Kenneth Smith

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, character, excellence, humanness, purpose, and arete

Greek culture understands the key to understanding nature, instinct and organism as consisting in the endowment of each creature with some distinctive "excellence" or talent (arete).  Among humans there is great controversy whether (because of the diversity among different character-types and the clash of different political and philosophical perspectives) there is at all such a unitary, universal or congruent thing as "excellence" for man per se.  There are many aspectival or specialized excellences; but does man in general have a defining purpose or a metaphysically obligatory excellence that everyone, just insofar as he is human, is obligated to cultivate and pursue?  --Or do we have a problem here in trying to extend the term "human" to creatures who really have little substantial in common with one another?

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, typology, greek, and character

(The terms douloi, banausoi and aristoi) are in a way more precise, but what is more vital and valuable, they are more comprehensive:  they project a concept of psychic order that embraces entire fields that we have no other way of seeing all together as the working of a single principle.  If we think of the human domain as the collaboration and the conflict of these three diverse character-types, we can understand the weave and the stress and polemics of their very different basal teleologies or ultimate governing purposes of life.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, thinking, language, subjectivity, and objectivity

In most mentalities language is just fashionable or banal clothing (rarely finery) that obscures the evidence of natural and human reality; it is a programmatic form of mutual or collective self-deception, a grand conspiracy of untruth or denial.  Language is a mere tool of mere banausic or utilitarian mentalities, for the most part, who are perfectly closed upon themselves.  A fulfilled mind is (as Hegel saw) an infinity-generator, open to its own incalculable richness; and it is so self-possessed that it understands the workings of its own expressive liabilities, and can parry these temptations and set them aside to see things more scrupulously.  What passes for objectivity is for the most part an absurdity, a noxious faith that holds people in the webbing of orthodoxy.  No one escapes his own gravity-traps of subjective self without prodigious philosophical energies.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

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

The only measures that count are progress over your own self, and triumph over the vacant abstractions that most people mistake for thinking.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, ideas, and ephemerality

My view:  we can't step twice into the same spiderweb of ghostly presuppositions, the intricate skeletal chemistry of language is just too complex to reconstruct that particular experiment.  The world of normative and conceptual and cultural forms is infinitely more capillary than we can articulate.  I had some residues of a naive Platonic faith in the universal structures of logic and intellect for years and years until about 15 years ago when it occurred to me that Kierkegaard knew exactly what he was talking about--some ideas occur to you only once in your whole lifetime.  Some ideas are truly the rarest of rare species, delicately balanced and inflated little soap-bubbles.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

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

The music of all the different media of life--memories, images, feeling-tones, poetic-musical connotations of phrasing--is kaleidoscopic and doesn't repeat itself or recur.  --People who think they are trapped in a river of regularized and ever-repeating time are merely the victims of their own ordinarizing minds that have elaborated for them a prison-cell of everydayness.  The fountains of time, history, life, inspiration, etc. are fresh every instant, if one knows how to grasp them with some finesse: every instant within natural, historical, and personal time is unique.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, thinking, abstraction, generalization, and self-culturalization

Most people traffic in abstractions and generalizations because they are grossly incompetent at culturing their intuition or powers of evidency, refining it to grasp the Thisness (Haecceitas) of what is before them.  Thinking is like a Stradivarius that has more potential variations in how it is played than any human can finitely perform or capture.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy and consciousness

"The people" is that massive portion of a society that lives by its pathetic subjection to sheer immediacy or self-obviousness, and that therefore uncritically seizes upon the most simplistic and abstract ways of filling its vacuous self-consciousness.  Not philosophy but dogma and rhetoric, not rationality but indoctrination and conditioning, provide the cultural junkfood by which the Many perfunctorily slake their thirst and hunger.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy and needs

Among the multitudes will be found many who cannot discriminate between what is merely wanted and what is needed, what is necessary for bare subsistence and what is indispensable for the sake of the freedom and clarity of one's higher powers. 

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, politicians, values, conscience, conformism, and principles

In late modernity we grow more and more accustomed to politicians and public figures who are indebted to their appetites for their "values," to their intellectual sloth for their "principles," to their rhetorical cleverness for their "conscience," and to their regimented conformism for their "philosophy."

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

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