Individuals Philosophy Quotes

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The first duty of a man is to think for himself
José Martí
The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.
Ayn Rand
You show me a capitalist, and I'll show you a bloodsucker
Malcolm X
Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in ancient Greek republics: Freedom for slave owners.
Vladimir Lenin
The Revolution introduced me to art, and in turn, art introduced me to the Revolution!
Albert Einstein
Madness is something rare in individuals — but in groups, parties, peoples, and ages, it is the rule.
Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil)
The first and most important thing an individual can do is to become an individual again, decontrol himself, train himself as to what is going on and win back as much independent ground for himself as possible
William S. Burroughs
Last night I was seriously considering whether I was a bisexual or not but I don’t think so though I’m not sure if I’d like to be and argh I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, if you like a person, you like the person, not their genitals.
Jess C. Scott (Tongue-Tied (succubus, bisexual short story))
The only way we'll get freedom for ourselves is to identify ourselves with every oppressed people in the world. We are blood brothers to the people of Brazil, Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba -- yes Cuba too.
Malcolm X
Despair is typical of those who do not understand the causes of evil, see no way out, and are incapable of struggle.
Vladimir Lenin
Everything is relative in this world, where change alone endures.
Leon Trotsky
Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.
Adam Smith
It is clear that the individual who persecutes a man, his brother, because he is not of the same opinion, is a monster.
Voltaire
To be alone is to be different, to be different is to be alone.
Suzanne Gordon
No matter how you care to define it, I do not identify with the local group. Planet, species, race, nation, state, religion, party, union, club, association, neighborhood improvement committee; I have no interest in any of it. I love and treasure individuals as I meet them, I loathe and despise the groups they identify with and belong to.
George Carlin (Brain Droppings)
To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation...Love is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world for himself for another's sake, it is a great exacting claim upon him, something that chooses him out and calls him to vast things.
Rainer Maria Rilke (Letters to a Young Poet)
Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.
John Steinbeck (East of Eden)
A child who does not think about what happens around him and is content with living without wondering whether he lives honestly is like a man who lives from a scoundrel's work and is on the road to being a scoundrel.
José Martí
Regardless of the staggering dimensions of the world about us, the density of our ignorance, the risks of catastrophes to come, and our individual weakness within the immense collectivity, the fact remains that we are absolutely free today if we choose to will our existence in its finiteness, a finiteness which is open on the infinite. And in fact, any man who has known real loves, real revolts, real desires, and real will knows quite well that he has no need of any outside guarantee to be sure of his goals; their certitude comes from his own drive.
Simone de Beauvoir (The Ethics of Ambiguity)
And a new philosophy emerged called quantum physics, which suggest that the individual’s function is to inform and be informed. You really exist only when you’re in a field sharing and exchanging information. You create the realities you inhabit.
Timothy Leary (Chaos & Cyber Culture)
Unity is a great thing and a great slogan. But what the workers’ cause needs is the unity of Marxists, not unity between Marxists, and opponents and distorters of Marxism.
Vladimir Lenin
When you are lonely for a while don't get restless, if you had born alone, you are going to die alone then for sometime you can certainly live alone.
Amit Kalantri
I knew I was alone in a way that no earthling has ever been before.
Michael Collins
History. Language. Passion. Custom. All these things determine what men say, think, and do. These are the hidden puppet-strings from which all men hang.
R. Scott Bakker (The Darkness That Comes Before (The Prince of Nothing, #1))
If once the people become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions.
Thomas Jefferson
Whereas it appeareth that however certain forms of government are better calculated than others to protect individuals in the free exercise of their natural rights, and are at the same time themselves better guarded against degeneracy, yet experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and it is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this would be, to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large, ....whence it becomes expedient for promoting the publick happiness that those persons, whom nature hath endowed with genius and virtue, should be rendered by liberal education worthy to receive, and able to guard the sacred deposit of the rights and liberties of their fellow citizens, and that they should be called to that charge without regard to wealth, birth or accidental condition of circumstance.
Thomas Jefferson (Writings: Autobiography / Notes on the State of Virginia / Public and Private Papers / Addresses / Letters)
The agony of breaking through personal limitations is the agony of spiritual growth. Art, literature, myth and cult, philosophy, and ascetic disciplines are instruments to help the individual past his limiting horizons into spheres of ever-expanding realization. As he crosses threshold after threshold, conquering dragon after dragon, the stature of the divinity that he summons to his highest wish increases, until it subsumes the cosmos. Finally, the mind breaks the bounding sphere of the cosmos to a realization transcending all experiences of form - all symbolizations, all divinities: a realization of the ineluctable void.
Joseph Campbell (The Hero With a Thousand Faces)
But love, like the sun that it is, sets afire and melts everything. what greed and privilege to build up over whole centuries the indignation of a pious spirit, with its natural following of oppressed souls, will cast down with a single shove.
José Martí
To be an outlaw you must first have a base in law to reject and get out of, I never had such a base. I never had a place I could call home that meant any more than a key to a house, apartment or hotel room. … Am I alien? Alien from what exactly? Perhaps my home is my dream city, more real than my waking life precisely because it has no relation to waking life…
William S. Burroughs
I realized that conservatism was the philosophy that best suited me, with its emphasis on individual liberty, personal responsibility, and merit.
Mark R. Levin
Don't live the same day over and over again and call that a life. Life is about evolving mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
Germany Kent
Intelligent individuals learn from every thing and every one; average people, from their experiences. The stupid already have all the answers.
Socrates
The more he identifies with the dominant images of need, the less he understands his own life and his own desires. The spectacle’s estrangement from the acting subject is expressed by the fact that the individual’s gestures are no longer his own; they are the gestures of someone else who represents them to him.
Guy Debord (The Society of the Spectacle)
I do not say that democracy has been more pernicious on the whole, and in the long run, than monarchy or aristocracy. Democracy has never been and never can be so durable as aristocracy or monarchy; but while it lasts, it is more bloody than either. … Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty. When clear prospects are opened before vanity, pride, avarice, or ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate philosophers and the most conscientious moralists to resist the temptation. Individuals have conquered themselves. Nations and large bodies of men, never.
John Adams (The Letters of John and Abigail Adams)
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am -- not stuck in the middle, but hovering above the entire farcical spectrum, weeping as I behold my fellow man's devotion to political illusion and self-destruction.
Robert Higgs
Democracy is not simply a license to indulge individual whims and proclivities. It is also holding oneself accountable to some reasonable degree for the conditions of peace and chaos that impact the lives of those who inhabit one’s beloved extended community.
Aberjhani (Splendid Literarium: A Treasury of Stories, Aphorisms, Poems, and Essays)
Individual cultures and ideologies have their appropriate uses but none of them erase or replace the universal experiences, like love and weeping and laughter, common to all human beings.
Aberjhani (Splendid Literarium: A Treasury of Stories, Aphorisms, Poems, and Essays)
Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade...
Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged)
How much evil throughout history could have been avoided had people exercised their moral acuity with convictional courage and said to the powers that be, 'No, I will not. This is wrong, and I don't care if you fire me, shoot me, pass me over for promotion, or call my mother, I will not participate in this unsavory activity.' Wouldn't world history be rewritten if just a few people had actually acted like individual free agents rather than mindless lemmings?
Joel Salatin (Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front)
No state, no government exists. What does in fact exist is a man, or a few men, in power over many men.
Rose Wilder Lane
The definition of a professional is one who does a job well even when they don't like it.
Alan Sheinwald (Alan Sheinwald is Building a Perfect Home)
If we had to earn our age by thinking for ourselves at least once a year, only a handful of people would reach adulthood.
Mokokoma Mokhonoana
You have to be able to recognize your truths in the daylight before you can find them in the dark.
Kelli Jae Baeli (Immortality or Something Like It)
She smiled. She knew she was dying. But it did not matter any longer. She had known something which no human words could ever tell and she knew it now. She had been awaiting it and she felt it, as if it had been, as if she had lived it. Life had been, if only because she had known it could be, and she felt it now as a hymn without sound, deep under the little whole that dripped red drops into the snow, deeper than that from which the red drops came. A moment or an eternity- did it matter? Life, undefeated, existed and could exist. She smiled, her last smile, to so much that had been possible.
Ayn Rand (We the Living)
Any day above ground is a good day. Before you complain about anything, be thankful for your life and the things that are still going well.
Germany Kent
You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream -- the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order --or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. Regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have embarked on this downward path.
Ronald Reagan
If you're reading this, I hope God opens incredible doors for your life this year. Greatness is upon you. You must believe it though.
Germany Kent
We get swallowed up by the illusion that unless we can find a place to belong, we are going to be all alone in the world.
Naoki Higashida (The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism)
We don't need a law against McDonald's or a law against slaughterhouse abuse--we ask for too much salvation by legislation. All we need to do is empower individuals with the right philosophy and the right information to opt out en masse.
Joel Salatin
I think it’s important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy. The normal way we conduct our lives is we reason by analogy. [With analogy] we are doing this because it’s like something else that was done, or it is like what other people are doing. [With first principles] you boil things down to the most fundamental truths…and then reason up from there.
Elon Musk
The life of an individual is a constant struggle, and not merely a metaphorical one against want or boredom, but also an actual struggle against other people. He discovers adversaries everywhere, lives in continual conflict and dies with sword in hand.
Arthur Schopenhauer (On the Suffering of the World)
Speech has both an individual and a social side, and we cannot conceive of one without the other.
Ferdinand de Saussure (Course in General Linguistics)
The goal of education is to enable individuals to continue their education.
John Dewey
An individual can be hurt in countless ways by other men's irrationality, dishonesty, injustice. Above all, he can be disappointed, perhaps grievously, by the vices of a person he had once trusted or loved. But as long as his property is not expropriated and he remains unmolested physically, the damage he sustains is essentially spiritual, not physical; in such a case, the victim alone has the power and the responsibility of healing his wounds. He remains free: free to think, to learn from his experiences, to look elsewhere for human relationships; he remains free to start afresh and to pursue his happiness.
Leonard Peikoff (Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand)
None of your knowledge, your reading, your connections will be of any use here: two legs suffice, and big eyes to see with. Walk alone, across mountains or through forests. You are nobody to the hills or the thick boughs heavy with greenery. You are no longer a role, or a status, not even an individual, but a body, a body that feels sharp stones on the paths, the caress of long grass and the freshness of the wind. When you walk, the world has neither present nor future: nothing but the cycle of mornings and evenings. Always the same thing to do all day: walk. But the walker who marvels while walking (the blue of the rocks in a July evening light, the silvery green of olive leaves at noon, the violet morning hills) has no past, no plans, no experience. He has within him the eternal child. While walking I am but a simple gaze.
Frédéric Gros (A Philosophy of Walking)
And yet we have what purports, or professes, or is claimed, to be a contract—the Constitution—made eighty years ago, by men who are now all dead, and who never had any power to bind us, but which (it is claimed) has nevertheless bound three generations of men, consisting of many millions, and which (it is claimed) will be binding upon all the millions that are to come; but which nobody ever signed, sealed, delivered, witnessed, or acknowledged; and which few persons, compared with the whole number that are claimed to be bound by it, have ever read, or even seen, or ever will read, or see.
Lysander Spooner (No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority)
The contemporary proliferation of bullshit also has deeper sources, in various forms of skepticism which deny that we can have any reliable access to an objective reality and which therefore reject the possibility of knowing how things truly are. These "anti-realist" doctrines undermine confidence in the value of disinterested efforts to determine what is true and what is false, and even in the intelligibility of the notion of objective inquiry. One response to this loss of confidence has been a retreat from the discipline required by dedication to the ideal of correctness to a quite different sort of discipline, which is imposed by pursuit of an alternative ideal of sincerity. Rather than seeking primarily to arrive at accurate representations of a common world, the individual turns toward trying to provide honest representations of himself. Convinced that reality has no inherent nature, which he might hope to identify as the truth about things, he devotes himself to being true to his own nature. It is as though he decides that since it makes no sense to try to be true to the facts, he must therefore try instead to be true to himself. But it is preposterous to imagine that we ourselves are determinate, and hence susceptible both to correct and to incorrect descriptions, while supposing that the ascription of determinacy to anything else has been exposed as a mistake. As conscious beings, we exist only in response to other things, and we cannot know ourselves at all without knowing them. Moreover, there is nothing in theory, and certainly nothing in experience, to support the extraordinary judgment that it is the truth about himself that is the easiest for a person to know. Facts about ourselves are not peculiarly solid and resistant to skeptical dissolution. Our natures are, indeed, elusively insubstantial -- notoriously less stable and less inherent than the natures of other things. And insofar as this is the case, sincerity itself is bullshit.
Harry G. Frankfurt (On Bullshit)
People use democracy as a free-floating abstraction disconnected from reality. Democracy in and of itself is not necessarily good. Gang rape, after all, is democracy in action. All men have the right to live their own life. Democracy must be rooted in a rational philosophy that first and foremost recognizes the right of an individual. A few million Imperial Order men screaming for the lives of a much smaller number of people in the New World may win a democratic vote, but it does not give them the right to those lives, or make their calls for such killing right. Democracy is not a synonym for justice or for freedom. Democracy is not a sacred right sanctifying mob rule. Democracy is a principle that is subordinate to the inalienable rights of the individual.
Terry Goodkind (Naked Empire (Sword of Truth, #8))
We awaken by asking the right questions. We awaken when we see knowledge being spread that goes against our own personal experiences. We awaken when we see popular opinion being wrong but accepted as being right, and what is right being pushed as being wrong. We awaken by seeking answers in corners that are not popular. And we awaken by turning on the light inside when everything outside feels dark.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
we ask for too much salvation by legislation. All we need to do is empower individuals with the right philosophy and the right information to opt out en masse. (quoting Joel Salatin)
Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals)
Tomorrow you may bring about the destruction of your world. Tomorrow you may sing in Paradise above the smoking ruins of your world-cities. But tonight I would like to think of one man, a lone individual, a man without name or country, a man whom I respect because he has absolutely nothing in common with you - MYSELF. Tonight I shall meditate upon that which I am.
Henry Miller (Black Spring)
An ordinary man gets arrogant with beauty, conceited with knowledge and ruthless with power.
Amit Kalantri
You are not just for the right or left, but for what is right over the wrong.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
Our greatest power as nations and individuals is not the ability to employ assault weapons, suicide bombers, and drones to destroy each other. The greater more creative powers with which we may arm ourselves are grace and compassion sufficient enough to love and save each other.
Aberjhani (Splendid Literarium: A Treasury of Stories, Aphorisms, Poems, and Essays)
Anyone who says that economic security is a human right, has been to much babied. While he babbles, other men are risking and losing their lives to protect him. They are fighting the sea, fighting the land, fighting disease and insects and weather and space and time, for him, while he chatters that all men have a right to security and that some pagan god—Society, The State, The Government, The Commune—must give it to them. Let the fighting men stop fighting this inhuman earth for one hour, and he will learn how much security there is.
Rose Wilder Lane
Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought. A theory however elegant and economical must be rejected or revised if it is untrue; likewise laws and institutions no matter how efficient and well-arranged must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust. Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override. For this reason justice denies that the loss of freedom for some is made right by a greater good shared by others. It does not allow that the sacrifices imposed on a few are outweighed by the larger sum of advantages enjoyed by many. Therefore in a just society the liberties of equal citizenship are taken as settled; the rights secured by justice are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interests.
John Rawls (A Theory of Justice)
What’s good for individual could be bad for society but what’s good for society that will be good for individual and there is always need to choose what right for society because if it is right for society then it is right for individual.
Zaman Ali (HUMANITY Understanding Reality and Inquiring Good)
As individuals express their life, so they are.
Karl Marx (The German Ideology / Theses on Feuerbach / Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy)
I define anarchist society as one where there is no legal possibility for coercive aggression against the person or property of any individual.
Murray N. Rothbard
Claiming all power for the purpose of prosperity and justice in society is conflicting to its own cause, rather authorizing individual authority is the just way toward a better society, because each individual has the right to decide about himself, and for collective decision making in society, all individual has the right to provide their input in it, after that majorities’ rule and minorities’ rights is the key to move forward, otherwise its destruction of society.
Zaman Ali (GOVERNMENT Servant, Not Master)
There is no unmoving mover behind the movement. It is only movement. It is not correct to say that life is moving, but life is movement itself. Life and movement are not two different things. In other words, there is no thinker behind the thought. Thought itself is the thinker. If you remove the thought, there is no thinker to be found.
Walpola Rahula (What the Buddha Taught)
[I]n Africa I was a member of a family—of a sort of family that the people of your culture haven't known for thousands of years. If gorillas were capable of such an expression, they would tell you that their family is like a hand, of which they are the fingers. They are fully aware of being a family but are very little aware of being individuals. Here in the zoo there were other gorillas—but there was no family. Five severed fingers do not make a hand.
Daniel Quinn (Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit (Ishmael, #1))
And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: 'I.
Ayn Rand
I believe that the universe was formed around 15 billion years ago and that humans have evolved from their apelike ancestors over the past few million years. I believe we are more likely to live a good life if all humans try to work together in a world community, preserving planet earth. When decisions for groups are made in this world, I believe that the democratic process should be used. To protect the individual, I believe in freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom from religion, freedom of inquiry, and a wall of separation between church and state. When making decisions about what is right or wrong, I believe I should use my intelligence to reason about the likely consequences of my actions. I believe that I should try to increase the happiness of everyone by caring for other people and finding ways to cooperate. Never should my actions discriminate against people simply because of their race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, or national origin. I believe that ideas about what is right and wrong will change with education, so I am prepared to continually question ideas using evidence from experience and science. I believe there is no valid evidence to support claims for the existence of supernatural entities and deities. I will use these beliefs to guide my thinking and my actions until I find good reasons for revising them or replacing them with other beliefs that are more valid.
Ronald P. Carver
The progress of the world can certainly never come at all save by the modified action of the individual beings who compose the world.
George Eliot
Anarchy does not simply mean no laws, it means no need for laws. Anarchy requires individuals to behave responsibly. When individuals can live in peace without authorities to compel or punish them, when people have enough courage and sense to speak honestly and equally with each other, then and only then, will anarchy be possible.
Craig O'Hara (The Philosophy of Punk: More Than Noise!)
Everything he admired or loved had been the product of intense individualism. ...when had mass philosophies ever brought benefit or wisdom?
John le Carré (Call for the Dead (George Smiley #1))
Everyone tells us to be one in a million... What they don't tell us is that being one in a million also means being one against a million.
Saahil Prem
An infinite question is often destroyed by finite answers...To define everything is to annihilate much that gives us laughter and joy...If I try self consciously to become a person, I will never be one. The most real people, those who are able to forget their selfish selves, who have true compassion, are usually the most distinct individuals
Madeleine L'Engle (A Circle of Quiet (Crosswicks Journals #1))
What did the Romans say? “De gustibus non est disputandum”: It is worthless to discuss personal taste. It is called 'personal' for a reason.
Massimo Marino (Daimones (Daimones Trilogy, #1))
People wealth consists upon their freedom, individual resources and good social life.
Zaman Ali (ZAMANISM Wealth of the People)
Check the history, more people died for freedom than love, people need freedom before they need love.
Amit Kalantri
Never again!" commanded his will. "Again! Tomorrow!" begged his heart.
Hermann Hesse
Peace is not so much a political mandate as it is a shared state of consciousness that remains elevated and intact only to the degree that those who value it volunteer their existence as living examples of the same... Peace ends with the unraveling of individual hope and the emergence of the will to worship violence as a healer of private and social dis-ease.
Aberjhani (The American Poet Who Went Home Again)
That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the débris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.
Bertrand Russell (Free Man's Worship)
Art, literature, and philosophy are attempts to found the world anew on a human freedom: that of the creator; to foster such an aim, one must first unequivocally posit oneself as a freedom. The restrictions that education and custom impose on a woman limit her grasp of the universe...Indeed, for one to become a creator, it is not enough to be cultivated, that is, to make going to shows and meeting people part of one's life; culture must be apprehended through the free movement of a transcendence; the spirit with all its riches must project itself in an empty sky that is its to fill; but if a thousand fine bonds tie it to the earth, its surge is broken. The girl today can certainly go out alone, stroll in the Tuileries; but I have already said how hostile the street is: eyes everywhere, hands waiting: if she wanders absentmindedly, her thoughts elsewhere, if she lights a cigarette in a cafe, if she goes to the cinema alone, an unpleasant incident can quickly occur; she must inspire respect by the way she dresses and behaves: this concern rivets her to the ground and self. "Her wings are clipped." At eighteen, T.E. Lawrence went on a grand tour through France by bicycle; a young girl would never be permitted to take on such an adventure...Yet such experiences have an inestimable impact: this is how an individual in the headiness of freedom and discovery learns to look at the entire world as his fief...[The girl] may feel alone within the world: she never stands up in front of it, unique and sovereign.
Simone de Beauvoir (The Second Sex)
A million zeros joined together do not, unfortunately, add up to one. Ultimately everything depends on the quality of the individual, but our fatally shortsighted age thinks only in terms of large numbers and mass organizations, though one would think that the world had seen more than enough of what a well-disciplined mob can do in the hands of a single madman. Unfortunately, this realization does not seem to have penetrated very far - and our blindness is extremely dangerous.
C.G. Jung (The Essential Jung: Selected Writings)
Man is an end in himself.
Ayn Rand
I don't beg for those things which can be earned.
Amit Kalantri
We must never forget our teachers, our lecturers and our mentors. In their individual capacities have contributed to our academic, professional and personal development.
Lailah Gifty Akita (Pearls of Wisdom: Great mind)
Meditation, education and beauty are the three transforming powers that can change individual and the whole world.
Amit Ray
What each individual wills is obstructed by everyone else, and what emerges is something that no one willed.
Friedrich Engels
The individual seeks out the heat of the crowd, in this century, to protect himself against the cold emanating from the corpse of the world.
Nicolás Gómez Dávila
Our growing dependence on technologies no one seems to understand or control has given rise to feelings of powerlessness and victimization. We find it more and more difficult to achieve a sense of continuity, permanence, or connection with the world around us. Relationships with others are notably fragile; goods are made to be used up and discarded; reality is experienced as an unstable environment of flickering images. Everything conspires to encourage escapist solutions to the psychological problems of dependence, separation, and individuation, and to discourage the moral realism that makes it possible for human beings to come to terms with existential constraints on their power and freedom.
Christopher Lasch (The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations)
If the meaning of life has become doubtful, if one's relations to others and to oneself do not offer security, then fame is one means to silence one's doubts. It has a function to be compared with that of the Egyptian pyramids or the Christian faith in immortality: it elevates one's individual life from its limitations and instability to the plane of indestructability; if one's name is known to one's contemporaries and if one can hope that it will last for centuries, then one's life has meaning and significance by this very reflection of it in the judgments of others.
Erich Fromm (Escape from Freedom)
Human rights, dissidence, antiracism, SOS-this, SOS-that: these are soft, easy, post coitum historicum ideologies, 'after-the-orgy' ideologies for an easy-going generation which has known neither hard ideologies nor radical philosophies. The ideology of a generation which is neo-sentimental in its politics too, which has rediscovered altruism, conviviality, international charity and the individual bleeding heart. Emotional outpourings, solidarity, cosmopolitan emotiveness, multi-media pathos: all soft values harshly condemned by the Nietzschean, Marxo-Freudian age... A new generation, that of the spoilt children of the crisis, whereas the preceding one was that of the accursed children of history.
Jean Baudrillard (Cool Memories)
But even regarding History as the slaughter-bench at which the happiness of peoples, the wisdom of States, and the virtue of individuals have been victimised — the question involuntarily arises — to what principle, to what final aim these enormous sacrifices have been offered.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (The Philosophy of History)
To live in any true sense of the word is to reject others; to accept them, one must be able to renounce, to do oneself violence, to act against one's own nature, to weaken oneself; we conceive freedom only for ourselves - we extend it to our neighbours only at the cost of exhausting efforts; whence the precariousness of liberalism, a defiance of our instincts, a brief and miraculous success, a state of exception, at the antipodes of our deepest imperatives.
Emil M. Cioran (History and Utopia)
We must never forget our teachers and our lecturers. In their individual capacities have contributed to our academic, professional and personal development.
Lailah Gifty Akita (Pearls of Wisdom: Great mind)
Compassion without discipline is egregious self-sabotage.
Stefan Molyneux
The State in particular is turned into a quasi-animate personality from whom everything is expected. In reality it is only a camouflage for those individuals who know how to manipulate it.
C.G. Jung (The Essential Jung: Selected Writings)
Children of her type contrive the purest philosophies. Ada had worked out her own little system. Hardly a week had elapsed since Van’s arrival when he was found worthy of being initiated in her web of wisdom. An individual’s life consisted of certain classified things: "real things" which were unfrequent and priceless, simply "things" which formed the routine stuff of life; and "ghost things," also called "fogs," such as fever, toothache, dreadful disappointments, and death. Three or more things occurring at the same time formed a "tower," or, if they came in immediate succession, they made a "bridge." "Real towers" and "real bridges" were the joys of life, and when the towers came in a series, one experienced supreme rapture; it almost never happened, though. In some circumstances, in a certain light, a neutral "thing" might look or even actually become "real" or else, conversely, it might coagulate into a fetid "fog." When the joy and the joyless happened to be intermixed, simultaneously or along the ramp of duration, one was confronted with "ruined towers" and "broken bridges.
Vladimir Nabokov (Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle)
It is this idea 'decency' should be attached to wealth -and 'indecency'' to poverty - that forms the core of one strand of skeptical complaint against the modern status-ideal. Why should failure to make money be taken as a sign of an unconditionally flawed human being rather than of a fiasco in one particular area if the far larger, more multifaceted, project of leading a good life? Why should both wealth and poverty be read as the predominant guides to an individual's morals ?
Alain de Botton (Status Anxiety)
Most of the time, we see only what we want to see, or what others tell us to see, instead of really investigate to see what is really there. We embrace illusions only because we are presented with the illusion that they are embraced by the majority. When in truth, they only become popular because they are pounded at us by the media with such an intensity and high level of repetition that its mere force disguises lies and truths. And like obedient schoolchildren, we do not question their validity and swallow everything up like medicine. Why? Because since the earliest days of our youth, we have been conditioned to accept that the direction of the herd, and authority anywhere — is always right.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
To the exponents of the Perennial Philosophy, the question whether Progress is inevitable or even real is not a matter of primary importance. For them, the important thing is that individual men and women should come to the unitive knowledge of the divine Ground, and what interests them in regard to the social environment is not its progressiveness or non-progressiveness (whatever those terms may mean), but the degree to which it helps or hinders individuals in the their advance towards man's final end.
Aldous Huxley (The Perennial Philosophy)
No rules for the rulers is tyranny for the subjects. Freedom for politicians is enslavement for citizens.
Stefan Molyneux
The strength of every individual is the grace for great work.
Lailah Gifty Akita (Think Great: Be Great! (Beautiful Quotes, #1))
If only a world-wide consciousness could arise that all division and fission are due to the splitting of opposites in the psyche, then we should know where to begin.
C.G. Jung (The Essential Jung: Selected Writings)
If I want to understand an individual human being, I must lay aside all scientific knowledge of the average man and discard all theories in order to adopt a completely new and unprejudiced attitude. I can only approach the task of understanding with a free and open mind, whereas knowledge of man, or insight into human character, presupposes all sorts of knowledge about mankind in general.
C.G. Jung (The Essential Jung: Selected Writings)
To influence a person is to give him one's own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of someone else's music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him.
Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray)
Maybe slavery has been with us for centuries because of the inclination to maintain economic systems geared more toward commodifying human existence than developing its spiritual, creative, or scientific potentials. Such commodification instantly erases any recognition of humanity as a priceless value unto itself and reduces individuals as well as entire races, or a specific gender, to a bargain-priced 'other.
Aberjhani (Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah)
It is only by sacrificing everything to the senses’ pleasure that this individual, who never asked to be cast into this universe of woe, that this poor creature who goes under the name of Man, may be able to sow a smattering of roses atop the thorny path of life.
Marquis de Sade (Philosophy in the Bedroom)
[...] the diversity of our opinions, consequently, does not arise from some being endowed with a larger share of reason than others, but solely from this, that we conduct our thoughts along different ways, and do not fix our attention on the same objects. For to be possessed of a vigorous mind is not enough; the prime requisite is rightly to apply it. The greatest minds, as they are capable of the highest excellences, are open likewise to the greatest aberrations; and those who travel very slowly may yet make far greater progress, provided they keep always to the straight road, than those who, while they run, forsake it.
René Descartes (Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy)
But by the same logic as men become just through the possession of justice, or wise through the possession of wisdom, so those who possess divinity necessary become divine. Each happy individual is therefore divine. While only God is so by nature, as many as you like may become so by participation.
Boethius (The Consolation of Philosophy)
Fiction gives us a reach into the lives of individuals that would otherwise be but a closed door. If we are gifted with a desire to tell tales, then we should tell them . . . if only to reach but a few.
James D. Maxon
Legs: the symbol of my solitude, my individual path, my uniqueness. Arms: the symbol of togetherness, my connection to others, my belonging to the human race. My legs make me who I am; they create my solitary path. My arms make me who I belong to; they connect me to the world.
Nicos Hadjicostis (Destination Earth- A New Philosophy of Travel by a World-Traveler)
Social cohesion is a necessity, and mankind has never yet succeeded in enforcing cohesion by merely rational arguments. Every community is exposed to two opposite dangers: ossification through too much discipline and reverence for tradition, on the one hand; and on the other hand, dissolution, or subjection to foreign conquest, through the growth of individualism and personal experience that makes cooperation impossible
Bertrand Russell (A History of Western Philosophy)
Myths, legends and stories are the signposts previous generations have left us so we don't have to figure out our own personal journey in solitude! They have to be metaphorical, because their interpretation will be different for each individual life!
Fred Van Lente (Action Philosophers! Giant-Sized Thing, Vol. 1 (Action Philosophers!))
liberalism (a political philosophy based on individual liberties) and democracy (a political system based on representation) often are intertwined.
Mustafa Akyol (Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty)
Few teams sometimes fails miserably because team members wish to work in the team but they want to be recognized individualy.
Amit Kalantri
No kind of social system can make you more happier and secure than your own money.
Amit Kalantri
Collectivism is the "philosophy" of every cockroach and sewer rat: "If I want it, I must need it, and if I need it, I have a right to it, and if I have a right to it, it doesn't matter what I have to do to get it." The fact that such an inherently animalistic, short-sighted, anti-human viewpoint is now painted by some as compassionate and "progressive" does not make it any more sane, or any less dangerous.
Larken Rose
I think… that love encompasses the experience of the possible transition from the pure randomness of chance to a state that has universal value. Starting out from something that is simply an encounter, a trifle, you learn that you can experience the world on the basis of difference and not only in terms of identity. And you can even be tested and suffer in the process. In today’s world, it is generally thought that individuals only pursue their own self-interest. Love is an antidote to that. Provided it isn’t conceived only as an exchange of mutual favours, or isn’t calculated way in advance as a profitable investment, love really is a unique trust placed in chance. It takes us into key areas of the experience of what is difference and, essentially, leads to the idea that you can experience the world from the perspective of difference. In this respect it has universal implications: it is an individual experience of potential universality, and is thus central to philosophy, as Plato was the first to intuit.
Alain Badiou (In Praise of Love)
Everything comes from experience; yet not from actual experience, reiterated by each individual with each generation, but instead from experience accumulated by the entire ancestry of the species in the course of its evolution.
Jacques Monod (Chance and Necessity: Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology)
I mean really, how could an artistic individual stay grounded in the nitty-gritty of how many minutes per pound meat has to stay in the oven when trying to fathom the creative philosophy behind the greatest artistic minds of the world?
E.A. Bucchianeri (Brushstrokes of a Gadfly, (Gadfly Saga, #1))
The meaning of awe is to realize that life takes place under wide horizons, horizons that range beyond the span of an individual life or even the life of a nation, a generation, or an era. Awe enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine, to sense in small things the beginning of infinite significance, to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple; to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal.
Abraham Joshua Heschel (God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism)
Wine is one of the most complex of all beverages: the fruit of a soil, climate, and vintage, digested by a fungus through a process guided by the culture, vision, and skill of an individual man or woman.
Neel Burton (The Concise Guide to Wine and Blind Tasting)
For everyone now strives most of all to seperate his person, wishing to experience the fullness of life within himself, and yet what comes of all his efforts is not the fullness of life, but full suicide, for instead of the fullness of self-definition, they fall into complete isolation.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (The Brothers Karamazov)
I think, however, that there isn't any solution to this problem of education other than to realize that the best teaching can be done only when there is a direct individual relationship between a student and a good teacher --- a situation in which the student discusses the ideas, thinks about the things, and talks about the things.
Richard P. Feynman (Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics By Its Most Brilliant Teacher)
This sadness lies at the heart of every merely positivistic, agnostic, or naturalistic scheme of philosophy. Let sanguine healthy-mindedness do its best with its strange power of living in the moment and ignoring and forgetting, still the evil background is really there to be thought of, and the skull will grin in at the banquet. In the practical life of the individual, we know how his whole gloom or glee about any present fact depends on the remoter schemes and hopes with which it stands related. Its significance and framing give it the chief part of its value. Let it be known to lead nowhere, and however agreeable it may be in its immediacy, its glow and gilding vanish. The old man, sick with an insidious internal disease, may laugh and quaff his wine at first as well as ever, but he knows his fate now, for the doctors have revealed it; and the knowledge knocks the satisfaction out of all these functions. They are partners of death and the worm is their brother, and they turn to a mere flatness.
William James (The Varieties of Religious Experience)
If there is any intelligence guiding this universe, philosophy wishes to know and understand it and reverently work with it; if there is none, philosophy wishes to know that also, and face it without fear. If the stars are but transient coagulations of haphazard nebulae, if life is a colloidal accident, impersonally permanent and individually fleeting, if man is only a compound of chemicals, destined to disintegrate and utterly disappear, if the creative ecstasy of art, and the gentle wisdom of the sage, and the willing martyrdom of saints are but bright incidents in the protoplasmic pullulation of the earth, and death is the answer to every problem and the destiny of every soul--then philosophy will face that too, and try to find within that narrowed circle some significance and nobility for man.
Will Durant (The Pleasures of Philosophy)
The animals themselves are incapable of demanding their own liberation, or of protesting against their condition with votes, demonstrations, or bombs. Human beings have the power to continue to oppress other species forever, or until we make this planet unsuitable for living beings. Will our tyranny continue, proving that we really are the selfish tyrants that the most cynical of poets and philosophers have always said we are? Or will we rise to the challenge and prove our capacity for genuine altruism by ending our ruthless exploitation of the species in our power, not because we are forced to do so by rebels or terrorists, but because we recognize that our position is morally indefensible? The way in which we answer this question depends on the way in which each one of us, individually, answers it.
Peter Singer
The intellectual is an individual endowed with a faculty for representing, embodying, articulating a message, a view, an attitude, philosophy or opinion to, as well as for, a public. And this role has an edge to it, and cannot be played without a sense of being someone whose place ti is publicly to raise embarrassing questions, to confront orthodoxy and dogma (rather than to produce them), to be someone who cannot easily be co-opted by governments or corporations, and whose raison d'etre is to represent all those people and issues that are routinely forgotten or swept under the rug.
Edward W. Said (Representations of the Intellectual)
In particular those who are condemned to stagnation are often pronounced happy on the pretext that happiness consists in being at rest. This notion we reject, for our perspective is that of existentialist ethics. Every subject plays his part as such specifically through exploits or projects that serve as a mode of transcendence; he achieves liberty only through a continual reaching out towards other liberties. There is no justification for present existence other than its expansion into an indefinitely open future. Every time transcendence falls back into immanence, stagnation, there is a degradation of existence into the ‘en-sois’ – the brutish life of subjection to given conditions – and of liberty into constraint and contingence. This downfall represents a moral fault if the subject consents to it; if it is inflicted upon him, it spells frustration and oppression. In both cases it is an absolute evil. Every individual concerned to justify his existence feels that his existence involves an undefined need to transcend himself, to engage in freely chosen projects.
Simone de Beauvoir (The Second Sex)
Yet through virtuous living man is further ordained to a higher end, which consists in the enjoyment of God, as we have said above. Consequently, since society must have the same end as the individual man, it is not the ultimate end of an assembled multitude to live virtuously, but through virtuous living to attain to the possession of God.
Thomas Aquinas (On Kingship to the King of Cyprus)
Our problem isn't that we're individualists. It's that our individualism is static rather than dynamic. We value what we think rather than what we do. We forget that we haven't done, or been, what we thought; that the first function of life is action, just as the first property of things is motion.
Fernando Pessoa (The Education of the Stoic)
Hence the great irony: Hayek, one of the greatest champions of individual liberty and economic freedom the world has ever known, believed that knowledge was communal. Dewey, the champion of socialism and collectivism, believed that knowledge was individual. Hayek's is a philosophy that treats individuals as the best judges of their own self-interests, which in turn yield staggering communal cooperation. Dewey's was the philosophy of a giant, Monty Pythonesque crowd shouting on cue: "We're All Individuals!
Jonah Goldberg (The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas)
To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funnelled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system. What comes out at the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this particular planet. To formulate and express the contents of this reduced awareness, man has invented and endlessly elaborated those symbol-systems and implicit philosophies which we call languages. Every individual is at once the beneficiary and the victim of the linguistic tradition into which he or she has been born -- the beneficiary inasmuch as language gives access to he accumulated records of other people's experience, the victim in so far as it confirms him in the belief that reduced awareness is the only awareness and as it be-devils his sense of reality, so that he is all too apt to take his concepts for data, his words for actual things.
Aldous Huxley (The Doors of Perception & Heaven and Hell)
Class is a bubble, formed by privilege, shaping and manipulating your concept of reality. But it can at least be brought to mind; acknowledged comprehended, even atoned for through transformative action. By comparing your privilege with that of others you may be able to modify both your world and the worlds outside your world - if the will is there to do it. Suffering is not like that. Suffering has an absolution relation to the suffering individual - it cannot be easily mediated by a third term like ‘privilege’.
Zadie Smith (Intimations)
Man was, and is, too shallow and cowardly to endure the fact of the mortality of everything living. He wraps it up in rose-coloured progress-optimism, he heaps upon it the flowers of literature, he crawls behind the shelter of ideals so as not to see anything. But impermanence, the birth and the passing, is the form of all that is actual -- from the stars, whose destiny is for us incalculable, right down to the ephemeral concourses on our planet. The life of the individual -- whether this be animal or plant or man -- is as perishable as that of peoples of Cultures. Every creation is foredoomed to decay, every thought, every discovery, every deed to oblivion. Here, there, and everywhere we are sensible of grandly fated courses of history that have vanished. Ruins of the "have-been" works of dead Cultures lie all about us. The hybris of Prometheus, who thrust his hand into the heavens in order to make the divine powers subject to man, carries with it his fall. What, then, becomes of the chatter about "undying achievements"?
Oswald Spengler (Man and Technics: A Contribution to a Philosophy of Life)
Religious beliefs and practices are certainly not the only factors determining the behaviour of a given society. But, no less certainly, they are among the determining factors. At least to some extent, the collective conduct of a nation is a test of the religion prevailing within it, a criterion by which we may legitimately judge the doctrinal validity of that religion and its practical efficiency in helping individuals to advance towards the goal of human existence.
Aldous Huxley (The Perennial Philosophy)
The great cognitive shift is an expansion of consciousness from the perspectival form contained in the lives of particular creatures to an objective, world-encompassing form that exists both individually and intersubjectively. It was originally a biological evolutionary process, and in our species it has become a collective cultural process as well. Each of our lives is a part of the lengthy process of the universe gradually waking up and becoming aware of itself.
Thomas Nagel
If you lose your ego, you lose the thread of that narrative you call your Self. Humans, however, can't live very long without some sense of a continuing story. Such stories go beyond the limited rational system (or the systematic rationality) with which you surround yourself; they are crucial keys to sharing time-experience with others. Now a narrative is a story, not a logic, nor ethics, nor philosophy. It is a dream you keep having, whether you realize it or not. Just as surely as you breathe, you go on ceaselessly dreaming your story. And in these stories you wear two faces. You are simultaneously subject and object. You are a whole and you are a part. You are real and you are shadow. "Storyteller" and at the same time "character". It is through such multilayering of roles in our stories that we heal the loneliness of being an isolated individual in the world. Yet without a proper ego nobody can create a personal narrative, any more than you can drive a car without an engine, or cast a shadow without a real physical object. But once you've consigned your ego to someone else, where on earth do you go from there? At this point you receive a new narrative from the person to whom you have entrusted your ego. You've handed over the real thing, so what comes back is a shadow. And once your ego has merged with another ego, your narrative will necessarily take on the narrative created by that ego. Just what kind of narrative? It needn't be anything particularly fancy, nothing complicated or refined. You don't need to have literary ambitions. In fact, the sketchier and simpler the better. Junk, a leftover rehash will do. Anyway, most people are tired of complex, multilayered scenarios-they are a potential letdown. It's precisely because people can't find any fixed point within their own multilayered schemes that they're tossing aside their own self-identity.
Haruki Murakami (Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche)
Existing political philosophies all developed before evolutionary game theory, so they do not take equilibrium selection into account. Socialism pretends that individuals are not selfish sexual competitors, so it ignores equilibria altogether. Conservatism pretends that there is only one possible equilibrium—a nostalgic version of the status quo—that society could play. Libertarianism ignores the possibility of equilibrium selection at the level of rational social discourse, and assumes that decentralized market dynamics will magically lead to equilibria that yield the highest aggregate social benefits. Far from being a scientific front for a particular set of political views, modern evolutionary psychology makes most standard views look simplistic and unimaginitive.
Geoffrey Miller (The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature)
Truth changes with the season of our emotions. It is the shadow that moves with the phases of our inner sun. When the nights falls, only our perception can guess where it hides in the dark. Within every solar system of the soul lies a plan of what truth is--- the design God has created, in our own unique story. This is as varying as the constellations, and as turning as the tide. It is not one truth we live to, but many. If we ever hope to determine if there is such a thing as truth, apart from cultural and personal preferences, we must acknowledge that we are then aiming to discover something greater than ourselves, something that transcends culture and individual inclinations. Some say that we must look beyond ourselves and outside of ourselves. However, we don’t need to look farther than what is already in each other. If there was any great plan from a higher power it is a simplistic, repetitious theme found in all religions; the basic core importance to unity comes from shared theological and humanistic virtues. Beyond the synagogue, mosques, temples, churches, missionary work, church positions and religious rituals comes a simple “message of truth” found in all of us, that binds theology---holistic virtues combined with purpose is the foundation of spiritual evolution. The diversity among us all is not divided truth, but the opportunity for unity through these shared values. Truth is the framework and roadmap of positive virtues. It unifies diversity when we choose to see it and use it. It is simple message often lost among the rituals, cultural traditions and socializing that goes on behind the chapel doors of any religion or spiritual theology. As we fight among ourselves about what religion, culture or race is right, we often lose site of the simple message any great orator has whispered through time----a simplistic story explaining the importance of virtues, which magically reemphasizes the importance of loving one another through service.
Shannon L. Alder
The real cost of something is its value in alternative uses. This truth always presents itself in prices. There is no benefit that may be gained without cost to the same individual who gained the benefit. There is no benefit that may be presented without cost to the same individual who present the benefit.
Hendrith Vanlon Smith Jr (Principles of a Permaculture Economy)
The world is governed by these evil twins: pain and pleasure, truth and ignorance, fate and chance, wealth and poverty, war and peace, tolerance and prejudice, science and religion, justice and inequality, harmony and chaos, freedom and oppression, duty and apathy, unity and individuality, and life and death.
Matshona Dhliwayo
This effort [to establish racism, sexism and homophobia as morally heinous in law] also casts the law in particular and the state more generally as neutral arbiters of injury rather than as themselves invested with the power to injure. Thus, the effort to "outlaw" social injury powerfully legitimizes law and the state as appropriate protectors against injury and casts injured individuals as needing such protection by such protectors.
Wendy Brown (States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity)
I consider Anarchism the most beautiful and practical philosophy that has yet been thought of in its application to individual expression and the relation it establishes between the individual and society. Moreover, I am certain that Anarchism is too vital and too close to human nature ever to die. It is my conviction that dictatorship, whether to the right or to the left, can never work--that it never has worked, and that time will prove this again, as it has been proved before. When the failure of modern dictatorship and authoritarian philosophies becomes more apparent and the realization of failure more general, Anarchism will be vindicated. Considered from this point, a recrudescence of Anarchist ideas in the near future is very probable. When this occurs and takes effect, I believe that humanity will at last leave the maze in which it is now lost and will start on the path to sane living and regeneration through freedom.
Emma Goldman (Red Emma Speaks)
Anarchism alone stresses the importance of the individual, his possibilities and needs in a free society. Instead of telling him that he must fall down and worship before institutions, live and die for abstractions, break his heart and stunt his life for taboos, Anarchism insists that the center of gravity in society is the individual--that he must think for himself, act freely, and live fully. The aim of Anarchism is that every individual in the world shall be able to do so. If he is to develop freely and fully, he must be relieved from the interference and oppression of others. Freedom is, therefore, the cornerstone of the Anarchist philosophy. Of course, this has nothing in common with a much boasted "rugged individualism." Such predatory individualism is really flabby, not rugged. At the least danger to its safety it runs to cover of the state and wails for protection of armies, navies, or whatever devices for strangulation it has at its command. Their "rugged individualism" is simply one of the many pretenses the ruling class makes to unbridled business and political extortion.
Emma Goldman (Red Emma Speaks)
The primitive tribes permitted far less individual freedom than does modern society. Ancient wars were committed with far less moral justification than modern ones. A technology that produces debris can find, and is finding, ways of disposing of it without ecological upset. And the schoolbook pictures of primitive man sometimes omit some of the detractions of his primitive life - the pain, the disease, famine, the hard labor needed just to stay alive. From that agony of bare existence to modern life can be soberly described only as upward progress, and the sole agent for this progress is quite clearly reason itself.
Robert M. Pirsig
Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of a man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man. And now the forces marshaled around the concept of the group have declared a war of extermination on that preciousness, the mind of man. By disparagement, by starvation, by repressions, forced direction, and the stunning hammerblows of conditioning, the free, roving mind is being pursued, roped, blunted, drugged. It is a sad suicidal course our species seems to have taken. And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for this is one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost.
John Steinbeck (East of Eden)
He did not wish to be divine. If there had never been a God, the emperor thought, it might have been easier to work out what goodness was. This business of worship, of the abnegation of self in the face of the Almighty, was a distraction, a false trail. Wherever goodness lay, it did not lie in ritual, unthinking obeisance before a deity but rather, perhaps, in the slow, clumsy, error-strewn working out of an individual or collective path.
Salman Rushdie (The Enchantress of Florence)
For half a century now, a new consciousness has been entering the human world, a new awareness that can only be called transcendent, spiritual. If you find yourself reading this book, then perhaps you already sense what is happening, already feel it inside. It begins with a heightened perception of the way our lives move forward. We notice those chance events that occur at just the right moment, and bring forth just the right individuals, to suddenly send our lives in a new and important direction. Perhaps more than any other people in any other time, we intuit higher meaning in these mysterious happenings. We know that life is really about a spiritual unfolding that is personal and enchanting an unfolding that no science or philosophy or religion has yet fully clarified. And we know something else as well: know that once we do understand what is happening, how to engage this allusive process and maximize its occurrence in our lives, human society will take a quantum leap into a whole new way of life one that realizes the best of our tradition and creates a culture that has been the goal of history all along. The following story is offered toward this new understanding. If it touches you, if it crystalizes something that you perceive in life, then pass on what you see to another for I think our new awareness of the spiritual is expanding in exactly this way, no longer through hype nor fad, but personally, through a kind of positive psychological contagion among people. All that any of us have to do is uspend our doubts and distractions just long enough... and miraculously,this reality can be our own.
James Redfield
Whether we realize it or not, most of us define ourselves by opposing rather than by favoring something or someone. To put it another way, it is easier to react than to act. Nothing arouses a passion for dogma more than a good antagonist. And the more unlikely, the better. … It’s difficult to hate an idea. … It’s much easier to hate someone with a recognizable face whom we can blame for everything that makes us feel uncomfortable. It doesn’t have to be an individual character. It could be a nation, a race, a group … anything.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón (The Angel's Game (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #2))
Many Americans first fell in love with the poetry of the thirteenth century teacher and spiritual leader Jelalludin Rumi during the early 1990s when the unparalleled lyrical grace, philosophical brilliance, and spiritual daring of his work took modern Western readers completely by surprise. The impact of its soulful beauty and the depth of its profound humanity were so intense that they reportedly prompted numerous individuals to spontaneously compose poetry.
Aberjhani (Illuminated Corners: Collected Essays and Articles Volume I.)
1. Bangladesh.... In 1971 ... Kissinger overrode all advice in order to support the Pakistani generals in both their civilian massacre policy in East Bengal and their armed attack on India from West Pakistan.... This led to a moral and political catastrophe the effects of which are still sorely felt. Kissinger’s undisclosed reason for the ‘tilt’ was the supposed but never materialised ‘brokerage’ offered by the dictator Yahya Khan in the course of secret diplomacy between Nixon and China.... Of the new state of Bangladesh, Kissinger remarked coldly that it was ‘a basket case’ before turning his unsolicited expertise elsewhere. 2. Chile.... Kissinger had direct personal knowledge of the CIA’s plan to kidnap and murder General René Schneider, the head of the Chilean Armed Forces ... who refused to countenance military intervention in politics. In his hatred for the Allende Government, Kissinger even outdid Richard Helms ... who warned him that a coup in such a stable democracy would be hard to procure. The murder of Schneider nonetheless went ahead, at Kissinger’s urging and with American financing, just between Allende’s election and his confirmation.... This was one of the relatively few times that Mr Kissinger (his success in getting people to call him ‘Doctor’ is greater than that of most PhDs) involved himself in the assassination of a single named individual rather than the slaughter of anonymous thousands. His jocular remark on this occasion—‘I don’t see why we have to let a country go Marxist just because its people are irresponsible’—suggests he may have been having the best of times.... 3. Cyprus.... Kissinger approved of the preparations by Greek Cypriot fascists for the murder of President Makarios, and sanctioned the coup which tried to extend the rule of the Athens junta (a favoured client of his) to the island. When despite great waste of life this coup failed in its objective, which was also Kissinger’s, of enforced partition, Kissinger promiscuously switched sides to support an even bloodier intervention by Turkey. Thomas Boyatt ... went to Kissinger in advance of the anti-Makarios putsch and warned him that it could lead to a civil war. ‘Spare me the civics lecture,’ replied Kissinger, who as you can readily see had an aphorism for all occasions. 4. Kurdistan. Having endorsed the covert policy of supporting a Kurdish revolt in northern Iraq between 1974 and 1975, with ‘deniable’ assistance also provided by Israel and the Shah of Iran, Kissinger made it plain to his subordinates that the Kurds were not to be allowed to win, but were to be employed for their nuisance value alone. They were not to be told that this was the case, but soon found out when the Shah and Saddam Hussein composed their differences, and American aid to Kurdistan was cut off. Hardened CIA hands went to Kissinger ... for an aid programme for the many thousands of Kurdish refugees who were thus abruptly created.... The apercu of the day was: ‘foreign policy should not he confused with missionary work.’ Saddam Hussein heartily concurred. 5. East Timor. The day after Kissinger left Djakarta in 1975, the Armed Forces of Indonesia employed American weapons to invade and subjugate the independent former Portuguese colony of East Timor. Isaacson gives a figure of 100,000 deaths resulting from the occupation, or one-seventh of the population, and there are good judges who put this estimate on the low side. Kissinger was furious when news of his own collusion was leaked, because as well as breaking international law the Indonesians were also violating an agreement with the United States.... Monroe Leigh ... pointed out this awkward latter fact. Kissinger snapped: ‘The Israelis when they go into Lebanon—when was the last time we protested that?’ A good question, even if it did not and does not lie especially well in his mouth. It goes on and on and on until one cannot eat enough to vomit enough.
Christopher Hitchens
Imagine a problem in psychology: to find a way of getting people in our day and age - Christians, humanitarians, nice, kind people - to commit the most heinous crimes without feeling any guilt. There is only one solution - doing just what we do now: you make them governors, superintendents, officers or policemen, a process which, first of all, presupposes acceptance of something that goes by the name of government service and allows people to be treated like inanimate objects, precluding any humane or brotherly relationships, and, secondly, ensures that people working for this government service must be so interdependent that responsibility for any consequences of the way they treat people never devolves on any one of them individually.
Leo Tolstoy (Resurrection)
The real individuals of our time are the martyrs who have gone through infernos of suffering and degradation in their resistance to conquest and oppression, not the inflated personalities of popular culture, the conventional dignitaries. These unsung heroes consciously exposed their existence as individuals to the terroristic annihilation that others undergo unconsciously through the social process. The anonymous martyrs of the concentration camps are the symbols of the humanity that is striving to be born. The task of philosophy is to translate what they have done into language that will be heard, even though their finite voices have been silenced by tyranny.
Max Horkheimer
How well I would write if I were not here! If between the white page and the writing of words and stories that take shape and disappear without anyone's ever writing them there were not interposed that uncomfortable partition which is my person! Style, taste, individual philosophy, subjectivity, cultural background, real experience, psychology, talent, tricks of the trade: all the elements that make what I write recognizable as mine seem to me a cage that restricts my possibilities. If I were only a hand, a severed hand that grasps a pen and writes...who would move this hand? The anonymous throng? The spirit of the times? The collective unconscious? I do not know.
Italo Calvino (If on a Winter's Night a Traveler)
Marxism rejected the family and the state, but in practice it kept these institutions. Every pure religion disapproved of man's worrying about this world, but as the ideology of living people, it accepted the struggle for social justice and a better world. Marxism has had to accept some degree of individual freedom and religion some use of force. It is obvious in real life that man cannot live according to a consistent philosophy.
Alija Izetbegović
Our self-awareness impresses itself on us so cogently, as individuals and as a species, that we cannot imagine ourselves out of existence, even though for hundreds of millions of years humans played no part in the flow of life on the planet. When Teilhard de Chardin wrote, "The phenomenon of Man was essentially foreordained from the beginning," he was speaking from the depth of individual experience, which we all share, as much as from religious philosophy. Our inability to imagine a world without Homo sapiens has a profound impact on our view of ourselves; it becomes seductively easy to imagine that our evolution was inevitable. And inevitability gives meaning to life, because there is a deep security in believing that the way things are is the way they were meant to be.
Richard E. Leakey (The Sixth Extinction: Patterns of Life and the Future of Humankind)
The man who enjoys keenly, is subject to keen suffering; while he who feels but little pain is capable of feeling but little joy. The pig suffers but little mentally, and enjoys but little — he is compensated. And on the other hand, there are other animals who enjoy keenly, but whose nervous organism and temperament cause them to suffer exquisite degrees of pain. And so it is with Man. There are temperaments which permit of but low degrees of enjoyment, and equally low degrees of suffering; while there are others which permit the most intense enjoyment, but also the most intense suffering. The rule is that the capacity for pain and pleasure, in each individual, are balanced. The Law of Compensation is in full operation here.
Three Initiates (Kybalion: A Study of the Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece)
Here’s why the life of Muhammad [and Jesus] matters: Contrary to what many secularists would have us believe, religions are not entirely determined (or distorted) by the faithful over time. The lives and words of the founders remain central, no matter how long ago they lived. The idea that believers shape religion is derived, instead, from the fashionable 1960s philosophy of deconstructionism, which teaches that written words have no meaning other than that given to them by the reader. Equally important, it follows that if the reader alone finds meaning, there can be no truth (and certainly no religious truth); one person’s meaning is equal to another’s. Ultimately, according to deconstructionism, we all create our own set of “truths,” none better, or worse than any other. Yet for the religious man or woman on the streets of Chicago, Rome, Jerusalem, Damascus, Calcutta, and Bangkok, the words of Jesus, Moses, Muhammad, Krishna, and Buddha mean something far greater than any individual’s rendering of them. And even to the less-than-devout reader, the words of these great religious leaders are clearly not equal in their meaning.
Robert Spencer
In our society, defecation involves an individual in activity which is defined as inconsistent with the cleanliness and purity standards expressed in many of our performances. Such activity also causes the individual to disarrange his clothing and to 'go out of play," that is, to drop from his face the expressive mask that he employs in face-to-face interaction. At the same time ic becomes difficult for him to reassemble his personal front should the need to enter into interaction suddenly occur. Perhaps that is a reason why toilet doors in our society have locks on them.
Erving Goffman (The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life)
The benefits of a philosophy of neo-religious pessimism are nowhere more apparent than in relation to marriage, one of modern society’s most grief-stricken arrangements, which has been rendered unnecessarily hellish by the astonishing secular supposition that it should be entered into principally for the sake of happiness. Christianity and Judaism present marriage not as a union inspired and governed by subjective enthusiasm but rather, and more modestly, as a mechanism by which individuals can assume an adult position in society and thence, with the help of a close friend, undertake to nurture and educate the next generation under divine guidance. These limited expectations tend to forestall the suspicion, so familiar to secular partners, that there might have been more intense, angelic or less fraught alternatives available elsewhere. Within the religious ideal, friction, disputes and boredom are signs not of error, but of life proceeding according to plan.
Alain de Botton (Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion)
There are many who consider as an injury to themselves any conduct which they have a distaste for, and resent it as an outrage to their feelings; as a religious bigot, when charged with disregarding the religious feelings of others, has been known to retort that they disregard his feelings, by persisting in their abominable worship or creed. But there is no parity between the feeling of a person for his own opinion, and the feeling of another who is offended at his holding it; no more than between the desire of a thief to take a purse, and the desire of the right owner to keep it. And a person's taste is as much his own peculiar concern as his opinion or his purse. It is easy for any one to imagine an ideal public, which leaves the freedom and choice of individuals in all uncertain matters undisturbed, and only requires them to abstain from modes of conduct which universal experience has condemned. But where has there been seen a public which set any such limit to its censorship? or when does the public trouble itself about universal experience. In its interferences with personal conduct it is seldom thinking of anything but the enormity of acting or feeling differently from itself; and this standard of judgment, thinly disguised, is held up to mankind as the dictate of religion and philosophy, by nine tenths of all moralists and speculative writers. These teach that things are right because they are right; because we feel them to be so. They tell us to search in our own minds and hearts for laws of conduct binding on ourselves and on all others. What can the poor public do but apply these instructions, and make their own personal feelings of good and evil, if they are tolerably unanimous in them, obligatory on all the world?
John Stuart Mill (On Liberty)
There is no entrance that joy cannot enter, no door that faith cannot open, no bridge that patience cannot cross, and no wall that love cannot breach. There is no entrance that hope cannot enter, no door that truth cannot open, no bridge that grace cannot cross, and no wall that humility cannot breach. There is no entrance that knowledge cannot enter, no door that curiosity cannot open, no bridge that understanding cannot cross, and no wall that wisdom cannot breach. There is no entrance that time cannot enter, no door that chance cannot open, no bridge that destiny cannot cross, and no wall that eternity cannot breach. There is no entrance that the mind cannot enter, no door that the heart cannot open, no bridge that the soul cannot cross, and no wall that the individual cannot breach.
Matshona Dhliwayo
I can understand that people want to feel special and important and so on, but that self-obsession seems a bit pathetic somehow. Not being able to accept that you're just this collection of cells, intelligent to whatever degree, capable of feeling emotion to whatever degree, for a limited amount of time and so on, on this tiny little rock orbiting this not particularly important sun in one of just 400m galaxies, and whatever other levels of reality there might be via something like brane-theory [of multiple dimensions] … really, it's not about you. It's what religion does with this drive for acknowledgement of self-importance that really gets up my nose. 'Yeah, yeah, your individual consciousness is so important to the universe that it must be preserved at all costs' – oh, please. Do try to get a grip of something other than your self-obsession. How Californian. The idea that at all costs, no matter what, it always has to be all about you. Well, I think not.
Iain M. Banks
Prizing elegance, sweet emotions, and fantasy more than morals and truth; wallowing in fleeting romance rather than trying to give meaning to life, when who knows what's going to happen to you anyway; ignoring virtue and conventions to cherish only the pleasures you are definitely experiencing now: this is the Cocoro of Rococo. No matter how much deep thought, hard work, and agonizing effort went into coaxing out some insight, if that insight is boring, or not beautiful, it doesn't matter. And even if something is made just for laughs, if you find it pleasing, it has value. Other people's opinions and labor do not figure into your assessment; choosing things with your own personal sense of "I like this, I don't like that" is the ultimate individualism that sustains the very foundation of Rococo. Rococo, therefore, embodies the spirit of punk rock and anarchism more than any philosophy. Only in Rococo—elegant yet in bad taste, extravagant yet defiant and lawless—can I discover the meaning of life.
Novala Takemoto (Kamikaze Girls)
I think... that love encompasses the experience of the possible transition from the pure randomness of chance to a state that has universal value. Starting out from something that is simply an encounter, a trifle, you learn that you can experience the world on the basis of difference and not only in terms of identity. And you can even be tested and suffer in the process. In today's world, it is generally thought that individuals only pursue their self-interest. Love is an antidote to that. Provided it isn't conceived only as an exchange of mutual favours, or isn't calculated way in advance as a profitable investment, love really is a unique trust placed in chance. It takes us into key areas of the experience of what is difference and, essentially, leads to the idea that you can experience the world from the perspective of difference. In this respect it has universal implications: it is an individual experience of potential universality, and is thus central to philosophy, as Plato was the first to intuit.
Alain Badiou (In Praise of Love)
God’s plan to suicide himself could not work, though, as long as He existed as a unified entity outside of space-time and matter. Seeking to nullify His oneness so that He could be delivered into nothingness, he shattered Himself—Big Bang-like—into the time-bound fragments of the universe, that is, all those objects and organisms that have been accumulating here and there for billions of years. In Mainländer’s philosophy, “God knew that he could change from a state of super-reality into non-being only through the development of a real world of multiformity.” Employing this strategy, He excluded Himself from being. “God is dead,” wrote Mainländer, “and His death was the life of the world.” Once the great individuation had been initiated, the momentum of its creator’s self-annihilation would continue until everything became exhausted by its own existence, which for human beings meant that the faster they learned that happiness was not as good as they thought it would be, the happier they would be to die out.
Thomas Ligotti (The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror)
Taken together, New Labour policies have helped to build a series of overlapping chav caricatures: the feckless, the non-aspirational, the scrounger, the dysfunctional and the disorderly. To hear this sort of rhetoric from Labour, rather than the Tories, has confirmed the stereotypes and prejudices many middle-class people have about working-class communities and individuals. But it can be far subtler than outright attacks. Many of New Labour's underlying philosophies were steeped in middle-class triumphalism. They were based on the assumption that the tattered remnants of the working-class were are on the wrong side of history - and must be made to join 'Middle England' like the rest of us.
Owen Jones (Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class)
This now leads us to elucidate more precisely the error of the idea that the majority should make the law, because, even though this idea must remain theoretical - since it does not correspond to an effective reality - it is necessary to explain how it has taken root in the modern outlook, to which of its tendencies it corresponds, and which of them - at least in appearance - it satisfies. Its most obvious flaw is the one we have just mentioned: the opinion of the majority cannot be anything but an expression of incompetence, whether this be due to lack of intelligence or to ignorance pure and simple; certain observations of 'mass psychology' might be quoted here, in particular the widely known fact that the aggregate of mental reactions aroused among the component individuals of a crowd crystallizes into a sort of general psychosis whose level is not merely not that of the average, but actually that of the lowest elements present.
René Guénon (The Crisis of the Modern World)
There is no religion and no philosophy that can give us a comprehensive answer to the whole of our problems, and the abandonment and isolation of the individual who is given no answer, or only inadequate answers, to his question lead to a situation in which more and more cheap, obvious solutions and answers are sought and provided. As, everywhere and in all departments of life, there are contradictory schools and parties, and an equal number of contradictory answers, one of the most frequent reactions is that modern man ceases to ask questions and takes refuge in a conception that considers only the most obvious, superficial aspects, and becomes skeptical, nihilistic, and egocentric. Or, alternatively, he tries to solve all his problems by plunging headlong into a collective situation and a collective conviction, and seeks to redeem himself in this way.
Erich Neumann (The Fear of the Feminine and Other Essays on Feminine Psychology)
It is of course no secret to contemporary philosophers and psychologists that man himself is changing in our violent century, under the influence, of course, not only of war and revolution, but also of practically everything else that lays claim to being "modern" and "progressive." We have already cited the most striking forms of Nihilist Vitalism, whose cumulative effect has been to uproot, disintegrate, and "mobilize" the individual, to substitute for his normal stability and rootedness a senseless quest for power and movement, and to replace normal human feeling by a nervous excitability. The work of Nihilist Realism, in practice as in theory, has been parallel and complementary to that of Vitalism: a work of standardization, specialization, simplification, mechanization, dehumanization; its effect has been to "reduce" the individual to the most "Primitive" and basic level, to make him in fact the slave of his environment, the perfect workman in Lenin's worldwide "factory.
Seraphim Rose (Nihilism: The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age)
The more we live as 'free individuals' . . . the more we are effectively non-free, caught within the existing frame of possibilities--we have to be impelled or disturbed into freedom. . . . This paradox thoroughly pervades the form of subjectivity that characterizes 'permissive' liberal society. Since permissiveness and free choice are elevated into a supreme value, social control and domination can no longer appear as infringing on subjects' freedom: they have to appear as (and be sustained by) individuals experiencing themselves as free. There is a multitude of forms of this appearing of un-freedom in the guise of its opposite: in being deprived of universal healthcare, we are told that we are being given a new freedom of choice (to choose our healthcare provider); when we can no longer rely on long-term employment and are compelled to search for a new precarious job every couple of years, we are told that we are being given the opportunity to reinvent ourselves and discover our creative potential; when we have to pay for the education of our children, we are told that we are now able to become 'entrepreneurs of the self," acting like a capitalist freely choosing how to invest the resources he possesses (or has borrowed). In education, health, travel . . . we are constantly bombarded by imposed 'free choices'; forced to make decisions for which we are mostly not qualified (or do not possess enough information), we increasingly experience our freedom as a burden that causes unbearable anxiety. Unable to break out of this vicious cycle alone, as isolated individuals--since the more we act freely the more we become enslaved by the system--we need to be 'awakened' from this 'dogmatic slumber' of fake freedom.
Slavoj Žižek
individuals are concerned not with the moral issue of realizing these standards, but with the amoral issue of engineering a convincing impression that these standards are being realized. Our activity, then, is largely concerned with moral matters, but as performers we do not have a moral concern in these moral matters. As performers we are merchants of morality. Our day is given over to intimate contact with the goods we display and our minds are filled with intimate understandings of them; but it may well be that the more attention we give to these goods, th e more d is ta n t we feel from them and from those who are believing enough to buy them. To use a different imagery, the very obligation and profitablility of appearing always in a steady moral light, of being a socialized character, forces us to be the sort of person who is practiced in the ways of the stage.
Erving Goffman
The Yogic path is about disentangling the built-in glitches of the human condition, which I'm going to over-simply define here as the heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment. Different schools of thought over the centuries have found different explanation for man's apparently inherently flawed state. Taoists call it imbalance, Buddism calls it ignorance, Islam blames our misery on rebellion against God, and the Judeo-Christian tradition attributes all our suffering to original sin. Freudians say that unhappiness is the inevitable result of the clash between our natural drives and civilization's needs. (As my friend Deborah the psychologist explains it: "Desire is the design flaw.") The Yogis, however, say that human discontentment is a simple case of mistaken identity. We're miserable because we think that we are mere individuals, alone with our fears and flaws and resentments and mortality. We wrongly believe that our limited little egos constitute our whole entire nature. We have failed to recognize our deeper divine character. We don't realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme Self who is eternally at peace. That supreme Self is our true identity, universal and divine. Before you realize this truth, say the Yogis, you will always be in despair, a notion nicely expressed in this exasperated line from the Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus: "You bear God within you, poor wretch, and know it not.
Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)
The decay of belief has come about through the honest doubt, the careful and fearless thinking of highly intelligent men of science and philosophy. Moved by a zeal and reverence for facts, they have tried to see, understand, and face life as it is without wishful thinking. Yet for all that they have done to improve the conditions of life, their picture of the universe seems to leave the individual without ultimate hope. The price of their miracles in this world has been the disappearance of the world-to-come, and one is inclined to ask the old question, “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul?” Logic, intelligence, and reason are satisfied, but the heart goes hungry. For the heart has learned to feel that we live for the future. Science may, slowly and uncertainly, give us a better future—for a few years. And then, for each of us, it will end. It will all end. However long postponed, everything composed must decompose.
Alan W. Watts (The Wisdom of Insecurity)
Man is a world-forming being, a being that actively constitutes his own world, but when everything is always already fully coded, the active constituting of the world is made superfluous, and we lose friction in relation to the world.We Romantics need a meaning that we ourselves realize – and the person who is preoccupied with self-realization inevitably has a meaning problem. This is no one collective meaning in life any more, a meaning that it is up to the individual to participate in. Nor is it that easy to find an own meaning in life, either. The meaning that most people embrace is self-realization as such, but it is not obvious what type of self is to be realized, nor what should possibly result from it. The person who is certain as regards himself will not ask the question as to who he is. Only a problematic self feels the need for realization.
Lars Fredrik Händler Svendsen (A Philosophy of Boredom)
Main thought! The individual himself is a fallacy. Everything which happens in us is in itself something else which we do not know. ‘The individual’ is merely a sum of conscious feelings and judgments and misconceptions, a belief, a piece of the true life system or many pieces thought together and spun together, a ‘unity’, that doesn’t hold together. We are buds on a single tree—what do we know about what can become of us from the interests of the tree! But we have a consciousness as though we would and should be everything, a phantasy of ‘I’ and all ‘not I.’ Stop feeling oneself as this phantastic ego! Learn gradually to discard the supposed individual! Discover the fallacies of the ego! Recognize egoism as fallacy! The opposite is not to be understood as altruism! This would be love of other supposed individuals! No! Get beyond ‘myself’ and ‘yourself’! Experience cosmically!
Friedrich Nietzsche
17. Human life. Duration: momentary. Nature: changeable. Perception: dim. Condition of Body: decaying. Soul: spinning around. Fortune: unpredictable. Lasting Fame: uncertain. Sum Up: The body and its parts are a river, the soul a dream and mist, life is warfare and a journey far from home, lasting reputation is oblivion. Then what can guide us? Only philosophy. Which means making sure that the power within stays safe and free from assault, superior to pleasure and pain, doing nothing randomly or dishonestly and with imposture, not dependent on anyone else’s doing something or not doing it. And making sure that it accepts what happens and what it is dealt as coming from the same place it came from. And above all, that it accepts death in a cheerful spirit, as nothing but the dissolution of the elements from which each living thing is composed. If it doesn’t hurt the individual elements to change continually into one another, why are people afraid of all of them changing and separating? It’s a natural thing. And nothing natural is evil.
Marcus Aurelius (Meditations)
The great mistake of contemporary life is that we have made such a virtue of intellectual growth while almost totally ignoring the necessity of conscience growth. We have failed to understand that individual evolution can take place not only in mental but in moral power. The earth tragically today is full of people who remain fixated on a childish level of conscience. What an illusion has blinded the human race: that our conscience is given to us once and for all at birth and we ourselves have to do little or nothing about it…The truth is that our moral capacity is purely potential and needs strenuous training, education and development. It is certainly not an organic power that comes to us at birth, like breathing, which demands little attention from us as long as we live…A revolution has to take place in our thinking about morality. We have to become as sensitive about being moral morons as we are now anxious about being intellectual idiots.
Joshua Loth Liebman (Hope for Man: an optimistic philosophy and guide to self-fulfillment)
I think of two landscapes- one outside the self, the other within. The external landscape is the one we see-not only the line and color of the land and its shading at different times of the day, but also its plants and animals in season, its weather, its geology… If you walk up, say, a dry arroyo in the Sonoran Desert you will feel a mounding and rolling of sand and silt beneath your foot that is distinctive. You will anticipate the crumbling of the sedimentary earth in the arroyo bank as your hand reaches out, and in that tangible evidence you will sense the history of water in the region. Perhaps a black-throated sparrow lands in a paloverde bush… the smell of the creosote bush….all elements of the land, and what I mean by “the landscape.” The second landscape I think of is an interior one, a kind of projection within a person of a part of the exterior landscape. Relationships in the exterior landscape include those that are named and discernible, such as the nitrogen cycle, or a vertical sequence of Ordovician limestone, and others that are uncodified or ineffable, such as winter light falling on a particular kind of granite, or the effect of humidity on the frequency of a blackpoll warbler’s burst of song….the shape and character of these relationships in a person’s thinking, I believe, are deeply influenced by where on this earth one goes, what one touches, the patterns one observes in nature- the intricate history of one’s life in the land, even a life in the city, where wind, the chirp of birds, the line of a falling leaf, are known. These thoughts are arranged, further, according to the thread of one’s moral, intellectual, and spiritual development. The interior landscape responds to the character and subtlety of an exterior landscape; the shape of the individual mind is affected by land as it is by genes. Among the Navajo, the land is thought to exhibit sacred order…each individual undertakes to order his interior landscape according to the exterior landscape. To succeed in this means to achieve a balanced state of mental health…Among the various sung ceremonies of this people-Enemyway, Coyoteway, Uglyway- there is one called Beautyway. It is, in part, a spiritual invocation of the order of the exterior universe, that irreducible, holy complexity that manifests itself as all things changing through time (a Navajo definition of beauty).
Barry Lopez (Crossing Open Ground)
One emerging view of Homo sapiens among evolutionary biologists is that he has built a trap for himself by clinging to certain orthodoxies in a time of environmental emergency. A belief in cultural progress, for example, or in the propriety of a social animal’s quest for individual material wealth is what has led people into the trap, or so goes the thinking. To cause the trap to implode, to disintegrate, humanity has to learn to navigate using a reckoning fundamentally different from the one it’s long placed its faith in. A promising first step to take in dealing with this trap might be to bring together wisdom keepers from traditions around the world whose philosophies for survival developed around the same uncertainty of a future that Darwin suggested lies embedded in everything biological. Such wisdom keepers would be people who are able to function well in the upheaval of any century. Their faith does not lie solely with pursuing technological innovation as an approach to solving humanity’s most pressing problems. Their solutions lie with a profound change in what humans most value.
Barry Lopez (Horizon)
The humanitarian philosophies that have been developed (sometimes under some religious banner and invariably in the face of religious opposition) are human inventions, as the name implies - and our species deserves the credit. I am a devout atheist - nothing else makes any sense to me and I must admit to being bewildered by those, who in the face of what appears so obvious, still believe in a mystical creator. However I can see that the promise of infinite immortality is a more palatable proposition than the absolute certainty of finite mortality which those of us who are subject to free thought (as opposed to free will) have to look forward to and many may not have the strength of character to accept it. Thus I am a supporter of Amnesty International, a humanist and an atheist. I believe in a secular, democratic society in which women and men have total equality, and individuals can pursue their lives as they wish, free of constraints - religious or otherwise. I feel that the difficult ethical and social problems which invariably arise must be solved, as best they can, by discussion and am opposed to the crude simplistic application of dogmatic rules invented in past millennia and ascribed to a plethora of mystical creators - or the latest invention; a single creator masquerading under a plethora of pseudonyms. Organisations which seek political influence by co-ordinated effort disturb me and thus I believe religious and related pressure groups which operate in this way are acting antidemocratically and should play no part in politics. I also have problems with those who preach racist and related ideologies which seem almost indistinguishable from nationalism, patriotism and religious conviction.
Harry W. Kroto
It is a special blessing to belong among those who can and may devote their best energies to the contemplation and exploration of objective and timeless things. How happy and grateful I am for having been granted this blessing, which bestows upon one a large measure of independence from one's personal fate and from the attitude of one's contemporaries. Yet this independence must not inure us to the awareness of the duties that constantly bind us to the past, present and future of humankind at large. Our situation on this earth seems strange. Every one of us appears here, involuntarily and uninvited, for a short stay, without knowing the why and the wherefore. In our daily lives we feel only that man is here for the sake of others, for those whom we love and for many other beings whose fate is connected with our own. I am often troubled by the thought that my life is based to such a large extent on the work of my fellow human beings, and I am aware of my great indebtedness to them. I do not believe in free will. Schopenhauer's words: 'Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills,' accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile me with the actions of others, even if they are rather painful to me. This awareness of the lack of free will keeps me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously as acting and deciding individuals, and from losing my temper. I have never coveted affluence and luxury and even despise them a good deal. My passion for social justice has often brought me into conflict with people, as has my aversion to any obligation and dependence I did not regard as absolutely necessary. [Part 2] I have a high regard for the individual and an insuperable distaste for violence and fanaticism. All these motives have made me a passionate pacifist and antimilitarist. I am against any chauvinism, even in the guise of mere patriotism. Privileges based on position and property have always seemed to me unjust and pernicious, as does any exaggerated personality cult. I am an adherent of the ideal of democracy, although I know well the weaknesses of the democratic form of government. Social equality and economic protection of the individual have always seemed to me the important communal aims of the state. Although I am a typical loner in daily life, my consciousness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice keeps me from feeling isolated. The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as of all serious endeavour in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious. To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all there is.
Albert Einstein
Zombies are familiar characters in philosophical thought experiments. They are like people in every way except they have no internal experience.... If there are enough zombies recruited into our world, I worry about the potential for a self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe if people pretend they are not conscious or do not have free will - or that the cloud of online people is a person; if they pretend there is nothing special about the perspective of the individual - then perhaps we have the power to make it so. We might be able to collectively achieve antimagic. Humans are free. We can commmit suicide for the benefit of a Singularity. We can engineer our genes to better support an imaginary hive mind. We can make culture and journalism into second-rate activities and spend centuries remixing the detritus of the 1960s and other eras from before individual creativity went out of fashion. Or we can believe in ourselves. By chance, it might turn out we are real.
Jaron Lanier (You Are Not a Gadget)
I believe that a new philosophy will be created by those who were born after Hiroshima which will dramatically change the human condition. It will have these characteristics: (1) It will be scientific in essence and science-fiction in style. (2) It will be based on the expansion of consciousness, understanding and control of the nervous system, producing a quantum leap in intellectual efficiency and emotional equilibrium. (3) Politically it will stress individualism, decentralization of authority, a Iive-and-let-Iive tolerance of difference, local option and a mind-your-own-business libertarianism. (4) It will continue the trend towards open sexual expression and a more honest, realistic acceptance of both the equality of and the magnetic difference between the sexes. The mythic religious symbol will not be a man on a cross but a man-woman pair united in higher love communion. (5) It will seek revelation and Higher Intelligence not in formal rituals addressed to an anthropomorphic deity, but within natural processes, the nervous system, the genetic code, and without, in attempts to effect extra-planetary communication. (6) It will include practical, technical neurological psychological procedures for understanding and managing the intimations of union-immortality implicit in the dying process. (7) The emotional tone of the new philosophy will be hedonic, aesthetic, fearless, optimistic, humorous, practical, skeptical, hip. We are now experiencing a quiescent preparatory waiting period. Everyone knows something is going to happen. The seeds of the Sixties have taken root underground. The blossoming is to come.
Timothy Leary (Neuropolitique (Revised))
To understand why I jumped from the Mormon wagon train requires an understanding of what Mormons are and how they think. While Mormons have some quaint, quirky and fanatical ideas, they really aren't much different from millions of poor, guilt-ridden souls who, throughout the march of human history, have hitched their hopes to mass movements of one sort or another. Eric Hoffer, in his brilliant treatise, "The True Believer," explains the attraction of joining a cause: "A rising mass movement attracts and holds a following 'by the refuge it offers from the anxieties, barrenness and meaninglessness of an individual existence. It cures the poignantly frustrated by freeing them from their ineffectual selves--and it does this by enfolding and absorbing them into a closely knit and exultant corporate whole'. "Of all the cults and philosophies that competed in the Graeco-Roman world, Christianity alone developed from its inception a compact organization." Once I realized this, it wasn't much of a leap out of religion altogether once I flew the Mormon coop. I simply wanted to be free from organizational groupthink. I escaped from the stuffy attic of religion's "pray, pay and obey" mentality into journalism's open laboratory of "who, what, where, when and why.
Steve Benson
[L]iberals insist that children should be given the right to remain part of their particular community, but on condition that they are given a choice. But for, say, Amish children to really have a free choice of which way of life to choose, either their parents’ life or that of the “English,” they would have to be properly informed on all the options, educated in them, and the only way to do what would be to extract them from their embeddedness in the Amish community, in other words, to effectively render them “English.” This also clearly demonstrates the limitations of the standard liberal attitude towards Muslim women wearing a veil: it is deemed acceptable if it is their free choice and not an option imposed on them by their husbands or family. However, the moment a woman wears a veil as the result of her free individual choice, the meaning of her act changes completely: it is no longer a sign of her direct substantial belongingness to the Muslim community, but an expression of her idiosyncratic individuality, of her spiritual quest and her protest against the vulgarity of the commodification of sexuality, or else a political gesture of protest against the West. A choice is always a meta-choice, a choice of the modality of choice itself: it is one thing to wear a veil because of one’s immediate immersion in a tradition; it is quite another to refuse to wear a veil; and yet another to wear one not out of a sense of belonging, but as an ethico-political choice. This is why, in our secular societies based on “choice,” people who maintain a substantial religious belonging are in a subordinate position: even if they are allowed to practice their beliefs, these beliefs are “tolerated” as their idiosyncratic personal choice or opinion; they moment they present them publicly as what they really are for them, they are accused of “fundamentalism.” What this means is that the “subject of free choice” (in the Western “tolerant” multicultural sense) can only emerge as the result of an extremely violent process of being torn away from one’s particular lifeworld, of being cut off from one’s roots.
Slavoj Žižek (Living in the End Times)
Where there is no rest there is energy. Where there is no disruption there is normality. Where there is no profit there is bankruptcy. Where there is no gain there is insolvency. Where there is no injury there is safety. Where there is no team there is individuality. Where there is no hindrance there is opportunity. Where there is no injury there is safety. Where there is no sense there is inefficiency. Where there is no failiure there is competency. Where there is no decline there is industry. Where there is no strength there is infirmity. Where there is no idleness there is activity. Where there is no weakness there is intensity. Where there is no failiure there is industry. Where there is no leadership there is anarchy. Where there is no repetition there is originality. Where there is no increase there is deficiency. Where there is no ignorance there is capacity. Where there is no impotence there is ability. Where there is no falseness there is authenticity. Where there is no excellence there is mediocrity. Where there is no mistake there is quality. Where there is no amatuer there is ingenuity. Where there is no error there is mastery. Where there is no defect there is virtuosity.
Matshona Dhliwayo
There is a philosophy by which many people live their lives, and it is this: life is a shit sandwich, but the more bread you've got, the less shit you have to eat. These people are often selfish brats as kids, and they don't get better with age: think of the shifty-eyed smarmy asshole from the sixth form who grow up to be a merchant banker, or an estate agent, or one of the Conservative Party funny-handshake mine's a Rolex brigade. (This isn't to say that all estate agents, or merchant bankers, or conservatives are selfish, but that these are ways of life that provide opportunities of a certain disposition to enrich themselves at the expense of others. Bear with me.) There is another philosophy by which people live their lives, and it goes thus: You will do as I say or I will hurt you. . . . Let me draw you a Venn diagram with two circles on it, denoting sets of individuals. They overlap: the greedy ones and the authoritarian ones. Let's shade in the intersecting area in a different color and label it: dangerous. Greed isn't automatically dangerous on its won, and petty authoritarians aren't usually dangerous outside their immediate vicinity -- but when you combine the two, you get gangsters and dictators and hate-spewing preachers.
Charles Stross (The Fuller Memorandum (Laundry Files, #3))
Don't look for knowledge, look for wisdom. Don't look for opinions, look for facts. Don't look for theories, look for evidence. Don't look for speculation, look for certainties. Don't look for certificates, look for competance. Don't look for degrees, look for diligence. Don't look for position, look for influence. Don't look for jobs, look for a career. Don't look for skills, look for talents. Don't look for approval, look for individuality. Don't look for validation, look for self acceptance. Don't look for empires, look for happiness. Don't look for popularity, look for excellence. Don't look for acclaim, look for performance. Don't look for conquests, look for brilliance. Don't look for followers, look for friends. Don't look for muscles, look for courage. Don't look for appearance, look for character. Don't look for body, look for heart. Don't look for sexmates, look for helpmates. Don't look for vengance, look for mercy. Don't look for fate, look for opportunity. Don't look for luck, look for destiny. Don't look for fate, look for opportunity. Don't look for wealth, look for health. Don't look for today, look for tomorrow. Don't look for miracles, look for faith. Don't look for religion, look for love. Don't look for messiahs, look for peace. Don't look for temples, look for truth. Don't look for angels, look for God.
Matshona Dhliwayo
It is not easy for students to realize that to ask, as they often do, whether God exists and is merciful, just, good, or wrathful, is simply to project anthropomorphic concepts into a sphere to which they do not pertain. As the Upaniṣads declare: 'There, words do not reach.' Such queries fall short of the question. And yet—as the student must also understand—although that mystery is regarded in the Orient as transcendent of all thought and naming, it is also to be recognized as the reality of one’s own being and mystery. That which is transcendent is also immanent. And the ultimate function of Oriental myths, philosophies, and social forms, therefore, is to guide the individual to an actual experience of his identity with that; tat tvam asi ('Thou art that') is the ultimate word in this connection. By contrast, in the Western sphere—in terms of the orthodox traditions, at any rate, in which our students have been raised—God is a person, the person who has created this world. God and his creation are not of the same substance. Ontologically, they are separate and apart. We, therefore, do not find in the religions of the West, as we do in those of the East, mythologies and cult disciplines devoted to the yielding of an experience of one’s identity with divinity. That, in fact, is heresy. Our myths and religions are concerned, rather, with establishing and maintaining an experience of relationship—and this is quite a different affair. Hence it is, that though the same mythological images can appear in a Western context and an Eastern, it will always be with a totally different sense. This point I regard as fundamental.
Joseph Campbell (The Mythic Dimension - Comparative Mythology)
Among this bewildering multiplicity of ideals which shall we choose? The answer is that we shall choose none. For it is clear that each one of these contradictory ideals is the fruit of particular social circumstances. To some extent, of course, this is true of every thought and aspiration that has ever been formulated. Some thoughts and aspirations, however, are manifestly less dependent on particular social circumstances than others. And here a significant fact emerges: all the ideals of human behaviour formulated by those who have been most successful in freeing themselves from the prejudices of their time and place are singularly alike. Liberation from prevailing conventions of thought, feeling and behaviour is accomplished most effectively by the practice of disinterested virtues and through direct insight into the real nature of ultimate reality. (Such insight is a gift, inherent in the individual; but, though inherent, it cannot manifest itself completely except where certain conditions are fulfilled. The principal pre-condition of insight is, precisely, the practice of disinterested virtues.) To some extent critical intellect is also a liberating force. But the way in which intellect is used depends upon the will. Where the will is not disinterested, the intellect tends to be used (outside the non-human fields of technology, science or pure mathematics) merely as an instrument for the rationalization of passion and prejudice, the justification of self-interest. That is why so few even of die acutest philosophers have succeeded in liberating themselves completely from the narrow prison of their age and country. It is seldom indeed that they achieve as much freedom as the mystics and the founders of religion. The most nearly free men have always been those who combined virtue with insight. Now, among these freest of human beings there has been, for the last eighty or ninety generations, substantial agreement in regard to the ideal individual. The enslaved have held up for admiration now this model of a man, now that; but at all times and in all places, the free have spoken with only one voice. It is difficult to find a single word that will adequately describe the ideal man of the free philosophers, the mystics, the founders of religions. 'Non-attached* is perhaps the best. The ideal man is the non-attached man. Non-attached to his bodily sensations and lusts. Non-attached to his craving for power and possessions. Non-attached to the objects of these various desires. Non-attached to his anger and hatred; non-attached to his exclusive loves. Non-attached to wealth, fame, social position. Non-attached even to science, art, speculation, philanthropy. Yes, non-attached even to these. For, like patriotism, in Nurse Cavel's phrase, 'they are not enough, Non-attachment to self and to what are called 'the things of this world' has always been associated in the teachings of the philosophers and the founders of religions with attachment to an ultimate reality greater and more significant than the self. Greater and more significant than even the best things that this world has to offer. Of the nature of this ultimate reality I shall speak in the last chapters of this book. All that I need do in this place is to point out that the ethic of non-attachment has always been correlated with cosmologies that affirm the existence of a spiritual reality underlying the phenomenal world and imparting to it whatever value or significance it possesses.
Aldous Huxley (Ends and Means)
The news filled me with such euphoria that for an instant I was numb. My ingrained self-censorship immediately started working: I registered the fact that there was an orgy of weeping going on around me, and that I had to come up with some suitable performance. There seemed nowhere to hide my lack of correct emotion except the shoulder of the woman in front of me, one of the student officials, who was apparently heartbroken. I swiftly buried my head in her shoulder and heaved appropriately. As so often in China, a bit of ritual did the trick. Sniveling heartily she made a movement as though she was going to turn around and embrace me I pressed my whole weight on her from behind to keep her in her place, hoping to give the impression that I was in a state of abandoned grief. In the days after Mao's death, I did a lot of thinking. I knew he was considered a philosopher, and I tried to think what his 'philosophy' really was. It seemed to me that its central principle was the need or the desire? for perpetual conflict. The core of his thinking seemed to be that human struggles were the motivating force of history and that in order to make history 'class enemies' had to be continuously created en masse. I wondered whether there were any other philosophers whose theories had led to the suffering and death of so many. I thought of the terror and misery to which the Chinese population had been subjected. For what? But Mao's theory might just be the extension of his personality. He was, it seemed to me, really a restless fight promoter by nature, and good at it. He understood ugly human instincts such as envy and resentment, and knew how to mobilize them for his ends. He ruled by getting people to hate each other. In doing so, he got ordinary Chinese to carry out many of the tasks undertaken in other dictatorships by professional elites. Mao had managed to turn the people into the ultimate weapon of dictatorship. That was why under him there was no real equivalent of the KGB in China. There was no need. In bringing out and nourishing the worst in people, Mao had created a moral wasteland and a land of hatred. But how much individual responsibility ordinary people should share, I could not decide. The other hallmark of Maoism, it seemed to me, was the reign of ignorance. Because of his calculation that the cultured class were an easy target for a population that was largely illiterate, because of his own deep resentment of formal education and the educated, because of his megalomania, which led to his scorn for the great figures of Chinese culture, and because of his contempt for the areas of Chinese civilization that he did not understand, such as architecture, art, and music, Mao destroyed much of the country's cultural heritage. He left behind not only a brutalized nation, but also an ugly land with little of its past glory remaining or appreciated. The Chinese seemed to be mourning Mao in a heartfelt fashion. But I wondered how many of their tears were genuine. People had practiced acting to such a degree that they confused it with their true feelings. Weeping for Mao was perhaps just another programmed act in their programmed lives. Yet the mood of the nation was unmistakably against continuing Mao's policies. Less than a month after his death, on 6 October, Mme Mao was arrested, along with the other members of the Gang of Four. They had no support from anyone not the army, not the police, not even their own guards. They had had only Mao. The Gang of Four had held power only because it was really a Gang of Five. When I heard about the ease with which the Four had been removed, I felt a wave of sadness. How could such a small group of second-rate tyrants ravage 900 million people for so long? But my main feeling was joy. The last tyrants of the Cultural Revolution were finally gone.
Jung Chang (Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China)
Socrates tried to soothe us, true enough. He said there were only two possibilities. Either the soul is immortal or, after death, things would be again as blank as they were before we were born. This is not absolutely comforting either. Anyway it was natural that theology and philosophy should take the deepest interest in this. They owe it to us not to be boring themselves. On this obligation they don’t always make good. However, Kierkegaard was not a bore. I planned to examine his contribution in my master essay. In his view the primacy of the ethical over the esthetic mode was necessary to restore the balance. But enough of that. In myself I could observe the following sources of tedium: 1) The lack of a personal connection with the external world. Earlier I noted that when I was riding through France in a train last spring I looked out of the window and thought that the veil of Maya was wearing thin. And why was this? I wasn’t seeing what was there but only what everyone sees under a common directive. By this is implied that our worldview has used up nature. The rule of this view is that I, a subject, see the phenomena, the world of objects. They, however, are not necessarily in themselves objects as modern rationality defines objects. For in spirit, says Steiner, a man can step out of himself and let things speak to him about themselves, to speak about what has meaning not for him alone but also for them. Thus the sun the moon the stars will speak to nonastronomers in spite of their ignorance of science. In fact it’s high time that this happened. Ignorance of science should not keep one imprisoned in the lowest and weariest sector of being, prohibited from entering into independent relations with the creation as a whole. The educated speak of the disenchanted (a boring) world. But it is not the world, it is my own head that is disenchanted. The world cannot be disenchanted. 2) For me the self-conscious ego is the seat of boredom. This increasing, swelling, domineering, painful self-consciousness is the only rival of the political and social powers that run my life (business, technological-bureaucratic powers, the state). You have a great organized movement of life, and you have the single self, independently conscious, proud of its detachment and its absolute immunity, its stability and its power to remain unaffected by anything whatsoever — by the sufferings of others or by society or by politics or by external chaos. In a way it doesn’t give a damn. It is asked to give a damn, and we often urge it to give a damn but the curse of noncaring lies upon this painfully free consciousness. It is free from attachment to beliefs and to other souls. Cosmologies, ethical systems? It can run through them by the dozens. For to be fully conscious of oneself as an individual is also to be separated from all else. This is Hamlet’s kingdom of infinite space in a nutshell, of “words, words, words,” of “Denmark’s a prison.
Saul Bellow (Humboldt's Gift)
The average person wastes his life. He has a great deal of energy but he wastes it. The life of an average person seems at the end utterly meaningless…without significance. When he looks back…what has he done? MIND The mind creates routine for its own safety and convenience. Tradition becomes our security. But when the mind is secure it is in decay. We all want to be famous people…and the moment we want to be something…we are no longer free. Intelligence is the capacity to perceive the essential…the what is. It is only when the mind is free from the old that it meets everything new…and in that there’s joy. To awaken this capacity in oneself and in others is real education. SOCIETY It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. Nature is busy creating absolutely unique individuals…whereas culture has invented a single mold to which we must conform. A consistent thinker is a thoughtless person because he conforms to a pattern. He repeats phrases and thinks in a groove. What happens to your heart and your mind when you are merely imitative, naturally they wither, do they not? The great enemy of mankind is superstition and belief which is the same thing. When you separate yourself by belief tradition by nationally it breeds violence. Despots are only the spokesmen for the attitude of domination and craving for power which is in the heart of almost everyone. Until the source is cleared there will be confusion and classes…hate and wars. A man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country to any religion to any political party. He is concerned with the understanding of mankind. FEAR You have religion. Yet the constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear. You can only be afraid of what you think you know. One is never afraid of the unknown…one is afraid of the known coming to an end. A man who is not afraid is not aggressive. A man who has no sense of fear of any kind is really a free and peaceful mind. You want to be loved because you do not love…but the moment you really love, it is finished. You are no longer inquiring whether someone loves you or not. MEDITATION The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence. In meditation you will discover the whisperings of your own prejudices…your own noises…the monkey mind. You have to be your own teacher…truth is a pathless land. The beauty of meditation is that you never know where you are…where you are going…what the end is. Down deep we all understand that it is truth that liberates…not your effort to be free. The idea of ourselves…our real selves…is your escape from the fact of what you really are. Here we are talking of something entirely different….not of self improvement…but the cessation of self. ADVICE Take a break with the past and see what happens. Release attachment to outcomes…inside you will feel good no matter what. Eventually you will find that you don’t mind what happens. That is the essence of inner freedom…it is timeless spiritual truth. If you can really understand the problem the answer will come out of it. The answer is not separate from the problem. Suffer and understand…for all of that is part of life. Understanding and detachment…this is the secret. DEATH There is hope in people…not in societies not in systems but only in you and me. The man who lives without conflict…who lives with beauty and love…is not frightened by death…because to love is to die.
Jiddu Krishnamurti (Think on These Things)