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« In Defense of Profanity | Main | Digging out... »

December 03, 2009


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“The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very
quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can
occur so quietly; any other loss — an arm, a leg, five dollars, a
wife, etc. — is sure to be noticed.” ~ Soren Kierkegaard

By the above mentioned definition, O is a lost soul. Laozi's advice might be even more suitable for his situation.



I do not disagree with your sentiment that this recent decision was not an ideal one. I would, however, be interested in hearing how you would advise the president to "consult the people of Afghanistan, appoint a new ruler and leave.... "

I feel that your post, while interesting in drawing on Mencius for advice, has an inkling of the conveniently vague rhetoric popular media favors; in simplifying such a complex task as consulting the country and appointing a leader, you neglect to address just how difficult it is to successfully establish legitimate leadership in a country like Afghanistan. Furthermore, within the context of the rest of your post, your solution to this issue is deceptively presented as quick and easy. The narrow perspective of your post not only reflects poorly on the depth of your own opinion and understanding, but also could be seen as disrespectful to your readership (such as Isha above).

I hope in the future you will provide a more balanced opinion on this situation, one that better embodies your reputation (which we give you, and know you deserve) as a professor on campus.


A student

Yes, it is a complex problem. And blog posts are not really the venue to analyze such things in depth (which is probably why so few of my colleagues blog...). My only point here was to suggest Mencius might have something to say on the matter. As to what appointing a new leader and leaving Afghanistan would entail, I think the point is that an external force cannot be the primary political dynamic. The US has been in Afghanistan for over eight years now and the government there continues to have legitimacy problems. The US cannot provide that legitimacy; indeed, in its actions (killing civilians, etc.) and by its mere presence, the US may be doing more to weaken the legitimacy of the Afghan government that helping it. These are the points made by the other posts I linked to above, Lynch and Basevich.
As to Isha's point, I think that Laozi, and Zhangzi, would disagree with Kierkegaard: losing oneself is not a hazard; not losing oneself is the hazard... As Zhuangzi said: "there can be no loss."

Dear Professor,

Thank you for the response, I look forward to reading more of your posts ("Any Chinese Culture Here" was great).

All the best

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