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Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals by John N. Gray
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Straw Dogs Quotes (showing 1-30 of 62)
“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 N. 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 N. 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 N. 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 N. 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 N. Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“humankind's presence on Earth is nothing but a cancer”
John N. 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 N. 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 N. 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 N. 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 N. 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 N. 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 N. 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 N. 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 N. 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 N. 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 N. Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“The destruction of the natural world is not the result of global capitalism, industrialisation, ‘Western civilisation’ or any flaw in human institutions. It is a consequence of the evolutionary success of an exceptionally rapacious primate. Throughout all of history and prehistory, human advance has coincided with ecological devastation.”
John 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 N. Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“But the idea that we can rid ourselves of animal illusion is the greatest illusion of all. Meditation may give us a fresher view of things, but it cannot uncover them as they are in themselves. The lesson of evolutionary psychology and cognitive science is that we are descendants of a long lineage, only a fraction of which is human. We are far more than the traces that other humans have left in us. Our brains and spinal cords are encrypted with traces of far older worlds.”
John N. 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 N. Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“History is a treadmill turned by rising human numbers. Today GM crops are being marketed as the only means of avoiding mass starvation. They are unlikely to improve the lives of peasant farmers ; but they may well enable them to survive in greater numbers.”
John Gray, Perros de paja: Reflexiones sobre los humanos y otros animales
“The human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth. To think otherwise is to resurrect the pre-Darwinian error that humans are different from all other animals.”
John N. Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“Moral philosophy is very largely a branch of fiction. Despite this, a philosopher has yet to write a great novel. The fact should not be surprising. In philosophy the truth about human life is of no interest”
John N. 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 N. Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“Today liberal humanism has the pervasive power that was once possessed by revealed religion. Humanists like to think they have a rational view of the world; but their core belief in progress is a superstition, further from the truth about the human animal than any of the world’s religions.”
John N. Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“nearly all our daily doings go on without conscious awareness; our deepest motivations are shut away from conscious scrutiny; nearly all of our mental life takes place unknown to us; the most creative acts in the life of the mind come to pass unawares. Very little that is of consequence in our lives requires consciousness. Much that is vitally important comes about only in its absence.”
John N. Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“As commonly practised, philosophy is the attempt to find good reasons for conventional beliefs'
'There is no mechanism of selection in the history of ideas akin to that of the natural selection of genetic mutations in evolution'
'Human knowledge is one thing, human well-being is another.There is no predetermined harmony between the two'
'In the struggle for life, the taste for truth is a luxury-or else a disability”
John Gray, Perros de paja: Reflexiones sobre los humanos y otros animales
“As commonly practiced, philosophy is the attempt to find good reasons for conventional beliefs.”
John Gray, Perros de paja: Reflexiones sobre los humanos y otros animales
“Subliminal perception – perception that occurs without conscious awareness – is not an anomaly but the norm.”
John N. Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
“Over the past two hundred years philosophy has shaken off Christian faith. It has not given up Christianity's cardinal error -the belief that humans are radically different from all other animals.”
John Gray, Perros de paja: Reflexiones sobre los humanos y otros animales

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