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Old February 24th, 2017, 03:32 PM   #1
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Civilization

'
You can be said to have an understanding of the rudiments of civilized life if you can understand the meaning of this little story. It is my own translation from the 3rd century BC Chinese philosopher, Huai Nan-zi.

THE OLD MAN ON THE FRONTIER LOSES A HORSE

Among the people who lived close to the border, there was a man who was adept as a sage. The man owned a mare which one day escaped and went off into barbarian territory. Everyone pitied him, but the old man said : "What makes you think it is not good fortune?"

Several months later, his mare returned, with a superb barbarian stallion following her. Everyone congratulated the old man. But he said: "What makes you think this cannot be a misfortune?"

The family was richer by a good horse, and the old man's son liked to ride it. One day the son was thrown from the spirited stallion, broke his hip and was lamed for life. Everyone pitied him, but the old man said: "What makes you think this is not good fortune!"

One year later, there was a large incursion of barbarians into the borderlands. Every able-bodied young man was drafted and went off to war ---but the old man's son was rejected on account of his lameness. Of those who went off, nine out of ten were killed. The son was spared because he was lame, so he and his father had each other to rely on for support.

So good fortune changes into bad fortune; bad fortune changes into good fortune. There is no limit to transformation; its depth cannot be fathomed.


The Chinese have the Dao; the poor Americans only have the Dow.
.
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Old February 24th, 2017, 03:38 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by numan View Post
'

The Chinese have the Dao; the poor Americans only have the Dow.
.

WRONG! Only the upper & middle class. The poor have only enough for booze & cigarettes.
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Old February 26th, 2017, 04:50 PM   #3
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When I visited the Imperial Palace in Beijing, in the throne room, above the throne was a giant placard with the three Chinese characters "WEI WU WEI".

Literally, the three characters translate to: "DOING WITHOUT DOING".

However, in Chinese this really means something like ACHIEVE WITHOUT STRIVING.

This is a principle of Chinese civilization which has permeated that society for thousands of years, and which one ignores or violates at one's peril.

One small instantiation of this principle produced what the Japanese call jujitsu and aikido.

It is as fundamental to East Asian civilization as "love thy neighbor" has been to the culture of the West. Just as "love thy neighbor" has been endlessly violated by people in our culture, "wei wu wei" has been violated in the culture of east Asia --- but equally, one must recognize that each principle has had profound influences in their respective cultures.

It is utterly absurd to imagine that G.W. Bush or Trump could ever have, in the Oval Office, a plaque inscribed Achieve without Striving.

Though I could easily imagine that they should have one inscribed Strive without Achieving. ---
.
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Old February 26th, 2017, 05:49 PM   #4
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The "Obama free stuff" people must have somehow heard the saying, and took it literally.
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Old February 26th, 2017, 07:30 PM   #5
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Civilisation and Barbarism

One of my favourite movies is Alain Resnais' marvelous 1961 classic, L'Année Dernière à Marienbad: "Last Year at Marienbad." It resonates so much with my vision of Western civilization. There are so many wonderful aspects of western culture, and I would feel an unutterable impoverishment of my soul if I were no longer a participant in that civilization, particularly its "high culture." Yet deep in my heart there is a kind of disgust for the core of that civilization.

What is it that I find so repellent about Western civilization? In a word: grandeur. Even worse: folie de grandeur. Running like a cancer through the Western soul is an obsessive and unceasing egoism and vanity, an urge to present oneself as more than one really is. There is a dreadful pomposity about so much of the traditional high culture of Europe; one sees it in music, architecture, painting, cuisine, even furniture! Everything is unremittingly grand, crowded with ornateness, so often wearying to eye, ear and mind. All those nobles and prelates insisting on their portraits being crammed into the most sacred works of art! Since the artists were the creatures ---- indeed, the slaves ---- of the nobility and the Church, they had no choice but to flatter the obscenely inflated vanity of those who held power over them.

L'Année Dernière à Marienbad exemplifies all this magnificently. There is never a moment's respite from grandeur, it is stifling, obsessive and delirious. The people are slaves to convention, to formality, to the lies of their delusions. There is not an inch of space on which to relax, to be human. Remember the wonderful scene in the formal gardens of the spa: the trees, bushes, buildings cast shadows: but the people do not! They wander like aimless ghosts through the grandeur of European civilization ---- and its wreckage! The film has a quality of dream, nightmare, delirium ---- even of the after-death state.

When I compare China with Europe, I find the high culture of traditional China immensely more refreshing and appealing. Chinese high culture is a super-sophisticated refinement of peasant culture. It rarely loses touch with the human and humane soil out of which it grows. Traditional Chinese architecture was usually constructed of wood, it seldom strove to intimidate and awe, it was built for human beings, not princes and demi-gods, and its ideal was to blend in with nature and the landscape.

The traditional Chinese gentleman has been described as one who was a Confucian when he held office, and a Daoist in private life. Chinese gentlemen were expected to master five skills: calligraphy (an extremely powerful and subtle form of Chinese writing), painting, poetry, playing the qin (a type of zither with silk strings and no frets), and the game of wei-qi (a Chinese game better known in the West under the Japanese name go). He was expected to have other accomplishments as well, but these five were basic. Note that they were all highly portable; three of them required no more than paper, ink and brush ---- and a refined consciousness.

Compare these with the heavy impedimenta of European nobility, and you may gain a tongue-tip taste of true, refined elegance.
_________________________________________

The civilized are those who get more out of life than the uncivilized, and for this the uncivilized have not forgiven them.
---- Cyril Connolly
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Old February 28th, 2017, 03:23 PM   #6
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Interestingly, America has seen a wave of classical string players coming out of Korea and Vietnam. They are winning most of the American awards for young violinists. China is just getting warmed up. It takes an "ideal" American student to compare....

In 1978 I was walking through a village in the Western Hills, outside of Beijing, and heard someone in an upper window playing Mozart on the violin---and playing it quite well. It was moving to know that something of beauty had survived the brutality of the so-called "Cultural Revolution."

The same year, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra came on tour to China---I think it was the first tour after the Cultural Revolution by a major western symphony orchestra.

I attended the performance in Beijing. It was a very mixed audience---tickets were still being alloted to soldiers, factory workers and the like who had no knowledge of Western music. The Toronto Symphony played a number of warhorses, and one rather long, "aggressively modern"---and very atonal---piece, which I thought was a mistake, given the circumstances. The applause through the performance was rather tepid.

As a finale, A member of the orchestra played a traditional Chinese melody on a native Chinese two-string fiddle. That was more appreciated by the audience. Then, to everyone's amazement, the full orchestra took the same melody and gave it a full orchestral treatment. It was a very powerful experience, and when they finished, the audience went wild with applause !

Won't it be ironic if the best of Western culture is preserved by the Chinese, whilst the synthetic "culture" of American info-tainment plummets ever further into the abyss of the barbaric caterwauling of "pop" music?

I am reminded of the image I retain of a French Riviera beach, where very black Africans in business suits were selling trinkets to French nude sun-bathers.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

· · ·
.
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Old February 28th, 2017, 04:25 PM   #7
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I am quite aware that many treasures of high culture are preserved in the United States and that there are many more-or-less civilized citizens who can appreciate them. Why not? The USA is a rich country, and can well afford these luxuries for the few.

As a whole, though, in the greater society, these treasures are few and far between. They are the tattered remnants of beauty, tiny islets crumbling before the onslaughts of the savage sea surrounding them, lashed by waves of frenzied info-tainment, and the barbaric screams and whoops and hollers of the cannibal hordes who encircle them.

The remnants of beauty and harmony and taste are reduced to being museum pieces --- no longer guiding stars for living society, which descends ever further into disorder, crime, murder---and worst of all---bad taste!
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Old February 28th, 2017, 04:51 PM   #8
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Beauty found so simply fired
A season scent, tendrils wrapped
Heated embrace
deeply breath inhaled
Words are placed and thought inspired
No pedestal or frame
All is in place as nothing failed
No institute required

For beautiful in boredom mired.
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Old March 8th, 2017, 07:57 AM   #9
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The Political Fray > Philosophy > Civilization
numan, et al,

This maybe an inspired view point; but maybe misguided through the twist in the information chain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EXCERPT FROM: numan View Post
... Why not? The USA is a rich country, and can well afford these luxuries for the few.
(COMMENT)

Most people (layman on the subject) are easily mislead about the Wealth of a Nation or what exactly that means. These laymen generally use the Gross National Product (GNP) and call it a day. Using that standard, you would say (the thumbnail view is the market value of all final goods and services produced in 2016) the wealthiest nation in the world were:

TOP FIVE WEALTHIEST NATIONS
• United States,
• China,
• Germany,
• Japan,
• UK
In fact, you would not be far-off if you were to say that the US hold about a quarter (≈25%) of the worlds wealth. (Having said that, do you feel that wealthy?) Most people in America do not. Why, because of the distribution of wealth.
See: Global Finance: What do we mean when we apply terms like “richest” and “poorest” to entire countries? February 13, 2017 Author: Jonathan Gregson
You'll come to understand that the US is not so rich in comparison to other nations in the world. In fact, the none of the TOP FIVE nations ranked by GDP are in the IMF TOP TEN ranking when considering purchasing power.

The TOP FIVE ranking based on the GDP-PPP (GDP, adjusted for purchasing power parity) are:
•∆• Qatar
•∆• Luxembourg
•∆• Macao
•∆• Singapore
•∆• Brunel Darussalam


Quote:
Originally Posted by EXCERPT FROM: numan View Post

As a whole, though, in the greater society, these treasures are few and far between. They are the tattered remnants of beauty, tiny islets crumbling before the onslaughts of the savage sea surrounding them, lashed by waves of frenzied info-tainment, and the barbaric screams and whoops and hollers of the cannibal hordes who encircle them.

(COMMENT)

I'm not sure I know how to apply this or what it really means.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EXCERPT FROM: numan View Post
The remnants of beauty and harmony and taste are reduced to being museum pieces --- no longer guiding stars for living society, which descends ever further into disorder, crime, murder---and worst of all---bad taste!
.
(COMMENT)

Throughout America, as well a many other nations, there is this natural tendency to move from order to disorder in quasi-isolated economic systems. The appreciation of Beauty and Harmony in varies from one sub-culture to the next.

In fact, America is moving away from being the Mecca of Science and Philosophy. It is gradually moving away from encouraging greater levels of education. This educational and economic entropy cannot be reverse under the myopic governing leadership within the American Environment. And in this negative movement, the appreciation of the priceless artefacts that are thousands of years old diminishes.

Most respectfully,
R
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Old March 8th, 2017, 08:48 AM   #10
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Depending on if you use average or median in calculating a top list (other than GDP), you'll get a totally different top five. This is why the GDP is best, most accurate measure to use.
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Old March 8th, 2017, 08:55 AM   #11
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% of population below poverty line would be a good measure. NONE of the countries with LESS poverty than the U.S., would I prefer to, or consider living in.

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Old March 8th, 2017, 11:14 AM   #12
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Aufgeblassen, et al,

I actually like these proportional % scalars. But they often, as this one does, set another question in play.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aufgeblassen View Post
% of population below poverty line would be a good measure. NONE of the countries with LESS poverty than the U.S., would I prefer to, or consider living in.


(COMMENT)

Look at the vast difference between the % of Americans in poverty and that of Taiwan, South Korea and Belgium. Obviously their government is much more successful at managing a country than Washington.


This is not the only reason people in America are moving away from the failure generating mainstream political parties. It goes along way to explaining how The President got elected. And now, the same failures calling themselves Members of Congress are ignoring the problems of America AGAIN, and playing politics against The President.

Countries that are rich, are not as dominated by failed political incumbents as America and that demonstrates (only in part) how and why America's deteriorating. (See 2017 ASCE Infrastructure Report Card coming 9 MARCH 2017)

The economic and foundation health of America come only after decades of failed leadership and lack of focus from Washington.

Most Respectfully,
R

Last edited by RoccoR; March 8th, 2017 at 11:18 AM. Reason: Format Syntax
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Old March 8th, 2017, 12:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoccoR View Post
Aufgeblassen, et al,

I actually like these proportional % scalars. But they often, as this one does, set another question in play.

(COMMENT)

Look at the vast difference between the % of Americans in poverty and that of Taiwan, South Korea and Belgium. Obviously their government is much more successful at managing a country than Washington.


This is not the only reason people in America are moving away from the failure generating mainstream political parties. It goes along way to explaining how The President got elected. And now, the same failures calling themselves Members of Congress are ignoring the problems of America AGAIN, and playing politics against The President.

Countries that are rich, are not as dominated by failed political incumbents as America and that demonstrates (only in part) how and why America's deteriorating. (See 2017 ASCE Infrastructure Report Card coming 9 MARCH 2017)

The economic and foundation health of America come only after decades of failed leadership and lack of focus from Washington.

Most Respectfully,
R
Since 1965, the number +/- 2 points at the most, being relatively stable, indicating you can't really blame one Administration or party.

If you plotted gov't. spending vs. poverty rate, you would see only an upward sloping line for poverty! Indicating gov't spending does not help the poor, so cutting way back is indeed a good idea.

Wait! I found one:

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Old March 8th, 2017, 12:56 PM   #14
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REF: The Political Fray > Philosophy > Civilization
Aufgeblassen, et al,

Yes, as a matter of fact, this type of argument the political aspect of the Congress (as opposed to the "Administration") have effectively used for more than half a century.

War on Poverty After 50 Years
Rachel Sheffield and Robert Rector
The Heritage Foundation
Summary
In his January 1964 State of the Union address, President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed, “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.” In the 50 years since that time, U.S. taxpayers have spent over $22 trillion on anti-poverty programs. Adjusted for inflation, this spending (which does not include Social Security or Medicare) is three times the cost of all U.S. military wars since the American Revolution. Yet progress against poverty, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau, has been minimal, and in terms of President Johnson’s main goal of reducing the “causes” rather than the mere “consequences” of poverty, the War on Poverty has failed completely. In fact, a significant portion of the population is now less capable of self-sufficiency than it was when the War on Poverty began.

That is $22 trillion on anti-poverty programs which have failed completely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aufgeblassen View Post
Since 1965, the number +/- 2 points at the most, being relatively stable, indicating you can't really blame one Administration or party.

If you plotted gov't. spending vs. poverty rate, you would see only an upward sloping line for poverty! Indicating gov't spending does not help the poor, so cutting way back is indeed a good idea.
Yes, this is a mathematics slight of hand. While you are reasonably accurate in that "Since 1965, --- being relatively stable, this does not represent the actual impact. During that same period, the number of Americans in poverty increased by 20 Million citizens.

The increase in anti-poverty spending and the unchanged level in poverty is merely suggestive of a poor performance -- in the overall basket of anti-poverty programs. This is just one element of evidence relative to the poorest of quality leadership in Washington.

Most Respectfully,
R
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Old March 8th, 2017, 01:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoccoR View Post
REF: The Political Fray > Philosophy > Civilization
Aufgeblassen, et al,

Yes, as a matter of fact, this type of argument the political aspect of the Congress (as opposed to the "Administration") have effectively used for more than half a century.

War on Poverty After 50 Years
Rachel Sheffield and Robert Rector
The Heritage Foundation
Summary
In his January 1964 State of the Union address, President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed, “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.” In the 50 years since that time, U.S. taxpayers have spent over $22 trillion on anti-poverty programs. Adjusted for inflation, this spending (which does not include Social Security or Medicare) is three times the cost of all U.S. military wars since the American Revolution. Yet progress against poverty, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau, has been minimal, and in terms of President Johnson’s main goal of reducing the “causes” rather than the mere “consequences” of poverty, the War on Poverty has failed completely. In fact, a significant portion of the population is now less capable of self-sufficiency than it was when the War on Poverty began.

That is $22 trillion on anti-poverty programs which have failed completely.



Yes, this is a mathematics slight of hand. While you are reasonably accurate in that "Since 1965, --- being relatively stable, this does not represent the actual impact. During that same period, the number of Americans in poverty increased by 20 Million citizens.

The increase in anti-poverty spending and the unchanged level in poverty is merely suggestive of a poor performance -- in the overall basket of anti-poverty programs. This is just one element of evidence relative to the poorest of quality leadership in Washington.

Most Respectfully,
R
The bottom line, is you can't pay people to begin to, and remain unlazy. Some people are perfectly comfortable being couch potatoes their entire lives.
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Old March 8th, 2017, 01:40 PM   #16
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'



By Country: income inequality and violence

By Country: Income Inequality and Social Mobility

Every year, more than 1% of the USA population experience homelessness---several times higher than in most European countries. 39% of those USA homeless are children.

And yes! The chart is right! The USA scores very low in social mobility! Another propaganda myth bites the dust!
.
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Old March 8th, 2017, 02:28 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by numan View Post
'



By Country: income inequality and violence

By Country: Income Inequality and Social Mobility

Every year, more than 1% of the USA population experience homelessness---several times higher than in most European countries. 39% of those USA homeless are children.

And yes! The chart is right! The USA scores very low in social mobility! Another propaganda myth bites the dust!
.
That chart is pretty irrelevant! If poor in country "A" and country "B" are at exact same level, it does not matter if the differential is twice as high for one of them, because POOR ARE AT SAME LEVEL! It is BETTER to have a moderate differential, than almost NONE at all; that would mean EVERYBODY is POOR!

The so-called gap is purely arbitrary. It depends if you capriciously compare top 1% to bottom 1% or top 5% to bottom 5% or top 10% to bottom 10%.

Country comparisons would literally be all over the map.

The bottom line is "poor" families here are MUCH better off, and have not one, but several cell phones, large TVs, microwaves, nice cars, etc., but if you look at 3rd world countries, not so much! - hello? So "income disparity" does not mean nearly as much as if you live in a "wealthy" country vs. 3rd world one. And that is not even considering preventable disease.

Last edited by Aufgeblassen; March 8th, 2017 at 02:33 PM.
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Old March 8th, 2017, 03:47 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aufgeblassen View Post
That chart is pretty irrelevant! If poor in country "A" and country "B" are at exact same level, it does not matter if the differential is twice as high for one of them, because POOR ARE AT SAME LEVEL! It is BETTER to have a moderate differential, than almost NONE at all; that would mean EVERYBODY is POOR!
Overblown gibberish !! ---

Quote:
The bottom line is "poor" families here are MUCH better off, and have not one, but several cell phones, large TVs, microwaves, nice cars, etc., but if you look at 3rd world countries, not so much! - hello? So "income disparity" does not mean nearly as much as if you live in a "wealthy" country vs. 3rd world one.
Nonsense!

It is obvious from the chart that, except for three or four countries at the top of the chart, all the countries are "wealthy" countries, not third world ones!
.
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Old March 8th, 2017, 04:28 PM   #19
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Quote:
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Overblown gibberish !! ---


Nonsense!

It is obvious from the chart that, except for three or four countries at the top of the chart, all the countries are "wealthy" countries, not third world ones!
.
According to your theory, all these poor countries with mostly bicycles, mopeds, and tiny scooters on the road, have a bunch of ultra-rich people, causing the poor masses - not!!!
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Old March 8th, 2017, 04:31 PM   #20
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The REAL measure of a country, would be DEVELOPMENT. How developed a country is. This is the one parameter that lifts a country out of poverty. Problem is, it is difficult to put a hard and fast number on it. It is like porn - we know it when we see it.
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