Fishing in the Lake of Philosophy [part 3/4].

This is an excerpt from my 2009 novel, N. Awakening.

On Equality

Mitchell gained his composure, “And with your friends that believe in equality, you can tell them about your new philosophy toward people. Just tell them, ‘I believe like Aristotle.’”

“What do you mean, grandpa?” Frustration about her still bobber crept back into her spirit.

“Aristotle states, ‘The slave is therefore a subordinate in matters concerning action. (The slave) does not belong to himself by nature but is another’s, though a human being, is by nature a slave; a human being is another’s who, though a human being, is a possession; and a possession is an instrument of action and separable (from its owner).’ Aren’t you ready to explore those ideas?”[1]

Nasha looked perplexed. She didn’t care about feeling somewhat ignorant of Mitchell’s subject anymore because this type of insight was exactly what she expected to turn conventional wisdom on its head. And though she did not actually like Aristotle’s belief, she supposed that simply learning he was the creator of democracy in high school might be a half truth. Surprisingly, she felt satisfied by Mitchell’s words.

She thought about the depth of philosophers, “We all drink and sleep the same way.” She tried to sound deep, “Our chosen inequalities are confirmed through believed delusions and / or mental confusion.”

On Democracy

Mitchell moved on, “You will read Aristotle’s viewpoints regarding democracy. Many people credit him as the founder of this form of government. I know your high school government textbook did, even though the Greeks practiced democracy before Aristotle’s time and during his time became an autocracy.” Mitchell closely observed Nasha as she was becoming disinterested, “but it makes me think… the supposed founder of democracy argued for slavery and the subservience of women. Why is it our American democratic republic, more than two millennium later, the country foremost in promoting democracy around the globe, or so our media does publicly announce, has only elected one minority and no females to the office of President as of 2008?” He waited, “And only in 2008?”

He continued, “Why do some Americans proclaim that race and gender inequality, though certainly not legal today, still exists among minorities and women—that they cannot break from the poverty they endure because of structured American ideological and political forces?” Mitchell stopped smiling. He knew many truths here he dared not speak. He searched the water for tranquility—for a sinking bobber. Mitchell found faith and hope, yet only in America’s youth. Many minutes passed without any drowning bobbers.

“Like the ‘Jena 6’?” Nasha asked, “Like Whites hanging nooses from a tree after Blacks requested permission from the school in Jena to organize under that tree?”

“Why the hell did they have to ask for permission?” He grunted.

“Exactly,” she waited, “why didn’t the media report anything until major protests arose in September, 2007?”


Nasha broke in, “But an African American inspired multiple millions of Americans in 2008. Change flushed the past two centuries. The will of the people, democracy, voted for a new future. The opportunity of all the citizens to vote enabled the people to create change.

On Criminal Justice

Like a semi gaining speed down a mountain slope, Mitchell continued, “Perhaps we’re missing a larger question. Perhaps,” he let his facial wrinkles sink, “we should call up a couple of economists and have them run some regression analysis on Whites and Blacks charged for the same crimes at the same ages,” he raised his right hand, “and find today’s true judicial divide—American justice.”

“Yes. But it should be compiled city by city, maybe, three cities per state. I guess we would need state universities in states to tackle this momentous task. Is it possible?”

“Young one,” he flashed his teeth, “Anything is possible,” he pointed his index finger at the sky, “If you have enough power.”

Nasha imagined that the water and all its life was sleeping and after that feeling held onto her for a moment, life attacked and shook her line. Her bobber disappeared. She pulled back her pole as exhilaration tingled to her fingertips. She vigorously reeled. “I want you fish!” She yelled. “Don’t you dare escape!” She pulled and reeled, reeled and pulled. “Come here!”

The weight vanished. She yanked the pole. “Swisk,” the water sounded. The bobber and hook flew out of the water, nearly came on board the boat, but instead splashed two feet from her face. Nasha screamed, “Ahhh!” She baited her hook, determined to feel the scales of a fish. She glanced at Mitchell and noticed he thought to speak and so she asked, “What could I have done differently?” In this manner, she was very much like Mitchell. “Am I using too much power?”

The old man shrugged his shoulders, “Enjoy the game,” he smiled, “try to make the fish swim to you.” He wanted Nasha to have a good time and at this point he really hoped that she would catch a fish. Nasha began to feel as if she were rock climbing for the first time with a retired army drill sergeant and he was making sure that she would be all that she could be! To be sure, the grandchild felt mentally tired and trapped between losing conversations; either appease Mr. Mortality about philosophy, or, talk about how to catch a fish. She wanted to find a cave in this mountain and let the soldier continue uninterrupted, “Who else will I study?”

On Individual Property Rights

Mitchell began to speak with excitement. “You will also study Rousseau. In the first page of Part II he states, ‘The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, to whom it occurred to say this is mine and found people sufficiently simple to believe him, was the true founder of civil society.’ So Rousseau argues that civil society started with owning property. Do you agree?”

“That seems to be the case.” She found her cave, “Are you a memory reader? Are you a character from Fahrenheit 451?”

“No.” He ignored her, “Who owned property?”

Nasha easily answered, “Male White Anglo Saxon Protestants owned land and voted during our nations founding—those few with power.”

He answered her question, “Come on now. Fifth graders memorize and recite the Gettysburg Address.” He smiled widely, “And later in the chapter Rousseau writes, ‘Finally, consuming ambition, the ardent desire to raise one’s relative fortune less out of genuine need than in order to place one above others, instills in all men a black inclination to harm one another, a secret jealousy that is all the more dangerous as it often assumes the mask of benevolence in order to strike its blow in greater safety: in a word, competition and rivalry on the one hand, conflict of interests on the other and always the hidden desire to profit at another’s expense; all these evils are the first effect of property and the inseparable train of nascent inequality.’ Doesn’t make civil society so civil, does it?”

“No. I suppose you’re right.” Nasha restlessly answered as she watched her bobber completely still. She gazed out at the gully.

“Grandpa’s still got it!” He curled the beer he had been grasping throughout that recited quote and gulped three mouthfuls down. After congratulating himself, he sighed and took down one more mouthful. He realized that he was being wormed. Mitchell gradually reeled in his line, “Let’s not forget about Machiavelli. Have you heard about him?”

[1] Please do not confuse Aristotle with American-type slavery. Slavery, for them, was much different.


One thought on “Fishing in the Lake of Philosophy [part 3/4].

  1. I like how you introduce philosophy in a narrative way. I have only seen this done a few times before. Plato used the same device. Nice blog post.

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