Tag Archives: died

Many a philosopher has died when his child was born

“Part of the tension of marriage lies in its fulfillment of the woman and its narrowing and emptying of the man. When a man woos a woman he offers to give all the world for her; and when she marries him he does; he must forget the world as soon as the child comes; the altruism of love becomes the egoism of the family. Honesty and innovation are luxuries of celibacy. Where the highest philosophical thinking is concerned, all married men are suspect. It seems to me absurd that one who has chosen for his sphere the assessment of existence as a whole should burden himself with the care of a family, with winning bread, security, and social position for wife and children. Many a philosopher has died when his child was born.”-Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche anticipates research on genius, productivity, age and marriage:

Despite the fact that he died at age 20, Galois made a large number of significant contributions to mathematics. (His work was integral to Andrew Wiles’ celebrated proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem in 1994.) Galois was involved in an affair, and the woman’s fiancÈe challenged him to a duel. The night before the duel, Galois stayed up all night and wrote down all of his mathematical ideas on paper. (It is due to these notes, written on the last night of his life, that many of Galois’ ideas survived to the posterity.) From other comments written on the paper, next to a series of mathematical notations, however, it is clear that Galois spent the night, intensely thinking about the woman over whom he was to have a duel the next morning. Something compelled this young man of 20 to produce so many brilliant mathematical ideas in one night and then go to a duel the next morning, ready to kill or be killed over a woman. It is my contention that the same psychological mechanism was responsible for both. If the age–crime curve and the age–genius curve have similar shapes, and if marriage has the desistance effect on both crime and genius, then it is highly unlikely that social control theory of criminal behavior and desistance (Laub et al., 1998; Sampson & Laub, 1993), or, for that matter, any theory that is specific to criminal behavior, can hold the whole key to why men commit crimes and why they desist. Following Daly and Wilson (1988) and Kanazawa and Still (2000), I argue that a single psychological mechanism is responsible for making young men highly competitive during early adulthood and then quickly making them desist after their marriage in later adulthood. It is my contention that both crime and genius are manifestations of young men’s competitive desires to gain access to women’s reproductive resources, which, in the ancestral environment, would have increased their reproductive success.

Mill And Harriet Taylor

“Mill met Harriet Taylor, a radical Unitarian full of intellectual passion and dogmatism, and fell deeply in love with her. Unfortunately, Harriet Taylor was married, and having an intense friendship with another man’s wife was not respectable in Victorian society. Her husband was astonishingly liberal minded in this regard and clandestinely opened his home to the philosopher. He even bought a country cottage where she and Mill could spend weekends together, and paid for her long trips abroad with Mill. According to Taylor’s correspondence, the twenty-year friendship did not involve sex and was purely platonic until her husband died and they finally married in 1851. Not everyone agreed with Mill’s high assessment of his wife. Carlyle thought she was “full of unwise intellect, asking and re-asking stupid questions” with her “great dark eyes, that were flashing unutterable things while he was discoursin’ the utterable concerning all sorts o’ high topics” She took care of him when he contracted tuberculosis in the early 1850s. Harriet fell ill also, and thinking they would die within a year, toured together in 1854–55 to Italy, Sicily, and Greece. Miraculously, they recuperated. Following their recovery, Mill and his wife acquired an increasing streak of elitism and snobbery. When traveling abroad, Mill regularly graded the people he met, for intelligence, language, and political views. He found no one to  be his (or his wife’s) match. He consecrated the book to Harriet, who tragically died—of tuberculosis!—in 1858, a year before its publication. He wrote an extravagant eulogy, addressing her as “unparalleled in any human being that I have known or read of” . He erected a costly marble tomb for her at Avignon, which he visited daily.Mill’s mother was uneducated and without strong opinions. He blamed her for his father’s coldness and irritability. He despised and disliked her, and never mentioned her in his autobiography.”-The Making Of Modern Economics, Mark Skousen

The Right To Offend

The right to offend and insult is the most important human right. When a writer insults a religion or group, or person, people consider it an annoying kookiness. But, this is an important aspect of writing. I have heard  people saying that they despise Rushdie because they value decency over talent. This is a projection of ones vices onto others. It is not Rushdie’s fault that others are bigots. But, decency is merely an effect. Decency flourishes when people are not offended by the truth, when people are not offended by what someone writes on a piece of paper. If you are offended by what someone writes, it is your problem. You should respect yourself more. If you find it hard to respect yourself, like almost everyone, you should learn how to earn it. I do not give a hoot for the feelings of the people I write about, even if it destroys families, even if it is that of mine. Curiously enough, people tend to think of writing as a luxury. It is as if the writers have a choice, to not write about certain things. Of course, it is true that they have, but then people have the choice never to engage in any sexual activity in their whole lives. Should they, if it offends people? But, there is something about writing that only the best writers understand:

“Before the success of Menagerie I’d reached the very, very bottom. I would have died without the money. I couldn’t have gone on any further, baby, without money, when suddenly, providentially, The Glass Menagerie made it when I was thirty-four. I couldn’t have gone on with these hand-to-mouth jobs, these jobs for which I had no aptitude, like waiting on tables, running elevators, and even being a teletype operator. None of this stuff was anything I could have held for long. I started writing at twelve, as I said. By the time I was in my late teens I was writing every day, I guess, even after I was in the shoe business for three years. I wrecked my health, what there was of it. I drank black coffee so much, so I could stay up nearly all night and write, that it exhausted me physically and nervously. So if I suddenly hadn’t had this dispensation from Providence with Menagerie, I couldn’t have made it for another year, I don’t think.”-Tennessee Williams, The Paris Review Continue reading

Ronald Coase, RIP

The effects were bad.

Ronald Coase died yesterday. He was a Nobel-Winning economist, and a very bright, useful fellow. In 1997, The Reason Magazine had published an interview with Ronald Coase, in which he spelled out his views on government regulations. Ronald Coase did not oppose government regulations. But, then, very few economists issue a blanket attack on government regulations. There are some strange economists who do.Is this information sufficient to conclude whether government regulations are justified or not? Is this enough proof that the economists who issue a blanket rejection of regulations are prejudiced? Most people would answer in the affirmative, but I have my doubts. How do we know?

Economists are prejudiced if facts do not change their judgment. Facts can imply anything. Perhaps facts do imply that regulations are harmful. Perhaps fact do imply that regulations can be beneficial. If economists claim that  regulations are harmful even if they “know better”, they are prejudiced “market fundamentalists”.  But, if economists do not issue a blanket attack on regulation even when they are fully convinced that they have never done any real good, they are, again, prejudiced “government fundamentalists”. Perhaps it is true that regulations are not always harmful. But, perhaps regulations are evil to the point that even the economists who are ambivalent in this issue are being, well, dishonest.

Do read the Reason Magazine interview with Ronald Coase before you decide. Continue reading

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time

The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.

An important truth about literature is that its greatest pleasures are beyond most readers. Only people with an artistic bent of mind can enjoy great art. But, there is more to it. Great literature demands deep learning, and an over-learning of the fundamental principles of human nature that comes from hard-won experience.

Consider this passage in Mark Haddon’s “The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time”, on  Christopher. He was then a thirteen-year-old high IQ boy who has the cognitive strengths and weaknesses of what they call “Asperger Syndrome”, though Mark Haddon never claimed that the boy has Asperger. The fact is that he sees things as they are:

“I colored all the cars in with red paint to make it a Super Super Good Day for Mother. Father said that she died of a heart attack and it wasn’t expected.  I said, “What kind of heart attack?” because I was surprised. Mother was only 38 years old and heart attacks usually happen to older people, and Mother was very active and rode a bicycle and ate food which was healthy and high in fiber and low in saturated fat like chicken and vegetables and muesli. Father said that he didn’t know what kind of heart attack she had and now wasn’t the moment to be asking questions like that. I said that it was probably an aneurysm.” Continue reading