Category Archives: Philosophy

Rousseau on Inequality

You’ve probably read this many times before , and so has humanity in the last centuries, and yet, its eloquence intact, it resonates today more stridently than ever. Read well… :

(Being originally Francophone, I couldn’t help but include the original French text, followed by an English translation).

“Le premier qui, ayant enclos un terrain, s’avisa de dire: Ceci est à moi, et trouva des gens assez simples pour le croire, fut le vrai fondateur de la société civile. Que de crimes, de guerres, de meurtres, que de misères et d’horreurs n’eût point épargnés au genre humain celui qui, arrachant les pieux ou comblant le fossé, eût crié à ses semblables: Gardez-vous d’écouter cet imposteur; vous êtes perdus, si vous oubliez que les fruits sont à tous, et que la terre n’est à personne.”

“The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this imposter; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discours sur l’origine et les fondements de l’Inégalité

Jean-Jacques-Rousseau1

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Antinomy or the Deceit of Clarity

“In point of fact, Bertrand Russell constructed a contradiction within the framework of elementary logic itself that is precisely analogous to the contradiction first developed in the Cantorian theory of infinite classes. Russell’s antinomy can be stated as follows. Classes seem to be of two kinds: those which do not contain themselves as members, and those which do. A class will be called “normal” if, and only if, it does not contain itself as a member; otherwise it will be called “non-normal”. An example of a normal class is the class of mathematicians, for patently the class itself is not a mathematician and is therefore not a member of itself. An example of a non-normal class is the class of all thinkable things; for the class of all thinkable things is itself thinkable and is therefore a member of itself. Let ‘N’ by definition stand for the class of all normal classes. We ask whether N itself is a normal class. If N is normal, it is a member of itself (for by definition N contains all normal classes); but, in that case, N is non-normal, because by definition a class that contains itself as a member is non-normal. On the other hand, if N is non-normal, it is a member of itself (by definition of non-normal); but, in that case, Nis normal, because by definition the members of N are normal classes. In short, N is normal if, and only if, Nis non-normal. It follows that the statement ‘N is normal’ is both true and false. This fatal contradiction results from an uncritical use of the apparently pellucid notion of class. Other paradoxes were found later, each of them constructed by means of familiar and seemingly cogent modes of reasoning. Mathematicians came to realize that in developing consistent systems familiarity and intuitive clarity are weak reeds to lean on.[1]


[1] Nagel and Newman, in Gödel’s Proof, pp. 23,24 & 25,  University of Florida Libraries.

Thus Composed Nietzsche

“Without music, life would be a mistake.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Manfred Meditation is one of many musical pieces composed by German Philologist and Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Most of his compositions were created at an early age, and were harshly criticized by Wagner (discretely) and Hans von Bulow (openly, saying that his music is a practical joke). It is even said that Wagner left before the end of a performance, and was found lying on the floor in a hysterical fit of laughter. Nevertheless, this was not the reason behind the later rupture between the Philosopher and ‘The Master’.

Nietzsche may have been affected by that verdict, but I doubt he ever knew how Wagner reacted to his music: Nietzsche kept visiting and writing the Wagners even after that laughing fit. And Wagner’s low opinion of Nietzsche as a composer probably had little to do with the philosopher’s later disgust with everything related to Wagnerism.
—Edward Rothstein, The New York Times

In any occurrence, whether or not Nietzsche’s compositions contain any musical value is not an issue. These early pieces are but an honest expression of a young Nietzsche, who, through several stages in life, came to be the Philosopher we all know so well. So don’t be too cruel !