Monday, October 28, 2013

Quotes Archive

"There are some oddities in the perspective with which we see the world. The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be." Douglas Adams
"To take into the inmost shrine of the soul the irresistible forces whose puppets we seem to be -- Death and change, the irrevocableness of the past, and the powerlessness of man before the blind hurry of the universe from vanity to vanity -- to feel these things and know them is to conquer them." Bertrand Russell
"Of all the world's wonders, which is the most wonderful? That no man, though he sees others dying all around him, believes that he himself will die." - Yudhishtara answers Dharma, from "The Mahabharata"
"Doubt is uncomfortable, certainty is ridiculous." "We must cultivate our garden " Voltaire
The illusion that exalts us is dearer to us than ten thousand truths. Aleksandr Pushkin
Metaphysics is a dark ocean without shores or lighthouse, strewn with many a philosophic wreck. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) German Philosopher
"Beautiful Fatalism" is a phrase from Ernest Hemingway used to describe warriors "who stayed loyal to a doomed cause."
Freud was a hero. He descended to the Underworld and met there stark terrors. He carried with him his theory as a Medusa's head which turned these terrors to stone. psychiatrist R. D. Laing
"...and Heaven have mercy on us all - Presbyterians and Pagans alike - for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending." — Herman Melville (Moby Dick)
"I would know Thee, Unknown Though who grips deep in my soul, wandering through my life like a storm, Thou inconceivable, my kin! I would know Thee, even serve Thee." Nietzsche at twenty years old
"As to gods, I have no way of knowing either that they exist or do not exist, or what they are like." Protagoras ( 5th C. BCE)
"Silence is the language of god, all else is poor translation." Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī (Persian Sufi Mystic) aka Rumi
"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world" Ludwig Wittgenstein
I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding of a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) English physicist, mathematician.
"Memento Mori" Remember that you will die in Latin.
"Amor Fati" Amor fati is a Latin phrase coined by Nietzsche To Love your Fate.
"The last thing man can admit to himself is that his life-ways are arbitrary: this is one of the reasons that people often show derisive glee and scorn over the 'strange' customs of other lands—it is a defense against the awareness that his own way of life may be just as fundamentally contrived as any other. One culture is always a potential menace to another because it is a living example that life can go on heroically without a value framework totally alien to one's own." Ernest Becker
"She (nature) destroys us--coldly, cruelly, relentlessly, as it seems to us, and possibly through the very things that occasioned our satisfaction. it was precisely because of these dangers with which nature threatens us that we came together and created civilization, which is also, among other things, intended to make our communal life possible. For the principal task of civilization, its actual rasion d' etre, is to defend us against nature." Freud
"If the world shoud break and fall on him, it would strike him fearless." - The Roman Poet Horace
“Happy the man, and happy he alone, he who can call today his own: he who, secure within, can say, Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today. Be fair or foul, or rain or shine the joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine. Not Heaven itself, upon the past has power, but what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.” Horace
The human mind evolved to believe in the gods. It did not evolve to believe in biology. - EO Wilson
"History is a child building a sand-castle by the sea, and that child is the whole majesty of man’s power in the world." Heraclitus
"Let death find us as we are building up our matchstick protests against its waves." Alain de Botton
"I think that we reject the evidence that our world is changing because we are still, as that wonderfully wise biologist E.O. Wilson reminded us, tribal carnivores. We are programmed by our inheritance to see other living things as mainly something to eat, and we care more about our national tribe than anything else. We will even give our lives for it and are quite ready to kill other humans in the cruelest of ways for the good of our tribe. We still find alien the concept that we and the rest of life, from bacteria to whales, are parts of the much larger and diverse entity, the living Earth." Dr. Lovelock
"Telling a story is one of the most persuasive means of communication...How we persuade is how we deliver and tell our story to the jury. Storytelling is the most basic means of communication." Gerry Spence, renowned Trial Attorney
"I have found it easier to identify with the characters who verge upon hysteria, who were frightened of life, who were desperate to reach out to another person. But these seemingly fragile people are the strong people really. " “We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.” Tennessee Williams
"the sea's only gifts are harsh blows and, occasionally, the chance to feel strong." Primo Levi
“That there is much suffering in the world no one disputes. Which is more likely, that pain and evil are the result of an all-powerful and good God, or the product of uncaring natural forces? The presence of much suffering agrees well with the view that all organic beings have been developed through variation and natural selection.” Charles Darwin
"We each have our own view of the world shaped by our state of mind. We each have our own myopia, leaving us wondering how others feel so differently to ourselves. But where it really goes down in flames is when this myopia shapes the way we act towards others, the way we judge them as ignorant for not sharing our outlook." Elias Canetti
"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age." HP Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu"
"We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men." George Orwell
"Great is he, who conquers the frightful. Sublime is he, who, while succumbing to it, fears it not." Philosopher Schiller
"The art of living well and the art of dying well are one." Epicurus
"To teach superstitions as truths is a most terrible thing. The child mind accepts and believes them, and only through great pain and perhaps tragedy can he be, in after years, relieved of them. In fact, men will fight for a superstition quite as quickly as for a living truth --- often more so, since a superstition is so intangible you cannot get at it to refute it, but truth is a point of view, and so is changeable." Hypatia of Alexandria (Philospher 400 AD in Alexandria Egypt)
"When you get a person to look at the sun as it bakes down on the daily carnage taking place on earth, the ridiculous accidents, the utter fragility of life, the power­lessness of those he thought most powerful—what comfort can you give him from a psychotherapeutic point of view?" -Ernest Becker
"I always have to think too of a little boy sitting on the banks of a river in west Africa who has a worm boring through his eyeball, turning him blind before he's five years old. And I reply and say, "Well, presumably the God you speak about created the worm as well," and now, I find that baffling to credit a merciful God with that action." -David Attenborough
"Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity, nothing exceeds the criticisms made on the fate of those who suffer by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed." Herman Melville
"What are the lessons to be learned from this journey of the mind [through the universe]? That humans are emotionally fragile, perennially gullible, hopelessly ignorant masters of an insignificantly small speck in the cosmos. Have a nice day." Death By Black Hole, Neil deGrasse Tyson
David Hume – “Reason is the slave of the passions.”
Dante : “I saw this globe so lost in space that I had to smile at such a sorry show.”
If you tried to listen to all the sounds of the universe at once it would be deafening. All the various meanings would cancel each other out. You would hear the chaos of white noise instead of the single, hidden truth of a rational universe…Because when it is universal it is deafening, it is a chaos; and although this chaos is itself the ultimate nature of the universe, you can only fathom it from one perspective at a time…The multiple meanings of the universe simply don’t add up to a single, universal truth. Our only hope is to engage in each of them fully. - Professor Dreyfus
"The supposedly immaterial soul, we now know, can be bisected with a knife, altered by chemicals, started or stopped by electricity, and extinguished by a sharp blow or by insufficient oxygen." — Steven Pinker (How the Mind Works)
"A general problem with much of Western theology in my view is that the god portrayed is too small. It is a god of a tiny world and not a god of a galaxy much less of a universe." Carl Sagan
“None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody - a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns - bent down and helped us pick up our boots.” ~Thurgood Marshall
"What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?" The Apostle Paul 1 Corinthians 5:12 Can you imagine the Religious Right in America taking this position?
I, too, felt ready to start life all over again. It was as if that great rush of anger had washed me clean, emptied me of hope, and, gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe. To feel it so like myself, indeed, so brotherly, made me realize that I’d been happy, and that I was happy still. Albert Camus L’Étranger
"If we spend time in it [the vast spaces of nature], they may help us to accept more graciously the great, unfathomable events that molest our lives and will inevitably return us to dust." (Alain de Botton)
"I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops." Stephen Jay Gould
"Sex and excretion are reminders that anyone's claim to round-the-clock dignity is tenuous. The so-called rational animal has a desperate drive to pair up and moan and writhe." "Many tragedies come from our physical and cognitive makeup. Our bodies are extraordinarily improbable arrangements of matter, with many ways for things to go wrong and only a few ways for things to go right. We are certain to die, and smart enough to know it. Our minds are adapted to a world that no longer exists, prone to misunderstandings correctable only by arduous education, and condemned to perplexity about the deepest questions we can ascertain." Steven Pinker
An animal's eyes have the power to speak a great language. Martin Buber
Frequently consider the connection of all things in the universe. We should not say I am an Athenian or I am a Roman but I am a citizen of the Universe. (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations)
"A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." Albert Einstein
"When Socrates was sentenced to death, for his philosophical investigations and his blasphemy for challenging the Gods of the city and he accepted his death. He did say “well, if we're lucky perhaps I'll be able to hold a conversation with other great thinkers and philosophers and doubters too”, in other words that the discussion about what is good, what is beautiful, what is noble and what is pure and what is true can always go on. Why is that important, why would I like to do that? Because that is the only conversation worth having. And whether it goes on or not after I die, I don't know, but I do know that it is the conversation I want to have while I am still alive. Which means that for me, the offer of certainty, the offer of complete security, the offer of an impermeable faith that can't give way, is an offer of something not worth having. I want to live my life taking the risk all the time that I don't know anything like enough yet. That I haven't understood enough, that I can't know enough, that I'm always hungrily operating on the margins of a potentially great harvest of future knowledge and wisdom. I wouldn't have it any other way. And I urge you to look at those of you that tell you (at your age) that that you are dead until you believe as they do. (What a terrible thing to be telling to children.) And that you can only live by accepting an absolute authority. Don't think of that as a gift, think of it as a poison chalice. Push it aside no matter how tempting it is. Take the risk of thinking for yourself. Much more happiness, truth, beauty and wisdom will come to you that way." Christopher Hitchens
"I have found power in the mysteries of thought, exaltation in the changing of the Muses; I have been versed in the reasonings of men; but Fate is stronger than anything I have known." -Euripides, Alcestis, 438 B.C.
"There is not enough love and goodness in the world to permit giving any of it away to imaginary beings." Nietzsche
"If men could only know each other, they would neither idolize nor hate." Elbert Hubbard
"The poet judges not as a judge judges but as the sun falling around a helpless thing." — Walt Whitman
"Ideal types are used to simplify a complex reality." Patricia Crone
"All theory, dear friend, is gray, but the golden tree of actual life springs every green." Goethe
"The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion." — from The Treaty of Tripoli, written during the administration of President George Washington, signed by President John Adams, and unanimously approved by the Senate in 1797
"E Pluribus Unum" (Out of many, one) — The original national motto
"I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own — a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms." — Albert Einstein
"The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion." — Thomas Paine
Madame, all stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you. The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry. Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. --Hemingway
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I...I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." Robert Frost
"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time." Jack London
"Ideologies separate us. Dreams and anguish bring us together." - Eugene Ionesco
My candle burns at both ends It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends - It gives a lovely light. -Edna St. Vincent Millay
"Our lives begin to end the day we are silent about things that matter." Dr. Martin Luther King
"The powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse." — Walt Whitman (Leaves of Grass)
Life is a sexually transmitted disease and the mortality rate is one hundred percent. -psychiatrist R. D. Laing
"There are times when fortune inflicts wounds that simply won't heal, when the story of a life breaks into two distinct sections, a before and an after. Those who experience this sort of caesura discover that from a certain day on they are no longer the same person, they suffer an anguish they have never felt before, they discover personal resources they did not know existed, and they see the world and their fellow humans in a new and chilly light. They may find that they are stronger; they may find that they are more vulnerable; in any case, they find that they are different. Tremendous grief is like a wind that sweeps away small things, leaving the soul capable of perceiving only the great, unless that wind withers it up completely. Fortune often amuses herself by thrusting people into situations in which they never expected to find themselves. Some are bewildered and perplexed, and lose their spirits; others take offense and rail against the cruel whims of destiny; others rise to the challenge and respond to the playfulness of the blindfolded goddess with games of their own, and rather than falling into a funk or knitting their brows, they enjoy the new turn of affairs and even manage to laugh at fate. When this happens, days that might easily have been filled with boredom and misery become memorable. Because the world is absurd, one must respond with even greater absurdities." Maurizio Viroli, Professor of politics at Princeton University. from the book "Niccolo's Smile."
"Be curious, not judgmental." -Walt Whitman
I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn't wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? ...we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us. -Kafka
William Shakespeare — "Expectation is the root of all heartache."
"We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special." "It surprises me how disinterested we are today about things like physics, space, the universe and philosophy of our existence, our purpose, our final destination. Its a crazy world out there. Be curious." Stephen Hawking
"Few people have the imagination for reality." -Goethe
"Belief in the supernatural reflects a failure of the imagination." - Edward Abbey
"we make our world significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers" and "We live on a hunk of rock and metal that circles a humdrum star that is one of 400 billion other stars that make up the Milky Way Galaxy which is one of billions of other galaxies which make up a universe which may be one of a very large number, perhaps an infinite number, of other universes. That is a perspective on human life and our culture that is well worth pondering." Carl Sagan
"If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!" Soren Kierkegaard
"Man is always inclined to regard the small circle in which he lives as the center of the world and to make his particular private life the standard of the universe. But he must give up this vain pretense, this petty provincial way of thinking and judging." Michel de Montaigne

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Herculean task: To combat absolutism and relativism

To paraphrase Hitchens the difficult task is to combat absolutism and relativism at the same time without falling into either ditch. One can lead you to burn books and people and the other can lead you to do nothing about it. One can make you a dogmatic partisan and the other a trifling loaf. Arm yourself with the sword of reason and the shield of skepticism.