Category Archives: Philosophy
Jun 6, 2020Posted by on
This week on Facebook: There are many pdfs available on H. L. Mencken and Friedrich Nietzsche, with both occupying a unique, if ironic place, in the history of American reception. I have chosen the urls that I could find on them, including my only reference¹. Through the first full-length account of Nietzsche in English, Mencken did more to popularize the German philosopher in America than any other writer. Published in 1908, The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche was widely and (on the whole) favorably reviewed, and for a book of its kind, sold remarkably well. Within a year a “second edition” (actually a second printing) was issued, and a “third edition,” revised and expanded, appeared in 1913. A decade later the book was still selling and its author (now a famous journalist) was honored by Vanity Fair for “contributing more to the popular understanding of Nietzsche than any other American.” Even a few scholars deigned to acknowledge Mencken’s “racily written book” and to praise it as “one of the most valuable Nietzschean commentaries in English.” As late as 1941, a noted intellectual historian called Mencken’s study “still one of the best and liveliest accounts of Nietzsche’s ideas” available.
“The task,” he told Schaff, “is one for a man of ample leisure and thorough scholarship. I have little of the former and make no pretence to the latter.” Mencken’s assessment was accurate on both counts: he was busy journalist not a scholar, and his German was rudimentary at best. Schaff, however, persisted, and Mencken, though “not enthusiastic,” agreed. As a full-time editor at the Baltimore Sun, Mencken had to research and write the book in his spare hours. Its success not only popularized Nietzsche but catapulted the twenty-seven-year-old Mencken into the national spotlight, where he would—with varying degrees of magnitude—shine for the next four decades as America’s most well-known and inveterate contrarian.
Jul 13, 2019Posted by on
This week on Facebook: I would venture that there never has been a time in history of mankind when there was not a wealthy Aristocracy. The Encyclopaedia Britannica opens with the definition that aristocracy means, ‘government by a relatively small privileged class or by a minority consisting of those felt to be best qualified to rule’.
Of course the vast majority of people supporting this ‘privileged class’ have no desire to rule, they are only interested in their own welfare. However, the even smaller privileged class¹ that they currently support most certainly do. Furthermore, be they capitalists or socialists, or even the demos (whoever they may be), the ruling elites always claim that they represent the views of ‘we the people’.
It seems to me that the nature of the ultimate revolution with which we are now faced is precisely this: That we are in process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy who have always existed and presumably will always exist to get people to love their servitude. (Aldous Huxley – Berkeley 1962)
Written nearly 500 years ago and preceding Aldous Huxley’s remarks, the prescience of Étienne de La Boétie ought to be remembered for his essay The Politics of Obedience — The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude. Both are now largely forgotten by a demos that loves its voluntary servitude under a controlling oligarchy. However, searching for a political system on which there would be a consensus in the nature of a more perfect union is a fruitless task, as is any reliance on ‘we the people’ seeking political solutions to their subjugation. Read more of this post
Oct 6, 2018Posted by on
This week on Facebook: In ‘The Coming Dark Ages?’ I criticised all the articles for failing to point out that (in my view) the prevalence of an economic global hegemony by Western Philosophy relied on a reserve currency in a fiat money world. Money at the centre of globalisation, whether it is trade or war that is the dominant driving force for global economic growth. I was especially critical of the article America enters the dark ages concluding that in my opinion money, war and a rising nationalism, are the most likely harbingers in any coming of a new dark age.
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Sep 22, 2018Posted by on
This week on Facebook: Judao-Christian and Greco-Roman values is under vicious attack everywhere, or so the writer of ‘Return of the Dark Ages’ (1) believes. The article seems to be written as defence for the values of Western Philosophy, and yet it is the ethos of this Western Philosophy that suggests its evolving interpretation into the beginning of a new dark age (2). Read more of this post
Sep 15, 2018Posted by on
This week on Facebook: I thought the term ‘dark age’ to be rather carelessly used recently, especially in the context of Homer and the fall of Troy. The term “Dark Ages” is now rarely used by historians because of the value judgment it implies, although it is sometimes taken to derive its meaning from the dearth of information about the period. The latter being certainly true of the Greek Dark Age (1) between the collapse of the Mycenaean civilisation and the GreekArchaic Period. Perhaps the Greek dark age that occurred between the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age is the only period in Western history deserving to be called a dark age¹. There really is a dearth of information about this period in Western history, something that is not true about what became to be understood in Western Philosophy as The Dark Ages. Read more of this post
Jul 29, 2017Posted by on
This week on Facebook: I was going to add a comment to Colin’s remark that life without quality of life has no value, instead it made wonder what was meant by a quality of life. The remark was made in response to Charles’ post Do English Courts Really Believe in the Sanctity of Life? It seems to me that the sanctity of life and the quality of life are both ethical issues in which some may find, or seek, a correlation. However, I found that the sanctity of life focused more on a spiritual connection, which certainly leads to a personal view. A search for a quality of life was more objective but the questions raised could apply to either. Read more of this post