Commentarius

Thoughts and Impressions

Category: Series (page 2 of 2)

Quote: Robert Nozick

From the Preface of Anarchy, State, and Utopia, with elisions.

Many persons will reject our conclusions instantly, knowing they don’t want to believe anything so apparently callous toward the needs and suffering of others.  I know that reaction; it was mine when I first began to consider such views.  With reluctance, I found myself becoming convinced….  I run the risk of offending doubly: for the position expounded, and for the fact that I produce reasons to support this position.

My earlier reluctance is not present in this volume, because it has disappeared.  Over time, I have grown accustomed to the views and their consequences….

It is thought to be an objection to other views merely to point out that they conflict with the view which readers wish anyway to accept.  But a view which differs from the readers’ cannot argue for itself merely by pointing out that the received view conflicts with it!  Instead it will have to subject the received view to the greatest intellectual testing and strain, via counterarguments, scrutiny of its presuppositions, and presentation of a range of possible situations where even its proponents are uncomfortable with its consequences.

Worth Reading: Human Dignity

by Leon Kass

I heard this piece delivered by Kass as a speech at one of Georgetown’s Tocqueville Forum events.  In the piece, Kass, former Chairmen of Pres. George W Bush’s Council on Bioethics, offers a sketch of his ethical worldview: one founded in the concept of “human dignity”.

The piece is available here.

Quote: Post Series

Since I’m using the blog as a public archive of sorts, I thought I’d start another series that I’ve been meaning to keep.  The posts in this series will consist of just the quote, with maybe a sentence of context.  As with my “Worth Reading” series, I don’t intend selection of a quote necessarily to be an endorsement of its sentiment.

Worth Reading: Two Concepts of Liberty

by Isaiah Berlin

In this seminal essay on freedom, Berlin discusses two clashing concepts of liberty: negative liberty, or freedom from coercion, and positive liberty, the freedom of the “true self” from interfering influences.

The version of the essay that I read, which contains some strange typos, is available here.

Worth Reading: The Inner Ring

by CS Lewis

In this address, Lewis warns that much of human intercourse is dominated by the urge to break into exclusive social cliques: “the inner ring”.  Lewis argues that this urge corrupts us and is incapable of granting any deep satisfaction.

The speech may be read – I believe in its entirety – here.

Worth Reading

I’ve been wanting to figure out away to archive some of the more interesting articles and books I’ve read.  It occurred to me that this blog gives me a ready-made medium for this.  I’m going to be periodically posting links to pieces that I’ve enjoyed reading or found provocative.  They will be filed under the category “Worth Reading”.

I don’t mean to necessarily endorse all the works in this series.  Some – perhaps most – of the articles will present arguments that I strongly disagree with.  Others may harmonize perfectly with my own beliefs.

Those endorsements and disagreements will not be handled in this post series.  I’ll try to limit myself to a link to the actual work (when available) and maybe a single-sentence summary of its argument.  But feel free to react to the work in the post’s comment section.

The Week’s Lucretius I

Lucretius De Rerum Natura I.44-49:

omnis enim per se divum natura necessest
immortali aevo summa cum pace fruatur
semota ab nostris rebus seiunctaque longe;
nam privata dolore omni, privata periclis,
ipsa suis pollens opibus, nihil indiga nostri,
nec bene promeritis capitur nec tangitur ira.

Translating freely:

The nature of the gods must of itself
Enjoy its endless life in perfect peace,
Remote from human deeds in its own realm.
But, freed from misery and painful cares,
It thrives by its own force and not by ours,
Never seeking gains, nor ever enraged.

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