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New at IWP Books: Leo Stein (1947) Appreciation: Painting, Poetry and Prose. From the Introduction:

Conventional thinking uses conventional classifications that are taken to be natural and inevitable, although in great part they lead to confusion. People speak as though they mean one thing when they really intend something else. A typical instance is that of the British Constitution, which even such clever politicians as the Founding Fathers did not really understand because the words used to describe it were fictitious. Not till Bagehot, well on in the nineteenth century, described it in terms which actually fitted it, did people stop thinking and speaking of it in terms that did not fit. It is a misfortune of our present culture that so much of our creative energy goes into our enormously available propaganda and so little into the precising of meanings, which is for the most part left to the men of science. Veracity means not lying, and nothing more stands in the way of veracity than words like democracy, liberty, good will, liberal culture, ideals and hundreds of other words, which sound as though they mean something particular but really mean anything or nothing. Instead of talking with detailed precision, which would show one’s hand, or more precisely, one’s mind and morals, one uses these inspirational, but to the critical mind, depressing words. There is no flattering unction laid to the soul more damning than holy words that cover realities with which holiness has nothing to do, and the first need of a substantial education is to learn the relation of words to things.

Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence:

Ortega y Gasset died at mid-century, but in his treatment of the arts, education, psychology, and social theory, this aptest observer of his period delineated the leading features of the next. That he was not much cited or quoted after his death does not amount to a settled judgment upon him. [The book to read is: Ortega y Gasset: A Pragmatic Philosophy of Life by John T. Graham.] Sooner or later he will have to be heard as a witness — and not alone. To know the whole century adequately, historians will have to listen to the words of several others who also belong to its formative time. To cite only three Americans: John Jay Chapman, Albert Jay Nock, and Leo Stein.

Books by Ortega y Gasset, John Jay Chapman, Albert Jay Nock and Leo Stein at IWP Books.