Kenneth Smith

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, concentricity, essentiality, objectivity, wholeness, man, infinite, mediation, and schiller

As Schiller understood in his Letters On the Aesthetic Education of Man, man is a creature in whom the "accidents" are truly essential; it is essentially wrong to make an abstract and absolute divorce of essence and accidents in the case of human beings. The business of man, as Hegel phrased it, is to live as a "concrete universal," a living concept who is constantly taking up the particles of life into his organismic wholeness, giving an encompassing meaning to the crazed details of our Babel of objectivity. That we participate in the power or action or genius of the infinite is demonstrated by our constant mediation between phenomena and principles, particulars and universal laws, finite and infinite. We transfigure all that is inert and opaque with the radiance of an ever-living sense of essentiality, of a "concentricity" that is and is-not our own selves.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, finite, infinite, salvation, order, preconditions, principles, phenomena, reality, character, spirit, and education

Nothing in the matter-of-fact or finite order of experience is directly or obviously grounded in actual authoritative principles; phenomena do not permit us to see through them to their infinite preconditions, and certainly not even to comprehend or conceptualize what kinds of things those preconditions may be. It is only through holistic and variably stressed principles that we can see the formation or architectonics of finite realities, in accordance with those lawful and ordering forces. There is no empirical path to principles, no psychological route to values or ultimate duties or essential character: hundreds of millions of human beings may despair of not having "salvation" who do not and cannot ever comprehend what the issue even is, i.e. the onslaught of the finite order that threatens to make our ambiguously finite/infinite spirit into just another finite particle within the finite world. We have to be always carrying out our self-education dialectically, with one eye on each domain, the finite and the infinite, each of which demands its own peculiar modus of intelligence and insight from us.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, finite, infinite, other, essential, purity, relative, absolute, opposition, exclusion, and inclusion

It has to be understood that, even though the infinite or intrinsic or essential must be grasped in an "exclusionary" way (cleft apart or distinguished from the finite or extrinsic or accidental), ultimately the two domains belong together as a whole: it is only for the propadeutic purpose of self-clarification or enlightenment that the infinite must be grasped in its relative purity from the finite, a relation of opposition that may mistakenly make the infinite look as finite (oppositional, exclusionary) as the finite (since it is of the essence of the finite to stand in a relation of repellency to its other). The finite excludes everything other, but the infinite HAS no "other." The essential trait of the infinite is its INCLUSIVENESS, its power to embrace all particulars within an organismic whole.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, truth, and nature

Hegel understood the Heisenbergian reality of knowing: yes, it would be nice if we could somehow delicately capture the truth and bring it closer to ourselves without altering it, "like a bird caught with a limestick." But the reality is, every truth we manage to know is altered, deformed by our very "encheiresis naturae," by the act of our taking-in-hand of nature (to borrow the alchemists' phrase from Goethe's Faust).

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, resistance, knowing, truth, human nature, misanthropy, distrust, denial, self-discipline, and self-mastery

The truth about human beings is, above all other forms of truth, something far too susceptible to our own willful and subjectivist distortions; by nature we never JUST LET SUCH A THING BE, or accept it as it is. Of all the decisive and strategic things that an intelligent human being needs to know about human beings, primary on the list would be this: human beings are overwhelmingly profoundly RESISTANT to knowing the truth about human nature. The one creature in all of organic nature that is capable of KNOWING its own nature is also, paradigmatic over all other creatures, the one most IN DENIAL about that nature. To ask of mortals that they should "know themselves" is little more than a cruel joke, japing at their crippled mentality and personality. Their grasp of this structural perversity or contrariety within human nature is the basis of all Greek wisdom, their aristic "misanthropy" or principled and profound distrust of human beings as pseudophiliacs. All that human beings are willing to call "truth" (for the most part) is some saccharine or cosmetic sweetness and light, some soporific opiate against all in human existence that might demand the utmost self-discipline, rationality, self-mastery, or spirituality from them.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, buddhism, stoicism, worldliness, maya, suffering, desire, and spirituality

The way of the Buddha involves a metaphysical stoicism, a way of overcoming the power that worldliness has over oneself: the world rules us through our suffering no less than through our desires and appetites and hopes; all of this is Maya, the universe of delusorily desirable and despicable goods. The primal insight of Buddha is not that the suffering of the world must first be mitigated but rather that we must learn to recognize that our DESIRES are no less a form of SUFFERING than are our AILMENTS. This is what qualifies Buddhism as an authentic form of spirituality, its transcendence over the finite and merely psychological domain.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, love, self-knowledge, delusions, pathos, and essence

In order to understand what is truly essential in another person that ought to be loved in him or her, one has to be able to dismiss authoritatively and wisely all that that person himself or herself in delusion IMAGINES to be essential to him or her. As rare as any form of sobriety may be in politics or society, it is of course rarest of all in love-relations. "Love" that has no such counterforce against the delusions of Self and World will merely get drawn into the pathos of the unenlightened, by retail methods if not by wholesale. Sharing in others' pathos is not at all the same thing as love; it is merely one finite and obtuse psyche getting digested into the churning life of another finite and obtuse psyche.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, sympathy, aristoi, shame, and characterology

The demand for sympathy is a major form of rhetorical ploy, freighted with massive ulterior motives: it is a way of shaming higher minds into not daring to characterize or recognize the actual nature of the most pathetic ("lowest," "basest" or "most ignoble") personalities among us; it is a way also of shaming aristoi about their very characterological imperative of being or becoming aristoi, of having the audacity to differ so profoundly from the ordinary self-expectations of humans in general. Sympathy for the most intellectually or rationally pathetic -- a kind of "blind shame" analogous to blind faith -- has become a premier weapon in the psychological class-warfare between one psyche-type and another.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith

Through the experience of others' great and contagious self-pity, those who have insights and perspectives that ought to fit them for positions of authority and decisiveness are reduced, demoted to positions of ideological subjection, of a crippling susceptibility of being over-considerate of others: this inversion of power-relations that makes the rational and magisterial mind subordinate to the irrational and pathetic is substantively the same as the (distinctively modern) ideological or caste-attitude of "resentment," the peculiar "contempt" that inferior minds have for superior ones. Modernity by these two dynamics alone would already be locked into a trajectory of kakistocracy, systematic rule or domination by the worst forms of personality and mentality: the elevation of the vilest and most self-obtuse to positions of mastery over others.

Kenneth Smith

Source: philosophy, resentment, contempt, modernity, kakistocracy, subjection, self-pity

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, truth, bias, and preconceptions

On all vital existential questions, human beings have biases more deepset than they can begin to comprehend. The task of philosophers is not to work up fanciful idealistic rhetoric designed to appeal to hypothetical disinterested-bourgeois bipeds, but to get to know what the actual or extant preconceptions and worldviews of human beings really are, and WHY they ultimately are such as they are. It may be interesting ad hominem how and why humans might happen to presume themselves to be impartial listeners. But the truly challenging question is Nietzsche's: just how the hell did such a species ever imagine that it might want to know what "the truth" is, in the first place? Why would we presume ourselves to be at all INTERESTED in "the truth"?

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

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