Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Ever-Evolving Post-Punk Genre

The Ever-Evolving Post-Punk Genre: Tracing its origins back to the late 1970s, the post-punk genre developed in a hybridized manner. It borrowed the basic elements of original punk rock and combined them with the stylistic features of New Wave music in the early 1980s. The melding of these two genres gave post punk a wholly modern and experimental feel. Common instruments included drums, guitars, bass guitar, synthesizers, drum machine, and vocoders. Bands like The Cure (depicted in the above video) and Talking Heads became associated with post punk, even though some critics would argue that these bands belonged more to the New Wave genre than post-punk. Additionally, there is a psychedelic component of post-punk that recalls aspects of the hippie subculture in the 1960s. This component centers on engendering erratic tones not only in the singer's voice, but also in the music's notational progression. Above all, post-punk offers its listeners the ability to experience a variety of musical genres as one.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

On Black Monday (1987)

On Black Monday (1987): On Monday, October 19, 1987, stock markets around the world declined by massive margins. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) in New York, which often comprises the 30 largest publicly traded companies in the United States, shed over 20% of its value. It was the biggest single day (percentage) drop in the index's nearly 100-year history. And since the DJIA generally signifies a bellwether for the nation's financial markets, broad-based losses continued to widen across the country. Although the systematic declines had originally started in Asia, they spread across Europe and into the Americas. This October crash became known as "Black Monday," as financial analysts began to digest the extent of the damages. Lawmakers sought answers through congressional hearings. The primary culprit appeared to be a mix of investor confidence and electronic trading. Interest rates remained high during most of the 1980s to "break the back of inflation." And with the advent of computerized trading programs, investors began to trade stocks on a whim. Therefore, trader psychology became an essential component in determining the market's overall direction.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Brutalism in Architecture

Brutalism in Architecture: Often characterized by sharp geometrical repetition in the form of raw concrete, brutalist architecture signified Western diplomatic stoicism in the Cold War. Having originated in Western Europe in the 1950s, brutalism's aesthetic appeal centered on creating an atmosphere of impersonality. At the time, Americans and Western Europeans maintained a dreadfully serious outlook toward the communist threat posed by the Soviet Union. One of brutalism's main purposes, therefore, was to prove that liberal democracies, which had failed during both World Wars, could be just as efficient and disciplined as totalitarian regimes (but without the blatant civil rights violations). Even though the basic philosophical tenets of brutalist architecture contain utopian underpinnings, its two major principles include repetition and rigidity. Brutalism's repetitive nature gives it a sense of consistency while its rigid (angular) geometric features engender an aura of permanence. In short, brutalist architecture represented a Western effort to demonstrate the socio-political stability of postwar democratic societies.

Monday, November 15, 2010

On Behavioral Psychology

On Behavioral Psychology: From classical conditioning to cognitive dissonance to latent inhibition, behavioral psychology is the study of various decision making processes in rational beings. On an elementary level, classical conditioning involves the presentation of various stimuli to a subject and the measuring of that subject's response to each one. This mental process is on display in the above video, which features British comedian Eddie Izzard satirically applying the psychological concept of Pavlovian response to cats. Partially related to classical conditioning is cognitive dissonance. Considered part of the rationalization process when an object of desire becomes seemingly unattainable, cognitive dissonance leaves the subject convinced that that previously desired object is no longer desirable. A final concept related to behavioral psychology is latent inhibition. It mostly entails the delayed or non-existent response of a subject to a perceived stimulus. As an unconscious reaction by the mind to limit or even prevent a subject's response, latent inhibition can signify either psychosis or genius in an individual.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Leo Strauss and Neoconservatism

Leo Strauss and Neoconservatism: Having partly originated in the writings of American political philosopher Leo Strauss, neoconservatism is a set of beliefs that melds economic liberalism with social conservatism. Although Strauss' works do not explicitly use the neoconservative label, they do present a feasible alternative to the political philosophy of the New Left. In effect, Straussianism constituted a right-wing version of American Marxism in that its adherents worked under a broad structural framework. This framework specifically repudiated the excesses of individualism, which Strauss understood as being indicative of both relativistic and nihilistic thinking. Modern American liberalism, for Strauss, was becoming increasingly hedonistic and aimless, especially with respect to public policies like abortion and welfare. Early neoconservatives therefore sought to correct this hedonistic aimlessness by fashioning a kind of politics rooted in the core values of capitalism, democracy, and freedom. This value-driven approach ultimately helped neoconservatives to synthesize their ideas in the 1960s and 1970s under thinkers like Daniel Bell and Irving Kristol. As a result, this political philosophy became a mainstay in American politics from the 1980s to the 2000s, particularly in the area of foreign policy.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Race Riots and the Ghetto Underclass

Race Riots and the Ghetto Underclass: A number of American cities erupted with ethnoracial violence in the late 1960s. Struggling with the effects of racial segregation, which was an urban socio-political process marked by the spatial separation of various ethnoracial groups, the ghetto underclass rioted. But why? With the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, racial segregation should not have been a major concern anymore, right? In 1965, the federal government issued the Moynihan Report, which attempted to address the basic sociological afflictions of inner-city African-American families. It effectively stated that without viable access to employment, black men were unable to carry out their familial duties. The disintegration of African-American family structure was therefore considered a primary cause of urban ethnoracial violence. After pervasive urban rioting throughout 1967, the federal government continued to investigate the problem with the Kerner Commission in 1968. Ultimately, the Commission pointed to the persistence of school, housing, and employment segregation as precipitating the rioting, and that only a governmental plan for "total integration," which included public accommodations, could alleviate the problem.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mining for the Future

Mining for the Future: Apart from war-related inventions like radar and rocketry, mining has facilitated more engineered innovations in the industrialized world's infrastructure than any other industry. In Technics and Civilization (1934), historian Lewis Mumford concluded that mining engineering had raised the quality of life for many humans by making the inconvenient convenient. From tunnels to railroads to elevators, the mining industry was the first to develop and utilize these technological innovations on a large-scale. For instance, the ideas behind square-set bracing, which constituted a method for reinforcing mine shafts, was an effective precursor to the development of reinforced concrete in the 1890s by French engineer François Hennebique. Without reinforced concrete, many of today's bridges, dams, highways, and skyscrapers would not exist. Nevertheless, the origins of mining date back to the Paleolithic Age (c. 40,000 years ago). As a process, mining involves the extraction of minerals from the Earth. These minerals are initially confined in an ore material, but later become refined into a purer substance. Coal mining, for example, is perhaps the most pervasive and pernicious form of mining today. Although coal represents one of the world's most abundant resources, mining it can release various toxic gases, including hydrogen sulfide.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Alternative Rock Returns to Its Roots

Alternative Rock Returns to Its Roots:
Although it did not become popular until the 1990s, alternative rock (alt-rock) was an established musical genre by the 1980s. Alt-rock's roots, however, date back to both the psychedelic and hard rock bands of the 1960s and 1970s. For example, bands such as Led Zeppelin and The Who are considered precursors to alt-rock, especially given their edgy styles. Yet perhaps the most intriguing aspect of alternative rock is its overwhelming emphasis on simplicity. On the surface, that last statement may seem like a contradiction since "overwhelming" and "simplicity" are not terms that generally go together. But the fact remains, alt-rock bands often consist of only two (or three) members; a guitarist and a drummer. The vocals can be a shared duty while a bass line might be added during the recording process. Nevertheless, by the 2000s, many alt-rock bands had drifted toward pop rock or pop punk. As a result, there are very few alt-rock bands today that seek to rediscover the genre's true roots.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Foucault and Rehabilitation

Foucault and Rehabilitation: When French critical theorist Michel Foucault published Discipline and Punish in 1975, he reinvigorated the philosophical debate concerning criminal justice systems. Prior to Foucault's work, it was generally assumed that criminals and criminality were the products of failing liberal democracies and that only through measures of austerity could crime be controlled. But after a critical examination of the history and theory surrounding Western penal codes, Foucault concludes that the primacy of individual choice still supersedes the shortcomings of any criminal justice system. That is, just as criminals choose to perform illegal acts, or acts that detract from the public good, so too can those criminals choose to be rehabilitated. Having been influenced by Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals (1887) and Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon (1785), Foucault argues that in most penal systems the prosecution possesses more rights than the defendant. In effect, the power of knowledge in criminal procedure is the supreme privilege of the prosecution. And like any process, there are always unintended consequences. Yet they can be mitigated by emphasizing the innate self-worth of the person behind the criminal. And through measures of rehabilitation, some criminals can ultimately rejoin society and avoid recidivism.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Aesthetics of Machinery

The Aesthetics of Machinery: German engineering has always devoted considerable attention to melding aesthetics and physics. With its sleek appearance, 450 horsepower engine, and aerodynamic design, the 2010 Audi RS5 is a perfect example of how German (automotive) engineering combines beauty and power. And there is a unique philosophical tradition in German engineering that can be traced back to philosophers like Immanel Kant and Arthur Schopenhauer. In general, it calls for balancing the idealism of design with the pessimism of production. The idealism of design necessarily precedes the pessimism of production, as Kant's eighteenth-century idealism became eclipsed by Schopenhauer's nineteenth-century pessimism. Largely considered the last Enlightenment philosopher, Kant focused on the "thing in itself" (noumenon), which is a belief that the objective nature of a thing is known only to the mind. This kind of thinking can be contrasted with sensory perception and its emphasis on the appearance of a thing (phenomenon). Schopenhauer criticized Kant's idealism as being blind to the idea that a thing's aesthetic value often supersedes its moral worth. In fact, Schopenhauer replaced Kant's noumenon with the human "will to live" (Wille zum Leben). The "will to live" gives people a sense of practicality, which helps them to be more realistic (and pessimistic) when confronting the Truth behind the world and its appearances.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

On the Constantinian Shift

On the Constantinian Shift: When Roman Emperor Constantine I converted to Christianity in 312 AD, the religion emerged from its otherwise underground status. The following year he issued the Edict of Milan, which legalized Christian worship throughout the Roman Empire. Constantine I's conversion experience (depicted in the above picture) occurred just before his legions were about to fight in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. Prior to 313 AD, Christians faced persecution from Roman authorities - examples included being thrown to the lions in the Coliseum for public entertainment or being crucified (upside down at times) as Saint Peter was. In their willful attempts to worship the Trinity, early Christians often assembled in caves marked by the fish symbol (ichthys) because in ancient Greek the word for "fish" was the same as "savior." With their symbolic use of language, they not only avoided certain persecution, but also established basic theological decrees to govern the Church's liturgical processes. These processes eventually became standardized in 325 AD at the First Council of Nicaea, where early Church Fathers achieved consensus on the elemental beliefs of Christianity.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cancer Concepts

Cancer Concepts: As a class of diseases that involves the uncontrolled growth of cells, cancer generally ravages the mind, body, and soul to the point of non-existence. Most cancers present themselves as malignant tumors that tend to divide and conquer otherwise healthy tissue. Cancer treatment, for the most part, includes three basic options: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. While surgery entails the physical removal of cancer, chemotherapy treats the disease systemically with agents that inhibit the reproductive capacity of cells. Radiotherapy, on the other hand, uses ionizing radiation to cause cell death in targeted locations, which also alleviates the various symptoms that are typically associated with a cancerous malignancy. But the ultimate philosophical questions surrounding cancer do not necessarily involve how to treat it. Existentially speaking, the causes and purposes of cancer serve as the primordial pillars in a philosophical debate. For if Sartre is correct, and existence does indeed precede essence, then cancer can be understood as a natural component of the body's self-destructive mechanisms. That is, when the time comes to move from this life into the next, the body initiates a series of ruinous processes to incite cell death. And as Nietzsche concludes, "there is more wisdom in your body than in your best wisdom."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Frontier Experience

The Frontier Experience: When the 1890 United States Census declared the Western frontier closed, few people understood the implications behind it. In 1893, historian Frederick Jackson Turner published "The Significance of the Frontier in American History." This essay sought to explain the origins of American exceptionalism in the context of westward expansion. For Turner, the process of settling the West became an essential component of both American individualism and identity. The ideas of westward settlement and expansion were not exclusive to Turner's "Frontier Thesis," however. In 1845, New York journalist John O'Sullivan popularized the term "Manifest Destiny" (God-given right to go West) in reference to the annexation of Texas. Now that American frontiersman had God on their side, it was only a matter of willpower for the West to be made into a distinctive region. With the closing of the frontier, the nation had effectively exhausted its continental territory. Turner therefore assumed a Malthusian perspective toward the American West where population growth and food production must be balanced. If population growth far exceeded food production, then the West would potentially face abandonment, as its geography was not conducive to large-scale settlement in the first place.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Deindustrialization and Urban Blight

Deindustrialization and Urban Blight: The net loss of industrial output in most cities is the primary effect of deindustrialization. As a structural process, it particularly affects cities where manufacturing constitutes the largest component of the urban economy. With the decline of the automobile industry in Detroit, Michigan, the city has become a poster child for deindustrialization. At the same time, the steel industry in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has largely evaporated, and thus, the area between the two cities is known as the Rust Belt. But is deindustrialization an entirely negative aspect of urban life in this region? Sure, it creates urban blight in the form of abandoned warehouses, factories, and houses. And it even highlights the racial tensions that stem from 'white flight' and labor segmentation. Yet deindustrialization also leads to economic opportunities in the form of deflated real estate prices. Developers are therefore able to engage in the urban renewal process more easily by purchasing and renovating unused or foreclosed buildings. In short, the deindustrialization narrative in urban history will continue to serve as a key framework for examining any city's basic socio-economic structures.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sacco and Vanzetti

Sacco and Vanzetti: As a classic case of nativism, the Sacco and Vanzetti trials of the 1920s originated with the First Red Scare. Born in Italy in the late nineteenth century, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti immigrated to Massachusetts in 1908. They adamantly supported Italian anarchist Luigi Galleani, who was a known proponent of anarcho-syndicalism. Fraught with ideas such as "wage slavery" and "trade unionism," anarcho-syndicalism essentially focused on building structural anarchy into the labor movements of the early twentieth century. When Sacco and Vanzetti eventually met in 1917, the political climate in the United States was very anti-radical. The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia coupled with the general nervousness surrounding World War I pushed many American authorities to embark on political witch-hunts. Given the reactionary atmosphere in America at the time, immigrants, particularly those from Southern and Eastern Europe, were synonymous with radical beliefs. Sacco and Vanzetti experienced the consequences of anti-radicalism when they faced their impending executions (under the banner of sedition) in 1927 for two murders and a robbery that they may or may not have committed.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Define: Lutheran Dilemma

Define: Lutheran Dilemma:
When Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the doors of the All Saints' Church (Schlosskirche) in Wittenberg in 1517, he precipitated a theological dilemma of monumental proportions. As an Augustinian monk, Luther exhibited a staunchly individualistic outlook toward matters of Christian theology. The doctrine of justification, which entailed a sinner's conversion to righteousness in the eyes of God, became a central tenet in his theological teachings. More specifically, Luther believed that Faith alone (sola fide) was the final determinant in the process of justifying mankind. Nevertheless, Luther had visions of himself falling on an eternal ladder that stretched between Heaven and Hell. They haunted his conscience to the point when he confessed to a priest who told him to do what lied within himself. That response did not placate Luther's dilemma. He saw the Roman Catholic Church as growing increasingly corrupt. For example, the selling of indulgences - where parishioners could purchase either full or partial remission for their sins - infuriated Luther. After his formal excommunication in 1521, Luther sought to establish a new church that conducted services in the vernacular (German) instead of Latin. This change appealed greatly to a wide degree of commoners, as it increased access to the liturgical processes of Christian worship.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

On Israeli Foreign Policy

On Israeli Foreign Policy: When Israel became an official country in May 1948, she confronted five Arab armies on her newly established borders. Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria each invaded Israel in the name of Pan-Arabism, which sought to reassert Arab control over Palestine. But it was the ideology of Religious Zionism that helped the Israeli people remain resolute and fend off their Arab foes. This strain of Zionist thinking has become central in the political processes that define Israeli foreign policy. Ever since the country's early foreign ministers; Moshe Sharett, Golda Meir, and Abba Eban, Israel has demonstrated a strong inclination for self-determination whereby her national interests supersede the collective interests of her Arab neighbors. For example, when Palestinian Arabs fled Israel at the onset of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, they were not allowed to repatriate. At that time, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, who simultaneously headed the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Israeli government, employed a variety of heavy-handed policies toward Palestinian Arabs. His thinking centered on the idea of "peace through strength." Therefore, if Israel pursued aggressive settlement policies through mechanisms like the National Water Carrier project, then Palestinian Arabs would necessarily recognize the permanence of Israeli statehood, and thus, political stability in Israel would subsequently ensue.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Grand Theft Auto: The Game

Grand Theft Auto: The Game: If there ever was a video game that resembled what English political philosopher Thomas Hobbes referred to as the "state of nature," then Grand Theft Auto (GTA) certainly qualifies. When Hobbes published Leviathan in 1651, England was on the verge of entering a de facto military dictatorship under the rule of Oliver Cromwell. The traumatic events of the English Civil War in the 1640s pushed Hobbes to question what would happen to a society devoid of government. As a result, he conducted a hypothetical thought experiment in which men proceeded to fight each other in the name of land and liberty (bellum omnium contra omnes). As for GTA, the idea of a "war of all against all" becomes a virtual reality when players are immersed in a world where objective morality ceases to exist. Players can steal cars, kill pedestrians, rob stores, and even copulate with hookers. Critics claim that the game's graphic imagery incites violence and sets a poor example for young children. But the game can also be considered a teaching tool with regard to the importance of having a strong central government, especially in a society of ruthless individuals.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

On "Just War" Theory

On "Just War" Theory: American Protestant theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr (pictured above), advocated a theory of "just war" that eventually morphed into the Christian Realist movement. Originating with Catholic theologians like Saint Augustine of Hippo and Saint Thomas Aquinas, a just war is fundamentally conducted from a defensive standpoint. Basic requirements (jus ad bellum) include just cause, comparative justice, and legitimate authority. Yet with the advent of the Cold War in 1945, Christian Realism brought a hawkish attitude to American foreign policy. As a religiously rooted ideology, it helped Americans cope with the prospects of imminent war. And Niebuhr recognized that attempting to meet every stipulation for a just war would hamper the ability of the defender to prepare an adequate defense. Therefore, sometimes the best way to defend a territory involves going on the offensive. Preemptive war signifies an off-shoot of this kind of thinking. For example, the Bush Doctrine in Afghanistan and Iraq applied the principle of preemption to combat global terrorism. But it is never enough to strike preemptively and then leave one's opponent wallowing in the wake. A comprehensive plan for recovery (nation building) must be implemented in order to mitigate the potential for future aggression.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Nikola Tesla's Alternating Current

Nikola Tesla's Alternating Current: Serbian inventor, Nikola Tesla, is often overlooked when examining the historical development of electrification. Having secured nearly 300 patents over the course of his life, it was clear that Tesla had a profound impact on the Second Industrial Revolution. Beginning in the 1880s, large-scale electrification efforts were underway in the United States. Thomas Edison supplied New York City with its first electric grid while George Westinghouse discovered the utility of copper as an electrical conductor. But it was Tesla who devised the theoretical basis for alternating current (AC), which made long-distance electrical transmission possible. Tesla's work, however, ignited an intellectual debate with Edison over what constituted the most efficient way to distribute electricity. Edison advocated a direct current (DC) system of electrical transmission, which called for a constant level of voltage throughout the grid. Tesla criticized Edison's DC system by citing the amount of electricity that went to waste while sustaining a constant level of voltage. In an AC system, transformers represented cost-effective devices for converting high transmission voltages into low utilization voltages. This idea, along with successful installations of AC power at Niagara Falls and Chicago, effectively ended the debate of AC versus DC systems.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Marcus Garvey Goes Back to Africa?

Marcus Garvey Goes Back to Africa?: In August 1914, when the guns of World War I erupted, Marcus Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Unlike the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which originated five years earlier and primarily addressed African-American issues, the UNIA sought to uplift African peoples from around the world. As time progressed, the association started a weekly newspaper called The Negro World and various black-owned corporations (e.g. - Black Star Line) that operated in the economic sectors of trade, transportation, and manufacturing. Even though the UNIA managed most of its businesses from the United States, Garvey pushed for an increased emphasis on Africa. By the mid-1920s, he attempted to organize a Pan-African movement for the repatriation of African-Americans in Liberia. Its ultimate objective was to develop basic infrastructure such as roads, schools, and factories in an effort to resettle the country. Ironically, Garvey never made it to Africa and the Liberia program had to be abandoned due to unforeseen conflicts with American capitalistic designs, such as the Firestone Company's interest in Liberian rubber plantations.

Monday, February 15, 2010

When the Guns Blared...

When the Guns Blared...: In late 1942, the German Army (Das Heer) introduced the Tiger I (Panzer VI) tank. It was the German Army's answer to the Red Army's infamous T-34, which roamed the Eastern Front during Operation Barbarossa. As a heavy tank, the Tiger's armor represented one of its most formidable aspects. Likewise, the tank's 88mm gun also instilled great fear in the Allies. Yet due to the Tiger's nearly impregnable armor, it was rather slow when compared to the U.S. Army's M4 Sherman. Another downside related to its heavy armor was the snail-like pace of the tank's production capacity. But the Tiger signified a quintessentially German tank. Its assembly process followed the business paradigm of quality over quantity; unlike the Americans who pursued the exact opposite paradigm. In its first years of operation, the Tiger scored big gains as it advanced across the Eastern Front deep into the Soviet Union. At the same time, the German Army created reserve (mechanized) divisions in France to help fortify the Western Front. Ultimately, the Allies overwhelmed the Germans with superior productive capabilities, and thus, ended the myth of invincibility that surrounded the Tiger.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Politicizing through Ridicule

Politicizing through Ridicule: In 1971, the godfather of community organizing, Saul Alinsky, published his Rules for Radicals. It primarily addressed the New Left movements of the 1960s, which sought to broaden the ideological stance of the Old Left - where traditional Marxism (class-based oppression) and trade unionism reigned supreme. Although he despised labels and never officially joined any political organization, Alinsky's words and actions surely placed him in the liberal camp. By its very nature, community organizing is a left-wing phenomenon, especially since it focuses heavily on shared interests instead of self-interests. And Alinsky's Rules for Radicals has become the quintessential manifesto for community organizers, as it juxtaposes Machiavelli's elite (sustaining power) with Marx's proletariat (attaining power). In effect, Alinsky admonishes his readers to attain power is by ridiculing the politics of those who already have it. That is, make yourself a victim of the Establishment or the ruling political structure. Victims garner sympathy and sympathy provides victims with social mobility. The cycle builds upon itself until the victim eventually becomes the perpetrator. Much of what Alinsky professes leads the reader to believe in the old Nietzschean aphorism that "might makes right." In a way, therefore, Alinsky's ethics are purely subjective, which is why community organizing often lacks a clear sense of purpose.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Batman and the Jungian Self

Batman and the Jungian Self: In the psychology of Carl Jung, there is a specific reference to the Self. As an archetype, it serves as one of the most fundamental features of a person's psyche. It also marks the intersection between the mind's conscious and unconscious elements. The core component of the Self, however, resides in the process of individuation. For Jung, this process involves bringing the unconscious aspects of one's mind into the conscious. Perhaps individuation is best exemplified by fictional superhero Batman. His Self certainly follows a unique pattern of development, as it consistently undergoes a transformation from wealthy citizen to communal vigilante. In fact, the story surrounding Batman's transformation is not all that unbelievable. As a billionaire philanthropist, Bruce Wayne acquires a sense of extreme self-discipline after his parents' murders and becomes motivated by both revenge and love. But what makes Batman particularly appealing is his relentless drive for self-actualization or what Nietzsche calls the "will to power." This drive helps him pursue Gotham City's most notorious criminals in a way that only he can.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Cardinal Newman's "Grammar of Assent"

Cardinal Newman's "Grammar of Assent": In 1870, John Henry Newman published An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent. As a Cardinal in the Catholic Church who converted from Anglicanism, he adamantly defended Christianity in the face of British empiricists like John Stuart Mill. One of the key points in the book entails the notion that a person of Faith does not have to understand fully what he worships. That is precisely where Faith plays its most integral role in the process of religious conversion. Of course, there are times when people cast doubt and demand answers rooted in a scientific rationale. But when taken to an extreme, that kind of thinking only leads to solipsism. And as a logical fallacy, solipsism states that nothing exists outside of one's own mind. Adhering to such a philosophical doctrine would perhaps be the greatest display of personal arrogance since Narcissus first discovered the beauty of his own reflection. Above all, however, Newman believes the human mind is engaged in an unending search to close the logic-gap that stems from the innate flaws of deductive reasoning.