How to Become a Great Man or Woman

For starters, read about the great men and women

Eric Scheske

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Photo by Simone Pellegrini on Unsplash

Merely by thinking about certain sorts of people at all . . . we become objectively, measurably, more like them, in how we behave, think and feel. Iain McGilchrist

Ask a college professor this question:

“Did Moses write the Torah or did the Torah write Moses?” She’ll reply, “The Torah wrote Moses.”

She’d objectively reject the idea that Moses wrote the Torah on grounds that modern scholarship universally rejects that traditional belief. It’s a respectable position.

She’d gleefully embrace your phrasing, “The Torah wrote Moses.” That’s not respectable.

The principle embodied in that ironic phase is this: There are no great men and women. There are only men and women who are projected by the structures of their culture into greatness.

The implication of that principle is this: The great men and women didn’t tap into something beyond themselves, into transcendence or the permanent things, to attain greatness. They were merely projections of their time and place. . . . and, therefore, are irrelevant to us today

The upshot of this is the slur, “dead white man,” as in, “I don’t care what a bunch of dead white men said about X, Y, or Z. This is the 2020s, bitch.”

It’s a shame.

For starters, it’s simply wrong. The great men and women were in touch with truths that transcended their time and place.

Consider the Athenian lawgiver, Solon. This philosopher, poet, and statesman gave Athens laws based on the principle that humans incline toward illusion, that the greedy pursuit of wealth is the greatest illusion, and that human excellence can be found only in obedience to a universal order that transcends time and space.

His was a beautiful vision that resonates today. It was not anchored to his time and place, which is perhaps best symbolized by the fact that his legal reforms failed in the short term (his time and place) but succeeded in the long run.

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Eric Scheske

Former editor of Gilbert Mag and columnist for NC Register and Busted Halo. Freelance for many print pubs. Publishes here every Monday+. Paid Medium Member.