Hold It All

Category: Philosophy

Socrates and the Existence of Billionaires

Someone might say: “Are you not ashamed, Socrates, to have followed the kind of occupation that had led to your being now in danger of death?” However, I should be right to reply to him: “You are wrong, sir, if you think that a man who is any good at all should take into account the risk of life or death; he should look to this only in his actions, whether what he does is right or wrong, whether he is acting like a good or a bad man.” [31]

… if as I say, you were to acquit me on those terms, I would say to you: “Men of Athens, I am grateful and I am your friend, but I will obey the god rather than you, and as long as I draw breath and am able, I shall not cease to practice philosophy, to exhort you and in my usual way to point out to any one of you whom I happen to meet: ‘Good Sir, you are an Athenian, a citizen of the greatest city with the greatest reputation for both wisdom and power; are you not ashamed of your eagerness to possess as much wealth, reputation, and honors as possible, while you do not care for not give thought to wisdom or truth, or the best possible state of your soul?’” [32] Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Andrew Wimmer: “Where Can I Invest My Life?”

As a young graduate student, I had the good fortune to be exposed to the thinking of Bernard Lonergan. Lonergan, who died in the mid-eighties, was a Canadian Jesuit philosopher and theologian. Many of my teachers had been students of Lonergan, and through them I had my eyes and heart opened by what Lonergan called his “method.”

There is a certain mystique around the man, often lauded as the finest philosophical mind of the twentieth century, etc., etc. But he wasn’t interested in any of that, and said simply of his big work Insight, that it is “a way of asking people to discover in themselves what they are.”

And what we are, he believed, are creatures born with “a pure and unrestricted desire to know.” A desire that gets thwarted, screwed up, and shut down in all sorts of ways, but which always wells back up in us in the form of questions.

As we’re bombarded by propaganda (and so-called fake news) from every direction, we might find ourselves asking, “How the heck can I know what’s really going on?” “How can I evaluate the competing narratives?” and “What can I do about anything?” or “Where can I invest my life?”

These are Lonergan’s questions. And he offers a concrete, practical, and I would argue life-changing way of moving through them, beginning with his first precept “Be attentive!”

Lonergan taught that self-discovery demands considerable individual responsibility and that honest care for the world is always rooted in self-transcendence. “Concern for the future supposes rare moral attainment,” he wrote, “It calls for what Christians name heroic charity.”

I will enjoy sharing how Lonergan has shaped my own thinking and being, and look forward to seeing how each of you responds to what he has to say.

Join us
Sunday 24 March
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Andrew begins sharing at 6:45
Point your GPS to 1077 S. Newstead, 63110. Park on Newstead. House is on SW corner of Newstead and Arco. Enter front door at 4400 Arco.

Three Hours in the Morning

In Talking with Sartre, U.S. professor John Gerassi explores a fascinating range of subjects with the French intellectual, writer, and activist.  At the book’s conclusion, Gerassi writes, “What we must do instead, he said, is commit ourselves over and over again. No act is pure. All acts are choices, which alienate some. No one can live without dirty hands. To be simply opposed is also to be responsible for not being in favor, for not advocating change. To fall back on the proposition that human actions are predetermined is to renounce mankind. No writer can accept the totalitarianism implied by ‘human nature.’ If he writes, he wants to change the world—and himself. Writing is an act. It is commitment.”   Throughout,  I became particularly intrigued by Sartre’s musings and reflections on the writing life…

Projects don’t exclude death—projects are the antithesis of death. That’s an important difference. The project is an act. Writing is an act. My projects right now: the next part of CDR. Then I think I want to write my political testament.  16

I never changed in my being: I am what I am and write. 30

Once one decides to be a writer, one’s conception of life, one’s whole being changes. … travel, experience as many different circumstances as possible. Go into every world. Go see how the pimps live in Constantinople. Why Constantinople? There are pimps right here, around the corner. Because travel, experience, give a richness to the writing. All adventures help, including sexual adventures, love, et cetera….A writer has to choose the false against the true. When you decided to be a writer, you couldn’t make that choice because you wanted a revolution, you worked for a revolution. I was nothing but what I wrote. You had a goal. I was my goal. 34 Read the rest of this entry »

Ekāgratā

I suddenly had the everlasting conviction that any human being, even though practically devoid of natural faculties, can penetrate to the kingdom of truth reserved for genius, if only he longs for truth and perpetually concentrates all his attention upon its attainment.  … the same conviction led me to persevere for ten years in an effort of concentrated attention that was practically unsupported by any hope of results.

Even if our efforts of attention seem for years to be producing no result, one day a light that is in exact proportion to them will flood the soul. Every effort adds a little gold to a treasure no power on earth can take away.

Simone Weil, Waiting for God, 64, 107-108

 

simone-weil

Ventures

Friends,

I wanted to pass this brief passage on to you from Hannah Arendt, German philosopher, Jewish immigrant to the USA, author of Eichmann in Jerusalem, from an interview in 1964…

The venture into the public realm seems clear to me. One exposes oneself to the light of the public, as a person. Although I am of the opinion that one must not appear and act in public self-consciously, still I know that in every action the person is expressed as in no other human activity. Read the rest of this entry »

This Is It!

Think about arranging the present as best you can, with serene mind. All else is carried away as by a river…. While we are talking, jealous time has fled. So seize the day, and do not trust the morrow! … Persuade yourself that each new day those dawns will be your last. Then you will receive each unexpected hour with gratitude.

— Horace

The Thread of One’s Anger — Jean-Paul Sartre

I always felt I had to stay in contact with the world, with my world.
Ever since Marx, philosophy must lead to action.
Otherwise it is irrelevant.

So a philosopher does what he has to do,
then sits down at his desk, wherever it is,
and “retakes the thread of his anger,” as Valéry once said.

The distractions don’t matter as long as I could retake the thread of my anger,
angers against this system, against all those who believe that they have a right to be greedy,
who feel they are superior to others,

like the French in Algeria, in Madagascar,
the Americans in Haiti, in Puerto Rico, the whites in black New York,
the Dulleses in Guatemala or Egypt.

Philosophers must be angry, and in this world, stay angry.

–Jean-Paul Sartre
Adapted from John Gerassi, Talking with Sartre

 

 

Priorities

The concern for the other breaches concern for the self. This is what I call holiness. Our humanity consists in being able to recognize this priority of the other.

Emmanuel Levinas, Is It Righteous to Be? Interviews with Emmanuel Levinas, edited by Jill Robbins