Put simply

&|| succinctly

There is a book which says a fair bit about me — I went a bit ‘Radio Rentals’ (you know what I mean, a stint of, or a stretch at, ‘doolally’) and frenetically purchased the whole series. Of the set, there was this particular one that, for a bit, I totally cherished — it became my bible & my constant companion, my succour & my sanctum sanatorium (sic.[k]) — but after a time and in a cathartic act of getting-the-fuck-over-him, I dispensed with it (alongside its fellow brethren to the large green municipality garbage (no: ‘rubbish’; no “GARBAGE”) skip (bin or tin) beside the house in which I’m obligated to reside in). However, it found its way back to me and I, once more (“for better or for worse”), took it in again. You see, he’d ‘magically’ found high resolution electronic versions of it and all the other titles and sent them to me, as is his way, with artfully articulated apologies and long letters of regret and remorse for, amongst many other things, his self-destructive ways in which I all too often bare the brunt. He too, by the way, is a flipping expert in throwing everything away and beginning anew — he takes so-called “cleansing baths,” the idea being that baptism-like, he’ll rise from the waters shorn of sin and shed of snake oil (he being phoenix-like; the ashes, the lives of those he messes around with). But the things he throws out (with the bath water, so to speak) soon get reintroduced: for escape, he says — and I concur — is a fallacy because, one cannot escape one’s self (he and I both give short shrift to things like near death experiences being anything other than wholly imagined phenomena).

Thomas De Quincey on Opium
“Thou only givest these gifts to man, and thou hast the keys of Paradise, O just, subtle, and mighty opium!” — he’d quote such things to me. . . O Blackest Spot! Are you musing? Yours, your muse.

This is the book:

(DK) The Philosophy Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained
DK. (2011) The Philosophy Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited.
As I seek context for its cover quotes, by way of organic light-emitting diodes, it stares luridly back at me, unblinkingly and unrelentingly. It, in my sore eyes, acts as a testament to the truism that knowledge rarely begets bliss. n.b., I’ll be heading out into the dunes real soon.


Mind has no gender.

Mary Wollstonecraft
An English writer and philosopher (1759–1797) who, inter alia, advocated for gender neutrality in all domains of society. “She” alas (not a lass) is almost unique in this anthology. Yet, maybe this whole endeavour is both infantile and futile; and thus a forte of man. But no! The millennia old quest to definitively discover, determine and frame consciousness is too important to be left to mankind alone. That we evidently aren’t represented in this field doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t seek and strive to become so: per ardua ad astra & all a dat.


I think therefore I am.

René Descartes
A French thinker (1596–1650) who is considered one of the instigators of modern (Western) philosophy (and a key member of La Ville Lumière), his most noted line: “Cogito, ergo sum,” penned in Latin, is quoted above. I can confirm to you here and now that I am very much alive and mulling over my abject melancholy tonight. Whether or, whether not, you too are thinking thoughts now in the dead of night, one can only speculate.


We only think when we are confronted with problems.

John Dewey
An American philosopher and psychologist (1859–1952) who believed profoundly in democracy, be it in e.g., politics, education or media communication; he once said that is was synonymous with the “ultimate, ethical ideal of humanity.”


Humans are born free, yet everywhere they are in chains.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
A French/Swiss philosopher (1712–1778) who had great influence on the progress of the Enlightenment throughout Europe by way of e.g., his works: “Discourse on Inequality” and “The Social Contract” — cornerstones still of contemporary political and socioeconomic thinking (Rousseau was a member of La Ville Lumière). I am chained to memories of u; i am chained too by patriarchy and an increasingly bellicose and jingoistic society.


Imaginations decide everything.

Blaise Pascal
A French mathematician, physicist, inventor and philosopher (1623–1662). Pascal made important contributions to the study of fluids, concepts of pressure and vacuum as well as writing in support of the scientific method.


To be is to be perceived.

George Berkeley
An Irish philosopher (&c.) (1685–1753) who put forth a a theory which he called “immaterialism” which denies the existence of material substance, instead contending that things like books and pens are only ideas in our minds and exist only because we perceived them to be.


The universe has not always existed.

Thomas Aquinas
An Italian philosopher (1225–1274) who is considered to be the most famous of all medieval Christian philosophers. English philosopher Anthony Kenny contends that Aquinas is amongst the dozen “greatest philosophers of the western world.”


Humans are animals that make bargains.

Adam Smith
A Scottish philosopher and pioneer of political economy (1723–1790). known by some as “The Father of Economics” he is perhaps most famous for his work, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), and the concept of ‘the invisible hand.’


Humans are machines.

Thomas Hobbes
An English philosopher (1588–1679) who’s considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy in large part because of his 1651 book Leviathan. This work was seminal in terms of setting out social contract theory.


Humans are the measure if all things.

Protagoras
An Ancient Greek philosopher (c. 490–420 BCE) who is said also to have said, “many things prevent knowledge, including the obscurity of the subject and the brevity of human life.”


Happy is the one who has overcome their ego.

Siddhartha Gautama
An Indian philosopher (c. 563–483 BCE) who was later lionised as the Buddha, he’s said to have said the following string of words: The mind is everything. What you think, you become.


The human is an invention of a recent date.

Michel Foucault
A French social theorist and philosopher (1926-1984) Foucault saw himself as a critic of modernity (see: la-ville-lumiere). Interestingly he was convinced that the study of philosophy must begin through a close and ongoing study of history.


The ends justifies the means.

Niccolò Machiavelli
An Italian thinker (1469–1527) who famously submitted the following: while it would be best to be both loved and feared, the two rarely coincide, and thus, greater security is found in the latter.


There is nothing outside of the text.

Jacques Derrida
A French philosopher (1930–2004), who is considered by some to be rather controversial in relation to his concept of “deconstruction” — a complex and nuanced approach to how we read and understand the nature of written texts. In an egalitarian kind of way he believed that we are all, “mediators and translators.” He said too that he never gave in to, “the temptation to be difficult just for the sake of being difficult.”


Act as if what you do makes a difference.

William James
An American philosopher and psychologist (1842–1910) who is said now to be the “Father of American psychology.” In a seminal work for the field of psychology — Pragmatism (1907, p. 45) — he wrote, “there can be no difference that doesn’t make a difference.”


Life will be lived all the better if it has no meaning.

Albert Camus
A French philosopher (1913–1960) who said, “fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” Even more interestingly, in my humble view, he argued that (hu)man(kind) is the only creature who refuses to be what they are. I dunno m8 but i fink he means we are but animals (dressed in garments) but we seek to act and pretend we are more higher than our baser instincts and our animistic (sum times cannibalistic) tendencies.


Over one’s own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

John Stuart Mill
An English philosopher (1806–1873) who said the following: “Under whatever conditions, and within whatever limits, men are admitted to the suffrage, there is not a shadow of justification for not admitting women under the same.” He’s pretty bloody amazing actually. Not only was he for equality between the genders but he was also an advocate of free speech and the limiting of the powers of authority over the citizenry. . .


(DK) The Philosophy Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained
— only a fool’d neglect the b’ side.


The life which is unexamined is not worth living.

Socrates
An Ancient Greek philosopher (469–399 BCE) who is considered to be one of the founders of Western philosophy. Interestingly so because he himself wrote nothing. What he did do, however, was persistently ask challenging questions.


Humans are something to be surpassed.

Friedrich Nietzsche
A German philosopher (1844–1900), who amongst other things, believed that so-called religious morality, with its emphasis on kindness, meekness, subservience to a greater good, and a focus on the afterlife rather than the present condition, did not reflect how the world actually works.


The soul is distinct from the body.

Plato
An Ancient Greek philosopher (c.428 – c.348 BCE) and was one of Socrates’ muses. In terms of, “the soul is distinct from the body”. . . I ask: is it though? I mean, like I said about them near death-experiences, you kind of know what to imagine, floating up off of the bed, your life flashing by condensed to a dozen at most vivid events splatters in stark relief. I mean who’s managed to can a soul? Who has actually continued bereft of their blinking body?


Reason lives in language.

— Emmanuel Levinas
A French philosopher (1906–1995) known for his inquiries into existentialism, ethics and ontology.


Truth resides in the world around us.

Aristotle
An Ancient Greek philosopher (384–322 BCE) who said too: “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence. We should know tat it is from Aristotle’s writings and teachings that the West inherited its intellectual lexicon, as well as the key problems to ponder and moreover, methods of inquiry. As the polymath did make clear: “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.”


Knowledge is power.

Francis Bacon
An English philosopher (1561–1626) whose work is credited with developing the scientific method hence sometimes being called “the father of empiricism.” For me it is the following words of his that I feel most affinity too: “In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.”


Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.

Voltaire
A French Enlightenment era philosopher (1694–1778) famous for his wit as well as his criticism of religion and his advocacy of freedom of speech. He was a founding member of La Ville Lumière. Tellingly he was fond of saying the following: Those who can make you believe absurdities (e.g., the supernatural) can make you commit atrocities (e.g., coercive indoctrination). This was especially the case, I’ve somewhere read, as an encore to peach soufflé.


The fundamental cause of trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.

Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell

RELATED READINGS

Eldridge, R. T. (Ed.). (2009). The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gottlieb, A. (2000). The Dream of Reason: a History of Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance. New York: W. W. Norton & Co.

Gottlieb, A. (2016). The Dream of Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Philosophy. London: Penguin.

Grayling, A. C. (2019). The History of Philosophy. London: Penguin.

Kenny, A. (1998). An Illustrated Brief History of Western Philosophy. New York: John Wiley & Sons

Russell, B. (1945). A History of Western Philosophy. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.


End (is nigh) notes
This post ^ is a consequence of summer recess and purdah.

I perorate

to my sole-mate /

JUST WAR THEORY
Just war theory (Latin: jus bellum justum) is a philosophy (or ‘doctrine’) with a purpose to ensure war is morally justifiable through a series of criteria, all of which must be met for a war to be considered just. The criteria are split into two groups: “right to go to war” (jus ad bellum) and “right conduct in war” (jus in bello). The first concerns the morality of going to war, and the second the moral conduct within war. Just war theory postulates that war, while terrible, is not always the worst option.

ABSURDISM
Absurdism shares some concepts, and a common theoretical template, with existentialism and nihilism. It has its origins in the work of the 19th-century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. As a philosophy, absurdism explores the fundamental nature of the absurd — the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life, and the human inability to find any in a purposeless, meaningless or chaotic and irrational universe — and how individuals, once becoming conscious of the absurd, should respond to it. Albert Camus stated that individuals should embrace the absurd condition of human existence.

WESTERN PHILOSOPHY
Western philosophy refers to the philosophical thought and work of the Western world beginning with Greek philosophy of the pre-Socratics such as Thales (c. 624 – c. 546 BC) and Pythagoras (c. 570 – c. 495 BC). Dear reader, as I’ve said many a time. the word philosophy itself originated from the Ancient Greek philosophía (φιλοσοφία), literally, “the love of wisdom” (φιλεῖν phileîn, “to love” and σοφία sophía, “wisdom”).

AESTHETICS
Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste, as well as the philosophy of art. It considers subjective values — at times referred to as judgments of sentiment and taste.

HEDONISM
Hedonism is a school of thought that argues pleasure and suffering are the only components of well-being. Ethical hedonism contends that what we should do depends exclusively on what affects the well-being individuals have. Ethical hedonists would defend either increasing pleasure and reducing suffering for all beings capable of experiencing them, or just reducing suffering in the case of negative consequentialism. Hedonism derives from the Greek word for “delight.”

EPICUREANISM
Epicureanism is a system of philosophy based upon the teachings of the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus. It sees the greatest good to be seeking modest, sustainable “pleasure” in the form of a state of tranquility and freedom from fear (ataraxia) and absence of bodily pain (aponia). Although Epicureanism is a form of hedonism insofar as it declares pleasure to be its sole intrinsic goal, its advocacy of a simple life, make it rather distinct from “hedonism” ^ see up dear reader.

RENAISSANCE HUMANISM
Renaissance humanism was a response to what was subsequently labelled the “narrow pedantry” associated with medieval scholasticism. Let’s be clear, it was — wittingly or otherwise — the questioning of why one should put up with a life constrained and controlled by theocratic dogma. In essence is was was a revival in the study of classical antiquity, at first in Italy and then spreading across Western Europe in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries.


In Greek mythology Sisyphus (Ancient Greek: Σίσυφος) was the king of Ephyra (now known as Corinth). He was punished for his self-aggrandising craftiness and deceitfulness. His punishment wasbeing forced to roll a huge boulder up a hill only for it to roll down when it nears the top; he was made to repeat this action for eternity. Through the classical influence on modern culture, tasks that are both laborious and futile are therefore described as being “Sisyphean.”

Da_Vinci_Vitruve_Luc_Viatour

Vitruvian Man is Leonardo da Vinci’s own reflection on human proportion and architecture, made clear through words and image. Its purpose is to bring together ideas about art, architecture, human anatomy and symmetry in one distinct and commanding image.

Friedrich Nietzsche

[German | 1844–1900]

The problem of how to live a life with meaning has puzzled philosophers since the days of ancient Greece, China, and India. Yet, for Nietzsche, the problem took on a new importance in the aftermath of the Enlightenment and what he saw this as resulting in; the death of god.

It is often said that Nietzsche is a nihilist but, it’s not so simple. In fact, much of his work is concerned with the problem of overcoming nihilism despite all the things (life problems) that drive people towards acting in a nihilistic way.

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster… if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

Nietzsche’s was focused on this: in an increasingly secular and scientific society we humans could no longer turn to god/religion to find meaning. In the past (or for religious people today( the meaning of everything was assured by God. So, Nietzsche pondered, without the ability to turn to god, where could we find meaning?

Nietzsche argued that there were two fundamental types of morality: “master morality” and “slave morality”. Master morality values pride and power, while slave morality values things like kindness, empathy, and sympathy.

Key point:

Nietzsche believed that the Christian morality, with its emphasis on kindness, meekness, subservience to a greater good, and a focus on the afterlife rather than the present condition, did not reflect how the world actually works.

Instead of relativism, Nietzsche advocates for something that has been called “perspectivism.” Simply put, perspectivism means that every claim, belief, idea, or philosophy is tied to some perspective and that it’s impossible for humans to detach themselves from these lenses in order to learn about objective Truth.

According to Nietzsche perspectivism isn’t the same as relativism because unlike relativism (which says all views are equally valid because they’re relevant to each person) perspectivism doesn’t claim that all perspectives have equal value — some are in fact better than others.

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.

— my why is you J and that is how I can bear the now (which basically is hell).

La Ville Lumière

💀 The dead control the living.

There are various influential French philosophers and the following are amongst the most prominent /

In no particular order /

René Descartes
In his seminal work, Discourse on Method, Descartes defined thought as the essential human quality — “I think, therefore I am” — and sets out one of the key characteristics of the French style of thinking: the deductive mode of reasoning. That is, one which starts with a general, abstract proposition and then works towards a specific conclusion.

The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.

The greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices as well as of the greatest virtues.

Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.

Voltaire
Voltaire was an outspoken advocate of civil liberties, despite the risk this placed him in under the strict censorship laws of the time. Voltaire believed above all in the efficacy of reason. He believed social progress could be achieved through reason and that no authority — religious or political or otherwise — should be immune to challenge by reason. Voltaire frequently made use of his works to criticise intolerance and religious dogma.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Rousseau’s writings on human freedom, equality, popular sovereignty and the return to nature challenged the social and political conventions of 18th‑century French society, and founded the radical republican tradition. His Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract are cornerstones in modern political and social thought.

The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.

Nature never deceives us; it is we who deceive ourselves.

Jules Michelet
Greatest French historian of his time, whose blistering account of the French revolution dwelled on the importance of emotions, myths and symbols; he championed the cause of “the people”, arguing that history is decisively shaped by the interventions of the masses.

He who would confine his thought to present time will not understand present reality.

Jean-Paul Sartre
Sartre confronted all the powerful institutions of his time (the bourgeois state, the Communist party, the university system); his writings on existentialism and Marxism in the post-second world war decades marked the pinnacle of the French traditions of republican universalism and philosophical radicalism.

When the rich wage war it’s the poor who die.

Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.

Simone de Beauvoir
Simone de Beauvoir was well versed in philosophy, politics and social issues. Her seminal work was The Second Sex (1949), which drew on existentialist philosophy to offer a ground-breaking account of women’s oppression. It is a pivotal contribution to modern feminism.

No one is more arrogant toward women, more aggressive or scornful, than the man who is anxious about his virility.

All oppression creates a state of war.

Claude Lévi-Strauss
An ethnologist who became the most important exponent of structuralism, a philosophical movement that challenged the linearity of Cartesian rationalism by questioning its assumptions about progress and the fixed nature of meaning, and stressing the importance of dissonances and the unconscious in human thinking.

The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, [they are] one who asks the right questions.

Michel Foucault
Foucault’s theories primarily address the relationship between power and knowledge, and how they are used as a form of social control through societal institutions. His work explored the ways in which modern societies imposed various forms of intellectual and physical control on their citizens, ranging from dominant norms and coercive state controls to medical and sexual practices.

What desire can be contrary to nature since it was given to [us] by nature itself.


Liberté, Equalité, Fraternité

Richard Dawkins

[English | 1941– ]

Richard Dawkins is an English evolutionary biologist, author and professor at Oxford University. His seminal work is The Selfish Gene (1976), which popularised the gene-centred view of evolution and introduced the term meme. His book, The Magic of Reality (2011), really fascinates me!

The Magic Of Reality By Richard Dawkins - dust jacket
The Magic Of Reality: How we know what’s really true

PDF extracts:
¶  pp. 12-13 from ‘The Magic of Reality’ (Dawkins, 2011)
¶  pp. 32-52 from ‘The Magic of Reality’ (Dawkins, 2011)
¶  pp. 118-139 from ‘The Magic of Reality’ (Dawkins, 2011)
¶  pp. 246-265 from ‘The Magic of Reality’ (Dawkins, 2011)


Here are some more of his books:

Richard Dawkins

Climbing Mount Improbable
How could such an intricate object as the human eye – so complex and so precise – have come about by chance? In this masterful piece of popular science, Richard Dawkins builds a powerful and carefully reasoned argument for evolutionary adapatation as the force behind all life on earth. The metaphor of ‘Mount Improbable’ represents the combination of perfection and improbability that we find in the seemingly ‘designed’ complexity of living things. And through it all runs the thread of DNA, the molecule of life, responsible for its own destiny on an unending pilgrimage through time.

Science in the Soul
This book is a series of essays and letters written by Dawkins. Topics range from evolution and Darwinian natural selection to the role of scientist as prophet, whether science is itself a religion, the probability of alien life in other worlds, and the beauties, cruelties and oddities of earthly life in this one. Critics have said that this collection is a, “sparkling showcase for Professor Dawkins’ rapier wit and, the beauty of his prose.”

Unweaving the Rainbow
Keats accused Newton of destroying the poetry of the rainbow by explaining the origin of its colours. In this text, Dawkins argues that Keats could not have been more mistaken, and shows how an understanding of science enhances our wonder of the world. He argues that mysteries do not lose their poetry because they are solved: the solution is often more beautiful than the puzzle, uncovering even deeper mysteries. Dawkins takes up the most important and compelling topics in modern science, from astronomy and genetics to language and virtual reality, combining them in a landmark statement on the human appetite for wonder. This book has been labeled:

A dazzling, passionate polemic against anti-science movements of all kinds.

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
Charles Darwin’s masterpiece, On the Origin of Species, shook society to its core on publication in 1859. Darwin was only too aware of the storm his theory of evolution would provoke but he would surely have raised an incredulous eyebrow at the controversy still raging a century and a half later. Evolution is accepted as scientific fact by all reputable scientists and indeed theologians, yet millions of people continue to question its veracity. In The Greatest Show on Earth Dawkins, like a detective arriving on the scene of a crime, sifts through fascinating layers of scientific facts and disciplines to build a cast-iron case: from the living examples of natural selection in birds and insects; the ‘time clocks’ of trees and radioactive dating that calibrate a timescale for evolution; the fossil record and the traces of our earliest ancestors; to confirmation from molecular biology and genetics.

The Blind Watchmaker
Acclaimed as the most influential work on evolution written in the last hundred years, The Blind Watchmaker offers an inspiring and accessible introduction to one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time. A brilliant and controversial book which demonstrates that evolution by natural selection – the unconscious, automatic, blind yet essentially non-random process discovered by Darwin – is the only answer to the biggest question of all: why do we exist?

The Four Horsemen
This is an edited work. Known as the ‘four horsemen,’**** these four big thinkers of the twenty-first century met only once. Their electrifying examination of ideas on this remarkable occasion was intense and wide-ranging. Everything that was said as they agreed and disagreed with one another, interrogated ideas and exchanged insights – about religion and atheism, science and sense – speaks with urgency to our present age.

The Four Horsemen

The dialogue was recorded, and is now transcribed and presented in this book. Questions they asked of each other included: (1) Is it ever possible to win a war of ideas? (2) Is spirituality the preserve of the religious? (3) Are there any truths you would rather not know?


Notes
**** “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible (the Book of Revelation). According to the main modern interpretation, this prophecy describes a period of time when a quarter of the population of the earth would be killed by a combination of wars, famine and disease. It is the precursor to the myth of armageddon.

Cavaleiros
In the Book or Revelation we watch the end of times beginning with the opening of the Seven Seals. The first four seals reveal the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse , leaders of disgrace.

Apocalypse
— The complete final destruction of the world, as described in the biblical book of Revelation.
— An event involving destruction or damage on a catastrophic scale. “The apocalypse of World War II.”

Armageddon
— In the bible, the last battle between good and evil before the Day of Judgement.
— A dramatic and catastrophic conflict, especially one seen as likely to destroy the world or the human race.
“nuclear Armageddon”