– Sophie Hannah
“It took me some time to learn this, but I think that I truly became a philosopher when I understood that there is no dialogue in philosophy. Plato’s dialogues, for example, are clearly fake dialogues in which one guy is talking most of the time and the other guy is mostly saying ‘yes, I see, yes my God it is like you said — Socrates, my God that’s how it is’. I fully sympathise with Deleuze who said somewhere that the moment a true philosopher hears a phrase like ‘let’s discuss this point’, his response is ‘let’s leave as soon as possible; let’s run away!’ Show me one dialogue which really worked. There are none!”
Slavoj Žižek in Conversations with Žižek
“… In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or the engineer. For such or such special knowledge I apply to such or such a savant. But I allow neither the bootmaker nor the architect nor savant to impose his authority upon me. I listen to them freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence, their character, their knowledge, reserving always my incontestable right of criticism and censure. I do not content myself with consulting a single authority in any special branch; I consult several; I compare their opinions, and choose that which seems to me the soundest. But I recognise no infallible authority, even in special questions; consequently, whatever respect I may have for the honesty and the sincerity of such or such individual, I have no absolute faith in any person. Such a faith would be fatal to my reason, to my liberty, and even to the success of my undertakings; it would immediately transform me into a stupid slave, an instrument of the will and interests of others.“I bow before the authority of special [people] because it is imposed on me by my own reason. I am conscious of my own inability to grasp, in all its detail, and positive development, any very large portion of human knowledge. [... T]here is no fixed and constant authority, but a continual exchange of mutual, temporary, and, above all, voluntary authority and subbordination.”
—Mikhail Bakunin, What is Authority?
“… in what respect does the philosopher, who pursues science in order that he may pass life pleasantly to himself, differ from that drunkard there, who only seeks the immediate gratification that gin affords him? The philosopher has, past all question, chosen his enjoyment more wisely, since it affords him a pleasure far deeper and more lasting than that of the toper. But that is all! Both one and the other have the same selfish end in view, personal gratification.”
–Peter Kropotkin in An Appeal to the Young
"I got married in 1970. My wife is an artist, and I learned a lot from
her; the fact that I can talk about things, for instance. I remember I
was going out with her, before we were married, and we were walking from
one part of the university to another part. My objective was to get
from A to B, she wanted to stop and look at the moon, because it looked
very nice. And I thought: “What the hell would I want to look at the
moon for, when I want to go to B?” Now, of course, I will look at the
moon at all times with her."
"Oh, you're going to zap me with penicillin and pesticides. Spare me that and I'll spare you the bomb and aerosols. But don't confuse progress with perfectibility. A great poet is always timely. A great philosopher is an urgent need. There's no rush for Isaac Newton. We were quite happy with Aristotle's cosmos. Personally, I preferred it. Fifty-five crystal spheres geared to God's crankshaft is my idea of a satisfying universe. I can't think of anything more trivial than the speed of light. Quarks, quasars - big bangs, black holes - who gives a shit? [...] I'd push the lot of you over a cliff myself. Except the one in the wheelchair, I think I'd lose the sympathy vote before people had time to think it through. [...] If knowledge isn't self-knowledge it isn't doing much, mate. Is the universe expanding? Is it contracting? Is it standing on one leg and singing 'When Father Painted the Parlour'? Leave me out. I can expand my universe without you."
"This series of lectures on proof-theory
is a priori dedicated to mathematicians and computer-scientists,
physicists, philosophers and linguists ; and, since we are no longer in
the XVI—not to speak of the XVIII—century, it is
doomed to failure. […] This being said, plain success is not
the only possible goal ; mine might simply be the exposition of a
disorder in this apparently well-organised universe, in which logic
eventually took its place between two beer mugs and the
Reader’s Digest, and does not disturb, no longer
disturbs—a sort of fat cat purring on the carpet."
"I see him [Daniel Wegner] as the killjoy scientist who shows
that Cupid doesn't shoot arrows and then insists on entitling
his book The Illusion of Romanic Love. [...] Wegner and I
agree on the bottom line; what we disagree on is tactics.
[...] I prefer to make the same points by saying that no, free
will is not an illusion; all the varieties of free will worth wanting
are, or can be, ours—but you have to give up a bit of false
and outdated ideology to understand how this can be so. Romantic love
minus Cupid's arrow is still worth yearning for. It is still,
indeed, romantic love, real romantic love."
"A wonderful serenity has taken possession of my
entire soul, like these sweet mornings of spring which I enjoy with my
whole heart. I am alone, and feel the charm of existence in this spot,
which was created for the bliss of souls like mine. I am so
happy, my dear friend, so absorbed in the exquisite sense of mere
tranquil existence, that I neglect my talents. I should be
incapable of drawing a single stroke at the present moment; and yet I
feel that I never was a greater artist than now."
“The world is like a ride at an
amusement park. And when you choose to go on it, you think
it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds
are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills
and chills and it’s very brightly coloured and it’s
very loud and it’s fun, for a while. Some people have been on
the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: Is this real, or
is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come
back to us, they say, ‘Hey—don’t worry,
don’t be afraid ever, because this is just a
ride…’ And we … kill those people. Ha
ha, ‘Shut him up. We have a lot invested in this ride. Shut
him up. Look at my furrows of worry. Look at my big bank account and my
family. This just has to be real.’ It’s just a
ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you
ever notice that? And let the demons run amok. But it doesn’t
matter, because—it’s just a ride. And we can change
it anytime we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work,
no job, no savings and money. A choice, right now, between fear and
love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy
guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as
one. Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to
a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses
each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the
poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one
human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner
and outer, forever, in peace."
"Love, the warmth of bodies in contact, is the only mercy shown to us
in the darkness. But the only union is that of the organs, and it
can’t bridge over the cleavage made by speech. Yet they unite
in order to produce beings to stand by them in their hopeless
isolation. And the generations look coldly into each other’s
eyes. If you cram a ship full to bursting with human bodies, they all
freeze with loneliness."
"With possible rare exceptions, their
[scientists’] motive is neither curiosity nor a desire to
benefit humanity but the need to go through the power process: to have
a goal (a scientific problem to solve), to make an effort (research)
and to attain the goal (solution of the problem). Science is a
surrogate activity because scientists work mainly for the fulfillment
they get out of the work itself. […] Other motives do play a
role for many scientists. Money and status for example. Some scientists
may be persons of the type who have an insatiable drive for status and
this may provide much of the motivation for their work. No doubt the
majority of scientists, like the majority of the general population,
are more or less susceptible to advertising and marketing techniques
and need money to satisfy their craving for goods and
"I am not a writer, a philosopher, a great figure
of intellectual life: I am a teacher. There is a social phenomenon that
troubles me a great deal: Since the 1960s, some teachers are becoming
public men with the same obligations. I don’t want to become
a prophet and say, 'Please sit down, what I have to say is very
important.' I have come to discuss our common work."
"Perhaps I was drawn towards the topic of
reasoning because most things in life seemed unreasonable."
"... it is the simplest and most difficult thing
in the world for one person, genuinely being
his or her self, to give, in fact and not
just in appearance, another person, realised in his
or her own being by the giver, a cup of tea, really, and not
They are playing a game.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
Someone left the mirror running
-Spike Milligan, Lo Speccio
"... if I wish to be understood by others, and if I wish to enlist others for my purposes, then I must present myself in a way that conforms to folk-psychological platitudes, or laws. To explain my actions - even my most outrageous ones - to others is to find an appropriate set of folk-psychological platitudes in the light of which I am understandable and predictable...
"Given the fundamental role of folk psychology, it should not come as a surprise that it is also the intuition most strongly protected by sanctions. Inability to come up with acceptable folk-psychological accounts of ourselves and others is sanctioned by disapproval, lack of acceptance, or even referral to psychiatric services. No wonder, therefore, that social psychologists find their subjects 'telling more than they know': rather than admit that they have no introspective access to many of their higher cognitive processes, subjects will tell folk-psychological stories of how their mind allegedly works."
-Martin Kusch, Psychological Knowledge
"The nights in the room were false and useless and
meaningless and the
nights walking the city were false and useless and meaningless, the
notes for the box were false and useless and meaningless and this
freewheeling account of the progress of the glass is false and useless
and meaningless, late and doubly late and unaware of its lateness,
nothing and again nothing and worse than nothing."
"... there was no
other sport I watched with such good heart, such entertainment and
elation as a good cross-country. I loved the racked, contorted faces of
the runners as they came up to the tunnel of flags and crossed the
finishing line; I found especially interesting those who came after the
first fifty or so, running harder than any of the other contestants and
competing demoniacally among themselves for the hundred and thirteenth
place in the field. I watched them stumble up the tunnel of flags,
clawing at their throats, retching, flailing their arms and falling to
the grass, convinced that I had before me here a vision of human
"When it was proclaimed that the Library contained all books, the first impression was one of extravagant happiness. All men felt themselves to be the masters of an intact and secret treasure. There was no personal or world problem whose eloquent solution did not exist in some hexagon. [...]
"As was natural, this inordinate hope was followed by an excessive depression. The certitude that some shelf in some hexagon held precious books and that these precious books were inaccessible, seemed almost intolerable. A blasphemous sect suggested that the searches should cease and that all men should juggle letters and symbols until they constructed, by an improbable gift of chance, these canonical books. The authorities were obliged to issue severe orders. The sect disappeared, but in my childhood I have seen old men who, for long periods of time, would hide in the latrines with some metal disks in a forbidden dice cup and feebly mimic the divine disorder."
-Jorge Luis Borges in The Library of Babel
"Language only lives in and through human culture,
which on the one hand needs mutual understanding but on the other hand
makes direct communication impossible. [...] People who use language
primitive desires which, however sinful, remain close to the self.
Frightened by solitude, their only home, they become automata, slaves
of the monster-machine of public relations."
"Use i before e
except after c or when sounded like a
as in neighbor or weigh; and
except seize and seizure
and also leisure, weird, height,
and either, forfeit, and neither."
Zen and the Art of Going to the Lavatory
from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, somewhere, possibly only the TV series
The right method of philosophy would be this: To
say nothing except what can be said, i.e. the propositions of natural
science, i.e. something that has nothing to do with philosophy: and
then always, when someone else wished to say something metaphysical, to
demonstrate to him that he had given no meaning to certain signs in his
propositions. This method would be unsatisfying to the other - he would
not have the feeling that we were teaching him philosophy - but it
would be the only strictly correct method.
Too blue for logic
My axioms were so clean-hewn,
I thought I had seen everything,
On languages with finitely many numerals:
- In W. C. Eels "Number Systems of the North American Indians", The Am. Mathematical Monthly Vol XX:10, 1913 p. 298. (Thanks Harald!)
Attending a mathematics lecture is like walking
through a thunderstorm at night. Most of the time you are lost, wet and
miserable but at rare intervals there is a flash of lightening and the
whole countryside is lit up.
I should also like to offer a piece of friendly advice to anyone who might attempt in the future to study Domain Theory. It is this.
- Paul Taylor in the introduction to his PhD thesis (see the bottom of that link).
If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity,
or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any
abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain
any experimental reasoning concerning matters of fact and existence?
No. Commit it then to the flames. For it can contain nothing but
sophistry and illusion.
... if anyone spends almost the whole day in
reading, and by way of relaxation devotes the intervals to some
thoughtless pastime, he gradually loses the capacity for thinking; just
as the man who always rides at last forgets how to walk. This is the
case with many learned persons: they have read themselves stupid.
ABILENE (adj.): Descriptive of the pleasing
coolness on the reverse side of the pillow.
PROOF-THEORY: The proof-theorist is the guy who
as the challenge for the new century, a victim of the
millenium bug so to speak.
I get completely confused as soon as logicians
drag "models" and "interpretations" into the picture. [...] Doing
mathematics is one thing, applying one's mathematics to a more or less
real world out there is an extra-mathematical activity, and never, I
think, should the two be confused.
Can I say "bububu" and mean "If it doesn't rain I
shall go for a walk"?
Thinking is the most unhealthy thing in the
world, and people die of it just as they die of any other disease.
Fortunately, in England at any rate, thought is not catching. Our
splendid physique as a people is entirely due to our national
There is nothing for it; one must go forward,
that is step by step further into decadence.
N'oubliez pas le cas de base.
The man who has fed the chicken every day
throughout its life at last wrings its neck instead, showing that more
refined views as to the uniformity of nature would have been useful to
People who count their chickens before they are
hatched, act very wisely, because chickens run about so absurdly that
it is impossible to count them accurately.
In the beginning the Universe was created. This
has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a
There might be even more quotations over here! (But duplications likely.)