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Escritos Visita Papa Francisco a Colombia 2017
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Texto completo. Rueda de Prensa del Papa Francisco en vuelo a Roma
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Deja el Papa a la Bogotá que nos vio nacer, deja a una ciudadanía –la violenta sobretodo— que debe entender que su violencia no hace sino hacerle daño a todos y a todas. La macabra del Bronx, incluida. La pobreza no lo permite todo.

Pero difícil. Un ejemplo, de muchos.

Hacia el 2002 sufrimos nuestro segundo mal-llamado “paseo millonario” en Bogotá. Les ahorraré los detalles más horribles, tal vez los relate luego. Pero lo cierto es que una vez en el taxi y “encañonado” por ambos lados en el asiento trasero –mirando para abajo para no ver la cara de los conciudadanos tan, pero tan, enfermos en su alma— pasamos por el puente de la 68 con 30. Desde el puente se ve el cementerio de Chapinero. Por un momento miré de reojo a los asaltantes, no sé ni por qué, pero vi lo que no hubiera deseado ver jamás.

Todos, con armas en mano, se persignaron.

¿Me entiende?

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Ahora sí que el Papa Francisco parte, veremos para qué lado se reconcilia Colombia. (!)
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Tin tin tin, y arranca el Primer Round cortesía del objetivo Espectador.
 
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La honestidad del Papa Francisco acerca de su limitada comprensión del ámbito político:

“De verdad, no entiendo el mundo de la geopolítica. Es muy fuerte para mí. Creo que, con lo que veo, hay una lucha de intereses que, se me escapa, no lo puedo explicar, de verdad. Pero lo otro importante: no se toma conciencia. Pienso en Cartagena hoy: ¿Esto es justo? ¿Se puede tomar conciencia?”

Un ejemplo sería el siguiente: sus repetidas solicitudes a la ONU para que sea la ONU quien “solucione” ciertos problemas políticos actuales.

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Quien haya seguido la visita del Papa Francisco con cierto entusiasmo debiera preguntarse —–e intentar responder lo mejor posible para sí mismo/a—– cuál es la posible relación entre estas tres memorables frases del Papa:

1. “Basta con una persona buena para que haya esperanza”

2. “No nos quedemos en dar el primer paso, sino que sigamos caminando juntos para ir al encuentro del otro”

3. ““No se dejen robar la alegría, no se dejen robar la esperanza”

Tal vez intentemos nosotros dar cierta luz al respecto, posteriormente. Una vista, así sea mínima, debiera mostrar al lector/a qué tan complejo sería interrelacionar estas tres frases.


A manera de ejemplo, pregúntese:
¿Por qué quien es el “único” bueno, debe dar el primer paso hacia el otro, si esto tal vez llevaría a que le robaran su alegría? Y muchas otras preguntas más complejas que esa. Y si no me cree, piense en la historia de Lot.(Frases aparecen aquí:  link  )
 
 
 
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Como último comentario acerca de la visita del Papa Francisco a Colombia, debemos comentar que un aspecto en el que la visión del Papa difiere radicalmente de la tradición republicana clásica está en el rol de los que tienen medios/riqueza —muchas veces familias con cierta historia—- dentro de la política. No se cansa el Papa Francisco de indicar que quien tiene dinero, y sobretodo quien ama el dinero, es mejor que no participe en política. El mensaje del Papa es tal, que a veces ni se separan esas dos condiciones.

Está equivocado —no, equivocadísimo— el Papa; no nos da miedo indicarlo. ¿Qué nos da la seguridad de saber que la visión del Papa es injusta con el ámbito político? Las palabras de Aristóteles acerca del rol de la magnanimidad (“megalopsuchia”) dentro de la vida política en su obra ética. Y no se requiere sino mirar brevemente el listado de virtudes que da Aristóteles y contrastarlas con las virtudes de la tradición católica, para ver el por qué. Y de igual manera no sorprende cómo, cuando Santo Tomás Aquino interpreta a Aristóteles, reduce esas virtudes —y sobretodo la magnanimidad— a un segundo plano. Están en todo su derecho, pero es más difícil autoconsiderarse aristotélicos cuando realizan estas reinterpretaciones que terminan hablando otro lenguaje totalmente diferente.

Y lo crucial, es que esta interpretación del Papa puede generar aún más daño del que ha generado en sociedades como Colombia y Venezuela. Es hora ya de recuperar el valor de la magnanimidad en lo político tal y como lo defiende Aristóteles en el LIbro IV de la Ética Nicomáquea. Para no mencionar otros temas ligados al anterior como el valor de la propiedad privada para la estabiidad y libertad de todo ámbito político.

El camino de la verdad no lo abre sólo la fe. El camino de la verdad lo abre también el pensamiento y la reflexión política. La fe, también, puede ser una adicción. (Para no mencionar lo obvio acerca de las propiedades del la Iglesia misma.)

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ESCRITOS CORRUPCIÓN Y PAZ COLOMBIA 2017

(y su contexto)

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El año pasado, el 2016, escribimos críticamente sobre el proceso de paz en Colombia (link ), en particular antes y después del plebiscito que ganó el “NO” contra todo pronóstico. Dicho resultado fue negado de manera anti-democrática y anti-ética. Ese es el contexto específico de los escritos que siguen a continuación.

Ahora, en el 2017, escribimos sobre la corrupción en Colombia. No es necesario ser un genio para ver la conexión entre la primera problemática y la segunda. Sin embargo, como se verá en los siguiente escritos, hay muchos que defienden la paz a como de lugar, incluso a través de medios corruptos. Consideramos también que los que creen ser los menos corruptos, pueden llegar a ser los más corruptos. Ahí el peligro omnipresente de la corrupción tanto privada como pública.

Afortunadamente, a diferencia de tantos columnistas y periodistas y demás personajes “importantes” de Colombia,  nadie nos ha pagado un peso por estos escritos. Tampoco nos han dado cargos o diplomas a través de ellos. Simplemente los hemos compartido, como los anteriores, en Facebook. Creemos que escribiremos menos y menos al respecto, simplemente porque creemos que escribiríamos palabras demasiado similares! Además sabemos que usted lector sabe mucho mejor qué hacer.

Escribimos en medio de circunstancias que algunos cercanos conocen, escribimos por amor a  Colombia y a Canadá; y sobretodo por el respeto y admiración a las palabras de Aristóteles acerca de la importancia de crear una ciudadanía ética y políticamente educada. Aristóteles, el modelo.

(Nota 1: Para tweets/tuits y columnas encontrarán el link, casi siempre, luego de una reflexión –—a veces corta, a veces larga (!)— acerca del tema.)

(Nota 2, Octubre 1 de 2017:

Y así como lo hicimos en el 2016 —–cuando dejamos de escribir por muchos meses sobre Colombia, hasta ya entrado el 2017—– ahora también dejaremos de escribir sobre Colombia hasta el 2018. Si a una sola persona le sirvió lo que escribimos durante estos largos últimos meses nos damos por bien servidos. Para nosotros es siempre un placer escribir y reflexionar. Quedan recopilados en nuestro blog.
Pero no sobra decir que se ha vuelto costumbre escribir y comentar día a día, segundo a segundo. Pero la realidad es que hay unos principios éticos y políticos que van mucho más allá del día a día. Estos principios son los que guían ahora y siempre, no dependiendo de circustancias históricas particulares, el quehacer politico. Esos principios los da Aristóteles en sus textos ético-políticos, textos que siguen y complementan la tradición inaugurada por Sócrates. Porque Sócrates se INVENTÓ el análisis filosófico de lo político. Impresionante. Y no sobra tampoco recordar que Sócrates no escribió una sola palabra, creemos, no porque le faltara tiempo para hacerlo, sino para indicar de manera inequívoca que la vida de la reflexión —la vida filosófica– es una realidad vital, una realidad de carne y hueso que nada escrito puede captar o explicitar. La reflexión permanente es un modo de vida.
Hasta el 2018, año que definirá el futuro de Colombia para siempre.)

 

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Osuna.

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(Añadido al final del 2017: diciembre 31.)

 

Que en el 2018 los colombianos y colombianas dejen clarito como el agua que no se van a dejar robar como en el plebiscito y que la paz de Santos ha de ser modificada fundamentalmente.
Sobretodo que sea modificada en cuanto a: a) la impunidad descarada de las no arrepentidas cabecillas de las farc con sus narcobienes, b) la reconfiguración de la triste y mal lograda JEP, c) la búsqueda de la corrupción electoral en la Presidencia de Santos, d) la persecución seria y colectiva de los narcos anti-colombianos, y e) la intervención exagerada y nada objetiva de a ONU en el futuro de Colombia.
(Como si los colombianos/as fueran niños/as que necesitan que les cojan de la mano para vivir. Háganse respetar colombianos/as. ¿No se cansan de que por fuera de su país los vean como niños y niñas?)
Que voten masivamente en contra de Santos y quienes defienden sus ideas como Vargas (y demás), y aún más en contra de quienes son hasta más extremistas como las farc y los académicos como Fajardo (y demás).
Todos tuvieron 8 años para mostrar los resultados de la paz, y no los lograron. Que no se escuden ahora en lo que siempre dijeron: “que no los dejaron.” Lo que ganaron con corrupción, no se les permitirá.
Voten colombianos/as masivamente en pro de la coalición por el NO tanto para congreso como para Presidente y Vice-Presidente.
Y que entiendan —además—- que si no lo hacen, perderán su libertad. Y la libertad una vez perdida hace indigno el vivir para ustedes como personas y para sus familias y seres queridos.

 

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(Añadido al final del 2017)

Para Santos, entre más enfermo el pueblo colombiano, más su gloria como sanador.

Pero un verdadero sanador no DESEA que los que quiere estén enfermos. TODO lo contario, desea con toda su alma NUNCA —JAMÁS— tener que ser sanador.

Santos, DESEA con su alma, ser sanador. Esa es su más grande enfermedad. Porque CREERSE sanador no es lo mismo que SER sanador.

O de otra manera, el que quiera ser sanador, que primero cuente como fue de enfermo.

Santos –según él mismo— nunca ha estado enfermo. De allí su soberbia. No lo sabe Santos, pero su soberbia es su enfermedad.

Para no mencionar su exorbitante riqueza; que incluso orgulloso muestra en su declaración de renta.

Y además de su amor por el dinero, el obvio deseo desenfrenado por el poder político. Esa enfermedad que lo une a las farc como a amigos.

Primero sánese para sanar otros como lo indica Aristóteles para quien la filosofía política es un tipo de medicina.

link

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(Añadido al final del 2017)

Otra manera de entender lo que dijo Santos.

a) Palabras luego de la visita del Papa a Colombia:

“Queridos hermanos colombianos. He conocido a tantas personas que me han tocado el corazón. Ustedes me ha hecho mucho bien”.

b) Contraste las palabras parafraseadas de Santos:

“Ustedes (no yo y mi familia, afortunadamente) están muy enfermos. Me lo dijo un académico de Harvard.”

Preguntamos: ¿Será que el Papa es tan burro?

CONCLUSIÓN:

Colombianos: alégrense en el alma que en pocos meses Santos no los gobernará más. Ese es el mejor regalo para el 2018. Ojalá quien lo reemplace corrija lo que han hecho Santos y sus seguidores —–sobretodo con respecto a las farc y a Venezuela y a la ONU—– y nos devuelva la dignidad y la libertad.

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(Añadido al final del 2017)

¿Cuál es la diferencia principal entre Don Quijote y Santos?

Que Don Quijote nos hace reír con sus locuras. No paramos de sonreír y reír en el espejo que es Don Quijote.

Santos, en cambio, no genera ni una sonrisa, y menos risa alguna.

¿Cuál es otra diferencia fundamental entre Don Quijote y Santos?

Que Don Quijote sólo necesito de un amigo para sus locuras andantes, un gran amigo. Sancho.

Santos necesitó de engañar a todo un pueblo sin nunca ser amigo de alguno.

Y en cuanto a las farc y sus crímenes de lesa humanidad, basta con leer el Capítulo 22.

link

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(Añadido al final del 2017)

Durante las aventuras de Don Quijote, Sancho Panza siempre sueña con poder gobernar una ínsula. Sancho Panza no se cansa de decir “ínsula o ínsulo”. Lo cual es muy cómico. El deseo de gobernar lo lleva a seguir las locuras de Don Quijote.

Pero una vez es gobernador, Cervantes nos hace ver lo poco deseable que le resulta la vida de gobernar. Sancho encarna esta crítica a la vida política. El capítulo 53 de la Segunda Parte se titula: “Del fatigado fin y remate que tuvo el gobierno de Sancho Panza.”

Conectado con lo que dijimos anteriormente —-quienes como el Presidente Santos con tranquilidad llaman a sus gobernados enfermos—- debieran leer y releer estas palabras para preguntarse si de entrada no hay algo de enfermo en su deseo de poder. Pero el poder parece que no es capaz de verse como enfermo y necesitando cierta sanación. No, al contrario, el poder cree sanar todo. “Si tuviera el poder, lo arreglaría todo”, se dice a sí mismo. Nadie puede hacerle ver lo contrario. El poder lo enceguece haciéndole reflejarse en un espejo de “pura” bondad incuestionable.

Para ni hablar del caso de Santos y su amor por el dinero, que es reflejado en la cantidad exagerada de propiedades que posee y que muestra orgulloso a sus conciudadanos, muchos de ellos y ellas sumidos en gran pobreza.

Además, y como lo hemos repetido una y otra vez, Sancho y Cervantes nos hacen reír. Santos no hace reír ni al más risueño.

Todo esto, y mucho más, es lo que enseña Aristóteles y lo que Santos poco ha aprendido.

Aquí, el leal Sancho:

link

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Nada como escuchar a un corrupto, pero poderoso, hablando de que en absoluto es corrupto.

(Pero bueno, eso lo escuchamos muchas, pero muchas veces, en nuestras vidas, de poderosos y nada poderosos.)

 

 

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El corrupto fiscal anti-corrupción mostrando orgulloso su libro. Clave para entender la epidemia de corrupción en Colombia.

 

 

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Ahora todo es cizaña. Que si digo “a” cizaña; que si digo “b”,
cizaña. Cizaña … la suya.

¿Quiere salir de la cizaña?

Entonces cuando hable o escriba –y sobretodo, cuando piense– hágalo a través de argumentos. Fácil.

Lo díficil. Que aprender a argumentar toma toda una vida que entre otras cosas requiere:

1) aprender a gustarle los argumentos,

2) aprender a gustarle evaluar buenos y malos argumentos a través de la razón,

SOBRETODO,

3) aprender a leer y leer y leer a quienes –especialmente si va a hablar de lo político—- han dado los más sofisticados y relevantes argumentos para comprender las posibilidades del ámbito político (Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu, DeTocqueville, Marx, Hobbes, Aristóteles, Platón, Maquiavelo, Biblia, Santo Tomás Moro, Aquino, Lincoln …)

4) comenzar a entender la relación entre a) argumentación, b) carácter y c) retórica. (Acerca del triángulo Aristotélico puede aprender acá:https://prezi.com/7snss9sqhkoi/aristotles-rhetorical-triangle/ )

5) preferiblemente venir de una cultura que valore los argumentos (e.g., el valor de “public speaking” en los Estados Unidos —–de tanta importancia—- que los debates presidenciales cobran un valor sui generis)

y finalmente,

6) tener el ingenio, humor y amor-propio suficiente como para atacar la cizaña que desconoce de argumentos; no tratando de convercerla, sino silenciándola. ¡Porque a veces hay que ser al menos el doble de cizañero que el cizañero! (Y en casos extremos, evitándola, o usando los recursos legales disponibles)

Nota 1: ¿Quiere aprender sobre argumentación? Aquí puede hacer un curso completo gratis. ¿Único detalle? En inglés.

link

Nota 2: Otro sitio excelente,

link

Nota 3: Sin lugar a duda, el mejor texto introductorio sobre los más importantes argumentos políticos de la historia, es del Profesor Pangle y tiene versión electrónica para el app Kindle:

link

y gratis, acá:

link

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A manera de resumen, la división en Colombia se puede entender así:

Grupo A: Para algunos la paz con las farc es SEPARADA de la corrupción. Es más, para esos mismos, la paz es —en su imaginario– la que algún día futuro acabará usando su intensa luz la oscura corrupción, sobretodo la corrupción institucional. A estos se les puede llamar “los iluminados”. La paz es el INSECTICIDA de la corrupción.

Grupo B: Para otros la paz con las farc es el RESULTADO de la corrupción. Es más, para esos mismos, la paz –en su imaginario— es el camino disfrazado (como el cuento de las ovejas) hacia la máxima corrupción posible, la corrupción del alma de un pueblo y la entrega de la ibertad y la vida a unos pocos. A estos se les puede llamar “los realistas” . La paz es el ABONO de la corrupción.

La mayoría de colombianos pertenecen al Grupo B, como lo indican las encuestas. La ONU pertenece al Grupo A. La arrogancia de los iluminados —ahora miembros de la JEP— y sus deseos nunca cuestionados (como ocurrió en el plebiscito del 2016) son el impulso para ese rechazo de la población colombiana.

Sin duda alguna nosotros pertenecemos al Grupo B, y lo hacemos con orgullo. Colombia debe en su mayoría redefinir el proceso de paz hacia este Grupo B. Así la paz no destruirá la libertad sino que la hará más real.

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FACEBOOK WRITINGS ON EDUCATION 

2016 / 2017

(Completed)

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ONE

You must NEVER EVER create conditions for people to fail, specially for the best of people. You must only create conditions for SUCCESS. Otherwise, stand aside. This is ABSOLUTELY a MUST in the area of education.

Even creating conditions in which errors may occur is perfectly sensible; errors may lead to great SUCCESSES. What is totally insensible is to create conditions where errors are the direct path to failure.

Most education nowadays is of the second kind. A striking example is the “solemnity of plagiarism”. As if teaching a CODE were teaching/reaching a person.

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TWO

Education is wholly based on either: a) sacrifice, or b) happiness (“eudamonia”). It cannot have it both ways.

Now, some think that learning sacrifice LEADS to happiness. We strongly think those who believe this are quite confused. We can show why. We can’t do it here, though!

In contrast, we believe these two educational roads never ever touch, and that road b) is rarely taken —hardly known— because road a) has great powers on its side. These powers are in high positions (political and entrepreneurial), and perhaps are even otherworldly!

In other words, we know so little of happiness (“eudaimonia”), it has become unrecognizable in our lives and in our education.

Nonetheless, everyone believes, almost blindly, that they ARE happy: preferably so, if less questioned about what their happiness means! Here, the education on happiness, road b), comes to an end.

(Note: “eudaimonia” is the word Aristotle uses for what we kind of understand as “happiness”)

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THREE

Industrialized education does not teach to love learning and its many gentle, even fun, shared surprises.

Rather, industrialized learning —the learning of our time, and especially of our ginormous educational facilities– teaches the repetitive process of information sharing towards a marketable degree. It hardly teaches one to laugh. It is the most serious of the serious. It proudly speaks of “industry standards”.

And though, super serious, industrialized learning is intent on the unimportant: on the ritual of attendance, on the ritual of the exam, on the ritual of the levels and prerequisites, on the ritual of extremely minute objectives and goals, on the ritual of the attack on plagiarism, on the ritual of certification. Its seriousness is one based on mere formality. This kind of seriousness is empty.

Industrialized education sacrifices the potential inherent in our human encounters, those infrequent encounters sought by those of us who truly wish to learn to learn. This is unforgivable. For these encounters are far and between, these encounters are face to face —-many a time—- on a one-on-one basis. They are so rare, people generally cannot understand what is going on when they do happen. They are surprised by actually seeing and feeling for themselves the real nature of learning. They even get quite angry.

Moreover, industrialized education requires a weird notion of “teamwork”, one which means that being part of the “team” means adjusting to the unquestioned demands of these processes themselves! I mean, “don’t rock the boat, otherwise, it might sink!” This is why a proper metaphor for industrialized education is certainly the Titanic; the most industrial of things ever. They never thought they would sink. (more…)

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REFLECTIONS

FINAL PROJECT TESL CERTIFICATION CANADA:

BUSINESS ENGLISH CLASS (pdf. file)

TOPIC: “RAISING FINANCE THROUGH MICROFINANCE”

December/January 2015

CLICK HERE FOR PROJECT:  FINAL PROJECT TESL CANADA

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An Interview with Thomas Pangle 05/02 by Western Word Radio | Blog Talk Radio.

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COMMENTARY ON ARISTOTLE’S NICOMACHEAN ETHICS: BOOK I, 1

(For the nature of the sections see the “General Introduction”, here.)

Abbreviations: Ar. = Aristotle, AQ= Aquinas, NE = Nicomachean Ethics, EE= Eudemian Ethics

NICOMACHEAN ETHICS

BOOK I

CHAPTER ONE

Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action as well as choice, is held to aim at some good. Hence people have nobly declared that the good is that at which all things aim. But there appears to be a certain difference among the ends: some ends are activities, others are certain works apart from the activities themselves, and in those cases in which there are certain ends apart from the actions, the works are naturally better than the activities.

Now, since there are many actions, arts and sciences, the ends too are many: of medicine, the end is health; of shipbuilding, a ship; of generalship, victory; of household management, wealth. And in all things of this sort that fall under some one capacity —for just as bridle making and such other arts as concern equestrian gear fall under horsemanship, while this art and every action related to warfare fall under generalship, so in the same manner, some arts fall under one capacity, others under another —–in all of them, the ends of the architectonic ones are more choiceworthy than all those that fall under them, for these latter are pursued for the sake of the former. And it makes no difference at all whether the ends of the actions are the activities themselves or something else apart from these, as in the sciences mentioned.” (NE, 1094a1-18; Aristotle´s Nicomachean Ethics, Bartlett, Robert, and Collins, Susan; University of Chicago, Chicago, 2011)

I. PRIVATE PUZZLES

1) Why does Aristotle begin his text by using such complicated, even technical, vocabulary (technē, methodos, praxis, proairesis, kalos, telos, energeia, ergon, dynamis, epistēmē..)? For surely this is not your everyday terminology, is it? I mean, one just needs to read the contrast between epistēmē and technē in Book VI to see the comprehension requirements of such a beginning, doesn’t one? Or, alternatively, one just needs to survey the complex commentaries which such a beginning has spawned in academia! But then, WHO precisely is Ar. addressing as his audience by proceeding thus? Does he wish to point to the fact that his audience must be prepared to engage a vocabulary that is not simply given in everyday experience? Will everyday experience have to somehow be “clarified” as we proceed along his path? So, wouldn’t Aristotle be seeking from the very start an audience friendly —or better, that could potentially become friendly—– to philosophical jargon, its complexities and its detailed characterizations? But, how can he guarantee this? And MUCH more importantly, doesn’t Ar. begin AS WELL by signalling to the fact that he will bow in his ethical investigations to what is “held to be” (dokein) the case? And surely “what is held to be” is precisely what thinks itself in no need whatsoever of investigation, isn’t it? So, isn´t the audience that hears Ar. comprised as well by those morally sound citizens whose opinions are seen to be noble (kalos) from the very beginning? And, aren’t the examples actually given in subsection 1 taken from the very everyday activities known to any educated citizen of the polis? For it would be odd to think that shipbuilding/war goes on in the Lyceum, wouldn’t it? Consequently, wouldn’t Ar. be pointing to the fact that this audience has a kind of dual nature? Aren’t we moved to understand that philosophers must confront a mixed kind of audience, namely, those who have been properly educated in moral things, and those —-much much fewer, one surmises—– who being properly educated in these noble things, have a underlying longing to understand whence such education? Thus, wouldn’t such an audience be conformed both by serious citizens as well as would be individuals keen in understanding the foundation of such moral education, and because GOOD, absolutely clear on the dangers of philosophy to practical life? (Warning made explicit in EE, 1216b39-1217a6)

2) But then again, why does Aristotle wish to point to the relationship between the noble and the good? Why exactly should this be THE beginning? What is it about the noble that gives it such weight that IT allows for the beginning of THE serious ethical inquiry? Who could be the audience such that the noble would be an object of admiration and desire? Who would actually be moved by such initial assumptions? All humans? Surely not. All the citizens? Perhaps only those ALREADY capable of hearing the noble? But then, what are THEY to learn? Or, is it would-be philosophers in the Lyceum? But aren’t they supposed to question “assumptions” such as this? And, crucially, what is the nature of this kind of relationship between the noble and the good that the means of communication by the philosopher is by way of rhetorical argumentation and the use of enthymeme (Rh, 1355a)? Why does rhetoric in the investigation of the ethical take precedence over the scientific and logically syllogistic? Is the enthymeme simply a truncated syllogism? Or is it the other way around, the truncated syllogism being that syllogism which is SIMPLY scientific? Don’t many modern discussion around the ethics suffer, precisely, from this illness of inversion? But then again, what if modernity has actually subverted such rhetorical skills? How then are we to prepare ourselves to be able to listen to such beginnings? Can we moderns, in fact, even listen to the noble in its true magnitude?

3) In what perhaps has to be one of the complex puzzles: Why does Aristotle introduce the issue of teleology from the start? “By nature” (physis); what does that exactly mean? Does it mean what it means for Montesquieu at the beginning of The Spirit of the Laws? Does it mean what it means for us post-Galileans? Don’t we obviously know that Aristotle deluded himself into thinking that the universe had an intrinsic teleology which can no longer be accounted for? Or rather, aren’t WE deluding ourselves into thinking we in fact understand Aristotle so that we have little or nothing to learn from him in terms of the understanding of the whole (in this regard Bolotin’s An Approach to Aristotle’s Physics: With Particular Attention to the Role of His Manner of Writing, is of the essence)? Is “nature” merely a concatenation of natural effects and causes following certain “natural” laws (see Hobbes, Leviathan, Part I, Chapter V. “Of Reason and Science”? Or rather, does it refer to a certain intelligibility of the whole? But then again, what in humans makes them capable of understanding such a whole? And how is the understanding of the whole made accessible SOLELY by way of an understanding of the ethical/political things? And if this were true, wouldn’t then the NE be THE entrance point par excellence?

4) And why the initial reference to choice? Is Aristotle prudently, gently, preparing some of us for a choice which involves getting to understand the noble and its dynamics? Why so? Because in the EE, Aristotle in contrast has NO qualms whatsoever about making it LOUD AND CLEAR to the reader that the question is, in fact, one of CHOICE (EE, 1214b6-13: “everyone who can live according to his own choice should adopt some goal for a the fine life … “) ? But then again, why is Ar. so reticent about being as LOUD in the NE? Is it because of his better understanding of the nature of the mixed audience attending his lectures? Isn’t part of the audience, the noble part, less akin to the loudness of philosophical inquiry? Wouldn’t that audience rarely —if ever—- visit the Lyceum where the activity of dialogical questioning is taken for granted? And, very importantly for students of Ar., wouldn’t this signal to the greater maturity present in the NE in contrast to the EE? Or put another way, wouldn’t the EE stand to Plato’s Republic, as the NE stands to the elder Plato’s Laws?

5) And, why does Aristotle seem to struggle with the hierarchical relation between different ends, those that are activities for their own sake, and those which have an end (a work) apart from the activities themselves? Why does he FIRST say that the those with works apart are naturally better (again, in what sense of “nature”?)? But then at the end of this very same Subsection 1, he goes on to, seemingly, contradict himself by saying that actually “it makes no difference at all whether the ends of the actions are the activities themselves or something else apart form these”? Didn’t he just a few lines before argue the exact opposite? Why exactly is Aristotle trying to “confuse” us? Is he trying to get us to see that the relation between ethical activity and its “products” is one that will be shown to be problematic? For shouldn’t one be ethical for the sake of the activity itself and not for any results stemming from these noble actions? Or put another way, what is the product of being ethical apart from being ethical? Wouldn’t that alone be the greatest pleasure? Is the product for another, or rather the product becoming oneself a certain kind of person? Or put another way, can the moral virtues be seen solely for their own sake, and not for any ulterior product which they may obtain? And we know, as well, that Ar. will go on to claim that eudaimonia, which is in fact THE end of our human activity, is in fact not a state but an ACTIVITY? So once again, Ar. seems to make us puzzle precisely as to which type of ends take precedence over the others. Or, rather, may there not be instances in which the activity undergone IS the “product”? Isn’t the relation between logos (speech) and ergon (deed) a bit like this? Because, following Ar. and the Socratic legacy, isn’t the core question HOW we should lead our lives? And, isn’t Ar. starting to signal, perhaps, that understanding is some such kind of activity?

6) And as regards the famous expression “hence people have nobly declared that the good is that at which all things aim”, why once again is Aristotle so reticent to distinguish between the “good simply” and the merely “apparent good”? For surely we may believe of our arts, inquiries, actions and choices that they may be directed towards the/our good, but be totally wrong about this! Evidently too many are not (drug trafficking, lock-picking, bullying, smoking, stealing, murdering, prostituting ….) Why is Aristotle so resistant about giving us any of the too well-known bad examples? Isn’t it, of course, because of the connection to the puzzles put forward in 2)? Or to provide an example, why would Ar. simply see with amazement —or better, disgust—- the fact that Colombian TV networks, and MANY citizens, find it unproblematic to produce a series on the life of Pablo Escobar? And what is it about our anti-Aristotelianism that allows such actions to generate HUGE ratings and economic benefits? And, beyond this, if “the good is that at which all things aim”, surely what this superior end is, must be further dealt with? For Ar. knows quite well —as he will let us CLEARLY know as he proceeds in Book I—- that there is a philosophical tradition stemming from “Plato” that seems to claim that THE Good, and most probably also those who claim to know IT, are “not even of this world”! Doesn’t Ar. know all-too-well Aristophanes Clouds?

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COMMENTARY ON ARISTOTLE’S NICOMACHEAN ETHICS

INTRODUCTION

It seems now the time has arrived to put forth, as best as possible, some of the reflections —reflections which have guided me throughout the last few years of my life—– with regards to  Aristotle’s all-important views on the question of happiness as presented in his Nicomachean Ethics. For I take it that it has in fact been this encounter which has sent me on a path which I would have otherwise never encountered.

A. NEGATIVE SETTING

Which path is this? Negatively speaking, it is a path which stands in stark contrast to the traditions that have made up the horizon of my/our conceptual possibilities and practical lives. On the one hand, the horizon of our modern liberal democracies grounded precisely on the very critique of Aristotelian political philosophy; particularly as set out in the works of Hobbes, Machiavelli, Locke and Montesquieu, all of whom to different degrees see Aristotle as THE rival to face and even, literally, to conquer. The realization of this inherent animosity must clearly point to us students how ALIEN the work of Aristotle must actually be to us children of such an anti-Aristotelian modern tradition. For if we ARE as modern democrats defined partly against Aristotelianism, it would be extremely odd that we would easily delude ourselves into believing that Aristotelianism is primarily akin to our own, that is to say, that it is somehow readily accessible and altogether familiar.  We must fight the easy consolation, the very troubling consolation, of assuming that Aristotle is simply “one of us”. Nowhere is this more clearly seen than precisely in the CORE Aristotelian investigation of virtue (areté), and of happiness (eudaimonía); and even more importantly of the complex and perhaps tense relationship which might come to slowly unfold as Aristotle guides us into seeing the puzzling relationships between said virtue(s) and happiness. By way of an example of how easily we disregard Aristotle’s challenge,  we can focus on the fact that many academics STILL continue to hold on to the erroneous view that Aristotle simply enumerated ——because he agreed with implicitly and explicitly—– the Greek virtues set out in Books 3 and 4; an intellectual magical disappearing act which overlooks these books which are PRECISELY the very key to understanding the dynamic and the general course of the Aristotelian argument at its most fundamental! So, we could in fact say that for us modern western democrats  Aristotle is —–at least initially, perhaps even indefinitely—- an Other that challenges our presuppositions, and does so like no Other can or ever will. Obviously then, this commentary objects to the generalized view that Aristotle is somehow solely the founder of a tradition, namely civic republicanism, that can still be seen in much later modern authors which even include Machiavelli. For surely, there is as much oxygen in gaseous form on the moon, as there is Aristotle in Machiavelli. And to make this clear, Machiavelli is certainly very proud of this.

And on the other hand, this is a path which stands in stark contrast to the traditions that have made up the horizon of revealed religion, fundamentally the tradition of the Bible in both its Judaic and Christian traditions, but also that of the Koran in Islam. Such a horizon finds its grounding not ——-as it does for Aristotle—— in the spirit of free and rational philosophical inquiry on the nature of the political and the ethical, but rather on the persistent obedience due to God in whose all encompassing and mysterious justice, merciful loving grace and creative omnipotence we alone can find THE sole anchoring required for our constantly tepid and all-too-debased sinful humanity. Again, it is the realization of this inherent tension which clearly points to us how ALIEN the work of Aristotle must be to us children of the rise and triumph of revealed monotheism (even if, of course, modern western democracies have in fact, via Locke and Montesquieu, redefined the very framework within which we have come to understand such divine revelation in our days). Nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the peak which is the virtue of magnanimity (megalopsuchia), virtue which has as its most deficient extreme, the religious virtue par excellence of humility; for let us be clear, humility is, for Aristotle, a vice simply. Or further, it can be clearly seen in the very fact that the virtue of faith (pistis) is, dramatically —–and to our astonishment as part of a monotheistic tradition—– not even considered one of the virtues to be analyzed in the list of eleven virtues found in the Nicomachean Ethics itself (Evidently, this is NOT to say that Aristotle does not take up the question of the divine continuously in the text, as we shall have occasion to witness). But one could also mention, so that we again come to be taken aback by the very strangeness of Aristotle’s arguments, the inexistence of any serious development of the notion of friendship  (philia) within the Bible; or the initial unflattering status of the political within Genesis itself, Cain being the founder of the first political city which will lead directly, and not metaphorically, to the just destruction of the pretensions of the kind of “magnanimous” arrogance found in  the technological project of Babel. So we must again repeat, as we attempt to follow this new path —–and perhaps to our initial dismay—– that Aristotle once again stands as a kind of Other who questions fundamentally the presuppositions of our thought, or more truthfully and with greater relevance,  the presuppositions of our lives. And that this is so, is extremely fortunate, for realizing his otherness we can thankfully ask: how then could we still remain the same by reading and dwelling upon his strange remarks? Aristotle liberates, and it would seem, some of us are in need of a great liberal education by such dialectically challenging type of friends.
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