By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Now at Amazon

New and improved book cover--look for discount code in recent post.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Routledge Encyclopedia on Ortega y Gasset

As part of my efforts to introduce more people to the seminal work of philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, I give you an excerpt from the excellent entry on Ortega in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (London, 1998):

The Spanish philosopher Ortega borrowed themes from early twentieth-century German philosophy and applied them with new breadth and urgency to his own context. Calling his philosophy 'vital reason' or ratiovitalism', he employed it initially to deal with the problem of Spanish decadence and later with European cultural issues, such as abstract art and the mass revolt against moral and intellectual excellence. Vital reason is more a method for coping with concrete historical problems than a system of universal principles. But the more disciplined the method became, the deeper Ortega delved into Western history to solve the theoretical and practical dilemmas facing the twentieth century.
. . . .
Ortega, one of the twentieth century's greatest essayists, deserves recognition as a brilliant transitional philosopher, bridging Husserl's phenomenology and Heidegger's ontology of existence with his own four principles [earlier listed in the entry as: "(1) my life is the 'radical reality', the framework in which all other realities (including reason) appear; (2) my life is a self-conscious problem of individual realization; (3) my problem amounts to deciding among specific possibilities for self-authentication; (4) the plurality of these possibilities defines my freedom in life; their quantitative finiteness, my limitation"].

You can find a concise, coherent explanation of those four principles, in detail, in my latest book pictured above. For the record, in my judgment, Ortega's work is not merely transitional to that of Heidegger but a still relevant and superior alternative to the work of Heidegger.

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Manipulators Love Adverbs

English: Newt Gingrich with a crowd in Ames, Iowa
Image via Wikipedia
This column by Fox News Joe Scarborough on Newt Gingrich's demagogic manipulation of adverbs struck a memory chord. I recall one or two past associates who liked to use the adverb "absolutely" quite often. Eventually, I realized that when the adverb appeared it was a sign that some kind of fraud on the truth was being perpetrated. In retrospect, it seems that the adverb abuser used the adverb to convince herself that the statement must be true if she was willing to go out on a rhetorical adverbial limb. Of course, politicians have perfected this art of simultaneously deceiving themselves and their audience at any particular time. I recall one quote to the effect that so-and-so wasn't lying--he really believed in the truth of his statement at that instant in time, although what he believed in the next instant to be true was anyone's guess. That sort of modus operandi has a way of making the egotistical life and its manipulative agenda so easy to accomplish.

A New York Times columnist also dissects the methods of manipulators, political and otherwise, at this link. So when you hear Gingrich call Romney "totally dishonest," you have to take it with a grain of salt, cum grano salis. In sum, in constructing our profile of a deceiver, keep your ears open for the tell-tale adverb.
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Nice Book Review at SPR

Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Here is the link to a very nice review of my recent book on philosophy in Ortega y Gasset at the Self-Publishing Review (for the record, a self-published author, like me, pays a small fee to have the book reviewed and then decides whether to have the review made public; as the author of the book, I had no contact with the actual writer of the book review--my contact was only with the SPR editor). Notice the interesting bio of the book reviewer.

By the way, SPR looks like a great resource for authors in this new era for book publishing--an era in which traditional barriers to entry are coming down. I like that.
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kindle Philosophy Book Now Available as Paperback

You can obtain a print, paperback version of my 50-page book entitled Freedom and Circumstance: Philosophy in Ortega y Gasset at this CreateSpace store link (CreateSpace is affiliated with and printed the book). The book includes an annotated bibliography and extensive notes. The print is also easy to read. 

For those who are writers, the citation form for the book is: Oswald Sobrino, Freedom and Circumstance: Philosophy in Ortega y Gasset (Charleston, S.C.: Logon, 2011). "Logon" is the imprint for my two most recent books. For those familiar with Greek forms, it's the accusative singular of "Logos" and simultaneously has an obvious English meaning in this age of revolutionary change in book publishing. (The nominative forms "Logos" and "Logoi" are already in use by other publishers.)

Enter this code to get a 10% discount:

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Monday, January 16, 2012

She Did Not Keep Quiet

English: By Richard Wheeler (Zephyris) 2007.
Image via Wikipedia
A hero for our times has passed away in Ireland. She bucked a profoundly dysfunctional culture of denial and silence for the sake of many tortured innocents. Here is the obituary link from the New York Times.
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Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Iron Lady--Movie Review

Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher
Image via Wikipedia
Last night, I saw the film "The Iron Lady" on former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (hereafter referred to as "MT"). I highly recommend it. Here is my bullet review organized by theme:

1. Aging and Loss: The movie is not merely political (thank goodness!)--it is a profound meditation on aging, loss, and bereavement as it portrays how much MT missed her deceased husband and how she adjusts to advanced age. The lesson here: grief and bereavement for a deceased spouse is a singular privilege--it means that the relationship was a blessing. Not all can say that.

2. Ambition: Yes, we need ambition; and MT was inspired by her grocer father who was also a local mayor who preached self-reliance. The movie links several scenes in a clever fashion: MT's mother washing dishes when the young Margaret receives the letter informing her of her acceptance to Oxford University--the mother's hands are too damp to read the letter. Later, the youthful MT tells her future husband that she wants more in life than just washing teacups, that she must make a difference in life. At the end of the movie, the elderly MT is seen--washing a teacup.

Yes, we must make a difference; and healthy ambition to do so is a necessity. But we will also have to "wash teacups" in life, and there is value and meaning in that mundane aspect also. In the end, when all was said and done, MT was left with what she at first wanted to flee. There is a lesson here worth finding on your own.

3. Classism:  The curse of Britain is its class snobbery--the movie portrays the absurd and irrational disdain of the elite toward MT's being the daughter of a grocer. I recall a young academic friend about two years ago who expressed resentment at the class system of her native England--it's still a reality. In the U.S., we have come a long way. What a shame that many are foolish enough to still practice elite snobbery even here in America.

4. Hubris: One definition of hubris is taking one of our good traits too far. The decisive and fearless rhetoric of MT was legendary and rightly so among so many political mediocrities. The movie depicts when it goes too far: when she browbeats her colleagues, especially one in particular, in a cabinet meeting. We need to hold in check even what makes us extraordinary. A good rule of thumb for self-control is this: never browbeat anyone. We are never "that right" about anything.

All in all, it is a remarkable movie about a remarkable and courageous life with many profound themes about life in general, well beyond political themes, which are appropriately secondary in importance.

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A Superman

The League of Supermen (Part Seven)
Image by fengschwing via Flickr
Nietzsche had his version of the Superman. Here is mine at this NY Times link: .

If this story doesn't inspire you, then start worrying.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Golden Key to the Priesthood

Christ Washing the Feet of His Disciples
Image via Wikipedia
"If you do not want to be the least, do not even think of being a priest."

It's my own quote. The priesthood is not fundamentally about fancy vestments or white collars, or about being called "Father," or about being the main liturgical actor, or about an ethnic tradition, or about mastering liturgical complexity. And it's certainly not about finding an escape from personality and other emotional issues. 

It's about washing feet.

And, yes, you can replace "priest" in the quote with teacher, director of religious education, lay minister, seminar leader, etc.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Livy on America Today

Representation of the lupercal: Romulus and Re...
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Curiously, the Roman historian Livy, who lived in the first century A.D., wrote about the USA today:

"The subjects to which I would ask each of my readers to devote his earnest attention are these - the life and morals of the community; the men and the qualities by which, through domestic policy and foreign war, dominion was won and extended. Then as the standard of morality gradually lowers, let him follow the decay of the national character, observing how at first it slowly sinks, then slips downward more and more rapidly, and finally begins to plunge into headlong ruin, until he reaches these days, in which we can bear neither our diseases nor their remedies.

There is this exceptionally beneficial and fruitful advantage to be derived from the study of the past, that you see, set in the clear light of historical truth, examples of every possible type. From these you may select for yourself and your country what to imitate, and also what, as being mischievous in its inception and disastrous in its issues, you are to avoid. Unless, however, I am misled by affection for my undertaking, there has never existed any commonwealth greater in power, with a purer morality, or more fertile in good examples; or any state in which avarice and luxury have been so late in making their inroads, or poverty and frugality so highly and continuously honoured, showing so clearly that the less wealth men possessed the less they coveted. In these latter years wealth has brought avarice in its train, and the unlimited command of pleasure has created in men a passion for ruining themselves and everything else through self-indulgence and licentiousness." 

Livy, excerpt from Preface to Book I of his History of Rome, available at this link (emphasis added).

Today, in America, you can find the disease everywhere: from elite self-righteous liberal Democrats to highly conservative self-righteous Republicans--they are virtually all besotted with love of money and money and money and what money can buy. And, so it all comes tumbling down.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

To the Latins

Pope Benedictus XVI
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VATICAN CITY, 3 JAN 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday the episcopal conferences of Mexico and Cuba published separate press communiques announcing details of Benedict XVI's forthcoming visit to those countries, due to take place from 23 to 28 March. The Holy Father had expressed his intention to make an apostolic trip to Mexico and Cuba during a Mass celebrated in the Vatican Basilica on 12 December, Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron of Latin America.

  The note issued by the Conference of the Mexican Episcopate explains that the Pope will arrive at the airport of Leon in the State of Guanajuato on the afternoon of Friday 23 March. He will be greeted there by Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, president of Mexico, by members of the episcopal conference and by Archbishop Jose Guadalupe Martin of Leon. During his stay, the Holy Father will lodge in the residence of the Miraflores College in Leon.

  On Saturday 24 March, he will travel to the Casa del Conde Rul in the city of Guanajuato, the headquarters of the State Government, where he will hold an official meeting with President Calderon Hinojosa. After the meeting the Pope will greet and bless children and faithful gathered in the city's Plaza de la Paz.

  On the morning of Sunday 25 March Benedict XVI will preside at Mass in the Parque Bicentenario in the municipality of Silao, at the foot of hill known as the Cerro del Cubilete at the top of which is a statue of Christ the King. Following the ceremony he is due to meet with representatives from the ninety-one dioceses of Mexico. That evening the Holy Father will preside at Vespers in the cathedral of Leon with Mexican bishops and representatives of other Latin American episcopates, to whom he will address a message.

  On the morning of Monday 26 March, the Pope will take his official leave of the civil and religious authorities of Mexico at the airport of Leon, before flying to Cuba.

  The note published by the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba explains that the Pope is due to arrive in Santiago de Cuba in the early afternoon of 26 March. He will be welcomed by Raul Castro, president of Cuba, by members of the episcopal conference and by Archbishop Dionisio Garcia Ibanez of Santiago. The Holy Father will then travel by open-top car to the Plaza de la Revolucion where he will celebrate Mass for the Solemnity of the Annunciation. After the ceremony, the Pope will move on to the nearby mining town of El Cobre where he will lodge in a residence for priests.

  On the morning of Tuesday 27 March the Holy Father will make a private visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity where he will pray before the image of the patron of Cuba. He will then go to the airport of Santiago to fly to the capital city Havana, where he is due to arrive at midday. He will be welcomed there by Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of Havana and by other religious and civil authorities. That afternoon the Pope will hold an official meeting with President Castro, then meet with Cuban bishops in the apostolic nunciature.

  On the morning of Wednesday 28 March, the Pope will preside at Mass in the Plaza de la Revolucion "Jose Marti". In the early afternoon he will be taken by open-top car to the airport of Havana were, following the departure ceremony, he will board his return flight for Rome.
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