Daily Philosophy

“We have now said enough to show that moral virtue is a mean, and in what sense it is so: that it is a mean between two vices, one of excess and the other of deficiency, and that it is such because it aims at hitting the mean point in feelings and actions. For this reason, it is a difficult business to be good; because in any given case it is difficult to find the mid-point – for instance, not everyone can find the center of a circle; only the man who knows how. So too it is easy to get angry – anyone can do that – or to give and spend money; but to feel or act towards the right person to the right extent at the right time for the right reason in the right way – that is not easy, and it is not everyone that can do it. Hence to do these things well is a rare, laudable and fine achievement.” – Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

“The shortening of the working day, therefore, is by no means what is aimed at in capitalist production, when labor is economized by increasing its productivity. It is only the shortening of the labor-time necessary to produce a definite quantity of commodities that is aimed at. The fact that the worker, when the productivity of his labor has been increased, produces say ten times as many commodities as before, and thus spends one-tenth as much labor-time on each, by no means prevents him from continuing to work 12 hours as before, nor from producing in those 12 hours 1,200 articles instead of 120. Indeed, his working day may simultaneously be prolonged, to make him produce say 1,400 articles in 14 hours. Therefore in the treatises of economists of the stamp of MacCulloch, Ure, Senior and the like, we may read on one page that the worker owes a debt of gratitude to capital for developing his productivity, because the necessary labor-time is thereby shortened, and on the next page that he must prove his gratitude by working in future for 15 hours instead of 10. The objective of the development of the productivity of labor within the context of capitalist production is the shortening of that part of the working day in which the worker must work for himself, and the lengthening, thereby, of the other part of the day, in which he is free to work for nothing for the capitalist. How far this result can also be attained without cheapening commodities will appear from the following chapters, where we examine the methods of producing relative surplus-value.” – Karl Marx, Capital

“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

“In addition, we consider limitation of the appetites a major good, and we recommend this practice not for the purpose of enjoying just a few things and no more but rather for the purpose of enjoying those few in case we don not have much. We are firmly convinced that those who need expensive fare least are the ones who relish it most keenly and that a natural way of life is easily procured, while trivialities are hard to come by. Plain foods afford pleasure equivalent to that of a sumptuous diet, provided that the pains of penury are wholly eliminated. Barley bread and water yield the peak of pleasure whenever a person who needs them sets them in front of himself. Hence becoming habituated to a simple rather than a lavish way of life provides us with the full complement of health; it makes a person ready for the necessary business of life; it puts us in a position of advantage when we happen upon sumptuous fare at intervals and prepares us to be fearless in facing fortune.” – Epicurus, Letters

“They believed therefore, because of the good which is present in everything, that evil occurs only in an accidental way, like the punishments which good governors of cities ordain; for they are evils instituted for the sake of the good, not by primary intention. For there exist amongst good things some that can only exist with an admixture of evil, for instance, in the being of man who is composed of a rational and an animal soul. Divine Wisdom has ordained, according to these philosophers, that a great quantity of the good should exist, although it had to be mixed with a small quantity of evil, for the existence of much good with a little evil is preferable to the non-existence of much good because of a little evidence.” – Averroes, The Incoherence of the Incoherence

“He will look at the city which is within him, and take heed that no disorder occur in it, such as might arise either from superfluity or from want; and upon this principle he will regulate his property and gain or spend according to his means.” – Plato, The Republic

“Moral: If the defenders of privilege desire to exclude from this country the opponents of privilege, they should see to it that Congress omits the taking of the eleventh census. For the eleventh census, if taken, will undoubtedly emphasize these two lessons of the tenth: first, that foreign immigration does not increase dishonesty and violence among us, but does increase the love of liberty; second, that the population of the world is gradually dividing into two classes – Anarchists and criminals.” – Benjamin Tucker, Instead of a Book

“Must we, then, eliminate from society all instruction and abolish all schools? Far from it! Instruction must be spread among the masses without stint, transforming all the churches, all those temples dedicated to the glory of God and to the slavery of men, into so many schools of human emancipation. But, in the first place, let us understand each other; schools, properly speaking, in a normal society founded on equality and on respect for human liberty, will exist only for children and not for adults; and, in order that they may become schools of emancipation and not of enslavement, it will be necessary to eliminate, first of all, this fiction of God, the eternal and absolute enslaver. The whole education of children and their instruction must be founded on the scientific development of reason, not on that of faith; on the development of personal dignity and independence, not on that of piety and obedience; on the worship of truth and justice at any cost, and above all on respect for humanity, which must replace always and everywhere the worship of divinity. The principle of authority, in the education of children, constitutes the natural point of departure; it is legitimate, necessary, when applied to children of tender age, whose intelligence has not yet openly developed itself. But as the development of everything, and consequently of education, implies the gradual negation of the point of departure, this principle must diminish as fast as education and instruction advance, giving place to increasing liberty. All rational education is at bottom nothing but this progressive immolation of authority for the benefit of liberty, the final object of education necessarily being the formation of free men full of respect and love for the liberty of others. Therefore the first day of the pupils’ life, if the school takes infants scarcely able as yet to stammer a few words, should be that of the greatest authority and an almost entire absence of liberty; but its last day should be that of the greatest liberty and the absolute abolition of every vestige of the animal or divine principle of authority.” – Michael Bakunin, God and the State

Published by jim

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