CategoryThe Thinker

Spinoza – Might is Right

Thus the natural right of every man is determined not by sound reason, but by his desire and his power. For not all men are naturally determined to act in accordance with the rules and laws of reason. On the contrary, all men are born in a state of complete ignorance, and before they can learn the true way of life and acquire a virtuous disposition, even if they have been well brought up, a great...

Epicurus – Death Means Nothing to Us

You should accustom yourself to believing that death means nothing to us, since every good and every evil lies in sensation; but death is the privation of sensation. Hence a correct comprehension of the fact that death means nothing to us makes the mortal aspect of life pleasurable, not by conferring on us a boundless period of time but by removing the yearning for deathlessness. There is nothing...

Marcus Aurelius – Going Within

People try to get away from it all—to the country, to the beach, to the mountains. You always wish that you could too. Which is idiotic: you can get away from it anytime you like. By going within. Nowhere you can go is more peaceful—more free of interruptions than your own soul. Especially if you have other things to rely on. An instant’s recollection and there it is: complete tranquillity. And...

Kant – The Nature of Space

This is Kant – so you had better stiffen your resolve. No light reading here, but something to ponder on for the rest of your life. In his Critique of Pure Reason he claims that time and space are not “out there” but are properties of our consciousness. Every sentence is difficult, and as the author of an introduction in the Penguin edition states – the best of...

Seneca on Time

Name anyone to me who puts a price on time, who values the day, who understands that he is dying each and every day. For we deceive ourselves by looking for death ahead of us, whereas a great part of death has already taken place. Whatever part of life is behind us is possessed by death. So, dear Lucilius, do what you say you are doing and embrace every hour; in this way you will have to depend...

Cioran – Encounter with the Void

The more we ponder Buddha’s last exhortation: “Death is inherent in all compound things. Work relentlessly for your salvation” – the more we are disturbed by the impossibility of feeling ourselves an aggregate, a transitory, if not fortuitous combination of elements. We can conceive ourselves thus easily enough in the abstract, but concretely we experience physical...

Spinoza – Existence Without Purpose

The quote below is from Spinoza’s Ethics, Part 4. For those unfamiliar with the term, “final cause” refers to the purpose for which something is done – the end goal. Spinoza is saying quite clearly here that Nature, or God, has no final cause. There is no purpose to be found in existence other than existence itself. All Spinoza is difficult, and the quote below is one of...

Benoit – Trapped in Opposites

A man arrives at the conclusion that his misery is the result of his manifestations of anger, conceit, sensuality, etc., and he will think that the cure should consist in applying himself to produce manifestations of gentleness, humility, asceticism, etc. Or perhaps another man, more intelligent this one, will come to the conclusion that his misery is a result of his mental agitation, and he will...

Epictetus – How Much are You Worth?

Man, the rational animal, can put up with anything except what seems to him irrational; whatever is rational is tolerable. Physical hardships are not intolerable by nature. The Spartans, for instance, gladly submit to being whipped because they are taught that it is done for good reason. But what about being hanged – isn’t that intolerable? Well, people frequently go and hang...

Schopenhauer on Ego

The chief and fundamental incentive in a human being, as in an animal, is egoism, i.e. the urge to existence and well-being. This egoism, both in an animal and in a human being, is linked in the most precise way with his innermost core and essence, and indeed is properly identical with it. So all his actions, as a rule, spring from egoism and the explanation of any given action is always to be...

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But look at how soon we’re all forgotten. The abyss of endless time that swallows it all. The emptiness of all those applauding hands. The people who praise us how capricious they are, how arbitrary. And the tiny region in which it all takes place. #MarcusAurelius

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