Monday, January 28, 2008

The essence of terrorism

The essence of terrorism is not that it kills people (which it does in a terrible way), but that it attacks the mental environment of people. Everybody can become a victim of terrorism, and it is very difficult to protect yourself against it. It can happen everywhere and at every moment, even there or just there where you once thought to be safe. Or at least, so it feels.
In order to try to prevent terrorist attacks, measures are taken by the state that are totalitarian in the sense that they intrude into the private lives of people and that by this they try to control the private lives of them. From the state point of view, every individual becomes a potential terrorist. By means of the salami method privacy is limited again and again and just because it is done gradually, everybody accepts it and the danger of it is not seen. Each measure against terrorism appears to have sense in itself but each measure is a step in the direction of a totalitarian control of the lives of the citizens, not purposefully but in its effect. In this indirect way, terrorism kills the mental environment of people and so a whole way of life. That’s the essence of terrorism.

Monday, January 21, 2008


The outburst of enthusiasm while the echoes of the last tones of Rachmaninov’s third piano concerto are dying away or when Manrico’s expression of dismay has ended in a high C in the aria "Di quella pira" in Verdi’s "Il Trovatore"…. Often I have the impression that the audience applauds as much for the brilliant composition as for the brilliant performance.

Monday, January 14, 2008

On my blog

My blog is a philosophical commentary on my thoughts. My thoughts are a philosophical commentary on what I read. But what makes that I have read just these books and not a selection of all those other books in the world? When I look around in my study and I see my books, there must be a reason that I have chosen to buy them. Maybe it is so that my library is a reflection of my mind? For why else should I have chosen these books and not those that do not have a relation to me now, but that I might also have found interesting in case I should have read them? And why did I even have the propensity to read? Why is reading so important for me? There are so many people in the world who seldom read a book. This makes me think of what Ludwig Wittgenstein once wrote in a letter to his publisher Ludwig von Vicker: "Ein Buch, auch when es ganz und gar ehrlich geschrieben ist, ist immer von nur einem Standpunkt aus wertlos: denn eigentlich brauchte niemand ein Buch schreiben weil es auf der Welt ganz andere Dinge zu tun giebt" ("A book, even when it has been written in a completely honest way, is always without value seen from one point of view: in fact, nobody had to write a book, because there are so many other things to do in the world"). Doesn’t this apply also to my reading and even more so also to my blog?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Killing a man because of his convictions

"Tuer un homme, ce n’est pas défendre une doctrine, c’est tuer un homme" ("Killing a man is not defending a doctrine, it is killing a man") (Sebastian Castellio, 1515-1563). When Castellio said these words he criticized Calvin who justified the burning on the stake of Michael Servet because of heresy. However, this statement has lost nothing of its value since then and it is very relevant to our times. When one looks around in the world, it still happens very often that people are killed because of or in the name of a religious belief or a political doctrine. If one thinks of religion, one need only think of the suicide attacks by Muslim fundamentalists; the murders of doctors who have performed abortions by fanatical Christians in the United States; or the killings of Muslims by zealous Hindus in India. And are the tortures by American soldiers in Iraq of a different kind? Or what to think of Guantanamo? Isn´t it so that the human rights apply to everybody, also to whom you don´t agree with, how extreme the differences between you and your opponent may be? Isn’t that the essence of human rights? Here also a word by Montaigne is applicable: "N’y avoir qu’une justice", there is only one justice.