Day 688, Against stupidity.

Day 688-1

This week I listened to the book: Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook by Mark Bray. It is a good book, it starts with a more general history of fascism and anti-fascism going over in a more detailed history and description of anti-fascism in America and several European countries up till now. The last part of the book is about the modern day and especially Trump and the alt-right and how to react to those negative forces. It is not a handbook in the sense of a guide on how to start a Antifa group where you live. There are some tips and different activist give their opinions about the things you should and shouldn’t do. If you don’t know much about fascism and Antifa than this is a good book to start with.

61a7Mz9PzQL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_The thing I remembered most is a quote: (and I’m paraphrasing) “white is an ideology”. Meaning that calling yourself white is not an objective thing but related to an ideology, there were times that Jews and Italians were not seen as “whites” by racist. I always knew that, but this quote made it simple for me and might help me when debating (mostly ignorant) racist people. Explaining people why refugees come here, for instance, will often help them to understand it and except it.

The place where I live in Norway is small, around 3000 people live here and last year we got our “quota” of refuge’s. I have to guess but there are probably between 50 and a 100 people from Syria and from some African counties like Eritrea that came here last year. I have not heard any complains but that can be because of the people I hang out with, but I have not seen any signs of hatred let alone neo-Nazi’s. In the book it is mentioned that the Antifa in Norway more or less scared away the neo-Nazi groups but that’s not to say that there is no racism in Norway, it’s just not something people talk about.

So, for me there is not much to do if I wanted to be more active like protesting against neo-Nazi’s and racism. I keep it to writing about it even when only a handful of people read it and probably no one that disagrees with me. I do think it is important to read about it because racism sneaks in. Even in Holland the more progressive parties say thing nowadays that were taboo thirty years ago,  they slowly move towards the right, pushing the right more towards the extremes. In this process the people also slowly move their moral compass towards the extreme-right, this is what happened in Germany in the thirties where decent, well educated people slowly closed their eyes and killed millions of people in gas chambers. And you might say that that will never happen here but that is what the people back than also sad. In America it is even scarier right now than I Europe, there government there discredits the news media and their political opponents and those tactics come straight out of a handbook for wannabe dictators, read your history.

 

Day 684, Crazy aliens.

Day 684-1

I am reading the book Heavens gate from Benjamin E. Zeller. It’s about the suicide of 39 people that believed in some kind of Christianity wherein every saint and wonder is replaced by an alien and/or some future tech. I just picked this up because it’s interesting to see how people can, and come to believe in these kinds of things and take it so seriously that they kill themselves because over it. If you look it up on YouTube and watch it, you would be amazed but look also at all the other wacky believes people talk about in all seriousness. I’m only halfway now but so far, I like the book, the writer is not an amateur with an interest in these things but an actual scholar who did his research. He takes several points of view under investigation and quotes other researchers that have written about this specific group, but he also uses general scientist in the fields of psychology, sociology and other. One of his main points is his opposition to brush these people away by saying that they are brainwashed. He explained that brainwashing is not a scientific term and that it simplifies the cause of these peoples believes and consequent suicides. I written before about the ease we people can believe anything and when I finished the book I will see if I can say more about it.

But reading what these people believe made me wish that I could do that. Imagine that you really believe that the way you live and behave will give you a place in a spaceship that would fly you to their planet and give you a new, and better body. If that was true I would through myself from the nearest cliff and never come back, definitely more interesting than living on earth I would say. But I am a skeptic and could never believe that, even if I wanted to.

A note to this story: most people find this heaven gate story unbelievable and think these people are crazy, but these same people believe that they will go to heaven and see their dog and grandma again or believe that the alignment of the stars influence their lives or think that karma is a thing or reincarnation is true. Most accepted religions have crazy stories, you only have to read their books and you wander who’s the crazy one. Christians believe that people can live in a fish (Jonah 1-17), sounds to me as crazy as thinking that aliens where here in the past.

Philosophy, By Nicholas Murray Butler

This is a book about philosophy from M. Butler, an American philosopher. I like to high lite these books because they are in the public domain and can therefore be downloaded for free on the internet, I do that on archive.org. I understand that writers have to get paid for their work but the consequence of that is that many people cannot buy the books they want to read because of the cost. That’s why I like these old books and as long as you remember that it was written in an other time you can still learn something from it.


Philosophy

By Nicholas Murray Butler

1908

By THE COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS.

 

PREFACE

This lecture was delivered as one of a series, the purpose of which was to present in summary and compact form a view of each of several sciences and of philosophy as these exist at the present day. In outlining philosophy, its subject-matter and its method, it was the purpose of the lecture clearly to differentiate philosophy from science, and to cut away the odd and unfitting scientific garments in which some contemporary writers have sought to clothe philosophy. Some of the passing forms of so-called philosophic thought are wholly below the plane on which philosophy moves. They are not philosophy, nor yet philosophies ; they are travesties of both. No one who has not grasped the distinction between the three orders of thinking, or ways of knowing, can hope, I think, to understand what philosophy is or what the word philosophy means. To call something philosophy is not to make it so.

PHILOSOPHY

One of the most famous books ever written, and one of the most influential — the Metaphysics of Aristotle — opens with this sentence, “ All men by nature are actuated with the desire of knowledge.” This desire of knowledge and the wonder which it hopes to satisfy are the driving power behind all the changes that we, with careless, question-begging inference, call progress. They and their reactions upon man’s other wants and needs have, since history began, wholly altered the appearance of the dwelling-place of man as well as man’s relation to his dwelling-place. Yet the physical changes are insignificant, great and numerous as they are. The Alps that tried the endurance of Hannibal are the same mountains that tested the skill of Napoleon. The sea that was beaten by the banked oars of the triremes of Carthage, presents the same surface and the same shores to the fast-going, steam-driven vessel of to-day. But the air, once only a zephyr or a hurricane, is now the bearer of man’s silent message to his distant fellow. The crude ore once deeply hidden in the earth, has been dug and drawn and fashioned into Puck’s girdle. The words that bore the deathless verse of Homer from bard to a group of fascinated hearers, and with whose fading sounds the poems passed beyond recall, are fixed on the printed page in a hundred tongues. They carry to a million eyes what once could reach but a hundred ears. Human aspiration has cast itself, chameleon-like, into the form of noblest verse, of sweetest music, of most moving oratory, of grandest painting, of most splendid architecture, of serenest reflection, of freest government. And the end is not yet. The forces — the desire for knowledge and wonder— that have so moved man’s world, and are so moving it, must be treated with at least the respect due to age and to great achievement.

The naive consciousness of man has always told him that the existence of that consciousness and its forms were the necessary framework for his picture of himself and his world. Long before Kant proved that macht zwar Verstand die Natur aber er schafft sie nicht , man had acted instinctively on the principle. The world that poured into his consciousness through the senses, Locke’s windows of the soul, was accepted as he found it, and for what the senses did not reveal man fashioned explanations in the forge of his imagination. The unseen powers of heaven and earth, of air and water, of earthquake and thunderbolt, were like himself, but greater, grander. They had human loves and hates, human jealousies and ambitions. Behind the curtain of events they played their game of superhuman life. Offerings and gifts won their aid and their blessing; neglect or disdain brought down their antagonism and their curses. So it was that the desire for knowledge and the wonder of man made the mythologies ; each mythology bearing the image of that racial facet of humanity’s whole by which it was reflected. The Theogony, ascribed to Hesiod, shows the orderly completeness to which these mythologies attained.

The mythologies represent genuine reflection and not a little insight. They reveal man’s simple, naive consciousness busying itself with the explanation of things. The mythologies were genuine, and their gods and their heroes were real, by every test of genuineness and reality known to the uncritical mental processes which fashioned them.

Change and decay, growth, life and death, are the phases of experience that most powerfully arouse man’s wonder and stimulate his desire to know. Where do men and things come from ? How are they made ? How do they grow? What becomes of them after their disappearance or death? — these are the questions for which an answer is sought. The far-away Indian in his Upanishads cried out: “Is Brahman the cause ? Whence are we born ? Whereby do we live, and whither do we go ? O, ye who know Brahman, tell us at whose command we abide, whether in pain or in pleasure! ” To these questions the mythologies offered answers which were sufficient for long periods of time, and which are to-day sufficient for a great portion, perhaps by far the greater portion, of the human race.

An important step, far-reaching in its consequences, was taken when man first sought the cause of change and decay in things themselves and in the laws which appeared to govern things, rather than in powers and forces outside of and beyond them. When the question was first asked, What is it that persists amid all changes and that underlies every change? a new era was about to dawn in the history of man’s wonder and his desire to know. Thales, who first asked this question and first offered an answer to it, deserves his place at the head of the list of the Seven Wise Men of Greece. After Thales the wise men of Greece left off telling tales and busied themselves with an examination of experience and with direct reflection upon it.

It is to be noticed, however, that the evidence of the senses is no longer accepted at its face value. With Thales something new comes into view. It is the systematic search for the explanation of things that appear, with the assumption that the explanation lies behind the appearances themselves and is concealed by them. But as yet, mans gaze was wholly outward. The relation of the nature that he observed to his own consciousness was implied, but unquestioned. Consciousness itself and the knowing process remained to be examined. To turn man’s gaze from outward to inward, to change the center of gravity of his desire to know, of his wonder, from nature to man himself, was the service of Socrates. That man is a reasoning animal, that knowledge must be examined and tested by standards of its own, and that conduct must be founded on rational principles, are the immortal teachings of Socrates, as much needed now as when he first unfolded them. They mark him forever as the discoverer of the intellectual life. Of Socrates it may truly be said, in the stately verse of ^Eschylus: —

I brought to earth the spark of heavenly fire, Concealed at first, and small, but spreading soon Among the sons of men, and burning on,

Teacher of art and use, and fount of power.

(Prometheus Vinctus, 109.)

The maxim, “ An unexamined life is not worth living,” is the priceless legacy of Socrates to the generations of men who have followed him upon this earth. The beings who have stood on humanity’s summit are those, and only those, who have heard the voice of Socrates across the centuries. The others are a superior kind of cattle.

The intellectual life, once discovered, was eagerly pursued by the two men who have done most to shape the thought of the Western World. For two generations the brilliant insight and noble imagery of Plato and the persistently accurate analytic and synthetic powers of Aristotle poured out for the use of men the rapid results of wide observation, profound reflection, and subtlest intellectual sympathy. For nearly two thousand years the scholars of the world could find little else to occupy them than the problems which Plato and Aristotle had proposed and the solutions which they had offered. The weight of their authority was so great that it prevented the spirit of new inquiry from rising to its feet for a period longer than half of all recorded history.

In a general way, different types of problem were marked off from each other during the whole of this long period of development and study, but the lines of distinction that seem clear to-day were not often noticed or followed. Questions as to an unseen and superior power, as to logical processes, and as to natural objects and laws were curiously intermingled. Astronomy, mathematics, mechanics, and medicine broke off one by one from the parent stem, but it was a long time before the other separate sciences that we moderns know, were able to follow them. Both Plato and Aristotle had indicated the distinction between the different orders of human thinking which is all-controlling, but neither they nor their most influential successors maintained the distinction consistently by any means. So it happened that what we call science, what we call philosophy, and what we call theology were for a long time inextricably mixed.

Read the rest of the book on archive.org or download the PDF: Philosophy By Nicholas Murray Butler 1908

Nicholas Murray Butler

Nicholas Murray Butler (April 2, 1862 – December 7, 1947) was an American philosopher, diplomat, and educator. Butler was president of Columbia University, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He became so well known and respected that The New York Times printed his Christmas greeting to the nation every year. Wikepedia

 

1. Chemistry of ideas and sensations

You can read the aphorism  I discuss here below the main article.

Synopsis and my take on it:

Nietzsche is predicting here the existence of what we now call neurotransmitters in a study field  (neurochemistry) that was not yet invented. First he pointed out that in metaphysical philosophy and in popular languages there is the assumption of “a miraculous origin for more highly valued things”. Things like making music that originates from “divine inspiration” instead of a cold hard chemistry process in the brain. Nietzsche talks about “chemistry of the moral, religious, esthetic ideas and sentiments” and about emotions we feel. And then, as Nietzsche often does in his work, he ends with a question that puts a thought in your mind that makes you feel challenged:Humanity likes to put all questions as to origin and beginning out of its mind; must one not be almost dehumanized to feel a contrary tendency in one’s self?”

In one sentence:

Chemistry takes over


Human, all too human a book for free spirits Part I, translated by Helen Zimmern 1914

First and last things

  1. CHEMISTRY OF IDEAS AND SENSATIONS. —Philosophical problems adopt in almost all matters the same form of question as they did two thousand years ago ; how can anything spring from its opposite ? for instance, reason out of unreason, the sentient out of the dead, logic out of unlogic, disinterested contemplation out of covetous willing, life for others out of egoism, truth out of error ? Metaphysical philosophy has helped itself over those difficulties hitherto by denying the origin of one thing in another, and assuming a miraculous origin for more highly valued things, immediately out of the kernel and essence of the ” thing in itself.” Historical philosophy, on the contrary, which is no longer to be thought of as separate from physical science, the youngest of all philosophical methods, has ascertained in single cases (and presumably this will happen in everything) that there are no opposites except in the usual exaggeration of the popular or metaphysical point of view, and that an error of reason lies at the bottom of the opposition : according to this explanation, strictly understood, there is neither an unegoistical action nor an entirely disinterested point of view, they are both only sublimations in which the fundamental element appears almost evaporated, and is only to be discovered by the closest observation. All that we require, and which can only be given us by the present advance of the single sciences, is a chemistry of the moral, religious, esthetic ideas and sentiments, as also of those emotions which we experience in ourselves both in the great and in the small phases of social and intellectual intercourse, and even in solitude; but what if this chemistry should result in the fact that also in this case the most beautiful colors have been obtained from base, even despised materials ? Would many be inclined to pursue such examinations? Humanity likes to put all questions as to origin and beginning out of its mind; must one not be almost dehumanised to feel a contrary tendency in one’s self?

Menschliches allzumenschlich 1878/80

Von den ersten und letzten Dingen.

  1. Chemie der Begriffe und Empfindungen. – Die Philosophischen Probleme nehmen jetzt wieder fast in allen Stücken dieselbe Form der Frage an, wie vor zweitausend Jahren.- wie kann Etwas aus seinem Gegensatz entstehen, zum Beispiel Vernünftiges aus Vernunftlosem, Empfindendes aus Todtem, Logik aus Unlogik, interesseloses Anschauen aus begehrlichem Wollen, Leben für Andere aus Egoismus, Wahrheit aus Irrthümern? Die metaphysische Philosophie half sich bisher über diese Schwierigkeit hinweg, insofern sie die Entstehung des Einen aus dem Andern leugnete und für die höher gewertheten Dinge einen Wunder-Ursprung annahm, unmittelbar aus dem Kern und Wesen des “Dinges an sich” heraus. Die historische Philosophie dagegen, welche gar nicht mehr getrennt von der Naturwissenschaft zu denken ist, die allerjüngste aller philosophischen Methoden, ermittelte in einzelnen Fällen (und vermuthlich wird diess in allen ihr Ergebniss sein), dass es keine Gegensätze sind, ausser in der gewohnten Uebertreibung der populären oder metaphysischen Auffassung und dass ein Irrthum der Vernunft dieser Gegenüberstellung zu Grunde liegt: nach ihrer Erklärung giebt es, streng gefasst, weder ein unegoistisches Handeln, noch ein völlig interesseloses Anschauen, es sind beides nur Sublimirungen, bei denen das Grundelement fast verflüchtigt erscheint und nur noch für die feinste Beobachtung sich als vorhanden erweist. – Alles, was wir brauchen und was erst bei der gegenwärtigen Höhe der einzelnen Wissenschaften uns gegeben werden kann, ist eine Chemie der moralischen, religiösen, ästhetischen Vorstellungen und Empfindungen, ebenso aller jener Regungen, welche wir im Gross- und Kleinverkehr der Cultur und Gesellschaft, ja in der Einsamkeit an uns erleben: wie, wenn diese Chemie mit dem Ergebniss abschlösse, dass auch auf diesem Gebiete die herrlichsten Farben aus niedrigen, ja verachteten Stoffen gewonnen sind? Werden Viele Lust haben, solchen Untersuchungen zu folgen? Die Menschheit liebt es, die Fragen über Herkunft und Anfänge sich aus dem Sinn zu schlagen: muss man nicht fast entmenscht sein, um den entgegengesetzten Hang in sich zu spüren? –

20171106_173550


Sources:

I will read a Dutch translation that is based on the work of researchers Colli and Montinari. I also use a translation from R.J.Hollingdale and the Gary Handwerk translation from the Colli-Montinari edition. Both are more modern than the copyright free translation I use here. This is a translation from 1909 by Helen Zimmern, who knew Nietzsche personally, but there was no critical study of Nietzsche’s work done back then and this translation suffers from that. The same goes for the translation from Alexander Harvey. My German is not good enough to pretend that I can translate it better than the professionals do but I will use the original as a referee.

  1. Menselijk al te menselijk een boek voor vrije geesten, translated by Thomas Graftdijk, 2000. Buy it here
  2. Human, all too human a book for free spirits, translated by R.J.Hollingdale, 1986
  3. Human, all too human a book for free spirits I V3, translated by Gary handwerk 1997
  4. Human, all too human a book for free spirits Part I, translated by Helen Zimmern 1909. Read it  here
  5. Human, all too human a book for free spirits, translated by Alexander Harvey, 1908. Read it here
  6. Menschliches allzu menschlich 1878/80. Read it here

 

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