Oct 052007

What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet. –Woody Allen

And behold joy and gladness… let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die. Isaiah 22:13

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.

[Freedom is] not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.

Libraries … will be the best security for maintaining our liberties. A nation of well-informed men, who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them, cannot be enslaved. It is in the regions of ignorance that tyranny reigns.

A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.

Your argument is sound, nothing but sound.

To find out a girl’s faults, praise her to her girl friends.

Eripuit Coelo fulmen, mox Sceptra Tyrannis.
He seized the lightning from Heaven and the scepter from the Tyrants. (regarding Ben Franklin)

Cicero’s acerbic commentary on philosophers who refuse to serve the public realm: “Impeded by the love of learning, they abandon those whom they ought to protect.” Even worse, he accuses them of arrogant self-indulgence: “They demand the same thing kings do: to need nothing, to obey nobody, to enjoy their liberty, which they define as doing what you like.”

“no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave”
-George W. Bush

“Origin of man now proved . . . he who understands baboon would do more towards metaphysics than Locke”

“Professional philosophers are usually only scholastics,” Santayana observed in his classic essay “The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy,” describing them as “absorbed in defending some vested illusion or some eloquent idea. . . . They do not covet truth, but victory and the dispelling of their own doubts. What they defend is some system, that is, some view about the totality of things, of which men are actually ignorant. No system would ever have been framed if people had been simply interested in knowing what is true, whatever it may be.”

“We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” ~Anaïs Nin

virtuous persons act because they understand why they must; others act because they cannot help themselves

“Philosophy formulates the questions implied in human existence, and theology formulates the answers implied in divine self-manifestation under the guidance of the questions implied in human existence”
Paul Tillich

It is unlikely that many of us will be famous, or even remembered. But not less important than the brilliant few that lead a nation or a literature to fresh achievements, are the unknown many whose patient efforts keep the world from running backward; who guard and maintain the ancient values, even if they do not conquer new; whose inconspicuous triumph it is to pass on what they inherited from their fathers, unimpaired and undiminished, to their sons. Enough, for almost all of us, if we can hand on the torch, and not let it down; content to win the affection, if it may be, of a few who know us and to be forgotten when they in their turn have vanished. The destiny of mankind is not governed wholly by its “stars.”
F. L. Lucas, “The Value of Style”

“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts, and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

“Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

“Our search for the ultimate meaning of our lives is not a matter of a particular intelligence, or some special effort, or even exceptional means. Rather, finding the ultimate truth is like discovering something beautiful along one’s path. One sees and recognizes it, if one is attentive. The issue then, is this attention.” Father Luigi Giussani

“There is no method but to be very intelligent.” T.S. Eliot

He who wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.
Edmund Burke

No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.
Edmund Burke

When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.
Benjamin Franklin

“…But my life grew in ways that did not adhere to slogans.”

He who would act the angel acts the beast. Pascal

“Do you have the patience to wait ‘til your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving ‘til the right action arises by itself? The master doesn’t seek fulfillment. Not seeking, not expecting, she is present and can welcome all things.”
Tao Te Ching

“The world does not have the features of the mathematics we use to represent it.” Some physicist

“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” “Every individual … intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.” “Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice; all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.” – Adam Smith

“What is prudence in the conduct of every private family can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom.” Adam Smith

I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.
-Ben Franklin

Applicants for wisdom do what I have done; inquire within. – Heraclitus

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, And the life of the candle will not be shortened.” Buddha

naivete can give way to learning, but cleverness has no obvious higher state.

“The most manifest sign of wisdom is continual cheerfulness.” – Montaigne

“It is not difficult to avoid death, gentlemen of the jury, it is much more difficult to avoid wickedness, for it runs faster than death. Slow and elderly as I am, I have been caught by the slower pursuer, whereas my accusers… have been caught by the quicker…” — Socrates, on trial for his life

In modern business it is not the crook who is to be feared most, it is the honest man who doesn’t know what he is doing. William Wordsworth

“Knowledge must be led by belief, not the other way round; and if we want to acquire it we had a right, even a duty, to believe.” William James

“That man is best who sees the truth himself, good too is he who listens to wise counsel. But who is neither wise himself nor willing to ponder wisdom is not worth a straw.” Hesiod

“If we wish to express in a single sentence the difference between ancient times and our own, we should doubtless have to say: ‘In ancient times only an individual here and there knew the truth; now all know it, but the inwardness of its appropriation stands in an inverse relationship to the extent of its dissemination.’” – Kierkegaard

“All that is true, by whomever it has been said, is from the Holy Spirit.” St Ambrose

“The farther one enters into truth, the deeper it is.” Bankei Yotaku

“Every thought grasped by the mind becomes an obstacle to those who search.” — Gregory of Nyssa

“It profits a man more to lose an argument than to win one. For if he is correct, what has he gained? And if he is wrong, he is illusioned.”

“I found it as a child very strange that people devote their life to making money and I was very embarrassed when a man had to admit in my presence that he was a businessman.” Erich Fromm

“The old grey donkey stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest… and thought sadly to himself, “Why?” and sometimes he thought, “Wherefore?” and sometimes he thought, “Inasmuch as which?” and sometimes he didn’t quite know what he was thinking about.” — Eeyore

And yet it just won’t go away:
I feel it and cannot understand it;
cannot hold on to it;
nor yet forget it;
and if I grasp it wholly
I cannot measure it!

Our limited perspective, our hopes and fears become our measure of life, and when circumstances don’t fit our ideas, they become our difficulties.

The closer I get to the light, the more difficult it is to hide from my shadow. PT

By God, for a minute there it all made sense… PT

language isn’t the manifestation of one mind; it’s the joint manifestation of millions.

“the machinery of conceptual semantics makes us permanently vulnerable to fallacies in reasoning.” – Steven Pinker

What is obscurity of expression if not obscurity of thought, and isn’t obscurity of thought a cover for confusion or, worse, deliberate obfuscation, which is always up to no good? Clarity of meaning is a virtue, the signature of intellectual honesty. And achieving it is devilishly hard work.
–Rebecca Newberry Goldstein

On verb and noun taxonomies and the paradoxes and challenges to meaning that language presents:

: And what do you see?
: I see nothing.
: What wonderful eyesight you have! Tell me, what does nothing look like?
-Alice In Wonderland

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