[...] Do individuals control history, or do history and fate control individuals? The prescience of genius is an argument in favor of fate, and an argument against free will; if events can be foreseen long before they occur, they must have been caused neither by individuals nor by circumstances, but by history and fate. It appears that Hitler was the cause of the Holocaust, and that the Depression was the cause of Hitler's rise to power. But if the Holocaust was foreseen a century before it occurred, then it can't be ascribed to particular individuals, or to particular circumstances. While Hitler was the proximate cause of the Holocaust, and while the Depression was the proximate cause of Hitler's rise to power, the root causes of these events lie far deeper than any particular individuals or particular circumstances. [...]
Quote from: tg on August 01, 2007, 06:30:15 PM[...] Do individuals control history, or do history and fate control individuals? The prescience of genius is an argument in favor of fate, and an argument against free will; if events can be foreseen long before they occur, they must have been caused neither by individuals nor by circumstances, but by history and fate. It appears that Hitler was the cause of the Holocaust, and that the Depression was the cause of Hitler's rise to power. But if the Holocaust was foreseen a century before it occurred, then it can't be ascribed to particular individuals, or to particular circumstances. While Hitler was the proximate cause of the Holocaust, and while the Depression was the proximate cause of Hitler's rise to power, the root causes of these events lie far deeper than any particular individuals or particular circumstances. [...] Interesting, could you please elaborate a bit more on this?
[...]Like authenticity, the topic of fate recurs throughout NBK. "Do you believe in fate?" is one of the first questions that Mickey asks Mallory. During the conversation in the prison after Mickey has been apprehended for grand theft, he tells Mallory that nothing can stop fate. (Fate is defined as the inevitability of a course of events predetermined by God or other agency beyond human control. Fatalism is the acceptance of all events as inevitable.) He also describes himself to Wayne Gayle as "fate's messenger." Mickey is a fatalist, which is to say that he accepts all events as inevitable. As a result, he is unburdened by any sense of responsibility for his actions. Ironically, it is Mickey's rejection of the concept of free will that makes him so free to be authentic. In his world all events are determined by factors beyond his control, thus the concepts of good and evil or guilt and innocence, are artificial constructs. This theory was also that of Nietzsche, who rejected free will and joyfully embraced fatalism. Nietzsche writes: Quote The fable of intelligible freedom: Now one finally discovers that this human nature, too, cannot be accountable, in as much as it is a necessary consequence and assembled from the elements and influences of things past and present: That is to say that man can be made accountable for nothing, not for his nature, nor for his motives, nor for his actions, nor for the effects he produces. One has thereby attained to the knowledge that the history of the moral sensations is the history of an error, the error of accountability which rests on the error of freedom of the will...The proposition is as clear as daylight, and yet here everyone prefers to retreat back into the shadows and untruth: from fear of the consequences. Like Nietzsche's superman, Mickey embraces fatalism and places himself beyond the categories of good and evil. Unburdened by guilt and responsibility, he is free do whatever he wants. Needless to say, Mickey is an unsavory example of what denial of free will and personal responsibility might lead to. As Nietzsche points out, the arguments against free will are very convincing but one is loathe to accept them because of the possible consequences. For Nietzsche, human beings have not only an instinct to survive, they incessantly strive to amplify and intensify their life experience and constantly endeavor to express their own vitality and strength. [...]
The fable of intelligible freedom: Now one finally discovers that this human nature, too, cannot be accountable, in as much as it is a necessary consequence and assembled from the elements and influences of things past and present: That is to say that man can be made accountable for nothing, not for his nature, nor for his motives, nor for his actions, nor for the effects he produces. One has thereby attained to the knowledge that the history of the moral sensations is the history of an error, the error of accountability which rests on the error of freedom of the will...The proposition is as clear as daylight, and yet here everyone prefers to retreat back into the shadows and untruth: from fear of the consequences.
How it is possible that most geniuses are either German or French? No Russian genius philosophers, for instance, let alone American ones!
In the capitalistic hierarchy of values, capital stands higher than labour, amassed things higher than the manifestations of life. Capital employs labour, and not labour capital. The person who owns capital commands the person who 'only' owns his life, human skill, vitality and creative productivity. 'Things' are higher than man. The conflict between capital and labour is much more than the conflict between two classes, more than their fight for a greater share of the social product. It is the conflict between two principles of value: that between the world of things, and their amassment, and the world of life and its productivity." Capitalism only values a person as representing a certain amount of the commodity called "labour power," in other words, as a THING. Instead of being valued as an individual -- a unique human being with intrinsic moral and spiritual worth -- only one's price tag counts. This debasement of the individual in the workplace, where so much time is spent, necessarily affects a person's self-image, which in turn carries over into the way he/she acts in other areas of life. If one is regarded as a commodity at work, one comes to regard oneself and others in that way also. Thus all social relationships -- and so, ultimately, ALL individuals -- are commodified. In capitalism, literally nothing is sacred -- "everything has its price" -- be it dignity, self-worth, pride, honour -- all become commodities up for grabs. Such debasement produces a number of social pathologies. "Consumerism" is one example which can be traced directly to the commodification of the individual under capitalism. To quote Fromm again, Quote"THINGS have no self, and men who have become things [i.e. commodities on the labour market] can have no self" However, people still feel the NEED for self-hood, and so try to fill the emptiness by consuming. The illusion of happiness, that one's life will be complete if one gets a new commodity, drives people to consume. Unfortunately, since commodities are yet more things, they provide no substitute for self-hood, and so the consuming must begin anew. This process is, of course, encouraged by the advertising industry, which tries to convince us to buy what we don't need because it will make us popular/happy/free/etc (delete as appropriate!). But consuming cannot really satisfy the needs that the commodities are bought to satisfy. Those needs can only be satisfied by social interaction based on truly human values and by creative, self-directed work. This does not mean, of course, that anarchists are against higher living standards or material goods. To the contrary, they recognise that liberty and a good life are only possible when one does not have to worry about having enough food, decent housing, and so forth. Freedom and 16 hrs of work a day do not go together, nor do equality and poverty or solidarity and hunger. However, anarchists consider consumerism to be a distortion of consumption caused by the alienating and inhuman "account book" ethics of capitalism, which crushes the individual and his or her sense of identity, dignity and selfhood.
"THINGS have no self, and men who have become things [i.e. commodities on the labour market] can have no self"
Schopenhauer, who thought that character came from one's father and intellect came from one's mother, said that genius was the product of an exceptionally strong-willed father and an exceptionally intelligent mother.
A couple of interesting facts about Schopenhauer: Schopenhauer's father had strong feelings against any kind of nationalism and he selected the name "Arthur" for his son especially because it was the same in English, German, and French. As far as his mother is concerned, well, he never got along with her; when Goethe, who was a friend of hers, told her that he thought her son was destined for great things, she objected: she had never heard there could be two geniuses in a single family
An interesting point that Schopenhauer makes I think is that philosophy is the world itself. [...] In attempting to solve or alleviate the fundamental problems of life, Schopenhauer was a rare philosopher who considered philosophy and logic less important (or less effective) than art, certain charitable practices ("loving kindness", in his terms), and certain forms of religious discipline. Schopenhauer concluded that discursive thought (such as philosophy and logic) could neither touch nor transcend the nature of desire — i.e., Will.
Nietzsche's concept of eternal recurrence, for instance, was addressed by Schopenhauer. It is a purely physical concept, involving no "reincarnation," but the return of beings in the same bodies. Time is viewed as being not linear but cyclical. By the way, Eternal Recurrence is a concept which posits that the universe has been recurring, and will continue to recur in the exact same self-similar form an incomprehensible and unfathomable number of times. The concept has roots in ancient Egypt, and was subsequently taken up by the Pythagoreans and Stoics. With the decline of antiquity and the spread of Christianity, the concept fell into disuse, though Friedrich Nietzsche briefly resurrected it. The basic premise is that the universe is limited in extent and contains a finite amount of matter, while time is viewed as being infinite. The universe has no starting or ending state, while the matter comprising it is constantly changing its state. The number of possible changes is finite, and so sooner or later the same state will recur.
What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: 'This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more' ... Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: 'You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.' [The Gay Science, §341]
Physicists such as Stephen Hawking and J. Richard Gott have proposed models by which the (or a) universe could undergo time travel, provided the balance between mass and energy created the appropriate cosmological geometry. More philosophical concepts from physics, such as Hawking's "arrow of time," for example, discuss cosmology as proceeding up to a certain point, whereafter it undergoes a time reversal (which, as a consequence of T-symmetry, is thought to bring about a chaotic state due to thermodynamic entropy).
Even if there were exceedingly few things in a finite space in an infinite time, they would not have to repeat in the same configurations. Suppose there were three wheels of equal size, rotating on the same axis, one point marked on the circumference of each wheel, and these three points lined up in one straight line. If the second wheel rotated twice as fast as the first, and if the speed of the third wheel was 1/π of the speed of the first, the initial line-up would never recur.
"Behold this gateway, dwarf!" I continued. "It has two faces. Two paths meet here; no one has yet followed either to its end. This long lane stretches back for an eternity. And the long lane out there, that is another eternity. They contradict each other, these paths; they offend each other face to face; and it is here at this gateway that they come together. The name of the gateway is inscribed above: ‘Moment.’ But whoever would follow one of them on and on, farther and farther – do you believe, dwarf, that these paths contradict each other eternally?"
"All that is straight lies," the dwarf murmured contemptuously. "All truth is crooked; time itself is a circle."
"You spirit of gravity," I said angrily. "Do not make things too easy for yourself! Or I shall let you crouch where you are crouching, lame-foot; and it was I that carried you to this height.
"Behold," I continued, "this moment! From this gateway, Moment, along, eternal lane leads backward: behind us lies an eternity. Must not whatever can walk have walked on this lane before? Must not whatever can happen have happened, have been done, have passed by before? And if everything has been there before – what do you think, dwarf, of this moment? Must not this gateway too have been there before? And are not all things knotted together so firmly that this moment draws after it all that is to come? Therefore – itself too? For whatever can walk – in this long lane out there too, it must walk once more.
"And this slow spider, which crawls in the moonlight, and this moonlight itself, and I and you in the gateway, whispering together, whispering of eternal things – must not all of us have been there before? And return and walk in that outer lane, out there, before us, in this long dreadful lane – must we not eternally return?"
"…O Zarathustra, who you are and must become" behold you are the teacher of the eternal recurrence – that is your destiny! That you as the first must teach this doctrine – how could this great destiny not be your greatest danger and sickness too?
"Behold, we know what you teach: that all things recur eternally, and we ourselves too; and that we have already existed an eternal number of times, and all things with us. You teach that there is a great year of becoming, a monster of a great year; which must, like an hourglass, turn over again and again so that it may run down and run out again; and all these years are alike in what is greatest as in what is smallest; and we ourselves are alike in every great year, in what is greatest as in what is smallest.
"Now I die and vanish… the soul is as immortal as the body. But the knot of causes in which I am entangled recurs and will create me again. I myself belong to the causes of eternal recurrence. I come again, with this sun, with this earth, with this eagle, with this serpent – not to a new life or a better life or a similar life: I come back eternally to this same, selfsame life, in what is greatest as in what is smallest, to teach again the eternal recurrence of all things..."