dharmo hi tesam adhiko viseso // dharmena hinah pasubhih samanah
Epicurus (341–270 BC)
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able, and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?
Leo Strauss: It was (Heidegger’s) contempt for these permanencies (such as the distinction between the noble and the base) that led the most radical historicist in 1933 to submit to, or rather to welcome, as a dispensation of fate, the verdict of the least wise and least moderate part of his nation while it was in its least wise and least moderate mood, and at the same time to speak of wisdom and moderation. The biggest event of 1933 would rather seem to have proved, if such proof was necessary, that man cannot abandon the question of the good society, and that he cannot free himself from the responsibility for answering it by deferring to History or to any other power different from his own reason.’ What is Political Philosophy, (1959) p 27
George Orwell on socialism: We have got to admit that if Fascism is everywhere advancing, this is largely the fault of Socialists themselves. Partly it is due to the mistaken Communist tactic of sabotaging democracy, i.e. sawing off the branch you are sitting on; but still more to the fact that Socialists have, so to speak, presented their case wrong side foremost. They have never made it sufficiently clear that the essential aims of Socialism are justice and liberty. With their eyes glued to economic facts, they have proceeded on the assumption that man has no soul, and explicitly or implicitly they have set up the goal of a materialistic Utopia. As a result Fascism has been able to play upon every instinct that revolts against hedonism and a cheap conception of ‘progress’. From The Road to Wigan Pier, (1937) ch 12
Hermeneutics as Politics (1987), p 146, 149
Every account that we give of the “meaning” of a Platonic text is incomplete, and corresponds to some perspective or another. This is not because the truth is perspectival or radically historical, but because it always exhibits itself in a determinate manner. I agree with Strauss that we can find the truth within a given determination. But there is no end to the number of determinate appearances of truth. Differently stated, there are truths, not the truth... Essays in Philosophy (Ancient) (2013) p. 57
Simone Weil on violence: The man who is the possessor of force seems to walk through a non-resistant element; in the human substance that surrounds him nothing has the power to interpose, between the impulse and the act, the tiny interval that is reflection: The Iliad, or the Poem of Force; 1940
Mary Catherine Bateson: The timing of death, like the ending of a story, gives a changed meaning to what preceded it: With a Daughter's Eye: A Memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson
What philosophy is about is not Truth… The cultural role of philosophy is not to deliver truth but to build the spirit of truth, and this means never to let the inquisitive energy of mind go to sleep, never to stop questioning what appears to be obvious and definitive, always to defy the seemingly intact resources of common sense, always to suspect that there might be "another side" in what we take for granted, and never to allow us to forget that there are questions that lie beyond the legitimate horizon of science and are nonetheless crucially important to the survival of humanity.. All the most traditional worries of philosophers - how to tell good from evil, true from false, real from unreal, being from nothingness, just from unjust... man from animal, mind from body... - all of them boil down to the quest for meaning; and they presuppose that in dissecting such questions we may employ the instruments of reason, even if the ultimate outcome is the dismissal of reason... Philosophers neither sow nor harvest, they only move the soil. They do not discover truth; but they are needed to keep the energy of mind alive... (ibid, p 135)
it is hard to see how Heidegger, despite his distinction between Geschichte and Historie, (history as lived vs history as an object of inquiry: DS) makes it possible for man to take a responsible stand toward history. One must seriously question the adequacy of the resolute acceptance of tradition - i.e., what happens - as a criterion for human conduct. An ontology which cannot assist man in his struggle to preserve himself from his own actions runs the risk of Nihilism, which I regard as the consequence of the claustrophobia of complete immanentism masquerading as freedom. (The Quarrel Between Poetry and Philosophy, p 147)
Vassily Grossman (1905-1964): Whenever we see the dawn of an eternal good... whenever we see this dawn, the blood of children and old people is always shed... Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness. But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer: Life and Fate, (1960) 2011, pp 390-394
A. J. P. Taylor: In the state of nature which Hobbes imagined, violence was the only law, and life was 'nasty, brutish and short'. Though individuals never lived in this state of nature, the Great Powers of Europe have always done so." (The Struggle for Mastery in Europe 1848-1918)
Hannah Arendt: totalitarian solutions may well survive the fall of totalitarian regimes in the form of strong temptations which will come up whenever it seems impossible to alleviate political, social, or economic misery in a manner worthy of man… It may even be that the true predicaments of our time will assume their authentic form – though not necessarily the cruelest – only when totalitarianism has become a thing of the past. The Origins of Totalitarianism (1948) p 592-593
Iris Murdoch: Freedom, we find out, is not an inconsequential chucking of one’s weight about, it is the disciplined overcoming of self. Humility is not a peculiar habit of self-effacement, rather like having an inaudible voice, it is self-less respect for reality and one of the most difficult and central of all virtues... Existentialism, in both its Continental and its Anglo-Saxon versions, is an attempt to solve the problem without really facing it: to solve it by attributing to the individual an empty, lonely freedom, a freedom, if he wishes, to 'fly in the face of the facts'. What it pictures is indeed the fearful solitude of the individual marooned upon a tiny island in the middle of a sea of scientific facts, and morality escaping from science only by a wild leap of the will. But our situation is not like this..
Karl Marx: Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.
Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.The abolition of religion as the illusory
happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo: Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (1843)
Bulle Shah (1680-1757):