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Archive for the tag “philosophy”

Machiavelli’s Means to and End

Today’s daily writing challenge concerns the end and the means and the possibility of justification for said means before, during or after the fact. The Stick of Justification swings both ways, depending upon who is in charge, and it can look pretty mean at times.

Whenever I hear this phrase, “the ends justify the means,” there always since very young has been the idea of Machiavelli along with that. And with Machiavelli comes the pallor of evil. Where did I get these impressions? They came from just about everybody’s reaction to his name. There was a certain grimace of discomfort, and I always had the distinct feeling, that though one might mention his name in hushed tones, saying it out loud, or asking as I was wont, what the big deal was (I was quite young, and no one would ever tell me), was Frowned Upon and a Bad Deal all round.

It was not until college, and my junior year, that I sat down and read the beast. All the years of mystery surrounding this man and his work “The Prince” came to an end. Actually it was quite a good read, and interesting. Now, I’m not saying these impressions that had been inlaid into my psyche were baseless. There are a number of, shall we say, dicey moral decisions he is advocating. But there are two points that stood out in stark contrast to all that I had heard about “The Prince.”

The first is its hypotheticality. The second is the specificity of the situation discussed and the generally overlooked good council as regards the subjects of a prince and his interactions with the military. Plus, Machiavelli’s recommendations are backed by illustrations from classical battles as well as internal fights of the organized gang leaders. Organized crime in 15th Century Europe! Great stuff and written, unlike much history, not to bore but to involve. More specific points are in order, but it is late. Till then.

Time to Go

Knowing the time to gois a more deeply philosophical topic than it might seem at first sight. And that sneaky postaday poster person has tried once again to lead us astray by throwing in a couple of semi-red herrings. At a party? Meeting for coffee? Oh, no, my dear friends. To plumb the depths of this topic would be to strain, indeed were it even possible, to breach the limits of blogdomhood!

But not wishing to push that ephemeral envelope so nigh upon the witching hour, and being in part a brass tacks kind of guy, I will limit myself to a few of the more practical and obvious observations.

At a party depends upon whether or not one is the host. If one is the host and it becomes to tedious, one just leaves (perhaps to meet someone for coffee–see next). Assuming that the party-goers can be expected to refrain from an unreasonable trashing of the place. If this is not the case, merely release the attack dogs. Which leads to the alternate case. If one is not the host, it is most definitely time to go, and I cannot stress this point too strongly, as soon as the attack dogs have been released. At least this has been my own experience.

Meeting for coffee assumes that the individuals are congregating in neutral territory. Depending upon circumstances this can be quite exhilarating. Proper etiquette demands that one remain at the coffee shop no more than 2 hours after closing. If it is cold outside, one might even be inclined to play a little game of chicken to see who wimps out and leaves first. (Among those who study game theory, this is known as a losing game.) At indoor locations that operate on a 24-hour basis, e.g. Norms, the results are quite unpredictable and many positions turn out to be non-winnable.

Speaking of games, when an ancient master from Japan wields his board of 361 points and mystic bowls filled with black and white, it is most definitely time to Go.

Lastly, in this brief tour, when a toddler of un-self-assured training says it’s time to go, well then dear reader, it’s time to panic.

You’re Fired!!

Well, I would like to hope that I never get that “opportunity.” Then again, I don’t like hiring people or deciding who should and shouldn’t be hired.

If I ever did have to fire someone, depending upon the circumstances, I think the best way would be to get them fired up about leaving. Commiserate on how bad the environment is, that they don’t seem to be enjoying their work, and point out how much happier they would be in some other career. Discuss with them the things they don’t like where they are and how they think they are perceived by there co-workers, including me. Hint that their days may be numbered at the current place of employ. Help them decide what they are good at and motivated to do. Either they will decide to leave on their own or they will shape up their act. (OK, that is a false dichotomy. Realistically they may do neither, in which case, and as gently as possible, I would state that they have been fired, what points–in my opinion–they need to keep in mind at their next wonderful and exciting career, and wish them luck.)

Accuse me of sappy idealism, if you will! I care not! Like it or lump it, we have formed a relationship with those we work with and at times to whom we are the bearers of the news that that relationship is about to embark upon new and uncharted waters. Each of us is a human being and upon that count requires of us that others be treated with dignity. (This sounds a lot more sappy and fluffy than are my intentions for it to sound. Basically I mean that we help when and how we can, offer guidance if it is appropriate, because we are all in this together. I don’t mean that they shouldn’t be fired, or that you have to agree with them and do everything in your power not to hurt their feelings. Stuff (that is Life) happens. But I do mean that we should try not to humiliate or embarrass them. If it needs doing, God’ll see to it, and in a way that will be for their benefit (even they don’t believe it at the time–trust me, I know from first hand experience).)

For those unacquainted with Tristram Shandy and other works of the on-another-digression-ilk, Yes!–those are parenthetical remarks within parenthetical remarks. No apology is offered.


Today’s–well, technically yesterday’s–daily post was a very interesting topic, based around a quote by Kierkegaard. I got to thinking how little I knew of his work and philosophy. I decided to no longer put off wrestling with this man through his writings. Perhaps, like Isaac, I shall get my leg disjoint in the effort, but the time has come for me to work out with his Fear and Trembling. Perhaps Purity of Heart. It is shorter, and I wouldn’t mind that Either/Or I could start there. This indecision is really a kind of Sickness unto Death.

With such titles, why have I left his work, so long untouched! left mouldering on forgotten shelves, or more like to have left in buried boxes. No more!

But where I might best start may not be where any other may better, and having looked briefly at a few sites pretending to address this very idea, found one I think well worthy of inclusion here. There are a number of thoughtful reviews, that would be a help in making an informed decision. A number of suggestions are given, and many include the reasoning behind the choice. Read them all, though, because there are some opinions nearer the end that helped me to understand why so many people find his writings difficult or strange. The information about the different puppet voices he uses to be ‘the author’ of a work or line of reasoning gives me hope and excitement toward my somewhat hasty decision last morning to learn more of Kierkegaard through his writing.

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