Category: Philosophy

Was Nietzsche an aristocratic elitist?

Nietzsche is often portrayed as an aristocratic elitist, whose main concern was with the higher morals and who strongly opposed any type of herd mentality. Although this is generally true, albeit very crudely formulated (and indeed oversimplified), for some reason there is also a consideration that because Nietzsche was concerned with higher morals, he was therefore also an elitist aristocrat in his political views, disavowing any sense of egalitarian community. He is considered to be...

Differences between Marxism, Leninism, Trotskyism, Stalinism, and Maoism

While teaching a module on the Communist Manifesto (and the Manifesto alone), a student of mine admitted to struggle with different forms of Marxism. Though I am not an expert on these, being schooled in Marxism only, it became apparent that I should perhaps have a somewhat rudimentary knowledge of what the differences are in order to satisfy different interests. At the same time, there are many forms of Marxism – so to enumerate all...

Is there a paradox in Kant’s ethics? Must we tell the truth?

There has been quite some misunderstanding in undergraduate courses on Kant’s moral philosophy. The general argument presented there is that Kant as a deontological thinker places greater value on duty/rules than on anything else. So the general argument that is presented to undergraduates in order to make them think further, is that Kant would under no circumstances allow lying. Those who study philosophy have certainly heard the famed axe-man scenario: A well-known murder knocks on...

Science and ethics, through Wittgenstein’s Tractatus

Wittgenstein famously ends his Tractatus with the seventh proposition: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one should be silent.” (Ogden trans.) Simple enough, it would seem. Not able to say something meaningful, or add something meaningful to the conversation? Then better not speak at all! But this is not a sufficient explanation – it is precisely what is ‘meaningful’ that is at stake with this proposition. Let us put Tractatus in perspective first. For early (‘Tractarian’) Wittgenstein,...

Five ways of reading Plato

Five ways of reading Plato

When approaching Plato’s dialogues, we are led to a quandary concerning several contradictory positions held, and yet attributed to Socrates. The most blatant of these is between the positions held in Protagoras and Gorgias regarding the Socrates’ view(s) on pleasure. In the former he equates what is ‘good’ with pleasure; while in the latter he rejects this equation put forward by one of his interlocutors (Callicles). I am not interested in resolving this contradiction. Many respected academics...

On Socrates and his trial

“there could never have been a Platonic philosophy without such beautiful young men in Athens: the sight of them is what first puts the philosopher’s soul in an erotic rapture and won’t let it rest until it has sunk the seed of all high things into such beautiful soil [reference to Symposium 206a-207b] . . . At the very least, you have to think that people in Athens had a different way of philosophizing, especially...

Carl Schmitt and civil war

Carl Schmitt is relevant – this is my basic premise. There are many fascinating theorists, some perhaps more fascinating than Schmitt, but the basic premise of relevance cannot be applied to all of them equally. Schmitt’s relevance is not something that can be easily explained in a post. But there is an interesting anecdote recounted by George Schwab (his translator into English), that even mentioning Schmitt’s name in academic debates/arguments would be met with “hostility”...

Friedrich Nietzsche and Lou von Salomé, the myth of marriage proposals

The following is not really a paradox as such, but rather falls into the category that I call ‘philosophy gossip’. It could still be thought of as a paradox, but then in the Greek sense of the word – something that is “contrary to common belief”. There is also a double paradox that is the result of the following analysis; though my primary aim here is to shed some light on a historical misrepresentation that...

Wheels on the bus parody

Philosophers on the bus (nursery rhyme parody)

Heraclitus on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round. Heraclitus on the bus go round and round, all day long … Diogenes with his barrel goes Swish, swish, swish; Swish, swish, swish. Swish, swish, swish. Diogenes with his barrel goes Swish, swish, swish, all day long … Wittgenstein’s broken whistle goes Beep, beep, beep; Beep, beep, beep. Beep, beep, beep. Wittgenstein’s broken whistle goes Beep, beep, beep, all day long...

Benjamin Arditi, On the Political, Schmitt

Paradox of the political – Benjamin Arditi

In a long time of absence, a lot of thoughts come to mind. And yet, it remains very difficult to write about them. Everywhere one looks, he encounters one paradox or another – and yet, little writing is a result. My phone is by now full of paradoxes to write about. So an attempt has to be made to make the list somewhat smaller. Today’s paradox is to be found in Benjamin Arditi’s view of...