Friday, May 28, 2010


Sharing nuggets from a very interesting and readable book ' The Story of Philosophy'
- Will Durant (contd:) Book pages 696

From Aristotle to the Renaissance.

Roman Stoic Seneca : ' The secret of peace is not to make our achievements equal to our desires, but to lower our desires to the level of our achievements. If what you have seems insufficient to you, then though you possess the world, you will yet be miserable.'

EPICURUS: We must not avoid pleasures, but we must select them.

FRANCIS BACON : In the essay 'Of Youth and Age he puts a book into a paragraph - "Young men are fitter to invent than to judge, fitter for execution than to counsel, and fitter for new projects than for settled business ........... Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon, and seldom drive business to the full period, but content themselves with the mediocrity of success.
Certainly it is good compel employments of both......... because the virtue of either may correct the defects of both'

SPINOZA : " to inquire whether I might discover and attain the faculty of enjoying throughout eternity continual supreme happiness........ love towards a thing eternal and infinite alone feeds the mind with a pleasure secure from all pain. Only knowledge, then, is power and freedom; and the only permanent happiness is the pursuit of knowledge and the joy of understanding.

As for the terms good and bad, they indicate nothing positive in themselves ... for one and the same thing can at the same time be good, bad and indifferent. For example,music is good to the melancholy, bad to mourners, and indifferent to the dead.

Men think themselves free because they are conscious of their volition and desires, but ignorant of the causes by which they are led to wish and desire. Spinoza compares the feeling of free will to a stone's thinking, as it travels through space, that it determines its own trajectory, and selects the place of time of its fall !!

Spinoza knows that as passion without reason is blind, reason without passion is dead. Thought should not lack the heat of desire, nor desire the light of thought.
By imagination and reason we turn experience into foresight; we become the creators of our future, and cease to be the slaves of our past.

Spinoza rises from the fitful pleasures of passion to the high serenity of contemplation, which sees all things as part of an eternal order and development; he learns to smile in the face of the inevitable, and 'whether he comes into his own now, or in a thousand years , he sits content. (this is hikmat)

VOLTAIRE : He was 'sheer intelligence transmuting anger into fun, fire and light - a creature of air and flame, the most excitable that ever lived ... Was he, perhaps, the greatest intellectual energy in all history ?"

Not to be occupied, and not to exist, amount to the same thing.

The further I advance in age, the more I find work necessary. It becomes in the long run the greatest of pleasures, and takes the place of the illusions of life.

I am a puny part of the great whole...
All born for torment and for mutual death...
Man is a stranger to his own research;
He knows not whence he comes, nor whither goes.
Tormented atoms in a bed of mud,
Devoured by death, a mockery of fate;
But thinking atoms, whose far seeing eyes,
Guided by thoughts, have measured the faint stars;
Our being mingles with the infinite
Ourselves we never see, or come to know...

To be free is to be subject to nothing but the laws.

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