Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Truth from unlikely places

I bet you'll never guess either the philosopher whose wisdom appears in the following two quotes, or even his country of origin -- and I'm damn sure you won't pick those for whom he was a mentor.

Said our man:

“It is philosophy that makes man understandable to man, explains human nobility, and shows man the proper road. The first defect appearing in any nation that is headed toward decline is in the philosophic spirit. After that deficiencies spread into the other sciences, arts, and associations.”

Why does philosophy have such power? Explains the author:

Philosophy is the escape from the narrow sensations of animality into the wide arena of human feelings…In general, it is man’s becoming man and living the life of sacred rationality. Its aim is human perfection in reason, mind, soul, and way of life….It is the foremost cause of the production of knowledge, the creation of sciences, the invention of industries, and the initiation of the crafts.” (emphasis added)

Isn't that wonderful?  And what's more, it's true.

So do you want a clue?  Here's one: our man underwent a philosophical change almost as profound as John Stuart Mill's collapse from eloquent advocate of laissez faire to scum-socking apologist of socialism (though for different reasons -- this philosopher was unlikely to have been pussy-whipped as Mill was).

Give up?  Then for your answer, head over to the history blog of Scott Powell, who uncovered these amazing lines.  As the Resident Egoist says, "Prepare to be shocked."

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