Oceans and flowers, alpine mountains and the stars
in the sky derive what we call their value entirely
from their reflections in subjective souls. As soon as
we disregard the mystic and fantastic
anthropomorphizing of nature, it appears as a
continuous whole, whose undifferentiated character
denies its individual parts any special emphasis, any
existence which is objectively delimited from others.
It is only human categories that cut out individual
parts, to which we ascribe meaning and value.
Ironically, we then construct poetic fictions which
create a natural beauty that is holy within itself. In
reality, however, nature has no other holiness than
the one which it evokes within us.
29 September 2013
Oceans and flowers, alpine mountains and the stars
28 September 2013
Susan James is Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London. Her areas of research are early-modern philosophy, political philosophy and feminist philosophy. Other areas of interest include Heidegger, and the Existentialists. Her publications include: The Content of Social Explanation (1984); Beyond Equality and Difference (1992) and Passion and Action: The Emotions in Seventeenth-century Philosophy (1997).
26 September 2013
"Christopher Spencer’s Spinoza: The Apostle of Reason (1994) is the second film to be shown in the In Defense of Philosophy series. Written by Tariq Ali, the film presents the life and thought of Baruch Spinoza against the turmoil of seventeenth-century Europe. A fascinating modern man, Spinoza challenged orthodoxy in both religion and politics, angering his traditional contemporaries. Spinoza’s remarkable intellectual legacy has influenced thinkers as varied as Ludwig Wittgenstein, Gilles Deleuze, Albert Einstein and John Berger."
I call him free who is led solely by reason—Baruch Spinoza
21 September 2013
Sift through the promises
Replay the interviews
Step inside the booth
Forget scripted speeches
And candy wrapped slogans
Weigh again each pro and con
Remember the teeming world
Its people who dream of freedom
So many denied, the right to decide
Read the names
Imagine a future
Make the best choice
In the space between breaths
Your voice is heard
Without a word
28 July 2013
"All the wonderful moments spent together
We could keep holding on forever"
Send a poem to that special person in your life on National Poetry Day: 16 August 2013
While in dark ignorance we lay afraid
of fancies, ghost and every empty shade:
Great Hobbes appeared, and by plain reason's light
Put such fantastic forms to shameful flightRead
3 June 2013
Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear,
Or, like a fairy, trip upon the green,
Or, like a nymph, with long dishevell'd hair,
Dance on the sands, and yet no footing seen:
Love is a spirit all compact of fire,
Not gross to sink, but light, and will aspire.
3 March 2013
But only Nature's aspect and her law,
Which, teaching us, hath this exordium:
Nothing from nothing ever yet was born
1 February 2013
A Theory of Justice is a work of political philosophy and ethics by John Rawls, but it has now become the inspiration for an all-singing, all-dancing romp through 2,500 years of political philosophy! The world’s first feature-length musical about political philosophy.
“The musical conveys Rawls’s ideas in an easily-accessible manner for an audience not familiar with Rawls’s work, and seeks to reconstruct that sense of wonder and inspiration that so many philosophy students feel when they are introduced to the Veil of Ignorance for the first time,”Eylon Aslan-Levy.Read
19 January 2013
'If Sharks were people,' the landlady's daughter asked Mr K, would they be nicer to the little fishes?'
'Certainly', he said. 'If sharks were people they would have enormous boxes built in the sea for the little fishes with all sorts of things for them to eat in them, plants as well as animal matter. They would see to it that the boxes always had fresh water and, in general, the hygienic measures of all kinds. For instance, if a little fish injured one of its fins, it would be bandaged at once, so that the sharks should not be deprived of it by an untimely death. To prevent the little fishes from growing depressed there would be big water festivals from time to time, for happy little fish taste better than miserable ones...
'Moreover, if sharks were people, not all little fishes would be equal any more as they are now. Some of them would be given positions and be set over the others. The slightly bigger ones would even be allowed to gobble up the smaller ones. That would give nothing but pleasure to the sharks, since they would more often get larger morsels for themselves. And the bigger little fishes, those holding positions, would be responsible for keeping order among the little fishes, become teachers, officers, box-building engineers and so on. In short, the sea would only start being civilized if sharks were people.'
From Tales from the Calendar by Bertolt Brecht, tr. Y. Kapp.Read
7 May 2012
Feelings travel, change, reverse, forward
Backwards, upside in, downside out
Inconsistency, change, reverse, forward, backward
2 April 2012
No more – no more – Oh! Never more on me
The freshness of the heart can fall like dew,
Which out of all the lovely things we see
Extracts emotions beautiful and new,
Hived in our bosoms like the bag o’ the bee:
Think’st thou the honey with those objects grew?
Alas! ‘twas not in them, but in thy power
To double even the sweetness of a flower.
7 December 2011
Through blue summer nights I will pass along paths,
Pricked by wheat, trampling short grass:
Dreaming, I will feel coolness underfoot,
Will let breezes bathe my bare head.
Not a word, not a thought:
Boundless love will surge through my soul,
And I will wander far away, a vagabond
In Nature - as happily as with a woman.
17 October 2011
Words are like days:
colouring books or pickpockets,
signposts or scratching posts,
fakirs over hot coals.
Certain words must be earned
just as emotions are suffered
before they can be uttered
- clean as a kept promise.
Words as witnesses
testifying their truths
squalid or rarefied
But, words must not carry
more than they can
it's not good for their backs
or their reputations.
For, whether they dance alone
or with an invisible partner,
every word is a cosmos
dissolving the inarticulate
13 September 2011
From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.
1 February 2011
the woman on the lawnmower
finally she just lost her mind
this lovely neighbor of mine
school teacher whose man decided
to just pick up and leave her for no
particular reason on a motorcycle
with a much younger woman out to
california and now she just gets on
her lawnmower and mows her lawn
every midnight as you can
hear the purr of her engine
and those headlights.
in many ways i can
relate to her and
love to watch
back and forth
across the night
and god how
sight so much helps
me to forget this godforsaken place
like some strange secret escape
and for all you half-crazed uptight
all-knowing no-it-all neighbors
you can go fuck yourselves
as for me out in these deep
and decrepit desolate suburbs
she's truly a breath of fresh air
on to flick on
and foggy front
pair of porchlights
and you imagine
yourself in there.