There is a book which says a fair bit about me — I went a bit ‘Radio Rentals’ (you know what I mean, a stint of, or a stretch at, ‘doolally’) and frenetically purchased the whole series. Of the set, there was this particular one that, for a bit, I totally cherished — it became my bible & my constant companion, my succour & my sanctum sanatorium (sic.[k]) — but after a time and in a cathartic act of getting-the-fuck-over-him, I dispensed with it (alongside its fellow brethren to the large green municipality garbage (no: ‘rubbish’; no“GARBAGE”) skip (bin or tin) beside the house in which I’m obligated to reside in). However, it found its way back to me and I, once more (“for better or for worse”), took it in again. You see, he’d ‘magically’ found high resolution electronic versions of it and all the other titles and sent them to me, as is his way, with artfully articulated apologies and long letters of regret and remorse for, amongst many other things, his self-destructive ways in which I all too often bare the brunt. He too, by the way, is a flipping expert in throwing everything away and beginning anew — he takes so-called “cleansing baths,” the idea being that baptism-like, he’ll rise from the waters shorn of sin and shed of snake oil (he being phoenix-like; the ashes, the lives of those he messes around with). But the things he throws out (with the bath water, so to speak) soon get reintroduced: for escape, he says — and I concur — is a fallacy because, one cannot escape one’s self (he and I both give short shrift to things like near death experiences being anything other than wholly imagined phenomena).
This is the book: As I seek context for its cover quotes, by way of organic light-emitting diodes, it stares luridly back at me, unblinkingly and unrelentingly. It, in my sore eyes, acts as a testament to the truism that knowledge rarely begets bliss. n.b., I’ll be heading out into the dunes real soon.
❝ Mind has no gender. ❞
— Mary Wollstonecraft An English writer and philosopher (1759–1797) who, inter alia, advocated for gender neutrality in all domains of society. “She” alas (not a lass) is almost unique in this anthology. Yet, maybe this whole endeavour is both infantile and futile; and thus a forte of man. But no! The millennia old quest to definitively discover, determine and frame consciousness is too important to be left to mankind alone. That we evidently aren’t represented in this field doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t seek and strive to become so: per ardua ad astra & all a dat.
❝ I think therefore I am. ❞
— René Descartes A French thinker (1596–1650) who is considered one of the instigators of modern (Western) philosophy (and a key member of La Ville Lumière), his most noted line: “Cogito, ergo sum,” penned in Latin, is quoted above. I can confirm to you here and now that I am very much alive and mulling over my abject melancholy tonight. Whether or, whether not, you too are thinking thoughts now in the dead of night, one can only speculate.
❝ We only think when we are confronted with problems. ❞
— John Dewey An American philosopher and psychologist (1859–1952) who believed profoundly in democracy, be it in e.g., politics, education or media communication; he once said that is was synonymous with the “ultimate, ethical ideal of humanity.”
❝ Humans are born free, yet everywhere they are in chains. ❞
— Jean-Jacques Rousseau A French/Swiss philosopher (1712–1778) who had great influence on the progress of the Enlightenment throughout Europe by way of e.g., his works: “Discourse on Inequality” and “The Social Contract” — cornerstones still of contemporary political and socioeconomic thinking (Rousseau was a member of La Ville Lumière). I am chained to memories of u; i am chained too by patriarchy and an increasingly bellicose and jingoistic society.
❝ Imaginations decide everything. ❞
— Blaise Pascal A French mathematician, physicist, inventor and philosopher (1623–1662). Pascal made important contributions to the study of fluids, concepts of pressure and vacuum as well as writing in support of the scientific method.
❝ To be is to be perceived. ❞
— George Berkeley An Irish philosopher (&c.) (1685–1753) who put forth a a theory which he called “immaterialism” which denies the existence of material substance, instead contending that things like books and pens are only ideas in our minds and exist only because we perceived them to be.
❝ The universe has not always existed. ❞
— Thomas Aquinas An Italian philosopher (1225–1274) who is considered to be the most famous of all medieval Christian philosophers. English philosopher Anthony Kenny contends that Aquinas is amongst the dozen “greatest philosophers of the western world.”
❝ Humans are animals that make bargains. ❞
— Adam Smith A Scottish philosopher and pioneer of political economy (1723–1790). known by some as “The Father of Economics” he is perhaps most famous for his work, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), and the concept of ‘the invisible hand.’
❝ Humans are machines. ❞
— Thomas Hobbes An English philosopher (1588–1679) who’s considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy in large part because of his 1651 book Leviathan. This work was seminal in terms of setting out social contract theory.
❝ Humans are the measure if all things. ❞
— Protagoras An Ancient Greek philosopher (c. 490–420 BCE) who is said also to have said, “many things prevent knowledge, including the obscurity of the subject and the brevity of human life.”
❝ Happy is the one who has overcome their ego. ❞
— Siddhartha Gautama An Indian philosopher (c. 563–483 BCE) who was later lionised as the Buddha, he’s said to have said the following string of words: The mind is everything. What you think, you become.
❝ The human is an invention of a recent date. ❞
— Michel Foucault A French social theorist and philosopher (1926-1984) Foucault saw himself as a critic of modernity (see: la-ville-lumiere). Interestingly he was convinced that the study of philosophy must begin through a close and ongoing study of history.
❝ The ends justifies the means. ❞
— Niccolò Machiavelli An Italian thinker (1469–1527) who famously submitted the following: while it would be best to be both loved and feared, the two rarely coincide, and thus, greater security is found in the latter.
❝ There is nothing outside of the text. ❞
— Jacques Derrida A French philosopher (1930–2004), who is considered by some to be rather controversial in relation to his concept of “deconstruction” — a complex and nuanced approach to how we read and understand the nature of written texts. In an egalitarian kind of way he believed that we are all, “mediators and translators.” He said too that he never gave in to, “the temptation to be difficult just for the sake of being difficult.”
❝ Act as if what you do makes a difference. ❞
— William James An American philosopher and psychologist (1842–1910) who is said now to be the “Father of American psychology.” In a seminal work for the field of psychology — Pragmatism (1907, p. 45) — he wrote, “there can be no difference that doesn’t make a difference.”
❝ Life will be lived all the better if it has no meaning. ❞
— Albert Camus A French philosopher (1913–1960) who said, “fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” Even more interestingly, in my humble view, he argued that (hu)man(kind) is the only creature who refuses to be what they are. I dunno m8 but i fink he means we are but animals (dressed in garments) but we seek to act and pretend we are more higher than our baser instincts and our animistic (sum times cannibalistic) tendencies.
❝ Over one’s own body and mind, the individual is sovereign. ❞
— John Stuart Mill An English philosopher (1806–1873) who said the following: “Under whatever conditions, and within whatever limits, men are admitted to the suffrage, there is not a shadow of justification for not admitting women under the same.” He’s pretty bloody amazing actually. Not only was he for equality between the genders but he was also an advocate of free speech and the limiting of the powers of authority over the citizenry. . .
❝ The life which is unexamined is not worth living. ❞
— Socrates An Ancient Greek philosopher (469–399 BCE) who is considered to be one of the founders of Western philosophy. Interestingly so because he himself wrote nothing. What he did do, however, was persistently ask challenging questions.
❝ Humans are something to be surpassed. ❞
— Friedrich Nietzsche A German philosopher (1844–1900), who amongst other things, believed that so-called religious morality, with its emphasis on kindness, meekness, subservience to a greater good, and a focus on the afterlife rather than the present condition, did not reflect how the world actually works.
❝ The soul is distinct from the body. ❞
— Plato An Ancient Greek philosopher (c.428 – c.348 BCE) and was one of Socrates’ muses. In terms of, “the soul is distinct from the body”. . . I ask: is it though? I mean, like I said about them near death-experiences, you kind of know what to imagine, floating up off of the bed, your life flashing by condensed to a dozen at most vivid events splatters in stark relief. I mean who’s managed to can a soul? Who has actually continued bereft of their blinking body?
❝ Reason lives in language. ❞
— Emmanuel Levinas A French philosopher (1906–1995) known for his inquiries into existentialism, ethics and ontology.
❝ Truth resides in the world around us. ❞
— Aristotle An Ancient Greek philosopher (384–322 BCE) who said too: “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence. We should know tat it is from Aristotle’s writings and teachings that the West inherited its intellectual lexicon, as well as the key problems to ponder and moreover, methods of inquiry. As the polymath did make clear: “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.”
❝ Knowledge is power. ❞
— Francis Bacon An English philosopher (1561–1626) whose work is credited with developing the scientific method hence sometimes being called “the father of empiricism.” For me it is the following words of his that I feel most affinity too: “In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.”
❝ Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. ❞
— Voltaire A French Enlightenment era philosopher (1694–1778) famous for his wit as well as his criticism of religion and his advocacy of freedom of speech. He was a founding member of La Ville Lumière. Tellingly he was fond of saying the following: Those who can make you believe absurdities (e.g., the supernatural) can make you commit atrocities (e.g., coercive indoctrination). This was especially the case, I’ve somewhere read, as an encore to peach soufflé.
“Aptenodytes Antarctica” illustration from ‘Cimelia Physica. Figures of rare and curious quadrupeds, birds…’ published 1796 (hand coloured engraving) by Miller, John Frederick (1759-96); Private Collection; The Stapleton Collection; English, out of copyright.
Now that’s a question to ponder…
❝ The fundamental cause of trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt. ❞
— Bertrand Russell