Kenneth Smith

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, wisdom, insight, aristoi, and ordinariness

Wisdom is the aristic craving for extraordinary insights, for incandescent revelations that have the power to burst through banausic and doulic ordinariness: wisdom is the lust to be transfigured, transvaluated.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, mind, language, culture aristos, arete, excellence, reality, and intuition

Learning to free up or liberate one's mind to capture precisely the most essential points in anything is an athletic exercise in which, for the first time, we discover just what the actual cash-value of our "culture" truly is: has our culture contributed to making our minds more acute, clearer, more nimble and elastic? Has it given us a richer vocabulary of essences or concepts to facilitate our rational and moral digestion of issues? Or is our "culture" really no enzymatic culture at all, but merely a scheme of encumbrances, of intellectual and rational impediments that have been compounded out of endless Pavlovian conditionings, by which we came to accept fallacies and equivocations and deceptive connotations and lying rhetoric etc. as if they were the gospel truth? The premier value of reading the ancient thinkers lies in their aristocratic culture's determination to put an absolute premium on the development of acuity, directness, economy or essentiality of characterizations, etc. To be competent as an "aristos" (one committed absolutely to the cultivation of excellence or "arete" in its superlative degree), an individual was expected to keen his insights and judgment as much in the domain of intuition (being sensitive to the subtleties of the evidence, the realities) as in the domain of intellection (mustering the most apt tools of expression to characterize, conceptualize and evaluate these realities). Moderns have only the feeblest grasp of both of these processes.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, power, aristoi, society, enslavement, self-mastery, values, difficulty, and modernity

Just consider for a minute: look at the Many, the majoritarian cattle in every form of society who are governed by their own irrationalist beliefs and psychological needs and forces of social coordination with others (doxai). Taking control of the Many's always turbulent irrationalisms is child's play. They are the strata, the type most susceptible to enslavement not for accidental but for essential reasons. There is nothing whatsoever difficult in mastering or controlling them, and therefore it cannot be respected as any sort of value, especially not an aristic value. Values as ZARATHUSTRA argues are every people's ultimate concept of what is most difficult of all for them. What Nietzsche esteems, what in modern circumstances has come to seem "superhuman," is the aristic drive to accomplish what one judiciously recognizes as most difficult for oneself. "Power" is the natural reward or concomitant of those who struggle aristically to achieve the most contra-natural thing of all for human beings, self-mastery, the harnessing and knowing of the obscure forces that no one is in control of by birthright. There is no honor or valor in triumphing over defenseless and witless mentalities, regardless of the mass-numbers involved or the prodigious "power" (in the modern -- banausic -- sense) that results.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, buddhism, quiescence, life, death, stillness, inertia, passivity, sensitivity, sympatheticism, will, distractions, concentration, thinking, irrelevancies, and spirit

Aimed at as something terminal or ultimate or absolute, quiescence is, from the standpoint of life, a form of death, a stillness and inertia, an impassivity. Life is infinite sensitivity to all things, the quicksilver sympatheticism of everything that belongs in the natural cosmos. The mind and will do close out or exclude extraneous distractions as a means to their powers of self-concentration ("Thinking is a momentary dismissal of irrelevancies," Buckminster Fuller). But Buddhism makes this quiescence not a means but an end in itself, incompatible as it may be with the very life of spirit and of will. Taken as a mere exercise or tonic, it has an utterly different value of course.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, life, christianity, eternity, value, commitment, and spirituality

What may be the significance of so many forms of "spirituality" on this planet that are antagonistic to "life" -- and Christianity at the head of that list, with its "calumny" against life, its faith that just because nothing in life is eternal therefore life itself contains no value, nothing that makes it worth living, investing our souls in, committing our consciences to?

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, self-mastery, buddha, spirit, nietzsche, greeks, power, evolution, development, and culturation

The essence of human spirit would seem to be something static to Buddha: if it has an internal imperative to become something else (something higher or more spiritual), what self-disequilibrium could it suffer from that could nonetheless still be considered spiritual in Buddha's eyes? Nietzsche sought to explain this imperative for self-acculturation, for achieving rational self-mastery, for spiritualization, for self-radicalization and self-sublimation, by means of a "Will to Power" far more comprehensive than moderns (with only the cheapest and most facile grasp of "power") can understand. As a philhellene Nietzsche perceives and respects what the Greeks took for granted, that "power" above all else must be self-reflexive, an expression of aristic self-moderation (their anti-hybristic ethos and its correlative contempt for idiotia): "power" to the Greeks is moral and philosophical and cultural and political authority because it expresses itself in the hardest thing of all for humans to achieve, self-mastery.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, character, personality, greatness, aristoi, challenge, will, and soul

Someone who has reduced his mind and life and soul and personality to meager or minor things -- someone marked by "mikropsychia" or in Latin "pusillanimitas" -- has a petty-souled outlook on life that no one but him ingrained in him. It is not great wealth or great power that makes a man "great," but "makropsychia" or "magnanimitas," great-souledness, a distinctively aristic virtue, a primal determination to rupture the finite and reductivist structures that habits and mechanical intellect tend to erect in our lives. The lust of most people to live in a trivialized and finitized or ordinarized world is patent; it is a way of achieving security, making oneself safe from threats, challenges, criticisms. And the lust of aristoi to live in a world of greatness, of monumental issues and questions that are made of the kind of bronze that will endure for ages to come, that is also patent: it is a way for capacious souls to furnish their minds with just the right scale or magnitude of challenges, of intellectual and moral instruments with the right heft for their wills to wield.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, love, needs, ego, delusion, and salvation

If humans are essentially self-enclosed or self-interested or idiotist psychological systems (a la Freud), then "love" is just the name for a kind of psychic imperialism among psyches (the visceral irrationalism of the Id/libido being rationalized and executed by the otherwise-vacant Ego and presided over by the irrational authoritarianism of the Superego). One bag of appetites and emotions (he) tries to arrogate control over another bag of appetites and emotions (she -- or vice versa), all for the first bag's own benefit, like a war between oversized amoebas. If human beings are conceived strictly in terms of what finite-banausic or finite-doulic mentalities can comprehend, then "love" will necessarily look like a "magical" or illusionistic pseudo-cure for our necessitated animalistic (and deterministic bourgeois-"rationalist") natures. Our natural power of self-centered delusion projects for itself a cure for its self-enclosure, and calls this fantasy "love." Uncountable are the times that this grandiose fantasy has failed, and actual finite human beings could not live up to the narcotic infatuation or "salvation from self" that they needed out of one another.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, love, perspective, irrationalism, and integralism

Ultimately, love is only possible for humans insofar as they can achieve some comprehension of their place and their duties and their values and their significance within the whole of life, of society, of spirituality, of history, of nature. In all merely partial or fragmentary perspectives, there necessarily remain undigested irrational factors, surds that one is merely tolerating and not truly respecting as essential and integral to the whole of what we are.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, character, fate, eudaimonia, culture, potential, arete, and determinism

Nietzsche is a determinist like Spinoza, a fatalist like the Greeks: character is fate, we only become what we already are (Aristotle's more genteel expression: no one achieves arete IN SPITE OF his base of natural potential, only because of it). Aristic moral "fiber" must exist first of all as an instinctive imperative, and second as an imperative of character, before it can be cultivated by an appropriate directorial culture. The resources that make human beings ultimately philosophical or spiritual (Aristotelian eudaimonia) are so profound and structural that of course they cannot be "learned"; if one has them, they can be developed and cultured, but that is not the same thing as "acquiring" them.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

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