Laws Of Human Nature Quotes

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Plant seeds of happiness, hope, success, and love; it will all come back to you in abundance. This is the law of nature.
Steve Maraboli (Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience)
You can't change laws without first changing human nature.' -Nurse Greta You can't change human nature without first changing the law.' -Nurse Yvonne
Neal Shusterman (Unwind (Unwind, #1))
Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man.
Henry Adams (The Education of Henry Adams)
We may brave human laws, but we cannot resist natural ones.
Jules Verne (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea)
Human beings are born with different capacities. If they are free, they are not equal. And if they are equal, they are not free.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
There is no justice in the laws of nature, no term for fairness in the equations of motion. The Universe is neither evil, nor good, it simply does not care. The stars don't care, or the Sun, or the sky. But they don't have to! WE care! There IS light in the world, and it is US!
Eliezer Yudkowsky (Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality)
If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?
Frédéric Bastiat (The Law)
Love is the only freedom in the world because it so elevates the spirit that the laws of humanity and the phenomena of nature do not alter its course.
Kahlil Gibran (Broken Wings)
To cheapen the lives of any group of men, cheapens the lives of all men, even our own. This is a law of human psychology, or human nature. And it will not be repealed by our wishes, nor will it be merciful to our blindness.
William Pickens
That is human nature, that people come after you, willingly enough, provided only that you no longer love or want them.
A.S. Byatt (Possession)
What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly - that is the first law of nature.
Voltaire
One third, more or less, of all the sorrow that the person I think I am must endure is unavoidable. It is the sorrow inherent in the human condition, the price we must pay for being sentient and self-conscious organisms, aspirants to liberation, but subject to the laws of nature and under orders to keep on marching, through irreversible time, through a world wholly indifferent to our well-being, toward decrepitude and the certainty of death. The remaining two thirds of all sorrow is homemade and, so far as the universe is concerned, unnecessary.
Aldous Huxley (Island)
If there is something in nature you don't understand, odds are it makes sense in a deeper way that is beyond your understanding. So there is a logic to natural things that is much superior to our own. Just as there is a dichotomy in law: 'innocent until proven guilty' as opposed to 'guilty until proven innocent', let me express my rule as follows: what Mother Nature does is rigorous until proven otherwise; what humans and science do is flawed until proven otherwise.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder)
Give yourself freedom to grow through love, as love is the most natural direction for humans to grow, just as every tree grows upward towards the sky. Don’t try to control the way that love moves, as any attempt will be futile, for love grows like the branches, wildly growing by the laws of nature, rather than by human rational. Let love grow by her own nature.
Forrest Curran (Purple Buddha Project: Purple Book of Self-Love)
How can we distinguish what is biologically determined from what people merely try to justify through biological myths? A good rule of thumb is ‘Biology enables, Culture forbids.’ Biology is willing to tolerate a very wide spectrum of possibilities. It’s culture that obliges people to realize some possibilities while forbidding others. Biology enables women to have children – some cultures oblige women to realize this possibility. Biology enables men to enjoy sex with one another – some cultures forbid them to realize this possibility. Culture tends to argue that it forbids only that which is unnatural. But from a biological perspective, nothing is unnatural. Whatever is possible is by definition also natural. A truly unnatural behavior, one that goes against the laws of nature, simply cannot exist.
Yuval Noah Harari (קיצור תולדות האנושות)
He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it, namely, that, in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain.
Mark Twain
I think human consciousness is a tragic misstep in human evolution. We became too self aware; nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself. We are creatures that should not exist by natural law. We are things that labor under the illusion of having a self, a secretion of sensory experience and feeling, programmed with total assurance that we are each somebody, when in fact everybody’s nobody. I think the honorable thing for our species to do is deny our programming, stop reproducing, walk hand in hand into extinction, one last midnight, brothers and sisters opting out of a raw deal.
Rustin Cohle
our economic system and our planetary system are now at war. Or, more accurately, our economy is at war with many forms of life on earth, including human life. What the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands to avoid collapse is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature.
Naomi Klein (This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate)
It is just as foolish to complain that people are selfish and treacherous as it is to complain that the magnetic field does not increase unless the electric field has a curl. Both are laws of nature.
John von Neumann
The law of gravity and gravity itself did not exist before Isaac Newton." ...and what that means is that that law of gravity exists nowhere except in people's heads! It 's a ghost!" Mind has no matter or energy but they can't escape its predominance over everything they do. Logic exists in the mind. numbers exist only in the mind. I don't get upset when scientists say that ghosts exist in the mind. it's that only that gets me. science is only in your mind too, it's just that that doesn't make it bad. or ghosts either." Laws of nature are human inventions, like ghosts. Law of logic, of mathematics are also human inventions, like ghosts." ...we see what we see because these ghosts show it to us, ghosts of Moses and Christ and the Buddha, and Plato, and Descartes, and Rousseau and Jefferson and Lincoln, on and on and on. Isaac Newton is a very good ghost. One of the best. Your common sense is nothing more than the voices of thousands and thousands of these ghosts from the past.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
A serious adult story must be true to something in life. Since marvel tales cannot be true to the events of life, they must shift their emphasis towards something to which they can be true; namely, certain wistful or restless moods of the human spirit, wherein it seeks to weave gossamer ladders of escape from the galling tyranny of time, space, and natural law.
H.P. Lovecraft
Love does not cost anything. Kind words and deeds do not cost anything. The real beauty of the world is equal for everyone to see. It was given by God equally to all, without restrictions. Everyone, was given a beautiful vehicle in which to express love to others. Feelings are free to express and give to ourselves and each other through our willingness to give and care. What is complicated about this... Why have we made others feel they have to climb mountains and swim oceans in order to make a difference. All we need to understand my friends, is that human life was given equally to us all, not partially but in totality. The sun was given to all. It does not shine on the few. So, just has nature is indifferent to our station or situation, we need to know that we are all equal. We need to focus on the things that are constant and not place our values on things that can be blown away with the next, great, wind. Value life in what ever house it dwells. For when it comes time that we are all stripped to bare bones before the divine and facing eternity, we will understand that the only law we were meant to follow, was to love ourselves and each other. Nothing more...nothing less.
Carla Jo Masterson
That is the idea -- that we should all be wicked if we did not hold to the Christian religion. It seems to me that the people who have held to it have been for the most part extremely wicked. You find this curious fact, that the more intense has been the religion of any period and the more profound has been the dogmatic belief, the greater has been the cruelty and the worse has been the state of affairs. In the so-called ages of faith, when men really did believe the Christian religion in all its completeness, there was the Inquisition, with all its tortures; there were millions of unfortunate women burned as witches; and there was every kind of cruelty practiced upon all sorts of people in the name of religion. You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world. You may think that I am going too far when I say that that is still so. I do not think that I am. Take one fact. You will bear with me if I mention it. It is not a pleasant fact, but the churches compel one to mention facts that are not pleasant. Supposing that in this world that we live in today an inexperienced girl is married to a syphilitic man; in that case the Catholic Church says, 'This is an indissoluble sacrament. You must endure celibacy or stay together. And if you stay together, you must not use birth control to prevent the birth of syphilitic children.' Nobody whose natural sympathies have not been warped by dogma, or whose moral nature was not absolutely dead to all sense of suffering, could maintain that it is right and proper that that state of things should continue. That is only an example. There are a great many ways in which, at the present moment, the church, by its insistence upon what it chooses to call morality, inflicts upon all sorts of people undeserved and unnecessary suffering. And of course, as we know, it is in its major part an opponent still of progress and improvement in all the ways that diminish suffering in the world, because it has chosen to label as morality a certain narrow set of rules of conduct which have nothing to do with human happiness; and when you say that this or that ought to be done because it would make for human happiness, they think that has nothing to do with the matter at all. 'What has human happiness to do with morals? The object of morals is not to make people happy.
Bertrand Russell (Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects)
We who bore the mark might well be considered by the rest of the world as strange, even as insane and dangerous. We had awoken, or were awakening, and we were striving for an ever perfect state of wakefulness, whereas the ambition and quest for happiness of the others consisted of linking their opinions, ideals, and duties, their life and happiness, ever more closely with those of the herd. They, too, strove; they, too showed signs of strength and greatness. But as we saw it, whereas we marked men represented Nature's determination to create something new, individual, and forward-looking, the others lived in the determination to stay the same. For them mankind--which they loved as much as we did--was a fully formed entity that had to be preserved and protected. For us mankind was a distant future toward which we were all journeying, whose aspect no one knew, whose laws weren't written down anywhere.
Hermann Hesse (Demian: Die Geschichte von Emil Sinclairs Jugend)
What separates or unites people is not their language, their laws, their customs, their principles, but the way they hold their knife and fork.
Irène Némirovsky (Suite Française)
Reading list (1972 edition)[edit] 1. Homer – Iliad, Odyssey 2. The Old Testament 3. Aeschylus – Tragedies 4. Sophocles – Tragedies 5. Herodotus – Histories 6. Euripides – Tragedies 7. Thucydides – History of the Peloponnesian War 8. Hippocrates – Medical Writings 9. Aristophanes – Comedies 10. Plato – Dialogues 11. Aristotle – Works 12. Epicurus – Letter to Herodotus; Letter to Menoecus 13. Euclid – Elements 14. Archimedes – Works 15. Apollonius of Perga – Conic Sections 16. Cicero – Works 17. Lucretius – On the Nature of Things 18. Virgil – Works 19. Horace – Works 20. Livy – History of Rome 21. Ovid – Works 22. Plutarch – Parallel Lives; Moralia 23. Tacitus – Histories; Annals; Agricola Germania 24. Nicomachus of Gerasa – Introduction to Arithmetic 25. Epictetus – Discourses; Encheiridion 26. Ptolemy – Almagest 27. Lucian – Works 28. Marcus Aurelius – Meditations 29. Galen – On the Natural Faculties 30. The New Testament 31. Plotinus – The Enneads 32. St. Augustine – On the Teacher; Confessions; City of God; On Christian Doctrine 33. The Song of Roland 34. The Nibelungenlied 35. The Saga of Burnt Njál 36. St. Thomas Aquinas – Summa Theologica 37. Dante Alighieri – The Divine Comedy;The New Life; On Monarchy 38. Geoffrey Chaucer – Troilus and Criseyde; The Canterbury Tales 39. Leonardo da Vinci – Notebooks 40. Niccolò Machiavelli – The Prince; Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy 41. Desiderius Erasmus – The Praise of Folly 42. Nicolaus Copernicus – On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres 43. Thomas More – Utopia 44. Martin Luther – Table Talk; Three Treatises 45. François Rabelais – Gargantua and Pantagruel 46. John Calvin – Institutes of the Christian Religion 47. Michel de Montaigne – Essays 48. William Gilbert – On the Loadstone and Magnetic Bodies 49. Miguel de Cervantes – Don Quixote 50. Edmund Spenser – Prothalamion; The Faerie Queene 51. Francis Bacon – Essays; Advancement of Learning; Novum Organum, New Atlantis 52. William Shakespeare – Poetry and Plays 53. Galileo Galilei – Starry Messenger; Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences 54. Johannes Kepler – Epitome of Copernican Astronomy; Concerning the Harmonies of the World 55. William Harvey – On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals; On the Circulation of the Blood; On the Generation of Animals 56. Thomas Hobbes – Leviathan 57. René Descartes – Rules for the Direction of the Mind; Discourse on the Method; Geometry; Meditations on First Philosophy 58. John Milton – Works 59. Molière – Comedies 60. Blaise Pascal – The Provincial Letters; Pensees; Scientific Treatises 61. Christiaan Huygens – Treatise on Light 62. Benedict de Spinoza – Ethics 63. John Locke – Letter Concerning Toleration; Of Civil Government; Essay Concerning Human Understanding;Thoughts Concerning Education 64. Jean Baptiste Racine – Tragedies 65. Isaac Newton – Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy; Optics 66. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz – Discourse on Metaphysics; New Essays Concerning Human Understanding;Monadology 67. Daniel Defoe – Robinson Crusoe 68. Jonathan Swift – A Tale of a Tub; Journal to Stella; Gulliver's Travels; A Modest Proposal 69. William Congreve – The Way of the World 70. George Berkeley – Principles of Human Knowledge 71. Alexander Pope – Essay on Criticism; Rape of the Lock; Essay on Man 72. Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu – Persian Letters; Spirit of Laws 73. Voltaire – Letters on the English; Candide; Philosophical Dictionary 74. Henry Fielding – Joseph Andrews; Tom Jones 75. Samuel Johnson – The Vanity of Human Wishes; Dictionary; Rasselas; The Lives of the Poets
Mortimer J. Adler (How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading)
Religion is not about accepting twenty impossible propositions before breakfast, but about doing things that change you. It is a moral aesthetic, an ethical alchemy. If you behave in a certain way, you will be transformed. The myths and laws of religion are not true because they they conform to some metaphysical, scientific or historical reality but because they are life enhancing. They tell you how human nature functions, but you will not discover their truth unless you apply these myths and doctrines to your own life and put them into practice.
Karen Armstrong (The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness)
The liberty of man consists solely in this, that he obeys the laws of nature because he has himself recognized them as such, and not because they have been imposed upon him externally by any foreign will whatsoever, human or divine, collective or individual.
Mikhail Bakunin
You mean that a Frenchman could share with a friend and yet not go to prison?’ ‘Share? Do you mean unite? If both are of age and avoid public indecency, certainly.’ ‘Will the law ever be that in England?’ ‘I doubt it. England has always been disinclined to accept human nature.
E.M. Forster (Maurice)
Man will only become better when you make him see what he is like. —Anton Chekhov
Robert Greene (The Laws of Human Nature)
This is one of man's oldest riddles. How can the independence of human volition be harmonized with the fact that we are integral parts of a universe which is subject to the rigid order of nature's laws?
Max Planck (Where is Science Going?)
Understanding human nature must be the basis of any real improvement in human life. Science has done wonders in mastering the laws of the physical world, but our own nature is much less understood, as yet, than the nature of stars and electrons. When science learns to understand human nature, it will be able to bring a happiness into our lives which machines and the physical sciences have failed to create.
Bertrand Russell (Sceptical Essays)
Not only does the universe have its own laws, all of them indifferent to the contradictory dreams and desires of humanity, and in the formulation of which we contribute not one iota, apart, that is, from the words by which we clumsily name them, but everything seems to indicate that it uses these laws for aims and objectives that transcend and always will transcend our understanding.
José Saramago
If you come across any special trait of meanness or stupidity . . . you must be careful not to let it annoy or distress you, but to look upon it merely as an addition to your knowledge—a new fact to be considered in studying the character of humanity. Your attitude towards it will be that of the mineralogist who stumbles upon a very characteristic specimen of a mineral. —Arthur Schopenhauer
Robert Greene (The Laws of Human Nature)
Our continual connection to social media makes us prone to new forms of viral emotional effects. These are not media designed for calm reflection.
Robert Greene (The Laws of Human Nature)
Not too long ago thousands spent their lives as recluses to find spiritual vision in the solitude of nature. Modern man need not become a hermit to achieve this goal, for it is neither ecstasy nor world-estranged mysticism his era demands, but a balance between quantitative and qualitative reality. Modern man, with his reduced capacity for intuitive perception, is unlikely to benefit from the contemplative life of a hermit in the wilderness. But what he can do is to give undivided attention, at times, to a natural phenomenon, observing it in detail, and recalling all the scientific facts about it he may remember. Gradually, however, he must silence his thoughts and, for moments at least, forget all his personal cares and desires, until nothing remains in his soul but awe for the miracle before him. Such efforts are like journeys beyond the boundaries of narrow self-love and, although the process of intuitive awakening is laborious and slow, its rewards are noticeable from the very first. If pursued through the course of years, something will begin to stir in the human soul, a sense of kinship with the forces of life consciousness which rule the world of plants and animals, and with the powers which determine the laws of matter. While analytical intellect may well be called the most precious fruit of the Modern Age, it must not be allowed to rule supreme in matters of cognition. If science is to bring happiness and real progress to the world, it needs the warmth of man's heart just as much as the cold inquisitiveness of his brain.
Franz Winkler
What sparks wars? The will to power, the backbone of human nature. The threat of violence, the fear of violence, or actual violence, is the instrument of this dreadful will. You can see the will to power in bedrooms, kitchens, factories, unions and the borders of states. Listen to this and remember it. The nation state is merely human nature inflated to monstrous proportions. QED, nations are entities whose laws are written by violence. Thus it ever was, so ever shall it be.
David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas)
One wonders, in fact, why marriage is a legal issue at all - apart from its relevance to immigration and property laws. Why would something so integral to human nature require such vigilant legal protection?
Christopher Ryan (Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality)
What if we could find out what causes us to lie about who we are, or to inadvertently push people away?
Robert Greene (The Laws of Human Nature)
Not to become someone else, but to be more thoroughly yourself.
Robert Greene (The Laws of Human Nature)
Equality, as understood by the American Founders, is the natural right of every individual to live freely under self-government, to acquire and retain the property he creates through his own labor, and to be treated impartially before a just law. Moreover, equality should not be confused with perfection, for man is also imperfect, making his application of equality, even in the most just society, imperfect. Otherwise, inequality is the natural state of man in the sense that each individual is born unique in all his human characteristics. Therefore, equality and inequality, properly comprehended, are both engines of liberty.
Mark R. Levin (Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America)
An age cannot bind itself and ordain to put the succeeding one into such a condition that it cannot extend its (at best very occasional) knowledge , purify itself of errors, and progress in general enlightenment. That would be a crime against human nature, the proper destination of which lies precisely in this progress and the descendants would be fully justified in rejecting those decrees as having been made in an unwarranted and malicious manner. The touchstone of everything that can be concluded as a law for a people lies in the question whether the people could have imposed such a law on itself.
Immanuel Kant (An Answer to the Question: What Is Enlightenment?)
Among the many worlds which man did not receive as a gift of nature, but which he created with his own mind, the world of books is the greatest. Every child, scrawling his first letters on his slate and attempting to read for the first time, in so doing, enters an artificial and complicated world; to know the laws and rules of this world completely and to practice them perfectly, no single human life is long enough. Without words, without writing, and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity. And if anyone wants to try to enclose in a small space in a single house or single room, the history of the human spirit and to make it his own, he can only do this in the form of a collection of books.
Hermann Hesse (My Belief)
The twins were too young to know that these were only history’s henchmen. Sent to square the books and collect the dues from those who broke its laws. Impelled by feelings that were primal yet paradoxically wholly impersonal. Feelings of contempt born of inchoate, unacknowledged fear—civilization’s fear of nature, men’s fear of women, power’s fear of powerlessness. Man’s subliminal urge to destroy what he could neither subdue nor deify.
Arundhati Roy (The God of Small Things)
There does not exist any religious system, or supernatural extravagance, which is not founded on an ignorance of the laws of nature.
Nicolas de Condorcet (Outlines Of An Historical View Of The Progress Of The Human Mind (With Active Table of Contents))
The underlying assumption that human nature is basically the same at all times, everywhere, and obeys eternal laws beyond human control, is a conception that only a handful of bold thinkers have dared to question.
Isaiah Berlin (The Crooked Timber of Humanity: Chapters in the History of Ideas)
Learn to question yourself: Why this anger or resentment? Where does this incessant need for attention come from? Under such scrutiny, your emotions will lose their hold on you. You will begin to think for yourself instead of reacting to what others give you.
Robert Greene (The Laws of Human Nature)
After almost 70 years of being paralysed into silence by the Zionist venom — the accusation of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial — the world in general and the West in particular, have continued to tolerate Israel’s unrelenting arrogance, barbarity, and contemptuous disregard for international law including the UDHR. That venom has prevented condemnation of incalculable cheating, lying, stealing, murdering, and ruthless violation of the legal and natural human rights of the Palestinian people by a nation devoid of conscience, humanity, or any of the noble principles claimed by the religion which it claims to represent.
William Hanna (The Grim Reaper)
As Abraham Lincoln said, “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.
Robert Greene (The Laws of Human Nature)
You like to imagine yourself in control of your fate, consciously planning the course of your life as best you can. But you are largely unaware of how deeply your emotions dominate you. They make you veer toward ideas that soothe your ego. They make you look for evidence that confirms what you already want to believe. They make you see what you want to see, depending on your mood, and this disconnect from reality is the source of the bad decisions and negative patterns that haunt your life. Rationality is the ability to counteract these emotional effects, to think instead of react, to open your mind to what is really happening, as opposed to what you are feeling. It does not come naturally; it is a power we must cultivate, but in doing so we realize our greatest potential.
Robert Greene (The Laws of Human Nature)
the scientist's religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is utterly insignificant reflection. This feeling is the guiding principle of his life and work, in so far as he succeeds in keeping himself from the shackles of selfish desire. It is beyond question closely akin to that which has possessed the religious geniuses of all ages.
Albert Einstein
We want to learn the lesson and not repeat the experience. But in truth, we do not like to look too closely at what we did; our introspection is limited. Our natural response is to blame others, circumstances, or a momentary lapse of judgment.
Robert Greene (The Laws of Human Nature)
In recent times, more and more human thinking has come to assume that the idea of a universal natural law and the idea of 'God' are pointing to one and the same reality.
Wilhelm Reich (Ether, God and devil : cosmic superimposition)
No other animal in the world would try to defy the laws of nature, but humans are a very peculiar species.
Hiro Arikawa (The Travelling Cat Chronicles)
Is it some law of human nature that you inevitably become whatever your first commander was?
Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, #1))
Nature is pitiless; she never withdraws her flowers, her music, her fragrance and her sunlight, from before human cruelty or suffering. She overwhelms man by the contrast between divine beauty and social hideousness. She spares him nothing of her loveliness, neither wing or butterfly, nor song of bird; in the midst of murder, vengeance, barbarism, he must feel himself watched by holy things; he cannot escape the immense reproach of universal nature and the implacable serenity of the sky. The deformity of human laws is forced to exhibit itself naked amidst the dazzling rays of eternal beauty. Man breaks and destroys; man lays waste; man kills; but the summer remains summer; the lily remains the lily; and the star remains the star. ... As though it said to man, 'Behold my work. and yours.
Victor Hugo (Ninety-Three)
Our weapons are the ironic mind against the literal: the open mind against the credulous; the courageous pursuit of truth against the fearful and abject forces who would set limits to investigation (and who stupidly claim that we already have all the truth we need). Perhaps above all, we affirm life over the cults of death and human sacrifice and are afraid, not of inevitable death, but rather of a human life that is cramped and distorted by the pathetic need to offer mindless adulation, or the dismal belief that the laws of nature respond to wailings and incantations.
Christopher Hitchens
we tend to think of our behavior as largely conscious and willed. To imagine that we are not always in control of what we do is a frightening thought, but in fact it is the reality.
Robert Greene (The Laws of Human Nature)
To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he's doing is good, or else that it's a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions... Ideology—that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956 (Abridged))
An interesting fiction... however paradoxical the assertion may appear... addresses our love of truth- not the mere love of facts expressed by true names and dates, but the love of that higher truth, the truth of nature and principals, which is a primitive law of the human mind.
James Fenimore Cooper
Civilization is very fragile, all it takes is a few decades of chaos for us to forget humanity and turn into animals. Our base natures can take over very fast. We can forget that we are sentient beings, with laws and codes and ethics.
Amish Tripathi
Making money or being successful should be a natural result of this ideal and not the goal itself.
Robert Greene (The Laws of Human Nature: Robert Greene)
Greenspan's eventual explanation for the growing gap between stock prices and actual productivity was that, fortuitously, the laws of nature had changed -- humanity had reached a happy stage of history where bullshit could be used as rocket fuel.
Matt Taibbi (Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America)
Let us remind ourselves of the terminology. A theist believes in a supernatural intelligence who, in addition to his main work of creating the universe in the first place, is still around to oversee and influence the subsequent fate of his initial creation. In many theistic belief systems, the deity is intimately involved in human affairs. He answers prayers; forgives or punishes sins; intervenes in the world by performing miracles; frets about good and bad deeds, and knows when we do them (or even think about doing them). A deist, too, believes in a supernatural intelligence, but one whose activities were confined to setting up the laws that govern the universe in the first place. The deist God never intervenes thereafter, and certainly has no specific interest in human affairs. Pantheists don't believe in a supernatural God at all, but use the word God as a non-supernatural synonym for Nature, or for the Universe, or for the lawfulness that governs its workings. Deists differ from theists in that their God does not answer prayers, is not interested in sins or confessions, does not read our thoughts and does not intervene with capricious miracles. Deists differ from pantheists in that the deist God is some kind of cosmic intelligence, rather than the pantheist's metaphoric or poetic synonym for the laws of the universe. Pantheism is sexed-up atheism. Deism is watered-down theism.
Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion)
Art breaks open a dimension inaccessible to other experience, a dimension in which human beings, nature, and things no longer stand under the law of the established reality principle...The encounter with the truth of art happens in the estranging language and images which make perceptible, visible, and audible that which is no longer, or not yet, perceived, said, and heard in everyday life.
Herbert Marcuse
There’s something about human nature which draws us to people who are authentic and makes us want to repel those that aren’t.
Rachael Bermingham
The very motivation, the drive behind our demand to understand the laws of nature is to use them for the purpose of continuing the human species at the expense of every other form of life on this planet.
U.G. Krishnamurti (Thought is Your Enemy)
Can we get control of an individual to the point where he will do our bidding against his will and even against fundamental laws of nature such as self preservation? (CIA Document, Project ARTICHOKE, MORI ID 144686, 1952) As cited by Dr Ellen P. Lacter, p57
Orit Badouk Epstein (Ritual Abuse and Mind Control: The Manipulation of Attachment Needs)
All growth is from within. This is evident in all nature. Every plant, every animal, every human is a living testimony to this great law, and the error of the ages is in looking for strength or power from without.
Charles F. Haanel (The Master Key System)
There's one fundamental law that all of nature obeys that mankind breaks every day. Now this is a law that has evolved over billions of years and the law is this: nothing in nature takes more than it needs and when it does it becomes subject to this law and it dies off.
Tom Shadyac
Throughout human history, three caste systems have stood out. The tragically accelerated, chilling, and officially vanquished caste system of Nazi Germany. The lingering, millennia-long caste system of India. And the shape-shifting, unspoken, race-based caste pyramid in the United States. Each version relied on stigmatizing those deemed inferior to justify the dehumanization necessary to keep the lowest-ranked people at the bottom and to rationalize the protocols of enforcement. A caste system endures because it is often justified as divine will, originating from sacred text or the presumed laws of nature, reinforced throughout the culture and passed down through the generations.
Isabel Wilkerson (Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents)
Toleration is the prerogative of humanity; we are all full of weaknesses and mistakes; let us reciprocally forgive ourselves. It is the first law of nature. La tolérance, c'est l'apanage de l'humanité; nous sommes tous pétris de faiblesse et d'erreurs; pardonnons-nous réciproquement nos sottises. C'est la première loi de la nature.
Voltaire (A Treatise on Toleration and Other Essays)
Nothing exists without a purpose. And we humans are subject to the laws of nature just as everything else on earth is.
Caroline Myss (Archetypes: Who Are You?)
One may deal with things without love...but you cannot deal with men without it...It cannot be otherwise, because natural love is the fundamental law of human life.
Leo Tolstoy (Resurrection)
Life Is a Gift from God. We hold from God the gift which includes all others. This gift is life -- physical, intellectual, and moral life. But life cannot maintain itself alone. The Creator of life has entrusted us with the responsibility of preserving, developing, and perfecting it. In order that we may accomplish this, He has provided us with a collection of marvelous faculties. And He has put us in the midst of a variety of natural resources. By the application of our faculties to these natural resources we convert them into products, and use them. This process is necessary in order that life may run its appointed course. Life, faculties, production--in other words, individuality, liberty, property -- this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.
Frédéric Bastiat (The Law)
Morality was not relative, they claimed, nor even existing solely in the realm of the human condition. No, they proclaimed morality as an imperative of all life, a natural law that was neither the brutal acts of beasts nor the lofty ambitions of humanity, but something other, something unassailable.
Steven Erikson (Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1))
All I can think about is that boy’s skull, bashed in, the way his head was caved in and how it wasn’t like a heid at all, just like a broken silly puppet face, about how when you destroy something, when you brutalise it, it always looks warped and disfigured and slightly unreal and unhuman and that’s what makes it easier for you to go on brutalising it, go on fucking it and hurting it and mashing until you’ve destroyed it completely, proving that destruction is natural in the human spirit, that nature has devices to enable us to destroy, to make it easier for us; a way of making righteous people who want to act do things without the fear of consequence, a way of making us less than human, as we break the laws . . .
Irvine Welsh (Filth)
Of course I am not referring to those outburts of passions that drive us to do and say things we will later regret, that delude us into thinking we cannot life without a certain person, that set us quivering with anxiety at the mere possibility we might ever lose that person-a feeling that impoverishes rather than enriches us because we long to possess what we cannot, to hold on what we cannot. No. I speak of a love that brings sight to the blind. Of a love stronger than fear. I speak of a love that breathes meaning into life, that defies the natural laws of deterioration, that causes us to flourish, that knows no bounds. I speak of the triumph of the human spirit over selfishness and death.
Jan-Philipp Sendker (The Art of Hearing Heartbeats (The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, #1))
The way I see it, our natural human instinct is to fight or flee that which we perceive to be dangerous. Although this mechanism evolved to protect us, it serves as the single greatest limiting process to our growth. To put this process in perspective and not let it rule my life, I expect the unexpected; make the unfamiliar familiar; make the unknown known; make the uncomfortable comfortable; believe the unbelievable.
Charles F. Glassman (Brain Drain The Breakthrough That Will Change Your Life)
So long as there shall exist, by virtue of law and custom, decrees of damnation pronounced by society, artificially creating hells amid the civilization of earth, and adding the element of human fate to divine destiny; so long as the three great problems of the century—the degradation of man through pauperism, the corruption of woman through hunger, the crippling of children through lack of light—are unsolved; so long as social asphyxia is possible in any part of the world;—in other words, and with a still wider significance, so long as ignorance and poverty exist on earth, books of the nature of Les Misérables cannot fail to be of use. HAUTEVILLE HOUSE, 1862. [Translation by Isabel F. Hapgood]
Victor Hugo (Les Misérables)
We see people not as they are, but as they appear to us. And these appearances are usually misleading.
Robert Greene (The Laws of Human Nature)
Every faculty that naturally belongs to the human mind is latent in every mind, and it can be awakened and developed, provided the proper laws are faithfully applied.
Christian D. Larson (Your Forces and How to Use Them)
Do not swallow the easy moralism of the day, which urges honesty at the expense of desirability.
Robert Greene (The Laws of Human Nature)
It seems to be a law of human nature that those who live by the sea are suspicious of swimmers, just as those who live in the mountains are suspicious of mountain climbers.
Yann Martel (Life of Pi)
We are all self-absorbed, locked in our own worlds. It is a therapeutic and liberating experience to be drawn outside ourselves and into the world of another.
Robert Greene (The Laws of Human Nature)
All conservative ideologies justify existing inequities as the natural order of things, inevitable outcomes of human nature. If the very rich are naturally so much more capable than the rest of us, why must they be provided with so many artificial privileges under the law, so many bailouts, subsidies and other special considerations - at our expense? Their "naturally superior talents" include unprincipled and illegal subterfuge such as price-fixing, stock manipulation, insider training, fraud, tax evasion, the legal enforcement of unfair competition, ecological spoliation, harmful products and unsafe work conditions. One might expect naturally superior people not to act in such rapacious and venal ways. Differences in talent and capacity as might exist between individuals do not excuse the crimes and injustices that are endemic to the corporate business system.
Michael Parenti (Blackshirts and Reds: Rational Fascism and the Overthrow of Communism)
The courageous testimony of Dr. Faust that a maiden's smile is more precious than history, philosophy, education, religion, law, politics,economics, and all the other branches of learning. Learning is another name for vanity. It is the effort of human beings not to be human beings.
Osamu Dazai (The Setting Sun)
Those who are truly alive are kindly and unsuspecting in their human relationships and consequently endangered under present conditions. They assume that others think and act generously, kindly and helpfully, in accordance with the laws of life. This natural attitude, fundamental to healthy children as well as primitive man, inevitably represents a great danger in the struggle for a rational way of life as long as the emotional plague subsists, because the plague-ridden impute their own manner of thinking and acting to their fellow men. A kindly man believes that all men are kindly, while one infected with the plague believes that all men lie and cheat and are hungry for power. In such a situation, the living are at an obvious disadvantage. When they give to the plague-ridden they are sucked dry, then ridiculed or betrayed.
Wilhelm Reich (Listen, Little Man!)
This state of affairs is not inevitable. Humans were able to employ science and law to transform common holdings into a commodity and then into capital; we also have the ability to reverse this path, transforming some of our now overabundant capital into renewed commons.
Fritjof Capra (The Ecology of Law: Toward a Legal System in Tune with Nature and Community)
No human law can abolish the natural and original right of marriage, nor in any way limit the chief and principal purpose of marriage ordained by God’s authority from the beginning: “Increase and multiply.
Pope Leo XIII
For human nature is such that grief and pain - even simultaneously suffered - do not add up as a whole in our consciousness, but hide, the lesser behind the greater, according to a definite law of perspective. It is providential and is our means of surviving in the camp. And this is the reason why so often in free life one hears it said that man is never content. In fact it is not a question of a human incapacity for a state of absolute happiness, but of an ever-insufficient knowledge of the complex nature of the state of unhappiness; so that the single name of the major cause is given to all its causes, which are composite and set out in an order of urgency. And if the most immediate cause of stress comes to an end, you are grievously amazed to see that another one lies behind; and in reality a whole series of others. So that as soon as the cold, which throughout the winter had seemed our only enemy, had ceased, we became aware of the hunger; and repeating the same error, we now say: "If it was not for the hunger!...
Primo Levi (If This Is a Man • The Truce)
At this point, godless materialists might be cheering. If humans evolved strictly by mutation and natural selection, who needs God to explain us? To this, I reply: I do. The comparison of chimp and human sequences, interesting as it is, does not tell us what it means to be human. In my views, DNA sequence alone, even if accompanied by a vast trove of data on biological function, will never explain certain special human attributes, such as the knowledge of the Moral Law and the universal search for God. Freeing God from the burden of special acts of creation does not remove Him as the source of the things that make humanity special, and of the universe itself. It merely shows us something of how He operates.
Francis S. Collins (The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief)
We need religion, government, and laws to force a level of control over our baser natures. I intend to strip away the disease that is intelligence, to rip away the deception that allows humanity to believe itself mightier and more deserving of this planet.
James Rollins (The 6th Extinction (Sigma Force, #10))
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
The evidence, so far at least and laws of Nature aside, does not require a Designer. Maybe there is one hiding, maddeningly unwilling to be revealed. Sometimes it seems a very slender hope.
Carl Sagan (Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space)
People come into our lives and then they go out again. The entropy law, as applied to human relations. Sometimes in their passing, though, they register an unimagined and far-reaching influence, as I suspect Hughes Rudd did upon me. There is no scientific way to discern such effects, but memory believes before knowing remembers. And the past lives coiled within the present, beyond sight, beyond revocation, lifting us up or weighting us down, sealed away--almost completely--behind walls of pearl.
David Quammen (The Flight of the Iguana: A Sidelong View of Science and Nature)
Nature loves efficiency, which is very odd for something supposedly working at random. When you drop a ball, it falls straight down without taking any unexpected detours. When two molecules with the potential for bonding meet, they always bond- there is no room for indecision. This expenditure of least energy, also called the law of least effort, covers human beings, too. Certainly our bodies cannot escape the efficiency of the chemical processes goings on in each cell, so it is probable that our whole being is wrapped up in the same principle. This argument also applies to personal growth- the idea that everyone is doing the best he or she can from his or her own level of consciousness
Deepak Chopra (The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life)
If you are observing someone you naturally dislike, or who reminds you of someone unpleasant in your past, you will tend to see almost any cue as unfriendly or hostile. You will do the opposite for people you like. In these exercises you must strive to subtract your personal preferences and prejudices about people.
Robert Greene (The Laws of Human Nature: Robert Greene)
It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth cannot be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society—the farmers, mechanics, and laborers—who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government.
Andrew Jackson
The Moral Law isn't any one instinct or any set of instincts: it is something which makes a kind of tune (the tune we call goodness or right conduct) by directing the instincts. (...) The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There's not one of them which won't make us into devils if we set it up as an absolute guide. You might think love of humanity in general was safe, but it isn't. If you leave out justice you'll find yourself breaking agreements and faking evidence in trials 'for the sake of humanity,' and become in the end a cruel and treacherous man.
C.S. Lewis (The Case for Christianity)
Build your house on granite. By granite I mean your nature that you are torturing to death, the love in your child's body, your wife's dream of love, your own dream of life when you were sixteen. Exchange your illusions for a bit of truth. Throw out your politicians and diplomats! Take your destiny into your own hands and build your life on rock. Forget about your neighbor and look inside yourself! Your neighbor, too, will be grateful. Tell you're fellow workers all over the world that you're no longer willing to work for death but only for life. Instead of flocking to executions and shouting hurrah, hurrah, make a law for the protection of human life and its blessings. Such a law will be part of the granite foundation your house rests on. Protect your small children's love against the assaults of lascivious, frustrated men and women. Stop the mouth of the malignant old maid; expose her publicly or send her to a reform school instead of young people who are longing for love. Don;t try to outdo your exploiter in exploitation if you have a chance to become a boss. Throw away your swallowtails and top hat, and stop applying for a license to embrace your woman. Join forces with your kind in all countries; they are like you, for better or worse. Let your child grow up as nature (or 'God') intended. Don't try to improve on nature. Learn to understand it and protect it. Go to the library instead of the prize fight, go to foreign countries rather than to Coney Island. And first and foremost, think straight, trust the quiet inner voice inside you that tells you what to do. You hold your life in your hands, don't entrust it to anyone else, least of all to your chosen leaders. BE YOURSELF! Any number of great men have told you that.
Wilhelm Reich (Listen, Little Man!)
Malcolm was the first political pragmatist I knew, the first honest man I’d ever heard. He was unconcerned with making the people who believed they were white comfortable in their belief. If he was angry, he said so. If he hated, he hated because it was human for the enslaved to hate the enslaver, natural as Prometheus hating the birds. He would not turn the other cheek for you. He would not be a better man for you. He would not be your morality. Malcolm spoke like a man who was free, like a black man above the laws that proscribed our imagination.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Culture is not trivial. It is not a decoration or artifice, the songs we sing or even the prayers we chant. It is a blanket of comfort that gives meaning to lives. It is a body of knowledge that allows the individual to make sense out of the infinite sensations of consciousness, to find meaning and order in a universe that ultimately has neither. Culture is a body of laws and traditions, a moral and ethical code that insulates a people from the barbaric heart that lies just beneath the surface of all human societies and indeed all human beings. Culture alone allows us to reach, as Abraham Lincoln said, for the better angels of our nature.
Wade Davis (The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World (CBC Massey Lecture))
The loneliness of the place had entered our very bones, and silence seemed natural, for after a bit the sound of our voices became a trifle unreal and forced; whispering would have been the fitting mode of communication, I felt, and the human voice, always rather absurd amid the roar of the elements, now carried with it something almost illegitimate. It was like talking out loud in church, or in some place where it was not lawful, perhaps not quite safe, to be overheard.
Algernon Blackwood (The Willows)
If you come across any special trait of meanness or stupidity … you must be careful not to let it annoy or distress you, but to look upon it merely as an addition to your knowledge—a new fact to be considered in studying the character of humanity. Your attitude towards it will be that of the mineralogist who stumbles upon a very characteristic specimen of a mineral. —Arthur Schopenhauer
Robert Greene (The Laws of Human Nature: Robert Greene)
There is something stunningly narrow about how the Anthropic Principle is phrased. Yes, only certain laws and constants of nature are consistent with our kind of life. But essentially the same laws and constants are required to make a rock. So why not talk about a Universe designed so rocks could one day come to be, and strong and weak Lithic Principles? If stones could philosophize, I imagine Lithic Principles would be at the intellectual frontiers.
Carl Sagan (Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space)
Have you ever been to Florence?” asked Dr. Igor. “No.” “You should go there; it’s not far, for that is where you will find my second example. In the cathedral in Florence, there’s a beautiful clock designed by Paolo Uccello in 1443. Now, the curious thing about this clock is that, although it keeps time like all other clocks, its hands go in the opposite direction to that of normal clocks.” “What’s that got to do with my illness?” “I’m just coming to that. When he made this clock, Paolo Uccello was not trying to be original: The fact is that, at the time, there were clocks like his as well as others with hands that went in the direction we’re familiar with now. For some unknown reason, perhaps because the duke had a clock with hands that went in the direction we now think of as the “right” direction, that became the only direction, and Uccello’s clock then seemed an aberration, a madness.” Dr. Igor paused, but he knew that Mari was following his reasoning. “So, let’s turn to your illness: Each human being is unique, each with their own qualities, instincts, forms of pleasure, and desire for adventure. However, society always imposes on us a collective way of behaving, and people never stop to wonder why they should behave like that. They just accept it, the way typists accepted the fact that the QWERTY keyboard was the best possible one. Have you ever met anyone in your entire life who asked why the hands of a clock should go in one particular direction and not in the other?” “No.” “If someone were to ask, the response they’d get would probably be: ‘You’re crazy.’ If they persisted, people would try to come up with a reason, but they’d soon change the subject, because there isn’t a reason apart from the one I’ve just given you. So to go back to your question. What was it again?” “Am I cured?” “No. You’re someone who is different, but who wants to be the same as everyone else. And that, in my view, is a serious illness.” “Is wanting to be different a serious illness?” “It is if you force yourself to be the same as everyone else. It causes neuroses, psychoses, and paranoia. It’s a distortion of nature, it goes against God’s laws, for in all the world’s woods and forests, he did not create a single leaf the same as another. But you think it’s insane to be different, and that’s why you chose to live in Villete, because everyone is different here, and so you appear to be the same as everyone else. Do you understand?” Mari nodded. “People go against nature because they lack the courage to be different, and then the organism starts to produce Vitriol, or bitterness, as this poison is more commonly known.
Paulo Coelho (Veronika Decides to Die)
A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain - a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space .... Therefore we must judge a weird tale not by the author's intent, or by the mere mechanics of the plot; but by the emotional level which it attains at its least mundane point... The one test of the really weird is simply this - whether or not there be excited in the reader a profound sense of dread, and of contact with unknown spheres and powers; a subtle attitude of awed listening, as if for the beating of black wings or the scratching of outside shapes and entities on the known universe's utmost rim.
H.P. Lovecraft (Supernatural Horror in Literature)
Scientific research is based on the idea that everything that takes place is determined by laws of nature, and therefore this holds for the action of people. For this reason, a research scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by a prayer, i.e. by a wish addressed to a Supernatural Being. - Albert Einstein, 1936, responding to a child who wrote and asked if scientists pray; quoted in: Albert Einstein: The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas & Banesh Hoffmann
Albert Einstein
Libertarianism is the view that each person has the right to live his life in any way he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others. Libertarians defend each person's right to life, liberty, and property - rights that people possess naturally, before governments are created. In the libertarian view, all human relationships should voluntary; the only actions that should be forbidden by law are those that involve the initiation of force against those who have themselves used force - actions like murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, and fraud.
David Boaz (Libertarianism: A Primer)
Literature is, to my mind, the great teaching power of the world, the ultimate creator of all values, and it is this, not only in the sacred books whose power everybody acknowledges, but by every movement of imagination in song or story or drama that height of intensity and sincerity has made literature at all. Literature must take the responsibility of its power, and keep all its freedom: it must be like the spirit and like the wind that blows where it listeth; it must claim its right to pierce through every crevice of human nature, and to descrive the relation of the soul and the heart to the facts of life and of law, and to describe that relation as it is, not as we would have it be...
W.B. Yeats
If there be such a principle as justice, or natural law, it is the principle, or law, that tells us what rights were given to every human being at his birth; what rights are, therefore, inherent in him as a human being, necessarily remain with him during life; and, however capable of being trampled upon, are incapable of being blotted out, extinguished, annihilated, or separated or eliminated from his nature as a human being, or deprived of their inherent authority or obligation.
Lysander Spooner
I ask: which of the two, civil or natural life, is more likely to become insufferable to those who live it? We see about us practically no people who do not complain about their existence; many even deprive themselves of it to the extent they are able, and the combination of divine and human laws is hardly enough to stop this disorder.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Basic Political Writings)
My stupidity gave its blessing to succouring nature, on her knees before God. What I am (my drunken laughter and happiness) is nonetheless at stake, handed over to chance, thrown out into the night, chased away like a dog. The wind of truth responded like a slap to piety’s extended cheek. The heart is human to the extent that it rebels (this means: to be a man is ‘not to bow down before the law’). A poet doesn’t justify — he doesn’t accept — nature completely. True poetry is outside laws. But poetry ultimately accepts poetry. When to accept poetry changes it into its opposite (it becomes the mediator of an acceptance!) I hold back the leap in which I would exceed the universe, I justify the given world, I content myself with it
Georges Bataille (The Bataille Reader)
Everyone kept moving along, like no bad thing would ever happen to them; that sort of thing was only on Twitter or the news feeds. They were safe. Nothing would happen to them. Even in the very spot where it had happened, people moved on with their lives. It was either impressive human-spirit stuff or just total, impenetrable ignorance: the belief that death naturally wasn’t a part of their lives.
Jonathan Epps (No Winter Lasts Forever)
We would prefer to say that such people cannot exist, that there aren't any," writes Solzhenitsyn. "To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he's doing is good, or else that it's a well-considered act in conformity with natural law." This is the foundation of the Dream -- its adherents must not just believe in it but believe that it is just, believe that their possession of the Dream is the natural result of grit, honor, and good works. There is some passing acknowledgment of the bad old days, which, by the way, we're not so bad as to have any ongoing effect on our present. The mettle that it takes to look away from the horror of our prison system, from police forces transformed into armies, from the long war against the black body, is not forged overnight. This is the practiced habit of jabbing out one's eyes and forgetting the work of one's hands. To acknowledge these horrors means turning away from the brightly rendered version of your country as it has always declared itself and turning toward something murkier and unknown. It is still too difficult for most Americans to do this. But that is your work. It must be, if only to preserve the sanctity of your mind.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
People,” Wax said, “are like cords, Steris. We snake out, striking this way and that, always looking for something new. That’s human nature, to discover what is hidden. There’s so much we can do, so many places we can go.” He shifted in his seat, changing his center of gravity, which caused the sphere to rotate upward on its tether. “But if there aren’t any boundaries,” he said, “we’d get tangled up. Imagine a thousand of these cords, zipping through the room. The law is there to keep us from ruining everyone else’s ability to explore. Without law, there’s no freedom. That’s why I am what I am.
Brandon Sanderson (The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn, #6))
The idea that a person is at fault when something goes wrong is deeply entrenched in society. That’s why we blame others and even ourselves. Unfortunately, the idea that a person is at fault is imbedded in the legal system. When major accidents occur, official courts of inquiry are set up to assess the blame. More and more often the blame is attributed to “human error.” The person involved can be fined, punished, or fired. Maybe training procedures are revised. The law rests comfortably. But in my experience, human error usually is a result of poor design: it should be called system error. Humans err continually; it is an intrinsic part of our nature. System design should take this into account. Pinning the blame on the person may be a comfortable way to proceed, but why was the system ever designed so that a single act by a single person could cause calamity? Worse, blaming the person without fixing the root, underlying cause does not fix the problem: the same error is likely to be repeated by someone else.
Donald A. Norman (The Design of Everyday Things)
When confronted with a problem involving the use of the reasoning faculties, individuals of strong intellect keep their poise, and seek to reach a solution by obtaining facts bearing upon the question. Those of immature mentality, on the other hand, when similarly confronted, are overwhelmed. While the former may be qualified to solve the riddle of their own destiny, the latter must be led like a flock of sheep and taught in simple language. They depend almost entirely upon the ministrations of the shepherd. The Apostle Paul said that these little ones must be fed with milk, but that meat is the food of strong men. Thoughtlessness is almost synonymous with childishness, while thoughtfulness is symbolic of maturity. There are, however, but few mature minds in the world; and thus it was that the philosophic-religious doctrines of the pagans were divided to meet the needs of these two fundamental groups of human intellect--one philosophic, the other incapable of appreciating the deeper mysteries of life. To the discerning few were revealed the esoteric, or spiritual, teachings, while the unqualified many received only the literal, or exoteric, interpretations. In order to make simple the great truths of Nature and the abstract principles of natural law, the vital forces of the universe were personified, becoming the gods and goddesses of the ancient mythologies. While the ignorant multitudes brought their offerings to the altars of Priapus and Pan (deities representing the procreative energies), the wise recognized in these marble statues only symbolic concretions of great abstract truths. In all cities of the ancient
Manly P. Hall (The Secret Teachings of All Ages)
Modern man, brought up on Kantian idealism, regards nature as being no more than an outcome of the laws of the mind. Losing all their independence as divine works, things gravitate henceforth round human thought, whence their laws are derived. What wonder, after that, is if criticism had resulted in the virtual disappearance of all metaphysics? [...] As soon as the universe is reduced to the laws of mind, man, now become creator, has no longer any means of rising above himself. Legislator of a world to which his own mind has given birth, he is henceforth the prisoner of his own work, and he will never escape from it anymore. [...] if my thought is the condition of being, never by thought shall I be able to transcend the limits of my being and my capacity for the infinite will never be satisfied.
Étienne Gilson
Poets represent love as sculptors design beauty, as musicians create melody; that is to say, endowed with an exquisite nervous organization, they gather up with discerning ardor the purest elements of life, the most beautiful lines of matter, and the most harmonious voices of nature. There lived, it is said, at Athens a great number of beautiful girls; Praxiteles drew them all one after another; then from these diverse types of beauty, each one of which had its defects, he formed a single faultless beauty and created Venus. The man who first created a musical instrument, and who gave to harmony its rules and its laws, had for a long time listened to the murmuring of reeds and the singing of birds. Thus the poets, who understand life, after knowing much of love, more or less transitory, after feeling that sublime exaltation which real passion can for the moment inspire, eliminating from human nature all that degrades it, created the mysterious names which through the ages fly from lip to lip: Daphnis and Chloe, Hero and Leander, Pyramus and Thisbe. To try to find in real life such love as this, eternal and absolute, is but to seek on public squares a woman such as Venus, or to expect nightingales to sing the symphonies of Beethoven.
Alfred de Musset (The Confession of a Child of the Century)
Plants or animals rarely behave in an unnatural manner that’s contrary to their true makeup. Human beings are also natural beings, but at the same time, we’re conscious entities. We therefore have free will and must make the choice not merely to be part of nature, but also to follow faithfully the “laws of nature.
H.E. Davey
I believe we need wilderness in order to be more complete human beings, to not be fearful of the animals that we are, an animal who bows to the incomparable power of natural forces when standing on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, an animal who understands a sense of humility when watching a grizzly overturn a stump with its front paw to forage for grubs in the lodgepole pines of the northern Rockies, an animal who weeps over the sheer beauty of migrating cranes above the Bosque del Apache in November, an animal who is not afraid to cry with delight in the middle of a midnight swim in a phospherescent tide, an animal who has not forgotten what it means to pray before the unfurled blossom of the sacred datura, remembering the source of all true visions. As we step over the threshold of the twenty-first century, let us acknowledge that the preservation of wilderness is not so much a political process as a spiritual one, that the language of law and science used so successfully to define and defend what wilderness has been in the past century must now be fully joined with the language of the heart to illuminate what these lands mean to the future.
Terry Tempest Williams (Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert)
There is another human defect which the Law of Natural Selection has yet to remedy: When people of today have full bellies, they are exactly like their ancestors of a million years ago: very slow to acknowledge any awful troubles they may be in. Then is when they forget to keep a sharp lookout for sharks and whales. This was a particularly tragic flaw a million years ago, since the people who were best informed about the state of the planet, like *Andrew MacIntosh, for example, and rich and powerful enough to slow down all the waste and destruction going on, were by definition well fed. So everything was always just fine as far as they were concerned.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Galápagos)
God does not cause our misfortunes. Some are caused by bad luck, some are caused by bad people, and some are simply an inevitable consequence of our being human and being mortal, living in a world of inflexible natural laws. The painful things that happen to us are not punishments for our misbehavior, nor are they in any way part of some grand design on God's part. Because the tragedy is not God's will, we need not feel hurt or betrayed by God when tragedy strikes. We can turn to Him for help in overcoming it, precisely because we can tell ourselves that God is as outraged by it as we are.
Harold S. Kushner (When Bad Things Happen to Good People)
The religionists are the enemies of liberty, and the friends of liberty attack religion; the high-minded and the noble advocate bondage, and the meanest and most servile preach independence; honest and enlightened citizens are opposed to all progress, whilst men without patriotism and without principle put themselves forward as the apostles of civilization and intelligence. Has such been the fate of the centuries which have preceded our own? and has man always inhabited a world like the present, where all things are out of their natural connections, where virtue is without genius, and genius without honor; where the love of order is confounded with a taste for oppression, and the holy rites of freedom with a contempt of law; where the light thrown by conscience on human actions is dim, and where nothing seems to be any longer forbidden or allowed, honorable or shameful, false or true?
Alexis de Tocqueville (Democracy in America)
I wonder now about Demeter and Persephone. Maybe Persephone was glad to run off with the king of death to his underground realm, maybe it was the only way she could break away from her mother, maybe Demeter was a bad parent the way Lear was a bad parent, denying nature, including the nature of children to leave their parents. Maybe Persephone thought Hades was the infinitely cool older man who held the knowledge she sought, maybe she loved the darkness, the six months of winter, the sharp taste of pomegranates, the freedom from her mother, maybe she knew that to be truly alive death had to be part of the picture just as winter must. It was as the queen of hell that she became an adult and came into power. Hades’s realm is called the underworld, and so are the urban realms of everything outside the law. And as in Hopi creation myths, where humans and other beings emerge from underground, so it’s from the underground that culture emerges in this civilization.
Rebecca Solnit (A Field Guide to Getting Lost)
In the letter he left for the coroner he had explained his reasoning (for suicide): that life is a gift bestowed without anyone asking for it; that the thinking person has a philosophical duty to examine both the nature of life and the conditions it comes with; and that if this person decides to renounce the gift no one asks for, it is the moral and human duty to act on the consequences of that decision. ... Alex showed me a clipping from the Cambridge Evening News. 'Tragic Death of "Promising" Young Man.' ... The verdict of the coroner's inquest had been that Adrian Flinn (22) had killed himself 'while the balance of his mind was disturbed.' ... The law, and society, and religion all said it was impossible to be sane, healthy, and kill yourself. Perhaps those authorities feared that the suicide's reasoning might impugn the nature and value of life as organised by the state which paid the coroner?
Julian Barnes (The Sense of an Ending)
Though many of my arguments will be coolly analytical — that an acknowledgment of human nature does not, logically speaking, imply the negative outcomes so many people fear — I will not try to hide my belief that they have a positive thrust as well. "Man will become better when you show him what he is like," wrote Chekhov, and so the new sciences of human nature can help lead the way to a realistic, biologically informed humanism. They expose the psychological unity of our species beneath the superficial differences of physical appearance and parochial culture. They make us appreciate the wondrous complexity of the human mind, which we are apt to take for granted precisely because it works so well. They identify the moral intuitions that we can put to work in improving our lot. They promise a naturalness in human relationships, encouraging us to treat people in terms of how they do feel rather than how some theory says they ought to feel. They offer a touchstone by which we can identify suffering and oppression wherever they occur, unmasking the rationalizations of the powerful. They give us a way to see through the designs of self-appointed social reformers who would liberate us from our pleasures. They renew our appreciation for the achievements of democracy and of the rule of law. And they enhance the insights of artists and philosophers who have reflected on the human condition for millennia.
Steven Pinker (The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature)
The erotic instinct is something questionable, and will always be so whatever a future set of laws may have to say on the matter. It belongs, on the one hand, to the original animal nature of man, which will exist as long as man has an animal body. On the other hand, it is connected with the highest forms of the spirit. But it blooms only when the spirit and instinct are in true harmony. If one or the other aspect is missing, then an injury occurs, or at least there is a one-sided lack of balance which easily slips into the pathological. Too much of the animal disfigures the civilized human being, too much culture makes a sick animal.
C.G. Jung
Upon closer observation, it becomes apparent that every strong upsurge of power in the public sphere, be it of a political or a religious nature, infects a large part of humankind with stupidity. It would even seem that this is virtually a sociological-psychological law. The power of the one needs the stupidity of the other. The process at work here is not that particular human capacities, for instance, the intellect, suddenly atrophy or fail. Instead, it seems that under the overwhelming impact of rising power, humans are deprived of their inner independence and, more or less consciously, give up establishing an autonomous position toward the emerging circumstances. The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with him as a person, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Letters and Papers from Prison DBW Vol 8)
The scientist is not responsible for the laws of nature. It is his job to find out how these laws operate. It is the scientist’s job to find the ways in which these laws can serve the human will. However, it is not the scientist’s job to determine whether a hydrogen bomb should be constructed, whether it should be used, or how it should be used. This responsibility rests with the American people and with their chosen representatives.
Edward Teller
Altogether, humankind had spread over less than one-eighth of the galaxy. Expansion was somewhat self-limiting. The U.S. had not been able to hold a colony at two hundred light-years distance. At fifteen hundred light-years, most nations could consider their colonies temporary holdings. Any people it took you two months to reach were not going to pay your taxes or obey your laws. That was human nature. - Wolf Star, Tour of the Merrimack #2
R.M. Meluch
Regarding the need to pray, the anarch is again no different from anyone else. But he does not like to attach himself. He does not squander his best energies. He accepts no substitute for his gold. He knows his freedom, and also what it is worth its weight in. The equation balances when he is offered something credible. The result is ONE. There can be no doubt that gods have appeared, not only in ancient times but even late in history; they feasted with us and fought at our sides. But what good is the splendor of bygone banquets to a starving man? What good is the clinking of gold that a poor man hears through the wall of time? The gods must be called. The anarch lets all this be; he can bide his time. He has his ethos, but not morals. He recognizes lawfulness, but not the law; he despises rules. Whenever ethos goes into shalts and shalt-nots, it is already corrupted. Still, it can harmonize with them, depending on location and circumstances, briefly or at length, just as I harmonize here with the tyrant for as long as I like. One error of the anarchists is their belief that human nature is intrinsically good. They thereby castrate society, just as the theologians ("God is goodness") castrate the Good Lord.
Ernst Jünger (Eumeswil)
Religion, by its very nature as an untestable belief in undetectable beings and an unknowable afterlife, disables our reality checks. It ends the conversation. It cuts off inquiry: not only factual inquiry, but moral inquiry. Because God's law trumps human law, people who think they're obeying God can easily get cut off from their own moral instincts. And these moral contortions don't always lie in the realm of theological game-playing. They can have real-world consequences: from genocide to infanticide, from honor killings to abandoned gay children, from burned witches to battered wives to blown-up buildings.
Greta Christina
You can recognize deep narcissists by the following behavior patterns: If they are ever insulted or challenged, they have no defense, nothing internal to soothe them or validate their worth. They generally react with great rage, thirsting for vengeance, full of a sense of righteousness. This is the only way they know how to assuage their insecurities. In such battles, they will position themselves as the wounded victim, confusing others and even drawing sympathy. They are prickly and oversensitive. Almost everything is taken personally. They can become quite paranoid and have enemies in all directions to point to.
Robert Greene (The Laws of Human Nature: Robert Greene)
And, indeed, this is the odd thing that is continually happening: there are continually turning up in life moral and rational persons, sages and lovers of humanity who make it their object to live all their lives as morally and rationally as possible, to be, so to speak, a light to their neighbours simply in order to show them that it is possible to live morally and rationally in this world. And yet we all know that those very people sooner or later have been false to themselves, playing some queer trick, often a most unseemly one. Now I ask you: what can be expected of man since he is a being endowed with strange qualities? Shower upon him every earthly blessing, drown him in a sea of happiness, so that nothing but bubbles of bliss can be seen on the surface; give him economic prosperity, such that he should have nothing else to do but sleep, eat cakes and busy himself with the continuation of his species, and even then out of sheer ingratitude, sheer spite, man would play you some nasty trick. He would even risk his cakes and would deliberately desire the most fatal rubbish, the most uneconomical absurdity, simply to introduce into all this positive good sense his fatal fantastic element. It is just his fantastic dreams, his vulgar folly that he will desire to retain, simply in order to prove to himself--as though that were so necessary-- that men still are men and not the keys of a piano, which the laws of nature threaten to control so completely that soon one will be able to desire nothing but by the calendar. And that is not all: even if man really were nothing but a piano-key, even if this were proved to him by natural science and mathematics, even then he would not become reasonable, but would purposely do something perverse out of simple ingratitude, simply to gain his point. And if he does not find means he will contrive destruction and chaos, will contrive sufferings of all sorts, only to gain his point!
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Athena came to represent a very particular form of nous—eminently practical, feminine, and earthy. She is the voice that comes to heroes in times of need, instilling in them a calm spirit, orienting their minds toward the perfect idea for victory and success, then giving them the energy to achieve this. To be visited by Athena was the highest blessing of them all, and it was her spirit that guided great generals and the best artists, inventors, and tradesmen. Under
Robert Greene (The Laws of Human Nature)
The Greeks’ Christian successors rejected the idea that the universe is governed by indifferent natural law. They also rejected the idea that humans do not hold a privileged place within that universe. And though the medieval period had no single coherent philosophical system, a common theme was that the universe is God’s dollhouse, and religion a far worthier study than the phenomena of nature. Indeed, in 1277 Bishop Tempier of Paris, acting on the instructions of Pope John XXI, published a list of 219 errors or heresies that were to be condemned. Among the heresies was the idea that nature follows laws, because this conflicts with God’s omnipotence. Interestingly, Pope John was killed by the effects of the law of gravity a few months later when the roof of his palace fell in on him.
Stephen Hawking (The Grand Design)
the problem of life was as simple as it was classic. Politics offered no difficulties, for there the moral law was a sure guide. Social perfection was also sure, because human nature worked for Good, and three instruments were all she asked — Suffrage, Common Schools, and Press. On these points doubt was forbidden. Education was divine, and man needed only a correct knowledge of facts to reach perfection: "Were half the power that fills the world with terror, Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts, Given to redeem the human mind from error, There were no need of arsenals nor forts.
Henry Adams (The Education of Henry Adams)
Deep sorrow does not come because one has violated a law, but only if one knows he has broken off the relationship with Divine Love. But there is yet another element required for regeneration, the element of repentance and reparation. Repentance is a rather dry-eyed affair; tears flow in sorrow, but sweat pours out in repentance. It is not enough to tell God we are sorry and then forget all about it. If we broke a neighbor's window, we would not only apologize but also would go to the trouble of putting in a new pane. Since all sin disturbs the equilibrium and balance of justice and love, there must be a restoration involving toil and effort. To see why this must be, suppose that every time a person did wrong he was told to drive a nail into the wall of his living room and every time that he was forgiven he was told to pull it out. The holes would still remain after the forgiveness. Thus every sin after being forgiven leaves “holes” or “wounds” in our human nature, and the filling up of these holes is done by penance, a thief who steals a watch can be forgiven for the theft, but only if he returns the watch.
Fulton J. Sheen (Peace of Soul: Timeless Wisdom on Finding Serenity and Joy by the Century's Most Acclaimed Catholic Bishop)
Which do you think is more valuable to humanity? a. Finding ways to tell humans that they have free will despite the incontrovertible fact that their actions are completely dictated by the laws of physics as instantiated in our bodies, brains and environments? That is, engaging in the honored philosophical practice of showing that our notion of "free will" can be compatible with determinism? or b. Telling people, based on our scientific knowledge of physics, neurology, and behavior, that our actions are predetermined rather than dictated by some ghost in our brains, and then sussing out the consequences of that conclusion and applying them to society? Of course my answer is b).
Jerry A. Coyne
I can imagine no greater catastrophe than if I were mistaken, and the theory were correct that what I consider secondary instincts or drives are actually primary instincts! Because in that case the emotional plague would rest upon the support of a natural law while its archenemies, truth and sociality, would be relying upon unfounded ethics. Until now both lies and truth have taken recourse to ethics. But only lies have profited because they were able to appear under the guise of truth. Under these circumstances, egoism, theft, petty selfishness, slander, etc., would be the natural rule. (26.july.1943)
Wilhelm Reich (American Odyssey: Letters & Journals, 1940-1947)
This has been a novel about some people who were punished entirely too much for what they did. They wanted to have a good time, but they were like children playing in the street; they could see one after another of them being killed--run over, maimed, destroyed--but they continued to play anyhow. We really all were very happy for a while, sitting around not toiling but just bullshitting and playing, but it was for such a terrible brief time, and then the punishment was beyond belief: even when we could see it, we could not believe it. For example, while I was writing this I learned that the person on whom the character Jerry Fabin is based killed himself. My friend on whom I based the character Ernie Luckman died before I began the novel. For a while I myself was one of these children playing in the street; I was, like the rest of them, trying to play instead of being grown up, and I was punished. I am on the list below, which is a list of those to whom this novel is dedicated, and what became of each. Drug misuse is not a disease, it is a decision, like the decision to step out in front of a moving car. You would call that not a disease but an error in judgment. When a bunch of people begin to do it, it is a social error,a life-style. In this particular life-style the motto is "Be happy now because tomorrow you are dying," but the dying begins almost at once, and the happiness is a memory. It is, then, only a speeding up, an intensifying, of the ordinary human existence. It is not different from your life-style, it is only faster. It all takes place in days or weeks or months instead of years. "Take the cash and let the credit go," as Villon said in 1460. But that is a mistake if the cash is a penny and the credit a whole lifetime. There is no moral in this novel; it is not bourgeois; it does not say they were wrong to play when they should have toiled;it just tells what the consequences were. In Greek drama they were beginning, as a society, to discover science, which means causal law. Here in this novel there is Nemesis: not fate, because any one of us could have chosen to stop playing in the street, but, as I narrate from the deepest part of my life and heart, a dreadful Nemesis for those who kept on playing. I myself,I am not a character in this novel; I am the novel. So, though, was our entire nation at this time. This novel is about more people than I knew personally. Some we all read about in the newspapers. It was, this sitting around with our buddies and bullshitting while making tape recordings, the bad decision of the decade, the sixties, both in and out of the establishment. And nature cracked down on us. We were forced to stop by things dreadful. If there was any "sin," it was that these people wanted to keep on having a good time forever, and were punished for that, but, as I say, I feel that, if so, the punishment was far too great, and I prefer to think of it only in a Greek or morally neutral way, as mere science, as deterministic impartial cause-and-effect. I loved them all. Here is the list, to whom I dedicate my love: To Gaylene deceased To Ray deceased To Francy permanent psychosis To Kathy permanent brain damage To Jim deceased To Val massive permanent brain damage To Nancy permanent psychosis To Joanne permanent brain damage To Maren deceased To Nick deceased To Terry deceased To Dennis deceased To Phil permanent pancreatic damage To Sue permanent vascular damage To Jerri permanent psychosis and vascular damage . . . and so forth. In Memoriam. These were comrades whom I had; there are no better. They remain in my mind, and the enemy will never be forgiven. The "enemy" was their mistake in playing. Let them all play again, in some other way, and let them be happy.
Philip K. Dick (A Scanner Darkly)
The antidote to a meaningless and lawless existence was provided by humanism, a revolutionary new creed that conquered the world during the last few centuries. The humanist religion worships humanity, and expects humanity to play the part that God played in Christianity and Islam, and that the laws of nature played in Buddhism and Daoism. Whereas traditionally the great cosmic plan gave meaning to the life of humans, humanism reverses the roles and expects the experiences of humans to give meaning to the cosmos. According to humanism, humans must draw from within their inner experiences not only the meaning of their own lives, but also the meaning of the entire universe. This is the primary commandment humanism has given us: create meaning for a meaningless world. Accordingly,
Yuval Noah Harari (Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow)
Just as sex is a God-given instinct for the prolongation of the human race, so the desire for property as a prolongation of one's ego is a natural right sanctioned by natural law. A person is free on the inside because he can call his soul his own; he is free on the outside because he can call property his own. Internal freedom is based upon the fact that "I am"; external freedom is based on the fact that "I have." But just as the excesses of flesh produce lust, for lust is sex in the wrong place, so there can be a deordination of the desire for property until it becomes greed, avarice, and capitalistic aggression.
Fulton J. Sheen (Life of Christ)
From the study of the development of human intelligence, in all directions, and through all times, the discovery arises of a great fundamental law, to which it is necessarily subject, and which has a solid foundation of proof, both in the facts of our organization and in our historical experience. The law is this: that each of our leading conceptions -- each branch of our knowledge -- passes successively through three different theoretical conditions: the theological, or fictitious; the metaphysical, or abstract; and the scientific, or positive. In other words, the human mind, by its nature, employs in its progress three methods of philosophizing, the character of which is essentially different, and even radically opposed: namely, the theological method, the metaphysical, and the positive. Hence arise three philosophies, or general systems of conceptions on the aggregate of phenomena, each of which excludes the others. The first is the necessary point of departure of the human understanding, and the third is its fixed and definitive state. The second is merely a state of transition.
Auguste Comte (Cours de philosophie positive 1/6 (French Edition))
All boys wish to be manly; but they often try to become so by copying the vices of men rather than their virtues. They see men drinking, smoking, swearing; so these poor little fellows sedulously imitate such bad habits, thinking they are making themselves more like men. They mistake rudeness for strength, disrespect to parents for independence. They read wretched stories about boy brigands and boy detectives, and fancy themselves heroes when they break the laws, and become troublesome and mischievous. Out of such false influences the criminal classes are recruited. Many a little boy who only wishes to be manly, becomes corrupted and debased by the bad examples around him and the bad literature which he reads. The cure for this is to give him good books, show him truly noble examples from life and history, and make him understand how infinitely above this mock-manliness is the true courage which ennobles human nature.
James Freeman Clarke (Every-Day Religion)
Favourable Chance, I fancy, is the god of all men who follow their own devices instead of obeying a law they believe in. Let even a polished man of these days get into a position he is ashamed to avow, and his mind will be bent on all the possible issues that may deliver him from the calculable results of that position. Let him live outside his income, or shirk the resolute honest work that brings wages, and he will presently find himself dreaming of a possible benefactor, a possible simpleton who may be cajoled into using his interest, a possible state of mind in some possible person not yet forthcoming. Let him neglect the responsibilities of his office, and he will inevitably anchor himself on the chance that the thing left undone may turn out not to be of the supposed importance. Let him betray his friend's confidence, and he will adore that same cunning complexity called Chance, which gives him the hope that his friend will never know. Let him forsake a decent craft that he may pursue the gentilities of a profession to which nature never called him, and his religion will infallibly be the worship of blessed Chance, which he will believe in as the mighty creator of success. The evil principle deprecated in that religion is the orderly sequence by which the seed brings forth a crop after its kind.
George Eliot (Silas Marner)
The highest and most fruitful form of human freedom is found in accepting, even more than in dominating. We show the greatness of our freedom when we transform reality, but still more when we accept it trustingly as it is given to us day after day. It is natural and easy to go along with pleasant situations that arise without our choosing them. It becomes a problem, obviously, when things are unpleasant, go against us, or make us suffer. But it is precisely then that, in order to become truly free, we are often called to choose to accept what we did not want, and even what we would not have wanted at any price. There is a paradoxical law of human life here: one cannot become truly free unless one accepts not always being free! To achieve true interior freedom we must train ourselves to accept, peacefully and willingly, plenty of things that seem to contradict our freedom. This means consenting to our personal limitations, our weaknesses, our powerlessness, this or that situation that life imposes on us, and so on. We find it difficult to do this, because we feel a natural revulsion for situations we cannot control. But the fact is that the situations that really make us grow are precisely those we do not control.
Jacques Philippe (Interior Freedom)
By such reflections and by the continuance in them of a divine nature, th qualities which we have described grew and increased among them; but when the divine portion began to fade away, and became diluted too often and too much with the mortal admixture, and the human nature got the upper hand, they then, being unable to bear their fortune, behaved unseemly, and to him who had an eye to see grew visibly debased, for they were losing the fairest of their precious gifts; but to those who had no eye to see the true happiness, they appeared glorious and blessed at the very time when they were full of avarice and unrighteous power. Zeus, the god of gods, who rules according to law, and is able to see into such things, perceiving that an honourable race was in a woeful plight, and wanting to inflict punishment on them, that they might be chastened and improve, collected all the gods into their most holy habitation, whch being placed in the centre of the world, beholds all created things. And when he had called them together, he spake as follows --
Plato (Timaeus and Critias)
It may be underfunded and at times mismanaged, but the [Endangered Species] Act is an unprecedented attempt to delegate human-caused extinction to the chapters of history we would rather not revisit: the Slave Trade, the Indian Removal Policy, the subjection of women, child labor, segregation. The Endangered Species Act is a zero-tolerance law: no new extinctions. It keeps eyes on the ground with legal backing-the gun may be in the holster most of the time, but its available if necessary to keep species from disappearing. I discovered in my travels that a law protecting all animals and plants, all of nature, might be as revolutionary-and as American-as the Declaration of Independence.
Joe Roman (Listed)
People are by nature illiterate and innumerate, quantifying the world by “one, two, many” and by rough guesstimates.21 They understand physical things as having hidden essences that obey the laws of sympathetic magic or voodoo rather than physics and biology: objects can reach across time and space to affect things that resemble them or that had been in contact with them in the past (remember the beliefs of pre–Scientific Revolution Englishmen).22 They think that words and thoughts can impinge on the physical world in prayers and curses. They underestimate the prevalence of coincidence.23 They generalize from paltry samples, namely their own experience, and they reason by stereotype, projecting the typical traits of a group onto any individual that belongs to it. They infer causation from correlation. They think holistically, in black and white, and physically, treating abstract networks as concrete stuff. They are not so much intuitive scientists as intuitive lawyers and politicians, marshaling evidence that confirms their convictions while dismissing evidence that contradicts them.24 They overestimate their own knowledge, understanding, rectitude, competence, and luck.25
Steven Pinker (Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress)
Chastity and moral purity were qualities McCandless mulled over long and often. Indeed, one of the books found in the bus with his remains was a collection of stories that included Tol¬stoy’s “The Kreutzer Sonata,” in which the nobleman-turned-ascetic denounces “the demands of the flesh.” Several such passages are starred and highlighted in the dog-eared text, the margins filled with cryptic notes printed in McCandless’s distinc¬tive hand. And in the chapter on “Higher Laws” in Thoreau’s Walden, a copy of which was also discovered in the bus, McCand¬less circled “Chastity is the flowering of man; and what are called Genius, Heroism, Holiness, and the like, are but various fruits which succeed it.” We Americans are titillated by sex, obsessed by it, horrified by it. When an apparently healthy person, especially a healthy young man, elects to forgo the enticements of the flesh, it shocks us, and we leer. Suspicions are aroused. McCandless’s apparent sexual innocence, however, is a corol¬lary of a personality type that our culture purports to admire, at least in the case of its more famous adherents. His ambivalence toward sex echoes that of celebrated others who embraced wilderness with single-minded passion—Thoreau (who was a lifelong virgin) and the naturalist John Muir, most prominently— to say nothing of countless lesser-known pilgrims, seekers, mis¬fits, and adventurers. Like not a few of those seduced by the wild, McCandless seems to have been driven by a variety of lust that supplanted sexual desire. His yearning, in a sense, was too pow¬erful to be quenched by human contact. McCandless may have been tempted by the succor offered by women, but it paled beside the prospect of rough congress with nature, with the cosmos it¬self. And thus was he drawn north, to Alaska.
Jon Krakauer (Into the Wild)
Manners are the lubricating oil of an organization. It is a law of nature that two moving bodies in contact with each other create friction. This is as true for human beings as it is for inanimate objects. Manners- simple things like saying 'please' and 'thank you' and knowing a person’s name or asking after her family enable two people to work together whether they like each other or not. Bright people, especially bright young people, often do not understand this. If analysis shows that someone’s brilliant work fails again and again as soon as cooperation from others is required, it probably indicates a lack of courtesy – that is, a lack of manners.
Peter Drucker
It seems to be almost a law of human nature that it is easier for people to agree on a negative programme, on the hatred of an enemy, on the envy of those better off, than on any positive task. The contrast between the "we" and the "they", the common fight against those outside the group, seems to be an essential ingredient in any creed which will solidly knit together a group for common action. It is consequently always employed by those who seek, not merely support of a policy, but the unreserved allegiance of huge masses. From their point of view it has the great advantage of leaving them greater freedom of action than almost any positive programme.
Friedrich A. Hayek (The Road to Serfdom)
And because the condition of man . . . is a condition of war of every one against every one, in which case every one is governed by his own reason, and there is nothing he can make use of that may not be a help unto him in preserving his life against his enemies; it followeth that in such a condition every man has a right to every thing, even to one another's body. And therefore, as long as this natural right of every man to every thing endureth, there can be no security to any man, how strong or wise soever he be, of living out the time which nature ordinarily alloweth men to live. And consequently it is a precept, or general rule of reason: that every man ought to endeavour peace, as far as he has hope of obtaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek and use all helps and advantages of war. The first branch of which rule containeth the first and fundamental law of nature, which is: to seek peace and follow it. The second, the sum of the right of nature, which is: by all means we can to defend ourselves.
Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan)
The primary leaders of the so-called founding fathers of our nation were not Bible-believing Christians; they were deists. Deism was a philosophical belief that was widely accepted by the colonial intelligentsia at the time of the American Revolution. Its major tenets included belief in human reason as a reliable means of solving social and political problems and belief in a supreme deity who created the universe to operate solely by natural laws. The supreme God of the Deists removed himself entirely from the universe after creating it. They believed that he assumed no control over it, exerted no influence on natural phenomena, and gave no supernatural revelation to man. A necessary consequence of these beliefs was a rejection of many doctrines central to the Christian religion. Deists did not believe in the virgin birth, divinity, or resurrection of Jesus, the efficacy of prayer, the miracles of the Bible, or even the divine inspiration of the Bible. These beliefs were forcefully articulated by Thomas Paine in Age of Reason, a book that so outraged his contemporaries that he died rejected and despised by the nation that had once revered him as 'the father of the American Revolution.'... Other important founding fathers who espoused Deism were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Ethan Allen, James Madison, and James Monroe. [The Christian Nation Myth, 1999]
Farrell Till
So our problem is to explain where symmetry comes from. Why is nature so nearly symmetrical? No one has any idea why. The only thing we might suggest is something like this: There is a gate in Japan, a gate in Neiko, which is sometimes called by the Japanese the most beautiful gate in all Japan; it was built in a time when there was great influence from Chinese art. This gate is very elaborate, with lots of gables and beautiful carving and lots of columns and dragon heads and princes carved into the pillars, and so on. But when one looks closely he sees that in the elaborate and complex design along one of the pillars, one of the small design elements is carved upside down; otherwise the thing is completely symmetrical. If one asks why this is, the story is that it was carved upside down so that the gods will not be jealous of the perfection of man. So they purposely put an error in there, so that the gods would not be jealous and get angry with human beings. We might like to turn the idea around and think that the true explanation of the near symmetry of nature is this: that God made the laws only nearly symmetrical so that we should not be jealous of His perfection!
Richard P. Feynman (Six Not-So-Easy Pieces: Einstein's Relativity, Symmetry, and Space-Time)
There are six canons of conservative thought: 1) Belief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience. Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems. A narrow rationality, what Coleridge called the Understanding, cannot of itself satisfy human needs. "Every Tory is a realist," says Keith Feiling: "he knows that there are great forces in heaven and earth that man's philosophy cannot plumb or fathom." True politics is the art of apprehending and applying the Justice which ought to prevail in a community of souls. 2) Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence, as opposed to the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems; conservatives resist what Robert Graves calls "Logicalism" in society. This prejudice has been called "the conservatism of enjoyment"--a sense that life is worth living, according to Walter Bagehot "the proper source of an animated Conservatism." 3) Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes, as against the notion of a "classless society." With reason, conservatives have been called "the party of order." If natural distinctions are effaced among men, oligarchs fill the vacuum. Ultimate equality in the judgment of God, and equality before courts of law, are recognized by conservatives; but equality of condition, they think, means equality in servitude and boredom. 4) Persuasion that freedom and property are closely linked: separate property from private possession, and Leviathan becomes master of all. Economic levelling, they maintain, is not economic progress. 5) Faith in prescription and distrust of "sophisters, calculators, and economists" who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs. Custom, convention, and old prescription are checks both upon man's anarchic impulse and upon the innovator's lust for power. 6) Recognition that change may not be salutary reform: hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than a torch of progress. Society must alter, for prudent change is the means of social preservation; but a statesman must take Providence into his calculations, and a statesman's chief virtue, according to Plato and Burke, is prudence.
Russell Kirk (The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot)
There are many subtle variants of theistic evolution, but a typical version rests upon the following premises: The universe came into being out of nothingness, approximately 14 billion years ago. Despite massive improbabilities, the properties of the universe appear to have been precisely tuned for life. While the precise mechanism of the origin of life on earth remains unknown, once life arose, the process of evolution and natural selection permitted the development of biological diversity and complexity over very long periods of time. Once evolution got under way, no special supernatural intervention was required. Humans are part of this process, sharing a common ancestor with the great apes. But humans are also unique in ways that defy evolutionary explanation and point to our spiritual nature. This includes the existence of the Moral Law (the knowledge of right and wrong) and the search for God that characterizes all human cultures throughout history.
Francis S. Collins (The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief)
Earth, stars, and the vastness of space; yesterday, today and tomorrow; and the endlessly increasing knowledge of the relation of forces, present an illimitable universe of numberless phenomena. Only in general outline can the universe be understood. In its infinite variety of expression, it wholly transcends the human mind... In the midst of this complexity man finds himself. As he progresses from childhood to manhood, and his slumbering faculties are awakened, he becomes more fully aware of the vastness of his universe and of the futility of hoping to understand it in detail. Nevertheless, conscious man cannot endure confusion. Out of the universal mystery he must draw at least the general, controlling laws that proclaim order in the apparent chaos; and especially is he driven, by his inborn and unalterable nature, to know if possible his own place in the system of existing things.
John A. Widtsoe
Nevertheless, the potential and actual importance of fantastic literature lies in such psychic links: what appears to be the result of an overweening imagination, boldly and arbitrarily defying the laws of time, space and ordered causality, is closely connected with, and structured by, the categories of the subconscious, the inner impulses of man's nature. At first glance the scope of fantastic literature, free as it is from the restrictions of natural law, appears to be unlimited. A closer look, however, will show that a few dominant themes and motifs constantly recur: deals with the Devil; returns from the grave for revenge or atonement; invisible creatures; vampires; werewolves; golems; animated puppets or automatons; witchcraft and sorcery; human organs operating as separate entities, and so on. Fantastic literature is a kind of fiction that always leads us back to ourselves, however exotic the presentation; and the objects and events, however bizarre they seem, are simply externalizations of inner psychic states. This may often be mere mummery, but on occasion it seems to touch the heart in its inmost depths and become great literature.
Franz Rottensteiner (The Fantasy Book: An Illustrated History From Dracula To Tolkien)
Two ideas are opposed — not concepts or abstractions, but Ideas which were in the blood of men before they were formulated by the minds of men. The Resurgence of Authority stands opposed to the Rule of Money; Order to Social Chaos, Hierarchy to Equality, socio-economico-political Stability to constant Flux; glad assumption of Duties to whining for Rights; Socialism to Capitalism, ethically, economically, politically; the Rebirth of Religion to Materialism; Fertility to Sterility; the spirit of Heroism to the spirit of Trade; the principle of Responsibility to Parliamentarism; the idea of Polarity of Man and Woman to Feminism; the idea of the individual task to the ideal of ‘happiness’; Discipline to Propaganda-compulsion; the higher unities of family, society, State to social atomism; Marriage to the Communistic ideal of free love; economic self-sufficiency to senseless trade as an end in itself; the inner imperative to Rationalism.
Francis Parker Yockey (Imperium)
To this man, who overcomes himself, Nietzsche gives a name which is easily misunderstood. He calls him 'the superman'. But Nietzsche does not mean a type who casts off 'humanity,' to make sheer caprice the law and titanic rage the rule. The superman is the man who first leads the essential nature of existing man over into its truth, and so assumes that truth. Existing man, by being thus determined and secured, in his essential nature, is to be rendered capable of becoming the future master of the earth — of wielding to high purpose the powers that will fall to future man in the nature of the technological transformation of the earth and of human activity. The essential figure of this man, the superman rightly understood, is not a product of an unbridled and degenerate imagination rushing headlong into the void.
Martin Heidegger (What is Called Thinking?)
1. Myth: Without God, life has no meaning. There are 1.2 billion Chinese who have no predominant religion, and 1 billion people in India who are predominantly Hindu. And 65% of Japan's 127 million people claim to be non-believers. It is laughable to suggest that none of these billions of people are leading meaningful lives. 2. Myth: Prayer works. Studies have now shown that inter-cessionary prayer has no effect whatsoever of the health or well-being of the subject. 3. Myth: Atheists are immoral. There are hundreds of millions of non-believers on the planet living normal, decent, moral lives. They love their children, care about others, obey laws, and try to keep from doing harm to others just like everyone else. In fact, in predominantly non-believing countries such as in northern Europe, measures of societal health such as life expectancy at birth, adult literacy, per capita income, education, homicide, suicide, gender equality, and political coercion are better than they are in believing societies. 4. Myth: Belief in God is compatible with science. In the past, every supernatural or paranormal explanation of phenomena that humans believed turned out to be mistaken; science has always found a physical explanation that revealed that the supernatural view was a myth. Modern organisms evolved from lower life forms, they weren't created 6,000 years ago in the finished state. Fever is not caused by demon possession. Bad weather is not the wrath of angry gods. Miracle claims have turned out to be mistakes, frauds, or deceptions. We have every reason to conclude that science will continue to undermine the superstitious worldview of religion. 5. Myth: We have immortal souls that survive death. We have mountains of evidence that makes it clear that our consciousness, our beliefs, our desires, our thoughts all depend upon the proper functioning of our brains our nervous systems to exist. So when the brain dies, all of these things that we identify with the soul also cease to exist. Despite the fact that billions of people have lived and died on this planet, we do not have a single credible case of someone's soul, or consciousness, or personality continuing to exist despite the demise of their bodies. 6. Myth: If there is no God, everything is permitted. Consider the billions of people in China, India, and Japan above. If this claim was true, none of them would be decent moral people. So Ghandi, the Buddha, and Confucius, to name only a few were not moral people on this view. 7. Myth: Believing in God is not a cause of evil. The examples of cases where it was someone's belief in God that was the justification for their evils on humankind are too numerous to mention. 8. Myth: God explains the origins of the universe. All of the questions that allegedly plague non-God attempts to explain our origins still apply to the faux explanation of God. The suggestion that God created everything does not make it any clearer to us where it all came from, how he created it, why he created it, where it is all going. In fact, it raises even more difficult mysteries: how did God, operating outside the confines of space, time, and natural law 'create' or 'build' a universe that has physical laws? We have no precedent and maybe no hope of answering or understanding such a possibility. What does it mean to say that some disembodied, spiritual being who knows everything and has all power, 'loves' us, or has thoughts, or goals, or plans? 9. Myth: There's no harm in believing in God. Religious views inform voting, how they raise their children, what they think is moral and immoral, what laws and legislation they pass, who they are friends and enemies with, what companies they invest in, where they donate to charities, who they approve and disapprove of, who they are willing to kill or tolerate, what crimes they are willing to commit, and which wars they are willing to fight.
Matthew S. McCormick
In the specially Christian case we have to react against the heavy bias of fatigue. It is almost impossible to make the facts vivid, because the facts are familiar; and for fallen men it is often true that familiarity is fatigue. I am convinced that if we could tell the supernatural story of Christ word for word as of a Chinese hero, call him the Son of Heaven instead of the Son of God, and trace his rayed nimbus in the gold thread of Chinese embroideries or the gold lacquer of Chinese pottery, instead of in the gold leaf of our own old Catholic paintings, there would be a unanimous testimony to the spiritual purity of the story. We should hear nothing then of the injustice of substitution or the illogicality of atonement, of the superstitious exaggeration of the burden of sin or the impossible insolence of an invasion of the laws of nature. We should admire the chivalry of the Chinese conception of a god who fell from the sky to fight the dragons and save the wicked from being devoured by their own fault and folly. We should admire the subtlety of the Chinese view of life, which perceives that all human imperfection is in very truth a crying imperfection. We should admire the Chinese esoteric and superior wisdom, which said there are higher cosmic laws than the laws we know.
G.K. Chesterton (The Everlasting Man)
Political realism believes that politics, like society in general, is governed by objective laws that have their roots in human nature. In order to improve society it is first necessary to understand the laws by which society lives. The operation of these laws being impervious to our preferences, men will challenge them only at the risk of failure. Realism, believing as it does in the objectivity of the laws of politics, must also believe in the possibility of developing a rational theory that reflects, however imperfectly and one-sidedly, these objective laws. It believes also, then, in the possibility of distinguishing in politics between truth and opinion — between what is true objectively and rationally, supported by evidence and illuminated by reason, and what is only a subjective judgment, divorced from the facts as they are and informed by prejudice and wishful thinking.
Hans J. Morgenthau (Politics Among Nations)
Those who think that modern times are wickeder than previous times are apt to identify the cause as the weakening of a sense of moral law, associated with the departure of religious traditions of morality as a social influence... Such views give comfort to apologists for religion, who fasten on the implication that to revive a culture of moral concern people must be encouraged back into churches. But this reprises the usual muddle that getting people to accept as true... such propositions as that at a certain historical point a virgin gave birth, that the laws of nature were arbitrarily suspended so that, for example, water turned into wine, that several corpses came to life (and so forth), will somehow give them a logical reason for living morally (according to the attached view of what is moral - e.g. not marrying if you can help it, not divorcing if you do, and so forth again). It is scarcely needful to repeat that the morality and the metaphysics here separately at stake do not justify or even need one another, and that the moral questions require to be grounded and justified on their own merits in application to what they concern, namely, the life of human beings in the social setting.
A.C. Grayling (What is Good?)
There is another human defect which the Law of Natural Selection has yet to remedy: When people of today have full bellies, they are exactly like their ancestors of a million years ago: very slow to acknowledge any awful troubles they may be in. [...] This was a particularly tragic flaw a million years ago, since the people who were best informed about the state of the planet [...] and rich and powerful enough to slow down all the waste and destruction going on, were by definition well fed. So everything was always just fine as far as they were concerned. For all the computers and measuring instruments and news gatherers and evaluators and memory banks and libraries and experts on this and that at their disposal, their deaf and blind bellies remained the final judges of how urgent this or that problem, such as the destruction of North America’s and Europe’s forests by acid rain, say, might really be. And here was the sort of advice a full belly gave and still gives [...]: “Be patient. Smile. Be confident. Everything will turn out for the best somehow.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Galápagos)
The [character-]armored, mechanistically rigid person thinks mechanistically, produces mechanistic tools, and forms a mechanistic conception of nature. The armored person who feels his orgonotic body excitations in spite of his biological rigidity, but does not understand them, is mystic man. He is interested not in "material" but in "spiritual" things. He forms a mystical, supernatural idea about nature. Both the mechanist and the mystic stand inside the limits and conceptual laws of a civilization which is ruled by a contradictory and murderous mixture of machines and gods. This civilization forms the mechanistic-mystical structures of men, and the mechanistic-mystical character structures keep reproducing a the mechanistic-mystical civilization. Both mechanists and mystics find themselves inside the framework of human structure in a civilization conditioned by mechanistics and mysticism. They cannot grasp the basic problems of this civilization because their thinking and philosophy correspond exactly to the condition they project and continue to reproduce. In order to realize the power of mysticism, one has only to think of the murderous conflict between Hindus and Muslims at the time India was divided. To comprehend what mechanistic civilization means, think of the "age of the atom bomb.
Wilhelm Reich (Ether, God and devil : cosmic superimposition)
He was perfectly astonished with the historical account gave him of our affairs during the last century; protesting “it was only a heap of conspiracies, rebellions, murders, massacres, revolutions, banishments, the very worst effects that avarice, faction, hypocrisy, perfidiousness, cruelty, rage, madness, hatred, envy, lust, malice, and ambition, could produce.” His majesty, in another audience, was at the pains to recapitulate the sum of all I had spoken; compared the questions he made with the answers I had given; then taking me into his hands, and stroking me gently, delivered himself in these words, which I shall never forget, nor the manner he spoke them in: “My little friend Grildrig, you have made a most admirable panegyric upon your country; you have clearly proved, that ignorance, idleness, and vice, are the proper ingredients for qualifying a legislator; that laws are best explained, interpreted, and applied, by those whose interest and abilities lie in perverting, confounding, and eluding them. I observe among you some lines of an institution, which, in its original, might have been tolerable, but these half erased, and the rest wholly blurred and blotted by corruptions. It does not appear, from all you have said, how any one perfection is required toward the procurement of any one station among you; much less, that men are ennobled on account of their virtue; that priests are advanced for their piety or learning; soldiers, for their conduct or valour; judges, for their integrity; senators, for the love of their country; or counsellors for their wisdom. As for yourself,” continued the king, “who have spent the greatest part of your life in travelling, I am well disposed to hope you may hitherto have escaped many vices of your country. But by what I have gathered from your own relation, and the answers I have with much pains wrung and extorted from you, I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.
Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels: Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World.)
The fundamental error of socialism is anthropological in nature. Socialism considers the individual person simply as an element, a molecule within the social organism, so that the good of the individual is completely subordinated to the functioning of the socio-economic mechanism. Socialism likewise maintains that the good of the individual can be realized without reference to his free choice, to the unique and exclusive responsibility which he exercises in the face of good or evil. Man is thus reduced to a series of social relationships, and the concept of the person as the autonomous subject of moral decision disappears, the very subject whose decisions build the social order. From this mistaken conception of the person there arise both a distortion of law, which defines the sphere of the exercise of freedom, and an opposition to private property. A person who is deprived of something he can call “his own,” and of the possibility of earning a living through his own initiative, comes to depend on the social machine and on those who control it. This makes it much more difficult for him to recognize his dignity as a person, and hinders progress towards the building up of an authentic human community.
Pope John Paul II
The only gain of civilisation for mankind is the greater capacity for variety of sensations--and absolutely nothing more. And through the development of this many-sidedness man may come to finding enjoyment in bloodshed. In fact, this has already happened to him. Have you noticed that it is the most civilised gentlemen who have been the subtlest slaughterers, to whom the Attilas and Stenka Razins could not hold a candle, and if they are not so conspicuous as the Attilas and Stenka Razins it is simply because they are so often met with, are so ordinary and have become so familiar to us. In any case civilisation has made mankind if not more bloodthirsty, at least more vilely, more loathsomely bloodthirsty. In old days he saw justice in bloodshed and with his conscience at peace exterminated those he thought proper. Now we do think bloodshed abominable and yet we engage in this abomination, and with more energy than ever. Which is worse? Decide that for yourselves. They say that Cleopatra (excuse an instance from Roman history) was fond of sticking gold pins into her slave-girls' breasts and derived gratification from their screams and writhings. You will say that that was in the comparatively barbarous times; that these are barbarous times too, because also, comparatively speaking, pins are stuck in even now; that though man has now learned to see more clearly than in barbarous ages, he is still far from having learnt to act as reason and science would dictate. But yet you are fully convinced that he will be sure to learn when he gets rid of certain old bad habits, and when common sense and science have completely re-educated human nature and turned it in a normal direction. You are confident that then man will cease from INTENTIONAL error and will, so to say, be compelled not to want to set his will against his normal interests. That is not all; then, you say, science itself will teach man (though to my mind it's a superfluous luxury) that he never has really had any caprice or will of his own, and that he himself is something of the nature of a piano-key or the stop of an organ, and that there are, besides, things called the laws of nature; so that everything he does is not done by his willing it, but is done of itself, by the laws of nature. Consequently we have only to discover these laws of nature, and man will no longer have to answer for his actions and life will become exceedingly easy for him. All human actions will then, of course, be tabulated according to these laws, mathematically, like tables of logarithms up to 108,000, and entered in an index; or, better still, there would be published certain edifying works of the nature of encyclopaedic lexicons, in which everything will be so clearly calculated and explained that there will be no more incidents or adventures in the world.
Fyodor Dostoevsky (Notes from the Underground)
I tell you that man has no more tormenting care than to find someone to whom he can hand over as quickly as possible that gift of freedom with which the miserable creature is born. But he alone can take over the freedom of men who appeases their conscience. With bread you were given an indisputable banner: give man bread and he will bow down to you, for there is nothing more indisputable than bread. But if at the same time someone else takes over his conscience - oh, then he will even throw down your bread and follow him who has seduced his conscience. In this you were right. For the mystery of man's being is not only in living, but in what one lives for. Without a firm idea of what he lives for, man will not consent to live and will sooner destroy himself than remain on earth, even if there is bread all around him. That is so, but what came of it? Instead of taking over men's freedom, you increased it still more for them! Did you forget that peace and even death are dearer to man than free choice in the knowledge of good and evil? There is nothing more seductive for man than the freedom of his conscience, but there is nothing more tormenting either. And so, instead of a firm foundation for appeasing human conscience once and for all, you chose everything that was unusual, enigmatic, and indefinite, you chose everything that was beyond men's strength, and thereby acted as if you did not love them at all - and who did this? He who came to give his life for them! Instead of taking over men's freedom, you increased it and forever burdened the kingdom of the human soul with its torments. You desired the free love of man, that he should follow you freely. seduced and captivated by you. Instead of the firm ancient law, men had henceforth to decide for himself, with a free heart, what is good and what is evil, having only your image before him as a guide - but did it not occur to you that he would eventually reject and dispute even your image and your truth if he was oppressed by so terrible a burden as freedom of choice? They will finally cry out that the truth is not in you, for it was impossible to leave them in greater confusion and torment than you did, abandoning them to so many cares and insoluble problems. Thus you yourself laid the foundation for the destruction of your own kingdom, and do not blame anyone else for it.
Fyodor Dostoevsky
What finally turned me back toward the older traditions of my own [Chickasaw] and other Native peoples was the inhumanity of the Western world, the places--both inside and out--where the culture's knowledge and language don't go, and the despair, even desperation, it has spawned. We live, I see now, by different stories, the Western mind and the indigenous. In the older, more mature cultures where people still live within the kinship circles of animals and human beings there is a connection with animals, not only as food, but as 'powers,' a word which can be taken to mean states of being, gifts, or capabilities. I've found, too, that the ancient intellectual traditions are not merely about belief, as some would say. Belief is not a strong enough word. They are more than that: They are part of lived experience, the on-going experience of people rooted in centuries-old knowledge that is held deep and strong, knowledge about the natural laws of Earth, from the beginning of creation, and the magnificent terrestrial intelligence still at work, an intelligence now newly called ecology by the Western science that tells us what our oldest tribal stories maintain--the human animal is a relatively new creation here; animal and plant presences were here before us; and we are truly the younger sisters and brothers of the other animal species, not quite as well developed as we thought we were. It is through our relationships with animals and plants that we maintain a way of living, a cultural ethics shaped from an ancient understanding of the world, and this is remembered in stories that are the deepest reflections of our shared lives on Earth. That we held, and still hold, treaties with the animals and plant species is a known part of tribal culture. The relationship between human people and animals is still alive and resonant in the world, the ancient tellings carried on by a constellation of stories, songs, and ceremonies, all shaped by lived knowledge of the world and its many interwoven, unending relationships. These stories and ceremonies keep open the bridge between one kind of intelligence and another, one species and another. (from her essay "First People")
Linda Hogan (Intimate Nature: The Bond Between Women and Animals)
The human being is given by Nature little more energy than what is needed to maintain the species; to reproduce and to live out our (very short) spans. But if we want to be fit for the journey up and out of the limits of ordinary life, we have to learn not to waste energy. Which we do by busying ourselves too much with material things, and by using our minds in wasteful and damaging ways. You will have seen that I am describing concepts familiar to us from religions, put here in a different context, rescued from being 'sins' or sources of guilt, reintroduced, simply, as tools. It is not 'wicked' to eat and drink too much, not a 'sin' to be envious, but gluttony makes 'the Way' difficult; and thoughts of enmity keep the mind in a seethe, making subtler inputs impossible. And, besides, laws operate that we have not been taught about, whether we have had the benefits of religions or not. Thoughts of anger, jealousy, enmity, revenge, bring retribution. There is nothing theoretical about this: slowly you learn to see patterns where before you saw nothing, because you were over-emotional.
Doris Lessing (The Doris Lessing Reader)
Nothing is more unpopular today than the free market economy, i.e., capitalism. Everything that is considered unsatisfactory in present-day conditions is charged to capitalism. The atheists make capitalism responsible for the survival of Christianity. But the papal encyclicals blame capitalism for the spread of irreligion and the sins of our contemporaries, and the Protestant churches and sects are no less vigorous in their indictment of capitalist greed. Friends of peace consider our wars as an offshoot of capitalist imperialism. But the adamant nationalist warmongers of Germany and Italy indicted capitalism for its "bourgeois" pacifism, contrary to human nature and to the inescapable laws of history. Sermonizers accuse capitalism of disrupting the family and fostering licentiousness. But the "progressives" blame capitalism for the preservation of allegedly outdated rules of sexual restraint. Almost all men agree that poverty is an outcome of capitalism. On the other hand many deplore the fact that capitalism, in catering lavishly to the wishes of people intent upon getting more amenities and a better living, promotes a crass materialism. These contradictory accusations of capitalism cancel one another. But the fact remains that there are few people left who would not condemn capitalism altogether.
Ludwig von Mises
(Ivan) Hold your tongue, or I'll kill you! (The devil) You'll kill me? No, excuse me, I will speak. I came to treat myself to that pleasure. Oh, I love the dreams of my ardent young friends, quivering with eagerness for life! 'There are new men,' you decided last spring, when you were meaning to come here, 'they propose to destroy everything and begin with cannibalism. Stupid fellows! they didn't ask my advice! I maintain that nothing need be destroyed, that we only need to destroy the idea of God in man, that's how we have to set to work. It's that, that we must begin with. Oh, blind race of men who have no understanding! As soon as men have all of them denied God -- and I believe that period, analogous with geological periods, will come to pass -- the old conception of the universe will fall of itself without cannibalism, and, what's more, the old morality, and everything will begin anew. Men will unite to take from life all it can give, but only for joy and happiness in the present world. Man will be lifted up with a spirit of divine Titanic pride and the man-god will appear. From hour to hour extending his conquest of nature infinitely by his will and his science, man will feel such lofty joy from hour to hour in doing it that it will make up for all his old dreams of the joys of heaven. Everyone will know that he is mortal and will accept death proudly and serenely like a god. His pride will teach him that it's useless for him to repine at life's being a moment, and he will love his brother without need of reward. Love will be sufficient only for a moment of life, but the very consciousness of its momentariness will intensify its fire, which now is dissipated in dreams of eternal love beyond the grave'... and so on and so on in the same style. Charming! Ivan sat with his eyes on the floor, and his hands pressed to his ears, but he began trembling all over. The voice continued. (The devil) The question now is, my young thinker reflected, is it possible that such a period will ever come? If it does, everything is determined and humanity is settled for ever. But as, owing to man's inveterate stupidity, this cannot come about for at least a thousand years, everyone who recognises the truth even now may legitimately order his life as he pleases, on the new principles. In that sense, 'all things are lawful' for him. What's more, even if this period never comes to pass, since there is anyway no God and no immortality, the new man may well become the man-god, even if he is the only one in the whole world, and promoted to his new position, he may lightheartedly overstep all the barriers of the old morality of the old slaveman, if necessary. There is no law for God. Where God stands, the place is holy. Where I stand will be at once the foremost place... 'all things are lawful' and that's the end of it! That's all very charming; but if you want to swindle why do you want a moral sanction for doing it? But that's our modern Russian all over. He can't bring himself to swindle without a moral sanction. He is so in love with truth-.
Fyodor Dostoevsky (The Brothers Karamazov)
The trouble with purging the school curriculum of religious knowledge is that ultimate questions cannot be answered without reference to religious beliefs or at least to philosophy. With religion expelled from the schools, a clear field was left for the entrance of the mode of belief called humanitarianism, or secular humanism--the latter a term employed by the cultural historian Christopher Dawson. During the past four decades and more, the place that religion used to hold in American schooling, always a rather modest and non-dogmatic place, has been filled by secular humanism. Its root principle is that human nature and society may be perfected without the operation of divine grace. . . . In his book A Common Faith (1934), [John] Dewey advocated his brand of humanism as a religion. "Here are all the elements for a religious faith that shall not be confined to sect, class, or race," he wrote. "Such a faith has always been implicitly the common faith of mankind. It remains to make it explicit and militant." Much more evidence exists to suggest that humanitarianism, or secular humanism, should be regarded in law as a religion, with respect to both establishment and free exercise in the First Amendment. It is this non-theistic religion, hostile to much of the established morality and many existing American institutions, that has come close to being established as a "civil religion" in American public schools.
Russell Kirk (Rights And Duties: Reflections On Our Conservative Constitution)
These ideas can be made more concrete with a parable, which I borrow from John Fowles’s wonderful novel, The Magus. Conchis, the principle character in the novel, finds himself Mayor of his home town in Greece when the Nazi occupation begins. One day, three Communist partisans who recently killed some German soldiers are caught. The Nazi commandant gives Conchis, as Mayor, a choice — either Conchis will execute the three partisans himself to set an example of loyalty to the new regime, or the Nazis will execute every male in the town. Should Conchis act as a collaborator with the Nazis and take on himself the direct guilt of killing three men? Or should he refuse and, by default, be responsible for the killing of over 300 men? I often use this moral riddle to determine the degree to which people are hypnotized by Ideology. The totally hypnotized, of course, have an answer at once; they know beyond doubt what is correct, because they have memorized the Rule Book. It doesn’t matter whose Rule Book they rely on — Ayn Rand’s or Joan Baez’s or the Pope’s or Lenin’s or Elephant Doody Comix — the hypnosis is indicated by lack of pause for thought, feeling and evaluation. The response is immediate because it is because mechanical. Those who are not totally hypnotized—those who have some awareness of concrete events of sensory space-time, outside their heads— find the problem terrible and terrifying and admit they don’t know any 'correct' answer. I don’t know the 'correct' answer either, and I doubt that there is one. The universe may not contain 'right' and 'wrong' answers to everything just because Ideologists want to have 'right' and 'wrong' answers in all cases, anymore than it provides hot and cold running water before humans start tinkering with it. I feel sure that, for those awakened from hypnosis, every hour of every day presents choices that are just as puzzling (although fortunately not as monstrous) as this parable. That is why it appears a terrible burden to be aware of who you are, where you are, and what is going on around you, and why most people would prefer to retreat into Ideology, abstraction, myth and self-hypnosis. To come out of our heads, then, also means to come to our senses, literally—to live with awareness of the bottle of beer on the table and the bleeding body in the street. Without polemic intent, I think this involves waking from hypnosis in a very literal sense. Only one individual can do it at a time, and nobody else can do it for you. You have to do it all alone.
Robert Anton Wilson (Natural Law: or Don't Put a Rubber on Your Willy)
There are certain prejudices attached to the human mind which it requires all our wisdom to keep from interfering with our happiness; certain set notions, acquired in infancy, and cherished involuntarily by age, which grow up and assume a gloss so plausible, that few minds, in what is called a civilized country, can afterwards overcome them. Truth is often perverted by education. While the refined Europeans boast a standard of honour, and a sublimity of virtue, which often leads them from pleasure to misery, and from nature to error, the simple, uninformed American follows the impulse of his heart, and obeys the inspiration of wisdom. Nature, uncontaminated by false refinement, every where acts alike in the great occurrences of life. The Indian discovers his friend to be perfidious, and he kills him; the wild Asiatic does the same; the Turk, when ambition fires, or revenge provokes, gratifies his passion at the expence of life, and does not call it murder. Even the polished Italian, distracted by jealousy, or tempted by a strong circumstance of advantage, draws his stiletto, and accomplishes his purpose. It is the first proof of a superior mind to liberate itself from the prejudices of country, or of education… Self-preservation is the great law of nature; when a reptile hurts us, or an animal of prey threatens us, we think no farther, but endeavour to annihilate it. When my life, or what may be essential to my life, requires the sacrifice of another, or even if some passion, wholly unconquerable, requires it, I should be a madman to hesitate.
Ann Radcliffe (The Romance of the Forest)
The knowledge both of the Poet and the Man of science is pleasure; but the knowledge of the one cleaves to us as a necessary part of our existence, our natural and unalienable inheritance; the other is a personal and individual acquisition, slow to come to us, and by no habitual and direct sympathy connecting us with our fellow-beings. The Man of science seeks truth as a remote and unknown benefactor; he cherishes and loves it in his solitude: the Poet, singing a song in which all human beings join with him, rejoices in the presence of truth as our visible friend and hourly companion. Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; it is the impassioned expression which is in the countenance of all Science. Emphatically may it be said of the Poet, as Shakespeare hath said of man, ‘that he looks before and after.’ He is the rock of defence for human nature; an upholder and preserver, carrying everywhere with him relationship and love. In spite of difference of soil and climate, of language and manners, of laws and customs: in spite of things silently gone out of mind, and things violently destroyed; the Poet binds together by passion and knowledge the vast empire of human society, as it is spread over the whole earth, and over all time. The objects of the Poet’s thoughts are everywhere; though the eyes and senses of man are, it is true, his favourite guides, yet he will follow wheresoever he can find an atmosphere of sensation in which to move his wings. Poetry is the first and last of all knowledge—it is as immortal as the heart of man.
William Wordsworth (Preface to the Lyrical Ballads)
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. John 1:12 Divine sonship is not something that we gain of ourselves. Only to those who receive Christ as their Saviour is given the power to become sons and daughters of God. The sinner cannot, by any power of his own, rid himself of sin. For the accomplishment of this result, he must look to a higher Power. John exclaimed, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Christ alone has power to cleanse the heart. He who is seeking for forgiveness and acceptance can say only,-- "Nothing in my hand I bring; Simply to Thy cross I cling." But the promise of sonship is made to all who "believe on his name." Every one who comes to Jesus in faith will receive pardon. The religion of Christ transforms the heart. It makes the worldly-minded man heavenly-minded. Under its influence the selfish man becomes unselfish, because this is the character of Christ. The dishonest, scheming man becomes upright, so that it is second nature to him to do to others as he would have others do to him. The profligate is changed from impurity to purity. He forms correct habits; for the gospel of Christ has become to him a savor of life unto life. God was to be manifest in Christ, "reconciling the world unto himself." Man had become so degraded by sin that it was impossible for him, in himself, to come into harmony with Him whose nature is purity and goodness. But Christ, after having redeemed man from the condemnation of the law, could impart divine power, to unite with human effort. Thus by repentance toward God and faith in Christ, the fallen children of Adam might once more become "sons of God." When a soul receives Christ, he receives power to live the life of Christ.
Ellen G. White
How can we distinguish what is biologically determined from what people merely try to justify through biological myths? A good rule of thumb is ‘Biology enables, culture forbids.’ Biology is willing to tolerate a very wide spectrum of possibilities. It’s culture that obliges people to realise some possibilities while forbidding others. Biology enables women to have children – some cultures oblige women to realise this possibility. Biology enables men to enjoy sex with one another – some cultures forbid them to realise this possibility. Culture tends to argue that it forbids only that which is unnatural. But from a biological perspective, nothing is unnatural. Whatever is possible is by definition also natural. A truly unnatural behaviour, one that goes against the laws of nature, simply cannot exist, so it would need no prohibition. No culture has ever bothered to forbid men to photosynthesise, women to run faster than the speed of light, or negatively charged electrons to be attracted to each other. In truth, our concepts ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ are taken not from biology, but from Christian theology. The theological meaning of ‘natural’ is ‘in accordance with the intentions of the God who created nature’. Christian theologians argued that God created the human body, intending each limb and organ to serve a particular purpose. If we use our limbs and organs for the purpose envisioned by God, then it is a natural activity. To use them differently than God intends is unnatural. But evolution has no purpose. Organs have not evolved with a purpose, and the way they are used is in constant flux. There is not a single organ in the human body that only does the job its prototype did when it first appeared hundreds of millions of years ago. Organs evolve to perform a particular function, but once they exist, they can be adapted for other usages as well. Mouths, for example, appeared because the earliest multicellular organisms needed a way to take nutrients into their bodies. We still use our mouths for that purpose, but we also use them to kiss, speak and, if we are Rambo, to pull the pins out of hand grenades. Are any of these uses unnatural simply because our worm-like ancestors 600 million years ago didn’t do those things with their mouths?
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and because firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the case against a miracle is—just because it is a miracle—as complete as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined to be. Why is it more than merely probable that all men must die, that lead cannot when not supported remain suspended in the air, that fire consumes wood and is extinguished by water, unless it is that these events are found agreeable to the laws of nature, and for things to go differently there would have to be a violation of those laws, or in other words a miracle? Nothing is counted as a miracle if it ever happens in the common course of nature. When a man who seems to be in good health suddenly dies, this isn't a miracle; because such a kind of death, though more unusual than any other, has yet often been observed to happen. But a dead man’s coming to life would be a miracle, because that has never been observed in any age or country. So there must be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, because otherwise the event wouldn't count as a ‘miracle’. And as a uniform experience amounts to a proof, we have here a direct and full proof against the existence of any miracle, just because it’s a miracle; and such a proof can’t be destroyed or the miracle made credible except by an opposite proof that is even stronger. This clearly leads us to a general maxim that deserves of our attention: No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle unless it is of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact that it tries to establish. And even in that case there is a mutual destruction of arguments, and the stronger one only gives us an assurance suitable to the force that remains to it after the force needed to cancel the other has been subtracted.
David Hume (An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding)
Why do we need to be pardoned? What are we to be pardoned for? For not dying of hunger? For not accepting humbly the historic burden of disdain and abandonment? For having risen up in arms after we found all other paths closed? For not heeding the Chiapas penal code, one of the most absurd and repressive in history? For showing the rest of the country and the whole world that human dignity still exists even among the world’s poorest peoples? For having made careful preparations before we began our uprising? For bringing guns to battle instead of bows and arrows? For being Mexicans? For being mainly indigenous? For calling on the Mexican people to fight by whatever means possible for what belongs to them? For fighting for liberty, democracy and justice? For not following the example of previous guerrilla armies? For refusing to surrender? For refusing to sell ourselves out? Who should we ask for pardon, and who can grant it? Those who for many years glutted themselves at a table of plenty while we sat with death so often, we finally stopped fearing it? Those who filled our pockets and our souls with empty promises and words? Or should we ask pardon from the dead, our dead, who died “natural” deaths of “natural causes” like measles, whooping cough, break-bone fever, cholera, typhus, mononucleosis, tetanus, pneumonia, malaria and other lovely gastrointestinal and pulmonary diseases? Our dead, so very dead, so democratically dead from sorrow because no one did anything, because the dead, our dead, went just like that, with no one keeping count with no one saying, “Enough!” which would at least have granted some meaning to their deaths, a meaning no one ever sought for them, the dead of all times, who are now dying once again, but now in order to live? Should we ask pardon from those who deny us the right and capacity to govern ourselves? From those who don’t respect our customs and our culture and who ask us for identification papers and obedience to a law whose existence and moral basis we don’t accept? From those who oppress us, torture us, assassinate us, disappear us from the grave “crime” of wanting a piece of land, not too big and not too small, but just a simple piece of land on which we can grow something to fill our stomachs? Who should ask for pardon, and who can grant it?
Subcomandante Marcos
The whole tradition of [oral] story telling is endangered by modern technology. Although telling stories is a very fundamental human attribute, to the extent that psychiatry now often treats 'narrative loss' -- the inability to construct a story of one's own life -- as a loss of identity or 'personhood,' it is not natural but an art form -- you have to learn to tell stories. The well-meaning mother is constantly frustrated by the inability of her child to answer questions like 'What did you do today?' (to which the answer is usually a muttered 'nothing' -- but the 'nothing' is cover for 'I don't know how to tell a good story about it, how to impose a story shape on the events'). To tell stories, you have to hear stories and you have to have an audience to hear the stories you tell. Oral story telling is economically unproductive -- there is no marketable product; it is out with the laws of patents and copyright; it cannot easily be commodified; it is a skill without monetary value. And above all, it is an activity requiring leisure -- the oral tradition stands squarely against a modern work ethic....Traditional fairy stories, like all oral traditions, need the sort of time that isn't money. "The deep connect between the forests and the core stories has been lost; fairy stories and forests have been moved into different categories and, isolated, both are at risk of disappearing, misunderstood and culturally undervalued, 'useless' in the sense of 'financially unprofitable.
Sara Maitland (Gossip from the Forest)
1. a.Never throw shit at an armed man. b.Never stand next to someone who is throwing shit at an armed man. 2.Never fire a laser at a mirror. 3.Mother Nature doesn't care if you're having fun. 4.F × S = k. The product of Freedom and Security is a constant. To gain more freedom of thought and/or action, you must give up some security, and vice versa. 5.Psi and/or magical powers, if real, are nearly useless. 6.It is easier to destroy than create. 7.Any damn fool can predict the past. 8.History never repeats itself. 9.Ethics change with technology. 10.There Ain't No Justice. (often abbreviated to TANJ) 11.Anarchy is the least stable of social structures. It falls apart at a touch. 12.There is a time and place for tact. And there are times when tact is entirely misplaced. 13.The ways of being human are bounded but infinite. 14.The world's dullest subjects, in order: a.Somebody else's diet. b.How to make money for a worthy cause. c.The Kardashians. 15.The only universal message in science fiction: There exist minds that think as well as you do, but differently. Niven's corollary: The gene-tampered turkey you're talking to isn't necessarily one of them. 16.Fuzzy Pink Niven's Law: Never waste calories. 17.There is no cause so right that one cannot find a fool following it. in variant form in Fallen Angels as "Niven's Law: No cause is so noble that it won't attract fuggheads." 18.No technique works if it isn't used. 19.Not responsible for advice not taken. 20.Old age is not for sissies.
Larry Niven
We are all of us exposed to grief: the people we love die, as we shall ourselves in due course; expectations are disappointed and ambitions are thwarted by circumstance. Finally, there are some who insist upon feeling guilty over the ill they have done or simply on account of the ugliness which they perceive in their own souls. A solution of a kind has been found to this problem in the form of sedatives and anti-depressant drugs, so that many human experiences which used to be accepted as an integral part of human life are now defined and dealt with as medical problems. The widow who grieves for a beloved husband becomes a 'case', as does the man saddened by the recollection of the napalm or high explosives he has dropped on civilian populations. One had thought that guilt was a way, however indirect, in which we might perceive the nature of reality and the laws which govern our human experience; but it is now an illness that can be cured. Death however, remains incurable. Though we might be embarrassed by Victorian death-bed scenes or the practices of mourning among people less sophisticated than ourselves, the fact of death tells us so much about the realities of our condition that to ignore it or try to forget it is to be unaware of the most important thing we need to know about our situation as living creatures. Equally, to witness and participate in the dying of our fellow men and women is to learn what we are and, if we have any wisdom at all, to draw conclusions which must in their way affect our every thought and our every act.
Charles Le Gai Eaton (King of the Castle: Choice and Responsibility in the Modern World)
Principles of Liberty 1. The only reliable basis for sound government and just human relations is Natural Law. 2. A free people cannot survive under a republican constitution unless they remain virtuous and morally strong. 3. The most promising method of securing a virtuous and morally strong people is to elect virtuous leaders. 4. Without religion the government of a free people cannot be maintained. 5. All things were created by God, therefore upon him all mankind are equally dependent, and to Him they are equally responsible. 6. All men are created equal. 7. The proper role of government is to protect equal rights, not provide equal things. 8. Men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. 9. To protect man's rights, God has revealed certain principles of divine law. 10. The God-given right to govern is vested in the sovereign authority of the whole people. 11. The majority of the people may alter or abolish a government which has become tyrannical. 12. The United States of America shall be a republic. 13. A constitution should be structured to permanently protect the people from the human frailties of their rulers. 14. Life and Liberty are secure only so long as the Igor of property is secure. 15. The highest level of securitiy occurs when there is a free market economy and a minimum of government regulations. 16. The government should be separated into three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. 17. A system of checks and balances should be adopted to prevent the abuse of power. 18. The unalienable rights of the people are most likely to be preserved if the principles of government are set forth in a written constitution. 19. Only limited and carefully defined powers should be delegated to the government, all others being retained by the people. 20. Efficiency and dispatch require government to operate according to the will of the majority, but constitutional provisions must be made to protect the rights of the minority. 21. Strong human government is the keystone to preserving human freedom. 22. A free people should be governed by law and not by the whims of men. 23. A free society cannot survive a republic without a broad program of general education. 24. A free people will not survive unless they stay strong. 25. "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none." 26. The core unit which determines the strength of any society is the family; therefore, the government should foster and protect its integrity. 27. The burden of debt is as destructive to freedom as subjugation by conquest. 28. The United States has a manifest destiny to be an example and a blessing to the entire human race.
Founding Fathers
I always felt that someone, a long time ago, organized the affairs of the world into areas that made sense-catagories of stuff that is perfectible, things that fit neatly in perfect bundles. The world of business, for example, is this way-line items, spreadsheets, things that add up, that can be perfected. The legal system-not always perfect, but nonetheless a mind-numbing effort to actually write down all kinds of laws and instructions that cover all aspects of being human, a kind of umbrella code of conduct we should all follow. Perfection is crucial in building an aircraft, a bridge, or a high-speed train. The code and mathematics residing just below the surface of the Internet is also this way. Things are either perfectly right or they will not work. So much of the world we work and live in is based upon being correct, being perfect. But after this someone got through organizing everything just perfectly, he (or probably a she) was left with a bunch of stuff that didn't fit anywhere-things in a shoe box that had to go somewhere. So in desperation this person threw up her arms and said, 'OK! Fine. All the rest of this stuff that isn't perfectible, that doesn't seem to fit anywhere else, will just have to be piled into this last, rather large, tattered box that we can sort of push behind the couch. Maybe later we can come back and figure where it all is supposed to fit in. Let's label the box ART.' The problem was thankfully never fixed, and in time the box overflowed as more and more art piled up. I think the dilemma exists because art, among all the other tidy categories, most closely resembles what it is like to be human. To be alive. It is our nature to be imperfect. The have uncategorized feelings and emotions. To make or do things that don't sometimes necessarily make sense. Art is all just perfectly imperfect. Once the word ART enters the description of what you're up to , it is almost getting a hall pass from perfection. It thankfully releases us from any expectation of perfection. In relation to my own work not being perfect, I just always point to the tattered box behind the couch and mention the word ART, and people seem to understand and let you off the hook about being perfect a go back to their business.
Brené Brown (Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead)
Now what we call "bourgeois," when regarded as an element always to be found in human life, is nothing else than the search for a balance. It is the striving after a mean between the countless extremes and opposites that arise in human conduct. If we take any one of these coupled opposites, such as piety and profligacy, the analogy is immediately comprehensible. It is open to a man to give himself up wholly to spiritual views, to seeking after God, to the ideal of saintliness. On the other hand, he can equally give himself up entirely to the life of instinct, to the lusts of the flesh, and so direct all his efforts to the attainment of momentary pleasures. The one path leads to the saint, to the martyrdom of the spirit and surrender to God. The other path leads to the profligate, to the martyrdom of the flesh, the surrender to corruption. Now it is between the two, in the middle of the road, that the bourgeois seeks to walk. He will never surrender himself either to lust or to asceticism. He will never be a martyr or agree to his own destruction. On the contrary, his ideal is not to give up but to maintain his own identity. He strives neither for the saintly nor its opposite. The absolute is his abhorrence. He may be ready to serve God, but not by giving up the fleshpots. He is ready to be virtuous, but likes to be easy and comfortable in this world as well. In short, his aim is to make a home for himself between two extremes in a temperate zone without violent storms and tempests; and in this he succeeds though it be at the cost of that intensity of life and feeling which an extreme life affords. A man cannot live intensely except at the cost of the self. Now the bourgeois treasures nothing more highly than the self (rudimentary as his may be). And so at the cost of intensity he achieves his own preservation and security. His harvest is a quiet mind which he prefers to being possessed by God, as he does comfort to pleasure, convenience to liberty, and a pleasant temperature to that deathly inner consuming fire. The bourgeois is consequently by nature a creature of weak impulses, anxious, fearful of giving himself away and easy to rule. Therefore, he has substituted majority for power, law for force, and the polling booth for responsibility.
Hermann Hesse (Steppenwolf)
Death appears as the harsh victory of the law of our ancestors of the dimension of our becoming. It is a fact that, as productivity increases, each succeeding generation becomes smaller in stature. The defeat of our fathers is revisited upon us as the limits of our world. Yes, structure is human, it is the monumentalization of congealed sweat, sweat squeezed from old exploitation and represented as nature, the world we inhabit, the objective ground. We do not, in our insect-like comings and going, make the immediate world in which we live, we do not make a contribution, on the contrary we are set in motion by it; a generation will pass before what we have done, as an exploited class, will seep through as an effect of objectivity. (Our wealth is laid down in heaven.) The structure of the world has been built by the dead, they were paid in wages, and when the wages were spent and they were in the ground, what they had made continued to exist, these cities, roads and factories are their calcified bones. They had nothing but their wages to show for what they had done, who they were and what they did has been cancelled out. But what they made has continued into our present, their burial and decay is our present. This is the definition of class hatred. We are no closer now to rest, to freedom, to communism than they were, their sacrifice has brought us nothing, what they did counted for nothing, we have inherited nothing, but they did produce value, they did make the world in which we now live, the world that now oppresses us is constructed from the wealth they made, wealth that was taken from them as soon as they were paid a wage, taken and owned by someone else, owned and used to define the nature of class domination. We too must work, and the value we produce leaks away from us, from each only a trickle but in all a sea of it and that, for the next generation, will thicken into wealth for others to own and as a congealed structure it will be used to frame new enterprises in different directions. The violence of what they produced becomes the structure that dominates our existence. Our lives begin amidst the desecration of our ancestors, millions of people who went to their graves as failures, and forever denied experiences of a full human existence, their simply being canceled out; as our parents die, we can say truly that their lives were for nothing, that the black earth that is thrown down onto them blacks out our sky.
frére dupont
...fascism is more plausibly linked to a set of "mobilizing passions" that shape fascist action than to a consistent and fully articulated philosophy. At the bottom is a passionate nationalism. Allied to it is a conspiratorial and Manichean view of history as a battle between the good and evil camps, between the pure and the corrupt, in which one's own community or nation has been the victim. In this Darwinian narrative, the chosen people have been weakened by political parties, social classes, unassimilable minorities, spoiled rentiers, and rationalist thinkers who lack the necessary sense of community. These "mobilizing passions," mostly taken for granted and not always overtly argued as intellectual propositions, form the emotional lava that set fascism's foundations: -a sense of overwhelming crisis beyond the reach of any traditional solutions; -the primacy of the group, toward which one has duties superior to every right, whether individual or universal, and the subordination of the individual to it; -the belief that one's group is a victim, a sentiment that justifies any action, without legal or moral limits, against its enemies, both internal and external; -dread of the group's decline under the corrosive effects of individualistic liberalism, class conflict, and alien influences; -the need for closer integration of a purer community, by consent if possible, or by exclusionary violence if necessary; -the need for authority by natural leaders (always male), culminating in a national chief who alone is capable of incarnating the groups' destiny; -the superiority of the leader's instincts over abstract and universal reason; -the beauty of violence and the efficacy of will, when they are devoted to the group's success; -the right of the chosen people to dominate others without restraint from any kind of human or divine law, right being decided by the sole criterion of the group's prowess within a Darwinian struggle. ...Fascism was an affair of the gut more than the brain, and a study of the roots of fascism that treats only the thinkers and the writers misses the most powerful impulses of all.
Robert O. Paxton (The Anatomy of Fascism)
Religion, then, is far from "useless." It humanizes violence; it protects man from his own violence by taking it out of his hands, transforming it into a transcendent and ever-present danger to be kept in check by the appropriate rites appropriately observed and by a modest and prudent demeanor. Religious misinterpretation is a truly constructive force, for it purges man of the suspicions that would poison his existence if he were to remain conscious of the crisis as it actually took place. To think religiously is to envision the city's destiny in terms of that violence whose mastery over man increases as man believes he has gained mastery over it. To think religiously (in the primitive sense) is to see violence as something superhuman, to be kept always at a distance and ultimately renounced. When the fearful adoration of this power begins to diminish and all distinctions begin to disappear, the ritual sacrifices lose their force; their potency is not longer recognized by the entire community. Each member tries to correct the situation individually, and none succeeds. The withering away of the transcendental influence means that there is no longer the slightest difference between a desire to save the city and unbridled ambition, between genuine piety and the desire to claim divine status for oneself. Everyone looks on a rival enterprise as evidence of blasphemous designs. Men set to quarreling about the gods, and their skepticism leads to a new sacrificial crisis that will appear - retrospectively, in the light of a new manifestation of unanimous violence - as a new act of divine intervention and divine revenge. Men would not be able to shake loose the violence between them, to make of it a separate entity both sovereign and redemptory, without the surrogate victim. Also, violence itself offers a sort of respite, the fresh beginning of a cycle of ritual after a cycle of violence. Violence will come to an end only after it has had the last word and that word has been accepted as divine. The meaning of this word must remain hidden, the mechanism of unanimity remain concealed. For religion protects man as long as its ultimate foundations are not revealed. To drive the monster from its secret lair is to risk loosing it on mankind. To remove men's ignorance is only to risk exposing them to an even greater peril. The only barrier against human violence is raised on misconception. In fact, the sacrificial crisis is simply another form of that knowledge which grows grater as the reciprocal violence grows more intense but which never leads to the whole truth. It is the knowledge of violence, along with the violence itself, that the act of expulsion succeeds in shunting outside the realm of consciousness. From the very fact that it belies the overt mythological messages, tragic drama opens a vast abyss before the poet; but he always draws back at the last moment. He is exposed to a form of hubris more dangerous than any contracted by his characters; it has to do with a truth that is felt to be infinitely destructive, even if it is not fully understood - and its destructiveness is as obvious to ancient religious thought as it is to modern philosophers. Thus we are dealing with an interdiction that still applies to ourselves and that modern thought has not yet invalidated. The fact that this secret has been subjected to exceptional pressure in the play [Bacchae] must prompt the following lines: May our thoughts never aspire to anything higher than laws! What does it cost man to acknowledge the full sovereignty of the gods? That which has always been held as true owes its strength to Nature.
René Girard (Violence and the Sacred)
The chief care of the legislators [in the colonies of New England] was the maintenance of orderly conduct and good morals in the community: thus they constantly invaded the domain of conscience, and there was scarcely a sin which was no subject to magisterial censure. The reader is aware of the rigor with which these laws punished rape and adultery; intercourse between unmarried persons was likewise severely repressed. The judge was empowered to inflict either a pecuniary penalty, a whipping, or marriage, on the misdemeanants; and if the records of the old courts of New Haven may be believed, prosecutions of this kind were not unfrequent. We find a sentence, bearing date the 1st of May, 1660, inflicting a fine and reprimand on a young woman who was accused of using improper language, and of allowing herself to be kissed. The Code of 1650 abounds in preventive measures. It punishes idleness and drunkenness with severity. Innkeepers were forbidden to furnish more than certain quantities of liquor to each customer; and simple lying, whenever it may be injurious, is checked by a fine or a flogging. In other places, the legislator, entirely forgetting the great principles of religious toleration which he had himself demanded in Europe, makes attendance on divine service compulsory, and goes so far as to visit with severe punishment, and even with death, Christians who choose to worship God according to a ritual differing from his own. Sometimes, indeed, the zeal for regulation induces him to descend to the most frivolous particulars: thus a law is to be found in the same code which prohibits the use of tobacco. It must not be forgotten that these fantastical and vexatious laws were not imposed by authority, but that they were freely voted by all the persons interested in them, and that the manners of the community were even more austere and puritanical than the laws.... These errors are no doubt discreditable to human reason; they attest the inferiority of our nature, which is incapable of laying firm hold upon what is true and just, and is often reduced to the alternative of two excesses. In strict connection with this penal legislation, which bears such striking marks of a narrow, sectarian spirit, and of those religious passions which had been warmed by persecution and were still fermenting among the people, a body of political laws is to be found, which, though written two hundred years ago, is still in advance of the liberties of our own age.
Alexis de Tocqueville (Democracy in America)
Scholars discern motions in history & formulate these motions into rules that govern the rises & falls of civilizations. My belief runs contrary, however. To wit: history admits no rules, only outcomes. What precipitates outcomes? Vicious acts & virtuous acts. What precipitates acts? Belief. Belief is both prize & battlefield, within the mind & in the mind's mirror, the world. If we believe humanity is a ladder of tribes, a colosseum of confrontation, exploitation & bestiality, such a humanity is surely brought into being, & history's Horroxes, Boerhaaves & Gooses shall prevail. You & I, the moneyed, the privileged, the fortunate, shall not fare so badly in this world, provided our luck holds. What of it if our consciences itch? Why undermine the dominance of our race, our gunships, our heritage & our legacy? Why fight the 'natural' (oh, weaselly word!) order of things? Why? Because of this: -- one fine day, a purely predatory world shall consume itself. Yes, the devil shall take the hindmost until the foremost is the hindmost. In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction. Is this the entropy written in our nature? If we believe that humanity may transcend tooth & claw, if we believe divers [sic] races & creeds can share this world as peaceably as the orphans share their candlenut tree, if we believe leaders must be just, violence muzzled, power accountable & the riches of the Earth & its Oceans shared equitably, such a world will come to pass. I am not deceived. It is the hardest of worlds to make real. Tortuous advances won over generations can be lost by a single stroke of a myopic president's pen or a vainglorious general's sword. A life spent shaping a world I want Jackson to inherit, not one I fear Jackson shall inherit, this strikes me as a life worth the living. Upon my return to San Francisco, I shall pledge myself to the Abolitionist cause, because I owe my life to a self-freed slave & because I must begin somewhere. I hear my father-in-law's response. 'Oho, fine, Whiggish sentiments, Adam. But don't tell me about justice! Ride to Tennessee on an ass & convince the red-necks that they are merely white-washed negroes & their negroes are black-washed Whites! Sail to the Old World, tell 'em their imperial slaves' rights are as inalienable as the Queen of Belgium's! Oh, you'll grow hoarse, poor & grey in caucuses! You'll be spat on, shot at, lynched, pacified with medals, spurned by backwoodsmen! Crucified! Naïve, dreaming Adam. He who would do battle with the many-headed hydra of human nature must pay a world of pain & his family must pay along with him! & only as you gasp your dying breath shall you understand, your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean!' Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?
David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas)
Many readers are familiar with the spirit and the letter of the definition of “prayer”, as given by Ambrose Bierce in his Devil’s Dictionary. It runs like this, and is extremely easy to comprehend: Prayer: A petition that the laws of nature be suspended in favor of the petitioner; himself confessedly unworthy. Everybody can see the joke that is lodged within this entry: The man who prays is the one who thinks that god has arranged matters all wrong, but who also thinks that he can instruct god how to put them right. Half–buried in the contradiction is the distressing idea that nobody is in charge, or nobody with any moral authority. The call to prayer is self–cancelling. Those of us who don’t take part in it will justify our abstention on the grounds that we do not need, or care, to undergo the futile process of continuous reinforcement. Either our convictions are enough in themselves or they are not: At any rate they do require standing in a crowd and uttering constant and uniform incantations. This is ordered by one religion to take place five times a day, and by other monotheists for almost that number, while all of them set aside at least one whole day for the exclusive praise of the Lord, and Judaism seems to consist in its original constitution of a huge list of prohibitions that must be followed before all else. The tone of the prayers replicates the silliness of the mandate, in that god is enjoined or thanked to do what he was going to do anyway. Thus the Jewish male begins each day by thanking god for not making him into a woman (or a Gentile), while the Jewish woman contents herself with thanking the almighty for creating her “as she is.” Presumably the almighty is pleased to receive this tribute to his power and the approval of those he created. It’s just that, if he is truly almighty, the achievement would seem rather a slight one. Much the same applies to the idea that prayer, instead of making Christianity look foolish, makes it appear convincing. Now, it can be asserted with some confidence, first, that its deity is all–wise and all–powerful and, second, that its congregants stand in desperate need of that deity’s infinite wisdom and power. Just to give some elementary quotations, it is stated in the book of Philippians, 4:6, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication and thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.” Deuteronomy 32:4 proclaims that “he is the rock, his work is perfect,” and Isaiah 64:8 tells us, “Now O Lord, thou art our father; we art clay and thou our potter; and we are all the work of thy hand.” Note, then, that Christianity insists on the absolute dependence of its flock, and then only on the offering of undiluted praise and thanks. A person using prayer time to ask for the world to be set to rights, or to beseech god to bestow a favor upon himself, would in effect be guilty of a profound blasphemy or, at the very least, a pathetic misunderstanding. It is not for the mere human to be presuming that he or she can advise the divine. And this, sad to say, opens religion to the additional charge of corruption. The leaders of the church know perfectly well that prayer is not intended to gratify the devout. So that, every time they accept a donation in return for some petition, they are accepting a gross negation of their faith: a faith that depends on the passive acceptance of the devout and not on their making demands for betterment. Eventually, and after a bitter and schismatic quarrel, practices like the notorious “sale of indulgences” were abandoned. But many a fine basilica or chantry would not be standing today if this awful violation had not turned such a spectacularly good profit. And today it is easy enough to see, at the revival meetings of Protestant fundamentalists, the counting of the checks and bills before the laying on of hands by the preacher has even been completed. Again, the spectacle is a shameless one.
Christopher Hitchens (Mortality)
What, in fact, do we know about the peak experience? Well, to begin with, we know one thing that puts us several steps ahead of the most penetrating thinkers of the 19th century: that P.E’.s are not a matter of pure good luck or grace. They don’t come and go as they please, leaving ‘this dim, vast vale of tears vacant and desolate’. Like rainbows, peak experiences are governed by definite laws. They are ‘intentional’. And that statement suddenly gains in significance when we remember Thorndike’s discovery that the effect of positive stimuli is far more powerful and far reaching than that of negative stimuli. His first statement of the law of effect was simply that situations that elicit positive reactions tend to produce continuance of positive reactions, while situations that elicit negative or avoidance reactions tend to produce continuance of these. It was later that he came to realise that positive reactions build-up stronger response patterns than negative ones. In other words, positive responses are more intentional than negative ones. Which is another way of saying that if you want a positive reaction (or a peak experience), your best chance of obtaining it is by putting yourself into an active, purposive frame of mind. The opposite of the peak experience—sudden depression, fatigue, even the ‘panic fear’ that swept William James to the edge of insanity—is the outcome of passivity. This cannot be overemphasised. Depression—or neurosis—need not have a positive cause (childhood traumas, etc.). It is the natural outcome of negative passivity. The peak experience is the outcome of an intentional attitude. ‘Feedback’ from my activities depends upon the degree of deliberately calculated purpose I put into them, not upon some occult law connected with the activity itself. . . . A healthy, perfectly adjusted human being would slide smoothly into gear, perform whatever has to be done with perfect economy of energy, then recover lost energy in a state of serene relaxation. Most human beings are not healthy or well adjusted. Their activity is full of strain and nervous tension, and their relaxation hovers on the edge of anxiety. They fail to put enough effort—enough seriousness—into their activity, and they fail to withdraw enough effort from their relaxation. Moods of serenity descend upon them—if at all—by chance; perhaps after some crisis, or in peaceful surroundings with pleasant associations. Their main trouble is that they have no idea of what can be achieved by a certain kind of mental effort. And this is perhaps the place to point out that although mystical contemplation is as old as religion, it is only in the past two centuries that it has played a major role in European culture. It was the group of writers we call the romantics who discovered that a man contemplating a waterfall or a mountain peak can suddenly feel ‘godlike’, as if the soul had expanded. The world is seen from a ‘bird’s eye view’ instead of a worm’s eye view: there is a sense of power, detachment, serenity. The romantics—Blake, Wordsworth, Byron, Goethe, Schiller—were the first to raise the question of whether there are ‘higher ceilings of human nature’. But, lacking the concepts for analysing the problem, they left it unsolved. And the romantics in general accepted that the ‘godlike moments’ cannot be sustained, and certainly cannot be re-created at will. This produced the climate of despair that has continued down to our own time. (The major writers of the 20th century—Proust, Eliot, Joyce, Musil—are direct descendants of the romantics, as Edmund Wilson pointed out in Axel’s Castle.) Thus it can be seen that Maslow’s importance extends far beyond the field of psychology. William James had asserted that ‘mystical’ experiences are not mystical at all, but are a perfectly normal potential of human consciousness; but there is no mention of such experiences in Principles of Psychology (or only in passing).
Colin Wilson (New Pathways in Psychology: Maslow & the Post-Freudian Revolution)