Natural science pursued for its own sake is a magnificent and noble thing. But in the end one ought to consider whether it is but a high-minded diversion, an extremely high-level form of Pascalian divertissement.
As contemporary 'liberals' become ever more extreme, they increasingly assume what I will call the political burden of proof. The onus is now on them to defeat the presumption that they are so morally and intellectually obtuse as not to be worth talking to.
When are people serious? When money is involved — their money.
My mind drifts back to faculty meetings in which half-listening colleagues doodled and dozed. But when salary considerations came to the table, the dullest among them pricked up their ears. Suddenly they became sharp and serious.
When macro-aggression is no more, when wrongs have been righted and justice has been promoted and protected to the extent that it can be by government, it is then that leftists invent micro-aggression to keep themselves in business and assure themselves of an ever-expanding clientele of victims and losers.
Standing on a hill behind my house, looking down on it, the thought occurred to me: It's enough. One modest house suffices. And then the thought that the ability to be satisfied with what one has is a necessary condition of happiness.
Satisfied with what one has, not with what one is.
Perhaps it is like this.
The fool, satisfied with what he is, is never satisfied with what he has. The philosopher, satisfied with what he has, is never satisfied with what he is. The sage is satisfied with both.
There are many fools and a few philosophers; are there any sages?
One associates loud, domineering, and aggressive behavior with a 'big ego.' But a long memory for wrongs done one, a fine sensitivity to slights and slurs real and imagined are also signs of a 'big ego.'
Philosophy is the high ground from which to survey the dismal and contentious scene, the bellum omnium contra omnes. One retreats to the high ground for three reasons. To contemplate and understand the passing scene, to escape from it, and to be in a position to transcend toward what is neither passing nor a scene.
Help a man, and he may be grateful to you. Or he may resent it that he needs your help, or envy you your ability to provide it, or act as if he has it coming, or become dependent on you, in which case your 'help' is harm.
Absolutely, one must do no harm. (Primum non nocere.) But when to help and when to leave well enough alone require careful thought.
What is a contradiction from one angle is a koan from another.In a contradiction, logical thought hits a dead end. Discursive thought's road end, however, may well be the trail head of the Transdiscursive.
To reject moral equivalentism is not to embrace 'Manicheanism.' To reject robust interventionism in foreign policy is not to subscribe to 'isolationism.' To think otherwise in either case is to make a mistake. Most leftists make the first mistake; many conservatives the second.
In soul-trying times, 'lead' joins gold as a precious metal.
Addendum on the Art of the Aphorism. Elliot comments,
Your aphorism sparked my thinking. After reading the aphorism, it occurred to me that there are at least two interpretations: one material and one spiritual.
The material interpretation is that 'lead' refers to the metal, symbol Pb, atomic number 82, which can be used to make bullets. This point may be why the aphorism is categorized in the ATF section. The spiritual interpretation is that 'lead' refers to the verb 'to lead' or 'to be led'. In soul-trying times, the presence of wise guidance to lead (or to be led by wise guidance) is more precious than gold. Images of leading out and being led out of Plato's Cave came to mind. Proverbs 8:10-11 and 16:16 came to mind as well. Both passages put wisdom and instruction above precious metals.
It's a wonderful aphorism!
Elliot's comment, for which I am grateful, shows that there is more to an aphorism than what the writer intends. There is also what the reader takes away from it.
The material interpretation is what I had in mind. Lead is not a precious metal. But lead is the stuff of bullets, and bullets -- or rather the rounds of which bullets are the projectiles - are precious as means for the defense of the Lockean triad of life, liberty, and property, including gold. So while lead is not a precious metal, 'lead' is precious.
'Soul-trying times' is a compressed way of bringing the reader to recall Thomas Paine: "These are the times that try men's souls." So my first version went like this:
In these times that try men's souls, 'lead' joins gold as a precious metal.
But I changed it for three reasons. First, briefer is better when it comes to aphorisms. Second, the revision is less of a cliché. Third, while I insist on the propriety of standard English, I was not this morning in the mood to distract or offend my distaff readers, all five of them.
Is the final version a good aphorism? Logically prior question: is it an aphorism at all? Just what is an aphorism? R. J. Hollingdale:
In its pure and perfect form the aphorism is distinguished by four qualities occurring together: it is brief, it is isolated, it is witty, and it is 'philosophical.' This last quality marks it off from the epigram, which is essentially no more than a witty observation; the third, which it shares with the epigram, marks it off from the proverb or maxim . . . (Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, The Waste Books, p. x)
My effort is brief, and it is isolated. It is isolated in that it stands alone. But I don't take this to imply that an aphorism may consist of only one sentence. It may consist of two or more. But at some point it becomes what I call an 'observation.' Hence my category, Aphorisms and Observations. Another aspect of isolation is that an aphorism to be such must be bare of argumentative support. No aphorism can be split into premise(s) and conclusion. One does not argue in an aphorism; one states.
"What about Descartes' cogito?" If cogito ergo sum is an enthymematic argument, then it is not an aphorism.
I also take isolation to imply that an aphorism, in the strict sense, cannot be a sentence taken from a wider context and set apart. In a wider context that I don't feel like hunting down at the moment, Schopenhauer writes, brilliantly,
Das Leben ist ein Geschaeft das seine Kosten nicht deckt.
Life is a business that doesn't cover its costs.
That is not an aphorism by my strict definition. For it lacks isolation in my strict sense of 'isolation.'
Is my effort witty and 'philosophical'? It is witty and therefore not a proverb or maxim. These are competing proverbs, not competing aphorisms:
Haste makes waste.
He who hesitates is lost.
Is it 'philosophical'? Yes, inasmuch as it is more than merely witty for reasons that I think are obvious. It is not an epigram.
So my effort is an aphorism. But is it a good aphorism? It is pretty good, though not as good as this gem from the pen of Henry David Thoreau:
A man sits as many risks as he runs.
But my effort, like Thoreau's involves a 'twist,' which is part of what distinguishes an aphorism from a proverb or maxim and makes it witty. It is idiomatic that we run risks. We don't sit risks. The brilliance of Thoreau's aphorism resides in the collision of the hackneyed with the novel.
In soul-trying times, 'lead' joins gold as a precious metal.
My aphorism arranges a collision between the mundane fact that lead is not a precious metal with the less obvious fact that guns and ammo are necessary for the defense of life, liberty, and property. It also exploits an equivocation on 'precious metal.'
As for what occasioned this morning's aphorism, see here.