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Friday, December 2, 2011

Quotes from (and thoughts kinda related to) Schopenhauer

These are from Essays and Aphorisms, Penguin Classics, 2004 edition. The translation from German was done by R J Hollingdale, referred to as "the definitive translation" on the back. I'll start each quote with the page number it is from, and discriminate my thoughts within [ ] :

42: Not the least of the torments which plague our existence is the constant pressure of time, which never lets us so much as draw breath but pursues us all like a taskmaster with a whip. it ceases to persecute only him it has delivered over to boredom. [So boredom is one of the things Sch despises. I did not read this collection from start to end; instead I read as I wished. I have read the entire book except the introductory text, as I feel it imposes a frame of reference, or a set of expectations, before even getting to the (original) author's views.]

43: Thus for a race such as this [us, human] no stage, no form of existence is suitable other than the one it already possesses. [I disagree, we as a species are obviously evolving; it's just that evolution is a lengthy process, methinks.]

50: [Sch mentions many religions, Hinduism included, a few paragraphs before this] ...the appropriate form of address between man and man ought to be, not monsieur, sir, but fellow sufferer, compagnon de miseres. [I don't know how to get the diacritics in Blogger, and frankly, does it matter very much? Sch also says, later, that (difference in) languages are barriers to humanity's pursuit of knowledge.]

53: That human life must be some kind of mistake is sufficiently proved by the simple observation that man is a compound of needs which are hard to satisfy; that their satisfaction achieves nothing but a painless condition in which he is only given over to boredom; and that boredom is a direct proof that existence is in itself valueless, for boredom is nothing other than the sensation of the emptiness of existence. [I have typed on my cell a few more thoughts that had occured to me before i started marking the pages by dog-earing them (sorry about that...), one of them is about the author's verbosity and another about his repetitiveness. Those thoughts will be in the next post.]

93: [I have omitted some quotes I had thought worth mentioning, for their lack of saying something true, relevant or new (according to me), in hindsight] There are very many thoughts which have value for him who thinks them, but only a few of them possess the power of engaging the interest of a reader after they have been written down. [Obviously, Sch believes himself to be in possession of that power, a concept almost promulgated by scholars in the years after his.]

99: ...while in India, on the contrary, the Brahmins meet the sermons of missionaries with condescending smiles or a shrug of the shoulders, and among this people in general all attempts have, the most comfortable opportunity for it notwithstanding [covering his bases by sounding omni-knowledgable], met with utter failure.

101: Primum vivere, deinde philosophari First live, then philosophize. [Self explanatory, I'd say.]

119: Mere subtlety may qualify you as a sceptic but not as a philosopher. On the other hand, scepticism is in philosophy what the Opposition is in Parliament; it is just as beneficial, and indeed necessary. It rests everywhere on the fact that philosophy is not capable of producing the kind of evidence mathematics produces. [My emphasis is on the mathematical un-relativity part. Man how I hate math...]

137: For our civilized world is nothing but a great masquerade.

140: [Sch agrees with]...tat twam asi (This art Thou), by which is meant every living thing, whether man or animal : it is called Mahavakya, the great word.

143: ...but will [Sch's muse, so to speak...] itself, since it lies outside of time [...as exemplified here by him setting will free of the constraints of time], is unchangeable for as long as it exists at all.

156: If, however, the individual will sets its associated power of imagination free for a while, and for once releases it entirely from the service for which it was made and exists [tending of the will, as follows:], so that it abandons the tending of the will or of the individual person which alone is its natural theme and thus its regular occupation, and yet does not cease to be energetically active [covering his bases by laying down criteria to be met for his assumption to be true] or to extend to their fullest extent its powers of perceptivity [which, even at the best of times, is rarely the case, i.e., that our mental or will faclties are performing at their "fullest extent"], then it will forthwith become completely objective, i.e. it will become a faithful mirror of objects, or more precisely the medium of the objectivization of the will appearing in this or that [e.g. ?] object, the inmost nature of which will now come forth through it the more completely the longer perception lasts, until it has been entirely exhausted. [Perhaps he exercised his literary art more while writing On Aesthetics. ;)]

162: The melancholy effect of the inorganic [without carbon] nature of water is in large part abolished by its great mobility, which produces an impression of life, and by its constant play with light: it is, moreover, the primal condition of our life. [Hence, drink lotsa water everyday.]

168: Hope is the confusion of the desire of a thing with its probability. [And, the probability of a thing can be increased through actions.]

172: The degree of clarity of consciousness, and consequently of thought, can therefore be regarded as the degree of reality of existence. But this degree of thought, or of clear consciousness of one's own existence and of that of others, varies very greatly within the human race itself according to the measure of natral intellectual power [born with it?], the extent to which this has been developed [oh, okay.], and the amount of leisure [not boredom] available for reflection [obviously - self-introspection is central to 6-hourism].

174: The will, as the thing in itself, is the common stuff of all beings, the universal element of things: ...

175: He ["a man who wants to be altogether uncommon, that is to say great"] must, e.g., be able to take note of the odious opinion of another without feeling his own aroused by it: ...

178: Yet the more knowledge you possess, and the more multifarious it is, the more time you will require to find in your memory precisely what it is you want,...because out of the very large number of trains of thought [I have used this phrase countless times before, and so have very many people, so we kind of know what he is talking about here] possible to you, you have to call up precisely that train which...


200: Only he who takes what he writes directly out of his own head is worth reading. [So, am I? In the context of this blog post, obviously not, but even then the thoughts in the square parentheses are mine. I’m sure that counts for something.]

201: When it [thought] begins to exist for others it ceases to live in us, just as the child severs itself from its mother when it enters into its own existence. [He also acknowledges that “As soon as our thinking has found words it ceases to be sincere or at bottom serious.”]

202: Anonymity, that shield for every kind of literary scoundrelism, must disappear. [Apply this to today’s willy-nilly named users who throng cyberspace looking to tarnish things with their words.]

205: Truth is fairest naked, and the simpler its expression the profounder its influence. [Hmm…true; even though he doesn’t always put his thoughts simply.]

215: To believe that physical and chemical forces could by themselves bring about an organism is not merely mistaken but, as already remarked, stupid. – This life force in itself is will. [To survive? The only thing that prevents me from deriding his labeling of self-genesis is the lack of ability to create life outside the ovum.]

223: So that all newspaper writers are, for the sake of their trade, alarmists: this is their way of making themselves interesting.

226: The latter [the teachers or “masters” at “the many and manifold institutions for teaching and learning”] teach to earn money...; the former [pupils at the same] learn, not to achieve knowledge and insight, but so as to be able to chatter about them and give themselves airs. [The previous thought and this one are verily apparent in the present world.]

228: …the number of heads capable of thinking and forming judgements is moreover already so small that if their forum is broken up and kept asunder by language barriers their beneficial effect is infinitely weakened. [I mentioned this before.]

229: …, consequently perception should precede concept. [I have written about this before, whether on this blog, or in Write, or in HIWTBINW.]

232: …: so that everyone is worth looking at [pertaining to “every human face is a hieroglyph which can be deciphered”], even if everyone is not worth talking to.
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