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April 30, 2012

If we affirm one moment, we thus affirm not only ourselves but all existence. For nothing is self-sufficient, neither in us ourselves nor in things; and if our soul has trembled with happiness and sounded like a harp string just once, all eternity was needed to produce this one event - and in this single moment of affirmation all eternity was called good, redeemed, justified, and affirmed.

Nietzsche - The Will To Power

Posted by amin at 7:25 PM

April 28, 2012

The ancients had heros and put men on their stages; we, on the contrary, put only heros on the stage and hardly have any men. The ancients spoke of humanity in less-studied phrases, but they knew how to exercise it better.

Rousseau - Politics and the Arts

Posted by amin at 3:44 PM

If it were true that zeal takes the place of talent, I would have done better than ever; but I have seen what needed to be done, and could not bring it to execution. I have spoken the truth coldly; who cares for the truth? Dreary recommendation for a book! To be useful, one must be charming, and my pen has lost that art. Some will malignantly contest this loss. Be that as it may; nevertheless, I feel that I am fallen, and one cannot sink beneath nothingness.

Rousseau - Politics and the Arts

Posted by amin at 3:30 PM

April 24, 2012

Man is one; I admit it! But man modified by religions, governments, laws, customs, prejudices, and climates becomes so different from himself that one ought not to seek among us for what is good for men in general, but only what is good for them in this time or that country.

Rousseau - Politics and the Arts

Posted by amin at 3:46 PM

No one is more filled than I with love and respect for the most sublime of all books; it consoles me and instructs me every day, when other books inspire in me only disgust. But I maintain that, if the Scripture itself gave us some idea of God unworthy of Him, we would have to reject it on that point, just as you reject in geometry the demonstrations which lead to absurd conclusions. For, of whatever authenticity the sacred text may be, it is still more believable that the Bible was altered than that God is unjust or malevolent.

Rousseau - Politics and the Arts

Posted by amin at 3:28 PM

If I should be asked why I myself dispute, I would answer that I speak to the many and that I am explaining practical truths, that I base myself on experience, that I am fulfilling my duty, and that, after having said what I think, I see no harm in it if my opinion is not accepted.

Rousseau - Politics and the Arts

Posted by amin at 3:18 PM

April 21, 2012

The difference between science and theology is one over whether you see the world as a gift or not, and you cannot resolve this just by inspecting the thing, any more than you can deduce from examining a porcelain vase that it is a wedding present.

Terry Eagleton

Posted by amin at 12:01 PM

Most fortunately it happens, that since reason is incapable of dispelling these clouds, nature herself suffices to that purpose, and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium, either by relaxing this bent of mind, or by some avocation, and lively impression of my senses, which obliterate all these chimeras. I dine, I play a game of backgammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends; and when after three or four hours' amusement, I would return to these speculations, they appear so cold, and strain'd, and ridiculous, that I cannot find in my heart to enter into them any farther.

David Hume - Treatise on Human Nature

Posted by amin at 11:43 AM

April 18, 2012

I would go with Pierre Hadot and say that the love of wisdom is a way of life; that is to say, it’s a set of practices that have to do with mustering the courage to think critically about ourselves, society, and the world; mustering the courage to empathize; the courage, I would say, to love; the courage to have compassion with others, especially the widow and the orphan, the fatherless and the motherless, poor and working peoples, gays and lesbians, and so forth—and the courage to hope.

Cornel West

Posted by amin at 11:17 PM

I climbed, I climbed, I dreamed, I thought, but everything oppressed me. I was like a sick man wearied by his sore torment and reawakened from sleep by a worse dream. But there is something in me that I call courage: it has always destroyed every discouragement in me.


Posted by amin at 11:15 PM

Philosophy is not opposed to science, it behaves itself as if it were a science, and to a certain extent it makes use of the same methods; but it parts company with science, in that it clings to the illusion that it can produce a complete and coherent picture of the universe. Its methodological error lies in the fact that it over-estimates the epistemological value of our logical operations.


Posted by amin at 11:14 PM

Few people have faith in themselves. Of these few, some are endowed with it as a useful blindness or a partial eclipse of their spirit...while the rest have to require it. Everything good, fine, or great they do is first of all an argument against the skeptic inside them. They have to convince or persuade him, and that almost requires genius. These are the great self-dissatisfied people.


Posted by amin at 11:10 PM

A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions - as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all. To be annoyed or feel remorse because something goes wrong - that he leaves to those who act because they have received orders and who have to reckon with a beating when his lordship is not satisfied with the result.


Posted by amin at 10:56 PM

What distinguishes the higher human from the lower is that the former see and hear immeasurably more, and see and hear thoughtfully - and precisely this distinguishes human beings from animals, and the higher animals from the lower. For anyone who grows up into the heights of humanity the world becomes ever fuller; ever more fishhooks are cast in his direction to capture his interest; the number of things that stimulate him grows constantly, as does the number of different kinds of pleasure and displeasure: The higher human being always becomes at the same time happier and unhappier.


Posted by amin at 10:54 PM

The real discovery is the one that makes me capable of stopping doing philosophy when I want to. – The one that gives philosophy peace, so that it is no longer tormented by questions which bring itself in question.


Posted by amin at 10:52 PM

Where can you lie down in the sun so that you, too, reap an excess of wellbeing and your existence justifies itself? What I want is more; I am no seeker. I want to create for myself a sun of my own.


Posted by amin at 10:48 PM

When I teach something to you, I am most probably teaching unborn millions. Some among you may be well enough disposed toward me to imagine that I sense the dignity of my own special vocation, that the highest aim of my reflections and my teaching will be to contribute toward advancing culture and elevating humanity in you and in all those with whom you come into contact, and that I consider all philosophy and science which do not aim at this goal to be worthless.

Fichte - Lectures Concerning the Scholar's Vocation

Posted by amin at 10:46 PM

Insofar as man is considered as a rational, sensuous creature, then culture is the ultimate and highest means to his final goal: complete harmony with himself. Insofar as man is considered merely as a sensuous creature, then culture is itself his ultimate goal. Sensibility ought to be cultivated: that is the highest and ultimate thing which one can propose to do with it.

Fichte - Lectures Concerning the Scholar's Vocation

Posted by amin at 10:43 PM

My existence is not in vain and without any purpose. I am a necessary link in that great chain which began at that moment when man first became fully conscious of his own existence and stretches into eternity. All of these people have labored for my sake. All that were ever great, wise, or noble-those benefactors of the human race whose names I find recorded in world history, as well as the many more whose services have survived their names: I have reaped their harvest. Upon the earth on which they lived I tread in the footsteps of those who bring blessings upon all who follow them. Whenever I wish, I can assume that lofty task which they had set for themselves: the task of making our fellowmen ever wiser and happier. Where they had to stop, I can build further, I can bring nearer to completion that noble temple that they had to leave unfinished.

Fichte - Lectures Concerning the Scholar's Vocation

Posted by amin at 10:41 PM

Anyone who considers himself to be a master of others is himself a slave. If such a person in not a slave in fact, it is still certain that he has a slavish soul and that he will grovel on his knees before the first strong man who subjugates him. The only person who is himself free is that person who wishes to liberate everyone around him and who-by means of a certain influence whose cause has not always been remarked-really does so. We breathe more freely under the eyes of such a person. We feel that nothing constrains, restrains, or confines us, and we feel an unaccustomed inclination to be and to do everything which is not forbidden by our own self-respect.

Fichte - Lectures Concerning the Scholar's Vocation

Posted by amin at 10:38 PM

The world is overfull of beautiful things but nevertheless poor, very poor when it comes to beautiful moments and unveilings of these things. But perhaps this is the most powerful magic of life: it is covered by a veil interwoven with gold, a veil of beautiful possibilities, sparkling with promise, resistance, bashfulness, mockery, pity, and seduction. Yes, life is a woman.


Posted by amin at 10:32 PM

A visionary is one who can find his way by moonlight, and see the dawn before the rest of the world.

Oscar Wilde

Posted by amin at 10:26 PM

But you will have gathered what I am driving at, namely, that it is still a metaphysical faith upon which our faith in science rests - that even we seekers after knowledge today, we godless anti-metaphysicians still take our fire, too, from the flame lit by a faith that is thousands of years old, that Christian faith which was also the faith of Plato, that God is the truth, that truth is divine. - But what if this should become more and more incredible, if nothing should prove to be divine any more unless it were error, blindness, the lie - if God himself should prove to be our most enduring lie?

Nietzsche - Gay Science

Posted by amin at 10:24 PM

Ye who listen with credulity to the whispers of fancy, and persue with eagerness the phantoms of hope; who expect that age will perform the promises of youth, and that the deficiencies of the present day will be supplied by the morrow; attend to the history of Rasselas prince of Abissinia.

Samuel Johnson - The History of Rasselas

Posted by amin at 10:15 PM

Since the magicians of Pharaoh dared, even in the presence of Moses, to produce the same signs he did by God's express order, why would they not in his absence have claimed, with the same credentials, the same authority? Thus, after the doctrine has been proved by the miracle, the miracle has to be proved by the doctrine, for fear of taking the Demon's work for God's work. What do you think of this vicious circle?

Rousseau - Emile

Posted by amin at 10:11 PM

I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the
beginning and the end,
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.

There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.


Posted by amin at 10:07 PM

Argument, even analytic, has its drumbeat. It is made ode. What voices the closing movements of Hegel’s Phenomenology better than Edith Piaf’s non de non, a twofold negation which Hegel would have prized?

George Steiner - The Poetry of Thought

Posted by amin at 10:05 PM

Religious affiliation is neither the mark of ignorance nor intelligence. Yet it is the mark of wisdom to understand the conditions under which people do or do not have religious affiliation. In this sense, science neither solves nor dissolves the issue of religious beliefs.

Cornel West

Posted by amin at 10:03 PM

Are roses red in the dark?


Posted by amin at 10:00 PM

The study suitable for man is that of his relations. So long as he knows himself only in his physical being, he ought to study himself in his relations with things. This is the job of his childhood. When he begins to sense his moral being, he ought to study his relations with men. This is the job of his whole life.

Rousseau - Emile

Posted by amin at 9:51 PM

He among us who best knows how to bear the goods and ills of this life is to my taste the best raised.

Rousseau - Emile

Posted by amin at 9:49 PM

The difference between good and wicked man is that the good man orders himself in relation to the whole, and the wicked orders the whole in relation to himself. The later makes himself the center of all things; the former measures his radius and keeps to the circumference.

Rousseau - Emile

Posted by amin at 9:48 PM

I am an inquirer by inclination. I feel a consuming thirst for knowledge, the unrest which goes with the desire to progress in it, and satisfaction at every advance in it. There was a time when I believed this constituted the honor of humanity, and I despised the people, who know nothing. Rousseau corrected me about this. My binding prejudice disappeared. I learned to honor humanity, and I would find myself more useless than the common labourer if I did not believe that this attitude of mine can give worth to all others in establishing the rights of humanity.


Posted by amin at 9:42 PM

It is national institutions which form the genius, the character, the tastes, and the morals of a people, which make it be itself and not another, which inspire in it that ardent love of fatherland founded on habits impossible to uproot, which cause it to die of boredom among other peoples in the midst of delights of which it is deprived in its own.

Rousseau - Emile

Posted by amin at 9:40 PM

To be something, to be oneself and always one, a man must act as he speaks; he must always be decisive in making his choice, make it in a lofty style, and always stick to it.

Rousseau - Emile

Posted by amin at 9:07 PM

He simply believed that a willingness to let the self-esteem-structure be attacked and burned to the ground was a measure of your seriousness. A man should be able to hear, and to bear, the worst that could be said of him.

Saul Bellow - Ravelstein

Posted by amin at 9:02 PM

Poets act shamelessly towards their experiences: they exploit them.

Beyond Good and Evil, §161

Posted by amin at 9:00 PM

"Relativism" is the view that every belief on a certain topic, or perhaps about any topic, is as good as every other. No one holds this view. Except for the occasional cooperative freshman, one cannot find anybody who says that two incompatible opinions on an important topic are equally good. The philosophers who get called "relativists" are those who say that the ground for choosing between such opinions are less algorithmic than had been thought.


Posted by amin at 8:58 PM

Those supposed cosmopolites who, justifying their love of the fatherland by means of their love of the human race, boast of loving everyone in order to have the right to love no one.

Rousseau - Emile

Posted by amin at 8:55 PM

Few things have done more harm than the belief on the part of individuals or groups that he or she or they are in the sole possession of the truth: especially about how to live, what to be and do, and that those who differ from them are not merely mistaken but wicked or mad, and need restraining or suppressing. It is a terrible and dangerous arrogance to believe that you alone are right; have a magical eye which sees the truth and that others cannot be right if they disagree.

Isaiah Berlin

Posted by amin at 8:53 PM