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Philosophy Quotes

  1. Jun 2, 2003 #1
    Donald Davidson

    There is no such thing as a language, not if a language is anything like what many philosophers and linguists have supposed. There is therefore no such thing to be learned, mastered, or born with. We must give up the idea of a clearly defined shared structure which language-users acquire and then apply to cases.

    Ludwig Wittgenstein

    Philosophy, as we use the word, is a fight against the fascination which forms of expression exert upon us.

    Don't try to **** higher than your arse

    Friedrich Nietzsche

    God is dead: but considering the state the species Man is in, there will perhaps be caves, for ages yet, in which his shadow will be shown.

    Do you really believe that the sciences would ever have originated and grown if the way had not been prepared by magicians, alchemists, astrologers and witches whose promises and pretensions first had to create a thirst, a hunger, a taste for hidden and forbidden powers? Indeed, infinitely more had to be promised than could ever be fulfilled in order that anything at all might be fulfilled in the realms of knowledge.

    Michel Foucault

    There is a sort of myth of History that philosophers have.... History for philosophers is some sort of great, vast continuity in which the freedom of individuals and economic or social determinations come and get entangled. When someone lays a finger on one of those great themes—continuity, the effective exercise of human liberty, how individual liberty is articulated with social determinations—when someone touches one of these three myths, these good people start crying out that History is being raped or murdered.

    Sexuality is a part of our behavior. It’s part of our world freedom. Sexuality is something that we ourselves create. It is our own creation, and much more than the discovery of a secret side of our desire. We have to understand that with our desires go new forms of relationships, new forms of love, new forms of creation. Sex is not a fatality; it’s a possibility for creative life. It’s not enough to affirm that we are gay but we must also create a gay life.

    As the archeology of our thought easily shows, man is an invention of recent date. And one perhaps nearing its end.

    Richard Rorty

    I think of the course of human history as a long, swelling, increasingly polyphonic poem--a poem that leads up to nothing save itself. When the species is extinct, "human nature's total message" will not be a set of propositions, but a set of vocabularies--the more, and the more various, the better.

    Just as the child outgrows the need for parental care and the need to believe in parental omnipotence and benevolence, so may we in time outgrow the need to believe in divinities that concern themselves with our happiness and in the possibility of allying ourselves with a nonhuman power called the Intrinsic Nature of Reality.

    The world does not speak. Only we do. The world can, once we have programmed ourselves with a language, cause us to hold beliefs. But it cannot propose a language for us to speak. Only other human beings can do that.

    In my Utopia, human solidarity would be seen not as a fact to be recognized by clearing away 'prejudices' or burrowing down to previously hidden depths but, rather, as a goal to be achieved. It is to be achieved not by inquiry but by imagination, the imaginative ability to see unfamiliar people as fellow sufferers. Solidarity is not discovered by reflection but created. It is created by increasing our sensitivity to the particular details of the pain and humiliation of other, unfamiliar groups of people.

    This process of coming to see other human beings as 'one of us' rather than as 'them' is a matter of detailed description of what unfamiliar people are like and of redescription of what we ourselves are like. This is a task not for theory but for genres such as ethnography, the journalist's report, the comic book, the documentary drama and, especially, the novel.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 5, 2003 #2
    Preamble: Some of these quotes aren't specifically by those who're usually called Philosophers. Some of the quotes belong to individuals who may seem naive to many. Yet I found all of them interesting and related enough to post after RageSk8's worthy quotes.


    Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche - The Antichrist:

    What is good?--Whatever augments the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself, in man.
    What is evil?--Whatever springs from weakness.
    What is happiness?--The feeling that power increases--that resistance is overcome.
    Not contentment, but more power; not peace at any price, but war; not virtue, but efficiency (virtue in the Renaissance sense, virtu, virtue free of moral acid).
    The weak and the botched shall perish: first principle of our charity. And one should help them to it.
    What is more harmful than any vice?--Practical sympathy for the botched and the weak--Christianity...


    Lao-tzu - Tao-te Ching:

    The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and unchanging Tao. The name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name.


    William Somerset Maugham - Of Human Bondage:

    [Philip speculating:] Thinking of Cronshaw, Philip remembered the Persian rug which he had given him, telling him that it offered an answer to his question upon the meaning of life; and suddenly the answer occurred to him: he chuckled: now that he had it, it was like one of the puzzles which you worry over till you are shown the solution and then cannot imagine how it could ever have escaped you. The answer was obvious. Life had no meaning... Philip remembered the story of the Eastern King who, desiring to know the history of man, was brought by a sage five hundred volumes; busy with affairs of state, he bade him go and condense it; in twenty years the sage returned and his history now was in no more than fifty volumes, but the King, too old then to read so many ponderous tomes, bade him go and shorten it once more; twenty years passed again and the sage, old and gray, brought a single book in which was the knowledge the King had sought; but the King lay on his death-bed, and he had no time to read even that; and then the sage gave him the history of man in a single line; it was this: he was born, he suffered, and he died. There was no meaning in life, and man by living served no end. It was immaterial whether he was born or not born, whether he lived or ceased to live. Life was insignificant and death without consequence. Philip exulted, as he had exulted in his boyhood when the weight of a belief in God was lifted from his shoulders: it seemed to him that the last burden of responsibility was taken from him; and for the first time he was utterly free. His insignificance was turned to power, and he felt himself suddenly equal with the cruel fate which had seemed to persecute him; for, if life was meaningless, the world was robbed of its cruelty. What he did or left undone did not matter. Failure was unimportant and success amounted to nothing. He was the most inconsiderate creature in that swarming mass of mankind which for a brief space occupied the surface of the earth; and he was almighty because he had wrenched from chaos the secret of its nothingness. Thoughts came tumbling over one another in Philip's eager fancy, and he took long breaths of joyous satisfaction. He felt inclined to leap and sing. He had not been so happy for months.

    "Oh, life," he cried in his heart, "Oh life, where is thy sting?"


    Richard Bach:

    Everything in this book may be wrong.


    Stanislaw Lem - Solaris:

    [Kris Kelvin, at the Old Mimoid:] I knew nothing, and I persisted in the faith that the time of cruel miracles was not past.

    Stanislaw Lem - Automathew's Friend (Short Story):

    [Alfred, the ElectroFriend:] As you are aware, though in general one gives no thought to it, the world is a place of infinite variety and richness. In it you have magnificent cities, filled with mingled voices and fabled treasures, you have royal palaces, hovels, mountains enchanting and drear, murmuring groves, tranquil lakes, torrid deserts and the endless snows of the North. Being what you are, however, you cannot experience at a time more than one single, solitary place among those I have mentioned and the millions I have not. It can therefore be said--without exaggeration--that for the places in which you are not present you represent, as it were, one who is dead, for you are not enjoying the pleasures of palace wealth, nor taking part in the dances of the countries of the South, neither are you feasting your eyes upon the rainbow ices of the North. They do not exist for you, in exactly the same way that they do not exist in death. By the same token, if you use your mind and ponder well what I am telling you, you will realize that in not being everywhere, that is, in all those fascinating places, you are nearly nowhere at all. For there are, as I said, millions upon millions of places to be, while you are able to experience this one place only, an uninteresting place, unpleasant even, in its monotony, bah--repulsive, this little island here of rocks. Now between 'everywhere' and 'nearly nowhere' the difference is enormous and it constitutes your normal lot in life, for you always have been in only one, single, solitary place at a given time. On the other hand between 'nearly nowhere' and 'nowhere' the difference is, quite honestly, microscopic. And so the mathematics of sensations proves that even now you can barely be considered alive, for your absence is everywhere, like one departed!


    Arthur C. Clarke - 2001: A Space Odyssey:

    Now they were lords of the galaxy, and beyond the reach of time. They could rove at will among the stars, and sink like a subtle mist through the very interstices of space. But despite their godlike powers, they had not wholly forgotten their origin, in the warm slime of a vanished sea.

    [David Bowman, falling through the StarGate:] "The thing's hollow - it goes on forever - and - oh my God! - it's full of stars!"

    ... Then he waited, marshaling his thoughts and brooding over his still untested powers. For though he was master of the world, he was not quite sure what to do next. But he would think of something.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2003
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