Contra anthropocentrism IV
In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed”? Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want...
Contra anthropocentrism III
We should be less vulnerable, for we should not have lived as if we were the center of the universe, as if everything, even God, revolved around us. The Incarnation is the most dangerous flattery of which we have been the object. It will have granted us an excessive status, out of all proportion with what we are. E.M. Cioran, The New Gods
Contra anthropocentrism II
It appears to me that man is altogether too much insisted on. The poet says the proper study of mankind is man. I say, study to forget all that; take wider views of the universe… I do not value any view of the universe into which man and the institutions of man enter very largely and absorb much of the attention. Man is but the place where I stand, and the prospect hence is infinite. ...
Contra anthropocentrism I
[N]one of the phenomena which harm or help us are planned personally for us. For it is not because of us that the universe brings back winter and summer; these have their own laws, by which the divine plan operates. We have too high a regard for ourselves if we deem ourselves worthy to be the cause of such mighty movements. Seneca, De Ira, Book II
A good judge condemns wrongful deeds, but he does not hate them. Seneca, De Ira, Book I
Neither, therefore, shall we injure a man because he has done wrong, but in order to keep him from doing wrong, and his punishment shall never look to the past, but always to the future; for that course is not anger, but precaution. Seneca, De Ira, Book II
Stand for equality, not resentment
We believe that all men are created equal. Yet many are denied equal treatment. We believe that all men have certain unalienable rights. Yet many Americans do not enjoy those rights. We believe that all men are entitled to the blessings of liberty. Yet millions are being deprived of those blessings—not because of their own failures, but because of the color of their skin. The reasons are deeply...
A good day: adaptability in action
‘Fortune has no jurisdiction over character.’ Seneca, Epistulae, XXXVI Sometime earlier last year, I had intended to take a brief trip at night to pick up a few needed groceries, but before pulling out of the lot, I sensed something was wrong with my truck. I stepped out to investigate, and as I had suspected, I had a completely flat tire. I was surprised at my own response to...
Adaptability V: Rainer Maria Rilke
Each experience has its own velocity according to which it wants to be lived if it is to be new, profound, and fruitful. To have wisdom means to discover this velocity in each individual case. Rainer Maria Rilke, letter to Carl Mönckeberg, dated 18 January 1902
Adaptability IV: Seneca
Just as the same chain fastens the prisoner and the soldier who guards him, so hope and fear, dissimilar as they are, keep step together; fear follows hope. I am not surprised that they proceed in this way; each alike belongs to a mind that is in suspense, a mind that is fretted by looking forward to the future. But the chief cause of both these ills is that we do not adapt ourselves to the...
Adaptability III: Laozi
knowing how to endure is wisdom not knowing is to suffer in vain knowing how to endure is to yield to yield is to be impartial to be impartial is to be the ruler the ruler is Heaven Heaven is the Way and the Way is long life a life without trouble From chapter 16, Dao De Jing (translated by Red Pine)
Adaptability II: Charles Darwin
It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Charles Darwin
Adaptability I: Marcus Aurelius
You must plan your life, one action at a time, and be content if each acquires its own end as best it can; and that it should acquire its end, no one at all can prevent you. ‘But some external obstacle will be in the way.’ None to prevent action with justice, temperance and due reflection. ‘But possibly some other activity will be hindered.’ Still, by meeting the...
Language and the Overton window
The basic idea behind democracy in America is the idea that citizens care about each other; that they act socially as well as individually to cash out that care, and they try to do as well as they can in doing that both for themselves and for others. They do this by having the government create what we call “the public.” The public provision of things; things for everybody – roads, bridges,...
Authentic liberty assumes responsibility, and the liberty of the anti-Semite teabagger comes from the fact that he escapes all of this. Floating between an authoritarian society which has not yet come into existence and an official and tolerant society which he disavows, he can do anything he pleases without appearing to be an anarchist, which would horrify him. Jean-Paul Sartre, Anti-Semite...
The cultivation of resentment
The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. John Kenneth Galbraith
[W]hen every voice is raised for a new road or another statue, or a subscription of stock, for an improvement in dress, or in dentistry, for a new house or a larger business, for a political party, or the division of an estate,—will you not tolerate one or two solitary voices in the land, speaking for thoughts and principles not marketable or perishable? Ralph Waldo Emerson