November 15th, 2006
Welcome to the first article in the series of “Now That’s Interesting”, a group of articles that I will be writing about clever little, or perhaps large (it varies) topics that interest me. These vary from mad scientific rambling concerning quantum mechanics to the finer points of the Ancient Greeks. This first one is a collection of, in my opinion, interesting philosophical and historical points that I have picked during the year from one quite knowledgeable History and Politics teach at my school, and feel free to quote these in front of your friends and family if you want to sound clever: but be sure they understand what you’re talking about, or you may be finding a new home … with soft padded walls.
A 19th Century philosopher, he came up with two important ideas, that, while at the time controversial, actually with hindsight are entirely correct. These ideas also misinterpreted by evil crazy moustachioed German dictator, which is not such a good thing.
“God is Dead”: This was not alluding to the death of God, as that is aparadoxical statement because of the nature of faith,etc, but the idea was that the influence of God is nil. The shared European belief in God was gone, and therefore, unlike during the Church’s reign in the medievil times, God was no longer at the centre of knowledge. So where does this leave man? This was an incredible achievement of the collective conscious, but it left a so-called ‘God-Shaped Hole’. Hence the need for a Superman.
The Superman: This did not mean an evolved specimen of man, as Hitler thought, hence his obsession with eugenics. It meant, as Nietzche put it, “the will to power” in man as a whole: you could describe as a man whose will provide freedom from the slave mentality. I.e. not accepting other people’s meaning from life as scripture: having the awareness, courage, and creativity to forge your own view of the world from an early age.
Mad, mad Ancient Greek philosopher, obviously had nothing better to do, and had a tendency to be perdantic. What this ‘paradox’ is is a logical proof that you can never get anywhere, hence it is a paradox.
If you want to get from A to B, first you have to get to the halfway point, and this takes time. To get from here, the halfway point to B, first you must get to the halfway point, which will again take time. And so on. Since it is possible to half the remaining distance and infinite number of times, it will take and infinite amount of time to actually arrive.
The magic words used by magicians everywhere. But what does it mean? ‘Abracadabra’ derives for ABREG AD HABRA, which is the Hebrew for “strike dead with lightning”. Friendly, eh?. People would hang it around their necks in an inverted triangle to protect against disease. It was supposed to represent a funnel, designed to draw in the disease and seal in an abyss at the bottom.
Plato, the Ancient Greek philosopher, insisted that reality actually consisted of perfect form; what we see as reality is in fact nothing but the imprefect reflection of these forms. Plato’s metaphor for this was a cave in which a man is chained facing a wall in the cave, with the cave exit behind him. The outside world is reality, but all the man see’s is the shadows cast on the wall he faces, so this is what he percieves of reality.