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Saturday, March 2, 2013

2 March 2013

I hope you've recovered from Filosophy Fridays, because we're ready to delve right back into some philosophy in today's edition of Sardonic Saturdays - where every silver lining has a cloud!

Last week we took a look at Cartesian Doubt and how doubt is to be seen as virtuous, not pessimistic, as it is the foundation for change and progress.
Doubt, however, is the metaphorical fork in the road - one side may lead to change, whilst chronic doubt, coupled with inaction, can lead to cynicism

Bertrand Russell, as long-time readers would know, is one of my favourite modern philosophers. 
His article On Youthful Cynicism is exactly why he's become one of the heavyweights of Western philosophy.

This essay is brilliant. He begins by comparing the mindset of Indian, Russian, Chinese and Japanese youth to that of the West - identifying the gaping hole between them. He notes the cynicism of the West, and provides some reasons for it.

He then breaks down Western civilization into several facets, examining each one individually and explaining why Western youth seem to have such a cynical attitude towards each of these.
Civil factors included religion, country, progress, beauty and truth.

He argues, quite correctly, that Western Man's access to information has affirmed our insignificance in the grand order of things. Yep, existentialism.
Here's a gem from the essay:
But the modern man, when misfortune assails him, is conscious of himself as a unit in a statistical total; the past and the future stretch before him in a dreary procession of trivial defeats. Man himself appears as a somewhat strutting animal, shouting and fussing during a brief interlude between infinite silences.
He concludes on a very Bertrand-ian note (if it's not a word, it should be). He criticizes capitalism, mass production, education and social order, and urges the everyday man to employ Disraeli's words and 'Educate our Masters'.

God I love Bertrand Russell - and you will too.
A very digestible article, an absolute pleasure to read. I beg of you, put this one at the top of the ReadItLater pile.

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