Merely a means to an end

Thursday, May 24, 2018.
Moral principles must not be made subject to personal greed and corruption, to be used merely as a means (as an excuse) to achieve some particular end.
But this is precisely what Agamemnon does.
And based on the childish and petty way that he reacts to Chryseis’ removal, it becomes evident to Achilles and the other men that this is indeed Agamemnon’s way of things. As a basileus, a representative of Zeus’ power, he is supposed to uphold justice; but rather than being a protector of justice, he perverts justice and the correct order of things.
And it is this very thing that Achilles cannot stand for; it isn’t the petty matter of personal honor that Achilles finds most offensive (as Agamemnon, and Owen et al, seem to think that the situation is about). And this very immature, pusillanimous and un-kingly mindset is precisely what Achilles criticizes Agamemnon for.

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Like Achilles, we must hold fast to our principles

Wednesday, May 23, 2018. 🐬
If Socrates is correct, and presuming that we also wish to be just, then we ought to engage in acts and activities that contain intrinsic pleasures no matter what the world or society or says about those acts and activities. Even if the world condemns us according to its conventional standards, we must care more for justice than we do care about any possible benefits we may receive (and its derivative pleasures) and we must refrain from acquiescing to the demands of the mob.
If we truly cared for justice, then we must not give up any of our intrinsic pleasures at any cost. We must hold fast to what brings us intrinsic pleasures. Pleasure would be our truest guide to helping us get to where we belong. Like Achilles, we must hold fast to our principles, our truth, our genuine selves, and we must not allow ourselves not be bribed into selling away our souls — gold for bronze…

Mother

Friday, May 11, 2018
[Mother’s Day Weekend] ⛅
Whether she behaved “motherly” or not, or whether she was a good mother to me or not, it is a fact that she was my mother after all — at least, biologically. And it is just my personal lot in life to have had a mother like her.
Existence precedes essence.
She defines “mother”. And because of it, it is oftentimes a meaningless word for me. It’s an ambiguous and confusing word to me, and it could mean a hundred other unrelated things.

One Life to Live

Monday, May 7, 2018.
That said, we are beings with everlasting souls and not merely animals that live for a day. So, as far as meaning and purpose goes, the gold is worth more because it represents what the life is for, while the bronze only represents the the life itself. As humans, we tend to value the gold more than the bronze, just as we value meaning and purpose more than mere life by itself — even though, it is by means of being alive that we are able to achieve our purposes and aims.

In an epic, the poet honors all the gods

Sunday, May 6, 2018.
The purpose of the Iliad is not simply to glorify war and killing, but it is also to show precisely what it destroys. In the height of its excellence, war destroys what is noble, virtuous, dear, and long-standing. And, in this way, the poet honors all the gods — including Hera and Athena — and not just Ares and Aphrodite.
Therefore, we mustn’t fall into the trap of thinking that Achilles is the only hero in this story. There are many heroes and protagonists in the story. It’s not the black-and-white good-vs-evil kind of story that the modern Western world has become accustomed to hearing. This is an epic. In an epic, heroes sometimes die.

The divine gift of anger

Saturday, May 5, 2018.
In an unpublished paper I had written, I point out that the purpose of the opening lines is this: all of the events to come, no matter how horrific it may seem to us, is happening precisely because it is the will of Zeus. And what is the significance of this fact? It means that the war was inevitable, for it served a greater purpose. More importantly, it means that certain kinds of anger is good and divine because it is a catalyst for justice among mortals.

On the origins of prejudice and other general stupidity

Thursday, May 3, 2018.
Well, so my point was that even though nobody else but an Englishman has the habit of thinking in this way, knowing that this is how Christian men and women tend to think is quite “helpful,” because it shows precisely how prejudice gets its start and that this kind of stupidity does in fact exist.

The absoluteness of being whole

Wednesday, May 2, 2018.
I’m not entirely sure where Hume is going which these assertions, but before we go any further, I want to assert that self-denial is probably not a very healthy practice. If we are to understand every other self out there in the world, then we must understand our own selves; it is the only way. We must fully understand what it is to be an individual, even if it means that we must painfully separate ourselves from the comforts of convention, and even if it means that we must at times set ourselves against those we profess to love, and even if it means that we must allow ourselves to be subject to the intensity of vicissitudinous passions.
Only when we have fully comprehended what it is to be an individual can we grasp what it is to be a sun, to be a universe — even what it is to be a god. And only then can we come to the realization that all are one, because all are selves.

Nation States

Tuesday, May 1, 2018.
But Marx’s strategy in inciting communism is to get the poor and stupid plebs to revolt against the rich and more clever plebs. This is because the peasants make the world worse (in Marx’s view) by inculcating the world with its values. But neither of these two groups — the rich peasants and the poor peasants — are aristocrats. But Marx is an aristocrat. He thinks that the world should be led by various kinds of talented people and beautiful people, and not by the values of the greedy peasants who just happened to have struck it rich.

I’m born to be phenomenal

Monday, March 26, 2018. 🌿
I want to die. I have no place in this world. Either my heart has been telling me lies, or the world is unjust. Either way, I cannot fight and win over what is infinitely greater than me.

To be advantaged by the service of an inferior

Wednesday, March 21, 2018. 🐝
My only concern with it is that it runs completely counter to the Greek intuition about what a “master” and a “slave” are. My complaint is that Hume is part of that group of Europeans who are themselves descended from slaves and servants (ie, Christianity), and so they think of power in the way that slaves and servants tend to think about it.
According to the Greeks (at least, according to Socrates or Plato), a “master” is self-sufficient and is not dependent on a slave for anything. Also, a superior being wouldn’t be advantaged by the service of an inferior. In the Euthyphro, Plato talks about how ridiculous it would be for mortals to care for the gods in order to benefit them, the way that a person cares for horses in order to benefit them.
So, I think that Hume has got the whole “master-slave” relationship quite upside-down and backwards.

Popular Reception

Monday, March 19, 2018. 🦀
Aeschylus died around the time that Socrates was born. If anything, Aeschylus was already making a mind-body distinction in the Oresteia with the seed and pot analogy, and certainly the “abstraction” was nothing particularly new by the time Socrates/Plato got around to talking about it. In Eumenides, Apollo makes the very clear argument that Klytemnestra is not by form a mother. (It’s not intended to be a misogyny, either — though it may have been received as such by the ‘oi-polloi. We shouldn’t mistake popular reception as the poet’s intended meaning.)

A genuine one-of-a-kind original

Thursday, March 15, 2018. 🦋
I think that if I were to discover one day that I were not my own genuine person, and that I were only a clone, then I would suddenly find my life not very worth living any more…
You see, this life isn’t so great that it is worth repeating. Some lives are like that. The only thing that gives it any kind of value is that it is a one-of-a-kind — an original.

Botched interpretations of Plato

Friday, March 9, 2018. 🦉
But one shouldn’t take Aristotle’s botched interpretations of Plato to be the authoritative source for telling us quite accurately what Plato himself actually thought. That would be like thinking that the Alexandrian conquest was a manifestation of some Greek design, just because an ambitious and ruthless Macedonian decided to use the Greeks and their history as an excuse to invade Persia.

The gods delight in being seen

Thursday, March 8, 2018.
“In truth, the gods honor virtue most highly when it belongs to Love. They are more impressed and delighted, however, and are more generous with a loved one who cherishes his lover, than with a lover who cherishes the boy he loves. A lover is more godlike than his boy, you see, since he is inspired by the god.” (Symposium, 180b)
The gods are delighted with the boy, because when the boy cherishes his lover, it is because he can see something of the lover’s love. And so what the boy cherishes is the Love itself that exists between the lover and the boy, and the gods delight in being seen.

How to engage with Christians, when you are not Christian yourself

Tuesday, March 6, 2018.
Being Christian (or Catholic), they’ll do unto others as they would wish to have done unto them (since this is their golden rule). And so, if I wanted to know how they wanted to be treated, then I should just look to how they treat me, and then I will know what they think is “good” treatment. (On the other hand, I am not Christian, and I believe in treating others as they would like to be treated, to the best of my ability. And if I must live amongst them, they must be habituated or educated so that we have the same values — otherwise, their ignorant and self-righteous good-will will be incredibly intolerable to live with.)

Prometheus’ Gift of Fire

Monday, March 5, 2018.
Social contracts (and other voluntary contracts) aside, the very first duty (which is to our own selves) comes from the biological fact that life is a burden that has been (somewhat violently) thrust upon us. Rights are like Prometheus’ gift of fire to humans; rights are an attempt to even out the unfair difficulty of the burden. As I see it, duty is the obligation that we each have to ourselves to keep the flame of justice alive (ie, to preserve and to exercise our rights at the right times). And, insofar as rights and duties go, numbers have nothing to do with it.

What matters

Sunday, March 4, 2018.
“It is the loss to the individual that matters to me, not the loss of the individual.” (Taurek, “Should the Numbers Count?” p.307)