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At the current Rubens exhibition at the National Gallery there is a painting called "Murder of the Innocents" which includes a figure of a man holding up a baby. He is about to smash its head on a stone that is already covered in blood. How can that painting be beautiful?

Perhaps it is terrible, awe-inspiring, terrifying, moving and so on, all perfectly appropriate aesthetic qualities. Or perhaps despite the subject matter it really is beautiful, and the beauty of the composition is magnified by its contrast with the subject matter.

How does one know that love is real, and if it is that one's in love? ?Ai? (14)

One doesn't, and that is perhaps what makes being in love such fun. It is such an improbable notion that two people will have this special relationship and not confuse it with something else like lust, power, coping with boredom and so on. Perhaps an implication is that if one thinks one is in love one should take serious steps to examine one's motives carefully, since otherwise it would be easy to mistake as love relationships generally considered as less binding.

Was it ethical for Jews to evade taxes in Nazi Germany? Professor Robert McGee asked this question in a recent survey of international business professors and they seem to think that it was unethical. The abstract of the study is posted at http://ssrn.com/abstract=803964. The full study may be downloaded by hitting the DOWNLOAD button.

It is an interesting question how far living in a state which persecutes a group of people justifies their retaliation by not obeying the law. Of course, as far as the practicalities of these things go, the choice to pay or not pay taxes is not much of a choice, since one has to pay them, and the consequences of not doing so were no doubt especially harsh in Nazi Germany. The Jews were of course particularly singled out through the tax system, especially if they wished to emigrate, and their assets were rapidly denuded through the legal system of the Third Reich. Might this not mean that they were morally allowed to break the law in situations where it was in their interests and possible to do so? I think one has to be careful here. Many laws are just worth keeping because they make common life in the state bearable. Other laws though do not have this general character and might be regarded as only valid if they are part of a reasonably benign system. I was told by an elderly relative of mine who was...

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