philosophy

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

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, 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, 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, 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

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