Philosophy, July 13th

“John Stuart Mill says in his Principles of Political Economy: ‘It is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day’s toil of any human being.’ That is, however, by no means the aim of the application of machinery under capitalism. Like every other instrument for increasing the productivity of labor, machinery is intended to cheapen commodities and, by shortening the part of the working day in which the worker works for himself, to lengthen the other part, the part he gives to the capitalist for nothing. The machine is a means for producing surplus-value.” – Karl Marx, Capital

“Suppose now that an East Indian bread-cutter of this kind requires 12 working hours a week for the satisfaction of all his needs. Nature’s direct gift to him is plenty of leisure time. Before he can apply this leisure time productively for himself, a whole series of historical circumstances is required; before he spends it in surplus labor for others, compulsion is necessary. If capitalist production were introduced, the good fellow would perhaps have to work six days a week, in order to appropriate to himself the product of one working day. In that case, the bounty of nature would not explain why he now must work six days a week, or why he must provide five days of surplus labor. It explains only why his necessary labor-time would be limited to one day a week. But in no case would his surplus product arise from some innate, occult quality of human labor.” – Karl Marx, Capital

“Since in every case a man judges rightly what he understands, and of this only is a good critic, it follows that while in a special field the good critic is a specialist, the good critic in general is the man with a general education. That is why a young man is not a fit person to attend lectures on political science, because he is not versed in the practical business of life from which politics draws its premises and subject-matter. Besides, he tends to follow his feelings, with the result that he will make no headway and derive no benefit from his course, since the object of it is not knowledge but action. It makes no difference whether he is young in age or youthful in character; the defect is due not to lack of years but to living, and pursuing one’s various aims, under sway of the feelings; for to people like this knowledge becomes as unprofitable as it is for the incontinent. On the other hand, for those who regulate their impulses and act in accordance with principle, a knowledge of these subjects will be of great advantage.” – Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

“But its possessor, being only human, will also need external felicity, because human nature is not self-sufficient for the purpose of contemplation; the body too must be healthy, and food and other amenities must be available. On the other hand, it must not be supposed that, because one cannot be happy without external goods, it will be necessary to have many of them on a grand scale in order to be happy at all. For self-sufficiency does not depend upon a superfluity of means, nor does conduct; and it is possible to perform fine acts even if one is not master of land and sea. Indeed, a man can conduct himself virtuously even from a modest competence (this can be quite plainly seen, for private persons are considered to perform decent actions not less but actually more than those who are in positions of power). It is enough, then, to possess this much; for a man’s life will be happy if he acts in accordance with virtue.” – Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

“Every act of man’s life has to be willed; the mere act of obtaining or eating his food implies that the person he preserves is worthy of being preserved; every pleasure he seeks to enjoy implies that the person who seeks it is worthy of finding enjoyment. He has no choice about his need of self-esteem, his only choice is the standard by which to gauge it. And he makes his fatal error when he switches this gauge protecting his life into the service of his own destruction, when he chooses a standard contradicting existence and sets his self-esteem against reality.” – Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

“What does the primitive accumulation of capital, i.e., its historical genesis, resolve itself into? In so far as it is not immediate transformation of slaves and serfs into wage laborer’s, and therefore a mere change of form, it only means the expropriation of the immediate producers, i.e., the dissolution of private property based on the labor of its owner. Private property, as the antithesis to social, collective property, exists only where the means of labor and the external conditions of labor belong to private individuals. But according as these private individuals are laborer’s or not laborer’s, private property has a different character. The numberless shades, that it at first sight presents, correspond to the intermediate stages lying between these two extremes.” – Karl Marx, Capital

“The liberty of man consists solely in this: that he obeys natural laws because he has himself recognized them as such, and not because they have been externally imposed upon him by any extrinsic will whatever, divine or human, collective or individual.” – Michael Bakunin, God and the State

“What I preach then is, to a certain extent, the revolt of life against science, or rather against the government of science, not to destroy science – that would be high treason to humanity – but to remand it to its place so that it can never leave it again. Until now all human history has been only a perpetual and bloody immolation of millions of poor human beings in honor of some pitiless abstraction – God, country, power of State, national honor, historical rights, judicial rights, political liberty, public welfare. Such has been up today the natural, spontaneous, and inevitable movement of human societies. We cannot undo it; we must submit to it so far as the past is concerned, as we submit to all-natural fatalities. We must believe that that was the only possible way to educate the human race. For we must not deceive ourselves: even in attributing the larger part to the Machiavellian wiles of the governing classes, we have to recognize that no minority would have been powerful enough to impose all these horrible sacrifices upon the masses if there had not been in the masses themselves a dizzy spontaneous movement which pushed them on to continual self-sacrifice, now to one, now to another of these devouring abstractions, the vampires of history, ever nourished upon human blood.” – Michael Bakunin, God and the State

“From what I have said, I would have you infer, my precious Wiseacres, that there is a great confusion of pedigrees, and that those only appear grand and illustrious, whose representatives abound with virtue, liberality and wealth: I say, virtue, liberality and wealth, because, the vicious great man is no more than a great sinner; and the rich man, without liberality, a mere covetous beggar; for, happiness does not consist in possessing, but in spending riches, and that, not in squandering them away, but, in knowing how to use them with taste: now, a poor knight has no other way of signalizing his birth, but, the practice of virtue, being affable, well bred, courteous, kind, and obliging, a stranger to pride, arrogance, and slander, and, above all things, charitable; for, by giving two farthings cheerfully to the poor, he may shew himself as generous as he that dispenses alms by sound of bell: and whoever sees him adorned with these virtues, although’ he should be an utter stranger to his race, will conclude that he is descended of a good family. Indeed, it would be a sort of miracle to find it otherwise; so that praise is always the reward of virtue, and never fails to attend the righteous. There are two paths, my children, that lead to wealth and honor; one is that of learning, the other that of arms: now, I am better qualified for the last than for the first, and, (as I judge from my inclination to arms) was born under the influence of the planet Mars; so that I am, as it were, obliged to choose that road, which I will pursue, in spite of the whole universe: you will therefore fatigue yourselves to no purpose, in attempting to persuade me from that which heaven inspires, fortune ordains, reason demands, and above all things, my own inclination dictates: knowing, as I do, the innumerable toils annexed to knight-errantry, I am also well acquainted with the infinite benefits acquired in the exercise of that profession: I know that path of virtue is very strait, while the road of vice is broad and spacious; I know their end and issue is different: the wide extended way of vice conducts the traveler to death; while the narrow, toiled path of virtue, leads to happiness in life – not that which perishes, but, that which hath no end; and I know, as our great Castilian poet observes, By these rough paths of toil and pain, Th’ immortal seats of bliss we gain, Deny’d to those who heedless stray In tempting pleasure’s flowery way.” – Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

Published by jim

Curator of things...

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