Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Requiem for a Haircut

Picture 004
Originally uploaded by rob helpychalk.

The mohawk did not last long. I have too many meetings coming up: one with the dean, one which includes a guy from the Rotary club.

In somewhat related news, a group of conservative intellectuals have listed J.S. Mill's On Liberty as a runner up for the ten most harmful books of the 19th and 20th centuries. (via Wonkette) Other runners up include Darwin's Origin of Species and Descent of Man. What made the list? The top 3 are to be expected, The Communist Manifestor, Mein Kamf, and The Quotations of Chairman Mao. Number 4 is weird: The Kinsey Report. That's right Kinsey caused nearly as much damage as Chairman Mao.

In any case, I leave you with a quote from the Chapter "On Individuality, as an Element of Well-Being" from Mill's contribution to the most harmful books of the 19th and 20th centuries.

He who does anything because it is the custom, makes no choice. He gains no practice either in discerning or in desiring what is best. The mental and moral, like the muscular powers, are improved only by being used. The faculties are called into no exercise by doing a thing merely because others do it, no more than by believing a thing only because others believe it. If the grounds of an opinion are not conclusive to the person's own reason, his reason cannot be strengthened, but is likely to be weakened, by his adopting it: and if the inducements to an act are not such as are consentaneous to his own feelings and character (where affection, or the rights of others, are not concerned) it is so much done towards rendering his feelings and character inert and torpid, instead of active and energetic.

He who lets the world, or his own portion of it, choose his plan of life for him, has no need of any other faculty than the ape-like one of imitation. He who chooses his plan for himself, employs all his faculties. He must use observation to see, reasoning and judgment to foresee, activity to gather materials for decision, discrimination to decide, and when he has decided, firmness and self-control to hold to his deliberate decision. And these qualities he requires and exercises exactly in proportion as the part of his conduct which he determines according to his own judgment and feelings is a large one.

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