Thursday, July 12, 2012

Explanations for the young

The Netflix series "Lilyhammer" has been renewed for a second season.  The first season began in January, is produced in Norway and is the story of a New York mobster who gets FBI assistance in a witness protection program.  Having watched the Winter Olympics broadcast from Lillehammer, Norway, he figures it will be a good place to hide from his enemies.  He meets a single Norwegian mom and starts a relationship with her.  There come moments when the woman's young son is interested in the advice and support of his mom's boyfriend.  The man is a savage and fierce opponent but he is intelligent, sensitive and respects the growing manhood of the boy.  At one point, the mobster tries to tell the youngster  the essentials of human sex from a male point of view.  He begins with the sentence "Women are food."

I could hear the gasps and protests of women viewers all over the world at this equation of them with a resource that is consumed by men for their own benefit.  Generally, men seem to me bolder, more arrogant even, than women.  However, it is well known that women can wield words as well as anyone and some of them might explain men as handy sources of lifting, hauling and defense, also handy for the production of babies for about 9 minutes per unit of production.  A wise and popular professor of philosophy started a review of Eastern philosophy with his encapsulation of the tradition view of life among his oldest sources: man is for war and woman for the pleasure of the warrior. Quite open to debate and counter-comment.

A very different sort of man is living French Prof. Luc Ferry, author of "A Brief History of Philosophical Thought." He too thought of explanations for children of an important field.  He states:

While chatting over supper on holiday, some friends asked me to improvise a philosophy course for adults and children alike. I decided to accept the challenge and came to relish it. The exercise forced me to stick to essentials – no complicated words, no learned quotations and no references to obscure theories. As I worked through my account of the history of ideas, without access to a library, it occurred to me that there is nothing comparable in print. There are many histories of philosophy, of course; some are excellent, but even the best ones are a little dry for someone who has left university behind, and certainly for those yet to enter a university. And the rest of us are not particularly concerned. This book is the direct result of those evenings amongst friends, so I have tried to preserve the original impromptu style. Its objective is both modest and ambitious: modest, because it is addressed to a nonacademic audience; ambitious, because I have not permitted myself any concession to simplification where it would involve distortion of the philosophical ideas at its heart. I feel too much respect for the masterpieces of philosophy to caricature them. Clarity should be the primary responsibility of a work addressed to beginners, but it must be achieved without compromising the truth of its subject; otherwise it is worthless. With that in mind, I have tried to offer a rite of passage, which aims to be as straightforward as possible, without bypassing the richness and profundity of philosophical ideas. My aim is not merely to give a taste, a superficial gloss, or a survey influenced by popular trends; on the contrary I want to lay bare these ideas in their integrity, in order to satisfy two needs: that of an adult who wants to know what philosophy is about, but does not necessarily intend to proceed any further; and that of a young person who hopes eventually to further their study, but does not as yet have the necessary bearings to be able to read these challenging authors for herself or himself. I have attempted to give an account

Ferry, Luc (2011-12-27). A Brief History of Thought: A Philosophical Guide to Living . Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Parents, teachers, writers, and cinematographers who attempt to give Luc's honest but accessible version of activities, issues, controversies and important subjects like how pleasure and love and babies are related for children do us all a favor.  Some educators contend that an intellectually honest version of any matter can be constructed, with enough care, for children of just about any age.  You know the saying "What is expressed is impressed" and making a usable explanation of complex subjects for the young is good for the makers, the audience and us.

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