Friday, September 28, 2012

Advice for Contrarians Young and Old

In the cogently presented advice offered in his esteemed collection of "Letters to a Young Contrarian" Christopher Hitchens has compiled a treasure trove of useful reminders to all thinking people that it's not simply what one thinks, but precisely how one thinks that's important for any and all developing humanists out there. Following, an example:

"If you want to stay in it for the long haul, and lead a life that is free from illusions either propagated by you or embraced by you, then I suggest you learn to recognise and avoid the symptoms of the zealot and the person who knows that he is right. For the dissenter, the skeptical mentality is at least as important as any armor of principle."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The 99% Don't Really Ask For That Much, And Yes We Have No Bananas!

"We need not be complicated about this question of human good. Aristotle has put it in terms of what is useful, and we will be on the right track if we think first of simple matters, such as food, housing, health, and education. We will have trouble getting beyond a concern for just these elements. These things, however, are in turn useful only insofar as they support lives which are fundamentally human and good, releasing heirs to the tradition of slavery and conquest from such indignities into a domain of human autonomy and freedom. The economics we will be looking for, our good housekeeping, is a rational art whose purpose is to pave the way for what we may speak of as authentic human freedom. We need hardly add that it is not on behalf of the few, but for those whom Aristotle calls the democratic "many," that we apply this criterion of implemented human freedom."

--Thomas K. Simpson, "Good Housekeeping: The Real Economics of the Caribbean"