BASIC PHILOSOPHY

A  COLLECTION  OF  FUNDAMENTAL  IDEAS &
A  GUIDE  FOR  THE  PHILOSOPHICALLY  PERPLEXED

Also

A  NEW  APPROACH  TO  LIBERAL EDUCATION 

 

A Word of Caution

 

Few statements are true in all respects or for all plausible interpretations. This is especially true of interesting or significant statements and arises from the vague and ambiguous nature of language. The only way we know of surmounting this problem is to look for proportion in a set of statements or ideas. To this end and to make discussion more interesting the following quotes and aphorisms have been grouped into sets of two, three or more. Successive items within each set have then been connected with an italicized word or phrase which suggests a relationship. If you would like to comment on this website please send me an email. Due to spam you must modify the following email address by adding the number “1” after the letters “bp”. The unmodified address is: bp@basicincome.com. To find recently added or revised material/links on this web page, search for “**”.

Copyright © MCMXCVII


Table of Contents

PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY

Intellectual Tools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

Happiness & Unhappiness. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

Love & Friendship. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19

Romance & The Opposite Sex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

Human Nature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42

Human Frailty. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60

Egotism & Self-Deception . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80

Feelings & Emotional Energy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .90

Education & Virtue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .106

Ideas, Thinking & Argument . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .126

Religion & Philosophy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138

Philosophical Questions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151

Politics, Government & Power . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166

Science, Technology & Capitalism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176

Work & Leisure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .188

Miscellaneous. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .199



COMMON SENSE PHILOSOPHY

LOGIC; Certainty. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .218

FAITH; Freedom. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250

COMMON SENSE; Limitation; Dogma . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 316

MYSTERY; Experience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 379

PARADOX; Subjectivism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 410

LANGUAGE; Analogy; Fundamentalism. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .458



ASPECTS OF PHILOSOPHY

What is Philosophy? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .513

Four World Views: Theism, Monism, Materialism, Buddhism . . . . . . . . . . 533

Mysticism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 556

Fifteen Unprovable Beliefs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .561

Six Arguments Against Subjectivism. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .576



THE SHORT VERSION: Because of the great length of this web page I’ve selected what I think are the most practical and illuminating quotes from the material below and called it, The Short Version. It is approximately one third the length of this page.



ABOUT ME: I am a married middle-aged male, a Canadian citizen, a retired bridge engineer, a social democrat—I think that capitalism, despite its waste and obvious injustice, is infinitely preferable to real socialism with its horror of private property and its crazy faith in the incorruptability of bureaucrats and state officials—and a theist. My intellectual heroes are G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, Christopher Dawson, and, with qualifications, Bertrand Russell.



AIMS: The first purpose of this website is to give enjoyment to anyone who loves words and ideas by offering an organized collection of aphorisms, quotes, and longer texts. The second is to advance the cause of liberal education through a new approach. The third is to promote the idea that “faith” is an intellectually valid category of belief—despite the innumerable superstitious, irrational, or arbitrary beliefs that are held on faith. Lastly, this website is linked to an earlier one that makes a case for the feasibility of providing economic security to all Canadians in the form of a Universal Basic Income. This idea is also known as a Basic Income, a Guaranteed Income, or a Guaranteed Annual Income.



FAITH: For intellectual purposes it seems to me that we need to accept the concept of “valid faith,” just as we accept the concept of “valid reasoning” (i.e. rational inferences from plausible premises). Without recognizing that every philosopher, at some level, is a man of faith, it is impossible to create a level playing field for competing world views. The principle of valid faith is also the guarantee of intellectual freedom, for faith is the free element in thought, the complement to logic which is the necessary element. Finally, only by accepting the notion that faith is necessary to philosophy can the theist and the atheist maintain their contrary positions without losing intellectual respect for one another.

Although the word “faith” is often identified with religious beliefs, for philosophical purposes I propose to define faith as belief which has the following three characteristics:

1)

A belief which is of supreme importance to us

2)

A belief to which we are deeply committed, i.e., which causes us to live our lives differently than we would without such a belief

3)

A belief which is not supported by evidence sufficient to command assent from every reasonable person

 

Here are some examples of non-scientific, non-religious beliefs that are held on faith in the above sense: The belief that there is a stable self that persists through time (rejected by much Eastern philosophy, especially Buddhism, and, apparently, Hume); The belief that human beings are sometimes morally responsible for their actions (rejected by Nietzsche and, in theory, many determinists); The belief that different races and classes have the right to equal treatment under the law (rejected, at least in practice, by most of the human race throughout history); The belief that, in the words of Richard Dawkins, ‘all life, all intelligence, all creativity and all “design” anywhere in the universe is the direct or indirect product of Darwinian natural selection’ (rejected by Christian and Islamic fundamentalists and, assuming a designer-free interpretation of Darwinian evolutionary theory, most other theists).

The inability of the human race, including many of its most brilliant and famous minds, to reach a consensus about these and other crucially important matters suggests to me that the Enlightenment should be amended and extended along the following lines.



WESTERN PHILOSOPHY: Have you ever wanted to read the classics of Western philosophy, but shuddered to think of how much time that would involve? Glyn Hughes has created a website called ‘Squashed Philosophers’ that is the answer to your (perhaps unconscious) prayer. His brilliant idea was to take the works of the great philosophers from Plato to Karl Popper and to condense them to a fraction of their original length—the Confessions of St. Augustine was reduced from 160,000 words to 10,119—while trying to retain their styles and famous maxims. Hughes also provides a short introduction to each philosopher and his work, a glossary, and sometimes a Very Squashed Version of only a few paragraphs. He even gives an estimate of the time required to read the squashed version, as well as its length as a percentage of the original work. I have made extensive use of this time-saving website and I cannot recommend it highly enough.



MODERN PHILOSOPHY: A readable overview of much of modern philosophy can be found in Bryan Magee’s 1997 book, Confessions of a Philosopher. What makes the book so thoroughly enjoyable is the fact that it is written from the point of view of a man who is passionately interested in philosophy for personal rather than professional or academic reasons. Magee wants philosophy to shed light on questions that have engrossed and tormented him from childhood, especially the problem of mortality. With such a motivation, it is not surprising that he has many harsh things to say about modern philosophy and philosophers. He reserves his sharpest criticism for the school in which he was immersed when he attented Oxford in the 1950s, the school known as linguistic philosophy (or linguistic analysis). Logical positivism, by then on the wane, also receives much critical attention. Kant, Schopenhauer, Russell and Popper come in for detailed and mostly favourable consideration. What I think is best about the book is his persuasive case for the bankruptcy of the analytic tradition, a tradition that in one form or another has dominated the English speaking world since Hume. But he has no love for Continental philosophy, most of which falls beneath his contempt. Magee is not a professional philosopher, but his life-long and practical interest in the great questions probably makes him better equiped than most academics to lead the layman through the maze of this endlessly controverted subject. In order to either whet your appetite for Magee’s book, or to save you the trouble of reading 500 plus pages, here are my copious excerpts from Confessions of a Philosopher.


 

________________________________________________________


[1]

THE PARADOX OF CAUSATION

An effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely.

George Orwell

A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks.

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

George Orwell

We act as we do because we are what we are: and what we are is the result very largely of the use we have made of our freedom to act as we will.

INTELLECTUAL TOOLS

[2]

THE PARADOX OF EXTREMES

When a thing is pushed to its extreme, it moves to its opposite.

Beyond a certain level of intensity, medicine engenders helplessness and disease.

Ivan Illich

Beware the fury of a patient man.

John Dryden

In every age of transition men are never so firmly bound to one way of life as when they are about to abandon it.

Bernard Levin

INTELLECTUAL TOOLS

[3]

LANGUAGE DEALS IN HALF-TRUTHS

There are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.

A. N. Whitehead

Every heresy is a truth taught out of proportion.

G. K. Chesterton

The ego or the self is a social construct.

There is no such thing as objectivity in anything involving human interpretation.

In personal and public life, in kitchen, bedroom and halls of parliament, men wage unremitting war against women.

Marilyn French

Love is what we call the situation which occurs when two people who are sexually compatible discover that they can also tolerate one another in various other circumstances.

Marc Maihueird

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Eleanor Roosevelt

There are no entirely false opinions. The listener, then, must proceed from what is valid in the opinions of the speaker to the fuller and purer truth as he, the listener, understands it.

Josef Pieper

INTELLECTUAL TOOLS

[4]

WORDS MERELY INDICATE

“To generalise is to be an idiot,” said Blake. Perhaps he went too far. But to generalise is to be a finite mind. Generalities are the lenses with which our intellects have to manage.

C. S. Lewis

There are many possibilities beyond ‘true’ and ‘not true.’ There’s half-true, a little bit true, true in some respects but not in others, etc., etc.

Few maxims are true in every respect.

Marquis de Vauvenargues

Any general statement is like a cheque drawn on a bank. Its value depends on what is there to meet it.

Ezra Pound

Every nation has the government it deserves.

Joseph de Maistre

The rich are the scum of the earth in every country.

G. K. Chesterton

When two cultures collide is the only time when true suffering exists.

Hermann Hesse

The fundamental fault of the female character is that it has no sense of justice.

Schopenhauer

INTELLECTUAL TOOLS

[5]

LANGUAGE IS A COMPROMISE

Language is by its very nature a communal thing; that is, it expresses never the exact thing but a compromise—that which is common to you, me, and everybody.

In the naming of things one must go with the crowd.

Aristotle

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means what I choose it to mean. Neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “who is to be master. That is all.”

Lewis Carroll

INTELLECTUAL TOOLS

[6]

LANGUAGE IS NOT A LOGICAL SYSTEM

In all pointed sentences some degree of accuracy must be sacrificed to conciseness.

Oscar Wilde

There is an accuracy that defeats itself by the overemphasis of details. I often say that one must permit oneself, and quite advisedly and deliberately, a certain margin of misstatement.

Benjamin N. Cardozo

Samuel Johnson defined ‘network’ in the following unhelpful way: anything reticulated or decussated at equal distances, with interstices between the intersections. Someone else offered this alternative: a bunch of holes held together with string.

HAPPINESS & UNHAPPINESS

[7]

HAPPINESS: A TALENT OR A GIFT?

Happiness is a how, not a what; a talent, not an object.

Hermann Hesse

Happiness is not smug, peaceful or contented. It doesn’t bring peace but a sword. It shakes you like rattling dice. It breaks your speech and darkens your sight. Happiness is stronger than oneself and sets its palpable foot upon one’s neck.

(from G. K. Chesterton’s letter to his fiancé)

Deep experience is never peaceful.

Henry James

Jim Corbett, the famous Anglo-Indian hunter and conservationist, said that when he shot his first leopard at about the age of fifteen he could have screamed, shouted, danced and sung all at once.

HAPPINESS & UNHAPPINESS

[8]

PERHAPS HAPPINESS IS A DUTY

Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.

Abraham Lincoln

Merely wanting to be happy is like merely wanting to be fit—totally ineffective unless you go into training.

There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Even if we can’t be happy, we must always be cheerful.

Cheerfulness is the principal ingredient in the composition of health.

HAPPINESS & UNHAPPINESS

[9]

THE SECRET OF HAPPINESS

The belief that youth is the happiest time of life is founded upon a fallacy. The happiest person is the person who thinks the most interesting thoughts, and we grow happier as we grow older.

William Lyon Phelps

We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.

Charles Kingsley

I have known some quite good people who were unhappy, but never an interested person who was unhappy.

A. C. Benson

If we could have just one thing, it would be energy.

John F. Kennedy

Recalling an incident shortly before her death, Wilfrid Sheed wrote as follows about his mother, Maisie Ward: One afternoon she raised her head sharply and said, “I still have enthusiasm.” Her eyes glittered with challenge for a moment. Then the head plopped back. “But what use is enthusiasm without energy?”

HAPPINESS & UNHAPPINESS

[10]

THE HIDDEN CONNECTION

BETWEEN LIMITATION & FREEDOM

The world is so full of a number of things,
I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.

Robert Louis Stevenson

The perplexity of life arises from there being too many interesting things in it for us to be interested properly in any of them.

G. K. Chesterton

The crowning blessing of life is to be born with a bias to some pursuit.

The last and greatest art is to limit and isolate oneself.

Goethe

Renunciation is the way to experience freedom. Self-imposed limits are the way to experience freedom.

Ivan Illich

The ambition narrows as the mind expands.

G. K. Chesterton

HAPPINESS & UNHAPPINESS

[11]

CHRONIC BOREDOM IS SOMETHING

TO BE AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS

Nothing is as fatiguing as boredom.

Fulton Sheen

Speaking of the public school at which he boarded C. S. Lewis wrote: I think that this feigning, this ceaseless pretence of interest in matters [school games] to me supremely boring, was what wore me out more than anything else... Never, except in the front line trenches (and not always there) do I remember such aching and continuous weariness as at Malvern.

When a thing bores you do not do it. Do not pursue a fruitless perfection.

Eugène Delacroix

A former female associate of a prestigious Manhattan law-firm said of her work, “At best it’s tedious, and at worst the tedium will kill you. It deadened my senses. I’d go out at lunch and find myself envying people who scooped ice cream for a living. At least they could daydream all day.”

The enlightened person is not easily bored. Nonetheless the enlightened person knows when he or she is being bored and knows for sure when she or he is not. No amount of spectacle or surface glamour should ever persuade you that you are not being bored when, in fact, you are.

Lister Sinclair

HAPPINESS & UNHAPPINESS

[12]

HOPE BLOOMS ETERNAL

Tomorrow is an old deceiver, and his cheat never grows stale.

Samuel Johnson

We all think that some day we’ll start living.

HAPPINESS & UNHAPPINESS

[13]

IS ALL HAPPINESS RELATIVE?

Happiness is relative. Just as the boiling point of water changes according to the atmospheric pressure, so the boiling point of happiness changes according to the pressure of external circumstances. In passing through bad circumstances to better ones, one feels the external pressure lightened, while the mind still retains the power of resistance appropriate to the former situation: and there arises the boiling point of happiness. But if the worse circumstances weren’t fresh in memory, the better ones might pass unnoticed.

Just think how happy you would be if you lost everything you own right now, and then got it back five minutes later.

Frances Rodman

No situation, however wretched it seems, but has some sort of comfort attending it.

Oliver Goldsmith

Life is seldom as unendurable as, to judge by the facts, it logically ought to be.

Brooks Atkinson

HAPPINESS & UNHAPPINESS

[14]

HOW INDIVIDUAL IS HAPPINESS?

What makes people happy is different and sometimes contradictory from one person to the next.

Happiness must be a form of contemplation.

Aristotle

Belief in a cause is a source of happiness to large numbers of people.

Bertrand Russell

Happiness lies in conquering one’s enemies, in driving them in front of oneself, in taking their property, in savouring their despair, in outraging their wives and daughters.

Genghis Khan

I can’t imagine anything better than growing big pumpkins. Once you get hooked, it’s like alcohol, you can’t let it go, you just can’t stop.

Howard Dill (Nova Scotian farmer)

Worldly happiness in the eyes of most people is the enjoyment of wealth, pleasure, power, prestige, and freedom from pain. Since we can appreciate this kind of happiness it awakens spontaneous desire, while supernatural happiness is beyond our experience and consequently leaves our imaginations unstirred.   **NEW LINK (Oct 15/14)

HAPPINESS & UNHAPPINESS

[15]

HOW LARGE A PART DOES

PLEASURE PLAY IN HAPPINESS?

To a happy soul, pleasures are no longer necessary; to a pleasure-seeking soul, happiness is not yet possible.

Unhappiness at the end of life is due to a failure to achieve a transcendental view of reality, a mystical or religious insight without which there can be no true happiness.

Hugh Kingsmill

Old age has the last word: the purely naturalistic look at life, however enthusiastically it may begin, is sure to end in sadness.

William James

HAPPINESS & UNHAPPINESS

[16]

HAPPINESS IS A DELICATE BALANCE

To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.

Bertrand Russell

Hope is itself a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords.

Samuel Johnson

Always leave something to wish for; otherwise you will be miserable from your very happiness.

Gracian

HAPPINESS & UNHAPPINESS

[17]

DOES WEALTH HELP OR HINDER HAPPINESS?

Money can’t buy happiness. But it can bring you the kind of misery you prefer.

Make money and the whole world will conspire to call you a gentleman.

Mark Twain

There is no scandal like rags, nor any crime so shameful as poverty.

George Farquhar

A poor person who is unhappy is in a better position than a rich person who is unhappy because the poor person has hope. He thinks money will help.

Jean Kerr

HAPPINESS & UNHAPPINESS

[18]

JUST HOW FAR DOES HAPPINESS

DEPEND ON EXTERNALS?

The world has treated me kindly. I have done those things I wanted to do. I have children, a home, interesting work, people who love me and whom I love, marketable abilities; yet I here record at the age of 33 that I have no wish to go on living, that I cannot conceive any circumstances in which living would be to me worth while.

Malcolm Muggeridge (Diaries)

Happiness depends, as Nature shows,
Less on exterior things than most suppose.

William Cowper

The happiest people seem to be those who have no particular reason for being happy except that they are so.

W. R. Inge

Happiness is a mystery like religion, and should never be rationalized.

G. K. Chesterton

LOVE & FRIENDSHIP

[19]

IS LOVE A FEELING OR AN ACT?

Love is a matter of feeling, not of will or volition. Hence there is no such thing as a duty to love.

Immanuel Kant

It is obviously impossible to love all men in any strict and true sense. What is meant by loving all men, is to feel well disposed towards all men, to be ready to assist them, and to act towards those who come in our way as if we loved them.

John Henry Newman

Genuine love is volitional rather than emotional.

M. Scott Peck

Love seeks to make happy rather than to be happy.

Ralph Connor

Love is an act of endless forgiveness.

Peter Ustinov

To love is to suffer; to be loved is to cause suffering.

Comtesse Diane

LOVE & FRIENDSHIP

[20]

IS FRIENDSHIP THE HIGHEST LOVE?

You can’t love what you don’t know.

We only know someone through friendship.

St. Augustine

The bond of companionship, both in marriage and friendship, is conversation.

Oscar Wilde

LOVE & FRIENDSHIP

[21]

TO LOVE IS TO LISTEN

Those who are unhappy have no need for anything in this world but people capable of giving them their attention.

Simone Weil

Attention is, in many ways, the heart of charity.

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that’s the essence of inhumanity.

George Bernard Shaw

The first duty of love is to listen.

Paul Tillich

LOVE & FRIENDSHIP

[22]

IS LOVE’S PATIENCE INEXHAUSTIBLE?

Men have to be reminded that things must be loved first and improved afterwards.

G. K. Chesterton

If you treat men the way they are you never improve them. If you treat them the way you want them to be, you do.

Goethe

Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.

St. Francis de Sales

LOVE & FRIENDSHIP

[23]

SHOULD FRIENDSHIP BE THE MAIN

COURSE IN LIFE’S BANQUET?

You almost don’t know you exist until someone else receives you. Our friends create us in lots of ways.

Life is to be fortified by many friendships. To love, and to be loved, is the greatest happiness of existence.

Sydney Smith

He that has no one to love or confide in, has little to hope. He wants the radical principle of happiness.

Samuel Johnson

LOVE & FRIENDSHIP

[24]

ARE THEY GENERALIZING TOO

BROADLY FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE?

Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.

Aristotle

Without friendship life is nothing.

Cicero

A true friend is the most precious of all possessions and the one we take least thought about acquiring.

La Rochefoucauld

LOVE & FRIENDSHIP

[25]

SOMETIMES TRYING TO BREAK DOWN

BARRIERS IS A MISTAKE

A different taste in jokes is a great strain on the affections.

George Eliot

There is a certain distance at which each person we know is naturally placed from us. It varies with each, and we must not attempt to alter it. We may clasp him who is close, and we are not to pull closer him who is more remote.

Mark Rutherford

LOVE & FRIENDSHIP

[26]

THE ACID TEST OF CHARITY

The test of good manners is to be patient with bad ones.

Certain good qualities are like the senses: people entirely lacking in them can neither perceive nor comprehend them.

de La Rochfoucauld

When a boor first enters the society of courteous people what can he do, for a while, except imitate the motions? How can he learn except by imitation?

C. S. Lewis

LOVE & FRIENDSHIP

[27]

DOES FRIENDSHIP HAVE THE

RIGHT TO EXCLUDE?

I have no duty to be anyone’s friend and no man in the world has a duty to be mine.

C. S. Lewis

In friendship ‘Do you love me?’ means ‘Do you see the same truth?’—or at least, ‘Do you care about the same truth?’ The person who agrees with us that some thing is of great interest or importance can be our friend.

People not qualified to enter a circle of friends must be excluded or the circle will be transformed into something else.

C. S. Lewis

In friendship no standard applies except the standards of friendship. That is why it is the most delightful of all human relationships.

Malcolm Muggeridge

LOVE & FRIENDSHIP

[28]

FRIENDSHIP IS LIKE EROS

IN SOME RESPECTS

Friendship must be willed. But more than this is necessary. A few years ago I worked on the same project with a man close to me in age and cultural interests. I had high respect for both his intelligence and his emotional qualities. We also found ourselves in perfect accord on ideological and spiritual matters. I have rarely so intensely desired to become anyone’s friend; I confided my desire to him and from all evidence he had an identical desire. We made meritorious efforts to meet one another, endeavoured to achieve as intimate a dialogue as possible and acted in all things like friends. It was all in vain; the emotional spark was not forthcoming. We had to resign ourselves to being good companions, friends in the broad sense of the term. We got along marvellously on the intellectual plane, but our emotional accord left something to be desired.

Ignace Lepp

Friendship, like eros and affection, has its source in emotional energy.

LOVE & FRIENDSHIP

[29]

UNDERSTANDING ANOTHER PERSON

IS NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS

Each man and woman dwells in a different environment—so different that I believe that not two people have so much as half in common. Men know each other’s inner world so slightly that they neglect this difference and it is only when two people have a relationship of utter love and trust that their inner lives begin to become perceptible to each other and are revealed as mutually most strange.

Sherwood Taylor

It is a luxury to be understood.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

LOVE & FRIENDSHIP

[30]

IS FRIENDSHIP A VIRTUE?

Aristotle placed friendship among the virtues.

To love involves trusting the beloved beyond the evidence. No person is our friend who believes in our good intentions only when they are proved.

C. S. Lewis

The perfect friend to my mind is one who believes in you from the start and never requires explanations and assurances.

Dame Laurentia McLachlan

Love demands infinitely less than friendship.

LOVE & FRIENDSHIP

[31]

GETTING TO KNOW ANOTHER PERSON

ISN’T JUST A MATTER OF TIME

It takes a long time for two people to get to know each other.

George Bernard Shaw (speaking of his wife)

Sometimes you have to get to know someone really well to realize you’re really strangers.

Mary Tyler Moore

It’s a seldom realised truth that those we know longest we often know least, and that a person will frequently understand a casual acquaintance better than the wife or friend whom his affection, vanity, or self-interest show not as they are but as he wishes them to be.

Hugh Kingsmill

You never really know a man until you have divorced him.

Zsa Zsa Gabor

ROMANTIC LOVE & THE OPPOSITE SEX

[32]

A GENDER DIFFERENCE THAT

IS WORTH REMEMBERING

You see an awful lot of smart guys with dumb women, but you hardly ever see a smart woman with a dumb guy.

Erica Jong

Men love with their eyes, but women love with their ears.

Women woo men with dress and appearance while men woo women with words.

ROMANTIC LOVE & THE OPPOSITE SEX

[33]

IS COMPETITION BETWEEN THE SEXES

A THING TO BE AVOIDED?

The more men and women are rivals the less they are lovers.

Winning an argument with the opposite sex is like winning a nuclear war. After it’s over life isn’t worth living.

The more the sexes are in violent contrast the less likely they are to be in violent collision. The more incompatible their tempers are the better.

G. K. Chesterton

ROMANTIC LOVE & THE OPPOSITE SEX

[34]

DOES EROS (THE STATE OF BEING IN

LOVE) HAVE ANY MORAL AUTHORITY?

The event of falling in love is of such a nature that we are right to reject as intolerable the idea that it should be transitory. In one high bound it has overleaped the massive wall of our selfhood; it has made appetite itself altruistic, tossed personal happiness aside as a triviality and planted the interests of another in the centre of our being. Spontaneously and without effort we have fulfilled the law (towards one person) by loving our neighbour as ourselves. Simply to relapse from it, merely to “fall out of” love again is—if I may coin the ugly word—a sort of disredemption.

C. S. Lewis

Eros may unite the most unsuitable partners; many unhappy, and predictably unhappy, marriages were love-matches.

C. S. Lewis

We must not give unconditional obedience to the voice of Eros even when he speaks like a god. But neither must we ignore or attempt to deny the god-like quality.

C. S. Lewis

ROMANTIC LOVE & THE OPPOSITE SEX

[35]

CAN TRUE LOVE BE DISTINGUISHED
FROM SEXUAL INFATUATION?

When you’re in love your instinct is to contemplate the beloved. When you’re in lust your instinct is to contemplate your enjoyment.

Without Eros sexual desire, like every other desire, is a fact about ourselves. Within Eros it is rather about the Beloved. It feels objective; something outside us, in the real world.

C. S. Lewis

In time the Rockies may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble,
They’re only made of clay,
But our love is here to stay.

Ira Gershwin

If you wake up in the night, and as your eyes become used to the dark you begin to make out your favourite features creased with the kind of concentration babies devote to sleep, and you catch yourself smiling at the sight with unaccustomed warmth, you can be pretty sure you are looking at the woman you love. It gives me an enormous pleasure to watch her when she does not know she is being watched, when she is publicly engaged, or privately thoughtful, buried in a book, before the make-up mirror, or just asleep.

Peter Ustinov

ROMANTIC LOVE & THE OPPOSITE SEX

[36]

DOES SEXUAL ATTRACTION OPERATE

ASYMMETRICALLY BETWEEN THE SEXES?

The man’s desire is for the woman; but the woman’s desire is rarely other than for the desire of the man.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Healthy sexual attraction between a man and a woman usually takes the following form: the man must desire the woman and the woman must know she is desired by the man.

Not everyone can find a partner who is personally as well as erotically compatible. Quite often the ‘perfect’ sexual partners remain isolated in their solitude.

ROMANTIC LOVE & THE OPPOSITE SEX

[37]

IN MARRIAGE ALWAYS ASSUME THAT

WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET

There is no greater folly than to seek to correct the natural infirmities of those we love.

Henry Fielding

A man who marries a woman to educate her falls into the same fallacy as the woman who marries a man to reform him.

People should marry selfishly so that they can act unselfishly after they marry.

ROMANTIC LOVE & THE OPPOSITE SEX

[38]

HOW TO MARRY HAPPILY

When one feels oneself smitten by love for a woman, one should say to oneself, ‘Who are the people around her, What kind of life has she led?’ All one’s future happiness lies in the answer.

It is in childhood that people pick up the attitudes and opinions which determine conduct in later life.

The young man who wants to marry happily should pick out a good mother and marry one of her daughters—any one will do.

As a general thing, people marry most happily with their own kind. The trouble lies in the fact that people usually marry at an age when they do not really know what their own kind is.

Robertson Davies

I am not at all the sort of person you and I took me for.

Jane Carlyle

ROMANTIC LOVE & THE OPPOSITE SEX

[39]

ARE WOMEN REALLY LESS

SELFISH THAN MEN?

By unselfishness a woman means taking trouble for others. But a man means not giving trouble to others.

C. S. Lewis

A woman is capable of more sacrifices than a man.

If men were as unselfish and devotive as women, then women would very soon become more selfish than men.

The temperaments of men and women are typically different, and for that very reason are complementary, but at the price of what efforts of mutual understanding.

I have known many happy marriages, but never a compatible one. The whole aim of marriage is to fight through and survive the instant when incompatibility becomes unquestionable. For a man and a woman, as such, are incompatible.

G. K. Chesterton

ROMANTIC LOVE & THE OPPOSITE SEX

[40]

CAN MEN BE EDUCATED TO ACCEPT

LEADERSHIP FROM WOMEN?

When a woman behaves like a man why doesn’t she behave like a nice man.

Dame Edith Evans

Women will often look to men for leadership and initiative. The reverse is much less true.

The most intolerable thing is the dominant female. For a man to be under female subjection is a terrible and awful fate.

C. S. Lewis

How gently glides the marriage life away
When she who rules still seems but to obey.

Publius Syrus

ROMANTIC LOVE & THE OPPOSITE SEX

[41]

WHAT EXACTLY DOES SHE MEAN?

The only thing that sanctifies sex is desire.

Germaine Greer Interview

The journey from erotomania to erotophobia is shorter than many people think.

HUMAN NATURE

[42]

THE BRUTALITY OF REASON

People don’t ask for facts in making up their minds. They would rather have one good, soul-satisfying emotion than a dozen facts.

Man is not a rational animal, but an animal capable of reason.

Nothing hath an uglier look to us than reason, when it is not on our side.

Marquess of Halifax

Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however mild and polite, are necessarily men of violence.

G. K. Chesterton

HUMAN NATURE

[43]

A HOMELY BUT IMPORTANT PRINCIPLE

Most emotion originates on the level of sense experience.

We can face things which we know to be dangerous if they don’t look or sound too dangerous; our real trouble is often with things we know to be safe but which look dreadful.

C. S. Lewis

Appearances beat the facts nine times out of ten.

There are some people who state that the exterior, sex, or physique of another person is a matter of indifference to them, that they care only for the communion of mind with mind; but these people need not detain us. There are some statements that no one ever thinks of believing, however often they are made.

G. K. Chesterton

I have heard with admiring submission the experience of the lady who declared that the sense of being well-dressed gives a feeling of inward tranquillity which religion is powerless to bestow.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is almost impossible to remember how tragic a place the world is when one is playing golf.

HUMAN NATURE

[44]

MAN’S ANIMAL SIDE

If man attempts to suppress the animal side of his nature by a sheer effort of conscious will, nature finds a hundred unexpected and unpleasant ways to take its revenge.

Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.

Oscar Wilde

HUMAN NATURE

[45]

WHAT KIND OF DIFFICULTIES

DO WE NEED FOR HEALTH?

Man needs difficulties; they are necessary for health.

Carl Jung

Man’s happiness springs mainly from moderate troubles, which afford the mind a healthy stimulus, and are followed by a reaction which produces a cheerful flow of spirits.

What on earth would a man do with himself, if something did not stand in his way.

H. G. Wells

It would not be better if things happened to men just as they wish.

Heraclitus

HUMAN NATURE

[46]

HUMAN NATURE

Human beings are creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.

Dale Carnegie

If you can engage people’s pride, love, pity, ambition (or whatever is their prevailing passion), on your side, you need not fear what their reason can do against you.

Lord Chesterfield

HUMAN NATURE

[47]

HUMAN NATURE

The strongest human instinct is to impart information, the second strongest is to resist it.

Most people do not care to be taught what they do not already know; it makes them feel ignorant.

Mary McCarthy

HUMAN NATURE

[48]

SECURITY & HUMILITY

It is always the secure who are humble.

G. K. Chesterton

An attitude of superiority often conceals a feeling of inferiority.

Exaggerated sensitiveness is an expression of the feeling of inferiority.

Alfred Adler

HUMAN NATURE

[49]

PATIENCE ISN’T ALWAYS A VIRTUE

Endurance is frequently a form of indecision.

It would seem as if a living creature had to be taught, like an art of culture, the art of protesting when it is hurt. It would seem as if patience were the natural thing; it would seem as if impatience were an accomplishment like bridge.

One can reach a point of humiliation where violence is the only outlet.

Arthur Koestler

HUMAN NATURE

[50]

CONFIDENCE OFTEN VARIES

INVERSELY WITH PASSION

The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way.

Bertrand Russell

Every man who attacks my belief diminishes in some degree my confidence in it, and therefore makes me uneasy, and I am angry with him who makes me uneasy.

Samuel Johnson

When people are least sure they are often most dogmatic.

John Kenneth Galbraith

There is a holy, mistaken zeal in politics, as well as religion. By persuading others we convince ourselves.

HUMAN NATURE

[51]

HUMAN NATURE

Two starving men cannot be twice as hungry as one; but two rascals can be ten times as vicious as one.

George Bernard Shaw

The wickedness of others becomes our own wickedness because it kindles something evil in our own hearts.

Carl Jung

Men in association are capable of wickedness from which each individually would shrink.

Evelyn Waugh

HUMAN NATURE

[52]

HUMAN NATURE

How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty coming from the drivers of slaves?

Samuel Johnson

Among those who dislike oppression are many who like to oppress.

Napoleon

HUMAN NATURE

[53]

WHO HAS MORE RIGHT ON HIS SIDE?

The matter with mankind is not incorrigible natural depravity but just ignorance—flat earth ignorance.

George Bernard Shaw

People without human passions, loyalties and appetites could undoubtedly handle the world’s problems with laughable ease: a restatement of the view held by Aristotle (and your grandfather) that human nature is our chief problem.

Wilfrid Sheed

HUMAN NATURE

[54]

HUMAN NATURE

Sometimes we think we dislike flattery, but it is only the way it is done that we dislike.

de La Rochefoucauld

I can live for two months on a good compliment.

Mark Twain

The deepest principle of Human Nature is the craving to be appreciated.

William James

We often forgive those who bore us, but we cannot forgive those who find us boring.

de La Rochefoucauld

Now, Sir, there are people whom one should very well like to drop, but would not wish to be dropped by.

Samuel Johnson

HUMAN NATURE

[55]

HUMAN NATURE

The great consolation in life is to say what one thinks.

Voltaire

Self-expression is the dominant necessity of human nature.

Dale Carnegie

I’m exhausted from not talking.

Sam Goldwyn

HUMAN NATURE

[56]

MAN IS A CREATURE OF HABIT

Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is powerless against the animal organism.

C. S. Lewis

Habit is stronger than reason.

George Santayana

New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.

John Locke

It is easier to believe a lie one has heard a hundred times before than to believe a truth one is hearing for the first time.

HUMAN NATURE

[57]

HUMAN NATURE

Many a man would rather you heard his story than granted his request.

Lord Chesterfield

There is nothing sweeter than to be sympathized with.

George Santayana

HUMAN NATURE

[58]

HUMAN NATURE

Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice.

H. L. Mencken

It’s hard to forgive someone you’ve wronged.

It is a sin peculiar to man to hate his victim.

Tacitus

HUMAN NATURE

[59]

THE PARADOX OF HUMAN NATURE

AND INDIVIDUALITY

How many natures lie in human nature!

Pascal

In each of us there is a little of all of us.

Lichtenberg

HUMAN FRAILTY

[60]

HUMAN FRAILTY: IMAGINATIVE

What a man knows at fifty which he didn’t know at twenty is, for the most part, incommunicable.

Adlai Stevenson

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced—even a proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it.

John Keats

For nothing can seem foul to those that win.

King Henry IV (King Henry)

We are all strong enough to bear the misfortunes of others.

de la Rochfoucauld

One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.

Jane Austen

A man must have grown old and lived long in order to see how short life is.

Arthur Schopenhauer

Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences.

Edward R. Murrow

HUMAN FRAILTY

[61]

DO LIKES AND DISLIKES WEIGH MORE

WITH US THAN REASON OR CONSCIENCE?

We resent offenses against our taste at least as much as offenses against our conscience or reason. If we are not careful, criticism may become a mere excuse for taking revenge on things we dislike by erecting our temperamental antipathies into pseudo-moral judgements.

C. S. Lewis

Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people we personally dislike.

Oscar Wilde

Men are disliked not for what they do, but for what they are.

Hugh Kingsmill

I was glad when I found Celia (his wife) was unfaithful. I felt it was all right for me to dislike her.   **NEW LINK (Nov 21/14)

Charles Ryder to his soon-to-be lover (from Brideshead Revisited)

HUMAN FRAILTY

[62]

ARE MOST PEOPLE BASICALLY DECENT?

Why is propaganda so much more successful when it stirs up hatred than when it tries to stir up friendly feeling?

Bertrand Russell

People respond to hate, not love. They don’t teach you that in Sunday School, but it’s true.

Richard Nixon

There is not a more mean, stupid, dastardly, pitiless, selfish, spiteful, envious, ungrateful animal than the public.

William Hazlitt

Do not overestimate the decency of the human race.

H. L. Mencken

HUMAN FRAILTY

[63]

BIGOTRY IS A FAILURE OF

THE IMAGINATION

Bigotry is an incapacity to conceive seriously the alternative to a proposition. It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.

G. K. Chesterton

The simple realization that there are other points of view is the beginning of wisdom. Knowing what they are is a big step. The final achievement is understanding why they are held.

It takes effort to imagine how other people see the world and many people are not prepared to make that effort.

HUMAN FRAILTY

[64]

IS THERE A CURE FOR SIMPLE

MORAL JUDGEMENT?

In a televised interview Rev. Donald Spitz, an evangelical Christian, commented on the murder of a receptionist and another person at an abortion clinic as follows: “Why is the life of a receptionist worth more than the lives of fifty innocent human babies. They were guilty. They had blood on their hands. I’ll be honest. If they died without accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour in that split second before they died they are in hell now, and they’ll remain there for eternity.”

Self-righteousness is the inevitable fruit of simple moral judgments.

Reinhold Niebuhr

In August of 1980 a dynamic, young preacher, James Robison, spoke to an assembly of Evangelical Christian leaders in Dallas, Texas. The meeting had been organized for the political benefit of presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, who was in attendance. Robison wrapped up his homily as follows: “If the righteous, the pro-family, the moral, the biblical, the godly, the hard-working and the decent individuals in this country stay out of politics, who on this earth does that leave to make the policies under which you and I live and struggle to survive. I’m sick and tired of hearing about all of the radicals, and the perverts, and the liberals, and the leftists, and the Communists coming out of the closets. It’s time for God’s people to come out of the closet and the churches and change America. We must do it!” (Applause)

HUMAN FRAILTY

[65]

HUMAN FRAILTY: MORAL

Few men are sufficiently discerning to appreciate all the evil they do.

de La Rochefoucauld

Generally speaking those who carry most guilt will acknowledge least.

I came to carry out the struggle, not to kill people. Even now, and you can look at me: Am I a savage person? My conscience is clear.

Pol Pot (Interview Oct 1997)

It sometimes happens that he who would not hurt a fly will hurt a nation.

HUMAN FRAILTY

[66]

HUMAN FRAILTY: BELIEVING

WHAT SUITS US

I dislike arguments of any kind. They are always vulgar, and often convincing.

Oscar Wilde

Many people like their beliefs, opinions and prejudices more than they like reason.

There is a certain amount of trauma involved in changing any long-held belief.

Never try to reason the prejudice out of a man. It was not reasoned into him, and cannot be reasoned out.

Sydney Smith

HUMAN FRAILTY

[67]

HUMAN FRAILTY: EGOCENTRICITY

A man has his beliefs: his arguments are only his excuses for them...we only see what we look at: our attention to our temperamental convictions produces complete oversight as to all the facts that tell against us.

George Bernard Shaw

People only see what they are prepared to see.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

What ardently we wish, we soon believe.

Edward Young

People believe lies, not because they are plausibly presented, but because they want to believe them. So, their credulity is unshakeable.

Malcolm Muggeridge

It’s not a controversial proposition that people tend to believe what they want, and that the strength of their conviction is usually proportional to their self-interest.

HUMAN FRAILTY

[68]

HUMAN FRAILTY: IMAGINATIVE

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
As, to be hated, needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.

Alexander Pope

Men do not differ much about what things they will call evil; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.

G. K. Chesterton

Of all follies there is none greater than wanting to put the world to rights.

Moliere

This is going full circle and it’s going to be like Shanghai again. There’s brothels now, there’s Madams now, there’s child prostitution, there’s all the evils that we felt in the early days we could wipe out. That I find very disappointing and very sad and I think well, ‘Why did I bloody come here in the first place for if this is what we’ve come to...we feel very bitter.’

old China hand

The troubles of our proud and angry dust
Are from eternity, and shall not fail.

A. E. Housman

HUMAN FRAILTY

[69]

HUMAN FRAILTY: IMAGINATIVE

Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.

Aldous Huxley

Generally speaking, human beings are extremely tolerant of nonsense.

There are people into whose heads it never enters to conceive of any better state of society than that which now exists.

Henry George

HUMAN FRAILTY

[70]

HUMAN FRAILTY: EMOTIONAL

Some people have great intellectual gifts, but are emotionally deprived, just as the opposite may be the case.

His [G. Bernard Shaw’s] own mind was astonishingly fast, but emotionally he was lame. The result was that women found themselves continually out of step with him.

Michael Holroyd (biographer)

Reason is an emotion for the sexless.

There are some people who feel with their head, so to speak, instead of with their heart.

HUMAN FRAILTY

[71]

HUMAN FRAILTY: MORAL

Most people fancy themselves innocent of those crimes of which they cannot be convicted.

Seneca

Crime expands according to our willingness to put up with it.

HUMAN FRAILTY

[72]

HUMAN FRAILTY: MORAL

The brightest and the best are often out-manoeuvred by the trickiest and the most unscrupulous.

Want of principle is power. Truth and honesty set a limit to our efforts, which impudence and hypocrisy easily overleap.

William Hazlitt

It’s going to be fun to watch and see how long the meek can keep the earth after they inherit it.

HUMAN FRAILTY

[73]

HUMAN FRAILTY: EMOTIONAL

We are full of odd hates and dislikes.

C. S. Lewis

Most people are more conscious of their dislikes than of their sympathies. The latter are weak while hatreds are strong.

Ernest Dimnet

Men hate more steadily than they love.

Samuel Johnson

HUMAN FRAILTY

[74]

DO LONG-HELD PRIVILEGES TAKE ON

THE APPEARANCE OF RIGHTS?

What men value in this world is not rights, but privileges.

H. L. Mencken

People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.

John Kenneth Galbraith

What makes equality such a difficult business is that we only want it with our superiors.

HUMAN FRAILTY

[75]

PEOPLE NEED TO BE PRETTY MISERABLE

BEFORE THEY WILL OPPOSE POWER

It is much easier to do and die than it is to reason why.

Despite a flattering supposition to the contrary, people come readily to terms with power.

John Kenneth Galbraith

Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

Fredrick Douglass

Slavery of the acquiescent majority to the ruthless few is the hereditary state of mankind; freedom, a rarely-acquired characteristic.

HUMAN FRAILTY

[76]

HUMAN FRAILTY: INTELLECTUAL

Very few people listen to argument.

G. K. Chesterton

Time makes more converts than reason.

Tom Paine

HUMAN FRAILTY

[77]

HUMAN FRAILTY: INTELLECTUAL

Our minds are lazier than our bodies.

La Rochefoucauld

The number of those who undergo the fatigue of judging for themselves is very small indeed.

Richard Brinsley Sheridan

There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labour of thinking.

Sir Joshua Reynolds

HUMAN FRAILTY

[78]

HUMAN FRAILTY: NAIVETE

Men will always be mad and those who think they can cure them are the maddest of all.

Voltaire

It is folly to expect people to do all that you would reasonably expect them to do.

Reformers have the idea that change can be achieved by brute sanity.

George Bernard Shaw

HUMAN FRAILTY

[79]

THE PARADOX OF THE SELF-EVIDENT

There are no new truths, but only truths that have not been recognized by those who have perceived them without noticing.

Mary McCarthy

People often perceive things without apprehending them.

The most obvious facts are the most easily forgotten.

R. H. Tawney

Men more frequently require to be reminded than informed.

Samuel Johnson

The vindication of the obvious is sometimes more important than the elucidation of the obscure.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

EGOTISM & SELF-DECEPTION

[80]

HUMAN FRAILTY: SELF-DECEPTION

The masses have never thirsted after truth. They turn aside from evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error, if error seduces them. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.

Gustave Le Bon

Propaganda cannot succeed without the complicity of those at whom it is aimed.

You can deceive yourself without your experience trying to deceive you. The universe rings true whenever you fairly test it.

C. S. Lewis

When my love swears that she is made of truth, I do believe her, though I know she lies.

Shakespeare (Sonnet 138)

Maturity is when you’re no longer taken in by yourself.

EGOTISM & SELF-DECEPTION

[81]

HUMAN FRAILTY: SELF-DECEPTION

Everyone is guilty of enjoying the comfort of opinion without submitting himself to the discomfort of thought.

If we could add up all the minutes we have dedicated to a critical examination of one of our most deeply held beliefs, we would probably be shocked at the ridiculously small sum.

One likes to believe that one’s views on all subjects are the product of calm, dispassionate reasoning on the available evidence.

What probably distorts everything in life is that one is convinced that one is speaking the truth because one says what one thinks.

EGOTISM & SELF-DECEPTION

[82]

HUMAN FRAILTY: SELF-DECEPTION

It is in the ability to deceive oneself that one shows the greatest talent.

Anatole France

We always deceive ourselves twice about the people we love—first to their advantage, then to their disadvantage.

Albert Camus

EGOTISM & SELF-DECEPTION

[83]

HUMAN FRAILTY: EGOISM

Sometimes the surest way to upset people is to tell them the truth.

Margaret Wente

What’s important for some people is not the truth of things, but their being right.

The chief use to which we put our love of truth is in persuading ourselves that what we love is true.

Perceiving truth doesn’t have that much to do with intelligence.

[George Bernard] Shaw got everything wrong—Shakespeare, Caesar, the Soviet Union, Mussolini, St. Paul. He had a sparkling intelligence but a low understanding; this enabled him to be very funny, but whenever he was serious he was absurd. In any event, he was too encased in his own narcissism, too remote from real life ever to do more than grimace at it through a long-distance telescope.

Malcolm Muggeridge

EGOTISM & SELF-DECEPTION

[84]

WHY ISN’T TRUTH LOVED MORE?

Everyone wants to have the truth on their side, but not everyone wants to be on the side of truth.

A fondness for intellectual inquiry is not at all the same thing as a hunger for the truth.

As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand.   NEW LINK (May 19/14)

Josh Billings

EGOTISM & SELF-DECEPTION

[85]

HUMAN FRAILTY: SELF-DECEPTION

The world always makes the assumption that the exposure of an error is identical with the discovery of the truth—that error and truth are simply opposite. They are nothing of the sort. What the world turns to, when it has been cured of one error, is usually simply another error, and maybe one worse than the first one.

H. L. Mencken

History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.

Abba Eban

Necessity does the work of courage.

George Eliot

EGOTISM & SELF-DECEPTION

[86]

USUALLY IT TAKES A CRISIS TO

BRING US TO OUR SENSES

Fortunate people seldom mend their ways, for when good luck crowns their misdeeds with success they think it is because they are right.

La Rochefoucauld

Human beings cling to their delicious tyrannies and to their exquisite nonsense, till death stares them in the face.

Sydney Smith

Most people don’t see the light without feeling a bit of heat first.

We are dismayed when we find that even disaster cannot cure us of our faults.

EGOTISM & SELF-DECEPTION

[87]

ARE SUBJECTIVISM AND EGOISM

ESSENTIALLY THE SAME SIN?

When you’re an egoist all the harm you do is unintentional.

Other nations use ‘force’; we Britons alone use ‘Might’.

Evelyn Waugh

We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.

Ana‹s Nin

All violent feelings produce in us a falseness in all our impressions of external things.

John Ruskin

The truth is generally seen, rarely heard.

Gracian

Objectivity means that we can separate facts from our thoughts and feelings about those facts.

When a subject is highly controversial one cannot hope to tell the truth. One can only show how one came to hold whatever opinion one does hold. One can only give one’s audience the chance of drawing their own conclusions as they observe the limitations, the prejudices, the idiosyncrasies of the speaker.

Virginia Woolf

EGOTISM & SELF-DECEPTION

[88]

WHEN IT COMES TO SELF-DECEPTION

INTELLECTUALS ARE THE WORST

Language is the main instrument of man’s refusal to accept the world as it is.

George Steiner

If there is one class of men whom history has proved especially and supremely capable of going quite wrong in all directions, it is the class of highly intellectual men.

G. K. Chesterton

Putty is exactly like human nature...you can twist it and pat it and model it into any shape you like; and when you have shaped it, it will set so hard that you would suppose that it could never take any other shape on earth...the Soviet Government has shaped the Russian putty very carefully...and it has set hard and produced quite a different sort of animal.

George Bernard Shaw

My work with couples has led me to the stark conclusion that open marriage is the only kind of mature marriage that is healthy and not seriously destructive to the spiritual health and growth of the individual partners.

M. Scott Peck

In secular society politics does what metaphysics once did. It brings unity and meaning to human life and thought.

Harvey Cox

One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that—no ordinary man could be such a fool.

George Orwell

To be very stupid you have to be pretty bright. Normal stupidity only requires normal intelligence.

Fr. Benedict Groeschel

EGOTISM & SELF-DECEPTION

[89]

IS INJUSTICE THE BIGGEST BLIND

SPOT IN HUMAN NATURE?

How fond men are of justice when it comes to judging the crimes of former generations.

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend upon the support of Paul.

George Bernard Shaw

The love of justice is, in most men, nothing more than the fear of suffering injustice.

de La Rochefoucauld

The only true way to make the mass of mankind see the beauty of justice is by showing to them in pretty plain terms the consequences of injustice.

Sydney Smith

FEELINGS & EMOTIONAL ENERGY

[90]

FEELINGS ARE THE PRODUCTS AS WELL

AS THE CAUSES OF ACTIONS

‘To wrestle with a bad feeling only pins our attention on it, and keeps it still fastened in the mind; whereas if we act as if from some better feeling, the old bad feeling soon folds its tent and silently steals away.’ Thus William James claimed that negative states of consciousness are more effectively dissipated by strategic behaviour than by introspective scrutiny.

Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not.

Dale Carnegie

Praising what is lost
Makes the remembrance dear.

All’s Well That Ends Well (King)

FEELINGS & EMOTIONAL ENERGY

[91]

IS IT POSSIBLE TO ROOT OUT

UNCONSCIOUS BELIEFS?

Let your conscious beliefs be so vivid and emphatic that they make an impression upon your unconscious strong enough to cope with the impressions made by the formative experiences of your early childhood.

Bertrand Russell

Unconscious beliefs about oneself often grow out of childhood experiences and a negative view of oneself is at the heart of depression.

You’ve no idea what a poor opinion I have of myself—and how little I deserve it.

W. S. Gilbert

We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us.

George Eliot

We speak of independence of thought, but the real challenge is independence of feeling.

FEELINGS & EMOTIONAL ENERGY

[92]

DEVOTE YOUR TIME TO THE THINGS

YOU REALLY CARE ABOUT

The most exhausting thing in life is being insincere. That is why so much social life is exhausting.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Only when a person is paying attention to something he really cares about can he concentrate and find true satisfaction.

People who bore one another should meet seldom, people who interest one another, often.

C. S. Lewis

FEELINGS & EMOTIONAL ENERGY

[93]

EMOTIONAL ENERGY IS ONE OF THE

MOST SOLID FACTS OF LIFE

Emotional energy can no more be defined than pain or pleasure, but it is every bit as real.

Our emotional energy is meant to flow in a certain direction and if we impede that flow or try to redirect it unhappiness and dissatisfaction are sure to follow.

Speaking of the family parties of his boyhood, C. S. Lewis wrote, ‘My party manner, a deliberate concealment of all that I really thought and felt under a sort of feeble jocularity and enthusiasm, was assumed as consciously as an actor assumes his role, sustained with unspeakable weariness, and dropped with a groan of relief the moment my brother and I at last tumbled into our cab for the drive home.

Allow children to be happy in their own way, for what better way will they ever find?

Samuel Johnson

FEELINGS & EMOTIONAL ENERGY

[94]

GO WHERE YOU FEEL YOU BELONG

Owing to differences of outlook a person of given tastes and convictions may find himself practically an outcast while he lives in one set, although in another set he would be accepted as an entirely ordinary human being. A very great deal of unhappiness, especially among the young, arises in this way.

Bertrand Russell

The essence of living reasonably is to be where you feel you belong. All forms of social malaise and discontent derive from ignoring this most important of all principles.

Malcolm Muggeridge

There is something very wonderful about this country [The United States], but not for me. In no country that I’ve been in have I felt so completely an outsider as here.

Malcolm Muggeridge

Almost immediately after starting Exeter [an exclusive New England prep school] I became miserably unhappy. The reasons for my unhappiness were totally obscure to me then and are still quite profoundly mysterious to me today. I just did not seem to fit. I didn’t seem to fit with the faculty, the students, the courses, the architecture, the social life, the total environment. Yet there seemed nothing to do other than to try to make the best of it and try to mould my imperfections so that I could fit more comfortably into this pattern that had been laid out for me and that was so obviously the right pattern. And try I did for two and a half years. Yet daily my life appeared more meaningless and I felt more wretched. The last year I did little but sleep, for only in sleep could I find any comfort.

M. Scott Peck

FEELINGS & EMOTIONAL ENERGY

[95]

INSTINCTIVE DISLIKES

We often irritate others when we think we could not possibly do so.

de La Rochefoucauld

After appetite human beings seem to be driven by aversion as much as by anything.

At the heart of our friendly or purely social relations, there lurks a hostility momentarily cured but recurring in fits and starts.

Marcel Proust

I was taught when I was young that if people would only love one another, all would be well with the world. This seemed simple and very nice; but I found when I tried to put it in practice not only that other people were seldom lovable, but that I was not very lovable myself... The oddest thing is that you will find yourself making friends with people whose opinions are the very opposite to your own, while you can’t bear the sight of others who share all your beliefs. You may love your dog and find your nearest relatives detestable. So don’t waste your time arguing whether you ought to love all your neighbours. You can’t help yourself; and neither can they.

George Bernard Shaw

Feelings of antipathy are instinctive and have to be recognized as such. Since we can’t pretend we feel differently than we really do we simply have to accept our instinctive dislikes as an unavoidable trial.

FEELINGS & EMOTIONAL ENERGY

[96]

AFFECTION & ANTIPATHY:

TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN

It is in our private life that we find people intolerably individual.

G. K. Chesterton

The very same conditions of intimacy which make affection possible also make possible a peculiarly incurable distaste; a hatred as immemorial, constant, unemphatic, almost at times unconscious, as the corresponding form of love.

C. S. Lewis

Mannerisms and personality quirks can cause great unhappiness to those who have to put up with them, and can even in time lead to hatred.

FEELINGS & EMOTIONAL ENERGY

[97]

NO RELATIONSHIP WEARS VERY

WELL WITHOUT AFFECTION

My domestic life was falling into nerveless and dispassionate ways... there were arguments. These were never rows but rather wearisome exercises in self-justification which never stuck to any point for very long, but dragged across a whole landscape of differences along prescribed furrows. A kind of tedium enveloped us, made worse by the heedless happiness of our daughter.

Peter Ustinov (speaking of his first marriage)

The marriage state, with and without the affection suitable to it, is the completest image of Heaven and Hell we are capable of receiving in this life.

Sir Richard Steele

FEELINGS & EMOTIONAL ENERGY

[98]

RATIONAL ARGUMENT IS NO MATCH

FOR STRONG FEELING

Thank God, that while the nerves decay
And muscles desiccate away,
The brain’s the hardiest part of men
And lasts till three score years and ten.

Man is obviously made for thinking.

Pascal

The first condition of right thought is right sensation.

T. S. Eliot

The mind is always the dupe of the heart.

de la Rochefoucauld

There was no way to dissuade [Evelyn] Waugh from an irrational hatred once contracted.

Martin Stannard (biographer)

FEELINGS & EMOTIONAL ENERGY

[99]

SHOULD FEELINGS ALWAYS

BE ACKNOWLEDGED?

Sensation is sensation.

Samuel Johnson

One of the phrases that men should never use with women, says Susan Shapiro, author of The Male-to-Female Dictionary, is “Don’t be upset.”

FEELINGS & EMOTIONAL ENERGY

[100]

SOME FEELINGS DEFY ANALYSIS

It is notorious that facts are compatible with opposite emotional responses, since the same fact will inspire entirely different feelings in different people, and at different times in the same person; and there is no rationally deducible connection between any outer fact and the sentiments it may happen to elicit.

William James

The roots of our thoughts and feelings are not here but in other worlds.

Dostoevsky

The reason why I love the sea, I cannot explain.

Jacques Cousteau

Mystified by the appeal mathematics has for him Evan Stratfort, a brilliant 11 year-old Ontario student, said, “No one else seems to find math fun. I can’t really see why I would find it any more fun than anyone else—but I do.”

FEELINGS & EMOTIONAL ENERGY

[101]

SOME FEELINGS SHOULD BE

TREATED AS HARD FACTS

The passion of love is the most familiar and extreme example of the importance of the inner element in experience. If it comes, it comes; if it does not come, no process of reasoning can force it.

William James

I have every reason to love you. What I lack is the unreason.

FEELINGS & EMOTIONAL ENERGY

[102]

HOW FAR CAN WE CREATE INTEREST

WHERE IT DOESN’T ARISE NATURALLY?

No profit grows where is no pleasure ta’en;
In brief, sir, study what you most affect.

Taming of the Shrew (Tranio)

It can never be repeated often enough that nothing intellectual can be achieved in a field that does not attract us. Working in our vein, without a sense of effort, and, on the contrary, with a sense of ease and freedom, is the fundamental condition of a healthy mental operation.

A man ought to read just as his inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good.

Samuel Johnson

George Bernard Shaw seemed to have no power of learning anything that did not interest him.

Michael Holroyd (biographer)

FEELINGS & EMOTIONAL ENERGY

[103]

CAN ANGER BE GOOD?

Hatred is settled anger.

Cicero

To be angry is to be wrong.

Hugh Kingsmill

Getting angry about human affairs is as ridiculous as losing one’s temper in a traffic jam.

Malcolm Muggeridge

FEELINGS & EMOTIONAL ENERGY

[104]

CAN THERE BE PATHETIC EMOTIONAL

EXCUSES FOR HATRED?

It doesn’t much matter what a man hates, provided he hates something.

Samuel Butler

Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life.

Eric Hoffer

In 1923 Hitler told Goebbels, “God’s most beautiful gift bestowed on us is the hate of our enemies, whom we in turn hate from the bottom of our hearts.”

FEELINGS & EMOTIONAL ENERGY

[105]

HOW DOES PROCESSING’ FEELINGS

DIFFER FROM ANALYSING’ THEM?

It takes time to process our feelings.

It is so many years before one can believe enough in what one feels even to know what the feeling is.

W. B Yeats

This is the greatest paradox: the emotions cannot be trusted, yet it is they that tell us the greatest truths.

Don Herold

Half our mistakes in life arise from feeling where we ought to think, and thinking where we ought to feel.

J. Churton Collins

EDUCATION, ENLIGHTENMENT & VIRTUE

[106]

CONVERSATION IS ONE OF THE HIGH
ARTS OF CIVILIZATION

Some have wondered that disputes about opinions should so often end in personalities; but the fact is, that such disputes begin with personalities. Besides, after the first contradiction it is ourselves, and not the thing, we maintain.

Edward Fitzgerald

It doesn’t pay to tell someone they are wrong.

Dale Carnegie

I made it a rule to forbear all direct contradiction to the sentiments of others, and all positive asertion of my own.

Benjamin Franklin

That is the happiest conversation where there is no competition, no vanity but a calm quiet interchange of sentiments.

Samuel Johnson

There is nothing so good to the heart as well argued conversation, when you know that your companion will answer to your thought as the anvil meets the hammer.

Richard Jefferies

Equality is essential to conversation.

G. K. Chesterton

Every man has a right to be wrong in his opinions. But no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.

Bernard Baruch

In conversation no opinion, however right, has any special status.

EDUCATION, ENLIGHTENMENT & VIRTUE

[107]

COURTESY: THE MARK OF VIRTUE?

There is not a single outward mark of courtesy that does not have a deep moral basis.

Goethe

Courtesy is to virtue as words are to thought.

Joseph Joubert

Virtue, perhaps, is nothing more than politeness of soul.

Honoré de Balzac

EDUCATION, ENLIGHTENMENT & VIRTUE

[108]

MODERATION IN JUDGEMENT

A good test of character is how one reacts to the weaknesses of other people.

Moderation is an conspicuous proof of our strength of character.

de la Rochfoucauld

The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.

William James

All empty souls tend to extreme opinion.

W. B. Yeats

EDUCATION, ENLIGHTENMENT & VIRTUE

[109]

IS MANKIND TO BE JUDGED

HARSHLY OR LENIENTLY?

To act from pure benevolence is not possible for finite beings. Human benevolence is always mingled with vanity, interest or some other motive.

Samuel Johnson

All sins are attempts to fill voids.

Simone Weil

Insanity in individuals is rare—but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs, it is the rule.

Friedrich Nietzsche

It is absurd to blame any class or any sex, as a whole. Great bodies of people are never responsible for what they do. They are driven by instincts which are not within their control.

Virginia Woolf

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a man and a dog.

Mark Twain

As I know more of mankind I expect less of them, and am ready now to call a man a good man upon easier terms than I was formerly.

Samuel Johnson

EDUCATION, ENLIGHTENMENT & VIRTUE

[110]

DOES THE ‘SELF-HELP’ MOVEMENT
UNDERESTIMATE CIRCUMSTANCE?

If life teaches us one thing, it’s that we make our own luck by believing in ourselves and creating our own lives.

Dr. David Viscott

A man is only a man. Without favourable circumstances his power is nothing.

Napoleon

I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me.

Abraham Lincoln

Free will, in my experience, is tactical rather than strategic; in all the larger shaping of a life, there is a plan already, into which one has no choice but to fit, or contract out of living altogether.

Malcolm Muggeridge

Destiny is not something you can choose, but it is something you can follow.

Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it.

There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, Rough-hew them how we will.

Hamlet (Hamlet)

EDUCATION, ENLIGHTENMENT & VIRTUE

[111]

WHAT IS THE ULTIMATE GOAL
OF EDUCATION?

Education does not mean teaching people to know what they do not know; it means teaching them to behave as they do not behave.

John Ruskin

Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.

Robert Frost

Education frees the intellect and imagination from bondage to unexamined ideologies or beliefs.

Northrop Frye

The primary purpose of a liberal education is to make one’s mind a pleasant place in which to spend one’s time.

EDUCATION, ENLIGHTENMENT & VIRTUE

[112]

THE SCANDAL OF NEGATIVITY

The art of pleasing consists in being pleased.

William Hazlitt

The most important trait in determining a person’s attractiveness is the degree of their negativity: the more negative, the less attractive.

Many intelligent, well-intentioned people have a peculiar blindness to certain emotional or aesthetic realities.

EDUCATION, ENLIGHTENMENT & VIRTUE

[113]

ARE THERE SOME THINGS THAT

ONLY SUFFERING CAN TEACH US?

It is not true that suffering ennobles the character; happiness does that sometimes, but suffering for the most part, makes men petty and vindictive.

Somerset Maugham

Do you not see how a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?

John Keats

Man must learn to think of himself as a limited and dependent being, and only suffering teaches him this.

Simone Weil

EDUCATION, ENLIGHTENMENT & VIRTUE

[114]

EDUCATION IS A MIXED BLESSING

By education most have been misled;
So they believe, because they so were bred.

John Dryden

For all the fact my father was a very rich man, he went to work every day. He always taught us the value of work, and that work is fun and good, and everybody should work.

Fred Eaton (of Eaton’s)

The Queen is most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write to join in checking this mad, wicked folly of ‘Woman’s Rights’ with all its attendant horrors on which her poor, feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feeling and propriety.

Queen Victoria

There is no villainy to which education cannot reconcile us.

Anthony Trollope

EDUCATION, ENLIGHTENMENT & VIRTUE

[115]

THE EDUCATION THAT STICKS

COMES THROUGH IMITATION

Education is implication. It is not the things you say which children respect; when you say things, they very commonly laugh and do the opposite. It is the things you assume that really sink into them. It is the things you forget even to teach that they learn.

G. K. Chesterton

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.

James Baldwin

Children have more need of models than of critics.

Joseph Joubert

EDUCATION, ENLIGHTENMENT & VIRTUE

[116]

EDUCATION IS A METHOD,

NOT AN OBJECT

Aristotle says that the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought.

It is a fact of experience and common-sense that education has to be governed by some set of human values, however sharply we may disagree about the content of these.

Christopher Derrick

The notion that education can be value-free is simply false.

To tolerate everything is to teach nothing.

It is quaint that people talk of separating dogma from education. Dogma is actually the only thing that cannot be separated from education. It is education. A teacher who is not dogmatic is simply a teacher who is not teaching.

G. K. Chesterton

No teaching is worth doing unless it has a militant quality to it.

Northrop Frye

EDUCATION, ENLIGHTENMENT & VIRTUE

[117]

SOLVING THE RIDDLE OF TOLERANCE

Tolerance is a tremendous virtue, but the immediate neighbours of tolerance are weakness and apathy.

The real test of tolerance only comes after one is deeply committed to certain ideas, and deeply intolerant (by logical necessity) of the opposing ideas. To show tolerance towards human beings who disagree with our passionate convictions is the vindication of tolerance.

Tolerance applies to persons, but never to truth. Intolerance applies to truth, but never to persons. Tolerance applies to the erring; intolerance to the error.

Fulton Sheen

EDUCATION, ENLIGHTENMENT & VIRTUE

[118]

WHAT IS THE CURE FOR INTOLERANCE?

To understand everything makes one very tolerant.

Madame de Staël

God is tolerant, man is not tolerant; Omniscience pardons, frailty is inexorable.

Sidney Smith

EDUCATION, ENLIGHTENMENT & VIRTUE

[119]

CAN ONE BE A MORALIST WITHOUT

WEARING A MORAL SQUINT?

Intolerance is the besetting sin of moral fervour.

Alfred North Whitehead

A large part of mankind is angry not with the sins, but with the sinners.

Seneca

The man who says “Believe as I do or God will damn you,” will soon be saying, “Believe as I do or I will kill you.”

Voltaire

We tend to shy away from the person who has strong moralistic reactions to things.

EDUCATION, ENLIGHTENMENT & VIRTUE

[120]

A NEGLECTED KIND OF HUMILITY

Nobody can doubt that nine-tenths of the harm in the world is done simply by talking.

G. K. Chesterton

The human mind is generally far more eager to praise or blame than to describe and define. It wants to make every distinction a distinction of value.

C. S. Lewis

Besides being complicated, reality, in my experience, is usually odd.

C. S. Lewis

One of the happiest men and most pleasing companions I have ever known was intensely selfish. On the other hand I have known people capable of real sacrifice whose lives were nevertheless a misery to themselves and to others, because self-concern and self-pity filled all their thoughts.

C. S. Lewis

There are people whose defects become them, and others who are ill served by their good qualities.

La Rochefoucauld

Be sparing in praise, and more so in blame.

William Langland

Things are seldom what they seem.

EDUCATION, ENLIGHTENMENT & VIRTUE

[121]

MILK & HONEY IS TEN TIMES AS

NOURISHING AS MILK ALONE

There are many people who know how to love and yet don’t know how to please.

I shouldn’t be surprised if the greatest rule of all weren’t to give pleasure.

Molière

You will catch more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a barrel of vinegar.

St. Francis de Sales

EDUCATION, ENLIGHTENMENT & VIRTUE

[122]

THE PARADOX OF INSTINCT

Be a good animal, true to your animal instincts.

D. H. Lawrence

Telling us to obey instinct is like telling us to obey ‘people.’ People say different things: so do instincts. Our instincts are at war.

C. S. Lewis

All the settlement and sane government of life consists in coming to the conclusion that some instincts, impulses or inspirations have authority, and others do not.

G. K. Chesterton

EDUCATION, ENLIGHTENMENT & VIRTUE

[123]

INTUITION: A NEGLECTED FACULTY?

In his book The Gift of Fear security consultant Gavin de Becker wrote, ‘Contrary to what people believe about the intuition of dogs, your intuitive abilities are vastly superior. The problem is that extra something you have that a dog doesn’t—judgment. That’s what gets in the way of your intuition. With judgment comes the ability to disregard your intuition unless you can explain it logically. No animal in the wild, suddenly overcome with fear, would spend any of its mental energy thinking, “It’s probably nothing.” ’

Instinct, intuition, or insight is what first leads to the beliefs which subsequent reason confirms or confutes; but the confirmation, where it is possible, consists, in the last analysis, of agreement with other beliefs no less instinctive. Reason is a harmonizing, controlling force rather than a creative one. Even in the most purely logical realms, it is insight that first arrives at what is new.

Bertrand Russell

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.

Albert Einstein

Intuition is a spiritual faculty and does not explain, but simply points the way.

Intuition is the nose of the mind.

EDUCATION, ENLIGHTENMENT & VIRTUE

[124]

WORDS CAN’T DO WHAT WE THINK THEY CAN DO

Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that’s the whole art and joy of words.

C. S. Lewis (from Till We Have Faces)

People don’t hear what you say; they interpret what you say.

A writer’s form of expression may seem quite clear to him, yet obscure to the reader. Why? Because the reader is advancing from language to thought, the writer from thought to language.

Chamfort

Words, as a tartar’s bow, do shoot back upon the understanding of the wisest, and mightily entangle and pervert the judgement.

Francis Bacon

John Locke called words ‘a perfect cheat.’

It’s far better to possess a small vocabulary that you use properly rather than a big vocabulary with which you’re a bit impressionistic. Compounding the problem is the fact that language is not very exact to begin with. It’s a very impressionistic medium.

EDUCATION, ENLIGHTENMENT & VIRTUE

[125]

IS ALL TEACHING AN IMPOSITION?

The worst tyranny is that which imposes a higher standard of conduct than is natural.

George Bernard Shaw

In some circumstances it may be necessary and sensible to administer a smack to your child.

Prince Charles

The process of being well-brought-up cannot fail to offend.

Learning communities should grow naturally on the basis of a shared morality. Without such a basis education is inevitably an imposition on the student.   **NEW LINK (Oct 26/14)

IDEAS, THINKING & ARGUMENT

[126]

INTELLECTUALISM: A MISUSE

OF THE INTELLECT

Thinking in isolation and with pride ends in being an idiot. Anyone who won’t have softening of the heart must at last have softening of the head.

Detached intellectualism is (in the exact sense of a popular phrase) all moonshine; for it is light without heat, and it is secondary light, reflected from a dead world.

G. K. Chesterton

Without humility, intellect is the most destructive force in the world.

Karl Stern

It is the heart which most deserves to be cultivated.

Among the many dictionary definitions of ‘heart’ can be found: the mind, the consciousness, the thinking faculty, the seat of the will or inclinations.

IDEAS, THINKING & ARGUMENT

[127]

CAN PEOPLE BE CONVERTED

BY ARGUMENT?

We are not won by arguments that we can analyse but by tone and temper, by the manner which is the man himself.

Samuel Butler

Men become susceptible to ideas, not by discussion and argument, but by seeing them personified and by loving the person who so embodies them.

Lewis Mumford

In the end it is not argument that convinces us, but people.

John Henry Newman

Not everybody can be converted to some viewpoint by reason. But some people can be converted by reason.

Arnold Lunn

The voice of the intellect is a soft one, but it does not rest till it has gained a hearing.

Freud

IDEAS, THINKING & ARGUMENT

[128]

HESITANCY IN JUDGEMENT

It is sometimes better not to think at all than to think intensely and think wrong.

George Bernard Shaw

A few observations and much reasoning lead to error; many observations and a little reasoning to truth.

Alexis Carrel

It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgement.

Arthur Conan Doyle

Hesitancy in judgement is the only true mark of the thinker.

IDEAS, THINKING & ARGUMENT

[129]

BEWARE OF THE TENDENCY TO READ

TOO MUCH AND THINK TOO LITTLE

To spend too much time in studies is sloth.

Francis Bacon

Reading after a certain time diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.

Albert Einstein

Reading is sometimes an ingenious device for avoiding thought.

Athur Helps

Thought is essential to the process of becoming ourselves. Nothing is more erroneous than the tendency to regard the thinker as a specialist instead of merely as a fully developed human being.

Ernest Dimnet

There are minds to whom thought offers no pleasures, provides no rewards.

Frank Sheed

IDEAS, THINKING & ARGUMENT

[130]

THE POWER OF BELIEF

Only one-quarter of the sorrow in each man’s life is caused by external circumstances beyond his control. The other three-quarters is self-imposed by failing to analyze and act with calmness.

Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of them.

Epictetus

Attitude is the heaviest disability.

One of the great causes of depression is the belief that life should be fair.

IDEAS, THINKING & ARGUMENT

[131]

MUST THINKING ALWAYS TAKE

PRECEDENCE OVER FEELING?

Thinking should come before feeling. It may be that the heart has reasons of which the head knows nothing, but why should the reasons of the heart, which lead so many people into the wrong bed, necessarily lead anybody to the right conclusions.

Arnold Lunn

Only reason can convince us that what we believe is not necessarily true, and that what we like is not necessarily good.

The shortest route to the practical is through the theoretical.

G. K. Chesterton

Rational argument is not just one of many possible modes of thought. It’s the very heart of thinking, the only way that society finally has of settling differences, and the indispensable condition of effective citizenship.

There is nothing purely rational which is strong enough to bind the heart of man.

Karl Stern

IDEAS, THINKING & ARGUMENT

[132]

ARE IDEAS GENERALLY

UNDERRATED OR OVERRATED?

The power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas.

John Maynard Keynes

Ideas do not need to be deeply right to be deeply influential. Better that they fit the prevailing mood and need.

John Kenneth Galbraith

The greatest ideas, those that comprehensively reveal the truth of things, possess some of the obligatory quality of reality itself; they impose an actual coercion.

Josef Pieper

A powerful idea communicates some of its power to the man who contradicts it.

Marcel Proust

IDEAS, THINKING & ARGUMENT

[133]

THINKING IS A RISKY BUSINESS

A thinker must think about his theories rather than simply with them. Everybody thinks with their theories in the sense of using those theories as organizing devices for understanding the world, but most people do so at an implicit level.

Think before you think!

The peril of the human intellect is that it is free to destroy itself. Just as one generation can prevent the very existence of the next generation, by all entering a monastery or jumping into the sea, so one set of thinkers can in some degree prevent further thinking by teaching the next generation that there is no validity in any human thought.

G. K. Chesterton

IDEAS, THINKING & ARGUMENT

[134]

IDEAS ARE DANGEROUS THINGS

Philosophies are devices for making it possible to do, coolly, continuously, and with a good conscience, things which otherwise one could do only in the heat of passion, spasmodically, and under the threat of subsequent remorse.

Aldous Huxley

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.

Pascal

IDEAS, THINKING & ARGUMENT

[135]

A VALUABLE INTELLECTUAL TOOL

The English philosopher Samuel Alexander explained his theory of “contemplation” and “enjoyment” in his book Space Time and Deity (1920). These are technical terms that have quite different meanings from the usual ones. When you see a table you contemplate the table and enjoy the act of seeing. In bereavement you contemplate the deceased and their death and you enjoy the loneliness and grief. But a psychologist treating you for grief would be contemplating the grief and enjoying psychology. In other words the mental act of perceiving something outside is contemplation and experiencing the effect or consequence of that act is enjoyment. The two mental activities of contemplation and enjoyment can and do alternate with great rapidity, but they are distinct and incompatible.

The surest way of spoiling a pleasure is to start examining your satisfaction.

C. S. Lewis

IDEAS, THINKING & ARGUMENT

[136]

EVERYTHING THAT AFFECTS THE MIND

AFFECTS THE BODY & VICE-VERSA

The human race has always suspected that some ideas engender disease. Plato stated the problem more generally when he said that the body’s problems proceed from the soul, and that unless the soul or mind is satisfied first the body can never be cured.

It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.

Sir William Osler

Diseases have a character of their own, but they also partake of our character.

Oliver Sacks

The mind is everything; what you think, you become.

Buddha

IDEAS, THINKING & ARGUMENT

[137]

WHY INTELLECTUALS RARELY

CHANGE THEIR MINDS

Far more crucial than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know.

Eric Hoffer

All ignorance is motivated.

Marshall McLuhan

A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.

Saul Bellow

Ignorance accumulates like knowledge.

G. K. Chesterton

RELIGION & PHILOSOPHY

[138]

MYSTICISM INSTEAD OF MORALISM

True spirituality has its basis in moral life, which in turn is based on contemplation.

Fulton Sheen

The mystic in us should surpass the moralist. It’s not a matter of ignoring the moral virtues, but not becoming entangled in them.

I knew nothing of evil, so I was afraid to meet it. I hadn’t yet discovered that nothing can be “unclean for those who have clean hearts,” and that a simple, virtuous soul sees evil in nothing, for evil exists not in things but in corrupt hearts.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

The beautiful souls are they that are universal, open, and ready for all things.

Montaigne

RELIGION & PHILOSOPHY

[139]

PHILOSOPHY BEGINS IN WONDER

AND NEVER CEASES TO WONDER

No philosophical question can be answered with complete finality.

Philosophy cannot fully comprehend its objects.

A complete and closed ‘system’ of philosophy is not possible. The claim to expound the world in a formula, or to have a system with which to explain the world, is quite simply unphilosophic or pseudo-philosophy.

Philosophy should hinder and resist the natural craving of the human spirit for a clear, transparent and definite system.

RELIGION & PHILOSOPHY

[140]

WAS JESUS CORRECT WHEN HE

SAID THAT LIFE WAS FROM THE SPIRIT?

Only the spirit gives life. The flesh is of no avail.

Jesus of Nazareth

The food, the sex, the books, the music, the conversation, the friendship in which we thought enjoyment resided will betray us if we put our trust in these things. The enjoyment wasn’t in them, it only came through them.

Facts as facts do not always create a spirit of reality, because reality is a spirit.

G. K. Chesterton

RELIGION & PHILOSOPHY

[141]

RELIGIOUS PASSIONS CAN BE AS

OVERBEARING AS ANIMAL PASSIONS

Religion is the one force that is stronger than self-interest and sensuality, that is capable of transforming human nature and altering the course of history. The danger of religion is not that it is too weak or too abstract to affect human conduct, but rather that it is so absolute and uncompromising that nature is overwhelmed and crushed.

Christopher Dawson

St. Teresa of Avila advised her brother Lorenzo, ‘Remember that we middle-aged people need to treat our bodies well, so as not to wreck the spirit,’ and when Lorenzo took a notion that he ought to meditate on hell she told him, ‘Don’t!’

St. Francis de Sales had, what we would call today, a nervous breakdown while he was an undergraduate at Padua. His was a very worrying problem; he thought, after reading Calvinist doctrines, that he was damned.

RELIGION & PHILOSOPHY

[142]

ECSTATIC UNION IS A

PARTICULAR KIND OF UNION

Hell is oneself; Hell is alone, the other figures in it merely projections. There is nothing to escape from and nothing to escape to. One is always alone.

George Eliot

Ecstasy comes from a sense of identification, whether with another individual, or with a community, or with the whole of life. It is an escape from separate existence; from the savage misery of the imprisoned ego.

Malcolm Muggeridge

Try as I would, I very rarely achieved even a show of agreement [with his mother-in-law], and this only by advancing on a very wide philosophico-mystical front—as that I was confident all life would ultimately become one. Developing this point with her once in Kingsmill’s presence, he let out a strangled: “Yes, but not for a very long time!”, appalled at the prospect, in any measurable future, of becoming one with Mrs. Dobbs through all eternity.

Malcolm Muggeridge

There are worse things than loneliness, and one of them is not being lonely with somebody that you wish you could be lonely without. I know lots of people who’d give their right arm if they could be rather lonely at this particular moment.

Fr. Benedict Groeschel

There has crept into our thoughts, through a thousand small openings, a curious and unnatural idea. I mean the idea that unity is itself a good thing; that there is something high and spiritual about things being blended and absorbed into each other.

G. K. Chesterton

RELIGION & PHILOSOPHY

[143]

PHILOSOPHY IS MORE INFLUENTIAL

THAN IS GENERALLY REALIZED

Both morality and art take their marching orders from philosophy, either directly or indirectly.

It is a great advantage for a system of philosophy to be substantially true.

George Santayana

Seen in a certain light, modern philosophy is a machine designed to destroy philosophy, a matter of raising questions and then proving that they don’t exist or don’t matter.

Robert Fulford

RELIGION & PHILOSOPHY

[144]

PHILOSOPHY HELPS US TO REALIZE

HOW LITTLE WE KNOW

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Hamlet (Hamlet)

One of the chief functions of philosophy is to remind us of the shallowness of our understanding of things and the massive background of our ignorance.

RELIGION & PHILOSOPHY

[145]

IN A PHILOSOPHIC SENSE IS

MODERN MAN GLAD TO BE ALIVE?

Why shouldn’t things be largely absurd, futile, and transitory? They are so, and we are so, and they and we go very well together.

George Santayana

A friend of Samuel Beckett once said to him, “Sam, it’s a beautiful day. Doesn’t it make you feel glad to be alive?”
  “I wouldn’t go that far,” he grumped.

RELIGION & PHILOSOPHY

[146]

IS IT ANY WONDER THAT PHILOSOPHY
DOESN’T GET THE RESPECT IT DESERVES?

Bishop Berkeley destroyed this world in one volume octavo; and nothing remained, after his time, but mind; which experienced a similar fate from the hand of Mr. Hume in 1737.

Sydney Smith

There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied on to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers.

William James

Philosophy consists largely of one philosopher arguing that all others are jackasses. He usually proves it, and I should add that he also usually proves that he is one himself.

H. L. Mencken

There is nothing so absurd but some philosopher has said it.

Cicero

I create myself: my being by my thought, my thought by thought itself.

Johann Gottlieb Fichte

When he who hears does not know what he who speaks means, and when he who speaks does not know what he himself means—that is philosophy.

Voltaire

RELIGION & PHILOSOPHY

[147]

DESPITE SIMILARITIES FAITH AND

IDEOLOGY ARE PROFOUNDLY DIFFERENT

An ideology in the modern sense of the word is very different from a faith, although it is intended to fulfil the same sociological functions. It is the work of man, an instrument by which the conscious political will attempts to mould the social tradition to its purpose. But faith looks beyond the world of man and his works; it introduces man to a higher and more universal range of reality than the finite and temporal world to which the state and the economic order belong. And thereby it introduces into human life an element of spiritual freedom which ideology, by its nature, would crush.

Christopher Dawson

Our blight is ideologies—they are the long-expected Antichrist!

Carl Jung

What is life? Life is the nation. The individual must die anyway. Beyond the individual is the nation.

Adolf Hitler (in a broadcast after the defeat at Stalingrad)

We’re invincible. And if they have to kill our entire people to crush the Revolution, then the people—behind their party and their leaders—are ready to die. We’re ready to water our ideas with our blood.

Fidel Castro (1993 speech)

The vanity of ideas is even more dangerous than the vanity of the ego.

Ian Hunter

RELIGION & PHILOSOPHY

[148]

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU PRAY FOR

BECAUSE YOU MAY GET IT!

God punishes us mildly by ignoring our prayers and severely by answering them.

Richard J. Needham

There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered ones.

St. Teresa of Avila

RELIGION & PHILOSOPHY

[149]

ONLY QUITE RECENTLY HAS THE TRADITIONAL VIEW
OF HELL GIVEN WAY TO A MORE HUMANE ONE

All sins tend to be addictive, and the terminal point of addiction is what is called damnation.

W. H. Auden

Hell is not a punishment imposed externally by God, but the condition resulting from attitudes and actions which people adopt in this life.

Pope John Paul II

I will tell you a great secret my friend. Don’t wait for the Last Judgement. It happens every day.

Albert Camus

Every action is a judgement.

The outward appearance of things is forced ultimately to conform with their inward reality.

Malcolm Muggeridge

The self one has to live with can be one’s own greatest punishment. To be left forever with that self which we hate is hell.

Fulton Sheen

Nothing burneth in hell but self-will; therefore it hath been said, “Put off thine own will, and there will be no hell.”

Theologia Germanica

Traditionally, hell has been viewed as a place of eternal punishment where the damned are forcibly incarcerated on God’s orders, rather than the self-inflicted frustration and isolation of the soul that insists on being happy in its own way.   **NEW LINK (Oct 15/14)

There is a dreadful Hell
A place of aches and pains,
Where sinners must with Devils dwell,
In fires and shrieks and chains.

RELIGION & PHILOSOPHY

[150]

MERE BELIEF IN GOD

DOESN’T MEAN VERY MUCH

If God created us in his own image we have more than reciprocated.

Voltaire

Everyone believes in God provided they have the right to define him.

My comprehension of God comes from the deeply felt conviction of a superior intelligence that reveals itself in the knowable world.

Albert Einstein

God is not a thing; He’s a process fulfilling itself.

Northrop Frye

We have to begin to think of God not as an external, supernatural power living in the sky, but as the divine quality of this world.

Bishop John Shelby Spong

God is greater than that which we can conceive.

St. Anslem

PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS

[151]

THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE SEEM TO

DEPEND ON BALANCE AND PROPORTION

Mental and emotional liberty are not so simple as they appear. They require almost as careful a balance of laws and conditions as do social and political liberty.

All the things most worth having, such as health and happiness, beauty and character, are all, without exception, things produced by a particular proportion between different things.

People at the extremes of life often have the most trouble, people who are too rich or too poor, too smart or too stupid, too emotional or too cerebral, too dependent or too self-reliant.

PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS

[152]

IS A DISILLUSIONED ATTITUDE TO

LIFE MORALLY DEFICIENT?

Enough we live—and if a life,
With large results so little rife,
Though bearable, seem hardly worth
This pomp of worlds, this pain of birth.

Matthew Arnold

The slow compromise, or even surrender, of our fondest hopes is a regular feature of normal human life.

I defy anyone to imagine an environment more exquisitely designed to provide us with opportunities for spiritual growth than this life of ours.

M. Scott Peck

PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS

[153]

CAN VIRTUE BE PROFITABLE

AND STILL BE VIRTUE?

If we lived in a world where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us good and greed would make us saintly.

Virtue would hardly be distinguished from a kind of sensuality, if there were no labour, no opposition, no difficulty in doing our duty.

If virtue were its own reward, it would no longer be a human quality, but supernatural.

Vauvenargues

PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS

[154]

IS CONSCIENCE MORE

RELIABLE THAN JUDGEMENT?

Intellect follows love, and if the love is errant, so also will be the judgement of practical intellect, or “conscience.”

Michael Novak

A man’s conscience and his judgement is the same thing, and as the judgement, so also the conscience, may be erroneous.

Thomas Hobbes

It is often said that second thoughts are best. So they are in matters of judgement, but not in matters of conscience.

John Henry Newman

Conscience is thoroughly well-bred and soon leaves off talking to those who do not wish to hear it.

Samuel Butler

PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS

[155]

IS EXPERIENCE OVERVALUED?

Experience comprises illusions lost, rather than wisdom gained.

Experience takes away more than it adds; young people are nearer ideas than old men.

Plato

Experience is only one half of experience.

Goethe

Experience is not what happens to us. It is what we do with what happen to us.

Aldous Huxley

PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS

[156]

ARE JOHNSON AND PLINY BASICALLY CORRECT?

The secret of happiness is to face the fact that the world is horrible, horrible, horrible.

Bertrand Russell

The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.

All’s Well That Ends Well (1st Lord)

Human life is everywhere a state in which much is to be endured and little to be enjoyed.

Samuel Johnson

The enjoyments of this life are not equal to its evils.

Pliny The Elder

PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS

[157]

IS THE TRAGIC OR THE COMIC

SENSE OF LIFE MORE SOPHISTICATED?

This world is a comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel.

Horace Walpole

Comedy and humour are among the most autumnal fruits of the human understanding, as distinct from tragedy which any teenager can comprehend.

There is only one safe definition of a sane man. He is a man who can have tragedy in his heart and comedy in his head.

G. K. Chesterton

Most simply defined, comedy is that which has a happy ending and tragedy that with an unhappy one.

M. Scott Peck

PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS

[158]

TWO VIEWS OF DEATH

I am a temporary enclosure for a temporary purpose; that served, my skull and teeth, my idiosyncrasy and desire, will disperse, I believe, like the timbers of a booth after the fair.

H. G. Wells

No fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling can preserve an individual beyond the grave.

Bertrand Russell

Many people assume too easily that with five senses and a rather limited though remarkable intellect we can comprehend everything that happens and that ever will happen, and that there will never be a surprise for us.

Robertson Davies

Life is a great surprise. I do not see why death should not be an even greater one.

Vladimir Nabokov

PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS

[159]

IS THE HUMAN LONGING FOR

IMMORTALITY A HEALTHY LONGING?

Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Susan Ertz

What man is capable of the insane self-conceit of believing that an eternity of himself would be tolerable even to himself?

George Bernard Shaw

Asked whether he believed in life after death the English writer William Golding replied, “No. I couldn’t bear the thought of being myself forever.”   **NEW LINK (Jul 14/14)

The happiness of heaven is an immense activity, an endless springing from knowledge to knowledge and from love to love. It’s not a mere state, but a perpetual act.

PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS

[160]

DOES OUR SOCIETY PRETTY MUCH

TAKE MACNAMARA’S VIEW?

Robert MacNamara was convinced that truth lay in numbers.

It’s doubtful whether any great truth can be told except in parable.

PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS

[161]

IS THERE A REAL TRUE SELF?

The false self is not just the self of the more visible instincts and passions, but all those compulsions that push us to seek our own glory and spiritual success.

Jean Vanier

All spiritual masters speak of dying to the false self so that the real self may emerge.

PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS

[162]

SHOULD WE DEDUCE ANYTHING

FROM THE STRANGENESS OF LIFE?

What a queer thing life is! So unlike anything else, if you see what I mean.

P. G. Wodehouse

One need only remind oneself of all that we expect from life to see how very strange it is, and to arrive at the conclusion that man has found his way into it by mistake and does not really belong there.

Italo Svevo

PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS

[163]

IS THE WORLD FAULTY OR IS

OUR VIEW OF THE WORLD FAULTY?

Had God designed the world, it would not be
A world so frail and faulty as we see.

Lucretius

Every Night and every Morn
Some to Misery are Born;
Every Morn and every Night,
Some are born to Sweet Delight;
Some are born to Sweet Delight,
Some are born to Endless Night.

William Blake

Nothing begins, and nothing ends,
That is not paid with moan;
For we are born in other’s pain,
And perish in our own.

Francis Thompson

O, how full of briars is this working-day world!

As You Like It (Rosalind)

Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,
Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man.

King John (Lewis)

Golden lads and girls all must,
As Chimney sweepers, come to dust.

Cymbeline (Guiderius)

We must not insist that God govern the world according to our own best understanding of what is best.

The end changes the meaning of the beginning.

All’s well that ends well.

All’s Well that Ends Well (Helena)

PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS

[164]

IS THERE SUCH A THING

AS A JUST WAR?

But vain the sword and vain the bow,
They never can work War’s overthrow.
The hermit’s prayer and the widow’s tear
Alone can free the world from fear.

William Blake

It simply is not true that war never settles anything.

Felix Frankfurter

War is not the best way of settling differences; it is the only way of preventing their being settled for you.

G. K. Chesterton

An infallible method of conciliating a tiger is to allow oneself to be devoured.

Conrad Adenauer

It takes in reality only one to make a quarrel. It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favour of vegetarianism while the wolf remains of a different opinion.

W. R. Inge

PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS

[165]

IS LOSS OF DESIRE A QUESTION FOR

BIOLOGY OR FOR PHILOSOPHY?

In a world of flying loves and fading lusts It is something to be sure of a desire.

G. K. Chesterton

I am past all serious desire for anything.

Gore Vidal

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT & POWER

[166]

MUST POWER ALWAYS CORRUPT?

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.

Lord Acton

When you take a benevolent man and make him a despot, his despotism survives but his benevolence rather fades away.

Bertrand Russell

How a minority,
Reaching majority,
Seizing authority,
Hates a minority!

The whole history of the world is summed up in the fact that, when nations are strong, they are not always just, and when they wish to be just, they are no longer strong.

Winston Churchill

The great nations have always acted like gangsters, and the small nations like prostitutes.

Stanley Kubrick

Power should always be distrusted, in whatever hands it is placed.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT & POWER

[167]

IS THERE A BASIC INCOMPATIBILITY
BETWEEN TRUTH AND POLITICS?

I, the Captain of a Legion of Rome, serving in the desert of Libya, have learned and pondered this truth: There are in life but two things, Love and Power, and no one has both.

(an inscription on a stone found in North Africa)

The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.

William Hazlitt

Heaven is the place where truth takes the place of politics.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT & POWER

[168]

IS MULTI-CULTURALISM DOOMED

TO FAIL IN THE LONG RUN?

Government is impossible without a religion: that is, without a body of common assumptions.

George Bernard Shaw

Parliamentary government only works in communities which are essentially united. The moment you have a real conflict, whether of race, or class, or religion, democracy is unworkable.

Malcolm Muggeridge

You can’t have an unlimited expansion of the concept of equal rights or equal recognition because at a certain point it begins to undermine another necessary principle, that of community cohesion. You simply can’t have a society that recognizes virtually all forms of behaviour as equal. To judge by a poll in the late 1990s most Canadians, both native born and immigrant, intuitively recognize this fact and believe that newcomers should, as far as possible, adopt the customs of the majority.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT & POWER

[169]

SHOULD NORMAL BAD GOVERNMENT

BE A CAUSE FOR INDIGNATION?

Government comprises a large part of the organized injustice in any society, ancient or modern.

Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.

H. L. Mencken

I work for a Government I despise for ends I think criminal.

John Maynard Keynes

Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable evil.

Thomas Paine

Our effective choice is never between good government and bad government, but between bearable government and unbearable government.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT & POWER

[170]

DO WE HAVE TO WORK TO FIND

WHERE JUSTICE LIES?

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.

Anatole France

The height of justice is the height of injustice.

Roman Proverb

Law and order is one of the steps taken to maintain injustice.

As mankind is made, the keeping it in order is an ill-natured office.

Marquess of Halifax

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT & POWER

[171]

IS THERE ONE LAW FOR THE RICH

AND ANOTHER FOR THE POOR?

In England, justice is open to all—like the Ritz Hotel.

You get only the amount of justice you can afford, no more, no less.

Wilfrid Sheed

There is no doubt that people with money tend not to get investigated, not to get charged, not to get tried, and not to get convicted. All along the line, the discretions get exercised in their favour.

Clayton Ruby

The prisons are full of those who have grown up poor and abused.

Weakness alone is punished in life and is certain to be punished.

Hugh Kingsmill

One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted; and a community is infinitely more brutalized by the habitual employment of punishment than it is by the occasional occurrence of crime.

Oscar Wilde

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT & POWER

[172]

ARE DEMOCRACY AND CONCENTRATED

WEALTH INTRINSICALLY INCOMPATIBLE?

Bigness, especially big business, is the curse of democratic life.

Only through big government can democratic authority resist concentrated economic power.

We can have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.

Justice Louis D. Brandeis

Economic power, when sufficiently vast, becomes by its very nature political power.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT & POWER

[173]

DO YOU AGREE WITH GALBRAITH?

Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons.

Bertrand Russell

Men must have a fairly elevated motive for getting themselves killed. To die to protect or enhance the wealth, power or privilege of someone else, the most common reason for conflict over the centuries, lacks beauty. Conscience is better served by myth.

John Kenneth Galbraith

As soon as by one’s own propaganda even a glimpse of right on the other side is admitted, the cause for doubting one’s own right is laid.

Adolf Hitler

When war comes the first casualty is truth.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT & POWER

[174]

DOES IDEALISM VARY INVERSELY

WITH THE ENJOYMENT OF POWER?

In the 1913 elections my father became an ardent fan of the Australian Labour party. Unfortunately, it won and set some sort of record for breaking its promises. Frank decided then and there to put not his faith in politicians.

Wilfrid Sheed

When they attain power reformist parties and movements usually become friendly to the big business interests they had once denounced.

Money and power soothe the savage idealist.

The path that leads from moral standards to political action is strewn with our dead selves.

André Malraux

In politics nothing is contemptible.

Benjamin Disraeli

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT & POWER

[175]

NO WONDER BUREAUCRATS MAKE

HANDY SCAPEGOATS FOR POLITICIANS!

Bureaucracy, the rule of no one, has become the modern form of despotism.

Mary McCarthy

Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pygmies.

Balzac

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & CAPITALISM

[176]

HUMILITY IS A GREAT

QUALITY FOR A SCIENTIST

Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses Nature leads, or you shall learn nothing.

T. H. Huxley

True science is never philosophically partisan. It is open to any new knowledge or understanding whatever the metaphysical implications.

I am too much of a sceptic to deny the possibility of anything.

T. H. Huxley

The term metaphysics has long had a bad name in scientific circles, and the taint hasn’t quite faded.

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & CAPITALISM

[177]

MYSTERY IS IMMORTAL

In completing one discovery we never fail to get an imperfect knowledge of others of which we could have no idea before, so that we cannot solve one doubt without creating several new ones.

Joseph Priestley

Science doesn’t reduce mystery, it increases it.

My suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.

J. B. S. Haldane

The deeper our insight, the more baffling things become.

Robert Wright

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & CAPITALISM

[178]

IS TECHNOLOGY LEADING OUR

SOCIETY INTO AN ECONOMIC CRISIS?

Technological society leads to increasing numbers of people who cannot adapt to the inhuman rhythm of modern life with its emphasis on specialization. A class of people is growing up who are unexploitable because they are not worth employing even for the minimum wage. Technological progress makes whole categories of people useless without making it possible to support them with the wealth produced by the progress.

Jacques Ellul

Having created the problem of unemployment advanced technology is hardly likely to solve it. Politicians and economists who believe in a radiant technological future are dreamers.

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & CAPITALISM

[179]

TECHNOLOGY: OUR SERVANT

OR OUR MASTER?

It is now generally admitted that science is not neutral, and even more so technology. As a system evolves it imposes its own logic.

As machines become more and more complex, the people operating the machines become more and more subservient. Tools are extensions of our bodies, but we are extensions of machines.

Technology produces more technology whether it makes sense or not, whether it is wanted or not.

Faith placed in technology is misplaced faith. When you put your faith in a thing like technology you make that thing your master.

Jacques Ellul

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & CAPITALISM

[180]

HOW MUCH DO GADGETS CONTRIBUTE

TO HUMAN WELL-BEING?

A gadget is a technically very complex instrument whose utility is totally out of proportion to the considerable investment in time and money it involves. In other words, it entails an application of advanced technology for almost zero utility in return. The gadget is now the main industrial product and an unlimited source of profit.

Jacques Ellul

Modern gadgets speed up society and make it more fragile, but they do not truly better the individual lot.

Absorption in technology leads to a shortage of time.

Technology is the knack of so arranging the world that we don’t have to experience it.

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & CAPITALISM

[181]

DOES TELEVISION DEADEN CULTURE?

The unrest of the 1960s had a lot to do with the panic caused by television and the need to control it. Saturation with visual images causes a good deal of confusion and tends to dissipate one’s identity.

Northrop Frye

Television sells illusions, particularly the illusion of participation.

Television encourages us to live life vicariously. Once the habit is engrained the experience of empty time, which an earlier generation would have filled with conversation, relations with others, reflection or reading, becomes traumatic. Life will always appear empty to those who have no inner resources.

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & CAPITALISM

[182]

IS THE CULT OF PROGRESS

WEARING A LITTLE THIN?

The media extols every gain in speed as a success, and the public accepts it as such. But experience shows that the more time we save, the less we have. The faster we go, the more harassed we are. I know that I will be told that we need to have all these means at our disposal and to go as fast as we can because modern life is harried. But modern life is harried because we have the telephone, the fax, the jet plane, etc. Without these devices it would be no more harried than it was a century ago when we could all walk at the same pace. “You are denying progress then?” Not at all; what I am denying is that this is progress.

Jacques Ellul

What we call progress is the exchange of one nuisance for another.

Havelock Ellis

When the goal of progress is no longer clear, the word is simply an excuse for procrastination.

G. K. Chesterton

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & CAPITALISM

[183]

SOME HOLD THAT WESTERN SCIENCE

OWES ITS EXISTENCE TO SCHOLASTICISM

Alfred North Whitehead pointed out that it was the medieval belief in the ultimate rationality of the world that prepared the European mind for the belief in the possibility of science, while the clear distinction introduced by the medieval schoolmen between the province of natural reason and that of religious faith made it possible for the former to assert its independent rights in its own sphere.

The worst parochialism that scientists often invoke in interpreting their history is the notion that progress in knowledge arises from victory in battle between science and religion, with religion defined as unthinking allegiance to dogma and obedience to authority, and science as objective searching for truth.

Stephen Jay Gould

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & CAPITALISM

[184]

DO THE BENEFITS OF CAPITALISM

OUTWEIGH ITS OBJECTIONABLE FEATURES?

What kind of society isn’t structured on greed? The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm; capitalism is that kind of system.

Milton Friedman

I think that Capitalism, wisely managed, can probably be made more efficient for attaining economic ends than any alternative system yet in sight, but that in itself is in many ways extremely objectionable.

John Maynard Keynes

In our society competitive capitalism has put family life and working life on a collision course.

Normally speaking, it may be said that the forces of a capitalist society, if left unchecked, tend to make the rich richer and the poor poorer and thus increase the gap between them.

Jawaharlal Nehru

Under capitalism the more money you have, the easier it is to make money, and the less money you have, the harder. Or as Edgar Bronfman Sr. put it, ‘To turn $100 into $110 is work. To turn $100 million into $110 million is inevitable.’

Consumer capitalism is dedicated to the proposition that production is good in itself, no matter what is produced. The net effect is the massive production of absurd, empty and useless items which are nevertheless utterly serious since we earn our living from them, and dedicate our leisure time to them.

Jacques Ellul

A society in which consumption has to be artificially stimulated in order to keep production going is a society founded on trash and waste.

Dorothy L. Sayers

The chief safeguard of personal freedom in a democratic society is the anarchy and disorder of capitalist individualism.

Christopher Dawson

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & CAPITALISM

[185]

CAN THE MARKET BE AN

ANTI-HUMAN FORCE?

I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself than this incessant business.

Henry David Thoreau

What counts in a market-intensive society is not the effort to please or the pleasure that flows from that effort, but the coupling of labour with capital, however useless or damaging the result.

A human being has a right and a duty to preserve his individuality from forces attempting to absorb it and reduce it to type.

When you are gifted you have to do what you are gifted at, whether you can make money at it or not.

Barbara Sher

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & CAPITALISM

[186]

WHAT KIND OF COLLAPSES CAN WE

EXPECT IN THE YEARS AHEAD?

Everything collapses. The longer the collapse is postponed, the greater and more catastrophic it will be.

Disaster comes from any attempt to give permanence to the temporary.

Human beings expect immortal satisfactions from mortal conditions, and lasting and perfect happiness in the midst of universal change. To encourage this expectation, to persuade mankind that the ideal is realisable in this world after a few preliminary changes in external conditions, is the distinguishing mark of all charlatans.

Hugh Kingsmill

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & CAPITALISM

[187]

DOES CONSUMER CULTURE

SUBTLY UNDERMINE FREEDOM?

The less you have, the more free you are.

There are limits beyond which commodities cannot be multiplied without preventing their consumers from affirming themselves through the exercise of their personal freedom.

When market dependence reaches a certain threshold it deprives people of their power to live creatively and to act autonomously. And precisely because this new impotence is so deeply experienced, it is very difficult to express.

WORK & LEISURE

[188]

WORK WAS ONCE SEEN AS AN

IMPORTANT WAY TO SALVATION

Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.

J. M. Barrie

Find a job that you love and you will never work a day in your life.

Confucius

Most jobs are boring and of little intrinsic value. For every job that improves the lot of humanity and makes the world a better or more interesting place to live in, there are scores that do nothing of the sort.

I think that where it is possible to do work that is satisfactory to a man’s constructive impulses without entirely starving, he will be well advised from the point of view of his own happiness if he chooses it in preference to work much more highly paid but not seeming to him worth doing on its own account.

Bertrand Russell

People have a way of hanging on to what makes them miserable. At least they know what they’ve got.

George Burns

It’s better to stay with the bad you know than to risk the worse you don’t know.

One’s real life is so often the life that one does not lead.

Oscar Wilde

WORK & LEISURE

[189]

TO LIVE WELL IS TO WORK WELL

Work is necessary, and it’s good in its place: as a means to an end, the end being to provide the necessities of life. From the time of the Greeks to the rise of industrialism that was the idea, work was a means to an end. But when work was over was the time of true human life, time for family, friends, community, for the life of the mind and the life of the spirit.

To live well is to work well.

Aquinas

According to Statistics Canada one in four of us is a self-described workaholic. One in three feels constantly under stress trying to do more than they can handle. Not surprisingly today’s families all too often live on the left-overs of time and human energy.

WORK & LEISURE

[190]

IS WORK GOOD IN ITSELF?

All work, even cotton spinning, is noble.

Thomas Carlyle

A little work directed to a good end is better than a great deal of work directed to a bad end.

Bertrand Russell

It is better to do nothing than to do harm. Half the useful work in the world consists of combatting the harmful work.

Bertrand Russell

The man who chooses his work because it fulfils a purpose he approves is the only one who grows in stature by working.

The things one is paid a salary for doing are never, in my experience, serious; never seem in the long run of any particular use to anyone.

Malcolm Muggeridge

WORK & LEISURE

[191]

DOES WORK PROMOTE HAPPINESS?

Work never hurt anyone. It’s lack of it that destroys people.

Katharine Hepburn

To inflict on a man the most terrible punishment so that the most ferocious murderer would shudder at it beforehand, one need only give him work of an absolutely, completely useless and irrational character.

Dostoevsky

Work keeps us from three great evils: boredom, vice, and poverty.

Voltaire

Few people realize how much of their happiness, such as it is, is dependent upon their work, upon the fact that they are kept busy and not left to feed upon themselves.

John Burroughs

The secret of being miserable is to have leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not. The cure for it is occupation.

George Bernard Shaw

Work is a product of misery, and discontent. I only work because I’m unhappy. If I was happy I should never work.

Malcolm Muggeridge

WORK & LEISURE

[192]

WAGE SLAVERY

That state is a state of slavery in which a man does what he likes to do in his spare time and in his working time that which is required of him.

Eric Gill

There is dignity in work only when it is work freely accepted.

Albert Camus

The wage system is a form of slavery.

Too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists.

G. K. Chesterton

WORK & LEISURE

[193]

CAN THIS CHARGE BE DISMISSED

AS MERE CYNICISM?

Labour: one of the processes by which A acquires property for B.

Ambrose Bierce

The payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.

Albert Einstein

When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him whose.

WORK & LEISURE

[194]

HOW SERIOUS IS A CRISIS OF MOTIVE?

What makes life dreary is want of motive.

George Eliot

If a man has important work, and enough leisure and income to enable him to do it properly, he is in possession of as much happiness as is good for any of the children of Adam.

A perpetual holiday is a good working definition of hell.

George Bernard Shaw

WORK & LEISURE

[195]

DISCOVERING ONE’S VOCATION

IS BOUND UP WITH SELF-LIMITATION

As we grow older we learn the special thing we have to do.

G. K. Chesterton

In the Beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the Expert’s mind, few.

Shunryu Suzuki

WORK & LEISURE

[196]

IS A SHORTAGE OF LEISURE LEADING

US INTO A CRISIS OF CULTURE?

Leisure is an attitude of the mind and a condition of the soul that fosters a capacity to perceive the reality of the world.

Josef Pieper

Leisure has been, and always will be, the first foundation of any culture.

The sphere of leisure is no less than the sphere of culture in so far as that word means everything that lies beyond the utilitarian world. That is why when culture is endangered, leisure is called into question.

If you are losing your leisure, look out! You may be losing your soul.

Logan Pearsall Smith

WORK & LEISURE

[197]

DOES OUR CULTURE FEAR LEISURE?

With the trivialization of leisure came the return of the work ethic.

You’re a social outcast in this society if you don’t have too much to do. Even retired people seem to be uncomfortable with the concept of leisure.

Work is the essence of who I am.

Carol Heilbroner

True leisure cannot be enjoyed without some recognition of the spiritual world, for the first purpose of leisure is the contemplation of the good.

Josef Pieper

The more materialistic a civilization is, the more it’s in a hurry.

Fulton Sheen

WORK & LEISURE

[198]

NOT EVERYONE IS SUITED FOR LEISURE

Leisure is the time for doing something useful.

Benjamin Franklin

Leisure has to do with things that are done freely and for their own sake.

To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilisation.

Bertrand Russell

MISCELLANEOUS

[199]

THE PARADOX OF PROGRESS

There is no evidence that the mental and moral capacities of the human race have been increased since man became man.

C. S. Lewis

There is a continual enlargement of the field of experience, with the new not simply replacing the old, but being compared and combined with it. The history of mankind, and especially of civilised mankind, shows a continuous process of integration, which, even though it seems to work irregularly, never ceases.

Christopher Dawson

The major advances in civilization are processes which all but wreck the societies in which they occur.

A. N. Whitehead

Progress is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing.

George Orwell

MISCELLANEOUS

[200]

GOOD COMES OUT OF EVIL

MOST CLEARLY IN ADVERSITY

Sweet are the uses of adversity
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.

As You Like It (Duke)

Prosperity discovers vice, adversity discovers virtue.

Francis Bacon

Adversity makes men think of God.

Livy

Adversity’s sweet milk, philosophy...

Romeo and Juliet (Friar Laurence)

That which is bitter to endure may be sweet to remember.

Thomas Fuller

MISCELLANEOUS

[201]

CAN NATURE TEACH US ANYTHING

ABOUT MORALITY?

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.

Wordsworth

If you take nature as a teacher she will teach you exactly the lessons you had already decided to learn.

C. S. Lewis

What begins as the love of life and beauty often ends in the worship of eroticism or force.

When natural things look most divine, the demoniac is just round the corner.

C. S. Lewis

MISCELLANEOUS

[202]

WHO HAS THE DEEPER INSIGHT

INTO COMMON SENSE?

The common sense is that which judges the things given to it by other senses.

Leonardo da Vinci

Common sense is that layer of prejudices laid down in the mind prior to the age of eighteen.

Albert Einstein

MISCELLANEOUS

[203]

IS FEAR OF FAILURE A MORBID FEAR?

Learn how to fail intelligently, for failure is one of the greatest arts in the world.

C. F. Kettering

We must aspire to the unattainable. What can be achieved ultimately becomes tedious and second-rate.

Malcolm Muggeridge

In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail.

Despair is the price one pays for setting oneself an impossible aim.

Graham Greene

Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness.

George Santayana

MISCELLANEOUS

[204]

THE PARADOX OF INTELLIGENCE

Intelligence is quickness to apprehend as distinct from ability, which is capacity to act wisely on the thing apprehended.

Alfred North Whitehead

Intelligence is derived from two words—inter and legereinter meaning ‘between’ and legere meaning ‘to choose.’ An intelligent person, therefore, is one who has learned ‘to choose between.’

A man is not necessarily intelligent because he has plenty of ideas, any more than he is a good general because he has plenty of soldiers.

Nicolas Chamfort

MISCELLANEOUS

[205]

IS ARCHITECTURE AS SIGNIFICANT

AS THEY SEEM TO BELIEVE?

We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.

Winston Churchill

Architecture, of all the arts, is the one which acts the most slowly, but the most surely, on the soul.

Ernest Dimnet

Architecture is a very good test of the true strength of a society...because it is so difficult to get rid of.

G. K. Chesterton

MISCELLANEOUS

[206]

THE HEALING POWER OF WORDS

Words are magical: words are. The word “tree” is not merely a counter or a pointer: it exists as an object, in all the analogical splendour of being, just as the tree itself exists.

Hugh Kenner

Words are the physicians to a mind diseased.

Aeschylus

A well-chosen anthology is a complete dispensary of medicine for the more common mental disorders, and may be used as much for prevention as cure.

Robert Graves

MISCELLANEOUS

[207]

DOES EXPERIENCE STRENGTHEN
OR WEAKEN NATURAL SCEPTICISM?

The existence of a liar is more probable than the existence of a ghost.

George Bernard Shaw

We learn from experience that not everything which is incredible is untrue.

Cardinal De Retz

Under ‘Levitation’ the 1961 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica states, ‘The puzzling thing about levitation is that while it is intuitively rejected as impossible by the mind accustomed to scientific habits of thought, there is nevertheless a great weight of evidence in favour of its occurrence. This evidence would indeed be regarded as overwhelming if the phenomenon were intrinsically more likely.’

MISCELLANEOUS

[208]

TWO VIEWS OF SUICIDE

It is the role of cowardice, not of courage, to crouch in a hole, under a massive tomb, to avoid the blows of fortune.

Montaigne

Life is an end in itself, and the only question as to whether it is worth living is whether you have had enough of it.

Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes

MISCELLANEOUS

[209]

OLD AGE, LIKE DEATH, SEEMS

INCREDIBLE

Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that happen to a man.

Leon Trotsky

It is so comic to hear oneself called old, even at ninety I suppose!

MISCELLANEOUS

[210]

SIMPLICITY: A FORGOTTEN VIRTUE?

A life of clutter is a life too full of things and busyness to be enjoyable.

Can anything be so elegant as to have few wants, and to serve them one’s self?

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our life is frittered away by detail... Simplify, simplify.

Henry David Thoreau

Even though I’m busy all the time I feel unproductive.

(overheard in a restaurant)

MISCELLANEOUS

[211]

IS THERE A CONNECTION BETWEEN

COMFORT AND BOREDOM?

The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss.

Thomas Carlyle

One must choose in life between boredom and suffering.

Mme de Stael

Adventure and hardship are inseparable.

“Mad” Mike Hoare (Irish mercenary)

MISCELLANEOUS

[212]

DO YOU AGREE WITH STEVENSON?

A man who is a failure is always popular.

George Bernard Shaw

Artistically speaking, failure is considerably more interesting than success.

Whatever else we are intended to do, we are not intended to succeed: failure is the fate allotted.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Our business in this world is not to succeed, but to continue to fail, in good spirits.

Robert Louis Stevenson

MISCELLANEOUS

[213]

NO ONE CAN COMPLETELY ESCAPE

THE LIMITATIONS OF HIS AGE

Observe how the greatest minds yield in some degree to the superstitions of their age.

Henry David Thoreau

In the Summa Theologica Thomas Aquinas poses the question of whether heretics can be endured, tolerated. And his answer is that heretics can not be tolerated. If it was just to condemn counterfeiters to death, then surely it was necessary to put to death those who had committed the far worse crime of counterfeiting the faith.

It is difficult, if not impossible, for most people to think otherwise than in the fashion of their own period.

George Bernard Shaw

MISCELLANEOUS

[214]

THOUGH NECESSARY TO THE MIND

IDEALISM IS NOT WITHOUT ITS DANGERS

Progress by its very name indicates a direction; and the moment we are in the least doubtful about the direction, we become in the same degree doubtful about the progress.

G. K. Chesterton

For the man of action there is nothing but idealism.

Idealism is the despot of thought, just as politics is the despot of will.

Mikhail Bakunin

MISCELLANEOUS

[215]

CAN WE TRUST CONSCIENCE TO

TELL US WHERE TO DRAW THE LINE?

If you’re naturally kind you attract a lot of people you don’t like.

William Feather

Learn to say ‘No’; it will be of more use to you than to be able to read Latin.

Charles H. Spurgeon

The greatest mistake is trying to be more agreeable than you can be.

Walter Bagehot

MISCELLANEOUS

[216]

IS IT MORE SENSIBLE TO ADMIRE

MANKIND OR DESPISE IT?

More and more I see the human race—as we destroy the planet through over-population, through pollution, particularly, now, nuclear pollution—as a kind of virus destroying its host.

Gore Vidal

How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world
That has such people in’t.

The Tempest

The sense of the miracle of humanity itself should be always more vivid to us than any marvels of power, intellect, art, or civilization.

G. K. Chesterton

MISCELLANEOUS

[217]

IS ART THE HANDMAID OF VALUES

OR THEIR CREATOR?

There is no kind of evidence or argument by which one can show that Shakespeare, or any other writer, is ‘good.’ Ultimately there is no test of literary merit except survival, which is itself an index to majority opinion.

George Orwell

Good art is still the best means human beings have devised to train perception.

Philip Marchand

When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstone of our judgement.

John F. Kennedy

Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

A man’s artistic faculty is merely the means by which he communicates his vision of life, and however brilliant or complex it cannot purify a corrupted vision or deepen a shallow one.

Hugh Kingsmill



COMMON SENSE PHILOSOPHY

Sometimes a thing must first be trusted in order to discover whether it is trustworthy or not. Such is the case with An Outline of Common Sense Philosophy. In it we organize ideas under six main themes: logic, faith, common sense, mystery, paradox and language. Within this framework we try to present and illustrate nine fundamental principles or insights. They are as follows:

1.  The Insufficiency of Logic
2.  The Undeniability of Certainty
3.  The Necessity of Faith
4.  The General Reliability of Common Sense
5.  The Fact of Freedom
6.  The Inescapability of Mystery
7.  The Authority of Experience
8.  The Paradoxical Nature of Being
9.  The Analogical Nature of Language

Although we claim that these nine principles constitute a ‘Philosophy of Common Sense’ we might just as easily have called them the ‘The Fundamentals of Thinking’ or ‘The Laws of Thought.’ This is not to say that all philosophies must abide by these laws. Any kind of thinking can be dignified by the term ‘philosophy’ even if we sincerely believe it to be utter rubbish. In fact, of the four main world views or philosophical systems possible to human thought, only theism is completely consistent with our common sense philosophy. Buddhism is almost totally opposed to common sense philosophy, while monism and materialism lie somewhere in between. But, for the sake of argument, it’s not unjust to begin with a consistent set of principles that favours one particular world view. Experience has taught us that freewheeling philosophical discussion is far less productive than discussion that proceeds within such a framework. It allows one world view to be understood and tested more thoroughly than could any one of the various incompatible philosophies that emerge in fragmentary form in the course of an intellectually unbounded discussion.
   All of us insist that other people have rules for their mind. All true lovers of philosophy naturally strive for consistency and coherence in their thought. It is in keeping with these common sense assertions, and the endlessly useful maxim, ‘what a person really believes are what his actions show he believes,’ that we offer the fundamentals of common sense philosophy. It is both a philosophical method and the bare outline of a philosophy. Furthermore we contend that virtually everyone lives by this philosophy, and thus unconsciously accepts it. If you are deeply committed to, say, Buddhism, there is still great value in grasping the principles of common sense philosophy, if only to theoretically reject them. For you will discover that you accept most of them in practice. What’s more, once you become consciously aware of them you will find that they keep on shedding light.



AN OUTLINE OF

COMMON SENSE PHILOSOPHY

LOGIC; Certainty

[218]  First principles are not in the order of things that can be proved or disproved. If you could prove your first statement, then it would no longer to be your first.

[219]  All argument begins with an assumption, or a set of assumptions; that is, with something you don’t dispute. You can, of course, dispute the assumptions at the beginning of your argument, but in that case you are beginning a different argument with another set of assumptions at the beginning of it. And so on ad infinitum.

[220]  Logic is always an ‘if...then’ process which proceeds from the known to the unknown. But if nothing is known at the beginning of the process, then nothing can ever be known. You can’t use logic to generate knowledge from a state of total ignorance.

[221]  If nothing is self-evident, nothing can be proved. There are some premises that can’t be reached as conclusions.

C. S. Lewis

[222]  You can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it.

G. K. Chesterton

[223]  I wanted certainty in the kind of way in which people want religious faith. I thought that certainty is more likely to be found in mathematics than elsewhere...But after some twenty years of arduous toil, I came to the conclusion that there was nothing more that I could do in the way of making mathematical knowledge indubitable.

Bertrand Russell

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[224]  Proof is an idol before which the mathematician tortures himself.

Sir Arthur Eddington

[225]  The best years of my life were given to the Principia Mathematica, in the hope of finding somewhere some certain knowledge. The whole of this effort, in spite of three big volumes, ended inwardly in doubt and bewilderment.

Bertrand Russell

[226]  In 1931 Austrian logician Kurt Godel announced his discovery that complete certainty was never to be encountered in mathematics by any route founded on traditional logic. Furthermore, Godel found that any imaginable remedy for an inadequate system of logic will also prove inadequate in precisely the same way. In short, there will always be questions that arise in mathematics that cannot be settled with logical certainty.

[227]  Reason’s last step is the recognition that there are an infinite number of things which are beyond it.

Pascal

________________________________________________________

[228]  It would seem that nothing is more effectively hidden in the farthest recesses of obscurity than the obvious.

[229]  To find within a body of doctrine G a proof that G is consistent is impossible, for to accept the validity of such a proof is to concede to a part of G a special privilege which is clearly not justified if the coherence of G as a whole is in doubt.

[230]  If you try to root logic in itself you end up with contradictions.

________________________________________________________

[231]  If there’s no certainty outside logic, then there’s no certainty at all.

[232]  You can be certain without being logically certain. As well as logical certainty there is the certainty of experience. You can be certain that you exist, that you’re alive, that you’re awake, that you’re sane, even though you can’t demonstrate your certainty. After all, it would be insincere to pretend that we’re not absolutely certain that some people cheat on their income tax, or that politicians don’t always keep their promises. But such certainties presuppose being certain that we exist or that we’re sane. This kind of certainty which arises out of experience (though not necessarily personal experience) might also be called common sense certainty, or simply common sense.

________________________________________________________

[233]  The concept of certainty depends on the concept of truth. The moment you doubt or deny the concept of truth, the word certainty ceases to have meaning. Certainty and uncertainty imply truth because it’s always the truth of something that you are certain or uncertain. Therefore to say that one can’t be certain of any truth is a contradiction in terms.

[234]  It is not certain that everything is uncertain.

Pascal

[235]  It is brilliantly silly to ask whether anything can be known for certain.

________________________________________________________

[236]  Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain.

G. K. Chesterton

[237]  Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason.

G. K. Chesterton

[238]  Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtaxed.

Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes

[239]  Einstein was only half joking when he said, “My office in Prague looked out over an asylum and there were times when I felt a certain kinship with the inmates. They were the madmen who did not concern themselves with physics, I was the madman who did.”

________________________________________________________

[240]  The relations of logic to truth depend, not on its perfection as logic, but on the possession of certain pre-logical faculties and on the power of making certain pre-logical discoveries.

[241]  Only a fool tries to demonstrate the obvious. Working on the principle that a thing once seen is its own proof a wise man will try to find an image, or an analogy, or a parallel that will bring about that flash of illumination that the mind experiences when it apprehends truth.

[242]  There are some things you can only receive by direct insight, for example: babies are cute; murder is wrong; Michelangelo is a good painter; man is a rational animal.

________________________________________________________

[243]  Any premises that are capable of being put into words are also capable of being verbally questioned. Any argument whatsoever can thus be made into an infinite regress.

[244]  There always comes a point at which the question of sanity takes precedence over the question of demonstrable truth.

________________________________________________________

[245]  Accept my premises and I will lead you infallibly to my conclusions.

[246]  Your conclusions can be completely wrong even though your logic is completely right.

[247]  It is not enough for a system of ideas to be complete in theory. It must not be crippling in practice.

________________________________________________________

[248]  Pragmatism is a matter of human needs; and one of the first of human needs is to be something more than a pragmatist.

G. K. Chesterton

[249]  The thinker or school that represents all thought as an accident of environment is simply smashing and discrediting all thoughts—including that one. To treat the human mind as having an ultimate authority is necessary to any kind of thinking, even pragmatic thinking.




FAITH; Freedom

[250]  Faith is necessary to sanity because logic alone can never anchor the mind, and the mind, to remain sane, must be anchored.

[251]  The brute necessity of believing something so long as life lasts does not justify any belief in particular.

George Santayana

[252]  Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.

Samuel Butler

[253]  Every legal system that has ever existed is founded on the unprovable proposition that truth is not the property of the individual.

[254]  The conception of truth as the end of knowledge is dependent on faith, and nothing else.

Nirad C. Chaudhuri

[255]  One of the most disastrous consequences of rationalism is the vague feeling that you shouldn’t believe anything you can’t prove.

[256]  If we didn’t believe things we couldn’t prove life as we know it would cease.

________________________________________________________

[257]  Everybody has faith. But not everybody is conscious of having faith.

[258]  Unconscious faith, when held by the majority of people in a community or during a historical period, is often mistaken for common sense.

[259]  All science requires faith in the inner harmony of the world.

Albert Einstein

[260]  Atheism requires as much faith as belief in God since, obviously, proof is not available for God’s non-existence.

________________________________________________________

[261]  The term ‘blind faith’ stands for something that’s intellectually deficient. It means arbitrarily believing something because you want to believe it, without benefit of evidence or rational reasons. But many people talk as if all faith were intellectually deficient.

[262]  Believing things without evidence is faith.

[263]  Faith is the thing which enables us to believe that which we know to be totally untrue.

[264]  Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.

H. L. Mencken

[265]  What is faith but a kind of betting or speculation after all? It should be, ‘I bet that my Redeemer liveth.’

Samuel Butler

[266]  Faith, to my mind, is a stiffening process, a sort of mental starch, which ought to be applied as sparingly as possible.

E. M. Forster

[267]  There is enlightenment in questions, but only barbarism in belief.

Louis Dudek

[268]  Anything that logic can give us is ultimately founded on faith.

[269]  It is idle to talk always of the alternative of reason and faith. Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all. 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? Are they not both movements in the brain of a bewildered ape?”

G. K. Chesterton

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[270]  Faith declares what the senses do not see, but not the contrary of what they see.

Pascal

[271]  Reasonable faith doesn’t mean believing in spite of the evidence or in the absence of evidence, it means believing on the basis of unseen and indirect evidence.

[272]  Faith is intense, usually confident, belief that is not based on evidence sufficient to command assent from every reasonable person.

[273]  As for future life, every man must judge for himself between conflicting vague possibilities.

Charles Darwin

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[274]  Intellectual discipline is the purgatory through which a man must pass in order to reach the paradise of faith, and the passage can be, in fact it often is, a torture.

Nirad C. Chaudhuri

[275]  To believe with certainty we must begin with doubting.

King Stanislaw II

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[276]  Truth means the conformity of the mind with some object.

[277]  There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.

Hamlet (Hamlet)

[278]  It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere.

Linus (Peanuts)

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[279]  She believed in nothing; only her scepticism kept her from being an atheist.

Jean-Paul Sartre

[280]  Man is a being born to believe. And if no Church comes forward with its title-deeds of truth to guide him, he will find altars and idols in his own heart and his own imagination.

Benjamin Disraeli

[281]  It is precisely because an ideal is necessary to man that the person without ideals is in permanent danger of fanaticism. There is nothing which is so likely to leave a person vulnerable to the sudden assault of an unbalanced vision as a pragmatic approach to life.

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[282]  There’s a common German proverb that runs: Whoever says A must also say B.

[283]  Faith is the free element in thought, logic the necessary element.

[284]  When we are not sure, we are alive.

Graham Greene

[285]  Hope is the basic ingredient of all vitality.

Erik Erikson

[286]  The most black and hopeless catastrophe conceivable to human nature would be to find a logical explanation of all things.

G. K. Chesterton

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[287]  I can’t stand people who will not believe anything because it might be false nor deny anything because it might be true.

George Bernard Shaw

[288]  Freedom is a good horse, but you must ride it somewhere.

Matthew Arnold

[289]  Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.

George Bernard Shaw

[290]  We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe.

John Henry Newman

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[291]  Necessity is the argument of tyrants and the creed of slaves.

William Pitt

[292]  All science, all art, even human reason itself must serve the will of nature. And nature is fundamentally aristocratic.

Adolf Hitler

[293]  Once and for all, we are not born free; and we never can be free. When all the human tyrants are slain or deposed there will still be the supreme tyrant than can never be slain or deposed, and that tyrant is Nature.

George Bernard Shaw

[294]  We cannot do good, or even evil, unless we do it freely.

Hilaire Belloc

[295]  To be free is to know who we are.

Jean Vanier

[296]  Civilization in the best sense merely means the full authority of the human spirit over all externals. Barbarism means the worship of those externals in their crude and unconquered state.

G. K. Chesterton

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[297]  A man who has faith must be prepared not only to be a martyr, but to be a fool.

G. K. Chesterton

[298]  If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.

William Blake

[299]  Faith begins as an experiment and ends as an experience.

W. R. Inge

[300]  According to Simone Weil faith is the experience that the intelligence is enlightened by love.

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[301]  Believe in God and you will have to face hours when it seems obvious that this material world is the only reality; disbelieve in Him and you must face hours when this material world seems to shout at you that it is not all. No conviction, religious or irreligious, will, of itself, end once and for all this fifth-columnist in the soul. Only the practice of Faith resulting in the habit of Faith will gradually do that.

C. S. Lewis

[302]  I define Faith as the power of continuing to believe what we once honestly thought to be true until cogent reasons for honestly changing our minds are brought before us.

C. S. Lewis

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[303]  What can be rationally believed depends on one’s philosophy. But a philosophy cannot be founded on reason, it can only be founded on faith or common sense. And faith and common sense differ in context rather than in kind.

[304]  A person who believes in unalterable natural law can’t believe in any miracle in any age. A person who believes in a will behind law can believe in any miracle in any age.

[305]  When the Dalai Lama was in Taiwan he prayed there for the souls of hogs suffering from foot-and-mouth disease. Such an action will seem rational or irrational depending on whether one shares the Dalai Lama’s philosophy of life.

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[306]  Every philosopher is a man of faith. He needs faith to believe in the foundations of his own philosophy.

[307]  Metaphysics is the only thoroughly emotional thing.

G. K. Chesterton

[308]  The closest we can get to impartiality is admitting we are partial.

G. K. Chesterton

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[309]  The first requirement of philosophy is that you have to be certain of something; and the first thing you have to be certain of is the possibility knowledge. If you ask “Can we know something?” or to put it in philosophical jargon, “Is the primary act of recognition of any reality real?” you must answer yes. If you answer no, you disqualify yourself for philosophy.

[310]  All the things we need to be certain about to pursue philosophy can only be accepted as common sense; things like being, knowledge, truth and freedom.

[311]  The things which are the simplest so long as they are undisputed invariably become the subtlest when once they are disputed.

G. K. Chesterton

[312]  Who is this Mozart, this Haydn, these superior white men? The message is that this is the superior culture. Why is Mozart better than some African drummer?

(angry black student)

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[313]  Western civilisation owes its distinctive character in modern times to its rationalism. But it has never been purely rationalist, and it is doubtful whether any civilisation ever can be. The chief function of rationalism is critical. It stands for the freedom to doubt and the enlightenment that comes through rational enquiry. But freedom and enlightenment are not absolutes. The absolute element in culture is always provided by some positive faith, whether that faith is religious in the full sense, or is intellectualist (e.g. Buddhism, Platonism, or any system derived exclusively or principally from pure reason), or takes the form of a social idealism (e.g. Comptism, Marxism or Nazism). If that positive faith disappears the vitality of a society disappears with it.

[314]  Life requires love, since love is the source of life both physically and spiritually. But love requires faith. So the loss of faith ultimately means the loss of both love and life.

[315]  You can’t live on reason. However you can live on faith, even false faith. But to live a fully human life you need both reason and faith.




COMMON SENSE; Limitation; Dogma

[316]  Common sense appeals to realities, truths or tendencies that we all know are real, but which can’t be demonstrated, and therefore have no place in argument except as postulates.

[317]  It’s difficult to have a profitable discussion unless it’s acknowledged that logic must be governed by common sense. There’s not much use counting the steps of the logic if every step takes us further away from common sense.

[318]  To be really reasonable we sometimes have to reject logic just as we sometimes have to reject common sense. Truth always takes precedence over logic because logic is only one of a number of instruments for discovering truth. There are times when truth will yield to intuition or common sense, but not to logic.

[319]  Logically it’s possible to argue that the difference between warming your hands by the fire and being roasted alive is only a matter of degree. But common sense knows better.

[320]  It’s almost a paradox that Darwin’s book is called The Origin of Species because, in fact, Darwin deconstructs species. One of the things the book shows is that species disappear. This common sense category disappears as some kind of ontologically special level of reality. That is, there is no such thing as dog. Dogs are part of a grade of environmental expressions of certain genetic properties... And so all creatures start to grade one into the other. Species are simply snapshots of the world given to us by the fact of our mortality.

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[321]  An effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely.

George Orwell

[322]  A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks.

[323]  If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

George Orwell

[324]  Flawed human beings create flawed institutions, and flawed institutions corrupt human beings.

[325]  We act as we do because we are what we are: and what we are is the result very largely of the use we have made of our freedom to act as we will.

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[326]  There is no higher court of appeal than common sense. So if a person takes leave of their common sense, don’t waste your time arguing. Wish them well and be on your way.

[327]  When people reject common sense they usually take refuge in logic.

[328]  You can always use logic to get round common sense.

[329]  Increasing the speed limit on our highways is not necessarily going to make our roads unsafe.

Al Palladini

(Minister of Transport and former car salesman)

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[330]  We must believe in free will. We have no choice.

Isaac Bashevis Singer

[330a]  You can’t exercise your freedom to deny your freedom.

[331]  If free thought is possible then free will is a fact.

[332]  You can’t say that you’re advancing freedom when you use free thought to destroy free will. The determinists come to bind, not to loose.

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[333]  Western man has lost faith in common sense. He no longer believes that common sense holds the promise of truth.

[334]  Common sense is that layer of prejudices laid down in the mind prior to the age of eighteen.

Albert Einstein

[335]  We live in an age when common sense is routinely brushed aside because of ideological considerations.

[336]  The attributes of masculinity and femininity are cultural fabrications, rooted in a caste system in which one sex serves the other.

Jill Johnston

[337]  The state is not abolished, it withers away.

Friedrich Engels

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[338]  Common sense is fallible, but logic without common sense is helpless. Common sense and logic are the two principles without which the mind can’t function properly. Of the two common sense is more important because it provides the premises on which logic operates. Far more people run into difficulties because they neglect common sense than because they neglect logic.

[339]  Once logic is freed from the constraints of common sense it’s capable of arriving at any conclusion, however hateful or absurd.

[340]  The great majority of men have no right to existence, but are a misfortune to higher men.

Friedrich Nietzsche

[341]  The hope of understanding the world is itself one of those daydreams which science tends to dissipate. There is little but prejudice and habit to be said for the view that there is a world at all.

Bertrand Russell

[342]  Common sense is a fairy thread, thin and faint, and as easily lost as gossamer.

G. K. Chesterton

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[343]  One person’s blinding common sense is another person’s raving nonsense.

[344]  We seldom attribute common sense except to those who agree with us.

de la Rochfoucauld

[345]  Where an opinion is general, it is usually correct.

Jane Austen

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[346]  There is no such thing as inductive reasoning. Or, to speak more strictly, there is no such thing as inductive logic, though we may speak of “inductive inference.” Though indefensible in logic, inductive inference often yields reliable knowledge. Strictly speaking, however, induction is not part of the reasoning process, it is experiment and observation, which even the animals have. Induction, therefore, can never lead to a conclusion, only to an inference, a non-deductive inference. (Although deduction is another word for logic, it is also used in a looser sense to mean any rational inference.) In practice, the tricky part of the reasoning process is usually not the deduction (in the strict or in the wider sense), but establishing that your premises are both true, and sufficient to support your conclusions.

[347]  Experimental verification is not a new kind of assurance coming in to supply the deficiencies of mere logic. We should therefore abandon the distinction between scientific and non-scientific thought. The proper distinction is between logical and non-logical thought.

C. S. Lewis

[348]  Thought can only advance on two feet. One foot is reason and logic. The other is faith and common sense. By shifting from foot to foot, the faith providing the premises and the reason providing the deduction, the mind can move forward to grasp more and more truth. Breaking up this productive partnership disables the mind. In the absence of faith reason goes round in circles. In the absence of reason faith flies off on a tangent uncorrected by anything.

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[349]  There is no such thing as a condition of complete freedom, unless we can speak of a condition of nonentity. What we call freedom is always and of necessity simply the free choice of the soul between one set of limitations and another.

G. K. Chesterton

[350]  Any conception of reality which a sane mind can admit must favour some of its wishes and frustrate others.

C. S. Lewis

[351]  If all evil were prevented, much good would be absent from the universe.

Aquinas

[352]  We’d all like a reputation for generosity and we’d all like to buy it cheap.

[353]  Part of the American dream is to live long and die young.

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[354]  The moment you step into the world of facts, you step into a world of limits. You can free things from alien or accidental laws, but not from the laws of their own nature.

G. K. Chesterton

[355]  Women get more unhappy the more they try to liberate themselves.

Brigitte Bardot

[356]  In my second marriage I tried to preserve the respect for my wife’s [sexual] liberty which I thought my creed enjoined. I found however that my capacity for forgiveness was not equal to the demands I was making on it.

Bertrand Russell

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[357]  Every act of will is an act of self-limitation. To desire action is to desire limitation. In that sense every act is an act of self-sacrifice. When you choose anything, you reject everything else.

G. K. Chesterton

[358] Half of knowing what you want is knowing what you will have to give up in order to get it.

[359]  The last and greatest art is to limit and isolate oneself.

Goethe

[360]  Renunciation is the way to experience freedom. Self-imposed limits are the way to experience freedom.

Ivan Illich

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[361]  Just as there is no such thing as absolute freedom without limits, so there is no such thing as absolute intellectual freedom.

[362]  All intelligent ideas are narrow in the sense that they cannot be broader than themselves.

G. K. Chesterton

[363]  An atheist can’t believe that God exists and continue to be an atheist, just as a Christian can’t believe that atheism is true and continue to be a Christian.

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[364]  The building blocks of thought are definite ideas articulated in clear sentences.

[365]  If there be such a thing as mental growth, it must mean the growth into more and more definite convictions, into more and more dogmas. The human brain is a machine for coming to conclusions; if it cannot come to conclusions it is rusty.

G. K. Chesterton

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[366]  When men understand what each other mean, they see, for the most part, that controversy is either superfluous or hopeless.

John Henry Newman

[367]  It is a fact of experience and common-sense that education has to be governed by some set of human values, however sharply we may disagree about the content of these.

Christopher Derrick

[368]  The notion that education can be value free is simply false.

[369]  It is quaint that people talk of separating dogma from education. Dogma is actually the only thing that cannot be separated from education. It is education. A teacher who is not dogmatic is simply a teacher who is not teaching.

G. K. Chesterton

[370]  To tolerate everything is to teach nothing.

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[371]  There are two kinds of people: those who accept dogmas and know it and those who accept dogmas and don’t know it.

[372]  A dislike of defined dogmas really means a preference for unexamined dogmas.

[373]  You don’t avoid holding the assumptions by which you live just because you decline to give them explicit dogmatic status.

[374]  An unconscious dogma is the definition of a prejudice.

G. K. Chesterton

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[375]  Somebody complained to Matthew Arnold that he was getting as dogmatic as Carlyle. He replied, “That may be true; but you overlook an obvious difference. I am dogmatic and right, and Carlyle is dogmatic and wrong.” The humour of the reply should not blind us to its everlasting common sense.

[376]  The important thing is not whether you’re dogmatic, but whether you’re right.

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[377]  Dogma is the basis of all personal and political liberty because it represents a shared premise—as in the dogmas of the American declaration of independence: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’

[378]  I believe that force, mitigated as far as may be by good manners, is the ultima ratio, and between two groups of men that want to make inconsistent kinds of world I see no remedy except force...It seems to me that every society rests on the death of men.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes




MYSTERY; Experience

[379]  As long as you have mystery you have health. Destroy mystery and you create morbidity.

G. K. Chesterton

[380]  The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.

Steven Weinberg (physicist)

[381]  It would be impossible to ‘love’ anyone or anything one knew completely. Love is directed towards what lies hidden in its object.

Paul Valery

[382]  The Puritans fell, through the damming fact that they had a complete theory of life, through the eternal paradox that a satisfactory explanation can never satisfy.

[383]  What is more wonderful than the delight which the mind feels when it knows? It is the satisfaction of a primary instinct.

Mark Rutherford

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[384]  As we acquire more knowledge, things do not become more comprehensible, but more mysterious.

Albert Schweitzer

[385]  The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.

Albert Einstein

[386]  Mystery is a positive experience and not just a negative state of incomprehension.

[387]  What we want is not impenetrable mystery, but mystery that we can penetrate forever without exhausting.

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[388]  Just as people find water whenever they dig, man everywhere finds the incomprehensible sooner or later.

G. C. Lichtenberg

[389]  All things are strange. One can always sense the strangeness of a thing... when we do not try to find something resembling it and we concentrate on its basic stuff, its intrinsicality.

Paul Valery

[390]  Whatever is not mysterious is not reality.

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[391]  I do not agree with the view that the universe is a mystery, something that one can have intuition about but never fully analyze or comprehend...It is surely better to strive for a complete understanding than to despair of the human mind.

Stephen Hawking

[392]  What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to govern? Is the ultimate unified theory so compelling that it brings about its own existence? Although science may solve the problem of how the universe began, it cannot answer the question: Why does the universe bother to exist?

Stephen Hawking

[393]  My suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.

J. B. S. Haldane

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[394]  In a rationalist age people tend to feel that mystery detracts from the factualness of a thing. But the greatest mysteries are the most solid facts; such as love, freedom, gender and, above all, being itself. It follows then that just because we can’t define something as a truth doesn’t mean we can’t feel it as a fact.

[395]  Both being and knowing are metaphysical mysteries capable of endless philosophical analysis. But they are also every day experiences of the most direct and immediate kind.

[396]  We all know what light is; but it is not easy to tell what it is.

Samuel Johnson

[397]  The hardest thing to understand is how we can understand anything at all.

Albert Einstein

[398]  I’ve always argued for femaleness. It’s just that I was never quite sure what it was. I don’t think anyone’s sure what it is.

Germaine Greer

[399]  The whole secret of mysticism is that a person can understand everything with the help of what he does not understand. The logician seeks to make everything clear, and only succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows a few things to remain mysterious, and everything else becomes clear.

[400]  Sometimes it proves the highest understanding not to understand.

Gracian

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[401]  Thought must remain true to experience if the mind is not to fall victim to illusions.

[402]  Experience comes before thought and if you can’t trust any of your experience then you can’t trust any of your thought.

[403]  We arrive at truth through experience before we arrive at it through deduction

[404]  Experience may not be the highest authority, but it is the first. It’s also the bedrock of authority, the thing that should support all other forms of authority.

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[405]  Common sense is a term we use for the authority of the collective experience of mankind. Yet, the assertion that that collective experience has a claim to authority is itself a matter of common sense.

[406]  Many philosophers reject the authority of experience (and therefore of common sense) and substitute the authority of thought.

[407]  I think, therefore I am.

Descartes

[408]  The famous cogito ergo sum—“I think, therefore I am”—does not carry the mathematical certainty that Descartes attributed to it. The sceptical exercises by which he challenged our common-place perceptions and the familiar propositions of our common sense cannot be brought to a halt so easily. If we follow in Descartes’ footsteps, rigorously demanding absolute certainty, we will end with accepting the reality, not of an enduring thinking subject, but of something far “thinner” and much less satisfying—a moment of isolated sentience, of truncated consciousness.

[409]  The real self is as hard to arrive at as the real table, and does not seem to have that absolute, convincing certainty that belongs to particular experiences.

Bertrand Russell

[409a]  I think that I think
Therefore, I think that I am.

Ambrose Bierce




PARADOX; Subjectivism

[410]  The sane person always cares more for truth than consistency. If he sees two truths that seem to contradict each other, he accepts both truths and the contradiction along with them. His intellectual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that.

[411]  What is mature love? It is union under the condition of preserving one’s integrity, one’s individuality... In love the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two.

Erich Fromm

[412]  You cease being a mere logician and become a philosopher when you stop trying to eliminate paradox from reality and begin contemplating it.

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[413]  Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise to balance it.

George Santayana

[414]  The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.

Niels Bohr

[415]  Non-paradoxical thinking splits the truth in two. It reveals something by denying or obscuring something else.

[416]  To escape heresy we must accept paradox. Thinking with integrity is paradoxical thinking.

M. Scott Peck

[417]  There is nothing abnormal about paradox because being is paradoxical. Paradox is inconsistency, explicit or implied. But it sits by the springs of truth.

[418]  Not every inconsistency can be passed off as a paradox. The statement, ‘If it wasn’t for electricity, we’d all be watching television by candlelight’ is not a paradox. It’s illogic pure and simple.

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[419]  If being is paradoxical then language which speaks about being must also be paradoxical. When you have dissipated all the mists of the mind that arise from confusion of thought and confusion of language there remains the fundamental paradox of being that cannot be resolved and can only be contemplated. This is why when you put the simplest truths in the simplest language, that language will seem to contradict itself.

[420]  There are paradoxes or mysteries which when stated can easily be punctured by argument, and can just as easily be justified in real life.

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[421]  There is but one thing, which is unity and universality. The points in which things differ do not matter; it is only their agreement that matters.

[422]  The agreement we really want is the agreement between unity and diversity. We have to reconcile our sense that things do really differ, although they are at one.

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[423]  People have no access to an aboriginal uninterpreted reality. We encounter the world only as a set of effective interpretations.

[424]  Reality is something we make in perceiving it.

[425]  There are truths that are not of our own making.

[426]  I may have conceived theoretical truth wrongly, but I was not wrong in thinking that there is such a thing, and that it deserves our allegiance.

Bertrand Russell

[427]  I believe there is a truth, and that it’s knowable.

Mary McCarthy

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[428]  Truth has to do with the value of the things we know.

[429]  A philosophy which does not accept value as eternal and objective can lead us only to ruin.

C. S. Lewis

[430]  Wherever we turn we find it taken for granted that there is no real reality (or at least no known reality) and, above all, that there are no objective values. Your view of the universe is programmed into you by your cultural conditioning, your childhood traumas (Freud), your class interests (Marx), or even your selfish genes (Richard Dawkins). Words like truth refer to nothing more objective than that.

[431]  Good and evil are only labels that we use to describe our likes and dislikes.

[432]  Values are willed meanings. They are projections of the self rather than an opening to qualities in the world.

[433]  Some values exist in spite of us. We don’t invent them; we discover them.

[434]  A value is a value because I say it is, and not because it is inherently good or inherently reasonable.

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[435]  The statement, ‘Our minds are totally alien to reality’ reveals itself as a self-contradiction. For if our minds were ‘totally alien to reality’ then the truth of the statement could never have come to our attention.

[436]  When we know something, we bring it down to the level of our intelligence.

Fulton J. Sheen

[437]  Knowledge is a paradox. It’s both subjective and objective; subjective because it requires a subject, the knower; objective because it requires an object, the thing known. The meeting and marriage of subject and object, of a receptive mind and a strange fact is what we mean by the word knowledge.

[438]  Man is the interpreter of nature, science the right interpretation.

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[439]  No sceptic who believes that truth is subjective has any hesitation about treating it as objective. No determinist who thinks his mind was made up for him by heredity and environment has any hesitation in making up his mind. All sceptics without exception work on the principle that it is possible to accept in practice what it is not possible to believe in theory.

G. K. Chesterton

[440]  Most subjectivism is intellectually dishonest because it claims for itself a privilege which it denies to other viewpoints, namely the privilege of being inconsistent. Either statements can be true or untrue, which implies some truth can be formulated in language, or truth and self-expression are one and the same, which implies all statements are equally valid. It has to be one or the other. Dishonest subjectivists insist on having it both ways. They will attack things which are untrue or illogical when taking objectivity for granted, and then, when it suits them, defend anything they please, however untrue or illogical, by suddenly insisting on the subjectivity of all experience.

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[441]  Justice is truth in action.

Benjamin Disraeli

[442]  Politics, even ideally, can only be a matter of competitive self-interest because it is not only impractical, but inconceivable to speak of a just society. What’s that? What one person calls justice another will call injustice.

Christopher Derrick

[443]  What a person really believes are what his actions show he believes.

[444]  Our actions show that we believe that saying something doesn’t necessarily make it so, that facts don’t cease to exist because they’re ignored, that making something legal doesn’t make it right, that human beings are morally responsible for their actions, etc., etc.

[445]  Let us not pretend to doubt in philosophy what we do not doubt in our hearts.

C. S. Peirce

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[446]  A liberal may be roughly defined as someone who, if he could stop all the deceivers from deceiving and all the oppressors from oppressing merely by snapping his fingers, would not snap his fingers.

[447]  All that makes existence valuable to anyone depends on the enforcement of restraints upon the actions of other people.

John Stuart Mill

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[449]  No hell, no dignity.

Flannery O’Connor

[448]  A God all mercy is a God unjust.

[450]  I hold it to be the inalienable right of anybody to go to hell in his own way.

Robert Frost

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[451]  All profound truth, philosophical and spiritual, makes game with appearances, yet without really contradicting common sense.

Marshall McLuhan

[452]  Things are simultaneously knowable and incomprehensible.

[453]  The emancipation of the self requires commitment.

Reinhold Niebuhr

[454]  Freedom is not doing what you want, freedom is wanting to do what you have to do...this kind of freedom is always rooted in practised habit.

Northrop Frye

[455]  The mode in which the inevitable comes to pass is through effort.

Oliver Wendel Holmes

[456]  The perfect mystic would be always socially alert. The perfect mystic would be always correctly dressed.

G. K. Chesterton

[456a]  The idea of the equality of men is in substance simply the idea of the importance of man.

G. K. Chesterton

[457]  Gender is a reality, and a more fundamental reality than sex. Sex is, in fact, merely the adaptation to organic life of a fundamental polarity which divides all created beings. The male and female of organic creatures are rather faint and blurred reflections of masculine and feminine.

C. S. Lewis




LANGUAGE; Analogy; Fundamentalism

[458]  One can’t go on defining one’s terms indefinitely.

[459]  The thing that can’t be defined is the first thing, the primary fact. The word that has no definition is the word that has no substitute.

[460]  As nothing can be proved but by supposing something intuitively known, and evident without proof, so nothing can be defined but by the use of words too plain to admit a definition.

Samuel Johnson

[461]  Good is incapable of any definition in the most important sense of that word.

G. E. Moore

[462]  All of us know the meanings of words we can’t adequately define.

[463]  The son of a celebrity described his famous father as a “mean spirited, self-centred, jerk,” a view that finds considerable support in a recent biography of the man. Note that the words, ‘mean,’ ‘spirit,’ ‘self,’ and ‘jerk’ are primary words that largely defy definition. But even though the speaker couldn’t adequately define his terms, it doesn’t follow that he doesn’t know what they mean, or shouldn’t use them with confidence.

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[464]  In ordinary speech we are all bad poets. We think of things as up or down, for example, so habitually that we often forget that they are just metaphors.

Northrop Frye

[465]  Few sentences say exactly what they mean. Can the sun, for example, be said truly to rise or set, or is there any exact meaning in the phrase, “Done to a turn” as applied to omelettes? The simple answer is yes. But a more rigorous answer would be: sentences don’t mean what they say, they mean what they mean. And what they mean can only be grasped by the imagination.

[465a]  All speech, written or spoken, is a dead language, until it finds a willing and prepared hearer.

Robert Lewis Stevenson

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[466]  There are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.

A. N. Whitehead

[467]  Every heresy is a truth taught out of proportion.

G. K. Chesterton

[468]  The ego or the self is a social construct.

[469]  There are no facts, only interpretations.

Friedrich Nietzsche

[470]  There is no such thing as objectivity in anything involving human interpretation.

[471]  In personal and public life, in kitchen, bedroom and halls of parliament, men wage unremitting war against women.

Marilyn French

[472]  The ‘normal’ sex roles that we learn to play from our infancy are no more natural than the antics of a transvestite.

Germaine Greer

[473]  The altruism of women is merely the inauthenticity of the feminine person carried over into behaviour.

Germaine Greer

[474]  Love is what we call the situation which occurs when two people who are sexually compatible discover that they can also tolerate one another in various other circumstances.

Marc Maihueird

[475]  Freud and his disciples considered emotional energy to be specifically sexual in nature. According to this hypothesis the only really authentic form of emotional communication between people would be sexual love.

[476]  Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Eleanor Roosevelt

[477]  If life teaches us one thing, it’s that we make our own luck by believing in ourselves and creating our own lives.

Dr. David Viscott

[478]  There are no entirely false opinions. The listener, then, must proceed from what is valid in the opinions of the speaker to the fuller and purer truth as he, the listener, understands it.

Josef Pieper

[479]  Aristotle remarks that if one wishes to find the truth one must first consider the opinions of those who judge differently.

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[480]  ‘The moon is not made of green cheese’ is a whole truth, and there are innumerable others. What A. N. Whitehead really meant when he said, ‘There are no whole truths,’ is that there are few whole truths of a humanist or philosophical nature.

[481]  In all pointed sentences some degree of accuracy must be sacrificed to conciseness.

Oscar Wilde

[482]  There is an accuracy that defeats itself by the overemphasis of details. I often say that one must permit oneself, and quite advisedly and deliberately, a certain margin of misstatement.

[483]  Samuel Johnson defined ‘network’ in the following unhelpful way: anything reticulated or decussated at equal distances, with interstices between the intersections. Someone else offered this alternative: a bunch of holes held together with string.

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[484]  When a thing is pushed to its extreme, it moves to its opposite.

[485]  Beyond a certain level of intensity, medicine engenders helplessness and disease.

Ivan Illich

[486]  Beware the fury of a patient man.

John Dryden

[487]  The sublime and the ridiculous are often so nearly related that it is difficult to class them separately. One step above the sublime makes the ridiculous; and one step above the ridiculous makes the sublime again.

Thomas Paine

[488]  In every age of transition men are never so firmly bound to one way of life as when they are about to abandon it.

Bernard Levin

[489]  There are people who are convinced of the wickedness both of armies and of police forces, but who are nevertheless much more intolerant and inquisitorial in outlook than the normal person who believes that it is necessary to use violence in certain circumstances.

George Orwell

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[490]  The absolute means the thingness of being, and we do all feel that we live in a world full of things, material and immaterial. The rejection of the absolute means dissolving things in time so that we’re left with just one thing, the flux of everything and anything. But now the absoluteness of things has been replaced by a new absolute: absolute change; eternal becoming.

[491]  Evolution does not especially deny the existence of God; what it does deny is the existence of man.

G. K. Chesterton

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[492]  “To generalise is to be an idiot,” said Blake. Perhaps he went too far. But to generalise is to be a finite mind. Generalities are the lenses with which our intellects have to manage.

[493]  There are many possibilities beyond ‘true’ and ‘not true.’ There’s half-true, a little bit true, true in some respects but not in others, etc., etc.

[494]  Any general statement is like a cheque drawn on a bank. Its value depends on what is there to meet it.

Ezra Pound

[495]  Every nation has the government it deserves.

Joseph de Maistre

[496]  The rich are the scum of the earth in every country.

G. K. Chesterton

[497]  When two cultures collide is the only time when true suffering exists.

Hermann Hesse

[498]  The fundamental fault of the female character is that it has no sense of justice.

Schopenhauer

[499]  He who would reform himself must first reform society.

George Bernard Shaw

[500]  I shouldn’t be surprised if the greatest rule of all weren’t to give pleasure.

Molière

[501]  The way to make children good is to make them happy.

[502]  There is a great difference between a good doctor and a bad one; yet very little between a good one and none at all.

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[503]  Words point to realities which are far greater than the realities of words.

[504]  Reality is too complex and too subtle to be mirrored perfectly by language. Yet reality is also less vague and more definite than language. But because language is closer to us in the sense that it’s the tool we use to explore reality, it’s often language that seems more definite. So when language fails to do justice to reality our attitude should be ‘so much the worse for language.’ Unfortunately it’s often ‘so much the worse for reality.’ This oversight or turning from the world to clutch blindly at the word is the essence of fundamentalism.

[505]  Fundamentalism means being fooled by language.

[506]  The first step in escaping fundamentalism is to distinguish between what a sentence says and what it means.

[507]  It would seem that nothing is more effectively hidden in the farthest recesses of obscurity than the obvious.

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[508]  Language is not an infallible guide, but it contains, with all its defects, a good deal of stored insight and experience. If you begin by flouting it, it has a way of avenging itself later on.

C. S. Lewis

[509]  In natural, historical human speech there is something which we cannot manipulate at will as we can things and tools which we have made—something which we have no right to deal with arbitrarily.

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[510]  Language is by its very nature a communal thing; that is, it never expresses the exact thing but a compromise—that which is common to you, me, and everybody.

[511]  In the naming of things one must go with the crowd.

Aristotle

[512]  “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means what I choose it to mean. Neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “who is to be master. That is all.”

Lewis Carroll



WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY?

[513]  Dictionary Definition: love of wisdom; the knowledge or investigation of ultimate reality; a particular system of philosophical principles.

[514]  There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Hamlet (Hamlet)

[515]  One of the chief functions of philosophy is to remind us of the shallowness of our understanding of things and the massive background of our ignorance.

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[516]  The beginning of philosophy is wonder.

[517]  Wonder and philosophy are related in a far more essential way than might be supposed from the saying that ‘wonder is the beginning of philosophy.’ Wonder is not just the starting point of philosophy in the sense of a prelude or preface. Wonder is the lasting source as well as the origin of philosophy. The philosopher does not cease ‘wondering’ at a certain point in his philosophizing; he does not cease to wonder unless, of course, he ceases to philosophize in the true sense of the word.

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[518]  To wonder is not to know, not to know fully, not to be able to conceive. To conceive a thing, to possess comprehensive and exhaustive knowledge of a thing, is to cease to wonder. It cannot therefore be said that God ‘wonders’ because the knowledge of God is perfect. But, furthermore, to wonder is not merely not to know; it means to be inwardly aware and sure that one does not know, and that one understands oneself in not knowing... Although to wonder means not to know, it does not mean that we are in a kind of despair, resigned to ignorance. Out of wonder, says Aristotle, comes joy. Perhaps one might risk the following proposition: Wherever there is spiritual joy, wonder will also be found; and wherever the capacity for joy exists the capacity for wonder will be found.

[519]  Philosophy cannot fully comprehend its objects.

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[520]  To philosophize means to look at reality in such a way that things are the measure and the soul is exclusively receptive.

[521]  To philosophize means fixing our mind’s eye on the totality of being, ‘the world.’

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[522]  The essence of philosophy is that it transcends the world of work. It does not, of course, in any way deny or ignore the world of work, but it does affirm that a real philosophy is grounded in belief, that man’s real wealth consists, not in satisfying his needs, not in becoming ‘the master and owner of nature,’ but in seeing things not as useful or useless, but simply as being.

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[523]  Philosophy brings our minds into contact with realities that can’t be described or understood with logic.

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[524]  Philosophy is radically different from the sciences. The questions which science asks can all, in principle, be fully answered, or at any rate they are not unanswerable in principle. A philosophical question, on the other hand, can never be finally answered and disposed of—for instance “what is this, ultimately?” or “what is illness?” or “what is knowledge?” or “what is man?”

Josef Pieper

[525]  The true form in which truth exists can only be the scientific system of truth.

Hegel

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[526]  A complete and closed ‘system’ of philosophy is not possible. The claim to expound the world in a formula, or to have a system with which to explain the world, is quite simply unphilosophic or pseudo-philosophy.

[527]  Philosophy should hinder and resist the natural craving of the human spirit for a clear, transparent and definite system.

[528]  In the preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit Hegel tells us that his aim is to do what he can to enable philosophy to cease being called love of wisdom, and become real knowledge.

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[529]  Knowledge came down to us like a flame of light, as a gift from the Gods, I am convinced, brought to us by the hand of some unknown Prometheus from a divine source—and the ancients, being better than we are, and nearer to the Gods, handed this tradition down to us.

Plato

[530]  There is no such thing as a philosophy which does not receive its impulse and impetus from a prior and uncritically accepted interpretation of the world as a whole.

Josef Pieper

[531]  Rebellion against religious tradition is regarded as the very core of Western philosophy.

[532]  According to Kant the biggest obstacle to autonomy is religion and religious authority.



FOUR WORLD VIEWS

[533]  Theism: The belief that there exists a supreme being possessing such personal attributes as intelligence, purpose, creative power and protective love. This being is an eternal and infinite spirit who is the creator of all things, material and immaterial. Moreover He creates by truly communicating being and is therefore separate from his creation just as the artist is from his art. This distinction between God and His creation, between spirit and matter, between mind and body is a feature that is unique to theism and is called dualism. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and some variants of Hinduism fall under this world view.

[534]  The natural things of the world have a real, self-contained intrinsic being precisely by reason of having been created, precisely because the creative will of God is by its nature being-giving. That is to say that the will of God does not keep being for itself alone but truly communicates it. This, and this alone, is the meaning of “to create”: to communicate being.

[535]  The world of thought and of spiritual values, on the threshold of which man has the consciousness of standing, is a real world, an order no less great than the material order, and it is only in this world that we shall find a solution to the otherwise hopeless conflict between man’s spiritual aspirations and the limitations of his material existence.

Christopher Dawson

[536]  Evil has no capital of its own. It is a parasite on goodness.

[537]  Christian doctrine holds that evil is real. Eastern religions do not consider it to be real. They consider it to be illusion or false knowledge, what they call maya.

M. Scott Peck

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[538]  Monism: The belief that all existing things and activities are forms of manifestations of one ultimate principle or substance. This ultimate principle or substance is spiritual in nature, but is not usually thought of as having attributes of personality. Thus it is more commonly referred to as ‘The Absolute’ than as ‘God’ or ‘The Supreme Being.’ Pantheism, Hindu philosophy, Taoism and German idealism fall under this world view.

[539]  By the word ‘Tao’ is meant the ultimate reality which cannot be expressed in words. Tao is the undifferentiated, indefinable source of all things and virtues.

[540]  The Taoists never wearied of extolling purposelessness, uselessness, and complete detachment from the world. At the first sight, therefore, their theories and speculations might seem to be utterly impractical in the sense that they have nothing to do with life, being merely transcendental roamings in the clouds. And yet, if they talk about purposelessness, they have in mind a higher purpose; if they talk about uselessness, they have in mind a higher usefulness; and if they talk about a complete detachment from the world, it is only because they want to show how one should conduct oneself in the world. In the last analysis, Tao is nothing but a way of life. In this sense, the Taoists are eminently practical.

John Wu

[541]  Hinduism as a religion does not have the theological doctrine of evil, and is satisfied with relegating it to the domain of ethics.

Nirad C. Chaudhuri

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[542]  Materialism: The belief that there is nothing but matter, that mind and all other phenomena originate in matter, and that there is no reason to assume a spiritual First Cause of things. The model or analogy of the universe favoured by materialism is the machine model, the idea that the universe can best be thought of as an extremely complicated system of gears and levers. An emphasis on this model is often called reductionism because it reduces all existence to such easily understood units and interactions. Materialism exalts logic, disdains faith, and tends to be impatient with mystery. Until the advent of quantum theory (which is rife with paradox) it regarded paradox as a kind of nonsense or confusion that the advance of science would eventually eradicate. Though conceptually similar to monism in its rejection of dualism (of mind and body, matter and spirit), the emotional tone of materialism is utterly different.

[543]  The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.

Carl Sagan

[544]  Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.

David Hume

[544a]  Given for one instant an intelligence which could comprehend all the forces by which nature is animated and the respective positions of the beings which compose it, if moreover this intelligence were vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in the same formula both the movements of the largest bodies in the universe and those of the lightest atom; to it nothing would be uncertain, and the future as the past would be present to its eyes.

Pierre Simon Laplace

[545]  There is not the slightest reason to doubt that brains are anything other than machines with enormous numbers of parts that work in perfect accord with physical laws.

Marvin Minsky

[546]  I do not agree with the view that the universe is a mystery, something that one can have intuition about but never fully analyze or comprehend...It is surely better to strive for a complete understanding than to despair of the human mind.

Stephen Hawking

[547]  Rationalism assumes that the human mind is capable of understanding all things and discovering consistency everywhere.

[548]  Rationalism insists that all our beliefs ought ultimately to find for themselves articulate grounds.

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[549]  Buddhism: The belief that everything is illusion, and that this illusory reality is evil in the sense that it gives rise to desire. Buddhism teaches that salvation lies in the death of desire since the objects of desire, being unreal, will inevitably lead to suffering and disappointment. The way to destroy desire is to cultivate a state of perfect indifference to the world. To be perfectly indifferent or detached from everything, even from the soul and its desire for enlightenment, is ‘Nirvana.’ Rebuking those who would know whether Nirvana was existence or non-existence Buddha said, “Two things only do I teach, sorrow and the ending of sorrow.” In its refusal to posit an ultimate reality behind this illusory world, or to identify Nirvana with final fulfillment, Buddhism, in a strange paradox, seems to exalt nothingness as the ultimate object of desire. Less a philosophy than a mental discipline of salvation, Buddhism is the simplest, the most austere, and the most negative of all possible world views.

[550]  The Sutra of the Kernel of Transcendental Wisdom has been very popular among Buddhists in China and Japan. In part it runs:
...form is not different from emptiness; emptiness is form. The same can be said of sensation, thought, confection, and consciousness... when things are seen in the light of emptiness, they are neither born nor extinguished, they are neither tainted nor immaculate, they neither increase nor decrease. Therefore, in the realm of emptiness there is no form, no sensation, no thought, no confection, no consciousness; no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind; no form, sound, odour, taste, objects. There is no Dhatu of vision, nor of consciousness. There is no ignorance, nor extinction of ignorance. There is no old age and death, nor extinction of old age and death. There is no suffering, no accumulation of suffering, no annihilation of suffering, no path leading to the annihilation of suffering. There is no knowledge and no attainment, as there is nothing to be attained.

[551]  In Buddhism knowing means realizing emptiness. Buddhism teaches that things do not have an inherent self-existence of their own.

[552]  Classical Buddhism teaches that there is no death because there is no self. The personal self or ego—with all its memories, desires, anxieties, attachments, and ambitions—is an intoxicating mirage that blinds us and distracts us from the unperturbed reality of pure consciousness—our “Buddha nature.”

[553]  In Buddhism the notion of the autonomous self is considered an illusion.

[554]  The fulfilment of nirvana is not union with God, but a state of perfect indifference to the world. In Eastern philosophies detachment is an end in itself.

[555]  When Buddhists declare all things to be empty, they are not advocating a nihilistic view; on the contrary, an ultimate reality is hinted at, which cannot be subsumed under the categories of logic. With them, to proclaim the conditionality of things is to point to the existence of something altogether unconditioned and transcendent of all determination. Emptiness may thus often be most appropriately rendered by the Absolute.

Dr. D. T. Suzuki



MYSTICISM

[556]  The mystic is the person who had transcended, at least momentarily, the natural limits of human knowledge.

[557]  Intuitions of an ultimate reality are common to all profound thought about the universe, Christian or non-Christian.

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[558]  The broadest conviction of most people who have had some kind of natural mystical experience is the realization that beyond time and space there is order.

[559]  I had spent the evening in a great city, with two friends, reading and discussing poetry and philosophy. We parted at midnight and I had a long drive to my lodging. My mind, deeply under the influence of the ideas, images, and emotions called up by the reading and talk, was calm and peaceful. I was in a state of quiet, almost passive enjoyment, not actually thinking, but letting ideas, images, and emotions flow of themselves through my mind. All at once, without warning of any kind, I found myself wrapped in a flame-coloured cloud. For an instant I thought of fire, an immense conflagration somewhere close by in that great city; the next, I knew that the fire was within myself. Directly and afterward there came upon me a sense of exultation, of immense joyousness immediately followed by an intellectual illumination impossible to describe. Among other things, I did not merely come to believe, but I saw that the universe is not composed of dead matter, but is, on the contrary, a living Presence; I became conscious in myself of eternal life. It was not a conviction that I would have eternal life, but a consciousness that I possessed eternal life then; I saw that all men are immortal; that the cosmic order is such that without any element of chance all things work together for the good of each and all; that the foundation principle of the world, of all the worlds, is what we call love, and that the happiness of each and all is in the long run absolutely certain. The vision lasted a few seconds and was gone; but the memory of it and the sense of the reality of what it taught has remained during the quarter of a century which has since elapsed. I knew that what the vision showed was true. I had attained to a point of view from which I saw that it must be true. That view, that conviction, I may say that consciousness, have never, even during periods of the deepest depression, been lost.

R. M. Bucke

[560]  As you can see, mystical experiences are as direct perceptions of fact for those who have them as any sensations ever are for any of us. Even when the five senses are apparently in abeyance these experiences are absolutely sensational in the sense of reality they confer, presenting the subject face to face with what seems immediately and incontrovertibly to exist. Nevertheless, we must repeat that non-mystics are under no obligation to acknowledge in mystical states an authority superior to the ordinary data of sense experience. As a rule mystical states do not contradict this data but merely add to it a supersensuous meaning, for there can never be a state of facts to which new meaning cannot be legitimately attached.

William James



FIFTEEN UNPROVABLE BELIEFS

[561]  Almost everyone believes that the world around them and the people in it are real, and not their own delusion or dream. But that I, at any given moment, am not in a dream, is unproved and unprovable. That anything exists except myself is unproved and unprovable.

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[562]  Almost everyone believes that this world not only exists, but matters. Everyone believes that we have some kind of obligation to interest ourselves in this vision or panorama of life. We would think a person wrong who said, “I am aware that your house is on fire but I couldn’t care less. I did not ask for this farce and it bores me.” That there is such a thing as a duty to take an interest in or improve the things we didn’t make is a thing unproved and unprovable.

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[563]  Almost everyone believes that there is such a thing as a self or ego, which persists through time. It would be disconcerting if a friend treated us as a new friend every time they met us—on the basis that every particle in our body, having changed its position and velocity since they last saw us, was in a new state. That there is such a paramount “I” is unproved and unprovable. What’s more, it’s definitely disputed by many metaphysicians.

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[564]  Most people believe, and almost everyone in practice assumes, that they have a power of choice and responsibility for their actions. Free will and the moral responsibility that goes with it are both unproved and unprovable. Many philosophers dispute what almost everyone assumes.

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[565]  Many people think it “dogmatic” to assume the perfection or improvement of humanity in another world. But many of the same people do not think it “dogmatic” to assume the perfection or improvement of humanity in this world. The idea of progress, however, is as unproved and unprovable as the idea of immortality. Progress is perhaps the most eminent of all the unconscious dogmas of the twentieth century.

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[566]  It is widely believed that unity is itself a good thing; that there is something high and spiritual about things being blended and absorbed into each other—the sexes are to be “at one” with one another; all sects are to be “at one” in the new religion; animals fade into human beings and human beings fade into God. That union and “at oneness” is superior to division and variety, is superior to a vivid sense of separation and identity, is unproved. That there is something specially right about mere contact and coalescence is unproved.

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[567]  It has been widely believed—particularly by those on the political left—that selfishness arises mainly from education or ill-treatment and only marginally or not at all from the mere fact of having a self. On the basis of this assumption large social experiments have been conducted such as the 70 year experiment in Russian communism. The assumption, however, was always very tentative and twentieth century experiments in collectivism have done nothing to make it more secure.

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[568]  Many people assume the infallibility of language: that is to say, they assume that there is a perfect scheme of verbal expression for all the internal moods and meanings of human beings. Whenever someone says, “Prove your case; defend your faith,” they are making this assumption: that is to say, they are assuming that the language has a word for every reality in heaven and earth. The belief that all human experience, much less all reality, can be accurately represented by an arbitrary system of grunts and squeals is not only unproved, but unlikely.

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[569]  There is a vague assumption that in the School, in contrast with other human institutions such as the Family, the Church and the State, we can avoid the folly, failure, and imperfection that characterizes everything human; that the educational institution can be designed as a kind of supernormal intellectual and moral factory, in which successful well-adjusted men and women are produced almost by magic; that if the Family and the Church break down education can undo the damage and make good the deficits. These assumptions are not only unproved, but seriously at variance with a great deal of experience.

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[570]  It is often supposed that dogma—in the sense of fixed opinions or conclusions—can be separated from education. This leads to the conclusion that parental or scholastic authority may be eliminated from the educational process. The assumption that a teacher can teach without being dogmatic is unproved. The educator may claim to be ‘drawing out’ instead of ‘pouring in,’ but he still draws out what he chooses.

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[571]  Because of the reluctance of our society to condemn anything on purely moral grounds there is a vague assumption that it is possible to completely avoid words like right and wrong, good and evil when dealing with any ethical question. The possibility of doing this has never been convincingly demonstrated. Clearly, there could be no safety for a society in which the remark by the Chief Justice that murder was wrong was regarded as an original and dazzling epigram. Since critical real life situations repeatedly show human beings forced to fall back on moral absolutes, the notion that words with axiomatic moral meaning—such as right and wrong—can be eliminated from ethical discussion remains unproved.

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[572]  There is a quite common assumption that the material circumstances have alone created the moral circumstances and therefore that human beings derive their morality solely from the factors of heredity and environment. This assumption is unproved and probably unprovable.

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[573]  It is almost universally assumed that it is a good thing when a nation can produce great athletes and that a lot of money and effort should be devoted to this cause. This is debatable. When athletics are done very well it may mean that only a few professionals and eccentrics are doing them while the rest of the nation is merely looking on. As long as athletics are a game, everybody will feel free to join in. When it becomes an art, most people prefer to look at it.

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[574]  Some people assume that if there is anything spiritual, it is happier, higher, lovelier and loftier than anything we yet know. They then open all the doors and windows for the spiritual world to flow in. This may be comparable to an eighteenth-century sentimentalist, reading into Rousseau a notion that savage man is like Adam in Eden, going to live in the Cannibal Islands to be surrounded with happiness and virtue. He would be surrounded, perhaps, but in a more bodily and unpleasant sense. The assumption that spirituality and goodness are interchangeable terms is unproved and unprovable.

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[575]  Common morality such as ‘Thou shalt not kill, steal, bear false witness, etc.’ is unproved and unprovable. Yet many admirable people believe that there is no scepticism that can affect it. Thomas Henry Huxley and George Bernard Shaw were of this opinion and both were brilliant and intellectually responsible men. Huxley said, “It may be doubted if any man ever really said, ‘Evil, be thou my good.’” From Shaw we have, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions. All men mean well.” Renowned philosophers have denied both matter (Berkeley for example) and mind (Hume for example) leaving us with precisely nothing. There is no reason to suppose that scepticism will call a halt when it comes face to face with common morality. The influential philosopher Nietzsche is a case in point. History can show many examples of highly intelligent, educated and cultured people who deny fundamental morality, Shaw being a perfect example with his ‘The only golden rule is that there is no golden rule.’ Some of them live out their scepticism such as Alastair Crowley and the Marquis de Sade.



SIX ARGUMENTS

AGAINST SUBJECTIVISM

[576]  Many people believe, or unconsciously assume, that there’s no such thing as objectivity in anything involving human interpretation. They believe that our perception of truth is entirely subjective, thereby denying that there are degrees of objectivity, and that we have a duty to be as objective as our limitations allow, limitations which include the ignorance, bias and self-deception from which every individual necessarily suffers. Such a view is pure poison to metaphysics, disrupts the normal operation of the intellect, and would disrupt all of practical life if these people were to press home the full logic of their anarchistic position. But, of course, they never do.

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[577]  Everyone was indignant when the Nazis defined justice as that which served the interest of the Third Reich. But this indignation is completely groundless on the part of anyone who regards morality as a subjective sentiment to be altered at will. Unless there’s some objective standard of good, then of course the Nazis were as competent to create their ideology as we are to create ours. Likewise, Marxists defined justice not as truth in action, but as that which contributed to the cause of international socialism. Sometimes they argued that since objective truth was unobtainable a big lie was no worse than a small one.

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[578]  Admittedly, no one can deny that there’s a subjective element in the act of knowing. Not only does the raw data of experience have to pass through the prism of the senses, it has to pass through the prism of the self with its biases of temperament, education, and past experience. But that’s very different from saying that our perception of truth is entirely subjective. If it were then all statements would be equally valid, there being no objective standard against which to measure them. Racist, sexist, homophobic statements (in fact, offensive statements of all kinds) would be every bit as appropriate, valid and legitimate as their opposites. And it would be a very committed subjectivist who wouldn’t balk at that.

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[579]  In point of fact no one who believes that truth is subjective has any hesitation in treating it as objective. However deep the commitment to philosophical subjectivism all subjectivists have to operate (and do operate) on the principle that it’s possible to accept in practice what it’s not possible to believe in theory; namely that at least some thoughts (and the statements that express them) are true insights, are the reflection of reality in human consciousness and not merely rationalizations of subjective instincts and desires.

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[580]  Unless the mind is capable of coming into contact with reality, then all thought is equally worthy and equally worthless. It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere. No normal person honestly believes that. For one thing it’s unhealthy. If you split your mind into two halves, a discursive half and a practical half, and give them radically incompatible things to believe the outcome is going to be stress and inner conflict. It’s also illogical. Is the thought that no thoughts are true, itself true? Is the statement that no statement is unbiased, itself unbiased? If we answer Yes, we contradict ourselves. For if all thoughts are untrue, then this thought is untrue. If all statements are biased, then this statement is biased. There’s no question therefore of a total scepticism about human thought because it can only be formulated by making a tacit exception in favour of the thought we are thinking at the moment.

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[581]  Philosophical subjectivism is the great unconscious religion of the modern age. It creates enormous confusion both in thought and argument, and if consistently adhered to leads to mental helplessness. It also encourages a familiar and very human failing. Nobody will admit without a struggle that they’re prejudiced against anything. It grieves one’s vanity. Everyone wants to believe that their views on all subjects are the product of calm, dispassionate reasoning on the available evidence. But although they don’t realize it and therefore won’t admit it, the only truth that many people ever search for is the truth which can pass the test of their subjective prejudices.