Kenneth Smith

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, reason, passions, desires, and slavery

Most humans know their own "reason" only in the sense that Hume defined it, as "a slave to the passions"--and by "passions" he meant not moral passions or the passions of transcendent genius, but only low appetites or base desires, which society and economy ultimately shape and spur on in us.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, cults, therapists, psychotherapy, therapy, psychotherapists, culture, modernity, and insight

Like the priestly cult of the Middle Ages, the modern priestly cult of "scientific" psychotherapists exist overwhelmingly to stultify or blunt a too-acute insight into the powers benumbed in our personalities by our prevailing culture.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, education, teaching, students, and passion

There is a form of poetic and esthetic and moral genius necessary to make philosophical issues truly incandesce for students, and even though I indeed had some world-class professors myself when I went through the curriculum, I rarely saw such gnosic or concretist/poetic passion among them.  I am not speaking of broad histrionics or melodramatic delivery, but rather a moral investment of concern, of loving delight and pathos in exposing one's consciousness to the full horrific and magnificent implications of the materials.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, intellect, modernity, specialization, utilitarianism, and banausoi

Nietzsche is absolutely correct, even more correct today than when he wrote it in Thus Spake Zarathustra:  I looked all about me for human beings but all I saw were fragments, deformed creatures with too much eye or too much ear.  This is what the modern culture of specialized intellect--the kind of one-sidedness that banausic utilitarianism alone can value--works so hard to produce. 

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, soul, and magnanimity

Terence:  nihil humanum alienum a me--"nothing human is alien to me," the greatest expression of ancient megalopsychia or great-souled and cosmopolitan "magnanimity."

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, intellect, noesis, gnosis, academia, and education

The approach of intellect or noesis will forever be an effete and limited sort of thing by contrast with the vigor and color of gnosis; but in academia there is virtually nothing but noetic minds to be found, and the very idea of gnosis is alien and untranslatable, not to mention discreditable.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, education, academia, intellect, and intelligence

One can hardly appreciate how academia has perverted its highest tasks and "ideals" without pondering long and hard the implications of Jacques Barzun's House of Intellect and its Hegelian/Bergsonian contrast between rigidified "intellect" and always-growing "intelligence."  This fundamentally Hegelian distinction, needless to say, cuts to the quick of the contrast between Platonic and Aristotelian forms of philosophy.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, truth, dynamicism, holism, energy, and spirit

There is no extrahistorical or eternalist or abstractivistically pure standpoint where we can get oriented in the absolute Truth per se before dealing with the concrete lineaments of how we happen exist in this time and place.  We are participants in a dynamic system and we know its profile only by its action in organizing how we interact together and how we see our own selves.  "The truth is the whole," and the whole is a system of living energy:  our life as human and historical spirits.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, mastery, belief, education, teaching, and students

It is not enough to say that a philosophy teacher presents students with counterpoint to their customary ways of seeing things.  A teacher in philosophy is not necessarily very profoundly philosophical for that reason, nor need he or she be.  The teacher may be only a few leagues ahead of the students, and may frequently find that a superbright student will tax his or her supposed mastery of the issues.  To be honest about these relations and difficulties, I have always assumed that as a professor I was no more than an exemplary student, and "mastery" was merely a way of gaining momentum, not declaring the race was over.  Self-mastery in philosophy is how one orchestrates the energies to be able to dislodge really prodigious monolithic belief-systems.  It is by no means any kind of self-congratulation. 

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, teaching, students, principles, and values

It is not the business of a teacher in philosophy to "confuse" students any more than it is to "resolve" their confusions.  It is his business to explain in broad metaphysical and moral terms the difference between the kinds of factors in our lives that serve as raw material and the kinds of factors that act as organizing forms.  A course in philosophy raises on this basis issues that students ought to trouble themselves to evaluate on their own:  is this something matter or form, does it tend toward chaos or toward cosmos?  If I try to deploy this as a principle or concept or value, what will the teleology of this attempt turn up--an organismic system, an accomplishment of harmonic order, or a self-conflicted and incoherent contrivance that defeats the criteria of the mind?

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

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