philosophy

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, values, differences, oppositions, perspectives, issues, polemics, hierarchies, illusions, delusions, judgments, superiority, inferiority, rationality, objectivity, hierarchicalism, preferences, idiotia, aristeia, a

Values by their very nature tend to seed differences and oppositions, i.e. to make it possible for us to detect and appreciate the various perspectives from which issues may be seen; even though we (by a profound self-misconception) may find this psychologically and socially unpleasant, for the sake of value-intelligence we must learn to live and to thrive AMIDST such polemics, "in medias res," in utmost self-uncertainty and insecurity. Values, also by their inherent character and natural function, tend to form hierarchies; and even though our egos and appetites and illusions and delusions may resent being afflicted with judgments of rank and superiority/inferiority, again for the sake of connoisseurial and wisdom-seeking value-intelligence we have to stretch and traumatize our minds aristically to understand the rationality and objectivity of such intrinsic hierarchicalism, valid and authoritative over and beyond all that we may have cultivated as our idiosyncratic and subjectivist preferences (idiotia). Aristeia is naturally ingrained in the very nature of values; values are naturally ingrained in the very character and laws of nature.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, culture, form, immediacy, modernity, consciousness, self-centeredness, wisdom, and value

Human cultures are all experiments in trying to find a form that will fit the matter of our immediacy; but it is absolutely not the case that all such experiments are of equal merit or value. Some cultures -- and modernity is patently one -- have managed to transmute consciousness into the "disease" that Nietzsche called it, the self-affliction of a self-centeredness that has purged itself of all vestiges of wisdom and value.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, greeks, aristeia, values, culture, illumination, determination, life, cognoscenti, and vices

The Greeks took for granted a warrior-ethic ("aristeia," the virtues, values, culture and competence of "aristoi") not just between man and nature, and one city and another, and in the competitive contests (agones) between one person or point of view and another, but most especially between the individual mind striving for illumination and the vast surrounding obscure chaos of all that we do not know or understand or, as yet, have the resources to master. Humans from the earliest days of their lives have already planted their feet on one of two paths, one leading toward self-illumination or a determination to live life knowingly, as cognoscenti or "knowers," and one leading toward the absolute minimum of effort at illumination, a default-mentality marked by the vices of ignoranti, the countless herds of the mostly oblivious and passive who are content merely to be, to drift and be driven, not to be morally or philosophically accountable for themselves.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, consciousness, determination, criticism, sentimentality, ego, insight, truth, subjectivity, objectivity, and life

Not the least of the problems in clarifying one's consciousness is developing the stoic determination to criticize one's own softness or sentimentality toward oneself. Ego, self-solicitous about its own tenderness, is the ultimate policeman over its own false consciousness, dementedly uprooting every healthy seedling of insight into the truth. As Kierkegaard remarked, most people are subjective toward themselves and objective toward all others, but the real trick and task of life is to learn to be just the very opposite.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, moderns, values, excellence, worth, culture, fulfillment, purpose, fitness, and justification

Men who have made "life" easier and more bountiful for moderns have done nothing to make life more eminently VALUABLE, fit to be valued. We appreciate our inventors and benefactors but in truth they have done nothing whatsoever to teach us how to make ourselves more excellent, more WORTHY of freedom and life and culture. It is all very well to feed multitudes with self-replicating fishes and loaves; but the question that goes unperceived is, AS WHAT are we helping man to survive? What are we encouraging this consumer to BECOME, to AIM AT, to HUNGER AFTER as the fulfillment of the whole purpose of his living?

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

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, self-mastery, growth, will, spirit, transcendence, passions, morality, aristoi, valuing, power, and self-delusion

The aristic thrust and conception of "contra natura" lie in our power finitely to extend our self-mastery, to GROW in will and spirit; but as Nietzsche repeatedly teaches in ZARATHUSTRA, such ends must be WILLABLE, achievable. There is nothing to be learned from the human-all-too-human impulse for self-deification or wholesale transcendence over the vicissitudes of life -- even though this aims at something contra natura, it is not truly concretely WILLABLE, it is just a fantasy of our imagination. We cannot BECOME a God. But we can learn to hold our deepest passions in check for the sake of a higher morality, if indeed we are aristoi. Willing and valuing must become an art, must be made consonant or coherent with the fabric of our natures. Mere megalomaniacal extravagance does not truly increase our charge of concentrated power; on the contrary it fires up our ambition with inflationary abstractions that give no traction or purchase to our actual wills. That way lies radical frustration and a metaphysics of depression: an inevitable life-pattern of self-delusion, as we suffer over and over from the necessity that "it would not be better if men got what they wanted," and yet will not permit ourselves ever to see or to learn anything from this self-deception and self-betrayal.

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

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