Thought of the Day: Socrates’s Problem of Good

“Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods”? As Socrates infamously asked Euthyphro. (In Plato’s Euthyphro)

The GOOD, I have found, is far more problematic than evil.

I have waved off this problem earlier by stating that “there is no ACTUAL good and evil, just the knowledge of good and evil.” As if this were an epistemological (I guess. I truly don’t remember what I was talking about) problem rather than a genuine ethical one….they exist ONLY as a phenomenological problem, not as something that we can objectively ascertain even though we can overwhelmingly come to a consensus on what we find “good” and “evil”. But is Socrates’ question still relevant even if it’s referencing imaginary beings and concepts that only exist in the mind? We might not accept the existence of gods, Socrates didn’t, nevertheless even the godless among us will conform to an accepted standard of “good” even if it isn’t believed that it’s derived from an otherworldly being.

“Good for the sake of good” I always thought.

During my atheist days, believers would often ask me why I bothered with doing good if there wasn’t a standard to hold me to it. The response would usually be something like: “I don’t need a God to do good, but clearly you do.” While many of my views have changed, that one is still true. Even if I somehow definitively discovered that there isn’t a supernatural realm that holds us together, I’d still strive to do good. Why? Excellent question. Even among the atheist and agnostics, there does appear to be a metaphysical pull towards preferring good to evil. Logical explanations for this vary, but people…almost universally….prefer it.

I can’t recall which World War it was, but studies indicated that only about 10% of soldiers fired their weapons (or something like that). The exact details of the study I don’t recall, but what we discovered is that people just don’t want to kill other people. In fact, in the military, they have to be indoctrinated to do so. Mind you, people can be convinced to kill others…through things like mob mentality and fervent nationalism…but MOST people will never kill anyone in their entire life, to include war veterans DESPITE having the legality and motivation to do so. I suppose the same can be observed in animals of the same species. Animals kill all the time, they even get violent with one another. But does the average animal ever kill one of their own? Now I might be comparing apples to oranges by comparing animal morality to human’s. But the point I’d like to make is that perhaps the ideas of morality, of good and bad, might be innate…or the capability of forming such ideas are “hard wired” into us.

Some can claim God here, but a Maker is not necessary….such ideas probably have an evolutionary benefit, especially when we consider societal bonding. So the origin of GOOD is found in both biology and society. Yet we (or maybe just me) find such explanations wanting.

Have we answered the question posed by Socrates?

I think we simply reframed the question. Since ‘good’ has no divine order, we’ve simply turned it over to the whims of other people.

What makes an action inherently GOOD? Is it good because we like it, or do we like it because it’s good? OR are actions morally affirming because we find them good, or do we find them good because they are morally affirming? If the former for both questions, then good and morality are subject to change according to human whim. If the latter, then it’s conceivable to have an objective set of morality that exists independent of the mind and can be found true under any circumstance…like 2+2 always equals 4. Yet the problem becomes obvious: unlike the number 2, there’s not a clear set of criteria for what makes something “good”. It’s not a well-defined concept. In fact, I might be making a major philosophical blunder by confusing “good” with “inherently moral”. While a given action might be morally defensible, it could have devastating consequences on others.

Draw up any sort of scenario you want out of that.

But as far as “good’s” relationship with “moral”, what can we say about it? Is it the absence of evil? If so, then how do we define “evil”? For this, I find that we have a much easier time drawing up a definition. (although not a precise one, like the number 2) At the very least, we have to say that evil is an intent. One could easily make a bad moral decision, but simply because it’s “bad” does it make it “evil”? (especially if it was done unintentionally?) No. So there has to be an intent to do bad, but by simply intending to do bad, does that make an action EVIL? Once again, we find problems. A man going back in time to kill a young Hitler BEFORE he comes to power and commits genocide is BAD because he is off to kill an innocent man….even though it saves MILLIONS of people. Maybe that’s not the greatest of examples, but it’s not hard to imagine scenarios where people must do bad things for the greater good. Therefore evil must be MORE than an intention to do bad, it must be the intention to do bad for the sake of bad itself.

Do such events happen? Well, there’s the case of psychopaths (or is it sociopaths?) that lack empathy and commit acts against others for their own enjoyment. Serial Killers, serial rapists, child molesters…those are all seemingly evil acts that no one but the perpetrator of the crime benefits from. Are those clear cut cases of “evil”? I’ll let you be the judge….but it’s seemingly far EASIER to pinpoint evil (or at least define it) than GOOD.*

*In the middle of writing this, I completely forgot the point I was trying to make. 

Pythagoreans: Ancient New Age Dirty Hippies

The only thing most people know about Pythagoras is that he created the Pythagorean Theorem…which he may not have actually created. In fact, he might not have existed at all.

But Pythagoras did have a large religious following during his (or its) time. His followers mostly resembled a dirty hippie-like commune, yet they did leave behind a lasting legacy: the significance of numbers in the universe and the idea of souls being immortal…and having the possibility of transmigrating.

It’s important to not get Euro-centric here. Ideas of reincarnation were probably influenced from somewhere else outside of Ancient Greece. Herodotus claimed that the Egyptians held similar beliefs, and this might’ve been where Pythagoras picked it up. There’s a lot of evidence that contradict this, but it goes to show how ideas went back and forth in the ancient world…perhaps WAY more than we realize. Religious and philosophical influences in Ancient Greece may have found their origin in Persia, India, Egypt, etc…and vice-versa.  “The Axial Age”, as some academics call this time period, saw the rise of similar religions and philosophies across the world, and that is definitely not a coincidence.

But in the Hellenized world during the time of Pythagoras, Homer dominated religious thought. In Homer’s works, the afterlife was presented as a much darker experience, one where life is much more preferable (I believe the Epic of Gilgamesh held similar views, but correct me if I’m wrong). This concept of the immortal soul presented by the Pythagoreans would have provided a much welcomed change towards the approach of death.

This is significant because this seems to indicate a mind-body dualism. While I couldn’t find any evidence of Pythagoreanism being the first to present the mind-body problem in Ancient Greece, it does introduce an interesting question…perhaps planting the seed for what would later become this (mostly false) philosophical problem. Nevertheless, Pythagoreanism seemed to have echoed several Eastern religions in presenting an “eternal recurrence” conception, where the universe repeats itself.

What is less clear, however, is if Pythagoras believed that there was a way to “break” this cycle.

But what Pythagoras and his followers are known for today is the high importance they placed on math. As I mentioned earlier, there’s no evidence that Pythagoras actually discovered the theorem named after him. At best, as some evidence indicates, he picked it up from the Babylonians and brought it to Greece. In fact, there’s no evidence that he discovered ANY mathematical principle. All that can really be said is Pythagoras possibly picked up on the importance of geometrical structures and incorporated it into his discipline.

Still though, that’s saying a lot. Many later scientists and mathematicians would follow Pythagoras’ lead, namely Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, and Gottfried Leibniz.

But in my view, Pythagoras and his followers should be most celebrated for their (mostly) progressive ways. It is here where Plato likely found the inspiration for his Republic (Bertrand Russell would later claim that Plato owed a great deal of his philosophy to Pythagoras). Yet most importantly is his views on women should be commended. According to Diogenes Laertius, the priestess Themistoclea taught Pythagoras his moral education. While some of his views were a bit out there, many of his followers were some the first women philosophers. This is also why we have every right to judge Aristotle’s views on women, as those before him had far more progressive views.

Unfortunately, most of things we can say about Pythagoras is speculative. But what we do know is that his followers were new age dirty hippies long before there were new age dirty hippies.

 

The “Epistemology” of Heraclitus

Finally. Philosophy has returned.

In previous writings, I didn’t give a shit about ancient Greek philosophy. I made no secret about it. I don’t know why. Get off my back, okay? But now I’m reassessing that opinion.

So I’m starting with Heraclitus.

The fun thing about the pre-Socratics is that we can only speculate as to what their philosophy actually was. In fact according to some YouTube video with some professor (this isn’t college, I don’t have to reference my work), what we know of the first so-called philosophers (Thales, Anaximenes, Anaximander) are based on 8 or so sentences. I should remind you that this isn’t a history blog so you should probably always question my historical research. BUT, that just goes to show you how little information we have in making grand generalizations about these thinkers.

Heraclitus comes from my favorite school of philosophy: vague and difficult to understand. On it’s surface, as in the way how Plato and Aristotle possibly understood him, he appears to have denied the possibility of permanence, and in result, the possibility of true knowledge. The stereotypical image of Heraclitus is that he supported a so-called “unity of opposites” with his many clever sayings, but that’s a misunderstanding (if I’M understanding it correctly). In other words, it’s not all ONE thing, it’s a series of transformations of one thing to another. His use of paradoxical sayings is not a proclamation of philosophy, but are instead intended to jolt us into thinking about problems. Socrates would do something similar later on.

Heraclitus’ most famous “saying” is “you can’t step into the same river twice”. That’s a powerful idea, and perhaps that translation would later influence other schools of thought, but that’s not actually what he said. According to this, the literal translation is “on those stepping into rivers staying the same other and other waters flow.” Almost meaning that you CAN step into the same river twice, it’s just different water you’re stepping into. The river doesn’t change, just what flows through it. (The post I linked would extrapolate from that saying that water must flow if there is to be a river at all, as opposed to other bodies of water) Thus, change is embedded into the nature of things.

As stated previously, nearly everyone got Heraclitus wrong. Plato included when he thought Heraclitus denied the possibility of knowledge with his haphazard philosophy. In fact, why I wanted to start with Heraclitus was because he seemed like he was really “out there” with his epistemology. As I’ve said before and I’ll continue to say: even though evidence continues to pile against me, at the heart of my philosophy, I want to deny the possibility of absolute truth. But as for Heraclitus, it doesn’t appear that he shared that enthusiasm.

It appears as though his thoughts on this subject were mostly directed against his contemporaries and predecessors. Although Heraclitus embraces sense perception to receive knowledge, more is required. He infamously said that “learning things does not teach understanding”, and then fired shots at Pythagoras, Hesiod, and others. If you’re an 18th Century philosophy snob like me, this sort of reminds you of rationalism. But in truth, his philosophy of knowledge isn’t all that clear.

HOWEVER, Heraclitus does seem to think that we have the capabilities of having true knowledge, we just have to prepare ourselves in a way to receive it. I suppose it’s here that we can introduce his use of logos, which I’m not entirely certain that I understand (along with many others). I suppose that we can think of it as our path towards understanding the nature of the universe.

It’s with the introduction of this logos (commonly translated as “word”) that Heraclitus is his most influential while simultaneously most cryptic. The infamous introductory verse to the Gospel of John appears to borrow from this: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

During my Bible school days, this verse was oddly harped upon. My teacher wanted it to be clear that the Word is in fact the Bible, whose teachings have always existed, and the teaching and knowledge ITSELF is a part of God. It was odd because it seemed like such a simple concept, but they kept harping on it. Luckily for me, I later became interested in philosophy and now that verse takes on a new meaning….or at least it makes more sense for the reason why it was written that way.

Early Christians were attempting to appeal to the Hellenistic world and Greek speakers (again, not a history blog) by stating that Jesus Christ was the Logos…or the wisdom, path of knowledge, etc…that allows us to have an understanding of the world. Christ and His message is the final Word and has always BEEN the Word….therefore the final piece to the puzzle in regards to Greek philosophical discourse.

“What’s your point?” you’re asking.

At least under this interpretation, Heraclitus’ logos is a revelation of truth. And he seems to believe that it is something independent of us. It’s something that we ignore or fail to appreciate. Nevertheless, it’s truths persists. Which is why, according to the Christians, the words logos, Gospels, Bible, etc, are all easily interchangeable. Which is why we have to be properly prepared to receive and decipher such information….why “learning things does not teach understanding”. (Which is why to be a Christian, one must accept Salvation. In Gnosticism, one must access their “divine spark”, etc…)

But of course, Heraclitus was a pre-Socratic. He might not have believed any of this shit and academics and half-assed intellectuals like me are pulling this out of our behinds. Just keep that in mind.   

 

 

 

The Greatest Drummers-Part I

A band is only as good as its drummer.

I believe that.

Not that I’m an expert, but I know my way around a drum kit. At least it’s the one instrument that I’m proficient at. Mind you, if I were to play with a band or asked to perform with other musicians, I’d probably choke. But I know how to bang it out (if you know what I mean).

I am a student of the craft. And as a student, I have many opinions about my fellow percussionists. Remember Frasier and Niles Crane? Remember their snobbishness about wine (among other things)? That’s the way I am about drummers.

I don’t try to be that way. I know that every drummer that I hear is very much better than I am, or ever will be. Yet a drummer can make or break a band for me. That’s all that I’m saying.

And when I’m practicing myself, there are a number of artists that I attempt to emulate. Some of them are widely appreciated. Some of them aren’t.

John Bonham is, of course, the gold standard. I don’t believe that non-drummers truly understand his contributions to music. In philosophical terms, he did to drumming what Rene Descartes or Plato did to philosophy. You may not be a fan of his, but one way or another….you have to reckon with him.

Of course, to drummers, this goes without saying.

Now, in my personal view, I don’t believe that Bonham’s style was as aggressive or sophisticated…even among his contemporaries. But it was polished. It was bold. And it greatly contributed to that Led Zeppelin sound that we all know and love. And every drummer since has strived to mimic that sound.

When you hear a Bonham groove, you instantly know that it’s HIS sound.

And to me, that’s what makes a GREAT drummer. Drum solos or technical ability is fine. I find those things cool to watch. But it’s not like I think to myself: “Man, I really want to listen to that 18 minute drum solo!”. Few people think that. So it’s not about how WELL you play…it’s about contributing to the music.

Does your sound add TO the music? That is the question.

And even though I fail to match up to the greatness of these musicians, the following drummers have inspired me the most. Some of them you’ll recognize, some of them you won’t.

Bobby Chouinard- Billy Squier 

When we think about the great successor to John Bonham, for some reason, most people think Dave Grohl. I don’t know why. Probably because that’s the only drummer that people can name. No doubt that Grohl derived inspiration from Bonham. But I just don’t hear it.

And the truth is, there isn’t a successor. Few have ever come close to emulating that sound.

But ONE came close.

Most don’t put Billy Squier in the same league as Led Zeppelin, The Who, and other great MUSICIANSHIP bands. But who cares? When I think of John Bonham, one thing comes to mind: the bass drum. The man could make it sound like rolling thunder. I get chills just thinking about it. Mix that in with the Bonham-groove, you have a difficult time trying to re-create the sound. But Bobby Chouinard nearly did it.

Don’t believe me? Listen to Lonely is the Night. Again!

But Chouinard did more than just re-create Bonham. If you ask me, he was more instrumental in creating that Billy Squier sound than Billy Squier. His drumming wasn’t anything INSANE, but it was bold. It was clean. It was loud. And it fucking rocked.

Mitch Mitchell- The Jimi Hendrix Experience

I don’t think that Mitchell gets disrespected in any way.

But because Jimi Hendrix is such an icon, it’s easy to overlook the incredible technique of his drummer.

When I think of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, I think of three musicians that were pretty much doing three different things for each song…yet, somehow, it all came out beautifully in the end.

It’s incredible to listen to.

But Mitchell’s frantic jazz style was what really drove the Experience. You get worn out just listening to it. And truth be told, I can’t emulate it at all.

Alex Van Halen- Van Halen

Okay, so this is another drummer that I don’t think is disrespected necessarily. But between the shenanigans of the various lead singers and Eddie Van Halen, Alex sort of gets lost in the shuffle.

When some think of Van Halen, they think of Eddie’s stupid grin. But he has good reason to smile: he’s a fucking incredible guitarist. I often bitch about musicians and their lame or unnecessary solos. And you might want to punch Eddie in the face, but the man knows how to shred. Which is why between Alex and Eddie Van Halen, the band is one of the more underrated MUSICIANSHIP bands…along with Led Zeppelin, The Who, Jimi Hendrix Experience, etc. (Even though Van Halen is FAR from being underrated).

Rush is considered a MUSICIANSHIP band. I’m not gonna lie, the three members are probably the best musicians at their respective positions. But they suck, or they have an uneven catalog at best.

How is that possible?

In short, they fell victim to the self-indulgence that became characteristic of the 1970s (more about this in Part II). During that time, those three talented guys had no business being in the same room together. Music sometimes suffers from an over-indulgence of ability. And as a result, we get Rush. 

So what does this have to do with Alex Van Halen?

Great question. And hopefully I’ll be able to answer it in Part II.

I promise you that I’m going somewhere with this, by the way.

My Life With Kant: Lev Shestov

In case you haven’t heard, I will be out of town for awhile. So I’m releasing a sort of Best of My Life With Kant.

I should also state, that I have a love of things that don’t make sense. I like works that not only shock you intellectually, but also forces you to reassess how you approach life. And Lev Shestov’s All Things Are Possible certainly doesn’t make any sense.

But it’s YOUR responsibility to bring meaning. I don’t care if that doesn’t make any sense.

BUT….please forgive any spelling or grammatical errors. Enjoy!

My Life With Kant: Lev Shestov

It recently occurred to me that I have a sweater that I’ve owned since I was at least 15 years old. Now that I am pushing 30, I noticed that the sweater looks as good as the day I bought it. Then I looked at the tag to see where it was made. What I read, I will never forget. It said….Maid in Russia.

As an American, along with my fellow citizens, I have this view of Russia as being this massive monolith that sits on top of the Eurasian continent. I’ve always been interested in Russian culture. I remember being fascinated with the Russian Revolution when I was in the sixth grade, yet till this day…I don’t know if I fully understand that part of the world. They must be the awkward middle child of the planet. They’re not quite Asian, but they’re not quite European as well.

I had a history professor that was talking about Karl Marx, and the state of political thought in Europe during the late 19th Century. And he said that if told European citizens that it was going to be Russia that would turn communist first, they would have thought that you were crazy. Russia has always had this stigma attached to it because everyone thought that it was this backwater country sitting at the top of the world.

DH Lawrence in his forward to Lev Shestov’s All Things Are Possible, said of the Russian People :”European Culture is a rootless thing in the Russians. With us (meaning Europeans), it is our very blood and bones, the very nerve and root of our psyche. We think in a certain, we feel in a certain fashion, because our whole substance is of this fashion. Our speech and feeling are organically inevitable to us….With the Russians it is different. They have only been inoculated with the virus of European culture and ethic.

So Europeanism is a virus. And the pain and anguish that this virus inflicts on the Russians is played out through literature. So think about that next time you read Tolstoy.

But in the mean time, let’s go back to Lev Shestov. Ever heard of him? Probably not. But as you very well know, I have a thing for philosophy that’s a bit…out there. And, in actuality, we can think of Shestov’s philosophy as not really being philosophy at all. It’s more about the pain and anguish that DH Lawrence was referring to. So I guess that we can think of him as the Russian Fredrick Nietzsche, but I might be overstepping my analysis here. So, for this episode, I will just be attempting to follow Shestov’s stream of consciousness, and convert to my own sort of heavy-handed philosophy.

Shevstov’s work All Things are Possible might be his best known book. And it certainly reads more like prose than any sort of systematic treatise. And from the very opening, he has a very bleak view of life…stating that the traveler has to fumble his way through the dark. And then he begins to wonder why does the world appear to have order, rather than present chaos.

And then it becomes clear to me the deeper I read this book that, there is no linear thought. Each paragraph seems to take a life of its own. One moment Shestov, speaks about how the world is dark and mysterious, and then the next moment it’s orderly and lacking chaos, at least in the mind of the observer.

But then he says something interesting. That because mankind can observe order in the universe, that suddenly he becomes the dictator of all nature. So there might be a degree of arrogance because humanity is so sure that it holds the master-key to the universe. And possibly because of this arrogance, he (the negative side of humanity) becomes comfortable in its knowledge…to the point where it becomes impossible to understand how one could live without modernity. However, we are all just one misfortune away from living without modern conviniences. And when we lose them, after awhile we are able to adapt to our circumstances. And it can become easier for us to return to a state before modernity.

But the Shevstov speaks of something that is very much applicable to myself. He says the writer feels compelled to provide answers, so he quote “begins to speak of first and ultimate things.” Which, guilty as charged. But we have no such authority to speak of such things. And if we have any sort of success, which I am not guilty of, then we become seen as a prophet. But if we’re average, which is me, then we try to preserve our influence till the end of days. So, I guess that’s what I have to look forward to.

But Shevstov bemoans how painful it is to read Plato and his last conversations with Socrates. And what’s interesting about this is that he says that what it means to be a beloved master. And to be a beloved master means to have lots of followers, so you won’t die alone. Now you would think that that would be a good thing. No one wants to die alone right? Not Shestov. He bitches and complains that when you’re beloved, you can’t even die alone. To him, the best way to die is the worst way, like dying like a dog under a hedge. So, speak for yourself Shestov. But his reasoning is that that is a way to die honestly. So, I guess there must be a false way to die.

But, in all actuality, what Shestov is trying to do here is shock the reader. It’s not so much about DYING honestly, as it is about LIVING honestly. But there’s a willingness to embrace death on Shestov’s part. So dying isn’t the hard part, the real problem is living. And it’s not just life and death that we need to be embracing, but we should also be open to ideas. Which is, I presume, a further extension of the whole embracing-life thing. But Shestov’s reasoning is that if you close your mind to an idea, it will slowly seep its way in.

I’ve talked before about my experience in a Christian private school. Would couldn’t talk about ungodly music, pop culture, none of that stuff. We weren’t even allowed to talk about philosophy like Plato and Aristotle. And we fully tried to abide by those rules, we truly thought that those things were un-Christian. But you can imagine what happened anyway. We can all think of examples where we tried to banish things from our minds, only to become fully enveloped in them later on. But as Shestov says: “ideas have no regard for our laws and honour or morality.”

He would go on to discuss realism in literature, and how the initial reaction towards it wasn’t welcoming, but overtime it clawed it’s way in. And speaking of literature, Shestov brings up everyone’s favorite Russian writer, Tolstoy. I admit that I don’t know enough about Tolstoy as Shestov presumably did, but he claims that the writer preached inaction. And he sort of goes all over the place here, but he talks about how idleness has become a chief characteristic of his time. Shestov was speaking directly towards the aristocracy, who wrote books, painted pictures, and composed symphonies. And then he asks, “is that labor?” Which he classically replies that it is only the amusement of idleness.

But clearly Shestov is not a fan of, for a lack of a better description, knowable knowledge. He says that in order to look at the infallibility of common knowledge, all we have to do is study history. We then come to realize that quote “eternal laws” become abortions. Which is curious wording. But ideas are replaced all of the time. Standing theories exist only to later become updated or obsolete. Therefore, we shouldn’t even accept one theory over another as a modus vivendi. Not even positivism, which we can recall from the previous episode. Shestov says, quote: “man is free to change his conception of the universe as often as he changes his boots or his gloves.” Which is almost an unthinkable concept among the modern day educated.

Now clearly Shestov is not a philosopher of science. I mean, I think that Newton’s Gravity has held up quite well over the years. And I’m presuming that evolution, big bang theory, and a number of other ideas will continue to hold up. But this may not be the point that he’s trying to get at. In fact, he may not be making any point in this paragraph. Because a few sentences later he says: “on principle, man should respect order in the external world and complete chaos in the inner.” So that sounds quite contradictory on its surface. But perhaps this is Shestov’s modus vivendi….coming to an acceptance that the outer world is in fact ordered in a logical way, even if that way can’t be completely understood, but also embracing the chaos that rages inside.

And if we want to put a Wes Michael-ian spin on this, which, I can do because no one can stop me…I would like to add that, in addition to embracing the chaos that rages inside, we should also take steps towards distinguishing ourselves, our internal world, from the structured world on the outside. Meaning, that I would argue, that to become fully individualized, and perhaps Shevstov would agree, or maybe he wouldn’t, but to become an individual the spark inside of us must not become part of the system. We can’t just become another cog in the machine by checking all of the boxes that society makes us check. I won’t say that you should go full psycho, but perhaps that small smidgen of insanity that resides in all of us is part of what makes us individuals.

Despite his colorful rhetoric, Shestov isn’t really out there trying to prove anything. In fact, he would say that there is little to choose from between metaphysics and positivism, despite appearing as two opposites along the philosophical spectrum. He simply says that they are just painting the horizon, albeit with different methods and colors. But perhaps what he’s also trying to say here is that, we are missing the point when we try to argue proofs. He states that task of the writer, and presumably philosophers and other artists, is to share their impressions with the reader. It’s not our job to prove anything.

Quote:” The Business of philosophy is to teach man to live in uncertainty-man who is supremely afraid of uncertainty, and who is forever hiding himself behind this or the other dogma. More briefly, the business of philosophy is not to reassure people, but to upset them.”

Whatever sense we try to make of Shestov, I want to think of him as the ultimate contrarian. Whatever our common beliefs are, whatever supposed truths we have found…laugh at them and espouse the opposite. Not because you necessarily support them, but because the only thing that we can be certain in life, is that we can’t be certain of anything. The world is chaos. Perhaps this is all just an exersise in tearing down philosophy, not into conclusions, but into raw ideas where All Things Are Possible.

But Shestov could also be trying to create a distinguishable Russian philosophy. Where Europeans before him attempted, possibly in vain, to answer all of life’s questions, the Russians of his time were only beginning to explore these depths. Because they lacked failures in their explorations, they had no fear of the truth, which was a truth that would have offended critics in the West.

Unfortunately, I wish that I could go on discussing this book, and all of the work of Shestov, but, as with everything, this must come to an end.

But I once said that…what this world is REALLY missing…is a Socrates and a Diogenes. But We also lack a Leo Shestov.