philosophy

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, 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 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

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, truth, fitness, appropriateness, qualification, humans, and illusions

Take a good long look at human beings in their actual practices and motives; bring the utmost psychological and bio-economic factors to bear on making sense of their illusions and delusions. What then would the truth have to be, such that such human beings are FIT TO KNOW IT at all, even provisionally or tentatively?

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, future, present, desire, wants, hopes, despair, futility, disillusionment, actualities, possibilities, belief, and fear

Everything that humans want or desire or hope for, every kind of external fetish no matter how remote or minor that they may premise some key part of their happiness upon, is a nerve that can be tweaked, a fear that can be toyed with -- even by oneself. Most of the "present" in human life is really subjective projections of a kind of future that one needs to believe in, in order to stave off despair or futility or disillusionment, etc. We live most of our lives in an unwitting subjunctive mood, in the unrecognized modulation from actualities into the possibilities of an always-intoxicating wish-world.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, culture, intelligence, critical thinking, society, and elitism

Do you begin to understand the mischief that self-uncritical democratist opinionizing has wrought, all across the cultural universe? NONE of our political rhetoric and religious and moral and other usages can afford to be taken at face value; all deserve to be scrutinized, to be hammered and tested as heartlessly as is rationally possible. The hard labors that our whole culture has NOT done in self-testing itself for us, WE must do as self-critical and acute individuals. Just as with our genome, so too with our noosphere: there is an overwhelming mass of non-functional or dysfunctional genetic detritus cluttering up our so-called minds. The "discriminating" intelligence by which this stuff might have gotten screened has been given a bad name (elitist, if not racist and sexist) by the psycho-social pressure groups that define the "politics of identity" (i.e. which particular segment of self-enclosing idiotists do you most immediately identify with).

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, suffering, human nature, and self-delusion

So long as human nature remains viscerally resistant to enlightenment about its own slavish and self-stupefying necessities, there will ineluctably be suffering: truly, there is some suffering that is gratuitous (having no ground in our own karma or circles of obliquely willed actions upon ourselves), but in nature even the prey brings itself to the predator willingly but unwittingly. Even in the socially and economically and legally most utopian conditions, there will remain this irreducible self-obtuseness, self-evasiveness, self-irreality, in which men forever act as their own premier and unrecognized worst enemies, the obscure causes of their own self-suffering. And for the very same reasons that this suffering is uncomprehended for its true etiology, humans will also incurably continue to project blame onto others for their own self-injuries.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, culture, religion, spirituality, happiness, iconoclasm, rationality, and masochism

Bear in mind that everything that traditionally passed as "religion" would modernly be interpreted as a form of sadism or masochism, i.e. humans deliberately spoiling their own and others' this-worldly happiness by taking a more cosmic or eternalist perspective on things; and the same holds true with the illusion- and delusion-bursting iconoclastics of philosophy, education, culture, etc. Insofar as no kind of higher culture takes root and grows except by rupturing the lower "certainties" (dogmatics, faith, visceral tribalisms, etc.) that necessarily militate against such insights, all spirituality and rationality seem like forms of self-immiseration to idiotes.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

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