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Richard Weaver (1910 – 1963)


American scholar who taught English at the University of Chicago.
Richard Weaver
The realization that just as no action is really indifferent, so no utterance is without its responsibility introduces, it is true, a certain strenuosity into life.
Weaver quotes
The scientistic sociologist wishes people to feel that he is just as empirical and thoroughgoing as the natural scientist, and that his conclusions are based just as relentlessly on observed data. The desire to present this kind of façade accounts, one may suspect, for the many examples and the extensive use of statistical tables found in the works of some of them. It has been said of certain novelists that they create settings having such a wealth of realistic detail that the reader assumes that the plot which is to follow will be equally realistic, when this may be far from the case. What happens is that the novelist disarms the reader with the realism of his setting in order that he may “get away with murder” in his plot. The persuasiveness of the scene is thus counted on to spill over into the action of the story. In like manner, when a treatise on social science is filled with this kind of data, the realism of the latter can influence our acceptance of the thesis, which may, on scrutiny, rest on very dubious constructs, such as definitions of units. Along with this there is sometimes a great display of scientific preciseness in formulations. But my reading suggests that some of these writers are often very precise about matters which are not very important and rather imprecise about matters which are. Most likely this is an offsetting process. If there are subjects one cannot afford to be precise about because they are too little understood or because one’s views of them are too contrary to traditional beliefs about society, one may be able to maintain an appearance of scientific correctness by taking great pains in the expressing of matters of little consequence. These will afford scope for a display of scholarly meticulousness and of one’s command of the scientific terminology.
Weaver
In former times, when the honor of work had some hold upon us, it was the practice of a maker to give his name to the product … But, as finance capitalism grew and men and property separated, a significant change occurred in names: the new designations shed all connection with the individual and become “General,” “Standard,” “International,” “American.”




Weaver Richard quotes
The man of frank and strong prejudices, far from being a political and social menace and an obstacle in the path of progress, is often a benign character and helpful citizen. The chance is far greater, furthermore, that he will be more creative than the man who can never come to more than a few gingerly held conclusions, or who thinks that all ideas should be received with equal hospitality. There is such a thing as being so broad you are flat.
Weaver Richard
Neuter discourse is a false idol.
Richard Weaver quotes
The former distrust of specialization has been supplanted by its opposite, a distrust of generalization. Not only has man become a specialist in practice, he is being taught that special facts represent the highest form of knowledge.
Richard Weaver
That it does not matter what a man believes is a statement heard on every side today. … What he believes tells him what the world is for. How can men who disagree about what the world is for agree about any of the minutiae of daily conduct? The statement really means that it does not matter what a man believes so long as he does not take his beliefs seriously.
Weaver Richard quotes
To one completely committed to this realm of becoming, as are the empiricists, the claim to apprehend verities is a sign of psychopathology. Probably we have here but a highly sophisticated expression of the doctrine that ideals are hallucination and that the only normal, sane person is the healthy extrovert, making instant, instinctive adjustments to the stimuli of the material world.
Weaver
The conclusion, so vexatious to democracy, that wisdom and not popularity qualifies for rule may be forced upon us by the peril in atomic energy.
Weaver Richard
Man ... feels lost without the direction-finder provide by progress.
Richard Weaver
There is a sentimental poetry, and it will have to be exposed (not censored. certainly; for to omit criticism of it would deprive us of our fairest chance to combat the sentimental rhetoric of the student’s environment).




Richard Weaver quotes
In the popular arena, one can tell … that the average man … imagines that an industrious acquisition of particulars will render him a man of knowledge. With what pathetic trust does he recite his facts! He has been told that knowledge is power, and knowledge consists of a great many small things.
Richard Weaver
The disappearance of the heroic ideal is always accompanied by the growth of commercialism. There is a cause-and-effect relationship here, for the man of commerce is by the nature of things a relativist; his mind is constantly on the fluctuating values of the marketplace, and there is no surer way to fail than to dogmatize and moralize about things.
Weaver quotes
The case of the Baconians is not won until it has been proved that the substitution of covetousness for wantlessness, or an ascending spiral of desires for a stable requirement of necessities, leads to a happier condition.
Weaver Richard
In proportion as man approaches the outer rim, he becomes lost in details, and the more he is preoccupied with details, the less he can understand them.
Weaver Richard quotes
Under the world view possessed by medieval scholars, the path of learning was a path of self-deprecation. … An opposite conception comes in with Bacon’s “knowledge is power.” If the aim of knowledge is domination, it is hardly to be supposed that the possessors of knowledge will be indifferent to their importance. On the contrary, they begin to swell; the seek triumphs in the material world (knowledge being meanwhile necessarily degraded to skills) which inflate their egotism and self-consideration. Such is a brief history of how knowledge passes from a means of spiritual redemption to a basis for intellectual pride.
Richard Weaver
Now, with the general decay of religious faith, it is the scientists who must speak ex cathedra, whether they wish to or not.
Richard Weaver quotes
Drill in exact translation is an excellent way of disposing the mind against that looseness and exaggeration with which the sensationalists have corrupted our world. If schools of journalism knew their business, they would graduate no one who could not render the Greek poets.
Richard Weaver
Today we have media … which actually specialize in the kind of obscenity which the cultivated, not the prurient, find repugnant. … It is contended that such material is the raw stuff of life, and that it is the duty of the organs of public information to leave no one deceived about the nature of the world. The assertion that this is the real world begs the most important question of all. The raw stuff of life is precisely what the civilized man desires to have refined, or presented in a humane framework, for which sentiment alone can afford the support. … One of the great conspiracies against philosophy and civilization, a conspiracy immensely aided by technology, is just this substitution of sensation for reflection.
Weaver Richard
There is much to indicate that modern publication wishes to minimize discussion. … For one thing, there is the technique of display, with its implied evaluations. This does more of the average man’s thinking for him than he suspects. For another, there is the stereotyping of whole phrases. These are carefully chosen not to stimulate reflection, but to evoke stock responses of approbation or disapprobation. Headlines and advertising teem with them, and we seem to approach a point at which failure to make the stock response is regarded as faintly treasonable. … Journalism becomes a monstrous discourse of Protagoras, which charms by hypnotizing and thwarts that participation without which one is not a thinking man.


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