Straw Dogs Quotes

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Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals by John Nicholas Gray
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Straw Dogs Quotes (showing 1-19 of 19)
“Most people today think they belong to a species that can be master of its destiny. This is faith, not science. We do not speak of a time when whales or gorillas will be masters of their destinies. Why then humans?”
John Nicholas Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“Today, for the mass of humanity, science and technology embody 'miracle, mystery, and authority'. Science promises that the most ancient human fantasies will at last be realized. Sickness and ageing will be abolished; scarcity and poverty will be no more; the species will become immortal. Like Christianity in the past, the modern cult of science lives on the hope of miracles. But to think that science can transform the human lot is to believe in magic. Time retorts to the illusions of humanism with the reality: frail, deranged, undelivered humanity. Even as it enables poverty to be diminished and sickness to be alleviated, science will be used to refine tyranny and perfect the art of war.”
John Nicholas Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“Humans think they are free, conscious beings, when in truth they are deluded animals. At the same time they never cease trying to escape from what they imagine themselves to be. Their religions are attempts to be rid of a freedom they have never possessed. In the twentieth century, the utopias of Right and Left served the same function. Today, when politics is unconvincing even as entertainment, science has taken on the role of mankind's deliverer.”
John Nicholas Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“humankind's presence on Earth is nothing but a cancer”
John Nicholas Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“We think our actions express our decisions. But in nearly all of our life, willing decides nothing. We cannot wake up or fall asleep, remember or forget our dreams, summon or banish our thoughts, by deciding to do so. When we greet someone on the street we just act, and there is no actor standing behind what we do. Our acts are end points in long sequences of unconscious responses. They arise from a structure of habits and skills that is almost infinitely complicated. Most of our life in enacted without conscious awareness. Nor can it be made conscious. No degree of self-awareness can make us self-transparent.”
John Nicholas Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“Long after the traces of the human animal have disappeared, many of the species it is bent on destroying will still be around, along with others that have yet to spring up.

The Earth will forget mankind. The play of life will go on.”
John Nicholas Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“Humans cannot live without illusions. For the men and women of today, an irrational faith in progress may be the only antidote to nihilism. Without the hope that the future will be better than the past, they could not go on.”
John Nicholas Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“Today we have made a fetish of choice; but a chosen death is forbidden. Perhaps what distinguishes humans from other animals is that humans have learnt to cling more abjectly to life.”
John Nicholas Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“In Europe and Japan, bourgeois life lingers on. In Britain and America it has become the stuff of theme parks. The middle class is a luxury capitalism can no longer afford.”
John Nicholas Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“It is a strange fancy to suppose that science can bring reason to an irrational world, when all it can ever do is give another twist to a normal madness.”
John Nicholas Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“Anyone who truly wants to escape human solipsism should not seek out empty places. Instead of fleeing to desert, where they will be thrown back into their own thoughts, they will d better to seek out the company of other animals.

A zoo is a better window from which to look out of the human world than a monastery.”
John Nicholas Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“If you believe that humans are animals, there can be no such thing as the history of humanity, only the lives of particular humans. If we speak of the history of the species at all, it is only to signify the unknowable sum of these lives. As with other animals, some lives are happy, others wretched. None has a meaning that lies beyond itself.”
John Nicholas Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“Those who struggle to change the world see themselves as noble, even tragic figures. Yet most of those who work for world betterment are not rebels against the scheme of things. They seek consolation for a truth they are too weak to bear. At bottom, their faith that the world can be transformed by human will is a denial of their own mortality.”
John Nicholas Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“If a lion could talk, we could not understand him,' the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once said.

'It's clear that Wittgenstein hadn't spent much time with lions,' commented the gambler and conservationist John Aspinall.”
John Nicholas Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“Tragedy is born of myth, not morality. Prometheus and Icarus are tragic heroes. Yet none of the myths in which they appear has anything to do with moral dilemmas. Nor have the greatest Greek tragedies.

If Euripides is the most tragic of the Greek playwrights, it is not because he deals with moral conflicts but because he understood that reason cannot be the guide of life.”
John Nicholas Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“The calls of birds and the traces left by wolves to mark off their territories are no less forms of language than the sings of humans. What is distinctively human is not the capacity for language. It is the crystallisation of language in writing.”
John Nicholas Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“Human knowledge is one thing, human wellbeing another. There is no predetermined harmony between the two. The examined life may not be worth living.”
John Nicholas Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“Nothing is more alien to the present age than idleness. If we think of resting from our labours, it is only in order to return to them.
In thinking so highly of work we are aberrant. Few other cultures have ever done so. For nearly all of history and all prehistory, work was an indignity.”
John Nicholas Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“Today, serving neither religion nor political faith, philosophy is a subject without a subjuct matter, scolasticism without the charm of dogma.”
John Nicholas Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals

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