Negligence is an extreme thing.
The Way of the Samurai is found in death. When it comes to either/or, there is only the quick choice of death. It is not particularly difficult. Be determined and advance. To say that dying without reaching one’s aim is to die a dog’s death is the frivolous way of sophisticates. When pressed with the choice of life or death, it is not necessary to gain one’s aim. We all want to live. And in large part we make our logic according to what we like. But not having attained our aim and continuing to live is cowardice. This is a thin dangerous line. To die without gaming one’s aim is a dog’s death and fanaticism. But there is no shame in this. This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai. If by setting one’s heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he pains freedom in the Way. His whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling.
Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai
Code of the Warrior Soul of Japan
Bushido was the guiding philosophy of the samurai, or bushi military gentry, as they were commonly called. It has often been compared to the code of chivalry followed by European knights. Perhaps bushido’s aim was the same, namely to provide a code of honor and rules for living for the country’s armed forces. But bushido is uniquely Eastern. It was born of a blend of Buddhism, Chu-Tsu, Confucius and Shinto, and — though officially introduced in the seventeenth century, it was ingrained in the bushi from the time of their origin.
Following are the eight principles of bushido:
Jin – to develop a sympathetic understanding of people
Gi – to preserve the correct ethics
Chu – to show loyalty to one’s master
Ko – to respect and to care for one’s parents
Rei – to show respect for others
Chi – to enhance wisdom by broadening one’s knowledge
Shin – to be truthful at all times
Tei – to care for the aged and those of a humble station
Happiness is the ultimate end and purpose of human existence. Happiness is not pleasure, nor is it virtue. It is the exercise of virtue. Happiness cannot be achieved until the end of one’s life. Hence it is a goal and not a temporary state. Happiness is the perfection of human nature. Since man is a rational animal, human happiness depends on the exercise of his reason. Happiness depends on acquiring a moral character, where one displays the virtues of courage, generosity, justice, friendship, and citizenship in one’s life. These virtues involve striking a balance or “mean” between an excess and a deficiency. Happiness requires intellectual contemplation, for this is the ultimate realization of our rational capacities.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
A wise man ought always to follow the paths beaten by great men, and to imitate those who have been supreme, so that if his ability does not equal theirs, at least it will savour of it. Let him act like the clever archers who, designing to hit the mark which yet appears too far distant, and knowing the limits to which the strength of their bow attains, take aim much higher than the mark, not to reach by their strength or arrow to so great a height, but to be able with the aid of so high an aim to hit the mark they wish to reach.”
Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince
For Aristotle, man is a political animal and its main purpose is to achieve happiness through education and living in common (politeia in Greek or commonwealth in our language), that is through direct participation in the organization of the state building. Power, in all this process, has the task of ensuring that the law works for the benefit of all. This was what Aristotle said more than two thousand years ago, and it is extraordinarly stupid how these principles so logical and elementary, up to our times have not been applied yet.
Carl William Brown
It is true that Fourier had the opinion that the principal aim of mathematics was public utility and explanation of natural phenomena; but a philosopher like him should have known that the sole end of science is the honor of the human mind, and that under this title a question about numbers is worth as much as a question about the system of the world.
In the moral realm, there is very little consensus left in Western countries over the proper basis of moral behavior. And because of the power of the media, for millions of men and women the only venue where moral questions are discussed and weighed is the talk show, where more often than not the primary aim is to entertain, even shock, not to think. When Geraldo and Oprah become the arbiters of public morality, when the opinion of the latest media personality is sought on everything from abortion to transvestites, when banality is mistaken for profundity because [it’s] uttered by a movie star or a basketball player, it is not surprising that there is less thought than hype. Oprah shapes more of the nation’s grasp of right and wrong than most of the pulpits in the land. Personal and social ethics have been removed from the realms of truth and structures of thoughts; they have not only been relativized, but they have been democratized and trivialized.
D.A. Carson, The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism
I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat… You ask, what is our policy? I say it is to wage war by land, sea, and air. War with all our might and with all the strength God has given us, and to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs – Victory in spite of all terrors – Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.
Winston Churchill in his initial speech as Prime Minister to the House of Commons (10 May 1940)
Are not good books honey-comb from the bee-hives of industry, handed down to us to sweeten our lives and help us aim to higher attainments of happiness? Are not good books white-winged messengers of love and good cheer, coming out of the past to cheer and strengthen us for the duties and responsibilities of life? Are not good books the golden settings of gems of truth and diamonds of knowledge prepared for our diadems of rejoicing and crowns of victory? Are not good books so many angel gifts sent to sweeten the bitterness of human life?
Amos Bronson Alcott, Table Talk
So far as the mere imparting of information is concerned, no university has had any justification for existence since the popularization of printing in the fifteenth century.
Alfred North Whitehead, (1861 – 1947) The Aims of Education.
The progress of Science consists in observing interconnections and in showing with a patient ingenuity that the events of this ever-shifting world are but examples of a few general relations, called laws. To see what is general in what is particular, and what is permanent in what is transitory, is the aim of scientific thought.
Alfred North Whitehead, (1861 – 1947) An Introduction to Mathematics.
A modern branch of mathematics, having achieved the art of dealing with the infinitely small, can now yield solutions in other more complex problems of motion, which used to appear insoluble. This modern branch of mathematics, unknown to the ancients, when dealing with problems of motion, admits the conception of the infinitely small, and so conforms to the chief condition of motion (absolute continuity) and thereby corrects the inevitable error which the human mind cannot avoid when dealing with separate elements of motion instead of examining continuous motion. In seeking the laws of historical movement just the same thing happens. The movement of humanity, arising as it does from innumerable human wills, is continuous. To understand the laws of this continuous movement is the aim of history. Only by taking an infinitesimally small unit for observation (the differential of history, that is, the individual tendencies of man) and attaining to the art of integrating them (that is, finding the sum of these infinitesimals) can we hope to arrive at the laws of history.
Lev Nikolgevich Tolstoy (1828-1920)/War and Peace.