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When Radhakrishnan was sent as the first ambassador to Russia of the newly created Indian Republic and presented his credentials to Stalin, the latter, on learning that his visitor was a professor of philosophy, answered, "We have to fill the people's bellies first, not teach them philosophy." This reminded me of Napoleon's visit to one of the Italian universities after his army had victoriously crossed the border for the first time by crossing the Alps. He went through some of the rooms in the university and came into one where a class was being taught. On learning that the students were being taught metaphysics he exclaimed, "Bah!" and went out. What is behind the attitude of those two men, Stalin and Napoleon, an attitude we often come across in less exalted circles? Is it not that people realize that a man who is hungry because of his poverty and inability to buy enough food is unlikely to be able to put his mind into the creation of art for its own sake or to think of lofty abstract ideas for their own sake with sufficient concentration?

-- Notebooks Category 13: Human Experience > Chapter 2: Living in The World > # 87

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