Friday, February 29, 2008
1. “All is flux, nothing stays still.”
2. “All things are filled with souls and spirits.”
3. “All things are composed of fire and are again resolved into fire.”
4. “All things come into being by the conflict of opposites.”
5. “And it is the same thine in us that is quick and dead, awake and asleep, young and old; the former are shifted and become the latter, and the latter in turn are shifted and become the former.”
6. “Beginning and end are common.”
7. "Bigotry is the sacred disease."
8. "Change alone is unchanging."
9. “Character is destiny.”
10. “Combinations, wholes and not-wholes, conjunction and separation, harmony and discord - out of all things comes One, and out of One all things.”
11. “Couples are things whole and things not whole, what is drawn together and what is drawn asunder, the harmonious and the discordant. The one is made up of all things, and all things issue from the one.”
12. “Couples are wholes and not wholes, what agrees disagrees, the concordant is discordent. From all things one and from one all things.”
13. “Eternity is a child at play, playing draughts.”
14. “Even sleepers are workers and collaborators in what goes on in the universe.”
15. “Everything flows and nothing abides;. Everything gives way and nothing stays fixed..”
16. “Fire lives in the death of earth, air in the death of fire, water in the death of air, and earth in the death of water.”
17. “For those who are awake the cosmos is one.”
18. “God is day and night, winter and summer, war and peace, surfeit and hunger; but he takes various shapes, just as fire, when it is mingled with spices, is named according to the savor of each.”
19. “Greater dooms win greater destinies.”
20. "If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail."
21. “I have searched myself.”
22. “Immortals become mortals, mortals become immortals; they live in each other's death and die in each other's life.”
23. “Into the same rivers we step and do not step.”
24. “It is better to hide ignorance, but it is hard to do this when we relax over wine.”
25. “It is in changing that things find repose.”
26. “It is wise to agree that all things are one.”
27. “It is wise to hearken, not to me, but to my Word, and to confess that all things are one.”
28. “It rests in change.”
29. “It throws apart and then brings together again; it advances and retires.”
30. "It would not be better if things happened to men just as they wish.
31. “Knowledge of divine things is lost to us by incredulity.”
32. “Man kindles a light for himself in the night-time, when he has died but is alive. The sleeper, whose vision has been put out, lights up from the dead; he that is awake lights up from the sleeping.”
33. “Much learning does not teach understanding.”
34. “Nature loves to hide itself.”
35. “No-one can step twice into the same river, nor touch mortal substance twice in the same condition. By the speed of its change, it scatters and gathers again.”
36. "Nothing endures but change."
37. "Nothing is, everything is becoming."
38. “Opposition brings concord. Out of discord comes the fairest harmony.”
39. “Other men fail to notice what they do when they are awake, just as they forget what they do when asleep.”
40. “Sea water is at once very pure and very foul: it is drinkable and healthful for fishes, but undrinkable and deadly for men.”
41. “The eyes are more exact witnesses than the ears.”
42. “The handsomest ape is ugly compared with humankind; the wisest man appears as an ape when compared with a god --- in wisdom, in beauty, and in all other ways.”
43. "The lightning-flash steers all things."
44. “The most perfect mind is a dry light.”
45. “The phases of fire are craving and satiety."
46. “There is a stability in the Universe because of the orderly and balanced process of change, the same measure coming out as going in, as if reality were a huge fire that inhaled and exhaled equal amounts.”
47. “There is exchange of all things for fire and of fire for all things, as there is of wares for gold and of gold for wares.”
48. “There is no permanent reality except the reality of change; permanence is an illusion of the senses.”
49. “There is nothing permanent except change.”
50. "The soul is its own source of unfolding."
51. “The structure of the universe was arranged by one harmony through the blending of opposite principles.”
52. “The stupid are deaf to the truth; they hear, but think that the wisdom applies to someone else.”
53. “The sun is new each day.”
54. “The things that exist are brought into harmony by the clash of opposing currents.”
55. ”The thunderbolt pilots all things.”
56. “The transformations of fire -- first, sea; and of sea, half becomes earth and half the lightning-flash.”
57. ”The waking have one world. in common, whereas each sleeper turns away to a private world of his own.”
58. “The way up and the way down are one and the same.”
59. “They do not understand how, being separated, it is united with itself. There is a backward-stretching tension, as between the bow and the lyre.”
60. “This cosmos, the same for all, was not made by gods or men, but always was and is and ever shall be ever-living fire, igniting in measures and extinguishing in measures.”
61. “Those who are awake all live in the same world. Those who are asleep live in their own worlds.”
62. “Though this Word is true evermore, yet men are as unable to understand it when they hear it for the first time as before they have heard it at all. For, though all things come to pass in accordance with this Word, men seem as if they had no experience of them, when they make trial of words and deeds such as I set forth, dividing each thing according to its kind and showing how it truly is. But other men know not what they are doing when awake, even as they forget what they do in sleep.”
63. ”Time is a child moving counters in a game; the royal power is a child's.”
64. "To do the same thing over and over again is not only boredom: it is to be controlled by rather than to control what you do."
65. “We are most nearly ourselves when we achieve the seriousness of the child at play.”
66. “Whatever we see when awake is death; when asleep, dreams.”
67. “Wisdom is one thing. It is to know the thought by which all things are steered through all things.”
68. “You could not step twice into the same rivers; for other waters are ever flowing onto you.”
Katharine Butler Hathaway
Thursday, February 28, 2008
1. “A book is a fragile creature, it suffers the wear of time, it fears rodents, the elements and clumsy hands. so the librarian protects the books not only against mankind but also against nature and devotes his life to this war with the forces of oblivion.”
2. “Absence is to love as wind to fire; it extinguishes the little flame, it fans the big.”
3. "A dream is a scripture, and many scriptures are nothing but dreams."
4. “A genius can’t bear not being loved.”
5. “”All the world’s follies,” he replied, “turn up in publishing houses sooner or later. But the world’s follies may also contain flashes of the wisdom of the Most High, so the wise man observes folly with humility.”
6. “A narrator should not supply interpretations of his work; otherwise he would have not written a novel, which is a machine for generating interpretations.”
7. “And we, inhabitants of the great coral of the Cosmos, believe the atom (which still we cannot see) to be full matter, whereas, it too, like everything else, is but an embroidery of voids in the Void, and we give the name of being, dense and even eternal, to that dance of inconsistencies, that infinite extension that is identified with absolute Nothingness and that spins from its own non-being the illusion of everything.”
8. "Books aren't written to be believed in, but to be questioned."
9. "Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry. "
10. “But everything is not a bigger secret. There are no “bigger secrets,” because the moment a secret is revealed, it seems little. There is only an empty secret. A secret that keeps slipping through your fingers.”
11. “But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.”
12. “But the important thing is not the finding, it is the seeking, it is the devotion with which one spins the wheel of prayer and scripture, discovering the truth little by little. If this machine gave you the truth immediately, you would not recognize it, because your heart would not have been purified by the long quest.”
13. "(…) But the philosopher is like the poet. The latter composes ideal letters for an ideal nymph, only to plumb with his words the depths of passion. The philosopher tests the coldness of his gaze, to see how far he can undermine the fortress of bigotry."
14. “Certain places have more magic than others.”
15. “Every great thinker is someone else’s moron.”
16. “(...) Everything is repeated, in a circle. History is a master because it teaches us that it doesn’t exist. It’s the permutations that matter.”
17. "Fear prophets and those prepared to die for the truth, for as a rule they make many others die with them, often before them, at times instead of them."
18. “For what I saw at the abbey then (and will now recount) caused me to think that often inquisitors create heretics. And not only in the sense that they imagine heretics where these do not exist, but also that inquisitors repress the heretical putrefaction so vehemently that many are driven to share in it, in their hatred for the judges. Truly, a circle conceived by the Devil. God preserve us.”
19. “God created the world by speaking. He didn’t send a telegram.”
20. "God is the Unique, and he is so perfect that he does not resemble any of the things that exist or any of the things that do not; you cannot describe him using your human intelligence, as if he were someone who becomes angry if you are bad or worries about you out of goodness, someone who has a mouth, ears, face, wings, or that is spirit, father or son, not even of himself. Of the Unique you cannot say he is or is not, he embraces all but is nothing; you can name him only through dissimilarity, because it is futile to call him Goodness, Beauty, Wisdom, Amiability, Power, Justice, it would be like calling him Bear, Panther, Serpent, Dragon, or Gryphon, because whatever you say of him you will never express him. God is not body, is not figure, is not form; he does not see, does not hear, does not know disorder and perturbation; he is not soul, intelligence, imagination, opinion, thought, word, number, order, size; he is not equality and is not inequality, is not time and is not eternity; he is a will without purpose. Try to understand, Baudolino: God is a lamp without flame, a flame without fire, a fire without heat, a dark light, a silent rumble, a blind flash, a luminous soot, a ray of his own darkness, a circle that expands concentrating on its own center, a solitary simplicity; he is...is..." She paused, seeking an example that would convince them both, she the teacher and he the pupil. "He is a space that is not, in which you and I are the same thing, as we are today in this time that doesn't flow."
21. “His enthusiasm for the Plan came from his ambition to write a book. No matter if the book were made entirely of errors, intentional, deadly errors. As long as you remain in your private vacuum, you can pretend you are in harmony with the One. But the moment you pick up the clay, electronic or otherwise, you become a demiurge, ahd he who embarks on the creation of worlds is already tainted with corruption and evil.”
22. “History does not happen randomly.”
23. “I believe the universe is a great symphony of numerical correspondences. I believe that numbers and their symbolism provide a path to special knowledge. But if the world, below and above, is a system of correspondences where tout se tient, it’s natural for the kiosk and the pyramid, both works of man, to reproduce their structure, unconsciously, the harmonies of the cosmos.”
24. “I believe that you can reach the point where there is no longer any difference between developing the habit of pretending to believe and developing the habit of believing.”
25. “Idiot. Above her head was the only stable place in the cosmos, the only refuge from the damnation of the panta rei, and she guessed it was the Pendulum's business, not hers. A moment later the couple went off -- he, trained on some textbook that had blunted his capacity for wonder, she, inert and insensitive to the thrill of the infinite, both oblivious of the awesomeness of their encounter -- their first and last encounter -- with the One, the Ein-Sof, the Ineffable. How could you fail to kneel down before this altar of certitude?”
26. “Idiot! Immortality is not a myth. It is a fact.”
27. “If I thought of it, somebody else must have done it.”
28. “I had a strict rule, which I think secret services follow, too: No piece of information is superior to any other. Power lies in the having them all on file and then finding the connections. There are always connections; you have only to want to find them.” ‘
29. “I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.”
30. "I have never doubted the truth of signs, Adso; they are the only things man has with which to orient himself in the world. What I did not understand is the relation among signs . . . I behaved stubbornly, pursuing a semblance of order, when I should have known well that there is no order in the universe."
"But in imagining an erroneous order you still found something. . . ."
"What you say is very fine, Adso, and I thank you. The order that our mind imagines is like a net, or like a ladder, built to attain something. But afterward you must throw the ladder away, because you discover that, even if it was useful, it was meaningless . . . The only truths that are useful are instruments to be thrown away."
31. “Initiation is learning never to stop. The universe is peeled like an onion, and an onion is all peel. Let us imagine an infinite onion, which has its center everywhere and its circumference nowhere. Initiation travels an endless Möbius strip.”
32. “In the beginning, He created a point, which became Thought, where all the figures were drawn.”
33. “In the construction of Immortal Fame you need first of all a cosmic shamelessness.”
34. "It has been said that narrative worlds are always little worlds, because they do not constitute a maximal and complete state of things... In this sense narrative worlds are parasitical, because, if the alternative properties are not specified, we take for granted the properties that hold good in the real world. In Mody-Dick it is not expressly stated that all the sailors abroad Pequod have two legs, but the reader ought to take it as implicit, given that the sailors are human beings. On the other hand, the account takes care to inform us that Ahab had only one leg, but, as far as I remember, it does not say which, leaving us free to use our imagination, because such a specification has no bearing on the story."
35. “It is the logic of research and discovery that is tortuous, because it is the logic of science. Whereas the logic of knowledge needs no discovery, because it knows already. Why must it demonstrate that which could not be otherwise?”
36. “It’s not true, but I don’t believe in it? Well, I don’t believe in it, but it’s true.”
37. "I would define poetic effect as the capacity that text displays for continuing to generate different readings, without ever being completely consumed."
38. “Lying about the future produces history.”
39. “Maybe only cheap fiction gives us the true measure of reality.”
40. “Mysticism is a degenerate form of contact with the divine, whereas initiation is the fruit of long askesis of mind and heart. Mysticism is a democratic, if not demagogic, phenomenon; initiation is aristocratic.”
41. “Never trust originality.”’
42. "Nothing gives a fearful man more courage than another's fear."
43. “... one who knows not how to seek will never find...”’
44. "Perhaps the mission of those who love mankind is to make people laugh at the truth, to make truth laugh, because the only truth lies in learning to free ourselves from insane passion for the truth."
45. “Restless, he dreamed of his shipwreck, and dreamed it as a man of wit, who even in dreams, or especially in them, must take care that as propositions embellish a conception, so reservations make it vital, while mysterious connections give it density; considerations make it profound; emphases uplift, allusions dissimulate, transmutations make subtle.”
46. “Roberto learned to see the universal world as a fragile tissue of enigmas, beyond which there was no longer an Author; or if there was, He seemed lost in the making of Himself from too many perspectives. If there Roberto had sensed a world now without any center, made up only of peripheries, here he felt himself truly in the most extreme and most of peripheries; because, if there was a center, it lay before him, and he was its most immobile satellite.”
47. “Signora, there’s nothing in this world that demands more caution than the truth.”
48. "So it was not so much the earth to which I addressed my gaze but the heavens, where the mystery of the absolute immobility was celebrated. The Pendulum told me that, as everything moved - earth, solar system, nebulae and black holes, all the children of the grear cosmic expansion - one single point stood still: a pivot, bolt, or hook around which the universe could move. And I was now taking part in that supreme experiece."
49. “Some things you can feel coming. You don’t fall in love because you fall in love; you fall in love because of the need, desperate, to fall in love. When you feel that need, you have to watch your step: like having drunk a philter, the kind that makes you fall in love with the first thing you meet.”
50. “Terrorism [is] a biological consequence of the multinationals, just as a day of fever is the reasonable price of an effective vaccine . . . The conflict is between great powers, not between demons and heroes. Unhappily, therefore, is the nation that finds the "heroes" underfoot, especially if they still think in religious terms and involve the population in their bloody ascent to an uninhabited paradise.”
51. “The author should die once he has finished writing. So as not to trouble the path of the text.”
52. “The fact is, it’s easier for reality to imitate the dime novel than to imitate art.”
53. “The pleasures of love are pains that become desirable, where sweetness and torment blend, and so love is voluntary insanity, infernal paradise, and celestial hell -- in short, harmony of opposite yearnings, sorrowful laughter, soft diamond.”
54. “The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.”
55. “There are four kinds of people in this world: cretins, fools, morons and lunatics.”
56. ”There are no stories without meaning. And I am one of those men who can find it even when others fail to see it. Afterwards the story becomes the book of the living, like a blaring trumpet that raises from the tomb those who have been dust for centuries...”
57. “There is a secret society with brances throughout the world, and its plot is to spread the rumor that a universal plot exists.”
58. "There is only one thing that arouses animals more than pleasure, and that is pain. Under torture you are as if under the dominion of those grasses that produce visions. Everything you have heard told, everything you have read returns to your mind, as if you were being transported, not toward heaven, but toward hell. Under torture you say not only what the inquisitor wants, but also what you imagine might please him, because a bond (this, truly, diabolical) is established between you and him."
59. ”The author should die once he has finished writing. So as not to trouble the path of the text.”
60. “The belief that time is a linear, directed sequence running from A to B is a modern illusion. In fact, it can also go from B to A, the effect producing the cause.”
61. "The comic is the perception of the opposite; humor is the feeling of it."
62. "The good of a book lies in its being read. A book is made up of signs that speak of other signs, which in their turn speak of things. Without an eye to read them, a book contains signs that produce no concepts; therefore it is dumb."
63. “The important thing is to venerate the force. The aspect of the force must fit each man’s ability to comprehend.”
64. "The postmodern reply to the modern consists of recognizing that the past, since it cannot really be destroyed, because its destruction leads to silence, must be revisited: but with irony, not innocently. I think of the postmodern attitude as that of a man who loves a very cultivated woman and knows he cannot say to her, ''I love you madly,'' because he knows that she knows (and that she knows that he knows) that these words have already been written by Barbara Cartland. Still, there is a solution. He can say, ''As Barbara Cartland would put it, I love you madly.''"
65. “The truth is a young maiden as modest as she is beautiful, and therefore she is always seen cloaked."
66. “The wise man does not discriminate; he gathers together all shreds of light, from wherever they may come.”
67. “The world exploded into a whirling network of kinships, where everything pointed to everything else, everything explained everything else.”
68. “The word of machines seeking to rediscover the secret of creation: letters and numbers.”
69. ”Time is an eternity that stammers.”
70. “When all the archetypes burst out shamelessly, we plumb the depths of Homeric profundity. Two cliches make us laugh but a hundred cliches moves us because we sense dimly that the cliches are talking among themselves, celebrating a reunion . . . Just as the extreme of pain meets sensual pleasure, and the extreme of perversion borders on mystical energy, so too the extreme of banality allows us to catch a glimpse of the Sublime.”
71. ”Yes, I know, it's not the truth, but in a great history little truths can be altered so that the greater truth emerges.”
72. "You cannot believe what you are saying."
"Well, no. Hardly ever. But the philosopher is like the poet. The latter composes ideal letters for an ideal nymph, only to plumb with his words the depths of passion. The philosopher tests the coldness of his gaze, to see how far he can undermine the fortress of bigotry."
73. “You cannot escape one infinite, I told myself, by fleeing to another; you cannot escape the revelation of the identical by taking refuge in the illusion of the multiple.”
74. “You have to be very fond of men.
Very, very fond. You have to be
very fond of them to love them.
Otherwise they're simply unbearable.”
75. “”You live in the surface,” Lia told me years later. “You sometimes seem profound, but it’s only because you piece a lot of surfaces together to create the impression of depth, solidity. That solidity would collapse if you tried to stand up.””
76. “You must not think linearly. The water in these fountains doesn’t. Nature doesn’t; nature knows nothing of time. Time is an invention of the West.”
77. “You must reason not according to the logic of time but according to the logic of Tradition. One time symbolizes all others (…)”
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Percy Bysshe Shelley
The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the Ocean,
The winds of Heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine? —
See the mountains kiss high Heaven
And the waves clasp one another,
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother,
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me?
1. “A fact is like a sack - it won't stand up if it's empty. To make it stand up, first you have to put in it all the reasons and feelings that caused it in the first place.”
2. "A man will die, a writer, the instrument of creation: but what he has created will never die! And to be able to to live for ever you don't need to have extraordinary gifts or be able to do miracles. Who was Sancho Panza? Who was Prospero? But they will live for ever because - living seeds - they had the luck to find a fruitful soil, an imagination which knew how to grow them and feed them, so that they will live for ever."
3. "Anyone can be heroic from time to time, but a gentleman is something you have to be all the time."
4. “Each of us, face to face with other men, is clothed with some sort of dignity, but we know only too well all the unspeakable things that go on in the heart.”
5. "Every true man, sir, who is a little above the level of the beasts and plants does not live for the sake of living, without knowing how to live; but he lives so as to give a meaning and a value of his own to life."
6. “In bed my real love has always been the sleep that rescued me by allowing me to dream.”
7. “I present myself to you in a form suitable to the relationship I wish to achieve with you.”
8. “I would love to spend all my time writing to you; I'd love to share with you all that goes through my mind, all that weighs on my heart, all that gives air to my soul; phantoms of art, dreams that would be so beautiful if they could come true.”
9. “Life is a very sad piece of buffoonery, because we have...the need to fool ourselves continuously by the spontaneous creation of a reality (one for each and never the same for everyone) which, from time to time, reveals itself to be vain and illusory.”
10. "Life is full of infinite absurdities, which, strangely enough, do not even need to appear plausible, because they are true."
11. “Logic is one thing, the human animal another. You can quite easily propose a logical solution to something and at the same time hope in your heart of hearts it won't work out.”
12. “Nature uses human imagination to lift her work of creation to even higher levels.”
13. “Reality is an intangible, and what is taken for reality as a series of illusions.”
14. “We ride through life on the beast within us. Beat the animal, but you can't make it think.”
15. "Whatever is a reality today, whatever you touch and believe in and that seems real for you today, is going to be -- like the reality of yesterday -- an illusion tomorrow."
16. “When the characters are really alive before their author, the latter does nothing but follow them in their action, in their words, in the situations which they suggest to him.”
17. "When you say you are in love with humanity, you are well satisfied with yourself."
18. "Whoever has the luck to be born a character can laugh even at death. Because a character will never die! A man will die, a writer, the instrument of creation: but what he has created will never die!"
19. “You must not depend on your reality as you feel it today, since, like that of yesterday, it may prove an illusion for you tomorrow.”
Ted Simon, "Jupiter's Travels"
Miguel de Unamuno, "in a confrontation with fascist General Milan-Astray", at the University of Salamanca
Henry David Thoreau, "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers"
George Bernard Shaw, "attributed as from a "speech at Brighton""
Thomas Carlyle, ""Past and Present"", 1843
Augustinas Rakauskas, "Spirit of Entrepreneurship"
Jorge Luis Borges
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
If a man offend a harmless, pure, and innocent person, the evil falls back upon that fool, like light dust thrown up against the wind.
Buddha (Gautama Buddha)
We are so desirous of vengeance that people often offend us by not giving offence.
When any one has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offence cannot reach it.
Love the offender, yet detest the offence.
Who has not seen how women bully women? What tortures have men to endure compared to those daily repeated shafts of scorn and cruelty with which poor women are riddled by the tyrants of their sex?
William Makepeace Thackeray
“At every trifle take offence, that always shows great pride or little sense.”
Alexander Pope quotes (English Poet, 1688-1744)
Epictetus, in 'The Golden Sayings of Epictetus'
2. “An absolute can only be given in an intuition, while all the rest has to do with analysis. We call intuition here the sympathy by which one is transported into the interior of an object in order to coincide with what there is unique and consequently inexpressible in it. Analysis, on the contrary, is the operation which reduces the object to elements already known.”
3. “For life is tendency, and the essence of a tendency is to develop in the form of a sheaf, creating, by its very growth, divergent directions among which its impetus is divided.”
4. “I cannot escape the objection that there is no state of mind, however simple, that does not change every moment.”
5. "In laughter we always find an unavowed intention to humiliate and consequently to correct our neighbour."
6. “In short, intelligence, considered in what seems to be its original feature, is the faculty of manufacturing artificial objects, especially tools to make tools, and of indefinitely urging the manufacture.”
7. “Instinct perfected is a faculty of using and even constructing organized instruments; intelligence perfected is the faculty of making and using unorganized instruments.”
8. “Intelligence is characterized by a natural incomprehension of life.”
9. “Laughter has no greater foe than emotion.... To produce the whole of its effect, then, the comic demands something like a momentary anesthesia of the heart.”
10. “Sex-appeal is the keynote of our whole civilisation.”
11. “Spirit borrows from matter the perceptions on which it feeds and restores them to matter in the form of movements which it has stamped with its own freedom.”
12. "The analogy between time and space is in fact wholly external and superficial."
13. “The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.”
14. ”The only cure for vanity is laughter, and the only fault that's laughable is vanity.”
15. ”The present contains nothing more than the past, and what is found in the effect is already in the cause.”
16. ”The universe . . . is a machine for creating gods.”
17. “Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought.”
18. “To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.”
19. “To perceive means to immobilize . . . we seize, in the act of perception, something which outruns perception itself.”
20. “Wherever anything lives, there is, open somewhere, a register in which time is being inscribed.”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sonnets from the Portuguese
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,–I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!–and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Albert Einstein, in 'Quoted in C.P. Snow, Variety of Men
Monday, February 25, 2008
Things themselves touch not the soul, not in the least degree; nor have they admission to the soul, nor can they turn or move the soul: but the soul turns and moves itself alone, and whatever judgments it may think proper to make, such it makes for itself the things which present themselves to it.
Marcus Aurelius, in 'Meditations'
1. "Accidents, try to change them - it's impossible. The accidental reveals man."
2. "Ah, good taste! What a dreadful thing! Taste is the enemy of creativeness."
3. “An idea is a point of departure and no more. As soon as you elaborate it, it becomes transformed by thought.”
4. “Anything new, anything worth doing, can't be recognized. People just don't have that much vision.”
5. “Are we to paint what's on the face, what's inside the face, or what's behind it?”
6. "Art is a lie that makes us realize truth."
7. "Art is never chaste. It ought to be forbidden to ignorant innocents, never allowed into contact with those not sufficiently prepared. Yes, art is dangerous. Where it is chaste, it is not art."
8. “Art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon. When we love a woman we don't start measuring her limbs.”
9. "Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."
10. “Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.”
11. ”Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.”
12. "Enough of Art. It's Art that kills us. People no longer want to do painting: they make art. People want Art. And they are given it. But the less Art there is in painting the more painting there is."
13. "...even if the painting is green, well then! the 'subject' is the green. There is always a subjet; it's a joke to suppress the subject, it's impossible."
14. "Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction."
15. "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when you grow up."
16. "Everyone wants to understand painting. Why don't they try to understand the song of the birds? Why do they love a night, a flower, everything which surrounds man, without attempting to understand them? Whereas where painting is concerned, they want to understand."
17. "Everything is a miracle. It is a miracle that one does not dissolve in one’s bath like a lump of sugar!"
18. "Everything you can imagine is real."
19. “...from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web.. We must pick out what
is good for us where we can find it.”
20. "Give me a museum and I'll fill it."
21. “God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the cat. He has no real style. He just keeps on trying other things.”
22. "Good taste is the enemy of creativity. "
23. "I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it."
24. “I don't own any of my own paintings because a Picasso original costs several thousand dollars -- it's a luxury I can't afford.”
25. “I do not seek, I find.”
26. "If everybody is looking for it, then nobody is finding it. If we were cultured, we would not be conscious of lacking culture. We would regard it as something natural and would not make so much fuss about it. And if we knew the real value of this word we would be cultured enough not to give it so much importance."
27. "If only we could pull out our brain and use only our eyes."
28. "If you take my sayings and explode them in the air, they remain only sayings. But if you fit them together in their correct places, you will have the whole story."
29. "I have a horror of people who speak about the beautiful. What is the beautiful? One must speak of problems in painting!"
30. "I like all painting. I always look at the paintings - good or bad - in barbershops, furniture stores, provincial hotels...I'm like a drinker who needs wine. As long as it is wine, it doesn't matter which wine."
31. “I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them.”
32. "I paint the way someone bite his fingernails; for me, painting is a bad habit because I don't know nor can I do anything else."
33. "I see, for others, that is to say, in order to put on canvas the sudden apparitions which come to me. I don't know in advance what I am going to put on canvas any more than I decide beforehand what colors I am going to use. While I am working I am not conscious of what I am putting on the canvas. Each time I undertake to paint a picture I have a sensation of leaping into space. I never know whether I shall fall on my feet. It is only later that I begin to estimate more exactly the effect of my work."
34. “Is there anything more dangerous than sympathetic understanding?”
35. "It is your work in life that is your ultimate seduction."
36. “It takes a long time to become young.”
37. "I who have been involved with all styles of painting can assure you that the only things that fluctuate are the waves of fashion which carry the snobs and speculators; the number of true connoisseurs remains more or less the same."
38. “Love is the greatest refreshment in life.”
39. ”My mother said to me, "If you become a soldier, you'll be a general; if you become a monk, you'll end up as the pope." Instead, I became a painter, and wound up Picasso.”
40. " Often while reading a book one feels that the author would have preferred to paint rather than to write; one can sense the pleasure he derives from describing a landscape of a person, as if he were painting what he is saying, because from deep in his heart he would have preferred to use brushes and colors. "
41. “Once I drew like Raphael but it has taken me a lifetime to draw like a child.”
42. "One does a whole painting for one peach and people think just the opposite -- that particular peach is but a detail."
43. “One must act in painting as in life, directly.”
44. “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”
45. “Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.”
46. "Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot; others transform a yellow spot into the sun."
47. "Success is dangerous. One begins to copy oneself, and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others. It leads to sterility."
48. "Talent without application is just a bad habit."
49. "Taste is the enemy of creativeness."
50. ”The artist is a receptacle for the emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web.”
51. “The chief enemy of creativity is "good" sense.”
52. “The first thing to do in life is to do with purpose what one purposes to do.”
53. "The goal I proposed myself in making cubism? To paint and nothing more. And to paint seeking a new expression, divested of useless realism, with a method linked only to my thought - without enslaving myself with objective reality. Neither the good nor the true; neither the useful or the useless."
54. "The more technique you have, the less you have to worry about it. The more technique there is, the less there is."
55. "There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality."
56. "Through art we express our conception of what nature is not."
57. “The world today doesn't make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?”
58. "To copy others is necessary, but to copy oneself is pathetic."
59. “To finish a work? To finish a picture? What nonsense! To finish it means to be through with it, to kill it, to rid it of its soul, to give it its final blow, the coup de Grace for the painter as well as for the picture.”
60. “To me there is no past or future in art. If a work of art cannot live always in the present it must not be considered at all. The art of Greeks, of the Egyptians, of the great painters who lived in other times, is not an art of the past, perhaps it is more alive today than it ever was.”
61. “We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convice others of the thruthfulness of his lies. If he only shows in his work that he has searched, and re-searched, for the way to put over lies, he would never accomplish anything.”
62. "We must not discriminate between things. Where things are concerned there are no class distinctions. We must pick out what is good for us where we can find it."
63. "What does it mean for a painter to paint in the manner of So-and-So or to actually imitate someone else? What's wrong with that? On the contrary, it's a good idea. You should constantly try to paint like someone else. But the thing is, you can't! You would like to. You try. But it turns out to be a botch...And at the very moment you make a botch of it that you're yourself."
64. "What is a face, really? Its own photo? Its make-up? Or is it a face as painted by such or such painter? That which is in front? Inside? Behind? And the rest? Doesn't everyone look at himself in his own particular way? Deformations simply do not exist."
65. "What is truth? Truth cannot exist. ... Truth does not exist. ... Truth is a lie."
66. "What might be taken for a precocious genius is the genius of childhood. When the child grows up, it disappears without a trace. It may happen that this boy will become a real painter some day, or even a great painter. But then he will have to begin everything again, from zero."
67. "When you come right down to it all you have is yourself. The sun is a thousand rays in your belly. All the rest is nothing."
68. "When you start with a portrait and search for a pure form, a clear volume, through successive eliminations, you arrive inevitably at the egg. Likewise, starting with the egg and following the same process in reverse, one finishes with the portrait."
69. “Who sees the human face correctly: the photographer, the mirror, or the painter?”
70. “Work is a necessity for man. Man invented the alarm clock.”
71. “You have to have an idea of what you are going to do, but it should be a vague idea.”
72. “You mustn't always believe what I say. Questions tempt you to tell lies, particularly when there is no answer.”
Logic is neither a science nor an art, but a dodge.
Logic: an instrument used for bolstering a prejudice.
Logic, like whiskey, loses its beneficial effect when taken in too large
Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can
be counted, counts.
-- Sir George Pickering, British Clinician (b.1904)
If logic tells you that life is a meaningless accident. don't give up on
life. Give up on logic.
-- Shira Milgrom (1988) in E. Umansky and D. Ashton eds Four Centuries
of Jewish Women's Spirituality (1992)
Man created logic ... and because of that was superior to it. ...The
tool does not describe the designer.
--ROGER ZELAZNY (1937-1995), "For a Breath I Tarry", 1966
Nature cares nothing for logic, our human logic: she has her own, which
we do not recognize and do not acknowledge until we are crushed under
--Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883), _Smoke_ 
No, no, you're not thinking, you're just being logical.
--Niels Bohr, physicist (1885-1962)
Logic and truth ... have very little to do with each other. Logic is
concerned merely with the fidelity and accuracy with which a certain
process is performed, a process which can be performed with any
materials, with any assumption. You can be as logical about griffins and
basilisks as about sheep and pigs ... Logic, then, is not necessarily an
instrument for finding out truth; on the contrary, truth is a necessary
instrument for using logic--for using it, that is, for the discovery of
further truth ... Briefly, you can only find truth with logic if you
have already found truth without it.
-- G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who was Orthodox (1963)
If you are merely a sceptic, you must sooner or later ask yourself the
question, "Why should _anything_ go right; even observation and
deduction? Why should not good logic be as misleading as bad logic?
They are both movements in the brain of a bewildered ape?"
-- G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
High explosives are applicable where truth and logic fail
"Our minds evolved to recognize patterns, for survival. And many are the
patterns than cannot be captured by rational thought. It is not so
strange that we can sense patterns that have no rational basis. It does
not mean they have no basis at all. Is a friendly touch rational? A
mother's love? An enemy's hatred? Yet these things have been obvious to
our minds since the time our monkey ancestors swung from the branches of
trees. Rationality is a tool, not the sole reliable style of thinking."
--character in _Heaven_, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen
In Faiths and Food and Books and Friends
Give each soul her choice.
For such as follow divers ends
In divers lights rejoice.
There is a glory of the Sun
('Pity it passeth soon!)
But those whose work is nearer done
Look, rather, towards the Moon.
There is a glory of the Moon
When the hot hours have run;
But such as have not touched their noon
Give worship to the Sun.
There is a glory of the Stars
Perfect on stilly ways;
But such as follow present wars
Pursue the Comet's blaze.
There is a glory in all things;
But each must find his own,
Sufficient for his reckonings,
Which is to him alone.
Friday, February 22, 2008
1. "A high heart ought to bear calamities and not flee them, since in bearing them appears the grandeur of the mind and in fleeing them the cowardice of the heart."
2. "I am, indeed, a king, because I know how to rule myself."
3. "I dedicate this lewd memorial to you, and let the hypocrites take a flying leap; I'm sick of their thieving justice and their filthy traditions that forbid the eyes to see what most delights them. What harm is there in seeing a man mounted atop a woman? Must beasts be more free than we are? It seems to me that the organ given us by Nature to perpetuate our race should be worn around the neck like a pendant or as a medallion on a hat, because it is the source that feeds the rivers of mankind ...”
4. "I love you, and because I love you, I would sooner have you hate me for telling you the truth than adore me for telling you lies."
5. "Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius."
6. "Nothing, it appears to me is of greater value in a man than the power of judgement; and the man who has it may be compared to a chest fulled with books, for he is the son of nature and the father of art."
Through Love all that is copper will be gold.
Through Love all dregs will turn to purest wine.
Through Love all pain will turn to medicine.
Through Love the dead will all become alive.
Through Love the king will turn into a slave!
Stuart Stevens, Northern Exposure, Jules et Joel, 1991
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Marcus Aurelius, in 'Meditations'
1. “Abstract speculation has been the salvation of the world - speculations which made systems and then transcended them, speculations which ventured to the furthest limits of abstraction. To set limits to speculation is treason to the future.”
2. “A clash of doctrines is not a disaster – it is an opportunity.”
3. “A few generations ago the clergy, or to speak more accurately, large sections of the clergy were the standing examples of obscurantism. Today their place has been taken by scientists.”
4. "A language is not a universal mode of expressing all ideas whatsoever. It is a limited mode of expressing such ideas as have been frequently entertained, and urgently needed, by the group of human beings who developed that mode of speech. It is only during a comparatively short period of human history that there has existed any language with an adequate stock of general terms require a permanent literature to define them by their mode of employment."
5. “Almost all really new ideas have a certain aspect of foolishness when they are first produced.”
6. “A narrow convention as to learning, and as to the procedures Of institutions connected with it, has developed.... Thus, to a really learned man, matter exists in test tubes, animals in cages, art in museums, religion in churches, knowledge in libraries.”
7. "An enormous part of our mature experience cannot not be expressed in words."
8. “A race preserves its vigour so long as it harbours a real contrast between what has been and what may be; and so long as it is nerved by the vigour to adventure beyond the safeties of the past. Without adventure civilisation is in full decay.”
9. “An unflinching determination to take the whole evidence into account is the only method of preservation against the fluctuating extremes of fashionable opinion.”
10. ”Apart from blunt truth, our lives sink decadently amid the perfume of hints and suggestions.”
11. “Art flourishes where there is a sense of adventure, a sense of nothing having been done before, of complete freedom to experiment; but when caution comes in you get repetition, and repetition is the death of art.”
12. “But if men cannot live on bread alone, still less can they do so on disinfectants.”
13. ”Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking of them.”
14. “Common sense is genius in homespun.”
15. “Consider ... the scientific notion of measurement. Can we elucidate the turmoil of Europe by weighing its dictators, its prime ministers, and its editors of newspapers? The idea is absurd, although some relevant information might be obtained. I am not upholding the irrelevance of science. Such a doctrine would be foolish. For example, a daily record of the bodily temperatures of the men, above mentioned, might be useful. My point is the incompleteness of the information.”
16. “Culture is activity of thought, and receptiveness to beauty and humane feeling. Scraps of information have nothing to do with it. A merely well informed man is the most useless bore on God's earth. What we should aim at producing is men who possess both culture and expert knowledge in some special direction.”
17. “Education is the acquisition of the art of the utilisation of knowledge.”
18. “Every philosophy is tinged with the colouring of some secret imaginative background, which never emerges explicity into its trains of reasoning.”
19. “Every really new idea looks crazy at first.”
20. “Everything important has been said before by somebody who did not discover it. “
21. ”Familiar things happen, and mankind does not bother about them. It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious.”
22. “For, whereas you can make a replica of an ancient statue, there is no possible replica of an ancient state of mind. There can be no nearer approximation than that which a masquerade bears to real life.”
23. ”Fundamental progress has to do with the reinterpretation of basic ideas.”
24. “Great ideas enter into reality with evil associates and with disgusting alliances. But the greatness remains, nerving the race in its slow ascent.”
25. “He (Plato) is never entirely self-consistent, and rarely explicit and devoid of ambiguity. He feels the difficulties, and expresses his perplexities. No one could be perplexed over Aristotle's classifications; whereas Plato moves about amid a fragmentary system like a man dazed by his own penetration.”
26. “His cosmology (Newton's) is very easy to understand and very hard to believe.”
27. “History, down to the present day, is a melancholy record of the horrors which can attend religion: human sacrifice, and in particular the slaughter of children, cannibalism, sensual orgies, abject superstition, hatred as between races, the maintenance of degrading customs, hysteria, bigotry, can all be laid at its charge. Religion is the last refuge of human savagery. The uncritical association of religion with goodness is directly negativated by plain facts. Religion can he and has been, the main instrument for progress. But if we survey the whole race, we' must pronounce that generally it has not been so.”
28. "Human life is driven forward by its dim apprehension of notions too general for its existing language."
29. “Human nature loses its most precious quality when it is robbed of its of things beyond, unexplored and yet insistent.”
30. “Ideas won't keep; something must be done about them.”
31. “I do not share in this reverence for knowledge as such. It all depends on who has the knowledge and what he does with it. That knowledge which adds greatly to character is knowledge so handled as to transform every phase of immediate experience.”
32. ”If a dog jumps into your lap, it is because he is fond of you; but if a cat does the same thing, it is because your lap is warmer.”
33. “If my view of the function of philosophy is correct, it is the most effective of all the intellectual pursuits. It builds cathedrals before the workmen have moved a stone, and it destroys them before the elements have worn down their arches. It is the architect of the buildings of the spirit, and it is also their solvent.”
34. “If you are never solitary, you are never religious. Collective enthusiasms, revivals, institutions, churches, rituals, bibles, codes of behavior, are the trappings of religion, its passing forms. They may be useful, or harmful; they may be authoritatively ordained, or merely temporary expedients. But the end of religion is beyond all this.”
35. “I have always noticed that deeply and truly religious persons are fond of a joke, and I am suspicious of those who aren't.”
36. “Imagination is a contagious disease. It cannot be measured by the yard, or weighed by the pound, and then delivered to the students by members of the faculty. It can only be communicated by a faculty whose members themselves wear their learning with imagination.”
37. “Importance arises from this fusion of the finite and the infinite. The cry, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die," expresses the triviality of the merely finite. The mystic, ineffective slumber expresses the vacuity of the merely infinite. Those theologians do religion a bad service, who emphasize infinitude at the expense of the finite transitions within history.”
38. “In each age of the world distinguished by high activity there will be found at its culmination, . .. . some profound cosmological outlook, implicitly accepted, impressing its own type upon the current springs of action. . . . In each period there is a general form of the forms of thought; and, like the air we breathe, such a form is so translucent, and so pervading, and so seemingly necessary, that only by extreme effort can we become aware of it.”
39. “In ethical ideals we find the supreme example of consciously formulated ideas acting as a driving force effecting transitions from social state to social state. Such ideas are at once gadflies irritating, and beacons luring, the victims among whom they dwell. The conscious agency of such ideas should be contrasted with senseless forces, floods, barbarians, and mechanical devices. The great transitions are due to a coincidence of forces derived from both sides of the world, its physical and its spiritual natures. Mere physical nature lets loose a flood, but it requires intelligence to provide a system of irrigation.”
40. "In every age of well-marked transition, there is the pattern of habitual dumb practice and emotion which is passing and there is oncoming a new complex of habit."
41. “In formal logic, a contradiction is the signal of a defeat; but in the evolution of real knowledge it marks the first step in progress towards a victory. This is one great reason for the utmost toleration of variety of opinion. Once and forever, this duty of toleration has been summed up in the words," Let both grow together until the harvest."”
42. "Intelligence is the quickness to apprehend as distinct from ability, which is capacity to act wisely on the thing apprehended."
43. “In the past, classics reigned throughout the whole sphere of higher education.... All this is gone, and gone forever. Humpty Dumpty was a good egg so long as he was on top of the wall, but you can never set him up again.”
44. “In the present-day reconstruction of physics, fragments of the Newtonian concepts are stubbornly retained. The result is to reduce modern physics to a sort of mystic chant over an unintelligible Universe.”
45. “It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copybooks and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilisation advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them. Operations of thought are like cavalry charges in a battle - they are strictly limited in number, they require fresh horses, and must only be made at decisive moments.”
46. “It is the first step in sociological wisdom, to recognize that the major advances in civilisation are processes which all but wreck the societies in which they occur:-like unto an arrow in the hand of a child. The art of free society consists first in the maintenance of the symbolic code; and secondly in fearlessness of revision, to secure that the code serves those purposes which satisfy an enlightened reason. Those societies which cannot combine reverence to their symbols with freedom of revision, must ultimately decay either from anarchy, or from the slow atrophy of a life stifled by useless shadows.”
47. “It is the foundation of the metaphysical position which I am maintaining that the understanding of actuality requires a reference to ideality.”
48. “It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious.”
49. “I will not go so far as to say that to construct a history of thought without profound study of the mathematical ideas of successive epochs is like omitting Hamlet from the play which is named after him. That would he claiming too much. But it is certainly analogous to cutting out the part of Ophelia. This simile is singularly exact. For Ophelia is quite essential to the play, she is very charming - and a little mad. Let us grant that the pursuit of mathematics is a divine madness of the human spirit, a refuge from the goading urgency of contingent happenings.”
50. “Knowledge does not keep any better than fish. You may he dealing with knowledge of the old species, with some old truth; but somehow or other it must come to the students, as it were, just drawn out of the sea and with the freshness of its immediate importance.”
51. ”Knowledge keeps no better than fish.”
52. “Language, is always ambiguous as to the exact proposition which it indicates. Spoken language is merely a series of squeaks.”
53. “Learning preserves the errors of the past, as well as its wisdom. For this reason, dictionaries are public dangers, although they are necessities.”
54. "Life is an offensive, directed against the repetitious mechanism of the Universe."
55. “Logic is the chosen resort of clear-headed people, severally convinced of the complete adequacy of their doctrines. It is such a pity that they cannot agree with each other.”
56. “Matter-of-fact is an abstraction, arrived at by confining thought to purely formal relations which then masquerade as the final reality. This is why science, in its perfection, relapses into the study of differential equations. The concrete world has slipped through the meshes of the scientific net.”
57. “Mere literary knowledge is of slight importance. The only thing that matters is, how it is known. The facts related are nothing. Literature only exists to express and develop the imaginative world which is our life, the kingdom which is within us. It follows that the literary side of a technical education should consist in an effort to make the pupils enjoy literature. It does not matter what they know, but the enjoyment is vital. The great English Universities, under whose direct authority school children are examined in plays of Shakespeare, to the certain destruction of their enjoyment, should be prosecuted for soul murder.”
58. “Nature gets credit which should in truth be reserved for ourselves: the rose for its scent, the nightingale for its song; and the sun for its radiance. The poets are entirely mistaken. They should address their lyrics to themselves and should turn them into odes of self congratulation on the excellence of the human mind.”
59. “No science can be more secure than the unconscious metaphysics which it tacitly presupposes.”
60. “No static maintenance of perfection is possible. . . . Advance or Decadence are the only choices offered to mankind. The pure conservative is fighting against the essence of the Universe.”
61. “Nothing is more curious than the self-satisfied dogmatism with which mankind at each period of its history cherishes the delusion of the finality of its existing modes of knowledge. Sceptics and believers are all alike. At this moment scientists and sceptics are the leading dogmatists. Advance in detail is admitted: fundamental novelty is barred. This dogmatic common sense is the death of philosophic adventure. The Universe is vast.”
62. ”Not ignorance, but ignorance of ignorance, is the death of knowledge.”
63. ”"One and one make two" assumes that the changes in the shift of circumstance are unimportant. But it is impossible for us to analyze this notion of unimportant change.”
64. “One main factor in the upward trend of animal life has been the power of wandering.”
65. “One source of vagueness is deficiency of language. We can see the variations of meaning; although we cannot verbalise them in any decisive, handy manner. Thus we cannot weave into a train of thought what we can apprehend in flashes.... For this reason, conventional English is the twin sister to barren thought. Plato had recourse to myth.”
66. “Other nations of different habits are not enemies: they are godsends. Men require of their neighbours something sufficiently akin to be understood, something sufficiently different to provoke attention, and something great enough to command admiration. We must not expect, however, all the virtues.”
67. ”Our minds are finite, and yet even in these circumstances of finitude we are surrounded by possibilities that are infinite, and the purpose of life is to grasp as much as we can out of that infinitude.”
68. “Periods of tranquility are seldom prolific of creative achievement. Mankind has to be stirred up.”
69. “Philosophy asks the simple question: What is it all about?”
70. “Philosophy begins in wonder. And, at the end, when philosophic thought has done its best, the wonder remains. There have been added, however, some grasp of the immensity of things, some purification of emotion by understanding.”
71. “Philosophy destroys its usefulness when it indulges in brilliant feats of explaining away. It is then trespassing with the wrong equipment upon the field of particular sciences. Its ultimate appeal is to the general consciousness of what in practice we experience.... Speculative boldness must be balanced by complete humility before logic, and before fact. It is a disease of philosophy when it is neither bold nor humble, but merely a reflection of the temperamental presuppositions of exceptional personalities.”
72. “Philosophy has been haunted by the unfortunate notion that its method is dogmatically to indicate premises which are severally clear, distinct, and certain; and to erect upon those premises a deductive system of thought. But the accurate expression of the final generalities is the goal of discussion and not its origin.”
73. “Philosophy, in one of its functions, is the critic of cosmologies. It is its function to harmonise, refashion, and justify divergent intuitions as to the nature of things. It has to insist on the scrutiny of the ultimate ideas, and on the retention of the whole of the evidence in shaping our cosmological scheme. Its business is to render explicit, and - so far as may be - efficient, a process which otherwise is unconsciously performed without rational tests.”
74. “Philosophy is not a mere collection of noble sentiments. A deluge of such sentiments does more harm than good. ... It is not - or, at least, should not be - a ferocious debate between irritable professors. It is a survey of possibilities and their comparison with actualities. In philosophy, the fact, the theory, the alternatives, and the ideal, are weighed together. Its gifts are insight and foresight, and a sense of the worth of life, in short, that sense of importance which nerves all civilised effort. Mankind can flourish in the lower stages of life with merely barbaric flashes of thought. But when civilisation culminates, the absence of a co-ordinating philosophy of life, spread throughout the community, spells decadence, boredom, and the slackening of effort.”
75. "Philosophy is the product of wonder."
76. “Philosophy is the welding of imagination and common sense into a restraint upon specialists, and also into an enlargement of their imaginations. By providing the generic notions philosophy should make it easier to conceive the infinite variety of specific instances which rest unrealised in the womb of nature.”
77. “Philosophy may not neglect the multifariousness of the world - the fairies dance, and Christ is nailed to the cross.”
78. “Plato...gave an unrivalled display of the human mind in action, with its ferment of vague obviousness, of hypothetical formulation, of renewed insight, of discovery of relevant detail, of partial understanding, of final conclusion, with its disclosure of deeper problems as yet unsolved.”
79. “Plato grasped the importance of mathematical system; but his chief fame rests upon the wealth of profound suggestions scattered throughout his dialogues, suggestions half smothered by the archaic misconceptions of the age in which he lived.”
80. “Religion is the vision of something which stands beyond, behind, and within, the passing flux of immediate things; something which is real, and yet waiting to be realized; something which is a remote possibility, and yet the greatest of present facts; something that gives meaning to all that passes, and yet eludes apprehension; something whose possession is the final good, and yet is beyond all reach -- something which is the ultimate ideal, and the hopeless quest.”
81. “Religion is what the individual does with his own solitariness.”
82. “Religions commit suicide when they find their inspirations in their dogmas.”
83. “Satan's journey helped to evolve order; for he left a permanent track, useful for the devils and the damned.”
84. “Satire is the last flicker of originality in a passing epoch as it faces the onroad of staleness and boredom. Freshness has gone; bitterness remains.”
85. “Science has always suffered from the vice of overstatement. 'In this way conclusions true within strict limitations have been generalised dogmatically into a fallacious universality.”
86. “Science is simply setting out on a fishing expedition to see whether it cannot find some procedure which it can call the measurement of space and some procedure which it can call the measurement of time, and something which it can call a system of forces, and something which it can call masses, so that these formulae may be satisfied. The only reason - on this theory - why anyone should want to satisfy these formulae is a sentimental regard for Galileo, Newton, Euler and Lagrange. The theory, so far from founding science on a sound observational basis, forces everything to conform to a mere mathematical preference for certain simple formulae.”
87. “Seek simplicity but distrust it”.
88. “Systems, scientific and philosophic, come and go. Each method of limited understanding is at length exhausted. In its prime each system is a triumphant success: in its decay it is an obstructive nuisance.”
89. “Tautology is the intellectual amusement of the Infinite.”
90. “The aim of science is to seek the simplest explanations of complex facts. We are apt to fall into the error of thinking that the facts are simple because simplicity is the goal of our quest. The guiding motto in the life of every natural philosopher should be, Seek simplicity and distrust it.”
91. “The art of progress is to preserve order amid change, and to preserve change amid order. Life refuses to be embalmed alive. The more prolonged the halt in some unrelieved system of order, the greater the crash of the dead society.”
92. “The besetting sin of philosophers is that, being merely men, they endeavour to survey the universe from the standpoint of gods.”
93. “The chequered history of religion and morality is the main reason for the widespread desire to put them aside in favour of the more stable generalities of science. Unfortunately for this smug endeavour to view the universe as the incarnation of the commonplace, the impact of aesthetic, religious and moral notions is inescapable. They are the disrupting and the energising forces of civilisation. They force mankind upwards and downwards. When their vigour abates, a slow mild decay ensues. Then new ideals arise, bringing in their train a rise in the energy of social behaviour. The concentration of attention upon matter-of-fact is the supremacy of the desert. Any approach to such triumph bestows on learning "a fugitive, and cloistered virtue," which shuns emphasis on essential connections such as disclose the universe in its impact upon individual experience.”
94. “The chief danger to philosophy is narrowness in the selection of evidence. This narrowness arises from the idiosyncrasies and timidities of particular authors, of particular social groups, of particular schools of thought, of particular epochs in the history of civilisation. The evidence relied upon is arbitrarily biased by the temperaments of individuals, by the provincialities of groups, and by the limitations of schemes of thought.”
95. “The chief error in philosophy is overstatement.”
96. “The doctrine of minds, as independent substances, leads directly not merely to private worlds of experience, but also to private worlds of morals.”
97. “The essence of life is to be found in the frustrations of established order.”
98. “The first use of 0 was to make the Arabic notation possible - no slight service. We can imagine that when it had been introduced for this purpose, practical men, of the sort who dislike fanciful ideas, deprecated the silly habit of identifying it with a number zero. But they were wrong as such men always are when they desert their proper function of masticating food which others have prepared.”
99. “The great thinkers from whom we derive inspiration enjoyed insights beyond their own systems. They made statements hard to reconcile with the neat little ways of thought which we pin on to their names.”
100. “The greatest invention of the nineteenth century was the invention of the method of invention.”
101. “The Greeks and the Romans at their best period have been taken as the standard of civilisation.... The particular example of an ancient society sets too static an ideal, and neglects the whole range of opportunity. It is really not sufficient to direct attention to the best that has been said and done in the ancient world. The result is static, repressive, and promotes a decadent habit of mind.... The most un-Greek thing that we can do is to copy the Greeks. For emphatically they were not copyists.”
102. “The large practical effect of scepticism is gross acquiescence in what is immediate and obvious. Postponement, subtle interweaving, delicacies of adjustment, wide co-ordinations, moral restraint, the whole artistry of civilisation, all presuppose understanding. And without understanding they are meaningless.”
103. “The learned tradition is not concerned with truth, but with the learned adjustment of learned statements of antecedent learned people.”
104. “The love of humanity as such is mitigated by violent dislike of the next-door neighbour.”
105. “The moral of the tale is the power of reason, its decisive influence on the life of humanity. The great conquerors, from Alexander to Caesar, and from Caesar to, Napoleon, influenced profoundly the lives of subsequent generations. But the total effect of this influence shrinks to insignificance, if compared to the entire transformation of human habits and human mentality produced by the long line of men of thought from Thales to the present day, men individually powerless, but ultimately the rulers of the world.”
106. “The old foundations of scientific thought are becoming unintelligible. Time, space, matter, material, ether, electricity, mechanism, organism, configuration, structure, pattern, function, all require reinterpretation. What is the sense of talking about a mechanical explanation when you do not know what you mean by mechanics? The truth is that science started its modern career by taking over ideas derived from the weakest side of the philosophies of Aristotle's successors. In some respects it was a happy choice. It enabled the knowledge of the seventeenth century to be formulated so far as physics and chemistry were concerned, with a completeness which lasted to the present time. But the progress of biology and psychology has probably been checked by the uncritical assumption of half-truths. If science is not to degenerate into a medley of ad hoc hypotheses, it must become philosophical and must enter upon a thorough criticism of its own foundations.”
107. “The only use of a knowledge of the past is to equip us for the present. The present contains all that there is. It is holy ground; for it is the past, and it is the future.”
108. “The philosophic attitude is a resolute attempt to enlarge the understanding of the scope of application of every notion which enters into our current thought. The philosophic attempt takes every word, and every phrase, in the verbal expression of thought, and asks, What does it mean? It refuses to be satisfied by the conventional presupposition that every sensible person knows the answer. As soon as you rest satisfied with primitive ideas, and with primitive propositions, You have ceased to be a philosopher.”
109. “The philosophical principle of the relativity of space means that the properties of space are merely a way of expressing relations between things ordinarily said to be "in space." Namely, when two things are said to be "both in space" what is meant is that they are mutually related in a certain definite way which is termed "spatial." It is an immediate consequence of this theory that all spatial entities such as points, straight lines and planes are merely complexes of relations between things or of possible relations between things.”
110. “The philosophy of science is the endeavour to formulate the most general characters of things observed. These sought-for characters are to be no fancy characters of a fairy tale enacted behind the scenes. They must be observed characters of things observed.”
111. “The pilgrim fathers of the scientific imagination as it exists today are the great tragedians of ancient Athens, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides. Their vision of fate, remorseless and indifferent, urging a tragic incident to its inevitable issue, is the vision, possessed by science. Fate in Greek Tragedy becomes the order of nature in modern thought.”
112. “The progress of Science consists in observing interconnections and in showing with a patient ingenuity that the events of this ever-shifting world are but examples of a few general relations, called laws. To see what is general in what is particular, and what is permanent in what is transitory, is the aim of scientific thought.”
113. “The pupils have got to be made to feel that they are studying something, and are not merely executing intellectual minuets.”
114. "There are no whole truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil."
115. “There are two principles inherent in the very nature of things, recurring in some particular embodiments whatever field we explore - the spirit of change, and the spirit of conservation. There can be nothing real without both. Mere change without conservation is a passage from nothing to nothing. . . . Mere conservation without change cannot conserve. For after all, there is a flux of circumstance, and the freshness of being evaporates under mere repetition.”
116. “There are three main methods which are required in a national system of education, namely, the literary curriculum, the scientific curriculum, the technical curriculum. But each of these curricula should include the other two. What I mean is, that every form of education should give the pupil a technique, a science, an assortment of general ideas, and aesthetic appreciation, and that each of these sides of his training should be illuminated by the others.”
117. ”There is a tradition of opposition between adherents of induction and of deduction. In my view it would be just as sensible for the two ends of a worm to quarrel.”
118. ”There is no nature at an instant.”
119. “There is only one subject matter for education, and that is Life in all its manifestations. Instead of this single unity, we offer children – Algebra, from which follows; Geometry, from which nothing follows; Science, from which nothing follows; History, from which nothing follows; a Couple of Languages, never mastered; and lastly, most dreary of all, Literature, represented by plays of Shakespeare, with philological notes and short analyses of plot and character to he in substance committed to memory.”
120. “There is Reason, asserting itself as above the world, and there is Reason as one of many factors within the world. The Greeks have bequeathed to us two figures, whose real or mystical lives conform to these two notions - Plato and Ulysses. The one shares Reason with the Gods, the other shares it with the foxes.”
121. “There remains the final reflection, how shallow, puny, and imperfect are efforts to sound the depths in the nature of things. In philosophical discussion, the merest hint of dogmatic certainty as to finality of statement is an exhibition of folly.”
122. “The results of science are never quite true. By a healthy independence of thought perhaps we sometimes avoid adding other people's errors to our own.”
123. “The sense for style ... is an aesthetic sense, based on admiration for the direct attainment of a foreseen end, simply and without waste. `Style in art, style in literature, style in science, style in logic, style in practical execution have fundamentally the same _aesthetic qualities, namely, attainment and restraint. The love of a subject in itself and for itself, where it is not the sleepy pleasure of pacing a mental quarter-deck, is the love of style as manifested in that study. Here we are brought back to the position from which we started, the utility of education. Style, in its finest sense, is the last acquirement of the educated mind; it is also the most useful. It pervades the whole being. The administrator with a sense for style hates waste; the engineer with a sense for style economises his material; the artisan with a sense for style prefers good work. Style is the ultimate morality of the mind.”
124. “The slow issue of general ideas into practical consequences is not wholly due to inefficiency of human character. There is a problem to be solved, and its complexity is habitually ignored by impetuous seekers. The difficulty is just this: It may be impossible to conceive a reorganisation of society adequate for the removal of some admitted evil without destroying the social organization and the civilisation which depends on it. An allied plea is that there is no known way of removing the evil without the introduction of worse evils of some other type.”
125. ”The study of mathematics is apt to commence in disappointment....We are told that by its aid the stars are weighed and the billions of molecules in a drop of water are counted. Yet, like the ghost of Hamlet's father, this greatest science eludes the efforts of our mental weapons to grasp it.”
126. “The success of language in conveying information is vastly overrated, especially in learned circles. Not only is language highly elliptical, but also nothing can supply the defect of first-hand experience of types cognate to the things explicitly mentioned.”
127. “The task of Theology is to show how the World is founded on something beyond mere transient fact, and how it issues in something beyond the perishing of occasions. The temporal World is the stage of finite accomplishment. We ask of Theology to express that element in perishing lives which is undying by reason of its expression of perfections proper to our finite natures. In this way we shall understand how life includes a mode of satisfaction deeper than joy or sorrow.”
128. “The thorough sceptic is a dogmatist. He enjoys the delusion of complete futility.”
129. "The total absence of humor from the Bible is one of the most singular things in all literature."
130. “The tragedy of the world is that those who are imaginative have but slight experience, and those who are experienced have feeble imaginations. Fools act on imagination without knowledge; pedants act on knowledge without imagination. The task of a university is to weld together imagination and experience.”
131. “The universe is not a museum with its specimens in glass cases. Nor is the universe a perfectly drilled regiment with its ranks in step, marching forward with undisturbed poise.”
132. “The use of philosophy is to maintain an active novelty of fundamental ideas illuminating the social system. It reverses the slow descent of accepted thought towards the inactive commonplace.”
133. "The vitality of thought is in adventure. Ideas won't keep. Something must be done about them. When the idea is new, its custodians have fervor, live for it, and if need be, die for it."
134. “Things which are temporal arise by their participation in the things which are eternal.”
135. “This careful definition and limitation, so as to explain an infinity not immediately apparent to the senses, was very characteristic of the Greeks in all their many activities. It is enshrined in the difference between Greek architecture and Gothic architecture, and between Greek religion and modern religion. The spire on a Gothic cathedral and the importance of the unbounded straight line in modern geometry are both emblematic of the transformation of the modern world.”
136. “Through and through the world is infected with quantity. To talk sense is to talk in quantities. It is no use saying that a nation is large, - How large? It is no use saying that radium is scarce, - How scarce? You cannot evade quantity. You may fly to poetry and to music, and quantity and number will face you in your rhythms and your octaves. Elegant intellects which despise the theory of quantity, are but half developed. They are more to he pitied than blamed. The scraps of gibberish, which in their school days were taught to them in the name of algebra, deserve some contempt.”
137. “To know the truth partially is to distort the Universe. For example, the savage who can only count up to ten enormously exaggerates the importance of the small numbers, and so do we whose imaginations fail when we come to millions. It is an erroneous moral platitude, that it is necessarily good to know the truth. The minor truth may beget the major evil.”
138. “Too many apples from the tree of systematised knowledge lead to the fall of progress.”
139. “To see what is general in what is particular and what is permanent in what is transitory is the aim of scientific thought.”
140. “Traditional ideas are never static. They are either fading into meaningless formulae, or are gaining power by the new lights thrown by a more delicate apprehension. They are transformed by the urge of critical reason, by the vivid evidence of emotional experience, and by the cold certainties of scientific perception. One fact is certain, you cannot keep them still.”
141. “Under the influence of physical science, the task of history has more recently been limited to the narration of mere sequences. This ideal of knowledge is the triumph of matter-of-fact. Such suggestion of causation, as is admitted, is confined to the statements of physical materialities, such as the economic motive. Such history confines itself to abstract mythology. The variety of motives is excluded. You cannot write the history of religious development without estimate of the motive-power of religious belief. The history of the Papacy is not a mere sequence of behavior.”
142. “War can protect; it cannot create. Indeed, war adds to the brutality that frustrates creation. The protection of war should be the last resort in the slow progress of mankind towards its far-off ideals.”
143. “We are told by logicians that a proposition must be either true or false, and that there is no middle term. But in practice, we may know that a proposition expresses an important truth, but that it is subject to limitations and qualifications which at present remain undiscovered.”
144. “We are too exclusively bookish in our scholastic routine. The general training should aim at eliciting our concrete apprehensions, and should satisfy the itch of youth to be doing something ... In the Garden of Eden Adam saw the animals before he named them: in the traditional system, children named the animals before they saw them.”
145. “We live in a world of turmoil. Philosophy, and religion, as influenced by orthodox philosophic thought, dismiss turmoil. Such dismissal is the outcome of tired decadence. We should beware of philosophies which express the dominant emotions of periods of slow social decay. Our inheritance of philosophic thought is infected with the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, and with the decadence of eastern civilisations.”
146. “We must not expect simple answers to far-reaching questions. However far our gaze penetrates, there are always heights beyond which block our vision.”
147. ”We think in generalities, but we live in details.”
148. “Whatever be the detail with which you cram your student, the chance of his meeting in after life exactly that detail is almost infinitesimal; and if he does meet it, he will probably have forgotten what you taught him about it. The really useful training yields a comprehension of a few general principles with a thorough grounding in the way they apply to a variety of concrete details. In subsequent practice the men will have forgotten your particular details; but they will remember by an unconscious common sense how to apply principles to immediate circumstances. Your learning is useless to you till you have lost your textbooks, burnt your lecture notes, and forgotten the minutiae which you learned by heart for the examination. What, in the way of detail, you continually require will stick in your memory as obvious facts like the sun and the moon; and what you casually require can be looked up in any work of reference. The function of a University is to enable you to shed details in favor of principles. When I speak of principles I am hardly even thinking of verbal formulations. A principle which has thoroughly soaked into you is rather a mental habit than a formal statement. It becomes the way the mind reacts to the appropriate stimulus in the form of illustrative circumstances. Nobody goes about with his knowledge clearly and consciously before him. Mental cultivation is nothing else than the satisfactory way in which the mind will function when it is poked up into activity.”
149. “What I am essentially arguing against is the bifurcation of nature into two systems of reality, which, insofar as they are real, are real in different senses. One reality would be the entities such as electrons which are the study of speculative physics. This would be the reality which is there for knowledge; although on this theory it is never known. For what is known is the other sort of reality, which is the byplay of the mind. Thus there would be two natures, one is the conjecture and the other is the dream.”
150. “What is morality in any given time or place? It is what the majority then and there happen to like, and immorality is what they dislike.”
151. "Without adventure civilization is in full decay."
152. “Wisdom alone is true ambition's aim
Wisdom the source of virtue, and of fame,
Obtained with labor, for mankind employed,
And then, when most you share it, best enjoyed.”