How did it come to be that we live in a democratic rule of law – and the majority of the world population doesn’t? How did this happen? What does that say about our culture? And can we perhaps derive what a culture needs for democracy? What are the cultural conditions for a democracy to come into being and to function?
The implicit theme throughout Gladiator: No matter how powerful, the pain of a man whose soul has been irreversibly corrupted, far exceeds the pain of a righteous man whose wife and son have been murdered and has been reduced to abject slavery.
There are some characteristics that most if not all forms of identity politics share. These are 1) a peculiar relationship between the self and the collective, 2) a tendency to measure marginalisation, 3) a strong focus on the concept of power and 4) the lack of some utopian vision. Let’s go through these characteristics one by one.
“The truth is that the masses grew out of the fragments of a highly atomized society whose competitive structure and concomitant loneliness of the individual had been held in check only through membership in a class. The chief characteristic of the mass man is not brutality and backwardness, but his isolation and lack of normal social relationships.”
Most people think of the late Stephen Hawking as the ultimate scientist. However great Hawking was, he too had a mentor: Roger Penrose (b. 1931). Penrose is not as widely known as his fellow scientist, but he is one of the towering figures of twentieth-century mathematics, physics and cosmology.
Cicero, his Roman contemporary Cato the Younger, and his Roman philosophical successors, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, went some way to developing Latin Stoicism, which stood some distance from its Greek predecessor, tempered as it was with Roman values and martial culture, which in an imperial, militaristic power such as Rome, was quite different to that of the intellectual, comfortable lives of many Athenian Greek philosophers.
After Peterson appeared on Joe Rogan last year, I decided to watch his lecture series Personality and its Transformations, Maps of Meaning and The Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories. Prety profound stuff, with one central theme: how to be in the world as an individual.
“It does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them and directs them; it rarely forces action, but it constantly opposes your acting; it does not destroy, it prevents birth; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, it represses, it enervates, it extinguishes, it stupifies, and finally it reduces each nation to being nothing more than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”
“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories, comes afterwards.”
In the text below, we’ll summarise the first hour of the lecture “Introduction to the idea of God”, in which Peterson aims to formulate a psychological framework for the emergence and interpretation of the concept of god. Why? Well, because sometimes a fifteen-minute read to absorb and recap beats sitting through a two-hour lecture.
Steiner states that in the 18th and 19th century, philosophical and artistic progress led to such great heights, that we as Western Civilization thought we had reached a maximum. The emphasis of rationality in science secularised philosophy and with the Death of God, as Nietzsche proclaimed, we humans were from now on supposed rule our own lives and create our own values.
But with the death of God came something else. With the progress of science, we started to separate natural and traditional phenomena from a transcendent meaning or purpose.