Reinstating the Project of Human Greatness

Fiery power is not the sole possession of the Right, and the aspiration for human greatness needn’t be relegated to the past. To make one’s powers, like a whirling dervish, more and more intense is the first task. To raise those powers to the very pitch of beauty is the second.

Why should talk of human greatness elicit snickering from the bleachers? Because it is superannuated and quixotic? True, Achilles was once great, Alexander was once great, but, true also, heroic societies are now gone. Generals and commanders were once great too, yet–again–the arena of battle, particularly after WWI and WWII, has been drawn into question. Statesmen like Pericles were once great, but Obama is ground down into little pieces. Keep running through more cases, and the implicit thesis would turn out to be that greatness–in war, in politics, in art, in business, in philosophy–is no longer really possible since modern life is set up to produce small, nice, easily harmed people.

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Eloquence Training: Episode 2. The Path and Benefits of Eloquence

Eloquence, I argue, is saying the right thing in the right way with a sense of ease. An eloquent person, then, is someone who often or almost always speaks eloquently.

In this episode, my longtime partner Alexandra and I first discuss how she became eloquent. Then we discuss what benefits flow from being an eloquent speaker.

If you would like to learn how to become eloquent, you can visit http://andrewjamestaggart.com/eloquence/.

Eloquence Training: Episode 1. Obstacles to Eloquence

I would define eloquence as saying the right thing in the right way with a sense of ease. An eloquent person, then, is someone who often or almost always speaks eloquently.

In this introductory episode, I speak with my partner Alexandra about what it was like for her to grow up without being able to think clearly or to speak with a sense of ease. We go on to discuss what obstacle stood in the way of her becoming more eloquent. We conclude by noting the close connection between doing philosophy and speaking well.

If you would like to learn how to become eloquent, you can visit http://andrewjamestaggart.com/eloquence/.

The Big Thing: Going Beyond the Challenge

There are grander terms than challenges and hurdles, and we must come to these. These are mountain terms, seafaring terms, acrobatic terms, martial terms. I want The Big Thing, and it has nothing to do with the weak-kneed ‘challenge at work’ or ‘minor obstacle I’m facing at home.’

What is The Big Thing? It can hardly be said, but it exceeds by a million the mere challenge, test, performance, or contest. What can be said is that The Big Thing is that which calls me to explode with graceful power. Until then, I wait for The Big Thing like a lion gnawing at its cage, like a warrior sharpening his weapons, like a sailor watching for the sea winds to miraculously pick up, like a great athlete awaiting the arrival of his fiercest opponent. The Big Thing has the force to turn me upside down, rip me apart, outstrip me, outdo me. Maybe it will show me how very wrong I’ve been–and with the delight of  heathen! Maybe it will call me a big fool, and I will listen while biting my fierce, bleeding lips. Maybe it will savage before it saves me.

One thing is for sure: The Big Thing requires nothing less than that one risk everything. (Arab Proverb: ‘A man who has never risked everything is a poor man.’) Another thing is equally for sure: The Big Thing is that which demands that one become tough enough to meet it.

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