Wednesday 6th September: The Elder Shall Serve the Younger

In just 90 minutes we ran through virtually the whole gamut of 19th Century German Philosophy as presented by Steven Ozment in his A Mighty Fortress in a single 90 minute lesson… Obviously one could do little other than skate over the surface, but a few essential details were hammered home:

German Philosophy for Beginners

1. Kant said that what man could know was limited to practical reality. Absolute reality was unknowable.

2. Romantics and Idealists didn’t thank Kant for saying that.

3. The whole bent of Hegel’s philosophical work was to join back together what Kant had put asunder.

4. a.Hegel believed in a World Historical Spirit that was responsible for the Spirit of the Times (rather as a dormitive virtue is responsible for sleep – see a previous blog post ).

4. b. Hegel believed that the most developed manifestation of that spirit happened to be the Prussian State wherein he resided as chief philosopher!

5. Feuerbach said that man refers back to his own writings to discover anything about God and that therefore God is nothing but a product or projection of the mind of man.

6. Nietzsche said “God is dead” largely because he despised the provincial pettiness of the German middle classes: God did not die for man but because of him.

7. a. Nietzsche believed that this situation was one to be affirmed by a new species of Supermen.

7.b. But don’t blame Nietzsche for Hitler…

8. Marx turned Hegel on his head. In next week’s class we will indulge ourselves in a similar razor-sharp analysis of What Marx Thought About Feuerbach (Note to The Doc: this is your homework!)

Away With History, Let’s Play Mahjong!

We put away our books and prepared for an afternoon of mahjong. The side table was laden with snacks, beer and soft drinks were  laid on, and the mechanical mahjong table was prepared for action.

Mrs M. sr. led the early charge completing the first two hands in short shrift. In the third I threw out a risky 7-Coin Dora (bonus) in order to achieve Tenpai. Fortunately for me, nobody went out on it, but while everybody was recovering from the shock of such an outlandish move, Dr. M. jr. suddenly claimed it with an open Kan which put everybody into a very sticky situation indeed. Having committed such an indiscretion, and picking up a string of dodgy tiles thereafter, I decided to follow the elder player’s lead and resolutely discard only safe tiles and in this manner the hand was played out.

If I remember rightly Mrs M. sr. finished ahead in the first game. Despite one or two reckless discards, I had largely avoided trouble and finished second, in negative single figures and suffering just one “batsu” (X) penalty point.

Then, in the second game, while I was Oya I completed my best hand of the afternoon. The bonus tile was 7-Bamboo and I had a set of three of them in my hand along with double White and double Red Dragon. I made an open meld of the White Dragon, collected the third Red Dragon tile and was ready to finish (Tenpai) with two pairs. Then Doctor M. jr. declared Riichi. Both parents discarded safely and then I drew a fourth 7-Bamboo, made a hidden Kan and drew a tile from the back of the wall – the 5-Coins, just what I needed to complete my hand!

Rinshan-Kaihou, Tsumo, Toitoi, Haku, Chun, 4xDora!

I collected a nice 8,000 points from each player. The result was to place me well in the black by the end of the second game, on +50,000 points with everybody else stuck in the mire.

We drew tiles to change the seating arrangement and Dr. M. jr and I changed places while the elder players stayed put, as did the luck. Dr. M. jr. now began to get the results that had eluded him in the first half of the game. I completed a few hands, but gradually sank as the consumption of beer rose. However, both the sinking and the rising went on at a moderate pace and so I finished the evening “second and in the black” with Dr. M. jr now commanding a large lead. Mrs. M. sr. had sunk deep into the red, but not so deep as Dr. M. sr. who had only showed any signs of posing a threat in the final game of the afternoon. In this way it could be said that the elder players were serving the younger ones very nicely indeed.

Header Image Source: (PD-US)