Philosophy, May 31st

“Had I been counted a fool by knights, or people of fashion, birth and generosity, I should have deemed myself irreparably affronted; but my being regarded as a madman, by bookworms who never entered or trod the paths of chivalry, I value not a farthing: a knight I am, and a knight I shall die, according to the pleasure of the Almighty. Some choose the spacious field of proud ambition; others take that base and servile adulation; a third set follow the paths of deceitful hypocrisy; and a fourth proceed in that of true religion; but I, by the influence of my stars, pursue the narrow track of knight-errantry, for the exercise of which, I undervalue fortune in the chance of honor. I have assisted the aggrieved, redressed wrongs, chastised the insolent, overcome giants, and overthrown hobgoblins. I am enamored, for no other reason but because it is necessary that knights-errant should be in love; and this being the case, I am not a vicious libertine, but a chaste platonic admirer. My intention I always direct to a worthy aim, namely, to do good unto all men, and harm to no creature. Whether or not he who thinks, acts, and speaks in this manner, deserves to be called a fool, let your graces determine.” – Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

“The absolute value of a commodity is of no interest to the capitalist who produces it. All that interests him is the surplus-value present in it, which can be realized by sale. Realization of the surplus-value necessarily carries with it the replacement of the value advanced. Now, since relative surplus-value increases in direct proportion to the development of the productivity of labor, while the value of commodities stands in precisely the opposite relation to the growth of productivity; since the same process both cheapens commodities and augments the surplus-value contained in them, we have here the solution of the following riddle: Why does the capitalist, whose sole concern is to produce exchange-value, continually strive to bring down the exchange-value of commodities? One of the founders of political economy, Quesnay, used to torment his opponents with this question, and they could find no answer to it. ‘You acknowledge,’ he says, ‘that the more one can reduce the expenses and costs of labor in the manufacture of industrial products, without injury to production, the more advantageous is that reduction, because it diminishes the price of the finished article. And yet you believe that the production of wealth, which arises from the labor of the craftsmen, consists in the augmentation of the exchange-value of their products.” – Karl Marx, Das Kapital

“Away with those who give letters the preference over arms: I affirm, that such people, whosever they are, know not what they say; for, the sole reason to which they adhere, in this decision, is, that the labor of the body is exceeded by that of the mind; and that the profession of arms is altogether as corporeal as the exercise and office of a common day-laborer, that requires nothing more than bodily strength; as if that which is called soldier ship, by us who profess it, did not include acts of valor which none but persons of uncommon genius could execute: or, as if the toil of a warrior who has the charge of an army, or commands in a town that is besieged, doth not affect the mind as well as the body: is it to be supposed, that by mere corporeal strength, he can penetrate and discover the intention of the enemy? To anticipate designs, baffle stratagems, surmount difficulties, and prevent the mischief that is to be dreaded, are all efforts of the understanding, in which the body hath no share: if the profession of arms, therefore, requires genius, as well as that of letters; let us see which of the two requires most mental toil: and this question may be determined, by considering the end and aim of each; for, that occupation deserves the highest esteem, which hath the noblest purpose in view – the end and scope of letters. I speak not here, of that divine learning, whose aim is to raise and conduct the soul to heaven; to an end so infinite, no intention whatever can be compared: I speak of human learning, the ultimate end of which is, to regulate distributive justice, render to every one his due, and to understand and protect the equitable laws; an aim certainly generous, and highly commendable! Yet not so deserving of the most sublime praise as the profession of arms, the object and the end of which is peace, the greatest good that mortals can enjoy; for, the first blessed news which this world and mankind heard, were those pronounced by the angels, on that night which was our day, when they sung in the air, ‘Glory be to God on high, and on earth, peace and good will towards men:’ and the salutation, which the best master, either in heaven or upon earth, taught his adherents and favorites; which was to say, when they entered any house, ‘Peace be to this house.’ Nay, he himself, at different times, said, ‘My peace I give unto you. My peace I leave with you. Peace be among you.’ A jewel and legacy well worthy of him who left it! A jewel, without which there can be no felicity, either in heaven or on earth! This peace is the genuine aim of war; for, arms and war are the fame; and this being taken for granted, the end of war is nobler than that of learning: wherefore, let us next consider the bodily toil sustained by each, that we may see on which side the balance lies, in that particular.” – Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

“The property therefore which labor-power in action, living labor, possesses of preserving value, while it adds it, is a gift of nature which costs the worker nothing, but is very advantageous to the capitalist since it preserves the existing value of his capital. If trade is good, the capitalist is too absorbed in making profits to take notice of this gratuitous gift of labor. Violent interruptions of the labor process, crises, make him painfully aware of it.” – Karl Marx, Das Kapital

“The traveler laughed heartily at this account of such an extraordinary trial, saying that notwithstanding what he had advanced to the disadvantage of such books, there was one thing in them which he could not but approve; namely, the subject they presented for a good genius to display itself, opening a large and ample field in which the pen might, at leisure, expatiate, in the description of shipwrecks, tempests, battles and encounters; painting a valiant general with all his necessary accomplishments, sage and penetrating into the enemy’s designs; eloquent and effectual, either in persuading or dissuading his soldiers, ripe in council, prompt in execution, and equally brave in standing or in giving an assault. One while, recounting a piteous, tragical story; at another time, describing a joyful and unexpected event; here, a most beautiful lady imbued with virtue, discretion and reserve; there, a Christian knight possessed of courtesy and valor; in a third place, an outrageous boasting barbarian; and in a fourth, a polite considerate gallant prince; not forgetting to describe the faith and loyalty of vassals, together with the grandeur and generosity of great men. The author may also shew himself an astrologer, geographer, musician, and well skilled in state-affairs; nay, if he be so minded, he will sometimes have an opportunity of manifesting his skill in necromancy and magic: he may represent the cunning of Ulysses, the piety of Aeneas, the valor of Achilles, the misfortunes of Hector, the perfidy of Sinon, the friendship of Euryalus, the liberality of Alexander, the ability of Caesar, the clemency and candor of Trajan, the fidelity of Zopyrus, the wisdom of Cato, and finally, all those qualifications which constitute the perfection of an illustrious hero; sometimes, uniting them in one, sometimes dividing them into several characters; and the whole being expressed in an agreeable stile and ingenious invention, that borders as near as possible, upon the truth, will, doubtless, produce a web of such various and beautiful texture, as when finished, to display that perfection which will attain the chief end and scope of such writings, which, as I have already observed, is to convey instruction mingled with delight.” – Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

Published by jim

Curator of things...

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