Category Archives: Politics

Quote of the day

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Some kind of philosophy is a necessity to all but the most thoughtless, and in the absence of knowledge it is almost sure to be a silly philosophy. The result of this is that the human race becomes divided into rival groups of fanatics, each group firmly persuaded that its own brand of nonsense is sacred truth, while the other side’s is damnable heresy. (…)

Dogmatism is an enemy to peace, and an insuperable barrier to democracy. In the present age, at least as much as in former times, it is the greatest of the mental obstacles to human happiness. The demand for certainty is one which is natural to man, but it is nevertheless an intellectual vice. (…)

But so long as men are not trained to withhold judgement in the absence of evidence, they will be led astray by cocksure prophets, and it is likely that their leaders will be either ignorant fanatics or dishonest charlatans.”

Bertrand Russel – “Philosophy for Laymen” in Unpopular Essays (English Edition)

#dogmatism #democracy #freedom #ideology #peace #personaldevelopment #philosophy

Quote of the day

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We are now again in an epoch of wars of religion, but a religion is now called an ‘ideology’. At the moment, the Liberal philosophy is felt by many to be too tame and middle-aged: the idealistic young look for something with more bite in it, something which has a definite answer to all their questions, which calls for missionary activity and gives hope of a millennium brought about by conquest. (…)

Our confused and difficult world needs various things if it is to escape disaster, and among these one of the most necessary is that, in the nations which still uphold Liberal beliefs, these beliefs should be wholehearted and profound, not apologetic towards dogmatisms of the Right and of the Left, but deeply persuaded of the value of liberty, scientific freedom, and mutual forbearance.”

Bertrand Russel – “Philosophy and Politics” in Unpopular Essays (English Edition). First published in 1950.

#dogmatism #freedom #liberalism #ideology #personaldevelopment #philosophy

Quote of the day

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Ideologies are harmless, uncritical and arbitrary opinions only as long as they are not believed in seriously. Once their claim to total validity is taken literally they become the nuclei of logical systems in which, as in the systems of paranoiacs, everything follows comprehensibly and even compulsorily once the first premise is accepted. The insanity of such systems lies not only in their first premise but in the very logicality with which they are constructed. The curious logicality of all isms, their simple-minded trust in the salvation value of stubborn devotion without regard for specific, varying factors, already harbors the first germs of totalitarian contempt for reality and factuality.

Hannah Arendt – The Origins of Totalitarianism (Penguin Modern Classics – 1951/2017)

Quote of the day

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“It is in the very nature of totalitarian regimes to demand unlimited power. Such power can only be secured if literally all men, without a single exception, are reliably dominated in every aspect of their life. (…)

(…) spontaneity as such, with its incalculability, is the greatest of all obstacles to total domination over man.”

Hannah Arendt – The Origins of Totalitarianism (Penguin Modern Classics – 1951/2017)

Quote of the day

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“The effectiveness of this kind of propaganda demonstrates one of the chief characteristics of modern masses. They do not believe in anything visible, in the reality of their own experience; they do not trust their eyes and ears but only their imaginations, which may be caught by anything that is at once universal an consistent in itself.

What convinces masses are not facts, and not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system of which they are presumably part. (…)

What the masses refuse to recognize is the fortuitousness that pervades reality. They are predisposed to all ideologies because they explain facts as mere examples of laws and eliminate coincidences by inventing an all-embracing omnipotence which is supposed to be at the root of every accident. Totalitarian propaganda thrives on this escape from reality into fiction, from coincidence into consistency.”

Hannah Arendt – The Origins of Totalitarianism, Penguin Random House, 2017, p.460

Linguistic Research Project – Humble Request

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To my dear readers:

Hi guys, I hope everyone is doing well! I was wondering if any of you might like to help me with my new linguistic pet project. I was wondering how far the equality of the sexes has come and what it feels like to be a woman in our day-to-day interactions in the 21st century. What are women allowed to do? What are they supposed to want? What is still perceived as taboo? How do people speak about women where you live?

I am therefore collecting instances of oppressive language directed at women and used to keep them “in their place”. For now I am only interested in SPOKEN language, so expressions YOU YOURSELVES HAVE HEARD OR OVERHEARD DURING YOUR LIFETIME. Things like (but not limited to): “What kind of profession is that for a woman?”, “That’s not a girl colour/activity”, “The wife shouldn’t be smarter than her husband”, “All women want children”, “You women are so… emotional/hormonal/impossible”, “Women can’t be top managers because they lack…”, “Women can’t join the clergy because their looks will distract the congregation from God” (as if there are no distractingly handsome clergymen 🙂) or even disturbing stuff such as “She deserved what happened to her because she was too…. opinionated/provocative etc.”

If you have been confronted with this kind of prejudice or you’ve heard it in the workplace, on the street, at a friend’s house, from relatives, on TV/radio or whatever, and you’d like to contribute (anonymously), please submit your examples via the Google Form that can be found at the following link:

https://forms.gle/s51dQeqeMyBSeAk97

Multiple submissions possible.

The data I need is: the expression used; when it was said (what year, approximately); the country in which it was said; whether it was said by a man or a woman and what role/job/relationship that person was to you (boss, friend, colleague, family member, teacher, stranger in the street etc.), and the kind of tone that was used. If you also want to include how that particular utterance made you feel, please do. But please only contribute stuff that you have heard yourselves (i.e. stuff said in your presence). 🙂

I am also interested in sexist jokes that are still current and popular in your region. Things like: “If your wife can come out of the kitchen to nag you, you’ve made her leash too long.”

Eventually, if this actually turns into something interesting, I might add a section on supportive language (instances where women were encouraged to pursue their goals/ambitions/ideals and reach for the stars). It would be interesting to see how these differ in paraverbal terms (intonation, pitch etc.) and in non-verbal behavior (body language, eye contact etc.) from the dismissive comments above.

Many thanks for participating, I really appreciate it!

Quote of the day

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“In itself, every idea is neutral, or should be; but man animates ideas, projects his flames and flaws into them; impure, transformed into beliefs, ideas take their place in time, take shape as events: the trajectory is complete, from logic to epilepsy . . . whence the birth of ideologies, doctrines, deadly games.

Idolaters by instinct, we convert the objects of our dreams and our interests into the Unconditional. History is nothing but a procession of false Absolutes, a series of temples raised to pretexts, a degradation of the mind before the Improbable.”

E.M. Cioran – “Genealogy of fanaticism” in A Short History of Decay (Paris, 1949).

Words of wisdom, cautionary words

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On creativity:

“If too few opportunities for curiosity are available, if too many obstacles are placed in the way of risk and exploration, the motivation to engage in creative behavior is easily extinguished. (…) So, if the next generation is to face the future with zest and self-confidence, we must educate them to be original as well as competent.”

M. Czikszentmihalyi – Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention (Harper Collins e-books)

On vice and broadmindedness:

“Human wickedness, if accepted by society, is changed from an act of will into an inherent, psychological quality which man cannot choose or reject but which is imposed upon him from without, and which rules him as compulsively as the drug rules the addict. In assimilating crime and transforming it into vice, society denies all responsibility and establishes a world of fatalities in which men find themselves entangled. (…) If crime is understood to be a kind of fatality, natural or economic, everyone will finally be suspected of some special predestination to it. (…) The seeming broadmindedness that equates crime and vice, if allowed to establish its own code of law, will invariably prove more cruel and inhuman than laws, no matter how severe, which respect and recognize man’s independent responsibility for his behavior.”

H. Arendt – The Origins of Totalitarianism (Penguin Classics, 2017)

Any opinions?

Quote of the day

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“Plato (…) also discovered the very insecure position of truth in the world, for ‘from opinions comes persuasion, and not from truth’ (Phaedrus 260). The most striking difference between ancient and modern sophists is that the ancients were satisfied with a passing victory of the argument at the expense of truth, whereas the moderns want a more lasting victory at the expense of reality.”

Hannah Arendt – The Origins of Totalitarianism (Penguin Books, 2017)

On migration and diasporas

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“To live “in diaspora” is to reside in one place but to keep in motion an emotional, cultural, or political relationship with another, whether it is the site of one’s nativity that subsequently became a point of departure or an ancestral “homeland” virtually conjured but never visited. (…)

Diasporas (…) are platforms where received notions of cultural affiliation, religious inclination, and political persuasion can come undone or become entrenched and exaggerated. (…) They can be sites of recycling as much as of reinvention. (…)

But (…) all migrants, across a wide range of social positions, nonetheless share the experience that their movement results in a certain degree of expulsion from their territorial, political, juridical, or economic status. Even if the end result of migration is a relative increase in money, power, or enjoyment, the process of migration itself almost always involves an insecurity of some kind and duration. (…) The gains of migration are always a risk, while the process itself is always some kind of loss.”

S. Illot, A.C. Mendes, L. Newns (eds.) – New Directions in Diaspora Studies (Rowman & Littlefield, London, 2018)