Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche a review

Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche

Some of us of a certain age and with a certain sense of humour have a great affection for Monty Python’s Flying Circus. There is a sketch in one episode featuring a fictional, (hopefully fictional) Australian University and the induction of a new member of staff. For the sake of simplicity and to avoid confusion everyone on the teaching staff has to be called Bruce. Having established the protocol with the new staff member they go on to sing the Philosopher’s Drinking Song. It starts with; “Aristotle, Aristotle, was a bugger for the bottle and was very rarely sober”, the lyrics continue through a list of philosophers and their supposed drinking habits. At a certain point, Nietzsche gets a mention, “There’s nothing Nietzsche couldn’t teach yer about the raising of the wrist.”

I was looking through some books on the local supermarket’s charity shelf; you take a book and leave a donation, there among the books was Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, in remarkably good condition I handed over 50p and took it home. A week or so ago I listened to part of a lecture my daughter was watching on Zoom, she is studying for a PhD and due to the Covid problems most lectures are online. As her broadband was being unreliable at the time she watched it at our house, one point the lecturer made was that a thesis should be clearly structured and easy to read.

I wish Neitzsche had been given this advice or if he had been, followed it. To say it was badly written would be an understatement. It rambled, digressed and seemed full of contradictions often within the same paragraph, some of these paragraphs consisted of one long rambling sentence several lines long. As a philosopher, a man of ideas you would think he would want his thoughts to be accessible, not so Nietzsche.

This is a translation from the original German and has one assumed been edited; that a translator couldn’t make it any more readable speaks volumes; it was obviously beyond their comprehension too.

Whereas most scientists willingly credit those who have gone before them, Newton said. that he was able to see further as he was able to stand on the shoulders of giants. Not so, Nietzsche, he has no one’s shoulders to stand on apparently and if they were there, no need to stand on them, such is his arrogance. He dismisses Darwin’s work without a shred of evidence, it doesn’t fit in with his view of the world. Supposedly as a “man of reason” he seems to seriously fall short in that department, unresearched theories are asserted as fact without any evidence to support them for example, he dismisses Socialism without any reasoned argument.

He was blatantly a misogynist, a supporter of a master race and a ruling elite, again without any research to support his assertions. Although it is fair to say that he was in many respects racist, he wasn’t, certainly if this book is a reflection on his views anti-Semitic.

There is much within the book that gave ammunition to those of the National Socialist movement in 1930s Germany, Hitler probably read out sections of this book in some of his speeches.

I wish in many respects I hadn’t wasted my time reading this book.

This is, without doubt, the worst book I have ever read, a fellow reviewer on Amazon summed it up in one word, “Nonsense.”

I couldn’t disagree with that at all.

Philosophy and History

Plato_Silanion_Musei_Capitolini_MC1377

By Copy of Silanion, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7831217.

I went to a U3A meeting yesterday at St Neots, they had a number of different displays around the room from different interest groups one was by the Philosophy Group.

Although there are a number of definitions of Philosophy they seem to distil down to what I understand Philosophy to be, the study of wisdom. I have felt for some time that along with History it should be a core subject within the education system. Philosophy should replace Religious Education in my view. Teaching people how to think, would help them make sounder judgements, rationalise and avoid knee jerk reactions to untested statements. It would make us all more questioning and rational less willing to take statements of fact at face value.

Why then history too?

This quote in its various forms is probably the most persuasive argument for the teaching of history:

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Sir Winston Churchill

(by Dallon Christensen White board Business Partners website)

The commonly used expression, “Those who ignore history are bound (or doomed) to repeat it” is actually a misquotation of the original text written by George Santayana (1863-1952), who, in his Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, Vol.1, wrote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Stanford University online also provides an outstanding and much more detailed background on this important and profound philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist.

Santayana’s quotation, in turn, was a slight modification of an Edmund Burke (1729-1797) statement, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” Burke was a British Statesman and Philosopher who is generally viewed as the philosophical founder of modern political conservatism.

(Answers.com)

I was talking to a history teacher of a secondary school a few years ago, when I said I thought history was a very important subject she asked me why I thought it was important?

I replied, that “History teaches us not only about the past but informs us about the present and helps predict the future”.

If we do not know history we have no option than to continue to repeat it as we have nothing to learn from.

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