"United with his fellow-men by the strongest of all ties, the tie of a common doom, the free man finds that a new vision is with him always, shedding over every daily task the light of love. The life of man is a long march through the night, surrounded by invisible foes, tortured by weariness and pain, towards a goal that few can hope to reach, and where none may tarry long. One by one, as they march, our comrades vanish from our sight, seized by the silent orders of omnipotent Death. Very brief is the time in which we can help them, in which their happiness or misery is decided. Be it ours to shed sunshine on their path, to lighten their sorrows by the balm of sympathy, to give them the pure joy of a never-tiring affection, to strengthen failing courage, to instil faith in hours of despair. Let us not weigh in grudging scales their merits and demerits, but let us think only of their need, of the sorrows, the difficulties, perhaps the blindnesses, that make the misery of their lives; let us remember that they are fellow-sufferers in the same darkness, actors in the same tragedy with ourselves. And so, when their day is over, when their good or evil have become eternal by the immortality of the past, be it ours to feel that where they have suffered, where they failed, no deed of ours was the cause; but that wherever a spark of the divine fire kindled in their hearts, we were ready with encouragement, with sympathy, with brave words in which high courage glowed."
"The philosopher is the man who has to cure himself of many sicknesses of the understanding before he can arrive at the notions of the sound human understanding. If in the midst of life we are in death, so in sanity we are surrounded by madness."
"Many a scientist has patiently designed experiments for the purpose of substantiating his belief that animal operations are motivated by no purposes. He has perhaps spent his spare time in writing articles to prove that human beings are as other animals so that 'purpose' is a category irrelevant for the explanation of their bodily activities, his own activities included. Scientists animated by the purpose of proving that they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study."
Favorite quote of Willard Van Orman Quine - Quoted in Gregory Landini - Wittgenstein's Apprenticeship with Russell, p. 243.
"... Carnap must explain why he singles out certain predicates to be pseudo-predicates and he must do this without conceding, after all, that some ontological concerns are not meaningless. The question Carnap faces is whether there is a principled distinction between genuine predicates and psuedo-predicates. Which predicates are in need of philosophical analysis? Quine has no patience for the view that universality is the sign of a pseudo-predicate - the view that a predicate is meaningful only by contrast to what it excludes, so that being true of everything would make a predicate meaningless. He writes:
'Surely self-identity, for instance, is not to be rejected as meaningless. For that matter, any statement of fact at all, however brutally meaningful, can be put artificially into a form in which it pronounces on everything. To say merely of Jones that he sings, for instance, is to say of everything that is other than Jones or sings. We had better beware of repudiating universal predication, lest we be tricked into repudiating everything there is to say.' [Quine - Ontological Relativity and Other Essays, p. 52.]
The conceptual distance between Quine and the Russell/Wittgenstein program is striking in this passage. Predicates of identity and self-identity , on which Quine's point relies, are paradigmatic pseudo-concepts, according to the _Tractatus_."
"... freedom is not less endangered if attacked in the name of anti-Fascism than in that of outright Fascism. This truth has been so forcefully formulated by John Dewey that I express the thought in his words: 'The serious threat to our democracy ,' he says 'is not the existence of foreign totalitarian states. It is the existence within our own personal attitudes and within our own institutions of conditions which have given a victory to external authority, discipline, uniformity, and dependence upon The Leader in foreign countries. The battlefield is also accordingly here -- within ourselves and our institutions.' (Freedom and Culture) If we want to fight Fascism we must understand it. Wishful thinking will not help us"
Another Favorite Erich Fromm Quote -The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness,, pp. 251-253.
"One must look for a concept of man's nature in the process of human evolution rather than in isolated aspects like tool making , which bears so clearly the stamp of the contemporary obsession with production. We have to arrive at an understanding of man's nature on the basis of the blend of the two fundamental biological conditions that mark the emergence of man. One was the ever-decreasing determination of behavior by instincts. Even taking into account the many controversial views about the nature of instincts, it is generally accepted that the higher an animal has risen in the stages of evolution, the less is the weight of steriotyped behavior patterns that are strictly determined and phylogenetically programmed in the brain.
The process of ever-decreasing determination of behavior by instincts can be plotted as a continuum, at the zero of which we will find the lowest forms of animal evolution with the highest degree of instinctive determination; this decreases along with animal evolution and reaches a certain level with the mammals; it decreases further in the development up to the primates, and even here we find a great gulf between monkeys and apes, as Yerkes and Yerkes have shown in their classic investigation.
In the species Homo instinctive determination has reached its maximum decrease. The other trend to be found in animal evolution is the growth of the brain, and particularly the neocortex...
When man emerged, his behavior was little guided by his instinctive equipment. Aside from some elementary reactions, such as those to danger or to sexual stimuli, there is no inherited program that tells him how to decide in most instances in which his life may depend on a correct decision. It would thus seem that, biologically , man is the most helpless and frail of all animals... Man is the only animal who not only knows objects but who knows that he knows. Man is the only animal who has not only instrumental intelligence, but reason, the capacity to use his thinking to understand objectively -- i.e. to know the nature of things as they are in themselves, and not only as means for his satisfactions. Gifted with self-awareness and reason, man is aware of himself as a being separate from nature and from others; he is aware of his powerlessness, of his ignorance; he is aware of his end: death."
"I do not believe terrorists and pacifists believe in the same God (if any)."
"Is it possible that, after all, 'history has no sense,' that it teaches us nothing, and that the immense past was only the weary rehearsal of the mistakes that the future is destined to make on a larger stage and scale?
At times we feel so, and a multitude of doubts assail our enterprise. To begin with, do we really know what the past was, what actually happened, or is history 'a fable' not quite 'agreed upon'? Our knowledge of any past event is always incomplete, probably inaccurate, beclouded by ambivalent evidence and biased historians, and pehaps distorted by our own patriotic or religious partisanship. 'Most history is guessing, and the rest is prejudice.'"
"What is a poet? An unhappy man who in his heart harbors a deep anguish, but whose lips are so fashioned that the moans and cries which pass over them are transformed into ravishing music. His fate is like that of the unfortunate victims whom the tyrant Phalaris imprisoned in a brazen bull, and slowly tortured over a steady fire; their cries could not reach the tyrant's ears so as to strike terror into his heart; when they reached his ears they sounded like sweet music. And men crowd about the poet and say to him, 'Sing for us soon again'- which is as much as to say, 'May new sufferings torment your soul, but may your lips be fashioned as before; for the cries would only distress us, but the music, the music, is delightful.' And the critics come forward and say, 'That is perfectly done - just as it should be, according to the rules of aesthetics.' Now it is understood that a critic resembles a poet to a hair; he only lacks the anguish in his heart and the music upon his lips. I tell you, I would rather be a swineherd, understood by the swine, than a poet misunderstood by men."
"Autocracy , in its modern forms, is always combined with a creed: that of Hitler, that of Mussolini, or that of Stalin. Wherever there is autocracy, a set of beliefs is instilled into the minds of the young before they are capable of thinking, and these beliefs are taught so constantly and so persistently that it is hoped that the pupils will never afterwards be able to escape from the hypnotic effects of their early lessons. The beliefs are instilled, not by giving any reason for supposing them true, but by parrot-like repetition, by mass hysteria and mass suggestion. When two opposite creeds have been taught in this fashion, they produce two armies which clash, not two parties that can discuss. Each hypnotized automaton feels that everything most sacred is bound up with the victory of his side, everything most horrible exemplified by the other side. Such fanatical factions cannot meet in Parliament and say, 'Let us see which side has the majority'; that would be altogether too pedestrian, since each side stands for a sacred cause. This sort of dogmatism must be prevented if dictatorships are to be avoided, and measures for preventing it ought to form an essential part of education."
"Oddy enough, the end of the century marked the end of this sense of triumph, and from that moment onwards I began to be assailed by intellectual and emotional problems which plunged me into the darkest despair I have ever known.
During the Lent Term of 1901, we joined with the Whiteheads in taking Professor Maitland's home in Downing College. Professor Maitland had to go to Madeira for his health. His housekeeper informed us that he had "dried himself up eating dry toast," but I imagine this was not the medical diagnosis. Mrs. Whitehead was at the time becoming more and more of an invalid, and used to have intense pain owing to heart trouble. Whitehead and Als and I were all filled with anxiety about her. He was not only deeply devoted to her but also very dependent upon her, and it seemed doubtful whether he would ever achieve any more good work if she were to die. One day, Gilbert Murray came to Newnham to read part of his translation of The Hippolytus, then unpublished. Als and I went to hear him, and I was profoundly stirred by the beauty of the poetry. When we came home, we found Mrs. Whitehead undergoing an unusually severe bout of pain. She seemed cut off from everyone and everything by walls of agony, and the sense of the solitude of each human soul suddenly overwhelmed me. Ever since my marriage, my emotional life had been calm and superficial. I had forgotten all the deeper issues, and had been content with flippant cleverness. Suddenly the ground seemed to give way beneath me, and I found myself in quite another region. Within five minutes I went through some such reflections as the following: the loneliness of the human soul is unendurable; nothing can penetrate it except the highest intensity of the sort of love that religious teachers have preached; whatever does not spring from this motive is harmful, or at best useless; it follows that war is wrong, that a public school education is abominable, that the use of force is to be depreciated, and that in human relations one should penetrate to the core of loneliness in each person and speak to that. The Whiteheads' youngest boy, aged three, was in the room. He had to be prevented from troubling his mother in the middle of her paroxysms of pain. I took his hand and led him away. He came willingly, and felt at home with me. From that day to his death in the war in 1918, we were close friends.
At the end of those five minute, I had become a completely different person. For a time, a sort of mystic illumination possessed me. I felt I knew the inmost thoughts of everybody that I met in the street, and though this was, no doubt, a delusion, I did in actual fact find myself in far closer touch than previously with all my friends, and many of my acquaintances. Having been an imperialist, I became during those five minutes a pro-Boer and a pacifist. Having for years cared only for exactness and analysis, I found myself filled with semi-mystical feelings about beauty, with an intense interest in children, and with a desire almost as profound as that of the Buddha to find some philosophy which should make human life endurable. A strange excitement possessed me, containing intense pain but also some element of triumph through the fact that I could dominate pain, and make it, as I thought, a gateway to wisdom. The mystic insight which I then imagined myself to possess has largely faded, and the habit of analysis has reasserted itself. But something of what I thought I saw in that moment has remained always with me, causing my attitude during the first war, my interest in children, my indifference to minor misfortunes, and a certain emotional tone in all my human relations."
"I have never been able to believe whole-heartedly in any simple nostrum by which all ills are to be cured. On the contrary, I have come to think that one of the main causes of trouble in the world is dogmatic and fanatical belief in some doctrine for which there is no adequate evidence. Nationalism, Fascism,Communism, and now anti-Communism have all produced their crop of bigoted zealots ready to work untold horror in the interest of some narrow creed. All such fanaticisms have in a greater or less degree the defect which I found in the Moscow Marxists, namely, that their dynamic power is largely due to hate. Throughout my life I have longed to feel that oneness with large bodies of human beings that is experienced by the members of enthusiastic crowds. The longing has often been strong enough to lead me into self-deception. I have imagined myself in turn a Liberal, a Socialist, or a Pacifist, but I have never been any of these things in any profound sense. Always the sceptical intellect, when I have most wished it silent, has whispered doubts to me, has cut me off from the facile enthusiasms of others, and has transported me into a desolate solitude. During the First War, while I worked with Quakers, non-resisters and Socialists, while I was willing to accept unpopularity and the inconvenience belonging to unpopular opinions, I would tell the Quakers that I thought many wars in history had been justified, and the Socialists that I dreaded the tyranny of the State. They would look askance at me, and while continuing to accept my help would feel that I was not one of them."