Simon Duffy

Thoughts, Bemusements & Arguments

Simon Duffy

Thoughts, Bemusements & Arguments

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Simon is a philosopher and activist. He is Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform and a member of Citizen Network: a global cooperative to achieve a world where everyone matters.

Essays, thoughts, poems, prayers and quotes.


Tools Don't Work

7th January 2012

Give a man a tool and he'll go and build himself a tool-shed.Collecting tools is far easier than finding out how to use them well.Tools do no work - only human beings do the work. Tools, if well used, just make that work…

Different People, Equal Joy

7th January 2012

We are born into a human body and we find great joy in it. Yet there are other lives within the transformation of the ten thousand beings that are just as good and equally full of joy. Chuang Tze from the Tao Te…

Cultivate Yourself First

7th January 2012

The sage of old cultivated himself before he attempted to help others. If you yourself are not cultivated, what help could you possibly be for others? Do you know how virtue is lost and how mere knowledge arises? True…

If Our Minds are Limited...

7th January 2012

Our lives as well as our minds are limited. To try and understand that which is unlimited is foolish and dangerous. To do this and consider it knowledge is even more foolish and dangerous. Chuang Tzu from the Tao…

Fair Incomes and Welfare Reform

30th December 2011

One of the simplest ways of understanding what is wrong with the current welfare system and why current efforts to reform it will continue to fail is to consider this question:Do we want to ensure that nobody has to…

From Pooling to Differentiation

11th December 2011

If I were constructing a Utopia, which God forbid, I should describe a higher civilisation in which every human being had a hundred names; in which each had a particular name known only to a particular friend; in which…

The Problem of Giving

9th December 2011

We do not quite forgive the giver. The hands that feeds us is in some danger of being bitten. Ralph Waldo Emerson on GiftsThe problem of giving is profound and double-edged. If we are the recipient of a gift there…

Design Requires Deeper Thinking

9th December 2011

Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it's really how it works. The design of the Mac wasn't what it looked like, although that was part of it. Primarily, it…

Long-shot Utopias

24th November 2011

The hardest strokes of heaven fall in history upon those who imagine that they can control things in a sovereign manner, as though they were kings of the earth, playing Providence not only for themselves but for the…

Social Mobility and Meritocracy

24th November 2011

At the same time there existed in the sphere of the world a land that was called the country of wealth after the nature of its inhabitants. They saw in money alone the goal of their life and would recognise no other profit…

The Value of Stories

22nd November 2011

It is true that storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it, that it brings about consent and reconciliation with things as they really are, and that we may even trust it to contain…

The Survival of Justice

22nd November 2011

The lucky man's great good fortuneRuins his children.This was old wisdom.Is it true?Surely the father who breaks heaven's lawRuins his children.The father who denies heaven's rightBlinds his children.The…

Space Disabled

21st November 2011

The use of the term 'disabled' is complex and disputed.In the UK the term 'disabled people' is preferred to 'people with disabilities'. Disabled people can wear it with pride. It is used as a badge of identity and, if…

The Incompetence of the Clever

18th November 2011

Much of society is organised on the principle that we should leave decisions in the hands of those who are most competent to make them. But we often confuse competence with cleverness. However clever you are there are…

How to Make a Life

31st October 2011

You are a citizen when you are defined by your contribution, by what you create in the company of others, not by what you consume…We need to find ways for all of us to act together as citizens on the truth in Winston…

The Medicine We Bring

31st October 2011

I believe what Native Americans believe: that every person born to this earth is born with gifts. It's totally impossible to be born without them. No one's birth was a mistake. We all come here with something to give.…

Citizenship and Higher Purpose

31st October 2011

Citizenship is related three ideals of democracy that are at the core of person-centred work. First, all people are created equal, which means that everyone is equally entitled to reach for their higher purpose.…

Reflections on William Beveridge

20th October 2011

In proceeding from this first comprehensive survey of social insurance to the next task—of making recommendations—three guiding principles may be laid down at the outset.1. The first principle is…

Adam Smith on Celebrity

15th October 2011

This disposition to admire, and to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean conditions... is the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our…

On the Mystery of the Incarnation

11th October 2011

It's when we face for a momentthe worst our kind can do, and shudder to knowthe taint in our own selves, that awecracks the mind's shell and enters the heart:not to a flower, not to a dolphin,to no innocent formbut to…

Spartan Tax Rates

11th October 2011

...the Helots were tied to the lands as serfs of the Spartan community, paying for their right to live by a contribution of half the product of their labours on the soil. E B Castle from Ancient Education and…

The Tyranny of the Medianocracy

10th October 2011

Aristotle feared that democracy might become the rule of the mob, the demos. He saw their short-sighted, wilfulness as a threat to good order. Of course Aristotle did not know how big and powerful a state could…

Mohawk Prayer of Thanksgiving

5th October 2011

John O'Brien shared the following Mohawk prayer of thanksgiving.OHEN:TON KARIWENTEHKWENWe offer our greetings to all the people.We offer our greetings to the Earth, our Mother.We offer our greetings to the…

The Citizen & The Stranger

5th October 2011

The just society treats the stranger as a citizen - but never forgets what citizenship means.