Category Archives: My Favorite Reads

Humanly Desires


Everyone are not immune to a certain level of love, attachment, desire or passion which attracts problems and calamities in their lives which leaves behind some level of either achievement, satisfaction, pride, happiness and their opposites of regret, disappointment, shame or sorrow.

The first type of men likes good offices; while the smallest injury provokes their tempers. These same people love compliments and distinctions but are contemptuous..These people enjoy extreme happiness and also experiences the worst bitterness. There is no balance in how they feel or think. He is entirely a master of his own disposition. Fate, good or bad is not at our own disposal. Good or ill fortune is very little at our disposal; But when a master of his or her own disposition is met with bad fate, his resentment and pain takes entirely of him. These same people are rarely satisfied or pleased. They are mostly hypocrites, secretive and deceptive. They make big mistakes.

The second type of men are those of whose attachment is to beauty or the opposite of deformity. His or her felling depends mostly on what people think and perceive he or she is.. This same type of men likes conversations and are entertained by worldly pleasures and material accomplishments. They lament mostly on how they look and what they have which are for most of them hardly satisfied for. remedied, if possible. They love having companies of men or women and are mostly out in groups when socializing. They are dreamy and thinks only of external beauty and material wealth as a form of perfection. It is self, appetite, object that pleases his or her taste and any expensive luxury which can be afforded.

In both types, their desires and relishes are somewhat incurable and both types are intolerable critics. They intend to be pleased and never to please.

The third of which is a person who confines hi or herself in favor of love and friendship, has a few people around and choosing only the qualities of the greater men. He or she seldom speak and endowed with much knowledge and love of writing and reading. These has the more elaborate and complex tastes and is satisfied by all things sensible. These kind of people offers or takes only the most solid of friendships. They have the most elegant of passions and desires.

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For Quoting Great Authors and Their Pieces or Sharing Them


If i promote these authors and priceless texts, writings and pieces in my blog, it further enhances the popularity of those impacted / or authors quoted herein.

Again, in this era almost everybody passes on copies of what they own and if i have purchased the copy, i am then reserved the right to read and share it as i want.  Why would anyone pay for some thing which many others; hundreds if not thousands own electronically either legally or purchased? Under what grounds should it be regarded as legal or illegal when the origin could have been acquired legally?

When and if one publication has already been published there is no control as to how many of these copies are circulated for anyone could easy duplicate them. Royalty paid to the author is also a once off basis and repeated only when recirculation and a revised edition is made..

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Philosophy vs Religion / Fate


I am back…

I was reading a comment which has made a somewhat nasty debative remark where the person said i have merged both Fate / Religion and Philosophy and challenges me by saying i wasnt a thinker..

We are all entitled to whatever thoughts that comes in mind and i am not in violation of any individual principle or ideology to begin with.

I would think and believe that Philosophy is the root of all fates and beliefs. Hence, spare me that lecture as we now live in the 2000s where everyone are free to share and express their thoughts and beliefs without the intention of convincing, converting or attracting anyone to embrace the same thoughts, beliefs or ideologies / principles.

I am free to express myself as you and anyone else would or should or must. You like it, read it. You dont, leave the page.

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Spirit and Matter


Spirit and Matter

The general consensus of mankind is right in trusting the evidence of our senses, and any system which tells us that we are not to do so will never obtain a permanent footing in a sane and healthy community. There is nothing wrong in the evidence conveyed to a healthy mind by the senses of a healthy body, but the point where error creeps in is when we come to judge of the meaning of this testimony. We are accustomed to judge only by external appearances and by certain limited significances which we attach to words; but when we begin to inquire into the real meaning of our words and to analyze the causes which give rise to the appearances, we find our old notions gradually falling off from us, until at last we wake up to the fact that we are living in an entirely different world to that we formerly recognized. The old limited mode of thought has imperceptibly slipped away, and we discover that we have stepped out into a new order of things where all is liberty and life. This is the work of an enlightened intelligence resulting from persistent determination to discover what truth really is irrespective of any preconceived notions from whatever source derived, the determination to think honestly for ourselves instead of endeavoring to get our thinking done for us.

At first we may be disposed to say that living consists the power of motion and death in its absence; but a little inquiry into the most recent researches of science will soon show us that this distinction does not go deep enough. It is now one of the fully- established facts of physical science that no atom of what we call “dead matter” is without motion. On the table before me lies a solid lump of steel, but in the light of up-to-date science I know that the atoms of that seemingly inert mass are vibrating with the most intense energy, continually dashing hither and thither, impinging upon and rebounding from one another, or circling round like miniature solar systems, with a ceaseless rapidity whose complex activity is enough to bewilder the imagination. The mass, as a mass, may lie inert upon the table; but so far from being destitute of the element of motion it is the abode of the never-tiring energy moving the particles with a swiftness to which the speed of an express train is as nothing. It is, therefore, not the mere fact of motion that is at the root of the distinction which we draw instinctively between spirit and matter; we must go deeper than that. The solution of the problem will never be found by comparing Life with what we call death and the reason for this will become apparent later on; but the true key is to be found by comparing one degree of life with another. There is, of course, one sense in which the quality of living does not admit of degrees; but there is another sense in which it is entirely a question of degree. We have no doubt as to the life of a plant, but we realize that it is something very different from the life of an animal. Again, what average boy would not prefer a dog to a fish for a pet? Or, again, why is it that the boy himself is an advance upon the dog? The plant, the fish, the dog, and the boy are all equally alive; but there is a difference in the quality of their lives about which no one can have any doubt, and no one would hesitate to say that this difference is in the degree of intelligence. In whatever way we turn the subject we shall always find that what we call the “life” of any individual life is ultimately measured by its intelligence. It is the possession of greater intelligence that places the animal higher in the scale of being than the plant, the man higher than the animal, the intellectual man higher than the savage. The increased intelligence calls into activity modes of motion of a higher order corresponding to itself. The higher the intelligence, the more completely the mode of motion is under its control: and as we descend in the scale of intelligence, the descent is marked by a corresponding increase in automatic motion not subject to the control of a self- conscious intelligence. This descent is gradual from the expanded self-recognition of the highest human personality to that lowest order of visible forms which we speak of as “things,” and from which self-recognition is entirely absent.

We see, then, that the living of Life consists in intelligence -in other words, in the power of Thought; and we may therefore say that the distinctive quality of spirit is Thought, and, as the opposite to this, we may say that the distinctive quality of matter is Form. We cannot conceive of matter without form. Some form there must be, even though invisible to the physical eye; for matter, to be matter at all, must occupy space, and to occupy any particular space necessarily implies a corresponding form. For these reasons we may lay it down as a fundamental proposition that the distinctive quality of spirit is Thought and the distinctive quality of matter is Form.

Form implies extension in space and also limitation within certain boundaries. Thought implies neither. When, therefore, we think of Life as existing in any particular form we associate it with the idea of extension in space, so that an elephant may be said to consist of a vastly larger amount of living substance than a mouse. But if we think of Life as the fact of living we do not associate it with any idea of extension, and we at once realize that the mouse is quite as much alive as the elephant, notwithstanding the difference in size. The important point of this distinction is that if we can conceive of anything as entirely devoid of the element of extension in space, it must be present in its entire totality anywhere and everywhere -that is to say, at every point of space simultaneously. The scientific definition of time is that it is the period occupied by a body in passing from one given point in space to another, and, therefore, according to this definition, when there is no space there can be no time; and hence that conception of spirit which realizes it as devoid of the element of space must realize it as being devoid of the element of time also; and we therefore find that the conception of spirit as pure Thought, and not as concrete Form, is the conception of it as subsistence perfectly independently of the elements of time and space. From this it follows that if the idea of anything is conceived as existing on this level it can only represent that thing as being actually present here and now. In this view of things nothing can be remote from us either in time or space: either the idea is entirely dissipated or it exists as an actual present entity, and not as something that shall be in the future, for where there is no sequence in time there can be no future. Similarly where there is no space there can be no conception of anything as being at a distance from us. When the elements of time and space are eliminated all our ideas of things must necessarily be as subsisting in a universal here and an everlasting now. This is, no doubt, a highly abstract conception, but I would ask the student to endeavour to grasp it thoroughly, since it is of vital importance in the practical application of Mental Science, as will appear further on.

The opposite conception is that of things expressing themselves through conditions of time and space and thus establishing a variety of relations to other things, as of bulk, distance, and direction, or of sequence in time. These two conceptions are respectively the conception of the abstract and the concrete, of the unconditional and the conditional, of the absolute and the relative. They are not opposed to each other in the sense of incompatibility, but are each the complement of the other, and the only reality is in the combination of the two. The error of the extreme idealist is in endeavoring to realize the absolute without the relative, and the error of the extreme materialism is in endeavoring to realize the relative without the absolute. On the one side the mistake is in trying to realize an inside without an outside, and on the other in trying to realize an outside without an inside; both are necessary to the formation of a substantial entity.

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The Peasant’s Philosophy By Thomas Stanton


The Peasant’s Philosophy By Thomas Stanton

Beer

1.1 To be alive first one must open a beer, a favorite beer and disregard all commitment and responsibility. If you want to live you must look at the Elite and then look at your life, what is preferable? The Elite have money, yes, but with it comes massive responsibility: You have beer. What is preferable?

1.2 Life is as Beer through the body – first it is pleasurable then it becomes confusing later on it becomes painful but the next day you are ready to take a ‘crack at it’ once more. – Live your life as you enjoy your beer and all shall be well.

1.3 If you must clean the house do not be vexed by it, by yourself it is a chore but with a low alcoholic pal it is but a joy.

1.4 On all occasions when you bring your wife to the store – take advantage of the time you are spending together, buy two cases of 24, she has arms too.

1.5 Share your beer, you look much, much better to others.

1.6 Everything you say will make sense as long as everyone is as drunk as you are – be a friend, keep your pals well sauced.

Misc

2.1 If you come upon a stop sign, obey it – not because it is law or that it is red but because your foot too also needs a rest.

2.2 If you speed and an officer of the peace gives you a ticket for your transgressions be polite, hide your bird. If the officer of the “peace” spots the bird extend to him the index finger as well.

2.3 When you are angry stop for a moment and ponder why you feel so. If you find it to be caused by something you did try to dampen your feelings by outside substances, fat sugary foods help in this regard. If however you find that the anger was caused by another – do not confront him, use instead his wife – his life will become hell shortly after you tell her the tales of him being in the bar with another woman.

2.4 When you are in a shop make sure that you have pants with buttoned pockets, everytime you lift the button remind yourself that your wallet is slowly becoming as anorexic as the models who entice you to buy.

2.5 If you must look at adult film and photography remember to keep both hands on the keyboard. If you hands are on the keyboard you are technically “working” and who does not like a dedicated worker?

2.6 Peasants such as ourselves enjoy entertainment, movies and music especially – our betters do not like when we use these things for free – so remember, be a good peasant, shop in the “2 dollar” sales bin.

2.7 On a rainy day you could catch up on your budget but you would probably be better served by figuring out what had your wife so mad the previous week. Make up sex is the best sex.

2.8 If you are not good looking do not fret – you shall surely receive pity sex which is only second to make up sex. If you have pity sex, do not pity yourself because of it.

2.9 You cannot and will never know what you do not know – so even if you do know you can always act as if you did not know and no one can blame you for not knowing what you could not know. 2.10 All things are fair in love, war and credit reports – check yours often, make sure it’s up to date and creates a better impression on the reader than the real you would.

Women

3.1 Women will love you as long as your bank account holds out, seriously.

3.2 Before you look at her faults take a look at your own – she is childish at times, you leave your boxers on the bathroom floor. She breaks out into tears for no reason, you cheer on sports which have nothing to do with your existence. – Be good to each other, and you shall get a 52′ plasma TV in the afterlife.

3.3 If she’s mad do not joke, she will think you are trivializing her feelings. If she is happy, she will hammer you if you are not as well. Now, if she is inbetween moods not happy nor sad – she is ready for sex.

3.4 When you are having sex you visualize her ‘sexiness’, when she is having sex she is visualizing what the child would look like. Be vigilant and cover your boy with the plastic guard.

3.5 Women will rarely sleep with a man whom she has not already decided would make a good potential father. All those with dicks had better listen up!

3.6 Women remain perpetual children until around 40, be patient with her.

3.7 Women will often ask you why you do not have “this” or “that” even if she herself does not have whatever it is she is criticizing you for not having, e.g a car.

3.8 Women are social creatures – very social, so social in fact that she will adopt anything which is new – ANYTHING all those with dicks had better listen up!

3.9 Women will turn their males into children and later punish them for being what she did to them.

3.10 Women already have a pussy – they do not need another one, all those with dicks had better listen up!

Money

4.1 You wish you had as much money as I do.

4.2 Is it not fascinating that those who seek for money never find it? Yet those who work for the better always fall into riches? – Listen up!

4.3 You are rich as long as you spend less than you make, be frugal, except with your alcohol that’s too important to be budgeted.

4.4 All the jewelry that your girlfriend owns is an archive of her previous relationships. Listen up!

4.5 Money could be defined as that which separates the human from the animal.

4.6 Change is coming – I can hear the register.

4.7 Money has come to be the ruler of mankind rather than it’s servant.

4.8 The more money you have in your wallet during a one-night-stand the more likely you will receive a call informing you that you are going to be a ‘daddy’.

4.9 Credit Cards are funny things – You are happy when you get one, paranoid as you spend, depressed as you repay. Listen up!

4.10 God needs your money – send it in now!

Work

5.1 If your boss is on your case daily remember two things: 1. He or She keeps your stomach full 2. He or She is also the prime cause of your indigestion and stomach problems.

5.2 Sometimes it’s best to keep your mouth shut even when you are dealing with a subordinate. There are many others under and above you who talk to them as well, one wrong sentence and you shall find yourself subordinate to the one you hate most.

5.3 If you look at the Secretary’s cleavage for too long you will fail to meet her gaze, if you fail to meet her gaze you will fail to bring in another pay-cheque. Be quick.

5.4 The boss is right; even when he is right.

5.5 Look closely for the brown-nosers, the suck ups and the like – during lunch be very tight lipped about them, and around them.

5.6 I know you think about drinking some form of alcohol during the work day, we all do, but you must have willpower; and plus you will need the stamina when you get home to your wife anyways, she has some new projects she wants to “talk” to you about…

5.7 Never tie the tie to tight, you need your brain: especially at work.

5.8 Always stand up for yourself!… After 5’oclock.

5.9 Never ever ever talk back to your direct superior unless you are certain that you have won the lottery and MAKE SURE that you won.

5.10 You’re there until you die – get used to it, and have a smoke… for obvious reasons and benefits.

Love

6.1 If you can find a woman who loves ‘you’ for ‘you’ don’t be fooled send her off for she will be the one who wants to talk your ear off all night without sex. – Unless that’s what you want to do : “Not like there’s anything wrong with that”…

6.2 When you first meet a woman do not be swayed by her looks until you meet her mother, until that point you are under a delusion of what she will look like in a few years – reality tends to be a bitch. (Probably like her mother.)

6.3 In marriage if at first you don’t succeed… Quit and by yourself an escort every now and then. – No matter how old you are college girls always remain roughly the same age.

6.4 Ask yourself, “What is love?” “How did I fall in it?” and “Where the heck is my wallet???”

6.5 Use coupons and you can say hello to your palm for the evening.

6.6 You can place nothing above your lover, nothing – not even your sleep, health or money. – It’s all ‘ours’ now anyways.

6.7 For the young men who have fallen in love remember your Mother – yup, she’s cute now but in a few years that’s what you’ll be hitting (If you get any at all that is.) : pretty shitty deal huh? Unless you think your mother is hot… in that case you have much, much more problems than this book was intended to address.

6.8 No one can stand between you and your girl, except her lawyer and divorce papers.

6.9 If you cheat on her she gets 80% if she cheats on you she still gets 80% – God bless those brave soldiers fighting for your freedom and access to justice.

6.10 Women do not like this book – printing it out only to be found by her is worse than using coupons. (6.5)

Health

7.1 Bacon is healthy and let no man tell you otherwise.

7.2 When you work out do try to actually “work out” the Gym is not supposed to be

a frat house and socializing for hours on end will never give you that ‘chiseled’ jaw shape that you are looking for so don’t even try it.

7.3 Always be polite to the women at the Gym, she knows she is overweight she does not need to be reminded and before you laugh at her take a look at yourself chubby.

7.4 If you work out long and hard enough you too will be the man, well… You will have muscles anyways.

7.5 The men at the other side of the Gym are not admiring your pecs that are admiring that sweet little ass of yours… Where else do you think Gay men “chill”?

7.6 Contrary to popular belief the Gym is not a good place to meet women – I shall allow you to ponder that one out for yourself.

7.7 Masturbation is not technically considered a ‘testicular cancer’ examination, but you can always pass it as such therefore if you can – grab at the opportunity.

7.8 Remember to take a multi-vitamin it’s great for your health and sex life and your lover will thank you for the added stamina you will get from it in a few weeks time. –

7.9 Treadmills are for sissies – take a mans walk, on the highway. – That’s where the real excitement is.

7.10 Don’t use anything to “bulk up” until you know you will be able to work it off – use them as if they were credit cards. – Debt and a fat ass are equally as appalling.

Children

8.1 It would be best if you did not have children.

8.2 Remember what children actually are – screaming, shitting, whiny little brats.

8.3 It’s 3.AM I’m sleeping while you’re changing shitty foul diapers.

8.4 It’s 6.AM I’m having a coffee, smoke and reading the headlines – you’re changing shitty foul diapers and wiping up vomit.

8.5 Don’t do it if you like living – because once that goo bomb comes out of that crotch your life is over buddy.

(8.5 repeated x 5)

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The Value of Philosophy by Bertrand Russell


The Value of Philosophy by Bertrand Russell

HAVING now come to the end of our brief and very incomplete review of the problems of philosophy, it will be well to consider, in conclusion, what is the value of philosophy and why it ought to be studied. It is the more necessary to consider this question, in view of the fact that many men, under the influence of science or of practical affairs, are inclined to doubt whether philosophy is anything better than innocent but useless trifling, hair−splitting distinctions, and controversies on matters concerning which knowledge is impossible.

This view of philosophy appears to result, partly from a wrong conception of the ends of life, partly from a wrong conception of the kind of goods which philosophy strives to achieve. Physical science, through the medium of inventions, is useful to innumerable people who are wholly ignorant of it; thus the study of physical science is to be recommended, not only, or primarily, because of the effect on the student, but rather because of the effect on mankind in general. Thus utility does not belong to philosophy. If the study of philosophy has any value at all for others than students of philosophy, it must be only indirectly, through its effects upon the lives of those who study it. It is in these effects, therefore, if anywhere, that the value of philosophy must be primarily sought.

But further, if we are not to fail in our endeavour to determine the value of philosophy, we must first free our minds from the prejudices of what are wrongly called ‘practical’ men. The ‘practical’ man, as this word is often used, is one who recognizes only material needs, who realizes that men must have food for the body, but is oblivious of the necessity of providing food for the mind. If all men were well off, if poverty and disease had been reduced to their lowest possible point, there would still remain much to be done to produce a valuable society; and even in the existing world the goods of the mind are at least as important as the goods of the body. It is exclusively among the goods of the mind that the value of philosophy is to be found; and

only those who are not indifferent to these goods can be persuaded that the study of philosophy is not a waste of time.

Philosophy, like all other studies, aims primarily at knowledge. The knowledge it aims at is the kind of knowledge which gives unity and system to the body of the sciences, and the kind which results from a critical examination of the grounds of our convictions, prejudices, and beliefs. But it cannot be maintained that philosophy has had any very great measure of success in its attempts to provide definite answers to its questions. If you ask a mathematician, a mineralogist, a historian, or any other man of learning, what definite body of truths has been ascertained by his science, his answer will last as long as you are willing to listen. But if you put the same question to a philosopher, he will, if he is candid, have to confess that his study has not achieved positive results such as have been achieved by other sciences. It is true that this is partly accounted for by the fact that, as soon as definite knowledge concerning any subject becomes possible, this subject ceases to be called philosophy, and becomes a separate science. The whole study of the heavens, which now belongs to astronomy, was once included in philosophy; Newton’s great work was called ‘the mathematical principles of natural philosophy’. Similarly, the study of the human mind, which was a part of philosophy, has now been separated from philosophy and has become the science of psychology. Thus, to a great extent, the uncertainty of philosophy is more apparent than real: those questions which are already capable of definite answers are placed in the sciences, while those only to which, at present, no definite answer can be given, remain to form the residue which is called philosophy.

This is, however, only a part of the truth concerning the uncertainty of philosophy. There are many questions −− and among them those that are of the profoundest interest to our spiritual life −− which, so far as we can see, must remain insoluble to the human intellect unless its powers become of quite a different order from what they are now. Has the universe any unity of plan or purpose, or is it a fortuitous concourse of atoms? Is consciousness a permanent part of the universe, giving hope of indefinite growth in wisdom, or is it a transitory accident on a small planet on which life must ultimately become impossible? Are good and evil of importance to the universe or only to man? Such questions are asked by philosophy, and variously answered by various philosophers. But it would seem that, whether answers be otherwise discoverable or not, the answers suggested by philosophy are none of them demonstrably true. Yet, however slight may be the hope of discovering an answer, it is part of the business of philosophy to continue the consideration of such questions, to make us aware of their importance, to examine all the approaches to them, and to keep alive that speculative interest in the universe which is apt to be killed by confining ourselves to definitely ascertainable knowledge.

Many philosophers, it is true, have held that philosophy could establish the truth of certain answers to such fundamental questions. They have supposed that what is of most importance in religious beliefs could be proved by strict demonstration to be true. In order to judge of such attempts, it is necessary to take a survey of human knowledge, and to form an opinion as to its methods and its limitations. On such a subject it would be unwise to pronounce dogmatically; but if the investigations of our previous chapters have not led us astray, we shall be compelled to renounce the hope of finding philosophical proofs of religious beliefs. We cannot, therefore, include as part of the value of philosophy any definite set of answers to such questions. Hence, once more, the value of philosophy must not depend upon any supposed body of definitely ascertainable knowledge to be acquired by those who study it.

The value of philosophy is, in fact, to be sought largely in its very uncertainty. The man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the co−operation or consent of his deliberate reason. To such a man the world tends to become definite, finite, obvious; common objects rouse no questions, and unfamiliar possibilities are contemptuously rejected. As soon as we begin to philosophize, on the contrary, we find, as we saw in our opening chapters, that even the most everyday things lead to problems to which only very incomplete answers can be given. Philosophy,

though unable to tell us with certainty what is the true answer to the doubts which it raises, is able to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from the tyranny of custom. Thus, while diminishing our feeling of certainty as to what things are, it greatly increases our knowledge as to what they may be; it removes the somewhat arrogant dogmatism of those who have never travelled into the region of liberating doubt, and it keeps alive our sense of wonder by showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect.

Apart from its utility in showing unsuspected possibilities, philosophy has a value −− perhaps its chief value −− through the greatness of the objects which it contemplates, and the freedom from narrow and personal aims resulting from this contemplation. The life of the instinctive man is shut up within the circle of his private interests: family and friends may be included, but the outer world is not regarded except as it may help or hinder what comes within the circle of instinctive wishes. In such a life there is something feverish and confined, in comparison with which the philosophic life is calm and free. The private world of instinctive interests is a small one, set in the midst of a great and powerful world which must, sooner or later, lay our private world in ruins. Unless we can so enlarge our interests as to include the whole outer world, we remain like a garrison in a beleagured fortress, knowing that the enemy prevents escape and that ultimate surrender is inevitable. In such a life there is no peace, but a constant strife between the insistence of desire and the powerlessness of will. In one way or another, if our life is to be great and free, we must escape this prison and this strife.

One way of escape is by philosophic contemplation. Philosophic contemplation does not, in its widest survey, divide the universe into two hostile camps −− friends and foes, helpful and hostile, good and bad −− it views the whole impartially. Philosophic contemplation, when it is unalloyed, does not aim at proving that the rest of the universe is akin to man. All acquisition of knowledge is an enlargement of the Self, but this enlargement is best attained when it is not directly sought. It is obtained when the desire for knowledge is alone operative, by a study which does not wish in advance that its objects should have this or that character, but adapts the Self to the characters which it finds in its objects. This enlargement of Self is not obtained when, taking the Self as it is, we try to show that the world is so similar to this Self that knowledge of it is possible without any admission of what seems alien. The desire to prove this is a form of self−assertion and, like all self−assertion, it is an obstacle to the growth of Self which it desires, and of which the Self knows that it is capable. Self−assertion, in philosophic speculation as elsewhere, views the world as a means to its own ends; thus it makes the world of less account than Self, and the Self sets bounds to the greatness of its goods. In contemplation, on the contrary, we start from the not−Self, and through its greatness the boundaries of Self are enlarged; through the infinity of the universe the mind which contemplates it achieves some share in infinity.

For this reason greatness of soul is not fostered by those philosophies which assimilate the universe to Man. Knowledge is a form of union of Self and not−Self; like all union, it is impaired by dominion, and therefore by any attempt to force the universe into conformity with what we find in ourselves. There is a widespread philosophical tendency towards the view which tells us that Man is the measure of all things, that truth is man−made, that space and time and the world of universals are properties of the mind, and that, if there be anything not created by the mind, it is unknowable and of no account for us. This view, if our previous discussions were correct, is untrue; but in addition to being untrue, it has the effect of robbing philosophic contemplation of all that gives it value, since it fetters contemplation to Self. What it calls knowledge is not a union with the not−Self, but a set of prejudices, habits, and desires, making an impenetrable veil between us and the world beyond. The man who finds pleasure in such a theory of knowledge is like the man who never leaves the domestic circle for fear his word might not be law.

The true philosophic contemplation, on the contrary, finds its satisfaction in every enlargement of the not−Self, in everything that magnifies the objects contemplated, and thereby the subject contemplating. Everything, in contemplation, that is personal or private, everything that depends upon habit, self−interest, or desire, distorts the object, and hence impairs the union which the intellect seeks. By thus making a barrier

between subject and object, such personal and private things become a prison to the intellect. The free intellect will see as God might see, without a here and now, without hopes and fears, without the trammels of customary beliefs and traditional prejudices, calmly, dispassionately, in the sole and exclusive desire of knowledge −− knowledge as impersonal, as purely contemplative, as it is possible for man to attain. Hence also the free intellect will value more the abstract and universal knowledge into which the accidents of private history do not enter, than the knowledge brought by the senses, and dependent, as such knowledge must be, upon an exclusive and personal point of view and a body whose sense−organs distort as much as they reveal.

The mind which has become accustomed to the freedom and impartiality of philosophic contemplation will preserve something of the same freedom and impartiality in the world of action and emotion. It will view its purposes and desires as parts of the whole, with the absence of insistence that results from seeing them as infinitesimal fragments in a world of which all the rest is unaffected by any one man’s deeds. The impartiality which, in contemplation, is the unalloyed desire for truth, is the very same quality of mind which, in action, is justice, and in emotion is that universal love which can be given to all, and not only to those who are judged useful or admirable. Thus contemplation enlarges not only the objects of our thoughts, but also the objects of our actions and our affections: it makes us citizens of the universe, not only of one walled city at war with all the rest. In this citizenship of the universe consists man’s true freedom, and his liberation from the thraldom of narrow hopes and fears.

Thus, to sum up our discussion of the value of philosophy; Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.

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On Intuitive Knowledge by Bertrand Russell


On Intuitive Knowledge by Bertrand Russell

THERE is a common impression that everything that we believe ought to be capable of proof, or at least of being shown to be highly probable. It is felt by many that a belief for which no reason can be given is an unreasonable belief. In the main, this view is just. Almost all our common beliefs are either inferred, or capable of being inferred, from other beliefs which may be regarded as giving the reason for them. As a rule, the reason has been forgotten, or has even never been consciously present to our minds. Few of us ever ask ourselves, for example, what reason there is to suppose the food we are just going to eat will not turn out to be poison. Yet we feel, when challenged, that a perfectly good reason could be found, even if we are not ready with it at the moment. And in this belief we are usually justified.

But let us imagine some insistent Socrates, who, whatever reason we give him, continues to demand a reason for the reason. We must sooner or later, and probably before very long, be driven to a point where we cannot find any further reason, and where it becomes almost certain that no further reason is even theoretically

discoverable. Starting with the common beliefs of daily life, we can be driven back from point to point, until we come to some general principle, or some instance of a general principle, which seems luminously evident, and is not itself capable of being deduced from anything more evident. In most questions of daily life, such as whether our food is likely to be nourishing and not poisonous, we shall be driven back to the inductive principle, which we discussed in Chapter VI. But beyond that, there seems to be no further regress. The principle itself is constantly used in our reasoning, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously; but there is no reasoning which, starting from some simpler self−evident principle, leads us to the principle of induction as its conclusion. And the same holds for other logical principles. Their truth is evident to us, and we employ them in constructing demonstrations; but they themselves, or at least some of them, are incapable of demonstration.

Self−evidence, however, is not confined to those among general principles which are incapable of proof. When a certain number of logical principles have been admitted, the rest can be deduced from them; but the propositions deduced are often just as self−evident as those that were assumed without proof. All arithmetic, moreover, can be deduced from the general principles of logic, yet the simple propositions of arithmetic, such as ‘two and two are four’, are just as self−evident as the principles of logic.

It would seem, also, though this is more disputable, that there are some self−evident ethical principles, such as ‘we ought to pursue what is good’.

It should be observed that, in all cases of general principles, particular instances, dealing with familiar things, are more evident than the general principle. For example, the law of contradiction states that nothing can both have a certain property and not have it. This is evident as soon as it is understood, but it is not so evident as that a particular rose which we see cannot be both red and not red. (It is of course possible that parts of the rose may be red and parts not red, or that the rose may be of a shade of pink which we hardly know whether to call red or not; but in the former case it is plain that the rose as a whole is not red, while in the latter case the answer is theoretically definite as soon as we have decided on a precise definition of ‘red’.) It is usually through particular instances that we come to be able to see the general principle. Only those who are practised in dealing with abstractions can readily grasp a general principle without the help of instances.

In addition to general principles, the other kind of self−evident truths are those immediately derived from sensation. We will call such truths ‘truths of perception’, and the judgements expressing them we will call ‘judgements of perception’. But here a certain amount of care is required in getting at the precise nature of the truths that are self−evident. The actual sense−data are neither true nor false. A particular patch of colour which I see, for example, simply exists: it is not the sort of thing that is true or false. It is true that there is such a patch, true that it has a certain shape and degree of brightness, true that it is surrounded by certain other colours. But the patch itself, like everything else in the world of sense, is of a radically different kind from the things that are true or false, and therefore cannot properly be said to be true. Thus whatever self−evident truths may be obtained from our senses must be different from the sense−data from which they are obtained.

It would seem that there are two kinds of self−evident truths of perception, though perhaps in the last analysis the two kinds may coalesce. First, there is the kind which simply asserts the existence of the sense−datum, without in any way analysing it. We see a patch of red, and we judge ‘there is such−and−such a patch of red’, or more strictly ‘there is that’; this is one kind of intuitive judgement of perception. The other kind arises when the object of sense is complex, and we subject it to some degree of analysis. If, for instance, we see a round patch of red, we may judge ‘that patch of red is round’. This is again a judgement of perception, but it differs from our previous kind. In our present kind we have a single sense−datum which has both colour and shape: the colour is red and the shape is round. Our judgement analyses the datum into colour and shape, and then recombines them by stating that the red colour is round in shape. Another example of this kind of judgement is ‘this is to the right of that’, where ‘this’ and ‘that’ are seen simultaneously. In this kind of

judgement the sense−datum contains constituents which have some relation to each other, and the judgement asserts that these constituents have this relation.

Another class of intuitive judgements, analogous to those of sense and yet quite distinct from them, are judgements of memory. There is some danger of confusion as to the nature of memory, owing to the fact that memory of an object is apt to be accompanied by an image of the object, and yet the image cannot be what constitutes memory. This is easily seen by merely noticing that the image is in the present, whereas what is remembered is known to be in the past. Moreover, we are certainly able to some extent to compare our image with the object remembered, so that we often know, within somewhat wide limits, how far our image is accurate; but this would be impossible, unless the object, as opposed to the image, were in some way before the mind. Thus the essence of memory is not constituted by the image, but by having immediately before the mind an object which is recognized as past. But for the fact of memory in this sense, we should not know that there ever was a past at all, nor should we be able to understand the word ‘past’, any more than a man born blind can understand the word ‘light’. Thus there must be intuitive judgements of memory, and it is upon them, ultimately, that all our knowledge of the past depends.

The case of memory, however, raises a difficulty, for it is notoriously fallacious, and thus throws doubt on the trustworthiness of intuitive judgements in general. This difficulty is no light one. But let us first narrow its scope as far as possible. Broadly speaking, memory is trustworthy in proportion to the vividness of the experience and to its nearness in time. If the house next door was struck by lightning half a minute ago, my memory of what I saw and heard will be so reliable that it would be preposterous to doubt whether there had been a flash at all. And the same applies to less vivid experiences, so long as they are recent. I am absolutely certain that half a minute ago I was sitting in the same chair in which I am sitting now. Going backward over the day, I find things of which I am quite certain, other things of which I am almost certain, other things of which I can become certain by thought and by calling up attendant circumstances, and some things of which I am by no means certain. I am quite certain that I ate my breakfast this morning, but if I were as indifferent to my breakfast as a philosopher should be, I should be doubtful. As to the conversation at breakfast, I can recall some of it easily, some with an effort, some only with a large element of doubt, and some not at all. Thus there is a continual gradation in the degree of self−evidence of what I remember, and a corresponding gradation in the trustworthiness of my memory.

Thus the first answer to the difficulty of fallacious memory is to say that memory has degrees of self−evidence, and that these correspond to the degrees of its trustworthiness, reaching a limit of perfect self−evidence and perfect trustworthiness in our memory of events which are recent and vivid.

It would seem, however, that there are cases of very firm belief in a memory which is wholly false. It is probable that, in these cases, what is really remembered, in the sense of being immediately before the mind, is something other than what is falsely believed in, though something generally associated with it. George IV is said to have at last believed that he was at the battle of Waterloo, because he had so often said that he was. In this case, what was immediately remembered was his repeated assertion; the belief in what he was asserting (if it existed) would be produced by association with the remembered assertion, and would therefore not be a genuine case of memory. It would seem that cases of fallacious memory can probably all be dealt with in this way, i.e. they can be shown to be not cases of memory in the strict sense at all.

One important point about self−evidence is made clear by the case of memory, and that is, that self−evidence has degrees: it is not a quality which is simply present or absent, but a quality which may be more or less present, in gradations ranging from absolute certainty down to an almost imperceptible faintness. Truths of perception and some of the principles of logic have the very highest degree of self−evidence; truths of immediate memory have an almost equally high degree. The inductive principle has less self−evidence than some of the other principles of logic, such as ‘what follows from a true premiss must be true’. Memories have a diminishing self−evidence as they become remoter and fainter; the truths of logic and mathematics have

(broadly speaking) less self−evidence as they become more complicated. Judgements of intrinsic ethical or aesthetic value are apt to have some self−evidence, but not much.

Degrees of self−evidence are important in the theory of knowledge, since, if propositions may (as seems likely) have some degree of self−evidence without being true, it will not be necessary to abandon all connexion between self−evidence and truth, but merely to say that, where there is a conflict, the more self−evident proposition is to be retained and the less self−evident rejected.

It seems, however, highly probable that two different notions are combined in ‘self−evidence’ as above explained; that one of them, which corresponds to the highest degree of self−evidence, is really an infallible guarantee of truth, while the other, which corresponds to all the other degrees, does not give an infallible guarantee, but only a greater or less presumption. This, however, is only a suggestion, which we cannot as yet develop further. After we have dealt with the nature of truth, we shall return to the subject of self−evidence, in connexion with the distinction between knowledge and error.

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