Philosopher ... or Warrior?
I have noticed in my philosophical readings that the thought of many 19th and 20th century thinkers mirrors that of professional wrestler The Ultimate Warrior.
Hence, the following exercise: "Philosopher ... or Warrior?" We've gathered sets of quotations taken from prominent thinkers Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger and Michel Foucault. A dash of Ayn Rand has been added for zest. In each set, two of the passages are from the philosophers - and one is from The Warrior.
It's more than just another fun, time-wasting quiz on the Internet. The fertile seeds of many doctoral dissertations exist here also - "The Notion of God in Heidegger as Compared to The Ultimate Warrior," for example, or possibly "The Exegis of Altruism in Foucault and the Ultimate Warrior."
It's one thing to engage with alterity, though, and quite another to kick ass. While the following material focuses on matters philosophic, the reader is conversely encouraged to imagine how each thinker would fare in the squared circle if opposed by The Warrior.
Heidegger and Nietzsche could have had success with the "evil German" gimmick popularized by Baron von Raschke and Fritz Von Erich. Rand would work very stiff, her notion of ethical egoism keeping her from concern about the other competitor. Foucault would be long-winded and tiresome on the microphone, rambling about his upcoming "exercise of sovereign power." Perhaps he could find a tag-team partner, and the duo could operate under the tandem name "Discipline and Punish."
In any event, main or otherwise, the strength of ideas would win out. Twelve problems follow. Can you figure out of which two of these come from the philosopher ... and which one comes from The Warrior?
PHILOSOPHER OR WARRIOR? NUMBER ONE: ON GOD
1. "For these men are not unbelievers because God as God has to them become unworthy of belief, but rather because they themselves have given up the possibility of belief, inasmuch as they are no longer able to seek God. They can no longer seek because they no longer think. Those standing about in the market place have abolished thinking and replaced it with idle babble that scents nihilism in every place in which it supposes it own opinion to be endangered."
2. "Sacrificing oneself, as most religions ask people to do, totally contradicts the greatness of human life -- Which, for all intents and purposes, was created by the same "it". Why would an entity as great as the human life be created to do anything other than what it is designed to do - live life?"
3. "Qua religion, no -- in the sense of blind belief, belief unsupported by, or contrary to, the facts of reality and the conclusions of reason. Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason. But you must remember that religion is an early form of philosophy, that the first attempts to explain the universe, to give a coherent frame of reference to man's life and a code of moral values, were made by religion, before men graduated or developed enough to have philosophy."
PHILOSOPHER OR WARRIOR? NUMBER TWO: THE NATURE OF HISTORY
1. "Once one has grasped the finitude of one's existence, it snatches one back from the endless multiplicity of possibilities which offer themselves as closest to one--those of comfortableness, shirking, and taking things lightly ... This is how we designate ... primordial historizing, which lies in authentic resoluteness ... in a possibility which it has inherited and yet chosen."
2. "History tells us ... that a man's legacy is built from the premise that within his life the moments lived, once lived, become a piece of his history. Somehow, [humans] have conveniently, even eloquently, misplaced pieces of our history."
3. "The purpose of history, guided by genealogy, is not to discover the roots of our identity, but to commit itself to its dissipation. It does not seek to define our unique threshold of emergence, the homeland to which metaphysicians promise a return; it seeks to make visible all of those discontinuities that cross us."
1. "The historicity of a thinker, which is not a matter of him but of being, has its measure in the original loyalty of the thinker to his inner limitation. Not to know this inner limitation, not to know it thanks to the nearness of what is unsaid and unsayable, is the hidden gift of being to the rare thinkers who are called to the path of thought."
2. "Destrucity: In its design, Destrucity represents a constellation existing in the heavens which symbolizes the "Eight Disciplines" by which [individuals] choose to live their lives. Brought to existence by the destinies of those willing to die for their Beliefs, brought to exist as a place where people live by Belief in the evolution of their Higher Selves -- constantly evolving toward a completion of their chosen destiny -- all with strength in the denial of "System Beliefs" -- the very Beliefs that amplify differences in and create rights, wrongs, judgments, and opinions of people, places, and things."
3. "We operate with nothing but things which do not exist, with lines, planes, bodies, atoms, divisible time, divisible space -- how should explanation even be possible when we first make everything into an image, into our own image!"
PHILOSOPHER OR WARRIOR? NUMBER FOUR: PERSONAL STRENGTH
1. "The centrum for channeling 'unearned guilt,' self doubt and the circumstances immediately surrounding individuals, into a body-mind wholeness activating a 'right to fight, whatever it (rightfully and rationally) takes' attitude -- permeated from within a mind of clarity when faced with the issue of being right or wrong, responsible or irresponsible, accountable or unaccountable ... "
2. "Courageous, untroubled, mocking and violent - that is what Wisdom wants us to be. Wisdom is a woman, and loves only a warrior."
3. "Danger comes not from work for the State. It comes only from indifference and resistance. For that reason, only true strength should have access to the right path, but not halfheartedness ... study must again become a risk, not a refuge for the cowardly. Whoever does not survive the battle, lies where he falls."
PHILOSOPHER OR WARRIOR? NUMBER FIVE: EGO AND INDIVIDUAL WILL
1. "The complete, uninhibited expression of positive, energetic, creative enthusiasm coupled with the teachings of self-belief, self-reliance, individualism and rational, objective thinking. To invoke an impetus within the human race which inspires a driving force in each and every individual to utilize, unequivocally and unabashedly, the limitless capabilities of their life as a human being, both physically and mentally."
2. "Men have been taught that the ego is the synonym of evil, and selflessness the ideal of virtue. But the creator is the egoist in the absolute sense, and the selfless man is the one who does not think, feel, judge or act. These are function of the self."
3. "Let your loyalty and your will to follow be daily and hourly strengthened. Let your courage grow without ceasing so that you will be able to make the sacrifices necessary to save the essence of our [people] and to elevate its innermost strength ..."
PHILOSOPHER OR WARRIOR? NUMBER SIX: POSITIVISM
1."Positivism asserts that only knowledge derived from empirical experience alone, or the rationalist's logical/mathematical claims can be considered valid. This is an attempt to unite empiricism and rationalism. It denies religious or mystic methods of acquiring knowledge, fortunately. By trying to unite empiricism with rationalism, it actually accepts knowledge divorced from the evidence of reality (rationalism), and accepts knowledge divorced from reason or logic (empiricism)."
2. "To describe a group of statements not as a closed, plethoric totality of meaning but as an incomplete, fragmented figure, in accordance with the dispersion of an exteriority; to describe a group of statements in order to rediscover the specific forms of an accumulation--is certainly not to uncover an interpretation, discover a foundation, free constituent acts, nor is it to decide on a rationality or to embrace a teleology. It is to establish a positivity. To analyze a discursive formation is to define the type of positivity of a discourse. If by substituting the analysis of rarity for the search for totalities, the description of relations of exteriority for the theme of transcendental foundation, the analysis of accumulations for the quest of the origin, means one is a positivist, then I am quite happy to be one."
3. "We are caught in a pincers. Situated in the middle, our people experience the severest pressure ... We are certain of this mission. But the people will only be able to realize that destiny if within itself it creates a resonance ... and takes a creative view of its heritage. All this implies that this people, as a historical people, must move itself and thereby the history of the West beyond the center of their future 'happening' and into the primordial realm ..."
1. "America's abundance was not created by public sacrifices to the common good, but by the productive genius of free men who pursued their own personal interests and the making of their own private fortunes."
2. "A methodology one ... uses to combine his knowledge of reality with the strength he has in an undeniable belief of an invocation by his higher self, a supreme being - a creator of the existent universe he consciously perceives. The application ... to his life, a continuum of disciplined action, reminds him to never obscure faith and reality. He cannot substitute one for the other. He must abide by an inviolate truce, one, he and he alone, constructs and reveres."
3. "Judgments, value judgments concerning life, for or against, can in the last resort never be true: they possess value only as symptoms, they come into consideration only as symptoms -- in themselves such judgments are stupidities."
PHILOSOPHER OR WARRIOR? NUMBER EIGHT: UTILITARIANISM
1. "The greatest good for the greatest number" is one of the most vicious slogans ever foisted on humanity. This slogan has no concrete specific meaning. There is no way to interpret it benevolently, but a great many ways in which it can be used to justify the most vicious actions. What is the definition of "the good" in this slogan? None, except: whatever is good for the greatest number. Who, in any particular issue, decides what is good for the greatest number? Why, the greatest number."
2. "[Utilitarianism] held that the right or wrongness of an action is determined by how much good it brings to people. This was formulated as, "the greatest good for the greatest number." This is a very sacrificial ethic, which is thoroughly collectivistic and contains no concept of individual rights. The standard of good is happiness, though happiness is ambiguous in utilitarian thought. This is the fusion of altruism and collectivism in an ethical code. Later utilitarian thought went so far as to imply that some actions are good because of intrinsic "good"ness."
3. "You utilitarians, you too love everything useful only as a vehicle of your inclinations ‑- you too really find the noise of its wheels intolerable?"
PHILOSOPHER OR WARRIOR? NUMBER NINE: BEING AND NOTHINGNESS
1. "The default of Being itself is expressly, if unknowingly, misplaced in its default by the nature of metaphysical thinking, as thinking in values, whereby the very misplacing does not know itself as such. The nothing of Being itself is sealed in the interpretation of Being as value. It belongs to this sealing that it understand itself as the new "yes" to beings as such in the sense of the will to power, that it understands itself as the overcoming of nihilism."
2. "Whether it is hedonism or pessimism, utilitarianism or eudaemonism - all these ways of thinking that measure the value of thing in accordance with pleasure and pain , which are mere epiphenomena and wholly secondary, are ways of thinking that stay in the foreground and naivetes on which everyone conscious of creative powers and an artistic conscience will look down not without derision, nor without pity."
3. "Nihilism claims that a human value system does not exist, that no authority should exist, and openly advocates the destruction of social and economic institutions. It is another leveller- but of the products of the results of society and industry."
PHILOSOPHER OR WARRIOR? NUMBER TEN: FIGHTIN'
1. "He who lives by fighting with an enemy has an interest in the preservation of the enemy's life."
2. "[Pacifism] asserts a moral absolute (without any context) that it is wrong to use force. Instead of recognizing the need for self-defense, the pacifist equates all force with evil, equivocating. A pacifist society would perish absolutely ..."
3. "To love is to value. Only a rationally selfish man, a man of self-esteem, is capable of love--because he is the only man capable of holding firm, consistent, uncompromising, unbetrayed values. The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone."
1. "To grasp, however, does not mean that we merely permit ourselves to represent the ground and to have thoughts about it. When we have grasped something we also say something has opened up to us. This means for the most part that we have been transported into what has opened up and remain determined by it from now on. Thus 'to grasp' the ground means above all that the 'essence' of the ground embraces us into itself, and that it speaks to us in our knowing about it."
2. "I am an intransigent atheist, but not a militant one. This means that I am an uncompromising advocate of reason and that I am fighting for reason, not against religion. I must also mention that I do respect religion in its philosophical aspects, in the sense that it represents an early form of philosophy."
3. "There are a great many people today who, philosophically, think that Reason is impotent, or even an illusion; and who think that Liberty is a privilege granted by Those-Who-Know-What's-Best, revokable at any time for "the common good". They are wrong on both counts. Those who would rewrite the history of our great country to be one of collectivism and 'success' of Government control, do so, only by ignoring the real basis of the foundation of our system of government. The government's purpose is to protect fundamental individual liberties and freedoms - not to limit them - and the quality of our individual lives depends on the extent to which that is accomplished."
PHILOSOPHER OR WARRIOR? NUMBER TWELVE: STANDARDS
1. "It is often said that definitions state the meaning of words. This is true: "words" do mean something, but it is not entirely exact. A word is merely a visual-auditory symbol used to represent a concept; a word has no meaning other than that of the concept it symbolizes."
2. "Imposing a standard ... is an end in itself. Knowledge is the means to fulfill this purpose - pay allegiance to this end, making conscious effort throughout life to increase its inherent value towards a reward."
3. "Altruism claims the justification for your life is to serve others. Self-sacrifice and betraying all your values (except altruism) are primary demands. The standard of morality in altruism is the degree of selflessness for an action. The only justification for your own existence is to continue sacrificing and renouncing your own values for others. Individuality is crushed, and blatant crimes in the name of "selflessness" destroy man's spirit in an altruist society. It certainly does not mean a general good-will towards others, nor does it mean being charitable to worthy causes. Altruism is self-abnegation."