Hawking Up Hairballs

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Bishop Berkeley on the Beam

To those who might think that this is a unique era, here's a quotation from the 18th-century philosopher, Bishop George Berkeley.

"I imagine that thinking is the great desideratum of the present age; and the cause of whatever is done amiss may justly be reckoned the general neglect of education in those who need it most, the people of fashion. What can be expected where those who have the most influence have the least sense, and those who are sure to be followed set the worst examples?"

It seems to apply, doesn't it. I'd contend that it applies, to a greater or lesser degree to all eras. Which is why Plato's republic, with its philosopher kings, is a pipe dream.* It's not the wisest and most educated who rise to power. It's the most ruthless and ambitious.

*Speaking of pipe dreams, I wonder if the old Greeks smoked a little weed. I could just see Plato lighting up a pipe before one of those dinner parties where they chewed over matters philosophical. It would stimulate the imagination. The scribe would have to remain straight though, so he could write it down, leaving out the giggling and laughing as he made it all sound properly profound.


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