Friday, December 27, 2019

Top Two Most Visited - Goethe's Three Questions

My top two are not posts that I bear that much responsibility for.  They both have over 10,000 hits, but both are clearly driven by people looking up these particular topics. Still, this one is a very good question to ask oneself when Trump tweets, or CNN runs a story, or Scott Adams does a podcast. These questions have very much stood the test of time.

From 2006.


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe directed that Three Questions be asked about any work of art. They must be answered in order.

1. What was the artist trying to do?

2. How well did he do it?

3. Was it worth the doing?

The point is, until one answers the first two questions, one should not be attempting to answer the third. It is a check on over-hasty judgement, and provides a structure to see things with new eyes.

Critics, tonight's exercise is to apply Goethe's Three Questions to George Bush's foreign policy.

Update 2019:  Or any president, politician, blogger, preacher, journalist, or essayist. 

1 comment:

JMSmith said...

1) He was trying to transform the Middle East into Scandinavia.

2) One cannot do badly what cannot be done at all, since all possible methods are equally assured of failure. But some methods fail at the cost of many new evils, and the method of GWB seems to have been one of these.

3) Some unsuccessful ventures are worth the attempt because there is a reasonable hope (expectation) of success. Some that are hopeless are worth the attempt because we would not be human without dramatic gestures and loyalty to lost causes. Christians will of course understand this in terms of martyrdom, which is a failure in this world that leads to success in the next world. In the case of the foreign policy of GWB, there was no reasonable hope of success and vicarious martyrdom is repulsive.