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One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. -Nietzsche

  April 10, 2016

Credentialists

You notice most people pursuing education have not the slightest interest in their subject of study. They want credentials, partly for posturing, but mostly from a feeling of entitlement that they deserve a job more appropriate for people who are actually interested and knowledgeable in that field.

In Schopenhauer's time, personal character was still a measure of one's standing, which is why people defended accusations against their honor with duels. To lose honor was social death, so a dual offered at least a means of living if one was victorious; likewise subjecting false accusers to great penalty. He contrasted honor with the generation of fame by saying "Fame is something which must be won; honor, only something which must not be lost."

Fools attaining credentials to enter trades in which they are functionally incompetent and ignorant is at odds with the stated goals of educational institutions, making many degrees worthless while opening education to ridicule and derision for its willingness to certify all who pay, regardless of ability.

When one sees the number and variety of institutions which exist for the purposes of education, and the vast throng of scholars and masters, one might fancy the human race to be very much concerned about truth and wisdom. But here, too, appearances are deceptive. The masters teach in order to gain money, and strive, not after wisdom, but the outward show and reputation of it; and the scholars learn, not for the sake of knowledge and insight, but to be able to chatter and give themselves airs.

Our test in assessing situations and motivations must always be to consider what an alien observer would realize, if he did not have our prejudices and tolerance for customs.

Those who attain a position based on credentials that certify qualification end up occupying a role better suited for the knowledgeable and skilled. They credentialist is inept, inadequate, and inferior because he is a poor fit for what is needed.

Consider how the educated have never taken an interest in or come to contact with any great works of civilization, or studied teachings of the best minds, for all their credentials not knowing much of anything that came this way before. But no one can deny that they are experts in the common, vulgar, and fashionable that they dutifully follow.

Every thirty years a new race comes into the world -- youngster that knows nothing about anything, and after summarily devouring in all haste the results of human knowledge as they have been accumulated for thousands of years, aspires to be thought cleverer than the whole of the past. For this purpose he goes to the University, and takes to reading books -- new books, as being of his own age and standing. Everything he reads must be briefly put, must be new! he is new himself. Then he falls to and criticizes. And here I am not taking the slightest account of studies pursued for the sole object of making a living.

They discard the building blocks of civilization by omitting foundational sources essential to timeless topics, ensuring that there is no knowledge to reference and no shorthand possible among educated people. People familiar with Schopenhauer can say "As Schopenhauer said about genius and solitude", while for all the rest there is an empty canyon of knowledge trickling with reality shows, formulaic movies, and ball games.

By not knowing what came before, they are entirely dependent on the current generation, as if the geniuses of the last few millennia never existed and we must instead depend entirely on the wily runts alive at the moment who were able to become popular, but will be forgotten or dismissed as charlatans before they die.

As if exiled from civilization, they know no past and thus cannot gauge its current location, direction, nor sense of place in the universe, remaining disoriented without means to form a realistic assessment of the world, humanity's potential, or the slightest sense of what all this means.

From this ignorance, they are forced to be innocent, naïve, simpleminded, and like cavemen after catastrophe having to reinvent and rediscover civilization through chance events, but these chances are few and sometimes finite, and thus infinitely precious, not to be ignored and discarded out of laziness and lack of interest in knowledge.

All Day I Dream About Schopenhauer

As luck would have it, scholars have rediscovered what Schopenhauer and all of his readers have known for 150 years.

Among less intelligent individuals (with a mean IQ of 81.39), frequency of socialization with friends had a significantly positive effect on life satisfaction. Those who socialized with friends more frequently (6.71, nearly every day) had a significantly higher life satisfaction (M = 4.1586) than those who socialized with friends less frequently (1.95, less than twice a week) (M = 4.1163). In contrast, among more intelligent individuals (with a mean IQ of 115.57), those who socialized with friends more frequently were actually less satisfied with life (M = 4.1063) than those who socialized with friends less frequently (M = 4.1311). The statistical interaction was such that more intelligent individuals were actually less satisfied with life if they socialized with their friends more frequently.
...
More intelligent individuals actually experienced higher life satisfaction with lower frequency of contact with friends.
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The importance of friendship in our analysis is consistent with a large number of previous studies on life satisfaction (Diener & Seligman, 2004, pp. 18–20; Dolan et al., 2008, pp. 106–108). However, to the best of our knowledge, no one else has demonstrated the statistical interaction between socialization with friends and intelligence. Nor has anyone demonstrated that extremely intelligent individuals may be less satisfied with life if they socialized with their friends more frequently.
[PubMed]

The academics congratulate themselves on their first time observations and name their theory, ignorant of what Schopenhauer published 150 years ago.

An intellectual man in complete solitude has excellent entertainment in his own thoughts and fancies, while no amount of diversity or social pleasure, theatres, excursions and amusements, can ward off boredom from a dullard.
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The wise man will, above all, strive after freedom from pain and annoyance, quiet and leisure, consequently a tranquil, modest life, with as few encounters as may be; and so, after a little experience of his so-called fellowmen, he will elect to live in retirement, or even, if he is a man of great intellect, in solitude. For the more a man has in himself, the less he will want from other people — the less, indeed, other people can be to him. This is why a high degree of intellect tends to make a man unsocial.
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Hence, undisturbed occupation with himself, his own thoughts and works, is a matter of urgent necessity to such a man; solitude is welcome, leisure is the highest good, and everything else is unnecessary, nay, even burdensome.
[The Wisdom of Life (1851)]

Schopenhauer goes further to explains the mechanism of sociability:

But the individual who stands at the other end of the scale is no sooner free from the pangs of need than he endeavors to get pastime and society at any cost, taking up with the first person he meets, and avoiding nothing so much as himself. For in solitude, where every one is thrown upon his own resources, what a man has in himself comes to light; the fool in fine raiment groans under the burden of his miserable personality, a burden which he can never throw off, whilst the man of talent peoples the waste places with his animating thoughts. Seneca declares that folly is its own burden -- omnis stultitia laborat fastidio sui -- a very true saying, with which may be compared the words of Jesus, the son of Sirach, The life of a fool is worse than death (Ecclesiastes, xxii. 11). And, as a rule, it will be found that a man is sociable just in the degree in which he is intellectually poor and generally vulgar. For one’s choice in this world does not go much beyond solitude on one side and vulgarity on the other.
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Ordinary people think merely how they shall spend their time; a man of any talent tries to use it.
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Further, as no land is so well off as that which requires few imports, or none at all, so the happiest man is one who has enough in his own inner wealth, and requires little or nothing from outside for his maintenance, for imports are expensive things, reveal dependence, entail danger, occasion trouble, and when all is said and done, are a poor substitute for home produce.

He expounds further, cites previous philosophers, and unwinds scenarios everyone has seen before, explaining their attributes and connections. A lazy academic could make an easy career proving things we all know as true.

What on the other hand makes people sociable is their incapacity to endure solitude and thus themselves.
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Sociability belongs to the most dangerous, even destructive inclinations, since it brings us into contact with beings the great majority of whom are morally bad and intellectually dull or perverted.

And yet, all of this passes as new and amazing, as long as you have never bothered to become familiar with it, which also means we effectively have no civilization when the educated can't be bothered to become familiar with its best works.


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