Monday, December 31, 2007
Reading Montaigne is not only discovering a man and his humanistic ideas. It is also discovering an era.
Monday, December 24, 2007
It is the same for peace (and is there so much difference between peace problems and environment problems? It was not without reason that Al Gore received the Nobel Peace Prize). I do not want to say that everybody is peaceful (and isn’t it so that politicians belong also to this "everybody"?), but in her or his heart everybody wants peace. Nobody wants war, and everybody want to do his or her best for it. Why don’t politicians understand this?
Monday, December 17, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Monday, December 03, 2007
Nonviolent resistance is not only mass demonstrations, strikes, open protests, and the like as practised by Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and others and as theoretically developped by Gene Sharp. Nonviolent resistance is also living your own way of life, doing what you want to do in the way you want to do it: doing things not because the regime or the dictator prescribes them, but because you think that it is the right way of doing. It is what Havel called "living in truth". These (the open protests and "living in truth") are the two main ways of nonviolent resistance. The first means resistance on the political level, the second on the level of daily life. Both are important and both have to be applied according to the circumstances. Sometimes open resistance is better, sometimes hidden resistance is better, and sometimes both can be applied at the same time.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
Amartya Sen expressed the same, when he wrote: "... the social world constitutes differences by the mere fact of designing them. Even when a categorization is arbitrary or capricious, once they are articulated and recognized in terms of dividing lines, the groups thus classified acquire derivative relevance" (Sen, Identity and violence, p.27).
Monday, November 12, 2007
How can we say that a person belongs to civilization A and another person to civilization B, if they are alike on most traits with the exception of those traits that make the person a representative of civilization A or of civilization B?
Does all this mean that civilizations do not exist? Does the fact that each man is unique undermines the idea that civilizations exist?
Vide Samuel Huntington, The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order and Amartya Sen, Identity and violence, who attacks the idea that civilizations clash.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
And what if I switch bodies, an example also often used in the personal identity discussion in the analytical philosophy of action, (for example by Williams) ? Do I get then the social identity belonging to the other body or do I keep my original social identity? Is Haile Gebrselassie still the world record holder on the marathon if he switches body with Paul Tergat? Who is then the real world record holder: the person with the mind of Haile Gebrselassie or the person with the body of Haile Gebrselassie? Who is then the real Gebrselassie, who is then the real Tergat?
Monday, October 15, 2007
Monday, October 08, 2007
For a defense of these theses see http://home.kpn.nl/wegweeda/Bleiker-kritiek.htm (in Dutch).
Monday, October 01, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
Read for example Camus’ L’homme révolté, and you’ll see that nothing has changed in terrorism. Only the names and words have changed, not the motivation and arguments, not the contents, not the methods.
But I just said "Almost everything one does is repetition". Does this mean that there are exceptions? Maybe the world is moving in a upward spiral, but one often does not have the impression that this is really so.
Monday, September 03, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
Georges Duhamel in Civilisation 1914-1917.
And since Duhamel wrote these words, the world is still off the rails. Will it ever be on the rails?
Monday, August 13, 2007
Monday, August 06, 2007
Monday, July 30, 2007
Etc. It looks like the problem of the ship of Theseus.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Monday, July 09, 2007
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Monday, July 02, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Monday, June 04, 2007
Monday, May 28, 2007
When we arrived at the gate just before ten o’clock, it was still closed. After ten minutes waiting we still couldn’t go in. we decided to call. Just then a young lady in a car came with the key. We walked through a long lane to the reception and bought tickets. Another young lady accompanied us to the famous Tour de Montaigne and opened the door for us. We were the only visitors.
To the left a staircase went up. To the right we saw the chapel where Montaigne used to attend Mass. We entered it. It was a small room with an altar in a niche. Only a few chairs in front of it. The ceiling blue with stars, like heaven.
The stones of the staircase were worn out. We reached Montaigne’s sleeping room on the first floor. The bed and the other furniture were not original. The room had an extension, where Montaigne could sit and listen to the Mass on the ground floor.
The study on the second floor looked larger than the sleeping room. However, that was not possible, for the study was exactly above the sleeping room. So, it is here that Montaigne has written his famous essays! Walking up and down the floor, taking a book from one of the bookcases, reading it, developing his thoughts. The library of 1.000 books – many of them he got from his friend Étienne de La Boétie – is not here anymore. After Montaigne’s death, his daughter has sold them. Only a few have been found back.
At the left, there is a writing table with a chair, facing the middle of the room. Also this furniture is not original. All round wooden horse saddles from Montaigne’s time on stands, a model of the castle, a statue of the philosopher. In the wall, the holes where the bookcases had been fixed can still be seen. On the beams of the ceiling, Montaigne had painted Greek and Latin inscriptions.
To the right of the staircase, a doorway leads to a little room with a heath. In winter, Montaigne stayed here. On the walls paintings with pictures from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. They are a bit worn off but still visible. There is also a text saying that Montaigne resigned from his office as a councillor at the parliament of Bordeaux, because he found it annoying and because he wanted to lead a quiet life until his death. But Montaigne was only 37 years old! Times have changed.
We went back to the court of the castle and walked to the terrace outside of the walls, enjoying the view from the top of the hill. Far away we saw the castle of Montaigne’s younger brother.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Monday, May 21, 2007
Friday, May 11, 2007
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Monday, May 07, 2007
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Monday, April 30, 2007
Monday, April 23, 2007
Hannah Arendt wrote in The origins of totalitarianism (Harvest Book, Harcourt, San Diego etc. 1976, p.440):
"These camps correspond in many respects to the concentration camps at the beginning of totalitarian rule; they were used for ‘suspects’ whose offenses could not be proved and who could not be sentenced on ordinary process of law".
And a few pages hereafter:
"The first essential step on the road to total domination is to kill the juridical person in man. This was done, on the one hand, by putting certain categories of people outside the protection of the law and forcing at the same time, through the instrument of denationalization, the nontotalitarian world into recognition of lawlessness; it was done, on the other hand, by placing the concentration camp outside the normal penal system, and by selecting its inmates outside the juridical procedure in which a definite crime entails a predictable penalty"
(ibid. p. 447).
My first thought, when reading these passages was not that it was about the concentration camps in South Africa during the Boer War (where the first concentration camps in the world were established) in the first quotation, or about the concentration camps in Nazi-Germany and the former Soviet Union in the second quotation, but my first thought was: Guantanamo! That is something to think about. Is "Guantanamo" the first step to totalitarianism? Attacking crime is not simply a matter of catching criminals, but it is also, and most of all, a matter of defending one’s own values. And what is certain anyway is that Guantanamo is not the latter, defending one’s own values, whichever way you look at it.