Friday, June 8, 2018

180608 Readings and Comments

Some quotes for thought:

When Nietzsche's Zarathustra told the crowd about the last man, a clamor arose: "Give us this last man, O Zarathustra!" "turn us into these last men!" they shouted. The life of the last man is physical security and material plenty, precisely what Western politicians are fond of promising their electorates. Is this really what the human story has been "all about' these past few millennia? Should we fear that we will be both happy and satisfied with our situation, no longer human beings but animals of the genus homo sapiens? Or is the danger that we will be happy on one level, but still dis-satisfied with ourselves on another, and hence ready to drag the world back into history with all its wars, injustices, and revolution? 
. . . . 
[W]e can readily accept many of Nietzsche's acute psychological observations, even as we reject his morality. The way in which the desire for justice and punishment is all-too frequently anchored in the resentment of the weak against the strong, the potentially debilitating spiritual effects of compassion and equality, the fact that certain individuals deliberately do not seek comfort and security and are not satisfied with happiness as understood by the Anglo-Saxon utilitarian tradition, the way in which struggles and risk are constituent parts of the human soul, the relationship between the desire to be greater than others and the possibility of personal excellence and self-overcoming--all of these insights may be considered accurate reflections of the human condition, which we can accept without our having to break with the Christian-liberal traditions in which we live.

. . . .

But supposing that the world has become "filled up," so to speak, with liberal democracies, such that there exists no tyranny and oppression worthy of the name against which to struggle? Experience suggests that if men cannot struggles on behalf of a just cause because that just cause was victorious in an earlier generation, then they will struggle against the just cause. They will struggle for the sake of struggle. They will struggle, in other words, out of a certain boredom: they cannot imagine living in a world without struggles. And if the greater part of the world in which they live is characterized by peaceful and prosperous liberal democracy, then they will struggle against that peace and properity, and against democracy.  

All of the above was published over a quarter of a century ago. Is it still pertinent? Does it shed any insight on our current world? 

From a different work, another quote to ponder:

Secrecy is the original sin. Fig leaf in the Garden of Eden. The basic crime against love . . . The purpose of life is to receive, synthesize and transmit energy. Communication fusion is the goal of life. Any star can tell you that. Communication is love. Secrecy, withholding the signal, hoarding, hiding, covering up the light is motivated by shame and fear. As so often happens, the right wing is half right for the wrong reasons. They say primly: if you have done nothing wrong, you have no fear of being bugged. Exactly. But the logic goes both ways. Then FBI files, CIA dossiers, White House conversations should be open to all. Let everything hang open. Let government be totally visible. The last, the very last people to hide their actions should be the police and the government.
Good idea or bad? Feasible or no?

BTW, in a couple of days or so I'll provide attributions for the quotes. I sometimes think that we tend to judge a quote by the attribution (I know I do). Let's think first, attribute later, although if anyone thinks they recognize a source, please do so. You'll earn bonus points (towards what, I don't know).

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