A Ku Indeed!

Cameron Diaz Slips on Path to Junzi

Posted in Chinese Philosophy by Chris on June 25, 2007

Today Cameron Diaz made the news, but unfortunately for the wrong reasons. Here below you see the problem:


Seems unproblematic, no? Just Cameron rather taking pictures of the Pervian countryside. Unfortunately, Diaz’s bag contains a saying from Mao Zedong “serve the people”. Doubly unfortunate is the fact that Peru has had a bloody history associated with followers of the Mao-inspired guerilla insurgency the Shining Path. As a consequence, and not surprisingly, many Peruvians were upset by what was no doubt seen as a direct insult or, at best, an act of insensitivity.


Analect 1.1: Putting It Into Practice

Posted in Chinese Philosophy, Course Material by Chris on June 18, 2007

Analects 1.1 reads:

The Master said, “Is it not pleasant to learn with a constant perseverance and application? Is it not delightful to have friends coming from distant quarters? Is he not a man of complete virtue, who feels no discomposure though men may take no note of him?”

There are three points here, and my guess is that they are closely related, at least insofar as they make up the composition of the first aphorism of the book. My instinct here tells me that there are three lessons here of central importance to the book. The three separate points are: (more…)

Analect 1.2: Practical Identity

Posted in Analects, Chinese Philosophy by Chris on June 16, 2007

The philosopher Yu said, “They are few who, being filial and fraternal, are fond of offending against their superiors. There have been none, who, not liking to offend against their superiors, have been fond of stirring up confusion.

“The superior man bends his attention to the roots. That being established, all practical courses naturally grow up. Filial piety and fraternal submission,-are they not the root of all benevolent actions?”

Analects 1.2 appears to have two main points, namely;

1. That filial piety and fraternal submission are the roots of benevolence (jen).
2. That those who partake in cultivating certain habits (filial piety and fraternal submission) are less likely to engage in certain behaviors (in this case, rebellion). (more…)

Inverse Cripples with Big Ears

Posted in Course Material by Chris on June 16, 2007


It seems that a lot of people liked the Inverse Cripples from Zarathustra. I think it is an interesting section as well. Here I just wanted to put out two ways in which one can understand this notion (there are more, I’m sure, but here are my two). I think Zarathustra is saying that there’s a relation between them, such that one can obtain only when the other does.

(1) We ought to master our self, this understood as a set of drives that should be unified.

This means that we must create a “ruling drive” or idea that we will create ourselves in the image of, and once we have posited this idea, we must carve or sculpt ourselves — in all of the dimensions of our lives — in terms of it. To “compartmentalize” is to become an inverse cripple, someone who is developed in one place but not another. So, say I want to be “caring”. That’s my ruling ideal. Okay, but let’s assume that I am very caring to my students, to my colleagues, but I am not caring at home, and mostly because I’m so driven to figure out ways to be caring to my students that I ignore my family. Then I’ve become an inverse cripple, I’ve compartmentalized care so that it exists in one aspect of my life and not another.

(2) We ought to master our selves, now understood as a temporal wholes expanded over time.

Note that (1) requires that I master my present self, and that I will to be a certain person into the future. But what about the past? If I fail to master the past, then once again I become an inverse cripple, developed only in certain areas. I think what Nietzsche (of Z) is saying is that only a person who has succeeded at (1) can possibly attempt (2), which is much harder to do. Still, (1) is not sufficient for a creator who seeks to be whole. What (2) entails, I’ll leave up to you, but I think this is, on my reading, what Z is trying to say.


Feminism and Weakness

Posted in Course Material by Chris on June 16, 2007

Catchy title, eh?

Anyway — as some of you know, I teach Feminist Theory here at Drury, so I’ve thought quite a bit about the various feminist movements that have sprung up over the years. What I think is interesting is to try to apply — as DruryDude does in his/her blog this week — the Nietzschean “paradigm” of master-slave to the way feminism has emerged over the years. Can you use N’s schema to analyze social movements? It’s a very interesting question. One would think that it should be applicable. What you’d be looking for is this basic setup:

1. Group X is oppressed by group Y, and Y has more power than X.
2. The meaning of the lives of people X and Y are determined by the stories and meanings created by Y (this just is power, for N).
3. Group X revolts (in a way), by creating a new story that gives a different meaning to the lives of X and Y.
4. The new meanings for Y are negative is orientation; meaning that X’s way of seeing Y’s qualities sees them as bad or evil or inauthentic or something of that sort.
5. Group Y’s qualities are the reverse of X’s, and thus, by extension, they become good and authentic. (more…)

Language and Power

Posted in Course Material by Chris on June 16, 2007

I skipped over what I think is a very interesting passage in the Genealogy yesterday. I’d like to mention it here so that I can hear your comments. In the second section of the first essay, Nietzsche writes:

[quote]The lordly right of giving names extends so far that one should allow oneself to conceive the origin of language itself as an expression of power on the part of the rulers: they say “this is this and this”, they seal every thing and event with a sound and, as it were, take possession of it.[/quote]

This is very interesting. Nietzsche seems to be making a few claims here. (more…)

Personal Virtue

Posted in Course Material by Chris on June 16, 2007

In Fear and Trembling Kierkegaard discusses the difference between what he calls the “tragic hero” and the “knight of faith”. His examples of the two are Agammemon or Brutus for the former (tragic hero) and Abraham for the latter (knight of faith). I find what he says here interesting. According to Kierkegaard, the tragic hero is like the knight of infinite resignation. Here’s how:

Picture Agammemnon. He is called upon by Poseidon to sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia, in order to get the wind to start up, thus allowing Agammemnon to set sail with the Greek navy towards Troy. So essentially Agammemon is in a dilemma. If he refuses to kill his daughter, then he fails as a King; if he kills his daughter than he fails as a father. So he’s in the perverbial “tragic dilemma” from which he cannot emerge unharmed. So Agammemnon, so the story goes, kills his daughter. So he’s a murderer,[i] but[/i] the deed can be understood within the ethical itself — he is [i]also[/i] bound by his higher duty to his citizens as the King. (more…)