Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Combating the built-in drag away from goodness

Central to Aristotle’s ethics is his concept of living well (eudaimonia), which he describes as living in accordance with the virtues. He places friendship as one of the virtues necessary for living well, an essential ingredient for attaining the virtuous life. Aristotle says, “A discussion of friendship would naturally follow, since it is a virtue or implies virtue, and is besides most necessary with a view of living”. “For without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods” (1155a). In fact, Aristotle sees friendship as an essential aspect of a life of happiness and morality, “the friendship of good men is good, being augmented by their companionship; and they are thought to become better by their activities and by improving each other; for from each other they take the mold of the characteristics they approve” (1172a). Friendship seems to have an especially close connection with moral virtue, standing as a crucial link in a chain that the treatment of the separate virtues has not yet completed. In the lives of virtuous agents, friendship is far more involved and significant than just good will, actually aiding their progression towards fulfilling their ultimate end goal, which for Aristotle is human flourishing. Aristotle is committed to the unity of virtue and happiness and rejects the commonly held notion that what is really good for us is not what is most pleasant, and that what is right or noble is often neither good nor pleasant. Aristotle argues, to the contrary, that the activity of virtue is the very substance of human happiness and this unity for Aristotle seems best achieved within the context of serious friendship.
Aristotle also bases his political theory on friendship. Amity among people in the society is requisite for the proper function of the social order, which for him, of course, was the Athenian polis… Egoism and selfishness in the Aristotelian sense seems rather to be only discernible when one carefully dissects man’s activities and relationships, recognizing that his ultimate goal is his own enlightenment, virtuousness, and eudaimonia. The actual behaviors and the day-to-day living of such a man would not be observable as selfishly motivated nor egoistic. For Aristotle, self-love and selfishness motivate us only in so far as the achievement of virtuousness and nobility result in our own self-fulfillment and happiness or eudaimonia. Rand’s egoism is overriding, demanding, and in-your-face. It is all about self-interest, self-preservation, and self-promotion. That she is also able to view the ultimate human goal as fulfillment of self does not justify drawing any significant similarity with Aristotle. These are two very different views of the self , its motivation, and its relationship to others. I see little or no justification for Rand’s claim to Aristotelianism as the root of her rational egoism or of her objectivism.

Why I choose Team Anna - YOGENDRA YADAV : Indian Express, Tue Aug 07, 2012
I wanted to tell her about my political guru, Kishen Pattnayak. For a full-time politician and former member of Lok Sabha, he was unbelievably self-effacing; you felt embarrassed talking about him in his presence. He did not draw any attention to himself; the media paid virtually no attention to him. He was as close to a fusion of morality and politics as I have seen in my life. He did not compromise on his principles, but he kept losing colleagues and followers to mainstream parties. He was the opposite of mediocrity: I think of him as one of the original minds of our time. His own followers did not quite understand him and the academia did not glance at someone who did not write in English. He was not frustrated or dejected. But the kind of alternative politics he spent his life building never ever took off.
I know what I do not wish to say to her. I am not saying that politics is not for the intelligent or the thin-skinned. I am not saying that palitiks mein sab chalta hai. I guess I wish to draw her attention to a deeper paradox of modern politics: politics opens at once the possibility of ethics in public life and also becomes the source of its routine negation. In our times, the pursuit of goodness draws you to politics, at the same time immersion in politics has a built-in drag away from goodness. For those who keep their eyes, ears and soul open, political choices are always very delicate, very complex, very painful. The writer is senior fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi.

Kishen Pattnayak's death did not make headlines. Only one news channel ran this story on September 27, the day he died… Clearly, our media that loves to hate politics had no space for the one politician who did not fit the stereotypes of a politician. Yet this is one politician who needs to be remembered and what better day than Gandhi Jayanti to look again at the politics of someone like Kishen Pattnayak. 

Kishen Pattnayak's concept of politics was the comprehensive pursuit of social transformation. He was a radical who centred his activities on social movements, while simultaneously participating in electoral politics through the instrumentality of a political party. In both, the stress was on principles and ideology, whatever the length of time and sacrifice it might involve. He pursued peaceful struggles for social change and had debates with the Naxalites on this issue.

Savitri Era Party @SavitriEraParty Two outstanding thinkers-cum-workers Odisha has produced: Kishen Pattnayak (1930-2004) and Chittaranjan Das (1923-2011). 2:28 PM  
1m - Savitri Era Party @SavitriEraParty Combating the "built-in drag away from goodness" is the Vedic imperative, precisely for which Savitri Era roots for FIVE DREAMS Manifesto.