“The Camel, the Lion and the Child: Our Rides to the Overman”

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“The Camel, the Lion and the Child: Our Rides to the Overman”

                                  by Paul Ewing

In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Zarathustra suggests we must go through three metamorphoses to achieve Overman status. First we must be the camel, then the lion and finally the child. Why these three and in that order? Here is an answer to that question.

 

Zarathustra’s choice of a beast of burden, the camel, is perfect for beginning the transformation. We need to load up our camel with the baggage of the past:  the customs, traditions, and morality that we have carried with us all our lives. Also, we stack on the camel’s back pride, perseverance, comfort, hate, health… all our accumulated cultural norms. Once we load these up on our camel, we can begin our journey out into the desert.  

Out in the desert we ditch the camel (and all its baggage) and become the lion…

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Hubris, Empire and War: The Nemeses of Athenian Democracy (Lecture Outline and Quotes Compiled by Paul Ewing)

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                          “HUBRIS, EMPIRE AND WAR: THE NEMESES OF ATHENIAN DEMOCRACY”

                                (lecture outline with quotes, compiled by Paul Ewing, 1990)

“In peace and prosperity both states and individuals are activated by higher motives because they do not fall under the dominion of imperious necessities. But war, which takes away the comfortable provision of daily life, is a violent teacher and assimilates men’s characters to their conditions…” Thucydides

 

I. HUBRIS AND NEMESIS

            A. in Mythology

                        But thee, Prometheus racked

                        With anguish infinite,

                        I shudder to behold:

                        For Zeus thou dost defy–self willed–

                        Revering overmuch the sons of men.

                        For tell me, O my friend,

                        How rendering unto them

                        This thankless service, art thou helped?

                        Can short-lived mortals mend thy…

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The Crimea is as Russian as the Troika by Paul Ewing

Putin seizes Crimea? Get over it. Putin models the centuries-old authoritarian style of Russian leadership. He is the logical continuation of Ivan IV, Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Nicholas I, Alexander III, Lenin, Stalin, and Khrushchev. The atypical Russian leader was the non-authoritarian Gorbachev, a man who stuck out like a sore thumb in Russian history. Those who are angered by Putin’s action need to place it in the context of Russian and Soviet history. We ignore this history at our own peril. We can not project our values onto Russia although we have been doing so ever since the 19th century. Western Europe should also take heed of this tendency.

To compare Russia to Serbia in Kosovo or to compare Putin to Hitler is absurd in the extreme.   Both analogies ignore crucial historical realities and self-destruct in the face of facts.  Hitler’s armies occupied the Crimean Peninsula in World War II. The Red Army, including its Ukrainian forces, drove the Nazis out.  And previously, immediately after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, Moscow’s Red Army defeated the White counterrevolutionaries in the Crimea during the 1918-1920 Civil War.*  In both conflicts Sevastopol proved crucial to Soviet victory.

The Ukraine and Crimea have always been of key geopolitical interest to Russia. At one time Kiev was the capital of Kievan Rus. And Russians are not likely to forget that France and Britain invaded Crimea in 1854 during the war that bears that peninsula’s name.  For most of the Soviet era the Crimea was part of  Russia. It wasn’t until 1954 that  Crimea became part of the Ukraine when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev  unilaterally gave it away.  What the Premier gives away yesterday the President can take back today. Remember Russia and the Soviet Union (and Russia again) have had very little experience with representative democracy.

Should the U.S. get involved? We’re bankrupt already from Iraq and Afghanistan and our “sanctions” are idle threats, paper tigers. Furthermore economic sanctions will hurt our economy more than Russia’s. Putin’s country sits on a gold mine of oil and natural gas.We might need some of it one day.

The best we can hope for is that there is no civil war in the Ukraine or Crimea.

*By the way the U.S. was one of the countries that intervened in the 1918-1920 Russian Civil War trying to “strangle Bolshevism at its birth” as Churchill had recommended.

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One Large Step for Dog. One Giant Step For Dogkind.

The medium is the message

The medium is the message

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Ad Hominem Attack on “Zealot” Makes Book Wildly Popular

I watched the Fox News interview and would like to make the following observation.The whole thing is based on an informal fallacy, a fallacy of relevance called the ad hominem attack. You discount what someone knows or claims to know because of something about their background. What would Reza Aslan know about Jesus? He’s a Muslim. It’s really a cheap shot. And yet the ad hominem attack is one of the more commonly used (and swallowed) fallacies around. Ms. Green, on behalf of her network, did a most admirable job of demonstrating it. She says Reza Aslan can’t know anything about Jesus because he’s Islamic. By the same turn, she and Fox news can’t know anything about Reza Aslan because they are right-wingers. I just did an ad hominem attack on the ad hominem attackers. It doesn’t prove anything. I’m going to get the book “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” because what little this guy was able to say (aside from batting off the repeated ad hominem blows) sounds true to my own reading about the life of Jesus. Footnote on the virgin birth: You don’t have to be Islamic to disregard that silly nonsense.

See for yourself here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qSTvD0Roog

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Doing Time in Plato’s Cave, An Introduction to Philosophy Simulation of Plato’s Allegory

Doing Time in Plato’s Cave, An Introduction to Philosophy Simulation of Plato’s Allegory.

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Does a Philosopher Need a Formal Education?

Does a Philosopher Need a Formal Education?

by Paul Ewing

Does a Philosopher Need a Formal Education?

One of my college philosophy students once asked me if a philosopher had to have a college education. My short answer was, No!  I then told the class the story of my wood carver friend in Ontario. He lived in Montreal River Harbor, a tiny community on the east shore of Lake Superior, just south of Lake Superior Provincial Park.

With his third grade education, Barry had worked in the lumber industry all his life. He retired to be a skilled woodworker and armchair philosopher. I felt privileged to know him and engaged with him in many a long, deep dialogue punctuated with moments of irrepressible mutual hilarity!

After I told the class this story, I came across a  passage relevant to the student’s question in an important book I was reading, Arthur Herman’s “How the Scots Invented the Modern World.”

The quote concerns James Watt, the Scottish inventor who figured out a way for the steam engine to generate constant motion. He was an “instrument maker for the University of Glasow, self-taught;” i.e. without a college education. “…but what he knew impressed everyone who came into his shop. Even the university professors were impressed, ‘I saw a workman, and expected no more…but was surprised to find a philosopher.'”

In Montreal Harbor, Ontario I too once discovered a workman who was also a philosopher. Barry, I display the 3 canoes you carved for me in a prominent place in my home. I will remember our spirited conversations forever. Rest in peace, Sir.

Source: Arthur Herman, “How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in It” (New York, MJF Books, 2001) pp. 320-321.

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October 28, 2013 · 10:05 pm