Philosophy, June 9th

“For a man to give way to violent or excessive pleasure or pain is not surprising – indeed it is forgivable if he does so only reluctantly, like Philoctetes after he was bitten by the viper in the play by Theodectes, or Cercyon in the Alope of Carcinus, or like someone who tries to hold back a laugh and lets it out in a stentorian guffaw, as happened to Xenophantus – but it is surprising if someone gives way without a struggle to pleasures and pains that most people can resist – unless his weakness is due to disease or congenital defect, like the hereditary effeminacy of the Scythian royal family, or the difference between male and female constitutions.” – Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

“Thus we may say that surplus-value rests on a natural basis, but only in the very general sense that there is no natural obstacle absolutely preventing one man from lifting from himself the burden of the labor necessary to maintain his own existence, and imposing it on another, just as there is no unconquerable natural obstacle to the consumption of the flesh of one man by another. It would be absolutely mistaken to attach mystical notions to this spontaneously developed productivity of labor, as is sometimes done. It is only when men have worked their way out of their initial animal condition, when therefore their labor has been to some extent socialized, that a situation arises in which the surplus labor of one person becomes a condition of existence for another. At the dawn of civilization, the productive powers acquired by labor are small, but so too are the needs which develop with and upon the means of their satisfaction. Furthermore, at that early period, the portion of society that lives on the labor of others is infinitely small compared with the mass of direct producers. As the social productivity of labor advances, this small portion of society increases both absolutely and relatively. Besides, the capital-relation arises out of an economic soil that is the product of a long process of development. The existing productivity of labor, from which it proceeds as its basis, is a gift, not of nature, but of a history embracing thousands of centuries.” – Karl Marx, Capital

“Mr. Charles Parsons, until recently the House Surgeon of the same hospital, writes in a letter to Commissioner Longe, amongst other things: ‘I can only speak from personal observation and not from statistical data, but I do not hesitate to assert that my indignation has been aroused again and again at the sight of poor children whose health has been sacrificed to gratify the avarice of either parents or employers.’ He enumerates the causes of the diseases of the potters and sums them up in the phrase ‘long hours. In their report, the Commissioners express the hope that ‘a manufacture which has assumed so prominent a place in the whole world, will not long be subject to the remark that its great success is accompanied with the physical deterioration, widespread bodily suffering, and early death of the workpeople . . . by whose labor and skill such great results have been achieved’. And all that holds of the potteries in England is true of those in Scotland.” – Karl Marx, Capital

“Nor will he accept money from a wrong source; because such acceptance is inconsistent with indifference to money. Nor again can he be inclined to ask for it; because it is not in the character of one who confers benefits to receive them readily. But he will accept money from the right source, e.g. from his own property; not because it is a fine thing to do so, but because it is necessary so that he may have something to give. Nor will he neglect his own property because he wants to help people by its means. He will avoid giving to any and everybody, so that he may have something to give to the right people at the right time and in circumstances in which it is a fine thing to do. But it is especially characteristic of the liberal man to carry giving too far, so as to leave himself less than his due; because it is the nature of the liberal man not to regard his own interest.” – Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

“It is a science that includes in itself virtually, most, if not all the other sciences in the world; for, he who professes it, must be a civilian, and know the laws both of distributive and commutative justice, to determine, with equity and propriety, what lawfully and properly belongs to every individual: he must be a good divine and casuist, that he may, with clearness and precision, defend the principles of the Christian faith, which he professes, as often as he shall be required so to do: he ought to be a physician, and particularly a botanist, that, in the midst of deserts and wildernesses, he may know those herbs that are of efficacy in curing wounds; for a knight-errant cannot at every turn have recourse to a surgeon. He ought to be an astrologer, to distinguish by the stars the time of the night, together with the climate and part of the globe on which he chances to be: he must be learned in the mathematics, for which he will frequently have occasion; and besides being adorned with all the theological and cardinal virtues, he ought to descend to other minute branches of science; I say, for example, he must know how to swim like an herring, to shoe an horse, to mend a saddle and bridle. And, returning to what we have observed above, he must preserve his fealty to God and his mistress: he must be chaste in thought, decent in speech, liberal in action, valiant in exploits, patient in toil, charitable with the needy; and finally, an asserter of truth, even though the defense of it should cost him his life.” – Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

Published by jim

Curator of things...

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