Philosophy discussion

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General > Sayings, Aphorisms, Quotes

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message 1: by Tyler (last edited Jun 12, 2009 09:12AM) (new)

Tyler  (Tyler-D) | 524 comments Philosophical sayings can wrap up a thought in a single remark. So that might be a good topic -- favorite quotations.

Anyone can add one, but please remember to tell us who said it. I'll add to the thread periodically as well.



message 2: by Tyler (last edited Jun 12, 2009 11:08AM) (new)

Tyler  (Tyler-D) | 524 comments For the first quotation to start the thread I'll add this one, which may just be the most famous in philosophy --

"The unexamined life is not worth living." -- Socrates, as quoted by Plato




message 3: by Tyler (last edited Jun 19, 2009 02:20PM) (new)

Tyler  (Tyler-D) | 524 comments In defense of animals, Schopenhauer says:

"Men are the devils of the earth, and the animals are the tormented souls."
Essays and Aphorisms



message 4: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (Tyler-D) | 524 comments From Anthony Flew in How to Think Straight comes this short comment:

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.



message 5: by Patrice (new)

Patrice OH! Is that a good one Tyler!


message 6: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (Tyler-D) | 524 comments I like it. It says a lot in just a few words.


message 7: by Rhonda (new)

Rhonda (RhondaK) | 32 comments A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.

Friedrich Nietzsche



message 8: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 6 comments Nietzche has plenty of good ones--I must add a couple more:

"A subject for a great poet would be God's boredom after the seventh day of creation."

"All things are subject to interpretation and whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth."

"Before the effect one believes in different causes than one does after the effect."

"Plato was a bore"


message 9: by Rhonda (new)

Rhonda (RhondaK) | 32 comments Indeed one could fill a book with Nietzsche's aphorisms, even moreso than he did. I find them mostly thought provoking to read, kind of like Wittgenstein's Tractatus, even the ones which I don't think are true...like the one above about Plato.


message 10: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 6 comments Agreed. I'm impressed that you've read Tractatus though. My copy taunts me daily from its spot in the bookshelf. I just don't get it...

But let's throw in a Wittgenstein quote for good measure:

"Like everything metaphysical the harmony between thought and reality is to be found in the grammar of the language."

Now, that's food for thought.


message 11: by Rhonda (new)

Rhonda (RhondaK) | 32 comments Although I have a few years on you, I read Wittgenstein in graduate school. The Investigations, naturally, impressed me more than the Tractatus, even though I marveled at the logic format he used in the Tractatus. I was still in my naiveté, looking for a kind of truth which man could discover on his own.
Later the Tractatus took on a kind of poetic order of the universe for me. In fact though I have never owned a copy of the Investigations, I keep the Tractatus not far from my desk today.

Although not properly a philosopher, I find the following quote philosophical, but altogether useful.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Viktor E. Frankl



message 12: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (Tyler-D) | 524 comments A quote from Georg Hegel --

Genuine tragedies in the world are not conflicts between right and wrong. They are conflicts between two rights.


message 13: by Rhonda (new)

Rhonda (RhondaK) | 32 comments Now I am truly in awe of a man who quotes Hegel. Thus I add one from Heidegger:
Making itself intelligible is suicide for philosophy. Those who idolize "facts" never notice that their idols only shine in a borrowed light.
Martin Heidegger



message 14: by Anthony D (new)

Anthony D Buckley (Anthonydbuckley) | 14 comments Rhonda wrote: "Now I am truly in awe of a man who quotes Hegel. ..."

Here's a famous quote from Reason in History.:

“‘No man is a hero to his valet de chamber’ is a well-known proverb; I have added – and Goethe repeated it two years later – ‘but not because the former is no hero, but because the latter is a valet’.”

I love the acid remark aimed at Goethe!



message 15: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (Tyler-D) | 524 comments Oh, Goethe's good!



message 16: by Tyler (last edited Aug 28, 2009 08:57AM) (new)

Tyler  (Tyler-D) | 524 comments I rather liked this little poem at the start of Bernard Williams' Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy:


How cold the vacancy
When the phantoms are gone and the shaken realist
First sees reality. The mortal no
Has its emptiness and tragic expirations.
The tragedy, however, may have begun,
Again, in the imagination's new beginning,
In the yes of the realist spoken because he must
Say yes, spoken because under every no
Lay a passion for yes that had never been broken.



Wallace Stevens
Esthétique du Mal




message 17: by Dean (new)

Dean Kakridas (stoic) | 2 comments from Proust --

"The whole art of living is to make use of the individuals through whom we suffer"

that one resonates so well with me.


message 18: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (Tyler-D) | 524 comments Schopenhauer, on Hegel’s philosophy, from Alain Botton, The Consolations of Philosophy:

“Its fundamental ideas are the absurdest fancy, a world turned upside down, a philosophical buffoonery ... its contents being the hollowest and most senseless display of words ever lapped up by blockheads, and its presentation ... being the most repulsive and nonsensical gibberish, recalling the rantings of a bedlamite.”

He doesn't tell us why he thinks so. Of course, Schopenhauer had his own philosophy to promote at that exact time ...




message 19: by Rhonda (last edited Sep 22, 2009 01:43PM) (new)

Rhonda (RhondaK) | 32 comments Of course Schopenhauer may have been just a bit bitter that he had scheduled lectures at the same time as Hegel...and no one showed up for him:)
It is interesting to find the criticism repeated by Marx (in his early writing of the 1840's) in that Hegel had the thing "standing on its head."

As Prometheus, having stolen fire from heaven, begins to build houses and to settle upon the earth, so philosophy, expanded to be the whole world, turns against the world of appearance. The same now with the philosophy of Hegel.

Marx, Notebooks on Epicurean Philosophy, 1839




message 20: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (Tyler-D) | 524 comments Of course Schopenhauer may have been just a bit bitter that he had scheduled lectures at the same time as Hegel...

I think he had something like four students in his class, an nearby Hegel had nearly 100. Ah, what evil hand scheduled a Schopenhauer lecture for the same hour as Hegel?



message 21: by thewanderingjew (new)

thewanderingjew | 12 comments "First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist; Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist; Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew; Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me."
Pastor Martin Niemöller


message 22: by thewanderingjew (new)

thewanderingjew | 12 comments What experience and history teach is this -- that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles.
George Wilhelm Hegel

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
George Santayana


message 23: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (Tyler-D) | 524 comments Here's a quote about the elusive nature of personhood:

The category of person, though a lot has been made of it in some moral philosophy, is a poor foundation for ethical thought, in particular because it looks like a sortal or classificatory notion while in fact it signals characteristics that almost all come in degrees – responsibility, self-consciousness, capacity for reflection, and so on.

Bernard Williams -- Ethics and the Limits of philosophy



message 24: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (Tyler-D) | 524 comments Do public positions always entail a utilitarian stance? A snippet from Thomas Nagel in Mortal Questions:

... the exercise of power, in whatever role, is one of the most personal forms of individual self-expression, and a rich source of purely personal pleasure. The pleasure of power is not easily acknowledged, but it is one of the most primitive human feelings – probably one with infantile roots.


Okayyyy ... but did he have to mention the infantile part?



message 25: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (Tyler-D) | 524 comments ...not all those who are lost wander.

Oh, I like that one, Julia.


message 26: by Tyler (last edited Feb 05, 2010 08:58AM) (new)

Tyler  (Tyler-D) | 524 comments Bernard Williams distinguishes between explanation and critique in Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy:

"Much explanatory reflection is itself critical, simply in revealing that certain practices or sentiments are not what they are taken to be. This is one of the most effective kinds of critical reflection."



message 27: by Mrtfalls (new)

Mrtfalls | 5 comments Here's on I really lik from David Hume:

"Reason is the slave of the passions"

Although I don't completely agree with it I feel it says alot about how we use reason and how reason can beused to explain things in the metaphysics and asthetics aswell as our own felings.


message 28: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (Tyler-D) | 524 comments It's not destined to be a gem of philosophy, but Allan Ropper, quoted in Time, had this warning to those who think the new imaging techniques that reveal neural activity have therefore revealed consciousness:


"Physicians and society are not ready for 'I have brain activation, therefore I am.' That would seriously put Descartes before the horse.

***snort***



message 29: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (Tyler-D) | 524 comments Thomas Nagel, in Mortal Questions, has this short remark about the neutrality of public office:


It is a pressing and difficult question whether private individualism and public benevolence are socially compatible, or whether the tension between them makes this an unstable moral conception and an unstable social ideal.


message 30: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (Tyler-D) | 524 comments In a discussion of egalitarianism versus utilitarianism Thomas Nagel again makes an aphoristic observation:


A single person may accept certain disadvantages in exchange for greater benefits. But no such compensation is possible when one person suffers the disadvantages and another gets the benefits.


message 31: by Anthony D (new)

Anthony D Buckley (Anthonydbuckley) | 14 comments Aphorisms frequently come in groups. This is a famous quotation by Marx on religion. It is usually truncated to "Religion is the opium of the people" but it is better in its context. Even here it is truncated, for it does go on a bit.

Religious suffering is at the same time an expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the feeling of a heartless world and the soul of soulless circumstances. It is the opium of the people. - - - The criticism of religion is therefore the germ of the criticism of the valley of tears whose halo is religion. Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers from the chains not so that man may bear chains without any imagination or comfort, but so that he may throw away the chains and pluck living flowers.


message 32: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (Tyler-D) | 524 comments Quoting out of context makes "opium of the people" convenient to use for various purposes, especially where it comes to Marx's intent in using the expression.

Another quote taken out of context is Sartre's "Man is a useless passion." That was an afterthought tacked onto the end of a paragraph in the middle of Being and Nothingness that now gets used to define the whole philosophy.


message 33: by Tyler (last edited Jun 25, 2010 05:29AM) (new)

Tyler  (Tyler-D) | 524 comments Here's an idea about how philosophy relates to upbringing:

"If we are willing to conceive education as the process of forming fundamental dispositions, intellectual and emotional, toward nature and fellow men, philosophy may even be defined as the general theory of education."

-- John Dewey, Democracy and Education


message 34: by André (new)

André (Stylian) | 1 comments I like this quote from Epicurus:

"If thou wilt make a man happy, add not unto his riches but take away from his desires. "


message 35: by Duffy (new)

Duffy Pratt | 123 comments A philosophical problem has the form: I don't know my way about.
-Wittgenstein


message 36: by Patrice (new)

Patrice I seem to remember Keats "truth is beauty, beauty is truth" coming from Plato's republic, book 5. I've been looking for it and can't find it. Does anyone else remember this or is it my imagination? It may have just been the concept and Keats wrote the line.


message 37: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy  | 49 comments I think it's your imagination, Patrice. Keats's exact lines from Ode on a Grecian Urn were Beauty is truth, truth beauty--that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. I don't think this is quite what Plato meant.


message 38: by Patrice (new)

Patrice Oh well, thanks!


message 39: by Ali (new)

Ali (ali7) | 4 comments Even the pluckiest among us has but seldom the courage of what he really knows - Friedrich Nietzsche


message 40: by Ali (new)

Ali (ali7) | 4 comments He who despairs over an event is a coward, but he who holds hope for the human condition is a fool - Albert Camus

Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers - Voltaire

The sole cause of man`s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room - Blaise Pascal


message 41: by Japi (new)

Japi | 2 comments "Cogito, ergo sum." - Rene Descartes
(I think, therefor I am.)


message 42: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 9 comments Maybe not be a Philosophical quote, but it works for me.

Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens. (Anonymous?)


message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

"Love is the first and commonest form of emotion leading to co-operation and those who have experinced love with any intensity will not be content with a philosophy that supposes their highest good to be independent of that of the person loved."

" Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps most fatal to true happiness".

Bertrand Russell

"The love of power and the love of liberty are in eternal antagonism".

John Stuart Mill

"How can you learn self-knowledge? Never by taking thought but rather by action"

Johann Wolfgang VonGoethe

"What we really believe is what our actions show that we believe"

Northrop Frye


message 44: by Fellows (last edited Dec 01, 2010 03:17AM) (new)

Fellows | 7 comments "The being of consciousness is the consciousness of being." - Sartre.

"If you're lonely when you're alone, you're in bad company" - Sartre.

"Possible worlds are stipulated, not discovered by powerful telescopes." - Kripke.

"... writing is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin." - Roland Barthes.

Also, anything from this exceedingly catchy Kant song! I can't remember any word-for-word Kant, but I know this by heart.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzpL_5...

Also, not strictly philosophy - but Freud once wrote "... words were originally magic" - an interesting starting point for discussions about language and its origins.

EDIT: ps: "Not all those who wander are lost" is my very favourite quotation :D

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.


message 45: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (Tyler-D) | 524 comments "The being of consciousness is the consciousness of being." - Sartre.

That reminds me of another thing he said about consciousness, that it is "the being that, in its being, is not what it is and is what it's not." That's why I enjoy his style.


"... words were originally magic" - an interesting starting point for discussions about language and its origins.

I hadn't heard that quote from Freud. It really does make you think about words and meanings.


message 46: by Greg (new)

Greg | 2 comments "The disappointed person speaks.- 'I listened for an echo and all I heard was praise-'"

"There is an innocence in admiration: it occurs in one who has not yet realized that he might one day be admired."

Nietzsche


message 47: by Sandysconnected (new)

Sandysconnected | 15 comments Tyler wrote: "For the first quotation to start the thread I'll add this one, which may just be the most famous in philosophy --

"The unexamined life is not worth living." -- Socrates, as quoted by Plato
"


Wow...love this one.


message 48: by Sandysconnected (new)

Sandysconnected | 15 comments I didn't see this one already posted, so sorry if it was:

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. ~Andre Gide


message 49: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (Tyler-D) | 524 comments Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. ~Andre Gide"

No, it hasn't been posted yet. I do like it, especially because so many people nowadays seem to have found some ironclad truth that somehow escapes me!


The unexamined life is not worth living.

This has become my favorite quote because it captures the spirit of the human mind so ineluctably.


message 50: by Fellows (last edited Dec 18, 2010 02:30AM) (new)

Fellows | 7 comments I have difficulties with "the unexamined life is not worth living". It seems that self-reflection is the primary cause of (mental) suffering, and that the unexamined life may be rather good really. It depends what value we put on 'worth' - what it takes for life to be 'worth' living in the first place.

Edit: 'worth' is always 'worth to something', the calculation of which requires self-reflection. So as it stands "the unexamined life is not Nootka worth living" could be an accurate statement. However, once we get behind this kind of language I still think there is reason to debate the importance of the examined life, along with notions of worth.


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