CategoryThe Thinker

Schopenhauer On Fatalism

Belief in a special providence, or else in a supernatural guidance of the events in an individual’s life, has at all times been universally popular, and even with thinkers who are averse to all superstition, it is occasionally found firm and unshaken and entirely unconnected with any definite dogmas. Opposed to it in the first place is the fact that, like all belief in a God, it has sprung...

Seneca – On Focus

Judging from what you tell me and from what I hear, I feel that you show great promise. You do not tear from place to place and unsettle yourself with one move after another. Restlessness of that sort is symptomatic of a sick mind. Nothing, to my way of thinking, is a better proof of a well-ordered mind than a man’s ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company. Be...

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...

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... fame has this great drawback, that to attain it we must conduct our lives to suit other men, avoiding what the masses avoid and seeking what the masses seek. - Spinoza

It doesn’t matter how much you love your new trick, at some point in the future you will come to hate it.

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