LOVERS OF DEMOCRACY
Measurements of Excellence
Photo of Albert Einstein riding a bicycle, Santa Barbara 1933.
Courtesy of the Archives, California Institute of Technology.
The true individual.
Albert Einstein was a model of detachment yet with deep understanding of the condition of others. He embodied the ideal of the sovereign human being: expressing his own essential and unique self, while radiating an authentic and creative genius. Max Born, a personal and professional friend, explained Einstein's detachment from the tribulations of the world. "For all his kindness, sociability and love of humanity, he was nevertheless totally detached from his environment and the human beings in it." Einstein, himself, understood the conflicting forces in his own soul, and he seemed to think it was true for all people. "Man is, at once and the same time, a solitary being and a social being," he said.
Photo of Ernest Becker.
Courtesy of the Earnest Becker Foundation
THE INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTION TO THE STRENGTH FOR AUTONOMY--
If the meanings that one puts forth depend on what one can sustain we have
one clue to the promotion of human creativity, namely, that we can try to increase
the strength and the courage of the individual in the face of the potential rebirth
of the self. As Rousseau, Stendhal, and Nietzsche saw, the great fact about morality
is that it needs real strength to assume the responsibility for one's uniqueness.
… On the individual level then, the problem of courage is clear: man must try
to frame problems in ever-more-explicit, cognitive terms, because this alone
unlocks action. One can convert a situation in which there was no choice
to one in which there are new choices. In this way, man liberates himself....
Ernest Becker, Pulitzer Prize Winner (1974), The Structure of Evil 258-259 (1968).
Hummingbird and flower.
Digital image courtesy of The Hummingbird Website
On Theories-of-action (Argyris and Schón, (1974)--
I keep thinking of the Cook Island Maori woman who
stood up in a meeting in Vanuato in 1991 and said that
her idea of an appropriate global order was one
"where the voice of a hummingbird was listened to
with as much respect as the voice of an eagle."
E-mail from J.H. Wasilewski to A.N. Christakis et al., (2007/05/07 Mon AM 11:16 EDT).
M. C. Escher, 1948, Lithograph.
Image of Drawing Jands.
491 × 425 pixel, file size: 55 KB
We are constituted by reality and reality is constituted by us, not as a circular cause and effect process but as an essential recursive constitutive process. Accordingly, to understand reality we have to understand first how we are constituted by it and how we constitute reality. Planning, according to this view is not about setting goals and designing the means to achieve them. Planning is about raising consciousness of our holistic nature. E-mail from H.López-Garay, to LoD, Mon. July 16, 2007.
Head of Socrates 470-399 B.C.
Statute at the Colosseum of Rome, Italy.
300 × 395 pixel, file size: 19 KB
Love of Wisdom.
The love of wisdom on the part of a human being who knows that his love must be imperfectly consummated is a love mixed with resignation and sustained with fortitude. The love that draws him on cannot exceed the courage that enables him to look into darkness without seeing defeat, as Socrates looked into death itself without surrendering. Joseph Cropsey, PLATO'S WORLD: Man's Place in the Cosmos 2 (1997).
(Updated Sunday, 13 July 2008)