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Schools, Tragedies, Socratism

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I'm just wondering. Is it Socratism to want to have read just ONE serious sunlit book for school? Is this not a problem in our society, the DELIBERATE or DEFAULT removal of all serious triumph from our schools? Did I miss any books? Let's compile a list of serious non-tragedies that are read in highschools. Obviously sports and fantasy, great genres though they may be, are out because they are human recreations of actual reality.

Here:

1.The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged... because they come in the mail for free? Not even to my school.

2.Faulkner? ( We never read him. He still seems tragic and silly.)

3.The Old Testament

4.The Adventures of Tom Sawyer / Huckleberry Finn (favorites of Nietzsche, a fact which I imagine is eagerly overlooked, still it is a book about children)

6.Hatchet Gary Paulsen (yikes)

7.Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

8. Beowulf (this is a freebee, ***SPOILERS*** let's say that, even though the hero dies, he dies as all ancient warriors must, in the grips of his dead enemy, Wiglaf takes his treasure and lives on to tell the tale, which beams to us from the past to this day. One of most influential pieces of literature in my life (I can't handle the darkness!))

Hugo?

That is it for now. Sparknotes.com helped me refresh my memory. Go see the desert for yourselves, maybe you'll find more for the list. Hundreds of titles there and all students seem to be getting are the above. Notice that the other good books are American autobiographies like Franklin and Douglass, or American histories. Is there something about tragedy, besides dramatic elites thinking it is cool, that makes it a categorical imperative in literature? Existentialism says "Existence precedes essences, There is Being and Nothingness, there is life and there is death." But Objectivism says that existence is identification, existence exists and only existents exist, which makes existentialism and universal tragedy look like post nihilism and death worship. "The reification of the zero." What do you think?

UN-SKINNED-ALIVE

Edited by unskinned

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Wow...you're right...maybe that's why I hated all the books I read in school. I knew there was a reason and you just pointed it out. Thanks! We should get more Heroic books in there.

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Wow...you're right...maybe that's why I hated all the books I read in school.  I knew there was a reason and you just pointed it out.  Thanks!  We should get more Heroic books in there.

No doubt.

For purposes of self-flagellation:

9. The Sun Also Rises

And on a related note, here is a quote which I think, in this context, condemns both the religious conservatives and the disintigrating eurotrash intellectuals:

One method of destroying a concept is by diluting its meaning. Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living: the right of young people to set the course of their own lives.-- Ayn Rand

Edited by unskinned

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Just to add some more examples to the discussion, here are the books I recall reading in High School (this was only about 3 years ago when I left):

Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caeser

The Great Gatsby

Ethan Frome

Lord of the Flies

Frankenstein: The New Prometheus

Death of a Salesman

A streetcar Named Desire

Of Mice and Men

Things Fall Apart

All Quiet on the Western Front

Johnny Got his Gun

Animal Farm

A Tale Of Two Cities

Johnny Got his Gun,

The Adventures of Huck Finn

BeoWulf

Various Greek Mythologies (ex: Hercules.)

Siddhartha

The Stranger

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Here's the typical ones that I remember:

Paradise Lost, Pilgrim's Progress, Candide, Moby Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Great Gatsby, The Grapes of Wrath, The Anne Frank Diary, A Christmas Carol, Nicholas Nickleby, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, Beowulf, The Aenead, On Walden Pond, The Scarlet Letter

Atypical ones that I remember:

The Stand Stephen King

Nemesis Isaac Asimov

Dune Frank Herbert

The Aulularia (That's a comic Roman play, which I translated in Latin class)

Black Holes and Baby Universes Stephen Hawking

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court Mark Twain

The Once and Future King T.H.White

I had some teachers that were science fiction fans, that and the high school I went to was fairly good, so occasionally we'd get a list to pick from.

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Is it Socratism to want to have read just ONE serious sunlit book for school?

What is "Socratism"?

Some post-modernists use Socrates as a stand-out example of the "limitations of reason" -- that is, at best, it can only ask questions, but never provide any serious answers. (See David Roochnik, The Tragedy of Reason: Toward a Platonic Conception of Logos.) Further, Nietzsche, in The Birth of Tragedy, sec. 14, 15, et al, referred derisively to "Socratic optimism," that is, the belief that reason matters.

Do you mean something else?

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What is "Socratism"?

Some post-modernists use Socrates as a stand-out example of the "limitations of reason" -- that is, at best, it can only ask questions, but never provide any serious answers. (See David Roochnik, The Tragedy of Reason: Toward a Platonic Conception of Logos.) Further, Nietzsche, in The Birth of Tragedy, sec. 14, 15, et al, referred derisively to "Socratic optimism," that is, the belief that reason matters.

Do you mean something else?

I think I mean exactly what you have written. I am referring specifically to Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy. The more simplistic intellectuals try to say that a "Socrates" believes that reason matters, or that there is an upset of the proper relationship between Apollo and Dionysus, the conscious and unconscious. In their world, anyone who laments that there is too much tragedy, is decrying all tragedy and destroying the culture. He is participating in Socratism. Euripides is given as a major example.

Edited by unskinned

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Why do you think Ayn Rand was for the privatization of schools?

Because all you are taught only one thing at school:

That learning sucks.

So the one and only thing you actually learn at school is wrong. :sorcerer:

This generally negative outlook on life in general is just a part of it.

The goal is to destroy minds.

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whoa, Felix, talk about your cynicism! Perhaps I am lucky, but I am thankful for every class that I take. perhaps because my school's student body voted 98% Republican (with that 2% being libertarian and democrat) and the entire school of business is run by free-market orientated professors. I've had a single liberal professor in 3 years, and she taught the usual leftist woes of business (glass ceilings, etc) as problems businessmen need to address, not government. My economics and money and banking professor teaches the lessons taught by Ludwig Von Mises.

I sometimes wonder if I am all alone, considering the horror stories I have heard about college professors.

If you think high school sucks, be selective and ask the right questions when considering college. That is when you do all the learning.

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My high school was fine, for example in English I was once allowed to write an essay on the evils of the Euro - I got an A and the teacher wrote that I had convinced her. My university, the London School of Economics, which has a history of being Marxist, is not as left wing as I thought, though my professors can't help but mock George W Bush.

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And on a related note, here is a quote which I think, in this context, condemns both the religious conservatives and the disintigrating eurotrash intellectuals:

One method of destroying a concept is by diluting its meaning. Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living: the right of young people to set the course of their own lives.-- Ayn Rand

My bad, that was wrong...

DisintEgrating eurotrash intellectuals. Of course, by that, I mean post-modernists, not Europeans in general. And certainly not Ancient Greeks!

I should also clarify that by "elites" I mean, not a talented clique, but rather a minority of individuals whose idea of literature is the Roger Waters edition of Chicken Soup for the Teenaged Soul. The type of people who use incoherent art as an excuse to give nothing of value, to avoid effort, or simply to convey the message of destruction. I'm lifting my head to think of a more accurate noun... ah yes: Posers.

That's not saying there is nothing of value in existentialism, don't get me wrong, but as a generalization, all this bitterness is terribly accurate.

10. Anthem (still, it is free)

Edited by unskinned

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whoa, Felix, talk about your cynicism! Perhaps I am lucky, but I am thankful for every class that I take.

The only teacher I have liked was my math teacher in 7th grade. He taught me the basic principles of mathematics and I still say that everything I know about mathematics I learned from him.

But all the rest was horrible. I didn't read interesting books and my teachers were boring.

So I had to educate myself and didn't do much for school.

There is a quotation by Margared Mead:

My grandmother wanted me to get a solid education.

So she kept me out of school.

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My high school was fine, for example in English I was once allowed to write an essay on the evils of the Euro - I got an A and the teacher wrote that I had convinced her. My university, the London School of Economics, which has a history of being Marxist, is not as left wing as I thought, though my professors can't help but mock George W Bush.

I always thought that the LSE was Keyensian rather then Marxist.

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DisintEgrating eurotrash intellectuals. Of course, by that, I mean post-modernists, not Europeans in general. And certainly not Ancient Greeks!

I shudder to think that anyone would read this thread, view my avatar, and conclude that it is written by someone who wishes to elevate the USA above the essential principles that ground his love for it. Those are the principles which allow for the freedom of a diverse cornucopia of productive thinking individuals, of the good. I shudder to think that anyone might interpret this as some kind of American "hellenism," one of the worst aspects of what is called socratism. No way.

To anyone who doesn't know me, this might look that way. Intellectuals like Marcuse, Derrida, and Foucault do make my blood boil. So do Dewey, Chomsky, and Krugman. I would like to see even the world of art cleared of any malaise I might associate with socialism. Nevertheless, I would never want to give the impression that my frustration is anything other than a kind of declaration of independence and a cautionary hope for economic and moral sunrise for people all over the world.

Despite my initial brashness, I apologize if this comment looked like something lower than was intended. I can't imagine an Objectivist writing something like this. It is a blight on my posts and I apologize for not minding the general atmosphere of this forum.

The point of this thread was that many people have not understood Nietzsche, that it is not socratism to suggest there is too much tragedy. In other words, I was saying "not even Nietzsche..." It is a really interesting subject, and students of Objectivism can definitely benefit from this information. I recently wrote, not a critical essay, but a serious (at least in intent) research paper which partly adressed this subject. It confirmed my suspicions but I was just proud I handed it in.

Lately, I do wonder if the eventul death of the protagonist grounds the seriousness of a work of art, and if that is why the characteristic dominates the Sparknotes list of books. I still insist there is too much, but there is plenty of room for discussing this, of course. I should be clear, the comment about "posers" was directed mainly at modern artists who mistake what is only "design" for something that would be put on a pedestal, and, of course, at those who would make Piss Christs. It is not the case, in art, that "anything goes." In fact, there are clear moral boundries we can use to guide our evaluation of art. The more difficult and contraversial part comes as we discuss how works of art fit into the boundries, but I think we are up to it. This is the truth for intellectual reasons, as most people on this forum know.

Edited by unskinned

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I have written that man's abilities are for "sculpting the non-rational beings toward living in this world." I wrote this from my own values and in a crude mimicry of a philosophy of which I am only a young student: Objectivism. I meant only sculpting iron from rock and crops from earth, not human beings. I must write this because I retaliated against some people on this site and in a paper who I percieved to be taking liberties with my reputation. I even tiptoed into Nietzschean racism. The problem is that they were doing it with good intentions and because I was acting like an obvious jerk, if they were even doing it at all. In one case, my existentialism professor was actually a help to me in a dark time.

I have been acting as a questionable and preistly denier of values rather than a genuine question asker. I have been denying others their values and my own. Why was it socratism to suggest there is too much tragedy? It was socratism to be so sensitive to the charge of being a joker, or a lightweight, or simply out of it to the degree that it becomes so apparently true. It must have been socratism to know the best way to give the importance of life a literary meaning is to present one, and to be able to present one, and to choose instead to sit around and complain about what amounts to other people’s real values. To allow my commitment to values to become so unstable that even the deepest and most sturdy type of heroism could be mistaken for the subject of annihilating laughter is hideous. That the tragic was something to be ridiculed was most definitely comedic socratism. In this context I am ashamed of this thread and some of my posts.

It is also shameful to take one of the most thought provoking classes you have ever experienced, and to remain silent about its merits. It is shameful to allow one’s anonymity to be an inadequate cloak for completely inappropriate comments about the values, hard work, enthusiasm, patience, and good spirits that keep lit the meaning of an entire university. This is especially true when the real purpose was simply to ask questions which would have been enthusiastically answered without provocative incitement. It is immoral to be so sloppy as to leave the impression that such a beneficial and cathartic discussion of values is something that it most certainly is not.

It is neither rational nor selfish to be so lost in thought that you have to take months and months to piece together what is going on right in front of your face. That is true when it allows the appearance of the most brutal prejudicial tastelessness, even when unintentional. Certainly that is true when one endorses what amounts to the racism of an impersonal 19th Century intellectual. I would like to apologize to anyone who was hurt by this incoherence and blatant ignorance.

Though it may not look that way, I did genuinely intend to compare and contrast two philosophies I am studying, and to share my ideas anonymously. This included the criticism of some social trends, not generally of individuals, to say nothing of the often dark upstanding figures who have held the lamp for me for years. Unfortunately, I jeopardized my anonymity. In addition to everything else, I brought along with it the making light of a situation that ended up being serious. In total, I completely missed the mark and allowed a situation to appear to be something that it definitely was not.

The idea that some people might read or have read these things really bugs me. So on that note, I want to apologize to them. For instance, my professors have really helped me to understand certain aspects of the world and of philosophy. I want to apologize to my existentialism professor. I am sorry. I think I should also apologize to my 19th Century Philosophy professor. I am sorry. I am sorry to my fellow philosophy students. I am sorry also to Hal from Objectivism Online. I am apologizing to these people because they have contributed so much to my understanding and my posts often have the character of abuse. Again, I am sorry.

I owe Objectivism Online an apology. I am sorry. I would like to apologize to this entire philosophic community for dragging everyone into a mess of my own ignorance and insecurities. Frankly, I owe an apology to every community I have ever dealt with in my life. I never ever wanted to do this, to take on the habits of some valueless over critical twit.

Now that I see everything clearly, the light remains on someone who is really deserving of reverence. It’s pretty inspiring. I wish I could have written about this earlier, because it is great enough to cut right through how dumb I feel right now. It will continue to do so, which is testament to how bright a human example this is.

In a similar vein, I must also apologize to David Veksler directly for leaving a scar on what is usually such a vibrant and serious marketplace for ideas: Objectivismonline.net.

Edited by unskinned

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