Kenneth Smith

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, soul, and self-realization

Always, a form of self-equilibration, a soul or psyche, is trying to assert itself, to continue the melody of its self-realized life.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, education, energy, spirit, and appearance

Education in philosophy is energy speaking to energy, a higher perspective of spirit that is trying to awaken its next natural generation to something beyond the stupid appearances of things.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, students, suffering, thinking, clarity, teaching, ideas, freedom, sympathy, education, and conviction

Because of the very intimate character of philosophical norms and criticisms, a teacher in philosophy has to be like Alexander the Great:  never issuing dictates as to what his soldiers ought to do that he was not ready and willing to leap into doing himself.  An excellent teacher is one accomplished in serving as an exemplar, every act of every kind of thinking and every form of perspective must be something he is prepared to illustrate by carrying out himself.  Students need to see the incandescent arc-welding that joins ideas together into thoughts.  If one is saying something that inflicts suffering, one by all rights had better be prepared to suffer along with the student, to sympathize and assure them that the profit for this agony consists in freedom and clarity. 

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, education, intelligence, and self-mastery

With education as with the system of law, we confront a spectrum of humanity that ranges from virtual angels to virtual devils, although most humans naturally fall in the fattest part of the natural bell-curve of distributed traits:  it has been said that some humans are so virtuous and rational and self-disciplined that for them, the very existence of the law is superfluous; and some are so depraved and immired in their own self-interestedness that even the most horrendous sanctions of legal punishment are not sufficient to bind them to behave justly.  The same is true of the distribution of resources of philosophical intelligence and insight.  Some very few minds could reconstruct for themselves many of the major perspectives of previous thinking, but these would be only a handful out of the population of the earth every generation.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, conversation, verbalization, and phrasing

I struggle in every lecture and conversation and correspondence to grasp exactly the most acute and incisive way of phrasing issues, but it was precisely to discourage students and readers from making false idols of my ways of phrasing things that I have sought always to recast issues in alternative ways of interpreting or terming them.  Every attempt at wording issues has its idiomatic potential deformities, its wayward or stray implications and connotations.  There is never just one absolutely right way of phrasing anything.  Words are not perfectly equivalent to or univocal with principles or ideas or values.  The liveliness or freedom of our minds is expressed in our agility at varying not just perspectives but also verbal constructions:  we must always struggle to preserve distance between ourselves and our verbalizations as our intellectual and moral creatures. 

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, individualism, stereotyping, and rebels

It is the cruelest of all ironies that moderns imagine themselves to be (abstractly understood) "individuals," because in actuality moderns are "types," abstracted and self-abstractive victims of a process of stereotyping that afflicts even would-be rebels and anarchists.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, criticism, thinking, judgment, achievement, understanding, and identity

Those who have chosen the path of least resistance in life, who cannot bear to bring themselves to make a stern value-judgment in criticism of their own most intimate feelings, achieve what they deserve:  not self-understanding but radical self-superficialization, not a discovered but a self-ascribed identity that explains nothing, reveals nothing, means nothing, and ultimately accomplishes nothing culturally or intellectually. 

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, thinking, and self-criticism

Thinking is the subtlest form of self-polemics, the art of a certain finesse in psychological self-vivisection and self-crucifixion (Hegel of course called the path of self-disillusion the via dolorosa or "highway of despair," in Baillie's fine and florid rendering, like Jesus' route to Golgotha).

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, belonging, and independence

Human beings "belong" to some minor comity or enclave of faith at the expense of the clarity and autarkia of their intelligence and conscience, of course.  "Belonging" is another way of saying:  "capitulating to."

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, thinking, and doubt

In spite of the ancient roots of skepticism--all the way back to the radical Sextus Empiricus and beyond, to Parmenides and Zeno--"doubt" remains a constantly miscomprehended action and posture.  Doubt is a state of the suspension of both belief and disbelief:  many people assume that thinking has only two positions, positive and negative, and if you doubt something you are disputing its validity or positing the contradictory position.  This is disputation, not doubt.  Doubt per se questions the form or content of what has been asserted but it itself is a freeform state of wondering what the general parameters of the issue are and how it most rationally ought to be framed.  Such particulars as most people are familiar with--position A or not-A, conservative or liberal, Christian or atheist, etc.--are never authoritative or exhaustive alternatives for a truly thinking and creative or radical mind (determined to go for fundamental principles, not their peripheral consequences or specific applications).  They are "stock fallacies" or forced choices.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

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