"Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains"
"To renounce your liberty is to renounce your status as a man, your rights as a human being, and ev
"Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains"
"To renounce your liberty is to renounce your status as a man, your rights as a human being, and even your duties as a human being"
"Liberty isn’t a fruit of every climate, so it isn’t within the reach of every people."
"As long as a number of men gathered together regard themselves as a single body, they have only a single will, which is concerned with the survival and well-being of all of them"
“liberty is not inherent in any form of government, it is in the heart of the free man.”
Jean Jacques Rousseau
Since this is Inauguration Day I feel that I´ll be back on this book in the near future; lots of times. 20th January 2017
As I’m reading the book at least 3 great questions formed in my mind:
(1) How legitimate is Trump's electoral victory? His authority emanates from what/who?
(2) How his nationalism (“Americanism”; “America first”) won’t morph into fascism? What are the real risks?
(3) How civil liberties will be guaranteed in the Trump era?
25th Jan 2017
This is a good historical analysis of the foundations/legitimacy of the political power. It includes a discussion on the varieties of power structures (Democracy, Monarchy…) and their limits. Rousseau approaches the individual rights of the citizens, but I would highlight one the most important: voting; the will of the people, through voting, may check at any time the legitimacy of any government. It is suggested that Democracy is not the best form of government for all the nations, since Rousseau admits each nation should choose which form is the best.
“…had heard that thou hast travelled philosophizing, over many lands”
This is a fine old book  by a Yale professor. It’s broad in its scope, and
“…had heard that thou hast travelled philosophizing, over many lands”
This is a fine old book  by a Yale professor. It’s broad in its scope, and, surely, a good introduction to Philosophy.
It starts with a historical perspective on the term itself: Philosophy; when it appeared for the first time (in Greece), and the several meanings throughout time it acquired. The definition of Plato is still valued: Philosophy as the acquisition of such (ἐπιστήμη, epistēmē) knowledge ; though for example, the Seneca’s definitions deserve a place too: Philosophy as “the zealous pursuit of virtue”, “the Love of wisdom”.
It’s recalled the much known phrase “Philosophy as the mother of all sciences” and its corollary, in the expression of Lotze: “Philosophy is a mother wounded by the ingratitude of her own children”. Quite true, especially in our days; there’s so much “sciencing” [my expression], and so little philosophizing; how ingrate are the sciences.
“Tutti gli uomini naturalmente desiderano di sapere.” DANTE
"Psychology cannot be deﬁned at all by reference to a special subject -matter, as can mineralogy and botanty" "But philosophy is somewhat more than a higher stage of psychology".
I took special attention on the chapter Psychology and Philosophy and attempts to separate Psychology from Metaphysics. At that time [19th century] the “soul” problem was paramount.
To have a notion of the several chapters approached I refer next some of the relevant ones: Spirit and Method in Philosophy; Dogmatism, Skepticism and Criticism; Divisions of philosophy; Relation of Philosophy to particular sciences; Philosophy of Nature and Philosophy of the Mind; Ethics; Aesthetics; Philosophy of Religion, Tendencies and schools in Philosophy; Epistemology.
I want to believe…and to know, and to love to know… MORE. ...more
From Wiki: Hyperspace (science fiction), a concept that makes faster-than-light travel possible.
"It was Emerson who said,“nature geometrizes,”and as
From Wiki: Hyperspace (science fiction), a concept that makes faster-than-light travel possible.
"It was Emerson who said,“nature geometrizes,”and as nature is the handiwork of God we may say that' God geometrizes"
Well, I had read yesterday S. Rushdie gave an interview to a Portuguese paper and affirmed it was time for “humanity to end Gods dependency”. And then I had the chance to read this old book. I just thought that the idea of “God” may be fruitful; in fact, it may turn out to have a heuristic value. See next, how.
Relations between Science and Religion sometimes are tense and full of incompatibilities. Not so in this book. It’s an attempt to explain religious facts (miracles, planes of existence ...) via this concept-of-old: space. The author takes some time defining (mathematically) spaces in its various forms, usually bi-dimensional and tridimensional. Then he leaps into spaces of an order higher than the third—hyperspaces---and with those concepts he explains Hell and Heaven, Christ as a higher dimensional being, miracles (example: parting of the Red Sea…) and balances (trade-off) in energies, Jesus and the restored lives (example: Lazarus…).
"Mental vision has therefore been called four-dimensional by some writers"
The book ends with a description of Heaven. God is viewed as the master creator and “geometer” (my expression) with limitless power, being multidimensional; so, the 5th dimension and the 6th …ad infinitum, being possible to consider.
"...God himself dwells subject to no space limitation".
Yes, thought travels faster now; as if in Mercury’s wings.
PS Soon after I had written this review I realized how timely it was, as in China reading the Bible will become harder.
Any joking-mind would understand my paper notes: “Philosophy goes to Hollywood”. Yes, that’s what I wrote unintentionally, I guess. The true title i
Any joking-mind would understand my paper notes: “Philosophy goes to Hollywood”. Yes, that’s what I wrote unintentionally, I guess. The true title is “Philosophy goes to the movies”; west movies; many American, some European…. some Japanese ones, in between.
Anyway, as I read it, I was prone to the 5 stars, so good was the prose. One of the main effects of the reading is to prompt you to watch the unseen movies so far; another effect is to shed a new light (the philosophical one) on those films you’ve watched already.
“The cave is an invitation to think”
The purpose of the Australian author is finely attained; namely, a book that includes films which “illustrate and illuminate philosophical themes”.
Movies abound, so philosophical ideas. Yet, those ideas have been arranged according (maybe) to the academia classification; therefore, you have a chapter on Epistemology (knowledge themes); one chapter on moral.. and ethics; one on self and identity, …political philosophy, philosophy of sciences etc. For each of those divisions you’ll find films, and the correspondent philosophical analysis.
Right, philosophy in the sense of: reflection, thinking critically. An ideal book ….“for beginners”.
I’ve found the approach of Falzon a bit infatuated (?) with the Platonic view; man as a prisoner in a cave trying to perceive/understand/know beyond the shadows. That’s one possible approach; but, I reckon, it is a good one; the similarities are obvious between the platonic cave-allegory, and the chamber (living-room, amphitheater, cinema…) you (and I) sit sometimes in the dark (or on broad daylight) to watch the shadows pictures… moving.
True, the pictorial can provoke philosophical thinking, though at times, I’ve seen more of the psychological domain than only philosophical, per se.
Take the case of Wim Wenders movie “Wings of desire” (1987); whereas Falzon sees a philosophical child (“does evil exist? …”why am I here”?) I’ve seen a developing being,… as well.
Or “Cinema Paradiso” (1989): enfolding a process of liberation from Totalitarianism, as well as (psychological) achievement of independence.
Where Falzon sees philosophical schools, I’d seen personalities. Take the case of Star Trek; to Mr Spock the most rational person, (platonic in a sense): the reason is always in charge, not desire. Whereas Leonard “Bones” McCoy is the Humean-type who indulges freely in emotions.
Self …or soul? I wonder.
(what a cave!)
I‘ve found very pertinent the author’s views on two movies, approached in the Knowledge chapter. They are Total Recall (1990) and The Matrix (1999). The latter typically deals with perception (psychology!) but also with enslavement and liberation: “humans are enslaved by intelligent machines; “a computer feeds them with a simulated reality": the matrix -how can you really know…the Truth?.
The former movie deals with reality and dream at a certain point, and the Descartes’ view reveals itself quite appropriate. The French philosopher wondered on deception, and the source of knowledge; how does one know one is dreaming… or awaken?; or: “I’m sitting by the fire, writing”,…how do I know I’m not dreaming on doing it?. That same kind of thoughts enabled the main character of Total Recall to find answer to his musings: “what if this is a dream?”.
How can you tell truth from lie? Yet things can be even stranger; still with Descartes: what about a devil-demon, an all-powerful being who is capable of deceiving us? A kind of “illusion-generator? What if, what you see is just a projection of the devil’s mind? … Seeing… is believing?
"The spectre of depersonalization through the deadening of emotion and feeling has also been invoked in connection with the effects of modern technological society, for example in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). In the film,two astronauts on a mission to Jupiter have to battle the ship's computer HAL for control of the ship. The astronauts are depersonalized and unemotional,little more than apendages of the sophisticated technology around them". [this is really Psychology!!] … Philosophy and cinema. Falzon posits at least three possibilities: (1) films that have a philosopher as subject matter; take the following cases of Socrates (1970), Blaise (1971) and Augustine of Hippo (1975); (2) movies that are philosophically inspired like The Stranger (1967) by L. Visconti; and finally (3) films that make explicit philosophical ideas or positions: Carpenter’s Dark Star (1972) or Woody Allen’s Love and Death (1975). Yet, you can hardly fit many thousands more into one of these*.
Certainly, you’ll find more than Descartes and Plato; to illustrate empiricism and rationalism, you’ll meet also Kant and Hume; and Locke; and Freud and Marx….and many others.
Maybe you’ll find more movies than philosophical ideas (I mean, philosophical schools); …or the opposite. It really doesn’t matter; questioning, is more important. Wondering, that’s the purpose. Finding light…, midst the shadows.
Ah, I've decided for 4 stars, due to this pan-philosophical view on movies that can be viewed, more pertinently at times, in other ways.
You just have to take another allegory; beyond Plato's.A different one.
You're thinking, though you're NOT IN THE CAVE.
But, just suppose for a while, you're one of the puppet showmen performing...what is reality, for you?
The letters had as French title: Lettres Philosophiques (“Philosophical letters” ).
These are a collection of letters regarding England in its manyThe letters had as French title: Lettres Philosophiques (“Philosophical letters” ).
These are a collection of letters regarding England in its many facets (religious, political, scientific and cultural); a 18th century Britain, Voltaire had been in for some time (1726-1729).
At least seven of the letters are dedicated to the religious issues; they touch on the diversity witnessed by the French philosopher; he would call it “a nation of sectarists”.
The very first letters are a sort of analysis of the (and meeting with) proponents of a, then, powerful movement/sect called the Quakers. They were persecuted under Charles II and they managed to convert some of the soldiers of Cromwell, who quit service and refused to take oaths.
Their belief was as radical and basic as this: it had been 1600 years of corruption, of the true teachings of Christ; one who never baptized, but was baptized by John. Quakers followed Christ, not John.
Voltaire met with one young Quaker man called George Fox: he would never “swear”.
And yet, Voltaire highlighted their overseas impact. I am referring William Penn (most "hated by the protestants") , who inherited “very large possessions (south of Maryland)” and established Quakers power in America; in Pennsylvania, namely . Voltaire says at that time “Philadelphia city was flourishing”.
Some other letters are an approach to other sects (the Unitarians, the Socinians, the Arians, the Antitrinitarians…), yet, outstanding: The Church of England, whose “true religion is the sect of Episcopalians”.
Differing from France’s “training”, all the clergy is educated (with “few exceptions”) in Oxford and Cambridge. Voltaire still mentions the Presbyterians, somehow similar to Calvinism, the established religion of Scotland.
The topic then moves into politics ---government, parliament and the monarchy---, having said, nevertheless, that the capital (London) was a place of “corruption and depravity”.
His political analysis is positive and with some taint of praise, because he considers the English “the only people” putting “limits” to the powers of the king. Voltaire traces some parallels with the Roman system, yet, the latter ended up in “slavery” , while the British system in “liberty”. The House of the Lords and the Commons divide the legislative power with the King.
On trade and commerce, Voltaire praises the “English superiority over the seas”: “trade enriched the citizens in England so it contributed to their freedom”.
One letter approached the “inoculation” topic; it seems, at that time, the English were deemed to be “fool” , because “they give to children” ,early on, the small pox to “prevent them catching it”. The English called the Europeans “unnatural and coward”.
Maybe the best topics concern Philosophy (Science too) especially when Voltaire makes the difference between French Descartes and the British Newton. Where one sees “”impulsion” to explain motion, the other (Newton) sees “attraction” . These are “contradictory men”. Voltaire would develop at length the major contributions of Newton in the fields of “the laws of gravitation, optics and the ‘infinities of geometry”. But his fellowman Descartes is always a counter point to this peaceful-existence character called Newton. Descartes had been accused of “atheism”; left France, and for some time lived in Sweden; upon returning to France had to pay his “fees”.
Other “famous personages” are commented upon, namely “the acute logician” Locke, and Lord Bacon, the father of “the experimental Philosophy”.
The remaining letters approach comedy and tragedy, Voltaire’s translation work, and his critical views on Shakespeare (“natural and sublime” but “not a single spark of good taste”). Other “men of Letters” are mentioned with special attention to Pope: “one of the most amiable English poets”. Money for determining the “longitude” …and the Royal Society are the concluding topics.
Dear Sir, Voltaire,
More than 200 years on I would like to tell you: freedom still reigns in the UK. Since your 18th century, much has happened in those fields you approached in your letters.
In 21st century Britain, The Queen is still sovereign; the government and the parliament are elected bodies. You would be delighted to know about 19th century themes such as “species evolution” by Charles Darwin, or the Industrial Revolution. Or, the expansion of the British Empire to the point of the “sun never being set” ,in its various longitudes.
Yet, The Empire is gone. The “little” island which you’ve visited still stands, though some political changes have occurred. The Irish got their independence as a nation. The Scotts had a few months ago a referendum on independence. Not yet gained, so the results said.
You would be surprised to know about the number of mosques in England;yet you would get terrified on the number in France. Here, in England, there are people from all over the world.
The capital city is still “busy as usual”. Can you imagine a few days ago I got to know that in 10 years’ time the one percent richest doubled their wealth?.. and 80 billionaires,it happens, do live in the little place “of corruption and depravity” you were in?
Well, May coming, there will be elections; freedom to vote. It’s likely the conservatives will stay in power. Yes, the Tories. You wrote about them… and about the “Whigs”.
Recently one “Labour man” acknowledged/suggested “the Dome” (it wasn’t there in the 18th century!!!) was superfluous spending.
I end my letter with a letter from the book of Robert Blatchford (“Merrie England”):
“Dear Mr Smith, I am sorry to hear that you look upon socialism as…senseless thing and upon socialists as wicked or foolish men”.
Au revoir, monsieur François-Marie Arouet. I'll keep you posted.
April 25th, 2015.
Dear Sir, Voltaire
Hope you're in good health. [Yeah, National Health was a big topic of the campaign!]
Just to inform you the conservatives have won the election; maybe, most important, the Scottish party had a great increase in seats gained (from 6 to 58).
As I was writing down this piece it was said that only "10 seats" are missing for a conservative majority.
Things haven't changed that much, right?
Regards, May 8th, 2015
Dear Sir, Voltaire
I know you like images with portent; I've seen in it "winds of change"; I'm sure you'll be able to decipher the symbol. The guy on the picture just won the Labour leadership, past this week.
Say something,... if you want. Meanwhile, I promise, I'm your postman.
All the best, September 19th, 2015
Dear Sir, -ça-va?
Hope you're fine. Just to inform you the UK runs the risk of pulling OUT of the European Union. You cannot imagine how it has been: thousands of refugees from Africa and Asia and the Middle East flooding in this our continent, and how much disunion it has surfaced between Europe's nations on this matter. The euro mess persists. Some other time, I promise, will tell you about the Syria question. Truly messy.
Hope you'll reply soon; meanwhile, you know me, I'll keep you posted.
October the 17th 2015
Sir, take a look at this:
Sir, a majority has voted for attacks on ISIL (397 versus 223 votes). ISIL is a so-called State inside present day Iraq and Syria, with aspirations for a world caliphate, allow me to update you.
It just happened, a galvanizing speech by Labour shadow foreign secretary Mr B. He said his party leader (the one above, in the picture, near the socialist symbol) was not a “terrorist sympathizer” but a “decent man”; yet, this time around Mr. B will support a military action in Syria (contrary to his party leader view); he sees it as a similar situation to the time when the parliament stood up ”against Hitler and Mussolini”. It has now a UN resolution supporting it.
But this same day I got to know the view of a French journalist who had been for months kept captive by ISIL; and you know what he said: just don’t bomb it (ISIL): it’s a trap.
So, you figure…
All the best 3rd December 2015
--- Sir, just to wish you Happy New Year!
Terrible floods, it's been. I'll be back; I want to tell you something interesting about Manchester. You'll have a perspective on what's to be in year 2016.
Cheers! 4th January 2016
PS Sir, I wanted to ask about your aesthetic preferences; so, which one of these paintings do you prefer?
As soon as you've made up your mind and choice, just let me know; I will certainly reply; immediately. Right, they're both related to Manchester city.
I am still waiting for your art (sort of) judgment, ...but have you heard about that discussion in the UK parliament (yeah, the Commons) about that American candidate for the presidency called Trump (of Scottish breed, on the mother side); the list of adjectives is so funny: "idiot", “narcissist” , “buffoon"..., and “a wazzock".
Just tell me what you make of this,... and of freedom of speech.
All the best.
19th January 2016
--- Sir, a quick note, typical of my times: check on the Boris effect,... and the Brexit; I'll be back. Cheers!
23rd February 2016
Sir, A referendum on the Britain's membership in the EU,will be held on 23rd of June, this year. I'll keep you posted, meanwhile. Chances are...
He's been saying interesting things regarding this "thing" called EU. The "thing" (my expression) is taking away money from the nations, and control...;it's an "anti-democratic" thing, Boris contends; so, he's pro "vote Leave",....that thing.
The visit of the US president to the UK won't change his mind. Mind you, the president is a "stay-in -EU" man. But Boris has found a "paradox" recently and wrote about it: “There is no country in the world that defends its own sovereignty with such hysterical vigilance as the United States of America", so why should the US meddle with the UK right to decide, its own liberty??.
No wonder some are telling the visiting president: "butt out".
What do you thing think, Sir, about the thinkthing?
PS; I am adding a picture of London in the near future; maybe too ugly terrifying?or?...,You tell me.
22nd April 2016
Sir,take a look at this quote: "a reptile ... just fit now, after being twice discarded by the people, to become a Conservative. He possesses all the necessary requisites of perfidy, selfishness, depravity, want of principle, etc., which would qualify him for the change. His name shows that he is of Jewish origin". Yes, April 1835, it was Irish MP Daniel O'Connell who wrote it , about D'Israeli, one who would become UK's prime minister. Anti-semitism is not a new thing. It seems these past days the issue has surfaced almost uncontrollably inside the Labour. Corbyn, the leader, has been trying hard to suppress the old problem (and racism too); some heads are rolling already. But this photo tells something, though:
(Corbyn, at a pro-Palestinian rally in London, 2014; he once said that Hezbollah and Hamas are his "friends")
Sir, tell me about,... if you may. All the best.
3rd of May 2016 --- Sir,
You surely recall I told you about Mosques in the UK, ...and in France. Well, just to inform you: London has just elected a Muslim mayor. As I read in the LBR*, it's "symbolic", though it won't last long, thus wrote Fatema Ahmed. She wrote : "The symbolism of Khan’s win will soon fade, and politics as usual will resume.". But, no one doubts, it's a major change. The discordant voices can be heard: "London is in trouble", says Graham Moore, of the English Democrats party, accusing the elected mayor of having "stood with extremists".
Whatever..., Sadiq Khan promised to be the Mayor of all Londoners. We shall see what to make of this man "of British-Pakistani origin". Truly, times have changed.
Cheers! 7th of May 2016
*London Review of Books
Sir, I forgot about this next photo, so I'm adding it now, for a better clarification of the "total picture"; you know.
Cheers again! 8th of May 2016 ---
Sir, todie,ugh,I mean, today, I read these amazing news about the white cockneys of London's East End, now a minority,being replaced in the past 15 years by migrants. Yeah,do you remember NEWHAM??? Just imagine the Drew primary where throughout its corridors one can hear 43 languages being spoken,...what a sort of Babel.
Hope you wont day, ugh,die,....it's a new world.
Wishes of perennial health,....
14th of May 2016
You certainly recall the american presidential candidate Trump, I told you about; a "wazzock", some in the UK called him, trying to ban him from entering into the kingdom of her/his Magesty. At that time Trump was calling for a ban on muslims entering the USA. The UK's PM said it was "stupid,....devisive". And you know what,...Trump now says HE'S BEEN INVITED TO VISIT 10th DOWNING ST. Can you believe it?!??
22nd May 2016 ---
Again the EU-thing. Yesterday, I was informed that, they [EUthingers!!] , EU officials, more than 10,000 are paid above the UK PM salary [£142,000]. And the number of allowences?? you cannot imagine!!! Even free Viagra!! Some day I will explain you about the Viagra. No time now.
Have a good day!
25th May 2016 ---
Just to recall the 1994 referendum in Norway,on joining the EU. The "No" won, yet many acknowledge today that the "Yes" side used lots of lies in the campaign; like: jobs to be lost, no investment, interest rates going up, an isolated Norway, ...the EU not listening to "us". It just DIDN'T HAPPEN!! Norway today is better OFF. OFF the EU. As the 23rd of June draws nigh people shouldn't forget the past, even fear campaigns and all types of CONbos, say, like cheaper roaming charges.
28th May 2016
What a letter!!! I mean, not mine, but the one by Justice Secretary Mr Gove and Mr Boris Johnson, to Dave, the PM; accusing him of "lies" on immigration (this is really a hot, hot topic now, for all of Europe, not just the UK) and "basic lack of democratic consent", and a lot more on that creepy thing called EU. You should read it; I'll provide you with a "link", just in case you ask...
I'm so eager about this ref's...you cannot imagine.
6th June 2016 --- Sir, when you see many threats that may mean “pressure” and “fear”, on the side of the established order, or putting it in other words: the EU Fat Cats fear a certain lifestyle to be gone.
See these examples. Today I’ve seen a poll suggesting the Danes are in majority pro, leaving the EU. Some days ago I had read that some Germans wanted Britain to stay, while others were threatening with a “no second chance” and “Calais protection” to disappear.
Today France was threatening to make Britain “pay” in the case of exit. And yesterday I watched a former PM of Britain speaking about the “economic aftershock” that will ensue, just in case the Leave wins.
So much fear. So many threats. It’s the contagion effect they fear, also. One nation leaving may lead to others leaving too.
One great enthusiast of the Leave campaign put it this way the (BR)exit scenario: ….[it] would spark an exodus by "many other countries", bringing an end to "the entire European project".
I’ll keep you posted, Sir.
9th June 2016
Though not a British citizen, I'm proud of that flag..., just to tell you on the EU Referendum: the Leave won!
Can you believe it? I can, though many (especially the pollsters---someday will explain it to you) still had it for granted: to stay in,...kind of , to stay put.
I'll be back on the issue; it seems by now a 51,9 % win isn't bad; other European nations have been keen on listening/reading about the results.
BRAVE NEW WORLDEurope ENGLAND! Haha!!
As I read today: "See EU later!"
24th June 2016
I know about "Anti-'Brexit' protest hits London"; and about "Londindependence" and petitions,....and stuff alike. But the Leave won; just like that.
Long lives the Brexit! Cheers! 28th June 2016
Sir, Italians are using Britain's flag to protest EU ruling. Nice summer in their beaches. Hope you're having a good one too. I hope you read Italian:"La Brexit in versione ligure...". Seeya. 4th August 2016...more
"Cicero says—[Tusc., i. 31.]—"that to study philosophy is nothing but to prepare one's self to die."
in Essays (CHAPTER XIX——THAT TO STUDY PHILOSOPY IS
"Cicero says—[Tusc., i. 31.]—"that to study philosophy is nothing but to prepare one's self to die."
in Essays (CHAPTER XIX——THAT TO STUDY PHILOSOPY IS TO LEARN TO DIE)
I listened to an interview the author gave on her book. Some ideas ahead.
(a) Michel Montaigne (1533-1592) was a French magistrate who, by the age of 37, felt the need to “retire from active duty”. His father having just died, made MM to inherit a wine estate. So, he dedicated his remaining years to reflection; some of this, on himself; thence his essays.
(b) I’ve found of particular interest his near-death-experience; his recollections of being thrown out his horse, being bruised …and the “floating experience”.
(c) He loved Plutarch, historians…; and followed Seneca’s recommendations.
(d) Some say “skepticism” had a great impact on him; but Doubt in him and in Descartes are different; while in Descartes doubt is a “stage”, in MM it’s “a way of life”. The author hinted at MM’s influence on later authors: like Pascal, Voltaire and Nietzsche.
(e) MM acknowledged that peasants may have more wisdom than those who are based on readings.
(f) Sarah Bakewell called MM an “accidental philosopher”. His fascination with the inner world was paired up with that of the outside world.
(g) MM: “I may contradict myself but not truth”.
(h) One could wonder if Philosophy is a way to “learn how to die”….or, on “how to live”... well.
« Ancien professeur à la Sorbonne (Paris IV), Nicolas Grimaldi a consacré son œuvre à tenter d’élucider le statut de la conscience et la nature du tem« Ancien professeur à la Sorbonne (Paris IV), Nicolas Grimaldi a consacré son œuvre à tenter d’élucider le statut de la conscience et la nature du temps »
That’s how someone wrote about him. But I’ve heard him once trying to do the balance of an academic life starting in 1968. He wanted to understand how it came to be: one civilization replaced by another one, in that span of time. 50 years on he’s got this hypothesis : there are « tectonic plaques » (metaphorically) in this change, as if he would be about to die « IN ANOTHER CONTINENT …WITH OTHER CARDINAL POINTS » .Not even Chateaubriand lived that much to experience such a change. From the political point of view: he hinted: nothing has changed....more
Pondering on his own biography Jerphagnon placed at 4 years old the start of it all: his discovery of “being”; he wBiographical notes (1921-2011)
Pondering on his own biography Jerphagnon placed at 4 years old the start of it all: his discovery of “being”; he wondered: why all this?, surrounding him. The ontological question. He felt a great lack of order in his mind. Apparently, in a Socratian vein, not so much “how it works” (pre-Socratians) but: “why it works”?
He was the “shame of the family”; he wasn’t good at math…but got tempted by the Philosophy. His thesis on banality had this strange subtitle: De la Banalité. Essai sur l'ipséité et sa durée vécue, Vrin, 1966,… again approaching the « being » question.
Philosophy taught him, via Plutino, that God was beyond the Being question. He studied Psychology too ; he decided he would apply his previous studies to the Ancient World.
Once, he said, he heard a celestial voice : "you’ll do it for me, two Works…" (on History).It became his « celestial » vocation. And he did them. He loved Roman History.
Another topic approached in his life: Mythology. Myth was once « all understood », now we live in an epoch where myth is something « vague »… »of the imagination ».
About Socrates, Lucien said there are three versions of the philosopher ; one from Xénophon, another from Aristophane, and one from Plato. Is the latter one the true one ?
« Dialogue est toujours un monologue » [Dialogue is always a monologue]...more
In 2004 Nicolas Grimaldi had a conference with secondary school-level pupils. He elaborated a bit on this concept of Socrates being a sort of wizard.In 2004 Nicolas Grimaldi had a conference with secondary school-level pupils. He elaborated a bit on this concept of Socrates being a sort of wizard. But he started with Plato. Plato had some difficulties and contradictions in his first writings, only solved in “Timaeus”. His last philosophy was pessimistic, according to Grimaldi.
Back to Socrates and examples that show he was seen as a magician, using enchantment with words.
In Meno, someone explicitly says “tu ma ensorcelé” (you have enchanted me). In another text, it is said that the soul can only be healed by speech. In the Fedon incantations are the remedy of the soul.
Socrates healed men from the melancholy of failure and negativity….and the death anguish.
Rankings aren’t flawless, definite, most of the time. I am speaking about one ranking: “the most influential psychologists”. In my view, it all dependRankings aren’t flawless, definite, most of the time. I am speaking about one ranking: “the most influential psychologists”. In my view, it all depends on history, on knowledge, and… updating.
In the case of W. James, he’s been placed in the 6th position; well below B.F Skinner (those conditioned pigeons spying on WWII,who doesn't recall?) …and Jean Piaget (mostly famous for his precocious studies on zoology and his own children's cognitive development...). In my mind he’s not that far from them.
At once, he’s a man of science, a philosopher and metaphysics-man, an artist. And these letters trace in a very intimate way the evolution of these roles. He’s well known for these concepts of “stream of consciousness”, Pragmatism, radical empiricism, and the description of our inner architecture: the “I” and the “me”.
“My system is Tychistic, pluralistic…a philosophy of pure experience”. James rejected monism; he was influenced by Renouvier.
He was born American (1842), but he became a truly transatlantic academician. The US owes a lot to his infancy and teen-years training. On the mettal, the endurance and flowering of the genius-scientist side: Europe gets her due share.
Of his childhood I retain this extraordinary talent: he was always drawing, witnessed his brother Henry. He had the artistic insight.
But “influential” contains also “being influenced”. At home, surely his father’s figure; a Swedenborg admirer. Abroad, while in Brazil (Thayer expedition) , that remarkable figure called Agassiz, the Swiss zoologist, who taught him: “go to nature, see for yourself”. The importance of facts; the scientific attitude. Much later, W. James would be the champion of Pragmatism, his own philosophy: “in the beginning was the deed”.
In his letters the first reference to the word Psychology dates to the year 1878; he was corresponding with Josiah Royce, in Cambridge. The case is that James had started with medicine studies, Physiology to be more precise; Psychology came later.
He studied in Germany (“the language is infernal!”); and met sometimes his brother (writer Henry James) in the UK. By the year 1882, they had this kind of dialogue: “it’s a poor old Europe”…,England viewed as inferior. He had had“refreshment” in Italy and met with Charles Renouvier in Avignon. German language was mastered.
There was a time when his wife was with his two boys in Cambridge. He left to Europe; this was a famous tour. From London,… Nuremberg-Rhine, Vienna, Prague, Paris.
He visited several German universities; in Leipzig, met with W. Wundt (the first person to call himself a psychologist) but was not that much impressed. Nevertheless, he was in awe with the German civilization; he called it “great”; he admired the German motto: “dienst”, “dienst” first. It was by this time that his father died in the US; his letter reads like this” all my great intellectual life I derive from you…good night sacred old father”. He pursued his trip: Belgium; then UK to meet Francis Galton; and finally home.
He lectured for many years at Harvard.
In 1889 he attended Paris “Psychological congress”. By 1890 he had published 2 volumes of the “Principles of Psychology”.
WJ had the courage to participate in psychic séances and investigate the paranormal phenomenon, with a very scientific attitude; he made the US Census of hallucinations which recorded experiences of “voice” or “touch” or “sight” without material presence; the analysis led him to conclude, out of 7,000 cases, that chance were surpassed in over 400 times.
From his letters to his bank manager, you may derive the idea that he was poor (financially) and a bad assets manager.
“I think that yesterday was a crisis in my life”.
W. James liked to quote Faust:“Grau, teurer Freund, ist alle Theorie,/Und grün des Lebens goldner Baum“.* ...
While in Europe, in Switzerland, he felt so ill that he rushed to UK to see specialists. He was now a renown man, and had been invited for a conference by the Association of Saint Croix. He declined (“I am quite ill”…”my health gets worse”) and T. Flournoy took his place. Flournoy said about James: “he was an artist”.
He died at 68. He didn’t reject the reality of evil, believed in man’s liberty …and the collaboration of God.
*Grey, dear friend, is all theory, And green the golden tree of life....more
(Alfred Rosenberg talks to psychiatrist and friend, Friedrich Pfister)
"I have to confess that you're the first psychiatrist I've ever met. I know noth
(Alfred Rosenberg talks to psychiatrist and friend, Friedrich Pfister)
"I have to confess that you're the first psychiatrist I've ever met. I know nothing about your field" "Well, for centuries, psychiatrists have primarily been diagnosticians and custodians for hospitalized psychotic, almost incurable patients, but all that has changed in the last decade. The change began with Sigmund Freud in Vienna, who invented the talking treatment called psychoanalysis , which permits us to help patients overcome psychological problems. Today we can treat such ailments as extreme anxiety or intractable grief or something we call hysteria-an ailment in which a patient has psychologically caused physical symptoms like paralysis or even blindness. My teachers in Zurich, Carl Jung and Eugen Bleuler, have been pioneers in this field. I'm intrigued by this approach and will soon be starting advanced training in psychoanalysis in Berlin with Karl Abraham, a highly regarded teacher". "I've heard some things about psychoanalysis . I've heard it referred to as another Jewish intrigue. Are your teachers all Jews? "Certainly not Jung or Bleuler" "But Friedrich, why involve yourself in a Jewish field?" "It will be a Jewish field unless we Germans step in. Or put it another way: It's too good to be left to the Jews"
I know 'Bento' Spinoza --the excommunicated Jew, of Portuguese descent--had a great impact on Yalom, who, in fact, visited his places in Holland. But the narrative, so far, results a bit disconnected going backwards and forwards: 17th century (for Spinoza) and beginning of 20th century in Estonia and Germany to follow this (Nazi) character called Alfred Rosenberg.
Only by the middle of the book we get to connect the dots: Alfred has a sort of admiration for Spinoza too; he’s greatly involved in Hitler’s life trajectory.
So far, too much biographical work being made on both sides: Spinoza and Alfred; but the dialogues sometimes are obviously psychological, as if in a counseling room; I mean, you can easily spot the author: Yalom,a the psychiatrist.
Unless a great leap ---I'm not asking for a quantum leap!---of the narrative happens I’m still reading with a 3,5 stars in mind. Maybe, a 4, for the historical unraveling.
Meanwhile I've been battling in my own mind with this thing I know from Yalom himself: born of a Jewish craddle, yet not feeling that much religious since a young age*.
[You, dear reader, dare not to think of a "Yalom problem"...; not even "The Yalom problem"]
I'll keep on reading...even if it will take me closer to the Portuguese writers of old (center, in first photo: du Bocage).
Maybe the best of the book, for me, resides in the last two parts, the Epilogue, and the post-epilogue clarification called “Fact or fiction, setting the record straight"; the latter giving details on the sources of the novel and those parts which were “invented”.
As to the Epilogue I got very pleased with the true Spinoza and the ban-lifting by the state of Israel. Spinoza, one philosopher admired by Ben-Gurion.
Regarding the fiction Spinoza my balance is quite negative. Yalom had him “converted” to Epicurus; and I still doubt the real Spinoza was ever one Epicurean man.
(preparing his next speech...)
The book offers, throughout, abundant data on Hitler’s life, and the epilogue approaches with detail the Nuremberg trials. Alfred Rosenberg (IQ 124) portrait is really sad, though truthful; he’s depicted as the “intellectual high priest of the master race…and the doctrine of hate”, who “never” denied the charges he was upon.
I am not sure whether this parallel approach ever benefited Spinoza. I had great expectations; yet some were somewhere thwarted by those voluminous “Nazi chapters”.
Despite the aforementioned, …long lives Spinoza.
(Spinoza up, Alfred down; I prefer this cover, cannot tell why....)
An in-depth incursion, by an excommunicated Jew*, into the authorship of the Pentateuch and other Old Testament booGod is nature, and nature is God
An in-depth incursion, by an excommunicated Jew*, into the authorship of the Pentateuch and other Old Testament books. Moses at [the] stake. An insightful analysis of the language, by an expert in Hebrew language, as Spinoza was. The writings of the Apostles are approached too.
Finally, the analysis of the foundations of the State, the nature of the Law....and the main point of Baruch Spinoza: the King is not above criticism, but he may be the object of.
ON ÉTABLIT QUE DANS UN ÉTAT LIBRE CHACUN A LE DROIT DE PENSER CE QU’IL VEUT ET DE DIRE CE QU’IL PENSE.**
*Sentence of Excommunication:(quote)"...Espinoza be put to the herem (ban) and banished from the nation of Israel...by the decree of the Angels and the word of the Saints we ban, cut off, curse and anathematize Baruch de Espinoza...with all the curses written in the Torah..." July 27,1656.
**"It's established that in a free State each one has the right to think whatever he/she wants and to say whatever he/she thinks"
.... Satirical Note:
"...edicts including an injunction to stop using WhatsApp"