Categories
Books Politics & Society

‘Democracy is an experiment…’

Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club #books

“Holmes would never have called himself a pragmatist; he associated the term with a desire to smuggle religion back into modern thought under a pseudo-scientific cover. But his belief that life is an experiment, and that since we can never be certain we must tolerate dissent, is consistent with everything James, Peirce, and Dewey wrote. What Holmes did not share with those thinkers was their optimism. He did not believe that the experimental spirit will necessarily lead us, ultimately, down the right path. Democracy is an experiment, and it is in the nature of experiments sometimes to fail. He had seen it fail once.”

— Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club

Never has democracy and pluralism been so fragile. As Hannah Arendt reminds us: in order to stem the tide of evil, we should be thankful for the peaceful consciousness we already have.

Categories
Arts Books Poetry Productivity & Work Writing

The value of making up stuff

Art is what we do with our extra time. It is more leisure than life. “Art is everything you don’t have to do,” as Brian Eno put it.

The starving artist is compelled to have a day job. We can’t make art without the backbone of cash.

However, the cashless value of writing a poem, painting a picture, or photographing the trees could save your life.

It is in making up stuff we find meaning. The canvass enhances our lives, inspires us to express ourselves. That freedom can be liberating.

Writes Louis Menand in his latest New Yorker piece entitled Can Poetry Change Your Life?

“But I got the same painful pleasure out of writing prose that I did out of writing poetry—the pleasure of trying to put the right words in the right order. And I took away from my experience with poetry something else. I understood that the reason people write poems is the reason people write. They have something to say.”

Art translates life. It takes us places. We need stories and memes in order to keep the everyday exciting.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Politics & Society Quotes

‘Coercion is natural; freedom is artificial.’

IMG_0715

From Louis Menand’s The Metaphysical Club:

Coercion is natural; freedom is artificial. Freedoms are socially engineered spaces where parties engaged in specified pursuits enjoy protection from parties who would otherwise naturally seek to interfere with those pursuits. One person’s freedom is therefore always another person’s restriction: we would not have even the concept of freedom if the reality of coercion were not already present. We think of freedom as a right, and therefore the opposite of a rule, but a right is a rule. It is a prohibition against sanctions on certain types of behavior. We also think of rights as privileges retained by individuals against the rest of society, but rights are created not for the good of individuals, but for the good of society. Individual freedoms are manufactured to achieve group ends.

Democracy is an experiment, one that’s meant to keep going. Beware those who try to take it away like this, this, and this.

Categories
Uncategorized

On Pragmatism

Pragmatism says that whatever works for you, do it. This can pertain to anything from religion to the way you shoot free throws, as Louis Menand alludes to in his book The Metaphysical Club.

What people often overlook is that pragmatists also believe in evolution. They believe in betterment, receptive to changing their ways to improve the way of life.

Pragmatism, however, is not an excuse to cheat in order to progress although it seems practical if you can get away with it.

Pragmatism still requires the practice of fairness and adheres to the fundamentals laws of society, mostly because these laws simply work. Rules maintain the peace.

Pursuing what works is a simple philosophy that prevents stagnancy. Open-mindedness is ultimate case for self-worth. Learning, loving, having faith, and finding better ways keeps life exciting. In short, pragmatism requires positive, perpetual movement.