Montaigne and Scholasticism

The essays of Montaigne show, in their structure, an echo of the scholastic treatise. The authors of a scholastic treatise first compiled the opinions and teachings of earlier authors before explaining his own position on the topic. Montaigne often also starts with citations of several classic authors, before developing his own ideas. Perhaps the mottos or citations at the start of some modern essays are a reflection of this tradition.


Vagueness and Being Human

The inherently creative nature of human beings means every exact description of what it means to be a human being is incomplete. As a result, any concept of the human that is attempting to be general must be vague. The human being can always develop, so it can develop out of the scope of any given description. So either  we get a partial exact description or one that seems to be general but where the concepts involved have incomplete definitions (vagueness being a form of incompleteness, on the level of the definitions of the concepts used).

Fixing ourselves or others into roles that are strictly and formally defined, is thus dehumanizing.

We are partial, we are vague. That is what makes us human.

The Language of Use

It is interesting to see to what extent the ideas of use, of exploitation, or resources are permeating our language. Our civilization is a parasite of our planet and it is about to destroy our biosphere and this civilization is permeating our language and our concepts and categories.

If we try to say that something has a value in itsself, we are using the concept of value that comes out of the language of use. If we say something is useless, we are using a term derived from the term “use”. The concept of “open domain” still has the idea of use inside it. We seem unable to speak or think of something that is just itself and not getting its value from what we can do with it, without using terms and concepts that come from this language of use.

We have to try to develop a totally different way of talking and thinking. We have to develop a language of the useless and valuable-in-itself that is not derived from the parasitic ontology of our growth culture, a language that does not view the useless as something negative.


I don’t own any pet and I don’t intend to get one. I would only get a pet animal if I owned a sufficiently large plot of land, and that is not going to happen. In that case, however, I would maybe have a donkey (or a couple of them). I don’t know why, I have absolutely no idea why, but whenever I see donkeys, I am smitten :-). I somehow have a soft spot for them.

Other animals I like include Kakapos and Manatees. I hope we can manage to prevent them from going extinct (although I doubt that is going to happen). They cannot be kept as pets (better so), and the whole idea of having pets is a strange one, I think. It is a very strange phenomenon of our culture. Imagin coming into our culture as a visitor from a culture where the idea of pets does not exist…

A Note on Homosexuality in Muslim Culture

How strange! There is a long and rich tradition of Arabian homoerotic poetry that emerged as part of Muslim culture, obviously a trace of homosexual life in old times. Militant homophobia only entered muslim culture as a result of European colonization. As a result of European (protestant, Victorian) uptightness and law, this homophobic attitude entered the muslim mindset, and during the 19th century, homoerotic poetry disappears from the muslim world. Colonialism triggers a kind of inferiority complex among the colonized and then out of shame, they discard those aspects of their culture that are frowned uppon by the colonizers, and integrate the colonizer’s attitudes into their own identity. Stupid and tragic in its consequences.

Philosophy vs. Analytic Philosophy

Many scientists and science-minded people today seem to believe that philosophy is useless, and they are right: for what they are doing, you do not need philosophy. As long as you are doing “normal science” (in the Kuhnian sense), you just apply a method or set of methods. You do not have to refelct on your method and you don’t have to enter a meta-level and look critically at what you are doing. In times of scientific crisis, scientist will turn philosophers (think of the people who started quantum mechanics as an example). But most scientists will move through their professional lives without any need for philosophy.

In those fields however whose topic is the human mind and its products in the widest sense, like societies and cultures, languages and art, history and politics and so on, you need the philosophical mode of thinking all of the time. Philosophy comes in when formal theories and formal methods fail and collapse. In the humanities and historical fields where a philosophical, reflexive and critical mode of thinking, of looking at what you are doing from a meta-level, is required all of the time, analytic philosophy has nothing to offer. In these fields formal methods and formal theories are almost useless because human creativity breaks the borders of any formal description of cognition, society or culture all of the time.

Analytical philosophers, by trying to turn philosophy into a science and into an ancilliary science of the sciences, make philosophy irrelevant because scientists don’t need it most of the time. Scholars, on the other hand, have no use for it.

Moreover, for real life application, for business or just for mastering your everyday life, the formalisms of analytic philosophy are useless as well.

So analytic philosophy, useless for life, useless for the sciences, and useless for the humanities as well, turns into a case of pathological science that only keeps itself alife by mechanisms of power.

Instead of trying to get into the academic system of analytic philosophy, philosophers interested in doing actual philosophy should look for a job (any job – perhaps part time) and do their philosophy in private (or in public, outside the academic world) or look for niches inside the academic world that are not under the domination of the analytics.