18 August 2009

Squaring the Aristotle Circle

There is a story in The New York Times today - you can find it here - about a woman named Suzanne Rheault and a company she has formed to exploit the competitiveness between rich people with too much anxiety and money on their hands. I have to say that the story makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Perhaps if she had slowed down just a smidgen, Ms. Rheault would be well enough educated to grasp the deep irony of calling her company the Aristotle Circle. Having squandered her education she might've just looked at wikipedia (what else is a good ex-investment banker going to do - surely not read the original!). Here is what she'd have discovered:
"Aristotle taught that virtue has to do with the proper function of a thing. An eye is only a good eye in so much as it can see, because the proper function of an eye is sight. Aristotle reasoned that man must have a function uncommon to anything else, and that this function must be an activity of the soul. Aristotle identified the best activity of the soul as eudaimonia: a happiness or joy that pervades the good life. Aristotle taught that to achieve the good life, one must live a balanced life and avoid excess. This balance, he taught, varies among different persons and situations, and exists as a golden mean between two vices - one an excess and one a deficiency” (stress added).
Rheault's entire life seems to have been a long, consistent flaunting of Aristotle's teachings. And the wealthy folks who'll shell out cash for her services - all looking for that edge - are no better.

I myself am not an Aristotelian; my philosophical loyalties lie with pragmatists like Dewey. One commonly repeated observation of his states: "Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself." Mr Rheault falls flat from that perspective too. This is a woman you'd want brokering advice for you?
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PS: Two particularly egregious things about Rheault's attitudes are brought out in the generally disparaging comments thread that follow the article in The Times. The first is that she claims to want to "democratize" entry into elite private schools - at $450 per hour. The second is that she pities those who need to "risk" the public school system in NYC. Whatever problems that system has, the readers are rightly quick to defend it. Again, Ms. Rheault's in-capacity for irony fails her miserably.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Ian Aleksander Adams said...

Right on.

18 August, 2009 18:06  
Blogger Dawei_in_Beijing said...

Sometimes I'm astounded by the garbage the New York Times runs. Who gives a fuck about some overachieving woman who runs a $450 per hour consulting service for NY's moneyed elite? It's amazing to see this article in the worst recession since the great depression. Can you say "tone deaf"?

18 August, 2009 18:28  

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