This is from a talk he gave at Berkeley.

Society’s attention to athletics, Nader said, has moved people down what he called the “sensuality ladder,” a theoretical scale of people’s interactions with the world…

“Your education is supposed to push you up the sensuality ladder,” he said.

One problem here is that Nader – known, when he ran for president, as “ascetic-in-chief,” is so far up the anti-sensuality ladder that he can’t really be seen at all. The most commonly used name for him is Saint Ralph.

Another problem is that your university education should feel perfectly free to push you down the sensuality ladder. Educated people – with some exceptions, like Nader – like to explore the senses, and indeed many of your humanities courses (like the one UD‘s teaching right now about beauty, in which we just read Susan Sontag’s “Against Interpretation,” with its famous concluding lines: In place of a hermeneutics, we need an erotics of art) feature artworks and ideas that celebrate sensuality.

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4 Responses to “Ralph Nader enters the bigtime university sports conversation.”

  1. david foster Says:

    A bit confused by the Ladder of Sensuality..quick googling turns up only stuff by Nader himself and references to it, like this blog post, so it doesn’t appear to be a commonly-used construct. I **think** the directionality of the ladder he is implying is that down=more sensual=less good, in which case it is really more of an anti-sensuality ladder.

    Goethe seems to agree with your comment about the legitimacy of moving down (in the sense defined above) the sensuality ladder. From Conversations with Eckermann:

    “You know that scarcely a day passes in which I am not visited by some travelling foreigner. But if I were to say that I took great pleasure, in the personal appearance, especially of young, learned Germans from a certain north-eastern quarter, I should tell a falsehood.

    Short-sighted, pale, narrow-chested, young without youth; that is a picture of most of them as they appear to me. And if I enter into a conversation with any of them, I immediately observe that the things in which one of us takes pleasure seem to them vain and trivial, that they are entirely absorbed in the Idea, and that only the highest problems of speculation are fitted to interest them. Of sound senses or delight in the sensual, there is no trace; all youthful feeling and all youthful pleasure are driven out of them, and that irrecoverably; for if a man is not young in his twentieth year, how can he be so in his fortieth?”

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Nice quotation, david! I think the sensuality ladder is entirely Nader’s formulation, and a very – er – shaky one it is.

  3. david foster Says:

    He seems to be using “sensuality” as a proxy for hedonism/short-term pleasure/stuff Nader doesn’t like.

    Never walk beneath a ladder…

  4. Hermenautics « Log24 Says:

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