February 14th, 2012

Interesting words - Hendrik Willem van Loon

"Plato concentrated all his efforts upon trying to discover how the human race could be made to behave according to the laws of reason, by what methods those elements which might be dangerous to such a development could be eradicated, and how the perfect state could be established. A noble and praiseworthy idea, and one with which the greatest minds of all times have occupied themselves at some period of their lives. Plato approached it from the solemn and dignified angle. Other, like the carpenter-teacher from Nazareth, tried to solve the difficulty by placing the human race under the direct superintendence of God. Descartes endeavored to give a solution by an application of pure mathematics. Spinoza gave it an ethical twist; Karl Marx took economics. And there have been all sorts of philosophers, sages, and masterminds who starved in garrets and died in cellars, that they might bestow upon their fellow men a blueprint of salvation, searching heaven and hell for an answer to the question, 'How can we possibly save mankind from itself?' But in the end they were like Omar the Tentmaker, who summed up his own lifelong investigations in this simple quatrain:
Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about; but evermore
Came out by the same door as in I went."
Hendrik Willem van Loon

590 - moral right

On the copyright page of the book I am reading is a sentence: "The moral right of the author has been asserted." I have never heard of such a statement, and you know what a reader I am. So, I looked it up. Sure enough, it is an actual legal statement, a claim of the right to control over a published work. No one can make changes, etc., without the author's agreement. It is pretty much a right against a variety of acts which are in themselves obviously inappropriate, But moral rights last for the author and family in perpetuity, long after economic rights have passed away. I sort of like the idea. It would prevent the recent new edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in which the N-word is deleted, so sensitive minds would not be hurt by that word. I am perfectly okay with that. I like the idea of moral rights over a work. I don't like it that today is the first time I have heard of them. It is a blow to my confidence in my knowledge acquisition.