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18 November 2015


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David Solomon

Richard, I very much appreciate your point of view. Nevertheless, this is not a new problem and I refer you to this Wikipedia entry:




Bruce D

You have a point about the glorification of death. The problem is that we risk getting too fixated on the evil of the other.

Lots of what is said now about ISIS is similar to what Americans said about the Japanese in WWII. My grandmother, a very kind person, never quite got over her hatred of the Japanese. We now see the Japanese as fairly nice people, and "Zen" is a compliment.

Let's not compete with ISIS in florid denunciation.

William R. Cumming

Agree with this post but death of IS could be long time coming followed by even more threatening organizations.


I'm afraid I don't see ISIS as breaking much new ground in the death stakes. The christian religion is all about preparing for death and some of the images conjured by its supporters are pretty gruesome as well.

To put that another way, I wouldn't dignify ISIS by treating it as anything new.

Richard Sale

and I was doing this?

Richard Sale

Bruce D

No, in fact you didn't. I apologize.


I think ISIS has magnified a distinction between the Christian West and the rest ... the centrality of the meaning & value of the living human soul. While it appears this specialness is decreasing in the West... was it ever held in equivalently high religious & cultural regard elsewhere, even in theory?
Anyway, AQ & IS have promulgated weaponization of the human soul a matter of faith, implementing a policy of multi-generational indoctrination that can field lotsa smart little cost-effective cruise missiles for soft targets. The kids seem thrilled that it's mostly the young (or young-at-heart) who are dying good. One hopes that blow-back will be hell for the jihadists, but it sure is hell enduring their education. Is it possible to counter the suicide-as-lifestyle movement?

Doug Colwell

The exchange above illustrates why I keep returning to this blog. Intellegence, wit, passion and civility. Thank you.

Babak Makkinejad

Richard Sales:

The "Pursuit of Happiness" left to itself and without constraint would be a most horrendously insidious idea; leaving it is wake shattered and dead human beings.

How are you going to stop a 14-year old girl from that pursuit, should that make her a harlot by age 16?

What argument are you going to conjure up to stop a young boy becoming a heroin addicts at 15?

After all, each are pursuing their own happiness - as they understand it.

I personally have know people, now lost to suicide, that would have been alive today if someone had taken their freedom away from them.

I know Americans like & respect Jefferson, to me he is a phony.

And then there is that problem of no one knows their happiness; e.g. does one's happiness in dumping the wife of 25 years to shack up with that new bimbo?

Men are not born to be Happy.

Richard Sale

thank you.

Richard sale

Richard Sale

I was using the phrase ironically.

Richard Sale


"Men are not born to be Happy." No, but they are born to seek it. There may be a good reason. Humans are not born to be any particular emotion.
As to understanding Jefferson... "... like & respect..."?
He's a historic player, a character of imperfect nature, a symbol for contentious reference among thinkers over the years ... but a "phony"? That's what my Mom called cheaters and liars - those who couldn't help but try to fool others, even when there was no purpose. Maybe Jefferson is just an American thing... and a bit of French, too.

Babak Makkinejad

I think humans are born to experience two emptions: boredom followed by depression.

Depression seems to be the more endemic one.

As for seeking happiness, one cannot escape oneself.

Babak Makkinejad

My apologies Sir; I am dense at times.



The Pursuit of boredom or depression isn't a very attractive rallying cry for breaking away from the mother country.

Jefferson meant the phrase as Aristotle did: free to accumulate the material goods to live comfortably (in moderation and not as a hedonist) and by living a moral life. A person can only decide if his life was happy in the moments before his death. That would be hard to figure out if you were spinning toward earth in a flaming 747. The point of Aristotle and, I believe, Jefferson is that happiness isn't a fleeting emotion but an overarching positive judgement of the life you lived.

Today most people confuse happiness with impulsive physical gratification and/or competitive material accumulation.

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your comments.

So Mr. Jefferson's idea of Pursuit of Happiness was accumulation of material goods; which is fine in my book. This must have been the original idea behind the "American Dream", no?

But that idea is now understood to imply pursuit of Mental/Emotional/Psychic Happiness which is leading so many people so astray in so many walks of life and in so many ways.

It has been used and is being used as the intellectual basis of "Self-Realization" at any cost.



Jefferson wasn't a greedy materialist but knew a person needed the ability to provide the material goods--housing, food,etc--to live a comfortable and healthy life. Jefferson's free time, if you can call it that, was spent mostly in intellectual pursuits.

I agree with you that the US people are overly Oprahnized.

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