Remembrance Of Things Past

But when a belief vanishes, there survives it—more and more ardently, so as to cloak the absence of the power, now lost to us, of imparting reality to new phenomena—an idolatrous attachment to the old things which our belief in them did once animate, as if it was in that belief and not in ourselves that the divine spark resided, and as if our present incredulity had a contingent cause—the death of the gods.

The places that we have known belong now only to the little world of space on which we map them for our own convenience. None of them was ever more than a thin slice, held between the contiguous impressions that composed our life at that time; remembrance of a particular form is but regret for a particular moment; and houses, roads, avenues are as fugitive, alas, as the years.

Marcel Proust – Swann’s Way

 

schloss2

The Supersensual Life

The Disciple said to his Master: Sir, how may I come to the Supersensual Life, so that I may see God, and hear God speak?

The Master answered and said: Son, when thou canst throw thyself into That, where no Creature dwelleth, though it be but for a Moment, then thou hearest what God speaketh.

Disciple: Is that where no Creature dwelleth near at hand; or is it afar off?

Master: It is in thee. And if thou canst, my Son, for a while but cease from all thy thinking and willing, then thou shalt hear the unspeakable Words of God.

Disciple: How can I hear Him speak, when I stand still from thinking and willing?

Master: When thou standest still from the thinking of self, and the willing of self; “When both thy intellect and will are quiet, and passive to the Impressions of the Eternal Word and Spirit; and when thy Soul is winged up, and above that which is temporal, the outward Senses, and the Imagination being locked up by holy Abstraction,” then the Eternal Hearing, Seeing, and Speaking will be revealed in thee; and so God heareth “and seeth through thee,” being now the Organ of His Spirit; and so God speaketh in thee, and whispereth to thy Spirit, and thy Spirit heareth His Voice. Blessed art thou therefore if that thou canst stand still from Self-thinking and Self-willing, and canst stop the Wheel of thy Imagination and Senses forasmuch as hereby thou mayest arrive at length to see the great Salvation of God being made capable of all Manner of Divine Sensations and Heavenly Communications. Since it is nought indeed but thine own Hearing and Willing that do hinder thee, so that thou dost not see and hear God.

Jacob Boehme – The Supersensual Life

Thought 211.

We are fools to depend upon the society of our fellow-men, wretched as we are, powerless as we are, they will not aid us; we shall die alone. We should therefore act as if we were alone, and in that case should we build fine houses, etc.? We should seek the truth without hesitation; and, if we refuse it, we show that we value the esteem of men more than the search for truth.

Blaise Pascal – Pensées

Brain in a Vat

Thought experiment: the brain is closed in the dish and stimulated by an apparatus connected to receive stimuli. This apparatus (or scientist through it) creates a perfectly coherent illusion of the existence of persons, objects of everyday experience (however, all experiences are actually the result of electrical impulses sent by the computer). You can go ahead and assume that all people (all sensory organisms) are the brains (nervous systems) in the vessels connected to the system that generates a collective hallucination.

Hilary Putnam

Life in the Woods

I had this advantage, at least, in my mode of life, over those who were obliged to look abroad for amusement, to society and the theatre, that my life itself was become my amusement and never ceased to be novel. It was a drama of many scenes and without an end. If we were always, indeed, getting our living, and regulating our lives according to the last and best mode we had learned, we should never be troubled with ennui. Follow your genius closely enough, and it will not fail to show you a fresh prospect every hour.


Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars. I cannot count one. I know not the first letter of the alphabet. I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born.

Henry David Thoreau – Walden or Life in the Woods

Encheiridion

Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.

The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others.

Remember, then, that if you suppose that things which are slavish by nature are also free, and that what belongs to others is your own, then you will be hindered. You will lament, you will be disturbed, and you will find fault both with gods and men.

Epictetus – The Enchiridion

Psychotherapeutic Counseling

This wish to satisfy someone greater than the Self, to be found acceptable, to belong at last, is a struggle familiar to many psychotherapy patients. In their lives they waste themselves on wondering how they are doing, on trying to figure out the expectations of others so that they can become someone in the eyes of others. They try to be practical, to be reasonable, to figure it all out in their heads. It is as though if only they could get the words straight in their heads, if only they could find the correct formula, then everything else in their lives would be magically straightened out. They are sure there is a right way to do things, though they have not yet found it. Someone in authority must know… Patients do not understand that ideas are merely a desperate, intellectual attempt to stop the variable flow of life.

Sheldon B. Kopp – If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!

Rationalism as Faith

It may be said of the eighteenth century that it was an age of faith as well as of reason, and of the thirteenth century that it was an age of reason as well as of faith.

Since eighteenth-century writers employed reason to discredit Christian dogma, a “rationalist” in common parlance came to mean an “unbeliever,” one who denied the truth of Christianity. In this sense Voltaire was a rationalist, St. Thomas a man of faith. But this use of the word is unfortunate, since it obscures the fact that reason may be employed to support faith as well as to destroy it.

There were, certainly, many differences between Voltaire and St. Thomas, but the two men had much in common for all that. What they had in common was the profound conviction that their beliefs could be reasonably demonstrated.

Carl L. Becker – The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers

Counterpoint

5.6
The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.

5.62
This remark provides a key to the question, to what extent solipsism is a truth. In fact what solipsism means, is quite correct, only it cannot be said, but it shows itself.

5.621
The world and life are one.

5.631
The thinking, presenting subject; there is no such thing.

5.632
The subject does not belong to the world but it is a limit of the world.

5.64
Here we see that solipsism strictly carried out coincides with pure realism. The I in solipsism shrinks to an extensionless point and there remains the reality co-ordinated with it.

5.641
The I occurs in philosophy through the fact that the “world is my world”.

6.5
For an answer which cannot be expressed the question too cannot be expressed. The riddle does not exist.

7
Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

Ludwig Wittgenstein – Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

The Dream of a Ridiculous Man

I’m now almost convinced of it. It seemed clear that life and the world were now as if dependent on me. One might even say that the world was now as if made for me alone: I’d shoot myself and there would be no more world, at least for me. Not to mention that maybe there would indeed be nothing for anyone after me, and that as soon as my consciousness was extinguished, the whole world would be extinguished at once, like a phantom, like a mere accessory of my consciousness, it would be done away with, for maybe all this world and all these people were – just myself alone.

Fyodor Dostoevsky – The Dream of a Ridiculous Man

Attack on Solipsism

Solipsism, solegoism, monegoism or selfego – so is called the supreme wisdom of man, this is the ultimate yield of thinking and research that humanity, hungry for truth, received from rationalism and independent, modern philosophy, equipped and supported by so many achievements of science!

Those who know what mood prevails in the world of philosophers and scholars, and who know the conceit and pride of the guild, will easily guess that not all skeptics proclaim their bankruptcy to the world in such form and battue. After and most of all, they are academy members, university professors, magazine editors, authors of works and treaties. They beat around the bush, as they can, when it comes to the nothingness of their knowledge and powerlessness of reasoning, they pull the wool over our eyes with the stream of platitudes, hypotheses, metaphors and sophistry.

There is no lack, however, of those sincere, who show the wound in their mind, in full width, and by preaching the theory that the world is nothing more than just our imagination, admit to the ultimate philosophical misery, to an absolute illusionism, which is nothing but – solipsism.

Wladyslaw M. Debicki – Great intelectual bankruptcy

Before the Law

“What do you still want to know now?” asks the gatekeeper. “You are insatiable.”
“Everyone strives after the law,” says the man, “so how is it that in these many years no one except me has requested entry?”
The gatekeeper sees that the man is already dying and, in order to reach his diminishing sense of hearing, he shouts at him:
“Here no one else can gain entry, since this entrance was assigned only to you. I’m going now to close it.”

Franz Kafka – Before the Law