Second, these kids didn't pay attention in physics:
That's all for tonight. In the morning, I'll whine about my own bigotry!
"But you see, Socrates, that the opinion of the many must be regarded, for what is now happening shows that they can do the greatest evil to anyone who has lost their good opinion."When I say that symbols are important, I do not mean in any objective or necessary sense. I simply mean that, as a contingent matter of our psychology, they affect our brain states in ways well beyond their effects upon the "external" world. Yes, this is a false distinction when you get right down to it, but "the differential effects of symbols upon brains vs. rocks" are obviously and significantly different than "the differential effects of hammers upon brains vs. rocks." And anyway, I'm not interested in arguing the illusion of the ego here, since "the phenomenology of brain-having as a private experience" is itself the source and relevant context of this issue. Please be assured that I fully understand I am using a language of convenience here. My goal is to paint a picture that shows the responsible and intelligent harnessing of symbolic emotional content as a noble act, worth every penny of the price paid in harrassment from the opposition and misunderstanding from the Great Many - a price, I shall argue, that we pay no matter what we do.
"I only wish it were so, Crito; and that the many could do the greatest evil; for then they would also be able to do the greatest good - and what a fine thing this would be! But in reality they can do neither; for they cannot make a man either wise or foolish; and whatever they do is the result of chance."
Barnacle Man, Barnacle ManDoin' the things a barnacle can:Barnacle Man
[Curious persons] take no heed of the warnings issued in Marlowe's "Dr. Faustus," Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein," H.G. Wells' "The Island of Dr. Moreau" and Robert Louis Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (not to mention the myth of Pandora and the Incredible Hulk).
As a side note, Fish's fictional examples leave something to be desired:
Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein": The true "sin" was Frankenstein rejecting and abandoning his creature.
H.G. Wells' "The Island of Dr. Moreau": Despite what your English teacher told you, this is really a parable about God creating bestial but thinking beings, and oppressing them with a simplistic Law that denies their bestial nature.
Robert Louis Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde": The "serum" is merely a MacGuffin to explore a concept, that man has cruel and bestial urges restrained by reason and social pressure.
Pandora: Like the rest of the Prometheus myth, the real point of this story is that the gods are jerks.
Incredible Hulk: In canon, Bruce Banner's had his accident while trying to save a hapless youth who wandered into the test area. Also, the Hulk's real problem is anger management, not to mention an army of idiots who don't realize hurting him makes him stronger.
(I haven't read "Dr. Faustus", so I've no idea if Marlowe's text supports an interpretation aside from the superficial.)
I find it tremendously ironic that Barnacle Man cites Marlowe's version of the Goethe play. You see, my last name is Faust, so I take this sort of thing kinda seriously (but I also realize that this is viciously arbitrary on my part). I own three copies of the Goethe play, and my favorite translation (Kaufmann's parallel) opens with:
I have, alas, studied philosophy
Jurisprudence and medicine, too
And worst of all, theology
With keen endeavor, through and through
And here I am, for all my lore
The wretched fool I was before.
I don't want to go on at too much length, but Goethe's play is complex and lends itself to layers and layers of interpretation. By stark contrast, it will suffice to say that Marlowe's play came to be presented as a comedic farce. It was a laughably unworthy abuse of the source material - much as our Barnacle Man poetically abuses the luxuries of his station to denounce the principles responsible for bringing him those luxuries.
I think we should avoid symbols and special objects that evoke our affection as much as we possibly can. Although we may like to think that we’re above all that, we can end up magicalizing them and forming irrational attachments to them.Hmm. OK, first of all, I agree entirely with Wade that people "can become emotionally attached to the object itself as well as the concept it symbolizes." That's just plain correct, and he's also correct that we should watch out, for a whole host of reasons. This tendency can distract us from that which the symbol represents, it can be used to manipulate our emotions, and it can be confused with other symbols or have its meaning changed over time. Symbols are complicated stuff!
Above all else, understand these words: two commandments, and two alone, must you attempt forever to teach to all whom you meet, no matter how different, and no matter how long it may take. First, an appetite for unbridled reason and curiosity, that they might understand these words, and think upon them, and even question them loudly and without shame. For I tell you, if the many convince the few, then all shall have increased understanding; the few shall understand the many, and the many may witness the corrective power of right. And if the few convince the many, then all shall be done a valuable service; the many shall understand the few, and the few shall see the transformative power of right. And second, more simply, but equally as important: that which may be accomplished by working together is always greater than anything accomplished by working against any other.