Tao Te Ching #41

tao-te-ching

When superior people hear of the Way
they follow it with devotion
When average people hear of the Way
they wonder if it exists
When inferior people hear of the Way
they laugh out loud
If they didn’t laugh
it wouldn’t be the Way
Hence these sayings arose
the brightest path seems dark
the path leading forward seems backward
the smoothest path seems rough
the highest virtue low
the whitest white pitch-black
the greatest virtue wanting
the staunchest virtue timid
the truest truth uncertain
the perfect square without corners
the perfect tool without uses
the perfect sound hushed
the perfect image without form
For the Tao is hidden and nameless
but because it’s the Tao
it knows how to start and how to finish

~Tao Te Ching #41 ~ 老子

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Age of Decadence

Legalised fraud, bail-outs, and plutocracy.

Poverty, apathy, and celebrity chefs :

FOUR HORSEMEN  is an outstanding documentary film analysing our critically sick Age of Decadence.


wolf

As everybody knows – or should know –  the divide between the super-rich and the rest has widened each year since the last financial crisis.

But this disconnection is about much more than just money.

The rich are in the process of purposefully detaching themselves – even fencing themselves off – from the everyday struggles facing millions of their fellow citizens. Instead of recognizing the urgency of the current situation. and possibly saving themselves by contributing to solutions that benefit society as a whole, their focus has instead shifted towards a hedonistic indulgence in the present, and the relentless expansion of their own luxury and extravagance.

This futile, hubristic, self-centered and amoral ethos has emerged with tragic regularity throughout history – and most typically, always when decadent empires begin to crumble.

Historicism

answers

(from Wikipedia)

”HISTORICISM is a mode of thinking that assigns major significance to a specific context, such as historical period, geographical place and local culture. As such it is in contrast to individualist theories of knowledge such as empiricism and rationalism, which neglect the role of traditions. Historicism therefore tends to be hermeneutical, because it places great importance on cautious, rigorous and contextualized interpretation of information, or relativist, because it rejects notions of universal, fundamental and immutable interpretations”.

Ecce Homo

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He challenged Jewish Money Power…..

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”And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” ~ Matthew 19:24

”And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers.” ~ Matthew 21:12

rembrandt crucifiction


 

Nietzsche on Education

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For Nietzsche, the process of a true education consists not in rote memorization, or in attaining cultural signifiers consistent with one’s class or ambitions, or in learning a set of practical skills with which to make money. It is, rather, an exhortation to break free from conventionality, to be responsible for creating one’s own existence, and to overcome the inertia of tradition and custom.

Nietzsche believed that education should consist of a clearing away of “the weeds and rubbish and vermin” that attack and obscure “the real groundwork and import of thy being.”

This kind of education, of course, cannot be formalized within our present institutions, cannot be marketed to a mass audience, and cannot serve the interests of the state and the market.


http://www.openculture.com/2016/01/nietzsches-philosophy-of-education-and-a-still-timely-critique-of-the-modern-university-1872.html

In a recent entry in the New York Times‘ philosophy blog “The Stone,” Robert Frodeman and Adam Briggle locate a “momentous turning point” in the history of philosophy: its institutionalization in the research university in the late 19th century. This, they argue, is when philosophy lost its way—when it became subject to the dictates of the academy, placed in competition with the hard sciences, and forced to prove its worth as an instrument of profit and progress. Well over a hundred years after this development, we debate a wider crisis in higher education, as universities increasingly resemble global corporations with their international campuses and multi-billion dollar endowments. Tuition has skyrocketed. Debt is astronomical. The classrooms themselves are more often run on the backs of precarious adjuncts and graduate students than by real professors.

It’s a cutthroat system I endured for many years as both an adjunct and graduate student, but even before that, in my early undergraduate days, I remember well watching public, then private, colleges succumb to demand for leaner operating budgets, more encroachment by corporate donors and trustees, and less autonomy for educators. Universities have become, in a word, high-priced, high-powered vocational schools where every discipline must prove its value on the open market or risk massive cuts, and where students are treated, and often demand to be treated, like consumers. Expensive private entities like for-profit colleges and corporate educational companies thrive in this environment, often promising much but offering little, and in this environment, philosophy and the liberal arts bear a crushing burden to demonstrate their relevance and profitability.

Howard writes about this situation in the context of her review of Nietzsche’s little-known 1872 series of lectures, On the Future of Our Educational Institutions, published in a new translation by Damion Searls with the pithy title Anti-Education. Nietzsche, an academic prodigy, had become a professor of classical philology at the University of Basel at only 24 years of age. By 27, when he wrote his lectures, he was already disillusioned with teaching and the strictures of professional academia, though he stayed in his appointment until illness forced him to retire in 1878. In the lectures, Nietzsche excoriates a bourgeois higher education system in terms that could come right out of a critical article on the higher ed of our day. In a Paris Review essay, his translator Searls quotes the surly philosopher on what “the state and the masses were apparently clamoring for”:

as much knowledge and education as possible—leading to the greatest possible production and demand—leading to the greatest happiness: that’s the formula. Here we have Utility as the goal and purpose of education, or more precisely Gain: the highest possible income … Culture is tolerated only insofar as it serves the cause of earning money. 

Perhaps little has changed but the scale and the appearance of the university. However, Nietzsche did admire the fact that the school system “as we know it today… takes the Greek and Latin languages seriously for years on end.” Students still received a classical education, which Nietzsche approvingly credited with at least teaching them proper discipline. And yet, as the cliché has it, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing; or rather, a little knowledge does not an education make. Though many pursue an education, few people actually achieve it, he believed. “No one would strive for education,” wrote Nietzsche, “if they knew how unbelievably small the number of truly educated people actually was, or ever could be.” For Nietzsche, the university was a scam, tricking “a great mass of people… into going against their nature and pursuing an education” they could never truly achieve or appreciate.

While it’s true that Nietzsche’s critiques are driven in part by his own cultural elitism, it’s also true that he seeks in his lectures to define education in entirely different terms than the utilitarian “state and masses”—terms more in line with classical ideals as well as with the German concept of Bildung, the term for education that also means, writes Searls, “the process of forming the most desirable self, as well as the end point of the process.” It’s a resonance that the English word has lost, though its Latin roots—e ducere, “to lead out of” or away from the common and conventional—still retain some of this sense. Bildung, Searls goes on, “means entering the realm of the fully formed: true culture is the culmination of an education, and true education transmits and creates culture.”

Nietzsche the philologist took the rich valence of Bildung very seriously. In the years after penning his lectures on the educational system, he completed the essays that would become Untimely Meditations (including one of his most famous, “On the Use and Abuse of History for Life”). Among those essays was “Schopenhauer as Educator,” in which Nietzsche calls the gloomy philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer his “true educator.” However, writes Peter Fitzsimons, the “image” of Schopenhauer “is more a metaphor for Nietzsche’s own self-educative process.” For Nietzsche, the process of a true education consists not in rote memorization, or in attaining cultural signifiers consistent with one’s class or ambitions, or in learning a set of practical skills with which to make money. It is, Fitzsimons observes, “rather an exhortation to break free from conventionality, to be responsible for creating our own existence, and to overcome the inertia of tradition and custom”—or what Nietzsche calls the universal condition of “sloth.” In “Schopenhauer as Educator,” Nietzsche defines the role of the educator and explicates the purpose of learning in deliberately Platonic terms:

…for your true nature lies, not concealed deep within you, but immeasurably high above you, or at least above that which you usually take yourself to be. Your true educators and formative teachers reveal to you what the true basic material of your being is, something in itself ineducable and in any case difficult of access, bound and paralysed: your educators can be only your liberators.

As in Plato’s notion of innate knowledge, or anamnesis, Nietzsche believed that education consists mainly of a clearing away of “the weeds and rubbish and vermin” that attack and obscure “the real groundwork and import of thy being.” This kind of education, of course, cannot be formalized within our present institutions, cannot be marketed to a mass audience, and cannot serve the interests of the state and the market. Hence it cannot be obtained by simply progressing through a system of grades and degrees, though one can use such systems to obtain access to the liberatory materials one presumably needs to realize one’s “true nature.”

For Nietzsche, in his example of Schopenhauer, achieving a true education is an enterprise fraught with “three dangers”—those of isolation, of crippling doubt, and of the pain of confronting one’s limitations. These dangers “threaten us all,” but most people, Nietzsche thinks, lack the fortitude and vigor to truly brave and conquer them. Those who acquire Bildung, or culture, those who realize their “true selves,” he concludes “must prove by their own deed that the love of truth has itself awe and power,” though “the dignity of philosophy is trodden in the mire,” and one will receive little respite, recompense, or recognition for one’s labours.

Prayer

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What is the point of prayer ? Surely God knows what you are going to pray for beforehand – and has already decided on his course of action. Is it not presumptuous and absurd to think that God can be persuaded to change his mind ? Prayer is not only ineffective, it is narcissistic : why would God alter his Divine Plan to accommodate your wishes in particular ?

Similarly, the “blessed” businessman or celebrity, or the sportsman who “thanks God” for success, are making the ludicrous assumption that the Almighty takes sides in business deals, X- Factor, or football and boxing matches…

And why, by the way, does this God insist on being worshipped ? Is he insecure – or an egomaniac ?

oscar rel

* * *

We are told that Jesus died for our sins, facing God’s wrath in our place. Why was this necessary ? Why couldn’t God just forgive us anyway, without going through the bizarre and gruesome charade of torturing his “only begotten son” to death before resurrecting him ? Some sort of sick joke ?

Virgin birth, conjuring tricks, resurrection from death …Is it not all just a little too absurd … ?

* * *

”When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn’t work that way – so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me”  – Emo Philips

Voltaire-Quote

plato told him

plato

One of the consequences of the ever-increasing corporate control of popular culture and media is that indifference to public affairs is now epidemic.

In truth, few are now motivated by anything other than the desire for possessions and pleasure, or how in their vain mediocrity they appear to others; – ignorance can even be a badge worn with pride.

The pursuit of money and the cult of the individual consistently prevail over humility and compassion. Hedonism and vanity triumph over empathy and service; materialism vanquishes integrity – and hypocrisy usurps principle.


hypocrisy

”Ours has become a world where a tragic number of people are more fascinated by materialism and the lives of distant narcissists than by their own life experience.”
― Brendon Burchard, The Motivation Manifesto