Sunday, 23 December 2012

Principles to live by (part ii)

I know that I've quoted Grotius somewhere but I'm not sure where exactly and am too lazy to seek the quote out. Regardless, Grotius is one of those great thinkers in the family of humanity whose one quote that I've tried to live by:

those who are enemies do not in fact cease to be men (quoted from A History of Philosophy, Frederick Copleston, SJ)

I'm an unbashed Americanophile but I have no illusions about the darker side of American imperialism, and am, in fact, greatly disturbed by the recent history especially. Upon reading Chomsky's take on what American corporatism/imperialism has done to the less unfortunate of the world, I have a healthy mistrust and hate for coporatism. But the fact remains: I love the idea of America - its history, its music, its literary traditions, the impulses and ideals of its founding and continuing development.

As a person of anticorporatist sentiment I see no contradiction between loving the idea of America and hating what I'd call its 'infection' and its foul humours in the guise of extremist rightwing that currently stifle its greatness because I have seen the ideal of Grotius insight in my own heart.

I recognize an older strand of thought in Grotius' discourse on international law and political jurisprudence, namely, Socrates' "an unexamined life is not worth living" - another productive source of principles to live by. I take the Socrates quote to mean that we should examine and explore our value systems, things we want for ourselves as guiding principles to living our lives, else we are no better than stimulus-response switches that form the guts of an unthinking machine.

The computer I'm typing on right now is a means of producing great or malificent works but it is itself incapable of thinking and producing the words that I'm now typing; my guitars are likewise capable of producing great beauty but the notes they produce all depend upon my talent and drive. Our lives likewise are largely here by chance but we are the authors of our life-story (though it sometimes seem otherwise).

Jay

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