Uh, Im very shallow and empty and I have no ideas and nothing interesting to say.

YOUNG MAN: And Im exactly the same way.

ALVY: I see. Well, thats very interesting. So youve managed to work out something, huh?

YOUNG MAN: Right.

Alvy Singer is a pessimist. The man and woman are nihilists.

What is most illuminating about this scene is that it shows how a pessimist can reveal the identity of a nihilist, just as it might be argued that the pessimism of the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer helped reveal to Nietzsche his own nihilism. Before they are confronted by Alvy, they are just a happily shallow and happily empty couple. However, when he asks them to explain their happiness, they are no longer shallow and empty; they are instead forced to awaken from their reverie and to become self-aware. It is not that they are happy that reveals their nihilism; rather it is their attempt to explain to a pessimist why they are happy that reveals their nihilism. On the surface, they are soul mates who have found each other. But surface is all that they are. The attempt to go any deeper reveals that there is nothing deeper. And it is precisely a pessimist who, when confronted with such a happy couple, would ask the Why? that reveals their nothingness.

If, as I suggested earlier, nihilism and pessimism are opposites, then nihilism is actually much closer to optimism. To see the glass as half full is to think that we should be happy with what we have rather than focusing on what is missing. But being happy with what we have can also be a way of remaining complacent, of ignoring what is missing so as to avoid having to seek change. Similarly, to believe that everything will work out in the end, that there is always light at the end of the tunnel, is to believe that life is teleological, that there is some goal or purpose whether God or Justice operating invisibly behind what we experience.

It is by believing in the existence of superhuman goals and superhuman purposes that we lose sight of human goals and human purposes. Likewise, when we elevate someone like Martin Luther King Jr. to the status of a saint or a prophet, we see him as more than a mere mortal, thus freeing ourselves from the responsibility of trying to emulate him since we simply have to be hopeful that someone like him will come again. If optimism leads us to be complacent, leads us to wait for something good to happen, or for someone else to make something good happen, then optimism leads us to do nothing. In other words, it is not pessimism but optimism that is similar to nihilism.

In Ancient Greece, a Cynic was someone who lived like a dog (the Greek kynikos means doglike), or, to be more precise, was someone who lived by the Cynic philosophy of staying true to nature rather than conforming to what that person saw as social artifice. Today, a cynic is similarly someone who looks down on society and sees it as fake, though not because the cynic sees society as unnatural, but because the cynic sees the people who make up society as fake. To be cynical is to assume the worst of people, to think that morality is mere pretense, and to suppose that even when people seem to be helping others they are really only trying to help themselves. Believing in only self-interest, the cynic appears to others to believe in nothing. Consequently, cynicism can appear to be nihilism. But it is not nihilism.

A cynic can even enjoy life. In particular, a cynic can take pleasure in mocking those who claim that altruism exists, or that politicians are self-sacrificing public servants, and especially finds laughable the idea that we should try to see the good in people.

Cynicism, like pessimism, is about negativity. However, whereas pessimism is about despair, about the feeling that life is pointless in the face of death, cynicism is instead much more about disdain than despair. A cynic wouldnt say that life is pointless but would just say that what people claim about life is pointless. A cynic can even enjoy life. In particular, a cynic can take pleasure in mocking those who claim that altruism exists, or that politicians are self-sacrificing public servants, and especially finds laughable the idea that we should try to see the good in people.

Pessimists are not nihilists because pessimists embrace rather than evade despair. Cynics are not nihilists because cynics embrace rather than evade mendacity. A key part of evading despair is the willingness to believe, to believe that people can be good, that goodness is rewarded, and that such rewards can exist even if we do not experience them. But to a cynic such a willingness to believe is a willingness to be naive, to be gullible, and to be manipulated. The cynic mocks such beliefs not because the cynic claims to know that such beliefs are necessarily false, but because the cynic is aware of the danger represented by people who claim to know that such beliefs are necessarily true.

A skeptic waits for evidence before passing judgment. A cynic, however, does not trust evidence because the cynic does not trust that anyone is capable of providing evidence objectively.

A skeptic waits for evidence before passing judgment. A cynic, however, does not trust evidence because the cynic does not trust that anyone is capable of providing evidence objectively. The cynic would prefer to remain dubious than risk being duped, and thus the cynic sees those who do take such risks as dupes. For this reason the cynic is able to reveal the nihilism of others by challenging people to defend their lack of cynicism, much like how the pessimist reveals the nihilism of others by challenging people to defend their lack of pessimism.

Perhaps the best example of the revelatory abilities of a cynic is the argument between Thrasymachus and Socrates in the opening book of Platos Republic. Thrasymachus is first introduced as mocking Socrates for questioning others about the definition of justice and then demands that he be paid in order to tell them what justice truly is. Once appeased, Thrasymachus defines justice as a trick invented by the strong in order to take advantage of the weak, as a way for the strong to seize power by manipulating society into believing that obedience is justice. Thrasymachus further argues that whenever possible people do what is unjust, except when they are too afraid of being caught and punished, and thus Thrasymachus concludes that injustice is better than justice.

When Socrates attempts to refute this definition by likening political leaders to doctors, to those who have power but use it to help others rather than to help themselves, Thrasymachus does not accept the refutation like the others do, but instead refutes Socratess refutation. Thrasymachus accuses Socrates of being naive and argues that Socrates is like a sheep who thinks the shepherd who protects and feeds the sheep does so because the shepherd is good rather than realizing that the shepherd is fattening them for the slaughter. Socrates is never able to truly convince Thrasymachus that his definition of justice is wrong, and indeed Thrasymachuss cynicism is so compelling that Socrates spends the rest of the Republic trying to prove that justice is better than injustice by trying to refute the apparent success of unjust people by making metaphysical claims about the effects of injustice on the soul. Socrates is thus only able to counter cynicism in the visible world through faith in the existence of an invisible world, an invisible world that he argues is more real than the visible world. In other words, it is Thrasymachuss cynicism that forces Socrates to reveal his nihilism.

Here we can see that nihilism is actually much more closely related to idealism than to cynicism. The cynic presents himself or herself as a realist, as someone who cares about actions, not intentions, who focuses on what people do rather than on what people hope to achieve, who remembers the failed promises of the past in order to avoid being swept up in the not-yet-failed promises about the future. The idealist, however, rejects cynicism as hopelessly negative. By focusing on intentions, on hopes, and on the future, the idealist is able to provide a positive vision to oppose the negativity of the cynic. But in rejecting cynicism, does the idealist also reject reality?

Nihilism is actually much more closely related to idealism than to cynicism.

The idealist, as we saw with Socrates, is not able to challenge the cynics view of reality and instead is forced to construct an alternate reality, a reality of ideas. These ideas may form a coherent logical story about reality, but that in no way guarantees that the ideas are anything more than just a story. As the idealist focuses more and more on how reality ought to be, the idealist becomes less and less concerned with how reality is. The utopian views of the idealist may be more compelling than the dystopian views of the cynic, but dystopian views are at least focused on this world, whereas utopian views are, by definition, focused on a world that does not exist. It is for this reason that to use other-worldly idealism to refute this-worldly cynicism is to engage in nihilism.

Along with pessimism and cynicism, nihilism is also frequently associated with apathy. To be apathetic is to be without pathos, to be without feeling, to be without desire. While we are all occasionally given choices that do not particularly sway us one way or another (Do you want to eat Italian or Chinese?), such disinterestedness is what someone who is apathetic feels all the time. To be apathetic is thus to be seen as not caring about anything. The pessimist feels despair, the cynic feels disdain, but the apathetic individual feels nothing. In other words, apathy is seen as nihilism. But apathy is not nihilism.

The pessimist feels despair, the cynic feels disdain, but the apathetic individual feels nothing.

Apathy can be an attitude (I dont care about that) or a character trait (I dont care about anything). However, in either case the apathetic individual is expressing a personal feeling (or, to be more precise, feelinglessness) and is not making a claim about how everyone should feel (or, again, not feel). The apathetic individual understands perfectly well that other people feel differently insofar as they feel anything at all. And because the apathetic individual feels nothing, the apathetic individual does not feel any desire to convince others that they should similarly feel nothing. Others may care, but the apathetic individual does not, and because they do not care, the apathetic individual does not care that others care.

Yet apathy is still often seen as an affront, as an insult, as a rebuke by those who do care. For example, in MTVs Daria (19972002) a show about a highly apathetic high schooler Daria Morgendorffer and her friend Jane Lane have the following conversation:

DARIA: Tragedy hits the school and everyone thinks of me. A popular guy died, and now Im popular because Im the misery chick. But Im not miserable. Im just not like them.

JANE: It really makes you think.

DARIA: Funny. Thanks a lot.

JANE: No! Thats why they want to talk to you. When they say, Youre always unhappy, Daria, what they mean is, You think, Daria. I can tell because you dont smile. Now this guy died and it makes me think and that hurts my little head and makes me stop smiling. So, tell me how you cope with thinking all the time, Daria, until I can get back to my normal vegetable state.

DARIA: Okay. So why have you been avoiding me?

JANE: Because Ive been trying not to think.

The apathetic individual can thus, like the pessimist and the cynic, reveal the nihilism of others, though, unlike the pessimist and the cynic, the apathetic individual does this without actually trying to. Whereas the pessimist and the cynic challenge others to explain their lack of either pessimism or cynicism, the apathetic individual is instead the one who is challenged, challenged by others to explain his or her lack of pathos. In trying to get the apathetic individual to care, the person who does care is forced to explain why he or she cares, an explanation which can reveal just how meaningful (or meaningless) is the reason the person has for caring.

The apathetic individual doesnt care. However, not caring is not the same thing as caring about nothing. The apathetic individual feels nothing. But the nihilist has feelings. Its just that what the nihilist has feelings for is itself nothing. And indeed it is because the nihilist is able to have such strong feelings, strong feelings for something that is nothing, that the nihilist is not and cannot be apathetic. Nihilists can have sympathy, empathy, and antipathy, but they cannot have apathy.

Not caring is not the same thing as caring about nothing. The apathetic individual feels nothing. But the nihilist has feelings.

Nietzsche tried to demonstrate the feelings at work in nihilism in his argument against what he called the morality of pity. The morality of pity holds that it is good to feel pity for those who are in need, and it is especially good to be moved by such pity to help those who are in need. But, according to Nietzsche, what is often motivating the desire to help is how we are able to see ourselves thanks to how we see others in need, in particular how we see ourselves as capable of helping, as powerful enough to help.

The morality of pity is for Nietzsche not about helping others, but about elevating oneself by reducing others, by reducing others to their neediness, to a neediness that we do not have and that reveals how much we do have by contrast. Pity is nihilistic insofar as it allows us to evade reality, such as by allowing us to feel that we are better than we are, and that we are better than those in need. Consequently, we are able to avoid recognizing that we have perhaps only had better luck or have been more privileged.

The morality of pity drives us to feel pity and to feel good for feeling pity. Having such feelings is worse than feeling nothing, for if we feel good when we feel pity, then we are motivated only to help the individuals we feel pity for rather than to help end the systemic injustices that create such pitiful situations in the first place. Whereas apathy may help us to avoid being blinded by our emotions and to see situations of injustice more clearly, pity is instead more likely to motivate us to perpetuate injustice by perpetuating the conditions that allow us to help the needy, that allow us to see ourselves as good for helping those we see only as needy.

This is not to suggest, however, that we should try to achieve apathy, that we should try to will ourselves to feel nothing. Popular versions of Stoicism and of Buddhism advocate for calmness, for detachment, for trying to not feel what we feel. To force oneself to become apathetic is nihilistic, as to do so is to evade our feelings rather than to confront them. There is thus an important difference between being apathetic and becoming apathetic, between being indifferent because that is how one responds to the world and becoming indifferent because we want to be liberated from our feelings and attachments. Similarly, to become detached, not because of Stoicism or Buddhism, but because of hipsterism, is still to try to detach oneself from oneself, from life, from reality. So pursuing irony can be just as nihilistic as pursuing apatheia or nirvana.

Nolen Gertz is Assistant Professor of Applied Philosophy at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, and author of Nihilism, from which this article is excerpted.

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Why Lifelong Learning is the Key to Entrepreneurial Success – Entrepreneur

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The key to success has less to do with obsessing over consuming the 'right kinds' of materials and more to do with how you use what you learn.

January 17, 2020 6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

"I realized that becoming a master of karate was not about learning 4,000 moves but about doing just a handful of moves 4,000 times. Chet Holmes

How can we make learning our default mode?

According to Holmes, its not about amassing random knowledge or memorizing copious amounts of information. Its about turning what we absorb into strategic action.

Many entrepreneurs get stuck believing they should acquire as much knowledge as possible or become a human Wikipedia. Its now easier than ever to Google anything our heart desires, but all of this rapid browsing gives us the illusion that were processing more than we actually are. True learning, on the other hand, goes far beyond hoarding facts.

In fact, Plato made the case against simply memorizing data: Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion, obtains no hold on the mind, he said.

Its not the same thing to spend a single afternoon studying how to meditate, for example, as it is to make it a daily practice. Sheer knowledge alone is often powerless. Bruce Lee understood this more than anyone: Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.

Thats why we cant settle for skimming over the surface of information, we have to cultivate the habit of digging deep and immersing ourselves in new experiences.

This is what allows our thinking to grow more elastic and less rigid, and which ultimately lets us generate new and original ideas.

Related: How Studying History Brings Success

A Harvard Business Review story by John Coleman illustrates the need to prioritize learning. He writes: Were all born with a natural curiosity. We want to learn. But the demands of work and personal life often diminish our time and will to engage that natural curiosity.

As someone who is constantly pulled in every direction, I know what its like to end up pushing things to the backburner. In the early days of building JotForm, having a busy calendar meant that I was always balancing my personal life with working toward my dream.

All of my free time went toward my family or company, and precious few hours were dedicated to reading and practicing what I absorbed. But its important to remember that creating anything of meaning comes from continuous, deliberate learning of what we take in on a daily basis.

For a long time, I made excuses for not reading and researching material that wasnt related to my work. But at a certain point, I realized that in order to become a more open-minded, creative and innovative leader, I had to make learning a lifelong habit. Here are four ways to do it.

Related:Don't Learn More, Learn Smarter. A Quick Guide to Agile Learning.

What are some concepts, thoughtsand practices youd like to explore? Having a variety of passions plays an important role in maintaining our interest, but the goal of learning should be to push us beyond our comfort zone. Part of this involves discomfort, and thats a good thing.

In order to manage and overcome mental barriers, we should have a firm understanding of our own limitations, and what wed like to change.

Heres something to keep in mind: you should learn more about the things that matter to you. What excites you. But also about what challenges your beliefs and previous ways of thinking.

Instead of spending your free time catching up on the latest Netflix show, actively seek out opportunities to stay up-to-date with growth opportunities.

Getting rid of distractions is a good rule of thumb when learning new material, but also focus on setting aside small, regular time allotments. This means setting up realistic goals like leaving your phone in another room for a 30-minute block of time.

Consuming knowledge in these bite-sized quantities gives your mind time to process and recover from intense concentration.

But remember: its the repetition that counts. The most successful entrepreneurs all share the same trait: they focus on a handful of practices and rinse and repeat until gaining mastery. American essayist and philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, agrees:

That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing itself is changed, but that our power to do is increased.

Related:Why You Should Strive to Be a Lifelong Learner

No matter where you are on your journey, turning to a community of like-minded individuals can help make learning fun and exciting. Whether you participate in online or offline courses, you can gain more insight by connecting with other learners.

Engaging and participating in activities with people that are better than us can also give us opportunities to examine our beliefs and expand our thinking. Were also able to learn from others experiences and providevalue to them in return.

Make specific goals of joining a group or signing up for a formal class on what interests you. Knowing that you have a community to share notes with and provide you with feedback can keep you on track.

Lifelong learners understand that smart goal setting means increasing our learning agility, or our ability to take knowledge from one concept and apply it to another.

Understandably, most of us will automatically think that the knowledge and skills directly related to our work should take priority. If you stick to reading business books, the thinking goes, youll have better results.

But what Ive discovered about being a lifetime learner is that significant progress can only be made by translating diverse concepts and applying them to my role as a leader. Regularly practicing a few minutes of meditation every day, for instance, creates a domino effect by helping me cultivate patience and awareness in other areas of my business.

Its a lesson every founder can understand. The key to success has less to do with obsessing over consuming the right kinds of materials, and more to do with how you use what you learn. This is what ultimately gives us a fresh perspective.

Simply put: Keep growing and dont settle.

Or to quote Friedrich Nietzsche The doer alone learneth.

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The Times view on human welfare and the future: Getting Better – The Times

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January 1 2020, 12:01am,The Times

Pessimism about the future is a recurring theme of political thought yet the world has never been a better or wealthier place

In every age, pessimism has its sophisticated exponents. Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in 1895 that this progress is merely a modern idea, that is to say a false idea. In reality, even the history of the following century, despite two terrible world wars, refuted this dictum. Now, with 20 years of the 21st century having elapsed, it bears repeating that there has never been a better time to be alive.

Certainly there are global problems, such as climate change, international tensions and the risk of nuclear proliferation to autocratic states. Domestic politics has been convulsed by the issue of Brexit since 2016 and the task of finding a new place for Britain in the international trading system remains to be worked out. But on almost every

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Temperature Data-loggers Market is estimated to witness the highest growth during the forecast period – Market Research Sheets

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Temperature Data-loggers Industry Analysis 2019-2025

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Good Friday Quotes and Wishes 2018 – Sunriseread

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Good Friday Quotes and Wishes:Want you all a really Blissful Good Friday 2018.Good Friday is a really well-known day for Christian individuals as a result of This is a crucial occasion in Christianity, because it represents the sacrifices and struggling in Jesus life. And for this concerning Ive greater than messages of Good Friday due to at the present time crucial day. If youd like greater than message then come right here Superior Blissful Good Friday SMS For Mates- Good Friday Message and take greatest Good Friday Wishes 2018, Ive additionally quoted of Good Friday if you would like that tremendousGood Friday Quotes then take a look at beneath and do share with your folks and household.

The phrase Christianity is already a misunderstanding in actuality there was just one Christian, and he died on the Cross. Friedrich Nietzsche

I imagine in individual to individual. Each particular person is Christ for me, and since there is just one Jesus, that particular person is the one particular person on the earth at that second. Mom Teresa

On this Good Friday could we always remember the true that means of Easter For when He was on the cross, I used to be on His thoughts.

If Christ is God, He can not sin, and if struggling was a sin in and by itself, He couldnt have suffered and died for us. Nevertheless, since He took essentially the most horrific loss of life to redeem us, He confirmed us actually that struggling and ache have nice energy.

See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised excessive and vastly exalted.

Father, into your fingers I commend my spirit. In you, O LORD, I take refuge; Let me by no means be put to disgrace. In your justice rescue me. Into your fingers I commend my spirit; youll redeem me, O LORD, O trustworthy God. Psalm 31

The Lord lights up our manner into everlasting bliss. Good Friday.

Stoning prophets and erecting church buildings to their reminiscence afterward has been the way in which of the world by way of the ages. At present we worship Christ, however the Christ within the flesh we crucified. Mahatma Gandhi

Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself based empires; however what basis did we relaxation the creations of our genius? Upon drive. Jesus Christ based an empire upon love; and at this hour tens of millions of males would die for Him. Napoleon Bonaparte

Christmas and Easter could be topics for poetry, however Good Friday, like Auschwitz, can not. The truth is so horrible, it isnt shocking that folks ought to have discovered it a stumbling block to religion. W.H Auden

Come up, shine; for thy gentle is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cowl the earth, and gross darkness the individuals: however the LORD shall come up upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. Isaiah 60:1-2

At Sussen, the Satan carried off, final Good Friday, three grooms who had devoted themselves to him. Martin Luther

So we could be a part of the disciples of our Lord, preserving religion in Him despite the crucifixion, and preparing, by our loyalty to Him within the days of His darkness, for the time when we will enter into His triumph within the days of His gentle. Philip Ledyard Cuyler

Its Good Friday. Good as a result of 2000 years in the past the occasions of right this moment show that we matter to God.

By the cross we, too, are crucified with Christ; however alive in Christ. We are not any extra rebels, however servants; no extra servants, however sons!. Frederic William Farrar

Good Friday marks the slaying of our Jesus, The unblemished lamb, the right sacrifice. He took our guilt and blamed upon Himself

A person who was fully harmless, provided himself as a sacrifice for the nice of others, together with his enemies, and turned the ransom of the world. It was an ideal act. Mahatma Gandhi

For he taught his disciples, and mentioned unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the fingers of males, and they shall kill him; and after that hes killed, he shall rise the third day. Mark 9:31

Im the witness to his valiant passing. Im a token of his final assure, Forgiveness am the Cross, Blessings on Good Friday

Jesus is the God whom we are able to method with out pleasure and earlier than whom we are able to humble ourselves with out gloom.

By the cross we, as properly, are killed with Christ; nonetheless alive in Christ. We are not any extra revolts, but staff; no extra hirelings, but kids!

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Inspirational Good Friday Quotes

God so beloved the world that He gave His solely begotten son. John 3:16

Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone however in each leaf in springtime. Martin Luther

Demise is the justification of all of the methods of the Christian, the final finish of all his sacrifices, the contact of the Nice Grasp which completes the image. Madame Anne Sophie Swetchine

We could say that on the primary Good Friday afternoon was accomplished that nice act by which gentle conquered darkness and goodness conquered sin. Thats the marvel of our Saviors crucifixion. Phillips Brooks

The cross was two items of lifeless wooden; and a helpless, unresisting Man was nailed to it; but it was mightier than the world, and triumphed, and will ever overcome it. Augustus William Hare

No ache, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown. William Penn

* Good Friday, manner of the cross, fasting and abstinence, Study conscience. Have a extremely blessed Day. Blissful Good Friday 2017

God so beloved the world that he gave his solely begotten son. Jesus mentioned to her, Im the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will reside, though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me wont ever die. Blissful Good Friday 2017

Christmas and Easter could be topics for poetry, however Good Friday, like Auschwitz, can not. The truth is so horrible it isnt shocking that folks ought to have discovered it a stumbling block to religion. On the level when u face points in life, strive to not request that GOD take them away. Request that he exhibit His motivation, Request that methods how keep on a day searching his motivation down u.

See For :- Blissful Good Friday HD Photographs Within the occasion that Christ is God, He cant sin, and if enduring was a wrongdoing in and with out anybody else, He couldnt have languished and kicked the bucket over us. Be that as it could, since He took essentially the most horrible passing to get well us, He demonstrated to us fact be instructed that agony and torment have extraordinary drive.

He demonstrated to us the way in which He has for fairly a while been no extra However then in our souls His identify sparkles on. Want u a Holy Friday Father, into your fingers I reward my soul. In you, O LORD, I take asylum; Let me by no means be put to shame. In your fairness salvage me. Into your fingers I laud my soul; youll get well me, O LORD, O devoted God.

Jesus is the God whom we are able to method with out pleasure and earlier than whom we are able to humble ourselves with out gloom.

Good Friday is a day of mourning, and all of the ceremonies and rituals of the day are centered on the sensation of sorrow, on the ache and humiliation that Jesus underwent for the reason for goodness and humanity.

By the cross we, as properly, are killed with Christ; nonetheless alive in Christ. We are not any extra revolts, but staff; no extra hirelings, but kids!

Could the glory of our Savior Strengthen you & Could His Graces Shine Upon you On Good Friday & All the time !

2,000 years again one man acquired nailed to a tree for saying how superior it could be if all people was nice to at least one one other for a change.

The cross was two bits of lifeless wooden; and a powerless, docile Man was nailed to it; but it was mightier than the world, and triumphed, and will ever overcome it.

The Lord lights up our manner into inside bliss. Good Friday

* At Sussen, the Satan carried off, final Good Friday, three grooms who had devoted themselves to him.

Share this superior assortment of Blissful Good Friday Quotes and Wishes with your folks and family members. Dont overlook to share this Good Friday Quotes Wishes 2018along with your social circle on fb, twitter, google+, Pinterest and different social networks.

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Why We Will Need Walt Whitman in 2020 – The New York Times

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When Walt Whitman arrived in Washington at the end of 1862 to take up residence in the city and serve as a hospital volunteer, the construction of the Capitol dome was not yet complete. In a dispatch published in the Oct. 4, 1863, edition of The New-York Times, Whitman described this vast eggshell, built of iron and glass, this dome a beauteous bubble that emerges calm and aloft from the hill, out of a dense mass of trees. The poet recounted how a few days ago, poking about there, eastern side he found the yet to be hoisted Statue of Freedom that now crowns the Capitol dome all dismembered, scattered on the ground, by the basement front. In retrospect its a rather on-the-nose metaphor, this personified representation of liberty standing in the mud while the nation immolated itself in civil war, yet still visible to our greatest poet and prophet of democracy, perhaps signifying the incomplete task of the American project.

When the war began, Whitman was despondent, but the violence of those years seemed to strengthen and clarify his faith in democracy, a faith that would take on a transcendent dimension. For the poet, democracy wasnt simply the least bad form of government, it wasnt reducible to dreary policy and endless debate, but it was rather a vital, transformative and regenerative ethos. Even as the survival of what President Abraham Lincoln called the last, best hope of earth was in doubt, Whitmans belief in the philosophical and political foundation of the nation flourished.

If the war against illiberalism takes place on many fronts, including the economic and the cultural, then one domain where the revanchists are clearly gaining power is in the realm of the transcendent. In the delusions of blood and soil there is for many the attraction of a deeper meaning. Authoritarians claim that they offer their nations (or at least a segment of the population) unity and purpose. The 20th-century German philosopher (and victim of the Nazis) Walter Benjamin warned how fascism engages an aestheticization of politics, where spectacle and transcendence provide a type of ecstasy for its adherents. Watch clips of fevered crowds, from today or the past, chanting against enemies of the people; they are malignant scenes, but ones that in no small part mimic religious revivals.

Critics of democracy often claim that it offers no similar sense of transcendence. The 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche castigated democracy as a system of quarantine mechanisms for human desires, and as such they are very boring. If the individual unit of democracy is the citizen, authoritarian societies thrill to the bermensch, the superman promising that I alone can fix it. Yet I would argue that all of the hallmarks of authoritarianism the rallies and crowds, the marching and military parades, the shouting demagogue promising his followers that they are superior are wind and hot air. What fascism offers isnt elevation but cheap transcendence, a counterfeit of meaning rather than the real thing.

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7 (Semi-Specific) Ways to Beat the Wintertime Blues in Milwaukee – Milwaukee Magazine

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SMILE, THOUGH YOUR HEART IS ACHIN

For years, weve been relying on the work of psychologists with their fancy Ph.D.s to help us understand the human mind, when we could have just listened to noted singer/comedian/ Frosty the Snowman Jimmy Durante, who sang, Youll find that life is still worthwhile if you just smile. Smiling, even if its forced, causes the brain to release dopamine and serotonin, which are mood boosters and stress reducers. A University of Cardiff study found that patients who were physically unable to frown due to Botox injections reported being happier on average than their Botox-free companions.

To quote legendary nihilist Frederick Nietzsche, Without music, life would be a mistake. A Journal of Positive Psychology study found that participants who listened to upbeat music could improve their mood within two weeks. Unfortunately for us Radiohead lovers, the same did not apply when participants listened to sad music.

This one might not be as fun as listening to happy music, but an article in Medical Hypotheses proposed that cold showers can help stave off depressive symptoms. According to the article, cold exposure activates the sympathetic nervous system and releases noradrenaline and endorphins, which help improve mood.

Pet owners, on average, have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol, and they are less likely to suffer from depression. The physical affection, regular schedule and loving companionship that come with pet ownership all tend to have positive effects on our mental and physical well-being.

RELATED The 'Uber for Snow Removal' Lands in Milwaukee and We're Interested

At this point, everyone has heard that exercise boosts mood and helps fight depression. So Ill just say it again in all caps: EXERCISE BOOSTS MOOD AND HELPS FIGHT DEPRESSION. And guess what? A study from JAMA Psychiatry found that only 15 minutes a day of high-intensity exercise, like running, or even just one hour of moderate-intensity exercise, like a brisk walk, are enough to boost your mood.

The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that people who regularly meet with family and friends are roughly half as likely to report symptoms of depression compared with those who dont. Heres the catch: Phone calls and email dont count. Depression symptoms were mitigated only through frequent face-to-face contact.

Fish, my dudes. You gotta get those omega-3 fatty acids. The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health went through 26 previous studies to see what correlation existed between eating fish and depression, and it found that people who ate lots of fish were less likely to suffer depressive symptoms.

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The History of Philosophy – The Humanist

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BY A.C. GRAYLING PENGUIN PRESS, 2019 704PP.; $35.00

If A.C. Graylings The History of Philosophy were a river, it would be shallow with a strong current. Traveling down it, youd have little to see and little time to see it. Because the water is shallow, your legs would always be bumping up against the debris (a stand-in for academic jargon). Or, to change metaphors, the book is a bullet train rather than a car ride. It offers no moment or incentive to stop, meander, or backtrack, the goal being not to enjoy the journey but to reach the end. Even these metaphors dont really capture the difficulty in reading it. It takes effort. If anything, youre traveling against the rivers current. If anything, youd be working in the trains engine room. A few people will read the book once; I cant imagine anyone will read it twice.

Graylings tome is exactly what it says it is: the history of philosophy. It starts with the pre-Socratic philosophers and ends with todays academic philosophy. Already you can see what the primary dilemma of such a project is: how to make such an expansive history with so many characters orderly in composition yet alive to the reader. Grayling says the book is an invitation and an entrance for the philosophically curious but philosophically ignorant, however, I cant imagine someone vaguely curious about something they vaguely understand as philosophy will get much out of the bookor even get past the first few pages. The writing is encyclopedic rather than engaging. There are a few sections later on that arent badthe ones on Jean Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, and Friedrich Nietzsche, for examplebut the first two hundred pages are flat: uninspired and therefore uninspiring. Many sections read not as summaries of ideas but as summaries of summaries, all with the enthusiasm and lucidity of a morticians report.

The dilemma is that the books intention and its form are at odds. That is, you can either write a book that actually invites and draws people to philosophy (or, more specifically, the philosophical canon; most people are already attracted to philosophy as a practice of deeper thinking) or you can write a history of philosophy that covers all the canonized philosophers (many of whom arent worth covering anyway). Graylings confessed intention is the former, but The History of Philosophy only seems to try for the latter.

To get people interested in the philosophical canon (again, different than philosophy itself), a popularizer would be better off focusing on just a few canonized philosophers (like what Will Durant did in The Story of Philosophy) or taking a subject that almost any reader will be interested in and finding out what the canonized philosophers had to say about it (like what Simon Critchley did with death and dying in The Book of Dead Philosophers). Both these books succeed at being invitations and entrances to the philosophical canon. If neither succeeded at getting anyone to rush out to read Plato and Aristotle, they at least succeeded in getting people excited to think about what Plato and Aristotle thought about.

I dont normally focus on representation, but Im really at a loss trying to understand how Hans-Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur each got their own sections but Hannah Arendt gets just a paragraph, and the only mention of Simone Weil is in a list. I didnt know who Gadamer and Ricoeur were before I read The History of Philosophy and still have no idea why Grayling thinks I should after reading it. And why is Simone de Beauvoir not given her own section but instead relegated to sidekick in Jean Paul Sartres? Why am I told that she liked to have sex with students and colleagues but not whats in The Ethics of Ambiguity?If French existentialism has any masterpieces, that has to be one of them. Why is there a section on feminist philosophy that includes no biography or summary of a single feminist philosopher? Graylings handling of representation is the worst of both worlds: pandering yet still exclusionary.

And this exclusion problem isnt just with female philosophers. The History of Philosophy plays it too safe and too conventional with whom it includes. Where are the radicals, the mystics, the Catholics, the Social Darwinists, the Marxists, the wisdom writers? Where is W.E.B. Du Bois or G.K. Chesterton or Ralph Waldo Emerson or George Santayana? Where are the dead who still speak to the living? Grayling introduces Michel Foucault as indispensable to any understanding of modernity, then devotes two whole paragraphs to him; meanwhile Anaximenes, Anaximander, and Thales all get their own sections for basically the same thing: being pre-Socratic philosophers who based their philosophies on experimentation rather than abstract thinking.

Philosophers like to say that the philosophers people actually read arent really philosophers, and histories of philosophy seem written to codify and reinforce who counts as a philosopher and who doesnt. The history of philosophy, Gilles Deleuze said, has always been the agent of power in philosophyA formidable school of intimidationAn image of thought called philosophy has been formed historically and it effectively stops people from thinking. The dilemma of Graylings The History of Philosophy is that most of the philosophers that draw people to philosophy arent in the philosophical canon. The philosophy that invites and entrances is the philosophy that speaks to the egos cry for understanding rather than the minds cry for clarity. In Will Durants words, its the philosophy that speaks on the problems like good and evil, beauty and ugliness, order and freedom, life and death, not the philosophy that leads to sentences like, The rejection of the analytic-synthetic distinction is a consequence of [Willard Van Orman] Quines extensionalism, because the idea of analyticity essentially turns on the intensional notion of meanings.

The History of Philosophy feels like something Grayling wanted not to write but to have written. There is no authorial impulse to it; no sparks of joy or excitement. There are a few attempts at humor; Grayling, for example, repeats the same jokey aside about St. Augustine as he is known in ecclesiastical circles and St. Aquinas as he is known in religious circles.

Much of the philosophical canon is as dull as that joke, and no one should feel discouraged if they arent completely enthralled by Wilhelm Gottfried Leibnizs Monadology or Martin Heideggers Being and Time. As Deleuze said, the philosophical canon seems designed to be a barrier rather than a doorway. For those who read Graylings The History of Philosophy and feel like giving up on the entire subject, please try one of the alternatives mentioned earlier (or DurantsThe Pleasures of Philosophy). And know that, if the philosophical canon doesnt do it for you, theres still plenty of philosophy outside of it.

Read the rest here:
The History of Philosophy - The Humanist

Written by admin

December 30th, 2019 at 8:48 pm

Posted in Nietzsche


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