Dec 06

Habe nun, ach! Philosophie,

Juristerei und Medizin

Und leider auch Theologie

Durchaus studiert mit heißem Bemühn.

Da steh ich nun, ich armer Tor!

Und bin so klug als wie zuvor;

Heiße Magister, heiße Doktor gar . . .

 

Yes! The immortal rantings of Faust in the prelude to the poem written by Goethe that has swept the world by storm. It just sounds so much better in German than English. It’s like trying to translate Shakespeare into another language – it just shouldn’t be done! There are too many days when I feel like Faust. I’ve even memorized the opening lines to Faust. They really are as good as anything from Shakespeare.

 

So I sit listening to philosophy lectures. I’ve worked through the Greeks, Bacon, Hobbes, Descartes, and Spinoza, then Locke, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Rousseau and Adam Smith. The nineteen and twentieth centuries await. All of this is done through the agency of the Teaching Company recordings titled Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition. I’m doing this while I exercise. Yes. True, I miss a little bit, but I catch a lot also. This lecture series is done by a group of 12 lecturers. I’m not sure how they split things up. As an example, Adam Smith is taught by Jeremy Sheamurs, who is a bleeding heart Marxist, and speaks blatantly against Adam Smith from the very start. As a result, he not only misrepresents Adam Smith, but also Karl Marx. All of this professorial blathering brings me to mind one of my favorite quotes, offered by Paul Johnson, the British editorialist and historian, writing in 1991, in a book “To Hell with Picasso”

 

“Universities are the most overrated institutions of our age. Of all the calamities which have befallen the 20th century, apart from the two world wars, the expansion of higher education, in the 1950s and 1960s, was the most enduring. It is a myth that universities are nurseries of reason. They are hothouses for every kind of extremism, irrationality, intolerance and prejudice, where intellectual and social snobbery is almost purposefully instilled and where dons attempt to pass on to their students their own sins of pride. The wonder is that so many people emerge from these dens still employable, though a significant minority, as we have learned to our cost, go forth well equipped for a lifetime of public mischief-making.”

 

I will now include Teaching Company series and other lecture series in my book review section. All of this philosophy stuff has brought back to my mind how my thinking has been so thoroughly influenced in the college years by the writings of Francis Schaeffer. It’s maybe time to re-read his works. It seems like his writings, though 30-50 years old, remain contemporary.

 

I haven’t written much about my reflections on politics. This is mostly because I choose to be hopeful in my depression. I would have been profoundly depressed had McCain become president. I feel the same about B. Hussain O. Neither candidate has a strong concept of economics. BHO is profoundly inexperienced—something that no amount of personal élan or cabinet appointments could make up for. So, we wait with baited breath. Meanwhile, do you know who John Gault is? I’ve reached the point where I need to re-read Ayn Rands’Atlas Shrugged. You will learn who John Gault is in this book. I now have an audio version of A.S., and so might just listen to it. Ayn discusses the possibility that the few movers and shakers of society, those that really are productive (not the George Soros’s of the world who get wealthy by spending their time trading stock, but those who actually generate wealth in a society) if they were to go on strike. Well, my year off for Sabbatical is slightly a reflection of my agreement with Ayn Rand. It’s time for Atlas to shrug.

 

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