Thursday, October 17, 2013

Planting, Watering, and Waiting

"I believe we must learn to wait as we learn to create. We have to patiently sow the seeds, assiduously water the earth where they are sown and give the plants the time that is their own. One cannot fool a plant any more than one can fool history. But one can water it. Patiently, every day. With understanding, with humility, but also with love." -- Vaclav Havel

Monday, October 14, 2013

Virtues in Action

My colleague Mike Austin's edited collection Virtues in Action: New Essays in Applied Virtue Ethics is now out. Details about the book, including table of contents, are available at the publisher's website.

Thanks again to those of you who offered comments and feedback on the material that went into my chapter, "Humility and Environmental Virtue Ethics."

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

"I Don't Have Time to be Patient!" (and a question about Nietzsche)

Or time to blog. It's been very busy this semester, busier than usual on the teaching front with three preps (one course is team-taught, but it also meets 5 days a week; more about it another day). Basically, I'm aching for time to write (I'm beginning to revise the thing that will become a book on patience), and this makes me feel a little discombobulated even though I'm enjoying the teaching. Some of my classes are rather front-loaded (in terms of reading and preparation), so things might pick up here soon, as I find myself needing to test out revised ideas and having a little more time to do so.

Later this month, I'll get to test out a short version of my paper on "Nietzschean Patience" in Nashville at the annual TPA meeting.

One thing I am trying to figure out, as I fold some of the above ideas from Nietzsche into the book, is what to make of Nietzsche's remark in The Gay Science (§336) that our patience (and good will, etc.) with what is strange is always rewarded by the thing's revealing itself "as a new and indescribable beauty." What about the things that are strange and, as it turns out after long attention and study, ugly? What about the fact that there are some things (in GS §276) that he will "negate" by "looking away" (though he does not otherwise want to "wage war against ugliness")? I suppose the easiest resolution would be to take the remark about patience with what as strange to be an overstatement, but one worth making since we often don't see as much beauty in what is strange as we could if we paid more attention (and got over ourselves a bit). However, elsewhere (in Daybreak, §550), he says that, "knowledge of even the ugliest reality is itself beautiful." So, perhaps he means what he says, without overstatement, in GS?

P.S. He continues in Daybreak §550: "...he who knows much is in the end very far from finding ugly the greater part of that reality whose discovery has always brought him happiness. For is anything 'beautiful in itself'? The happiness of the man of knowledge enhances the beauty of the world and makes all that exists sunnier; knowledge casts its beauty not only over things but in the long run into things - may future mankind bear witness to the truth of this proposition!"