Independent in All Things, Neutral in Nothing

Archive for September 2011

On the Unfortunate Decline of the Idea and the Public Intellectual

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Concomitant with the rise of new forms of mass media are new tools for expressing one’s opinion—on everything, but especially political matters.  Twitter, Facebook, other social media sites and the Internet in general now make it easy to eviscerate traditional media’s role in opinion dissemination and political commentary: to wit, the guardians of quality, allowing for the distinction, as it were, between good art and bad artifice.  To be sure, mass media affords the common American a hitherto unprecedented voice in American politics, not to mention an opportunity to stay informed at a high level, but it also thrusts her into the position of political commentator, whose opinions we value often at a level previously reserved for the public intellectual, the social commentator, or the essayist (a long lost art after George Orwell).  Doubtless, mass media has opened the space for the culture of political “pundits,” operatives, commentators, polling experts, psephologists, and strategists.  Indeed, these individuals inhabit our airwaves, engaging in their pseudo-intellectual vocation, caviling and carping over trifling matters—the tie someone sported and the “message” it either consciously or subconsciously sent, the meaning of an official’s particular gesticulations as she delivered a speech, or the recent “beltway” canards and calumnies—with the constant benefit of infallible hindsight.  While the American polity chugs along with historic problems, one finds these ubiquitous individuals continually missing the forest for the trees. Read the rest of this entry »


The Body, Riches and Virtue from Plato’s Apology of Socrates

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“I think no greater good has ever befallen you in the city than my zeal for the service of the god. For I go about doing nothing else than persuading you to take no care either of the body or for riches, prior so much as for the soul, how that it may be made most perfect, telling you that virtue does not spring from riches, but riches and all other human blessings, both private and public, from virtue.”
— Socrates, The Apology by Plato

Written by Russell S.

September 14, 2011 at 8:24 am

Posted in Ethics