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Homer’s Contribution to the Meaning of Truth


The Greeks called Homer wise, the wisest of all mortal men, and made his poems their only schoolbooks. It may be not unwise to ask the question, what kind of knowledge did the Greeks suppose Homer possessed-why was he called wise?

Of course, Homer occasionally inserts into his narrative sentences about life in general, man’s happiness and misery, good and evil, such sentences as we call wise. None of these sentences nor all together make Homer the wisest of all men. The question cannot be answered by referring to these sentences. His wisdom is far greater, but not so easy to extract. It is not at all presented as knowledge, doctrine, or advice. The presentation is much more efficient than sentences and advice can be. His wisdom permeates his poetry and is transmitted in visible images of human actions and passions. It is wholly inseparable from what we call the “beauty” of his poems. Homer’s wisdom and his greatness as a poet are indeed accounted for by the same reason. It is a kind of wisdom that is by no means Homer’s alone. Homer shares it with Shakespeare, Dante, Goethe but only with the greatest. But there the modest question concerning Homer’s wisdom transgresses its limits and grows into a philosophical problem of the first magnitude.

Since a poet’s greatness has to do with something we call “beauty” (in the sense of “quality” of a work of art), and since “wisdom” as a kind of “knowledge” refers to something we call “truth,” there seems to be a link between “beauty” and “truth.” But “beauty,” we are told, is a matter of appearances, senses, taste, and pleasure; “truth,” we learn, has to do with “facts,” propositions, and the syntactical rules of a calculus. I shall, however, not start from such words as beauty and truth, their meaning in a philosophical system or their possible interrelation. I shall inquire into the concrete case. It may be that the concrete case yields at least some suggestions that a philosopher concerned with the meaning of beauty and truth might be wise to consider.

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A Moral Equivalent of War

By Paul Lee

Over one hundred years ago, William James delivered a lecture at Stanford University where he was a visiting professor. Not exactly a fish out of water he did not have a high opinion of his peers. This is what he says in a letter to a friend:

“The drawback is, of course, the great surrounding human vacuum—the historic silence fairly rings in your ears when you listen—and the social insipidity.”[1]

Stanford was not the Harvard of the West as far as he was concerned. The lecture should have been given at Harvard as it was one of the most famous James ever gave. The lecture came to be known as “The Moral Equivalent of War” when it was published in l910. In l906, the title was: “The Psychology of the War Spirit.” An earlier version was given at the Thirteenth Universal Peace Congress in l904.[2] An accompanying talk was entitled: “The Energies of Man.”

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Circle Trail

Santa Cruz Circle Trail Start anywhere for a virtual tour of the Circle Trail.

  1. Lighthouse Field State Beach
  2. The Homeless Garden Project
  3. Natural Bridges State Park
  4. Long Marine Lab
  5. Antonelli Pond
  6. Arroyo Seco Canyon
  7. University of California Arboretum
  8. The University of California Agro-ecology Farm
  9. The Chadwick Garden
  10. Pogonip
  11. The San Lorenzo River levee promenade
  12. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
  13. Municipal Wharf
  14. Natural History Museum
  15. Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor
  16. Arana Gulch
  17. DeLaveaga Park

Ecology Hall of Fame

Dedicated to heroes of the American environmental movement.

We are pleased to present our six charter inductees:

Alan Chadwick Henry Thoreau Rachel Carson John Burroughs John Muir Aldo Leopold

Additional people honored in the Ecology Hall of Fame:

Living Legends of the environmental movement:


Pogonip Pogonip offers a wide variety of habitats and microclimates, including open meadows, dark cool forests, creek beds, and three virgin stands of redwood. Within the park there are miles of hiking trails and endless sites for informal picnics. The Circle Trail Route follows Spring Trail, Brayshaw Trail, and Golf Club Drive. Dogs should be kept on leash, both because they make the deer nervous and harder to see and because many parts of Pogonip are prime poison oak habitat. Dog owners regularly contract poison oak dermatitis after their pet has frisked about in Pogonip.

Among the many magnificent trees in the Pogonip is one whose grandeur has earned it it the name The Sacred Oak. It dominates a meadow that slopes down to the right of the Spring Trail about 300 yards north of the Brayshaw Trail junction.

For more information, see the Pogonip website sponsored by the Pogonip Foundation.