At one time I thought a strong argument could be made for compulsory schooling because of the harm which the failure to school your child does to other people.…But the work which Ed West and others have done on the actual development of schools makes it abundantly clear that in the absence of compulsory schooling there would nonetheless be a very high degree of literacy—that self-interest would be sufficient to yield a degree of schooling which would satisfy the social need for a literate society. Consequently, I am no longer in favor of compulsory schooling.
I think a major reason why intellectuals tend to move towards collectivism is that the collectivist answer is a simple one. If there’s something wrong, pass a law and do something about it... The argument has always been made that the trouble with capitalism is that it’s materialistic, while collectivism can afford to pay attention to the nonmaterial. But the experience has been the opposite. There are no societies that have emphasized the purely material requisites of well-being as much as the collectivist…it is in the free societies that there has been a far greater development of the nonmaterial, spiritual, artistic aspects of well-being.
The stock of money, prices and output was decidedly more unstable after the establishment of the Reserve System than before. The most dramatic period of instability in output was, of course, the period between the two wars, which includes the severe (monetary) contractions of 1920-1, 1929-33, and 1937-8. No other 20 year period in American history contains as many as three such severe contractions. This evidence persuades me that at least a third of the price rise during and just after World War I is attributable to the establishment of the Federal Reserve System and that the severity of each of the major contractions—1920-1, 1929-33 and 1937-8 is directly attributable to acts of commission and omission by the Reserve authorities. Any system which gives so much power and so much discretion to a few men, so that mistakes—excusable or not—can have such far reaching effects, is a bad system. It is a bad system to believers in freedom just because it gives a few men such power without any effective check by the body politic—this is the key political argument against an independent central bank. To paraphrase Clemenceau, money is much too serious a matter to be left to the central bankers.
It is beyond my power to induce in you a belief in God. There are certain things which are self proved and certain which are not proved at all. The existence of God is like a geometrical axiom. It may be beyond our heart grasp. I shall not talk of an intellectual grasp. Intellectual attempts are more or less failures, as a rational explanation cannot give you the faith in a living God. For it is a thing beyond the grasp of reason. It transcends reason. There are numerous phenomena from which you can reason out the existence of God, but I shall not insult your intelligence by offering you a rational explanation of that type. I would have you brush aside all rational explanations and begin with a simple childlike faith in God. If I exist, God exists. With me it is a necessity of my being as it is with millions. They may not be able to talk about it, but from their life you can see that it is a part of their life. I am only asking you to restore the belief that has been undermined. In order to do so, you have to unlearn a lot of literature that dazzles your intelligence and throws you off your feet. Start with the faith which is also a token of humility and an admission that we know nothing, that we are less than atoms in this universe. We are less than atoms, I say, because the atom obeys the law of its being, whereas we in the insolence of our ignorance deny the law of nature. But I have no argument to address to those who have no faith.
There will have to be rigid and iron discipline before we achieve anything great and enduring, and that discipline will not come by mere academic argument and appeal to reason and logic. Discipline is learnt in the school of adversity.
Socrates says that writing forces us to follow an argument rather than to participate in it, and I think you see that all the time when the professor is giving a lecture. Students are writing their notes, trying to follow the argument, and abandon any hope of participating in it.
Then if the first argument remains secure (for nobody will produce a neater one, than the length of the periodic time is a measure of the size of the spheres), the order of the orbits follows this sequence, beginning from the highest: The first and highest of all is the sphere of the fixed stars, which contains itself and all things, and is therefore motionless. It is the location of the universe, to which the motion and position of all the remaining stars is referred. For though some consider that it also changes in some respect, we shall assign another cause for its appearing to do so in our deduction of the Earth's motion. There follows Saturn, the first of the wandering stars, which completes its circuit in thirty years. After it comes Jupiter which moves in a twelve-year long revolution. Next is Mars, which goes round biennially. An annual revolution holds the fourth place, in which as we have said is contained the Earth along with the lunar sphere which is like an epicycle. In fifth place Venus returns every nine months. Lastly, Mercury holds the sixth place, making a circuit in the space of eighty days. In the middle of all is the seat of the Sun. For who in this most beautiful of temples would put this lamp in any other or better place than the one from which it can illuminate everything at the same time? Aptly indeed is he named by some the lantern of the universe, by others the mind, by others the ruler. Trismegistus called him the visible God, Sophocles' Electra, the watcher over all things. Thus indeed the Sun as if seated on a royal throne governs his household of Stars as they circle around him. Earth also is by no means cheated of the Moon's attendance, but as Aristotle says in his book On Animals the Moon has the closest affinity with the Earth. Meanwhile the Earth conceives from the Sun, and is made pregnant with annual offspring. We find, then, in this arrangement the marvellous symmetry of the universe, and a sure linking together in harmony of the motion and size of the spheres, such as could be perceived in no other way. For here one may understand, by attentive observation, why Jupiter appears to have a larger progression and retrogression than Saturn, and smaller than Mars, and again why Venus has larger ones than Mercury; why such a doubling back appears more frequently in Saturn than in Jupiter, and still more rarely in Mars and Venus than in Mercury; and furthermore why Saturn, Jupiter and Mars are nearer to the Earth when in opposition than in the region of their occultation by the Sun and re-appearance. Indeed Mars in particular at the time when it is visible throughout the night seems to equal Jupiter in size, though marked out by its reddish colour; yet it is scarcely distinguishable among stars of the second magnitude, though recognized by those who track it with careful attention. All these phenomena proceed from the same course, which lies in the motion of the Earth. But the fact that none of these phenomena appears in the fixed stars shows their immense elevation, which makes even the circle of their annual motion, or apparent motion, vanish from our eyes.
The shape of the earth is noble and spherical, and its motion is circular, though it could be more perfect. And since in the world there is no maximum in perfections, motions and figures (as is evident from what has already been said) it is not true that this earth is the vilest and lowest [of the bodies of the world], for though it seems to be more central in relation to the world, it is also, for the same reason, nearer to the pole. Neither is this earth a proportional, or aliquot part of the world, for as the world has neither maximum, nor minimum, neither has it a moiety, nor aliquot parts, any more than a man or an animal [has them]; for the hand is not an aliquot part of the man, though its weight seems to have a proportion to the body, just as it does to the dimension and the figure. Nor is the dark colour [of the earth] an argument for its baseness, because to an observer on the sun, it [the sun] would not appear as brilliant as it does to us; indeed, the body of the sun must have a certain more central part, a quasi earth, and a certain circumferential quasi-fiery lucidity, and in the middle a quasi-watery cloud and clear air, just as this earth has its elements. Thus someone outside the region of fire would see [the earth as] a brilliant star, just as to us, who are outside the region of the sun, the sun appears very luminous.
Naive falsificationism takes it for granted that the laws of nature are manifest and not hidden beneath disturbances of considerable magnitude. Empiricism takes it for granted that sense experience is a better mirror of the world than pure thought. Praise of argument takes it for granted that the artifices of Reason give better results than the unchecked play of our emotions. Such assumptions may be perfectly plausible and even true. Still, one should occasionally put them to a test. Putting them to a test means that we stop using the methodology associated with them, start doing science in a different way and see what happens.
We have to realize that a unified theory of the physical world simply does not exist. We have theories that work in restricted regions, we have purely formal attempts to condense them into a single formula, we have lots of unfounded claims (such as the claim that all of chemistry can be reduced to physics), phenomena that do not fit into the accepted framework are suppressed; in physics, which many scientists regard as the one really basic science, we have now at least three different point of view (relativity, dealing with the very large, quantum theory for an intermediate domain and various particle models for the very small) without a promise of conceptual (and not only formal) unification; perceptions are outside of the material universe (the mind-body problem is still unsolved) - from the very beginning the salesman of a universal truth cheated people into admissions instead of clearly arguing for their philosophy. And let us not forget that it was they and not the representatives of the traditions they attacked who introduced argument as the one and only universal arbiter. They praised argument - they constantly violated its principles.
There's a whole argument in the relief world about whether aid undermines the social and political contract between the state and its citizens. But if the government can't provide assistance, do you want to allow people to die?
In the manner of good-for-nothing and haughty servants, we cry out against the
face of God and say, ‘It is hard, it is difficult, we cannot do it, we are but men, we are
encompassed by frail flesh!’ [The argument of the Gnostics] What blind madness! What
unholy foolhardiness! We accuse God of a twofold lack of knowledge, so that he appears
not to know what he has done, and not to know what he has commanded; as if, forgetful
of the human frailty of which he is himself the author, he has imposed on man commands
which he cannot bear. And, at the same time, oh horror!, we ascribe iniquity to the
righteous and cruelty to the holy, while complaining, first, that he has commanded
something impossible, secondly, that man is to be damned by him for doing things which
he was unable to avoid, so that God – and this is something which even to suspect is
sacrilege – seems to have sought not so much our salvation as our punishment.
In modern ethical treatises we find hardly any mention of God; and the idea that if there really is a God, his commandments might be morally relevant is wont to be dismissed by a short and simple argument that is generally regarded as irrefutable. 'If what God commands is not right, then the fact of his commanding it is no moral reason for obedience, though it may in that case be dangerous to disobey. And if what God commands is right, even so it is not God's commanding it that makes it right; on the contrary, God as a moral being would command only what was right apart from his commanding it. So God has no essential place in the foundations of morals.
If a philosopher says he doubts whether there is anything objectionable in the practice of lying, he is not to be heard. Perhaps he is not sincere in what he says; perhaps his understanding is debauched by wickedness; perhaps, as often happens to philosophers, he has been deluded by a fallacious argument into denying what he really knows to be the case. Anyhow, it does not lie in his mouth to say that here I am abandoning argument for abuse; there is something logically incongruous, to use Newman's phrase, if we take the word of a Professor of Lying that he does not lie. Let me emphasize that I am not saying a sane and honest man must think one should never lie; but I say that, even if he thinks lying is sometimes a necessary evil, a sane and honest man must think it an evil.
Those who are persuaded that Anarchy is a collection of visions relating to the future, and an unconscious striving toward the destruction of all present civilization, are still very numerous; and to clear the ground of such prejudices of our education as maintain this view we should have, perhaps, to enter into many details which it would be difficult to embody in a single lecture. Did not the Parisian press, only two or three years ago, maintain that the whole philosophy of Anarchy consisted in destruction, and that its only argument was violence?
So far as this argument is concerned nonhuman animals and infants and retarded humans are in the same category; and if we use this argument to justify experiments on nonhuman animals we have to ask ourselves whether we are also prepared to allow experiments on human infants and retarded adults; and if we make a distinction between animals and these humans, on what basis can we do it, other than a bare-faced - and morally indefensible - preference for members of our own species?
That is what we have done, and still do, with other species. They're effectively things; they're property that we can own, buy and sell. We use them as is convenient and we keep them in ways that suit us best, producing products we want at the cheapest prices. So my argument is simply that this is wrong, this is not justifiable if we want to defend the idea of human equality against those who have a narrower definition. I don't think we can say that somehow we, as humans, are the sole repository of all moral value, and that all beings beyond our species don't matter. I think they do matter, and we need to expand our moral consideration to take that into account.
Who over-refines his argument brings himself to grief.
murder, my meaning would be understood at once. No extended argument would be required to show that the power to take from a man his thought, his will, his personality, is a power of life and death; and that to enslave a man is to kill him. Why, then, to this other question: What is property? May I not likewise answer, It is robbery, without the certainty of being misunderstood; the second proposition being no other than a transformation of the first?
In general, people have not realized that one can express our very essence through neutral constructive elements; that is to say, we can express the essence of art. The essence of art of course in not often sought. As a rule, individualist human nature is so predominant, that the expression of the essence of art through a rhythm of lines, colors, and relationships appears insufficient. Recently, even a great artist has declared that ‘complete indifference to the subject leads to an incomplete form of art.’ But everybody agrees that art is only a problem of plastics. What good then is a subject? It is to be understand that one would need a subject to expound something named ‘Spiritual riches, human sentiments and thoughts.’ Obviously, all this is individual and needs particular forms. But at the root of these sentiments and thoughts there is one thought and one sentiment: those do not easily define themselves and have no need of analogous forms in which to express themselves. It is here that neutral plastic means are demanded. For pure art then, the subject can never be an additional value, it is the line, the color, and their relations which must ‘bring into play the whole sensual and intellectual register of the inner life…,’ not the subject. Both in abstract art and in naturalistic art color expresses itself ‘in accordance with the form by which it is determined,’ and in all art it is the artists task to make forms and colors living and capable of arousing emotion. If he makes art into an ‘algebraic equation’ that is no argument against the art, it only proves that he is not an artist.