October 24, 2010

here & there

"In a country so unfortunate as to have a religion that God has not revealed, it is necessary for it to be agreeable to morality; because even a false religion is the best security we can have of the probity of men." —Montesquieu, The Spirit of Laws (ch. 14)

"For different natures must first have existed in all those things that among the nations were to be differentiated. This at any rate is seen if one observes how very different in their bodies are Germans and Scythians from Libyans and Egyptians. Can this also be due to a bare decree, and does not the climate or the country have joint influences with the gods…?" —Julian the Apostate, Against the Galileans (143E)

"Thus do the gods justify the life of man, in that they themselves live it!— the only satisfactory theodicy!" —Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy (ch. 3)

"Note the precise characterization of the German ancien régime as the one which 'only imagines that it still believes in itself' —one can even speculate about the meaning of the fact that, during the same period, Kierkegaard deployed his idea that we humans cannot ever be sure what we believe: ultimately, we only 'believe that we believe.' The formula of a régime which 'only imagines that it believes in itself' nicely captures the cancellation of the performative power ('symbolic efficiency') of the ruling ideology: it no longer effectively functions the fundamental structure of the social bond. And, we may ask, are we not today in the same situation?" —Slavoj Zizek, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce

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