Dont Be An Asshole! Creating a Better World through Self Awareness, Common Sense and Decency.
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Maybe they ARE aware and just don't give a crap.
Those that fall into the latter category are probably too far gone to be saved but if YOU care, you should definitely read this book. It lists many a situation and place where asshole behavior is prevalent so that you can either prepare yourself or avoid them altogether. Still confused? Maybe this will help. Imagine a book that could help you learn: How to deal with stress Because asshole behavior stresses us out!
What's better for stress than having your feelings justified by a complete stranger and having a laugh or two while you're at it? How to deal with difficult people The term "difficult people" itself implies people who are assholes. C'mon, if they weren't being assholes, would anyone think they are "difficult"? I can think of a lot of "difficult" people right now and every last one of them is an asshole. This group can include friends, employees, employers or just complete idiots. How to deal with conflict resolution There is no other cross section of society that is more intimately familiar with conflict than the asshole crowd.
They can find or initiate conflict anywhere. Ballgames, the movies, church, online, in your bedroom Do you wanna be caught helpless when you find yourself in a conflict with one of these good mood oppressors? You could even just hand them a copy of this very book and call it a day. They'll get the point. Will this book help you find your soul-mate, find a better job, lose weight, increase your penis size or otherwise change your life?
Probably not. Will it give you the power to passive aggressively make your feelings known to jerks in your life? You betcha! Just hand them a copy and a smile. Will it make you a star at the next "white elephant" gift-swapping, holiday party? Fo shizzle! Miss Mason-Jar-Wine-Glass ain't gonna have nothin' on you next year.
Life changing? Fun as all get-out? A tongue-in-cheek look at why, where and how people act like assholes and what we can do to make sure we're not one of them. See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Add to Wishlist. USD 8. Sign in to Purchase Instantly.
Overview Are you an asshole? How do you know either way? Product Details. Average Review. Write a Review. Related Searches. Billets du soir. View Product. You will catch more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a barrel of vinegar. Our instincts are at war. All the settlement and sane government of life consists in coming to the conclusion that some instincts, impulses or inspirations have authority, and others do not. With judgment comes the ability to disregard your intuition unless you can explain it logically.
Instinct, intuition, or insight is what first leads to the beliefs which subsequent reason confirms or confutes; but the confirmation, where it is possible, consists, in the last analysis, of agreement with other beliefs no less instinctive. Reason is a harmonizing, controlling force rather than a creative one. Even in the most purely logical realms, it is insight that first arrives at what is new.
The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift. Intuition is a spiritual faculty and does not explain, but simply points the way. Because the reader is advancing from language to thought, the writer from thought to language. Compounding the problem is the fact that language is not very exact to begin with. The worst tyranny is that which imposes a higher standard of conduct than is natural. In some circumstances it may be necessary and sensible to administer a smack to your child.
Learning communities should grow naturally on the basis of a shared morality. Without such a basis education is inevitably an imposition on the student. Thinking in isolation and with pride ends in being an idiot. Detached intellectualism is in the exact sense of a popular phrase all moonshine; for it is light without heat, and it is secondary light, reflected from a dead world.
We are not won by arguments that we can analyse but by tone and temper, by the manner which is the man himself. Men become susceptible to ideas, not by discussion and argument, but by seeing them personified and by loving the person who so embodies them. In the end it is not argument that convinces us, but people. Not everybody can be converted to some viewpoint by reason.
But some people can be converted by reason. The voice of the intellect is a soft one, but it does not rest till it has gained a hearing. It is sometimes better not to think at all than to think intensely and think wrong. A few observations and much reasoning lead to error; many observations and a little reasoning to truth.
It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgement. Reading after a certain time diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. Thought is essential to the process of becoming ourselves. Nothing is more erroneous than the tendency to regard the thinker as a specialist instead of merely as a fully developed human being. The other three-quarters is self-imposed by failing to analyze and act with calmness.
Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of them. Thinking should come before feeling. It may be that the heart has reasons of which the head knows nothing, but why should the reasons of the heart, which lead so many people into the wrong bed, necessarily lead anybody to the right conclusions. Only reason can convince us that what we believe is not necessarily true, and that what we like is not necessarily good. Rational argument is not just one of many possible modes of thought. There is nothing purely rational which is strong enough to bind the heart of man.
The power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas. Ideas do not need to be deeply right to be deeply influential. Better that they fit the prevailing mood and need. The greatest ideas, those that comprehensively reveal the truth of things, possess some of the obligatory quality of reality itself; they impose an actual coercion. A thinker must think about his theories rather than simply with them. Everybody thinks with their theories in the sense of using those theories as organizing devices for understanding the world, but most people do so at an implicit level.
The peril of the human intellect is that it is free to destroy itself. Just as one generation can prevent the very existence of the next generation, by all entering a monastery or jumping into the sea, so one set of thinkers can in some degree prevent further thinking by teaching the next generation that there is no validity in any human thought. Philosophies are devices for making it possible to do, coolly, continuously, and with a good conscience, things which otherwise one could do only in the heat of passion, spasmodically, and under the threat of subsequent remorse.
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. These are technical terms that have quite different meanings from the usual ones. When you see a table you contemplate the table and enjoy the act of seeing. In bereavement you contemplate the deceased and their death and you enjoy the loneliness and grief. But a psychologist treating you for grief would be contemplating the grief and enjoying psychology.
In other words the mental act of perceiving something outside is contemplation and experiencing the effect or consequence of that act is enjoyment. The two mental activities of contemplation and enjoyment can and do alternate with great rapidity, but they are distinct and incompatible. The human race has always suspected that some ideas engender disease. It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has. Far more crucial than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know.
A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep. True spirituality has its basis in moral life, which in turn is based on contemplation. The mystic in us should surpass the moralist. I knew nothing of evil, so I was afraid to meet it. The claim to expound the world in a formula, or to have a system with which to explain the world, is quite simply unphilosophic or pseudo-philosophy.
Philosophy should hinder and resist the natural craving of the human spirit for a clear, transparent and definite system. The food, the sex, the books, the music, the conversation, the friendship in which we thought enjoyment resided will betray us if we put our trust in these things. Facts as facts do not always create a spirit of reality, because reality is a spirit.
Religion is the one force that is stronger than self-interest and sensuality, that is capable of transforming human nature and altering the course of history. The danger of religion is not that it is too weak or too abstract to affect human conduct, but rather that it is so absolute and uncompromising that nature is overwhelmed and crushed. Francis de Sales had, what we would call today, a nervous breakdown while he was an undergraduate at Padua. His was a very worrying problem; he thought, after reading Calvinist doctrines, that he was damned. Hell is oneself; Hell is alone, the other figures in it merely projections.
There is nothing to escape from and nothing to escape to. One is always alone. Ecstasy comes from a sense of identification, whether with another individual, or with a community, or with the whole of life. It is an escape from separate existence; from the savage misery of the imprisoned ego. Dobbs through all eternity. There are worse things than loneliness, and one of them is not being lonely with somebody that you wish you could be lonely without.
There has crept into our thoughts, through a thousand small openings, a curious and unnatural idea. I mean the idea that unity is itself a good thing; that there is something high and spiritual about things being blended and absorbed into each other. Both morality and art take their marching orders from philosophy, either directly or indirectly.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. One of the chief functions of philosophy is to remind us of the shallowness of our understanding of things and the massive background of our ignorance. They are so, and we are so, and they and we go very well together. Bishop Berkeley destroyed this world in one volume octavo; and nothing remained, after his time, but mind; which experienced a similar fate from the hand of Mr.
Hume in There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied on to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers. Philosophy consists largely of one philosopher arguing that all others are jackasses. He usually proves it, and I should add that he also usually proves that he is one himself. When he who hears does not know what he who speaks means, and when he who speaks does not know what he himself means—that is philosophy. An ideology in the modern sense of the word is very different from a faith, although it is intended to fulfil the same sociological functions.
It is the work of man, an instrument by which the conscious political will attempts to mould the social tradition to its purpose. But faith looks beyond the world of man and his works; it introduces man to a higher and more universal range of reality than the finite and temporal world to which the state and the economic order belong. And thereby it introduces into human life an element of spiritual freedom which ideology, by its nature, would crush. What is life? Life is the nation. The individual must die anyway. Beyond the individual is the nation.
There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered ones. All sins tend to be addictive, and the terminal point of addiction is what is called damnation. Hell is not a punishment imposed externally by God, but the condition resulting from attitudes and actions which people adopt in this life. I will tell you a great secret my friend. It happens every day. The outward appearance of things is forced ultimately to conform with their inward reality. To be left forever with that self which we hate is hell. There is a dreadful Hell A place of aches and pains, Where sinners must with Devils dwell, In fires and shrieks and chains.
Everyone believes in God provided they have the right to define him. My comprehension of God comes from the deeply felt conviction of a superior intelligence that reveals itself in the knowable world. We have to begin to think of God not as an external, supernatural power living in the sky, but as the divine quality of this world. Mental and emotional liberty are not so simple as they appear. They require almost as careful a balance of laws and conditions as do social and political liberty.
All the things most worth having, such as health and happiness, beauty and character, are all, without exception, things produced by a particular proportion between different things. People at the extremes of life often have the most trouble, people who are too rich or too poor, too smart or too stupid, too emotional or too cerebral, too dependent or too self-reliant. Enough we live—and if a life, With large results so little rife, Though bearable, seem hardly worth This pomp of worlds, this pain of birth. The slow compromise, or even surrender, of our fondest hopes is a regular feature of normal human life.
I defy anyone to imagine an environment more exquisitely designed to provide us with opportunities for spiritual growth than this life of ours. If we lived in a world where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us good and greed would make us saintly. Virtue would hardly be distinguished from a kind of sensuality, if there were no labour—no opposition—no difficulty in doing our duty. If virtue were its own reward, it would no longer be a human quality, but supernatural.
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It is often said that second thoughts are best. So they are in matters of judgement, but not in matters of conscience. Conscience is thoroughly well-bred and soon leaves off talking to those who do not wish to hear it. Experience takes away more than it adds; young people are nearer ideas than old men. Experience is not what happens to us.
It is what we do with what happen to us. The secret of happiness is to face the fact that the world is horrible, horrible, horrible. Human life is everywhere a state in which much is to be endured and little to be enjoyed. The enjoyments of this life are not equal to its evils. This world is a comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel. Horace Walpole. Comedy and humour are among the most autumnal fruits of the human understanding, as distinct from tragedy which any teenager can comprehend. There is only one safe definition of a sane man.
He is a man who can have tragedy in his heart and comedy in his head. Most simply defined, comedy is that which has a happy ending and tragedy that with an unhappy one. I am a temporary enclosure for a temporary purpose; that served, my skull and teeth, my idiosyncrasy and desire, will disperse, I believe, like the timbers of a booth after the fair. No fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling can preserve an individual beyond the grave. Many people assume too easily that with five senses and a rather limited though remarkable intellect we can comprehend everything that happens and that ever will happen, and that there will never be a surprise for us.
Life is a great surprise. I do not see why death should not be an even greater one. Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
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What man is capable of the insane self-conceit of believing that an eternity of himself would be tolerable even to himself? The happiness of heaven is an immense activity, an endless springing from knowledge to knowledge and from love to love. The false self is not just the self of the more visible instincts and passions, but all those compulsions that push us to seek our own glory and spiritual success. All spiritual masters speak of dying to the false self so that the real self may emerge. What a queer thing life is!
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So unlike anything else, if you see what I mean. One need only remind oneself of all that we expect from life to see how very strange it is, and to arrive at the conclusion that man has found his way into it by mistake and does not really belong there. Had God designed the world, it would not be A world so frail and faulty as we see.
Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale, Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man. Golden lads and girls all must, As Chimney sweepers, come to dust. We must not insist that God govern the world according to our own best understanding of what is best.
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It simply is not true that war never settles anything. War is not the best way of settling differences; it is the only way of preventing their being settled for you. It takes in reality only one to make a quarrel. It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favour of vegetarianism while the wolf remains of a different opinion. In a world of flying loves and fading lusts It is something to be sure of a desire. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.
When you take a benevolent man and make him a despot, his despotism survives but his benevolence rather fades away. How a minority, Reaching majority, Seizing authority, Hates a minority! The whole history of the world is summed up in the fact that, when nations are strong, they are not always just, and when they wish to be just, they are no longer strong. The great nations have always acted like gangsters, and the small nations like prostitutes. I, the Captain of a Legion of Rome, serving in the desert of Libya, have learned and pondered this truth: There are in life but two things, Love and Power, and no one has both.
The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves. Government is impossible without a religion: that is, without a body of common assumptions. Parliamentary government only works in communities which are essentially united. The moment you have a real conflict, whether of race, or class, or religion, democracy is unworkable.
To judge by a poll in the late s most Canadians, both native born and immigrant, intuitively recognize this fact and believe that newcomers should, as far as possible, adopt the customs of the majority. Government comprises a large part of the organized injustice in any society, ancient or modern. Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable evil.
Our effective choice is never between good government and bad government, but between bearable government and unbearable government. The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. There is no doubt that people with money tend not to get investigated, not to get charged, not to get tried, and not to get convicted. All along the line, the discretions get exercised in their favour. One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted; and a community is infinitely more brutalized by the habitual employment of punishment than it is by the occasional occurrence of crime.
Only through big government can democratic authority resist concentrated economic power. Economic power, when sufficiently vast, becomes by its very nature political power. Men must have a fairly elevated motive for getting themselves killed. To die to protect or enhance the wealth, power or privilege of someone else, the most common reason for conflict over the centuries, lacks beauty. Conscience is better served by myth. In the elections my father became an ardent fan of the Australian Labour party.
Unfortunately, it won and set some sort of record for breaking its promises. Frank decided then and there to put not his faith in politicians. When they attain power reformist parties and movements usually become friendly to the big business interests they had once denounced. The path that leads from moral standards to political action is strewn with our dead selves. Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses Nature leads, or you shall learn nothing.
True science is never philosophically partisan. It is open to any new knowledge or understanding whatever the metaphysical implications. In completing one discovery we never fail to get an imperfect knowledge of others of which we could have no idea before, so that we cannot solve one doubt without creating several new ones. My suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.
Technological society leads to increasing numbers of people who cannot adapt to the inhuman rhythm of modern life with its emphasis on specialization. A class of people is growing up who are unexploitable because they are not worth employing even for the minimum wage. Technological progress makes whole categories of people useless without making it possible to support them with the wealth produced by the progress.
Having created the problem of unemployment advanced technology is hardly likely to solve it. Politicians and economists who believe in a radiant technological future are dreamers. It is now generally admitted that science is not neutral, and even more so technology. As a system evolves it imposes its own logic. As machines become more and more complex, the people operating the machines become more and more subservient. Tools are extensions of our bodies, but we are extensions of machines. Technology produces more technology whether it makes sense or not, whether it is wanted or not.
Faith placed in technology is misplaced faith. When you put your faith in a thing like technology you make that thing your master. A gadget is a technically very complex instrument whose utility is totally out of proportion to the considerable investment in time and money it involves. In other words, it entails an application of advanced technology for almost zero utility in return. The gadget is now the main industrial product and an unlimited source of profit. Modern gadgets speed up society and make it more fragile, but they do not truly better the individual lot.
Absorption in technology leads to a shortage of time. The unrest of the s had a lot to do with the panic caused by television and the need to control it. Television encourages us to live life vicariously. Once the habit is engrained the experience of empty time, which an earlier generation would have filled with conversation, relations with others, reflection or reading, becomes traumatic.
Life will always appear empty to those who have no inner resources. The media extols every gain in speed as a success, and the public accepts it as such. But experience shows that the more time we save, the less we have. The faster we go, the more harassed we are. I know that I will be told that we need to have all these means at our disposal and to go as fast as we can because modern life is harried. But modern life is harried because we have the telephone, the fax, the jet plane, etc. Without these devices it would be no more harried than it was a century ago when we could all walk at the same pace.
When the goal of progress is no longer clear, the word is simply an excuse for procrastination. Alfred North Whitehead pointed out that it was the medieval belief in the ultimate rationality of the world that prepared the European mind for the belief in the possibility of science , while the clear distinction introduced by the medieval schoolmen between the province of natural reason and that of religious faith made it possible for the former to assert its independent rights in its own sphere. The worst parochialism that scientists often invoke in interpreting their history is the notion that progress in knowledge arises from victory in battle between science and religion, with religion defined as unthinking allegiance to dogma and obedience to authority, and science as objective searching for truth.
The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm; capitalism is that kind of system. I think that Capitalism, wisely managed, can probably be made more efficient for attaining economic ends than any alternative system yet in sight, but that in itself is in many ways extremely objectionable. In our society competitive capitalism has put family life and working life on a collision course. Normally speaking, it may be said that the forces of a capitalist society, if left unchecked, tend to make the rich richer and the poor poorer and thus increase the gap between them.
Under capitalism the more money you have, the easier it is to make money, and the less money you have, the harder. Or as Edgar Bronfman Sr. Consumer capitalism is dedicated to the proposition that production is good in itself, no matter what is produced. The net effect is the massive production of absurd, empty and useless items which are nevertheless utterly serious since we earn our living from them, and dedicate our leisure time to them. A society in which consumption has to be artificially stimulated in order to keep production going is a society founded on trash and waste.
The chief safeguard of personal freedom in a democratic society is the anarchy and disorder of capitalist individualism. I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself than this incessant business. What counts in a market-intensive society is not the effort to please or the pleasure that flows from that effort, but the coupling of labour with capital, however useless or damaging the result.
A human being has a right and a duty to preserve his individuality from forces attempting to absorb it and reduce it to type. When you are gifted you have to do what you are gifted at, whether you can make money at it or not. Everything collapses. The longer the collapse is postponed, the greater and more catastrophic it will be. Human beings expect immortal satisfactions from mortal conditions, and lasting and perfect happiness in the midst of universal change. To encourage this expectation, to persuade mankind that the ideal is realisable in this world after a few preliminary changes in external conditions, is the distinguishing mark of all charlatans.
There are limits beyond which commodities cannot be multiplied without preventing their consumers from affirming themselves through the exercise of their personal freedom. When market dependence reaches a certain threshold it deprives people of their power to live creatively and to act autonomously. And precisely because this new impotence is so deeply experienced, it is very difficult to express. Most jobs are boring and of little intrinsic value.
For every job that improves the lot of humanity and makes the world a better or more interesting place to live in, there are scores that do nothing of the sort.
People have a way of hanging on to what makes them miserable. From the time of the Greeks to the rise of industrialism that was the idea, work was a means to an end. But when work was over was the time of true human life, time for family, friends, community, for the life of the mind and the life of the spirit. According to Statistics Canada one in four of us is a self-described workaholic. One in three feels constantly under stress trying to do more than they can handle.
A little work directed to a good end is better than a great deal of work directed to a bad end.
George Bernard Shaw
It is better to do nothing than to do harm. Half the useful work in the world consists of combatting the harmful work. The man who chooses his work because it fulfils a purpose he approves is the only one who grows in stature by working. The things one is paid a salary for doing are never, in my experience, serious ; never seem in the long run of any particular use to anyone.
To inflict on a man the most terrible punishment so that the most ferocious murderer would shudder at it beforehand, one need only give him work of an absolutely, completely useless and irrational character. Few people realize how much of their happiness, such as it is, is dependent upon their work, upon the fact that they are kept busy and not left to feed upon themselves.
The secret of being miserable is to have leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not. The cure for it is occupation. Work is a product of misery, and discontent. If I was happy I should never work. That state is a state of slavery in which a man does what he likes to do in his spare time and in his working time that which is required of him. If a man has important work, and enough leisure and income to enable him to do it properly, he is in possession of as much happiness as is good for any of the children of Adam. Leisure is an attitude of the mind and a condition of the soul that fosters a capacity to perceive the reality of the world.
The sphere of leisure is no less than the sphere of culture in so far as that word means everything that lies beyond the utilitarian world. That is why when culture is endangered, leisure is called into question. Even retired people seem to be uncomfortable with the concept of leisure. True leisure cannot be enjoyed without some recognition of the spiritual world, for the first purpose of leisure is the contemplation of the good.
There is no evidence that the mental and moral capacities of the human race have been increased since man became man. There is a continual enlargement of the field of experience, with the new not simply replacing the old, but being compared and combined with it. The history of mankind, and especially of civilised mankind, shows a continuous process of integration, which, even though it seems to work irregularly, never ceases.
The major advances in civilization are processes which all but wreck the societies in which they occur. Progress is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing. Sweet are the uses of adversity Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.
One impulse from a vernal wood May teach you more of man, Of moral evil and of good, Than all the sages can. If you take nature as a teacher she will teach you exactly the lessons you had already decided to learn. What begins as the love of life and beauty often ends in the worship of eroticism or force. Common sense is that layer of prejudices laid down in the mind prior to the age of eighteen.
Learn how to fail intelligently, for failure is one of the greatest arts in the world. We must aspire to the unattainable. What can be achieved ultimately becomes tedious and second-rate. Despair is the price one pays for setting oneself an impossible aim. Intelligence is quickness to apprehend as distinct from ability, which is capacity to act wisely on the thing apprehended.
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A man is not necessarily intelligent because he has plenty of ideas, any more than he is a good general because he has plenty of soldiers. Architecture, of all the arts, is the one which acts the most slowly, but the most surely, on the soul. Architecture is a very good test of the true strength of a society Words are magical: words are.
A well-chosen anthology is a complete dispensary of medicine for the more common mental disorders, and may be used as much for prevention as cure. The existence of a liar is more probable than the existence of a ghost. This evidence would indeed be regarded as overwhelming if the phenomenon were intrinsically more likely. There are two ways to be fooled. It is the role of cowardice, not of courage, to crouch in a hole, under a massive tomb, to avoid the blows of fortune. Life is an end in itself, and the only question as to whether it is worth living is whether you have had enough of it.
Whatever else we are intended to do, we are not intended to succeed: failure is the fate allotted. Our business in this world is not to succeed, but to continue to fail, in good spirits. Observe how the greatest minds yield in some degree to the superstitions of their age. In the Summa Theologica Thomas Aquinas poses the question of whether heretics can be endured, tolerated. And his answer is that heretics can not be tolerated. If it was just to condemn counterfeiters to death, then surely it was necessary to put to death those who had committed the far worse crime of counterfeiting the faith.
It is difficult, if not impossible, for most people to think otherwise than in the fashion of their own period. Progress by its very name indicates a direction; and the moment we are in the least doubtful about the direction, we become in the same degree doubtful about the progress. More and more I see the human race—as we destroy the planet through over-population, through pollution, particularly, now, nuclear pollution—as a kind of virus destroying its host.
How beauteous mankind is! The sense of the miracle of humanity itself should be always more vivid to us than any marvels of power, intellect, art, or civilization. When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstone of our judgement. Sometimes a thing must first be trusted in order to discover whether it is trustworthy or not. In it we organize ideas under six main themes: logic, faith, common sense, mystery, paradox and language.
Within this framework we try to present and illustrate nine fundamental principles or insights. They are as follows:. The Insufficiency of Logic 2. The Undeniability of Certainty 3. The Necessity of Faith 4. The General Reliability of Common Sense 5. The Fact of Freedom 6. The Inescapability of Mystery 7. The Authority of Experience 8.
The Paradoxical Nature of Being 9. The Analogical Nature of Language. In fact, of the four main world views or philosophical systems possible to human thought, only theism is completely consistent with our common sense philosophy. Buddhism is almost totally opposed to common sense philosophy, while monism and materialism lie somewhere in between. Experience has taught us that freewheeling philosophical discussion is far less productive than discussion that proceeds within such a framework.
It allows one world view to be understood and tested more thoroughly than could any one of the various incompatible philosophies that emerge in fragmentary form in the course of an intellectually unbounded discussion. All of us insist that other people have rules for their mind. All true lovers of philosophy naturally strive for consistency and coherence in their thought. It is both a philosophical method and the bare outline of a philosophy. Furthermore we contend that virtually everyone lives by this philosophy, and thus unconsciously accepts it. If you are deeply committed to, say, Buddhism, there is still great value in grasping the principles of common sense philosophy, if only to theoretically reject them.
For you will discover that you accept most of them in practice. If you could prove your first statement, then it would no longer to be your first. You can, of course, dispute the assumptions at the beginning of your argument, but in that case you are beginning a different argument with another set of assumptions at the beginning of it. And so on ad infinitum.
But if nothing is known at the beginning of the process, then nothing can ever be known. I thought that certainty is more likely to be found in mathematics than elsewhere But after some twenty years of arduous toil, I came to the conclusion that there was nothing more that I could do in the way of making mathematical knowledge indubitable. The whole of this effort, in spite of three big volumes, ended inwardly in doubt and bewilderment. Furthermore, Godel found that any imaginable remedy for an inadequate system of logic will also prove inadequate in precisely the same way.
In short, there will always be questions that arise in mathematics that cannot be settled with logical certainty. As well as logical certainty there is the certainty of experience. This kind of certainty which arises out of experience though not necessarily personal experience might also be called common sense certainty, or simply common sense. The moment you doubt or deny the concept of truth, the word certainty ceases to have meaning.
The result is mental exhaustion. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. They were the madmen who did not concern themselves with physics, I was the madman who did. Working on the principle that a thing once seen is its own proof a wise man will try to find an image, or an analogy, or a parallel that will bring about that flash of illumination that the mind experiences when it apprehends truth. Any argument whatsoever can thus be made into an infinite regress.
It must not be crippling in practice. To treat the human mind as having an ultimate authority is necessary to any kind of thinking, even pragmatic thinking. But not everybody is conscious of having faith. It means arbitrarily believing something because you want to believe it, without benefit of evidence or rational reasons. But many people talk as if all faith were intellectually deficient. Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.
Why should not good logic be as misleading as bad logic? Are they not both movements in the brain of a bewildered ape? And if no Church comes forward with its title-deeds of truth to guide him, he will find altars and idols in his own heart and his own imagination. There is nothing which is so likely to leave a person vulnerable to the sudden assault of an unbalanced vision as a pragmatic approach to life.
That is why most men dread it. We are answerable for what we choose to believe. And nature is fundamentally aristocratic.
When all the human tyrants are slain or deposed there will still be the supreme tyrant than can never be slain or deposed, and that tyrant is Nature. Barbarism means the worship of those externals in their crude and unconquered state. No conviction, religious or irreligious, will, of itself, end once and for all this fifth-columnist in the soul. Only the practice of Faith resulting in the habit of Faith will gradually do that.
But a philosophy cannot be founded on reason, it can only be founded on faith or common sense. And faith and common sense differ in context rather than in kind. A person who believes in a will behind law can believe in any miracle in any age. He needs faith to believe in the foundations of his own philosophy.
If you answer no, you disqualify yourself for philosophy. The message is that this is the superior culture. Why is Mozart better than some African drummer? But it has never been purely rationalist, and it is doubtful whether any civilisation ever can be. The chief function of rationalism is critical. It stands for the freedom to doubt and the enlightenment that comes through rational enquiry. But freedom and enlightenment are not absolutes. The absolute element in culture is always provided by some positive faith, whether that faith is religious in the full sense, or is intellectualist e.
Buddhism, Platonism, or any system derived exclusively or principally from pure reason , or takes the form of a social idealism e. Comptism, Marxism or Nazism. If that positive faith disappears the vitality of a society disappears with it. But love requires faith. So the loss of faith ultimately means the loss of both love and life. However you can live on faith, even false faith. But to live a fully human life you need both reason and faith. Truth always takes precedence over logic because logic is only one of a number of instruments for discovering truth.
There are times when truth will yield to intuition or common sense, but not to logic. But common sense knows better. One of the things the book shows is that species disappear. This common sense category disappears as some kind of ontologically special level of reality.
That is, there is no such thing as dog. Dogs are part of a grade of environmental expressions of certain genetic properties And so all creatures start to grade one into the other. Species are simply snapshots of the world given to us by the fact of our mortality. Wish them well and be on your way. We have no choice. The determinists come to bind, not to loose.
He no longer believes that common sense holds the promise of truth. Of the two common sense is more important because it provides the premises on which logic operates. Far more people run into difficulties because they neglect common sense than because they neglect logic. There is little but prejudice and habit to be said for the view that there is a world at all.
Strictly speaking, however, induction is not part of the reasoning process, it is experiment and observation, which even the animals have. Induction, therefore, can never lead to a conclusion, only to an inference, a non-deductive inference. Although deduction is another word for logic, it is also used in a looser sense to mean any rational inference. In practice, the tricky part of the reasoning process is usually not the deduction in the strict or in the wider sense , but establishing that your premises are both true, and sufficient to support your conclusions.
We should therefore abandon the distinction between scientific and non-scientific thought. The proper distinction is between logical and non-logical thought. One foot is reason and logic. The other is faith and common sense. By shifting from foot to foot, the faith providing the premises and the reason providing the deduction, the mind can move forward to grasp more and more truth. Breaking up this productive partnership disables the mind. In the absence of faith reason goes round in circles. In the absence of reason faith flies off on a tangent uncorrected by anything.
What we call freedom is always and of necessity simply the free choice of the soul between one set of limitations and another. You can free things from alien or accidental laws, but not from the laws of their own nature. I found however that my capacity for forgiveness was not equal to the demands I was making on it. To desire action is to desire limitation. In that sense every act is an act of self-sacrifice. When you choose anything, you reject everything else. The human brain is a machine for coming to conclusions; if it cannot come to conclusions it is rusty.
I am dogmatic and right, and Carlyle is dogmatic and wrong. It seems to me that every society rests on the death of men. Destroy mystery and you create morbidity. Love is directed towards what lies hidden in its object. It is the satisfaction of a primary instinct. It is the source of all true art and science. One can always sense the strangeness of a thing It is surely better to strive for a complete understanding than to despair of the human mind.
Is the ultimate unified theory so compelling that it brings about its own existence? Although science may solve the problem of how the universe began, it cannot answer the question: Why does the universe bother to exist? But the greatest mysteries are the most solid facts; such as love, freedom, gender and, above all, being itself. But they are also every day experiences of the most direct and immediate kind.
The logician seeks to make everything clear, and only succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows a few things to remain mysterious, and everything else becomes clear. Yet, the assertion that that collective experience has a claim to authority is itself a matter of common sense.
The sceptical exercises by which he challenged our common-place perceptions and the familiar propositions of our common sense cannot be brought to a halt so easily. If he sees two truths that seem to contradict each other, he accepts both truths and the contradiction along with them. His intellectual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that.
In love the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. It reveals something by denying or obscuring something else. Thinking with integrity is paradoxical thinking. Paradox is inconsistency, explicit or implied. But it sits by the springs of truth.
When you have dissipated all the mists of the mind that arise from confusion of thought and confusion of language there remains the fundamental paradox of being that cannot be resolved and can only be contemplated. This is why when you put the simplest truths in the simplest language, that language will seem to contradict itself. The points in which things differ do not matter; it is only their agreement that matters.
We have to reconcile our sense that things do really differ, although they are at one. We encounter the world only as a set of effective interpretations. Your view of the universe is programmed into you by your cultural conditioning, your childhood traumas Freud , your class interests Marx , or even your selfish genes Richard Dawkins. Words like truth refer to nothing more objective than that. They are projections of the self rather than an opening to qualities in the world.
The meeting and marriage of subject and object, of a receptive mind and a strange fact is what we mean by the word knowledge. No determinist who thinks his mind was made up for him by heredity and environment has any hesitation in making up his mind. All sceptics without exception work on the principle that it is possible to accept in practice what it is not possible to believe in theory.
Either statements can be true or untrue, which implies some truth can be formulated in language, or truth and self-expression are one and the same, which implies all statements are equally valid. It has to be one or the other. Dishonest subjectivists insist on having it both ways.
They will attack things which are untrue or illogical when taking objectivity for granted, and then, when it suits them, defend anything they please, however untrue or illogical, by suddenly insisting on the subjectivity of all experience. What one person calls justice another will call injustice. The perfect mystic would be always correctly dressed. Sex is, in fact, merely the adaptation to organic life of a fundamental polarity which divides all created beings. The male and female of organic creatures are rather faint and blurred reflections of masculine and feminine.
The word that has no definition is the word that has no substitute. We think of things as up or down, for example, so habitually that we often forget that they are just metaphors. The simple answer is yes. And what they mean can only be grasped by the imagination. Robert Lewis Stevenson. According to this hypothesis the only really authentic form of emotional communication between people would be sexual love. What A. One step above the sublime makes the ridiculous; and one step above the ridiculous makes the sublime again. But now the absoluteness of things has been replaced by a new absolute: absolute change; eternal becoming.
Yet reality is also less vague and more definite than language. If you begin by flouting it, it has a way of avenging itself later on. Wonder is the lasting source as well as the origin of philosophy. To conceive a thing, to possess comprehensive and exhaustive knowledge of a thing, is to cease to wonder. But, furthermore, to wonder is not merely not to know; it means to be inwardly aware and sure that one does not know, and that one understands oneself in not knowing Although to wonder means not to know, it does not mean that we are in a kind of despair, resigned to ignorance.
Out of wonder, says Aristotle, comes joy. Perhaps one might risk the following proposition: Wherever there is spiritual joy, wonder will also be found; and wherever the capacity for joy exists the capacity for wonder will be found. The questions which science asks can all, in principle, be fully answered, or at any rate they are not unanswerable in principle. This being is an eternal and infinite spirit who is the creator of all things, material and immaterial.
Moreover He creates by truly communicating being and is therefore separate from his creation just as the artist is from his art. This distinction between God and His creation, between spirit and matter, between mind and body is a feature that is unique to theism and is called dualism. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and some variants of Hinduism fall under this world view.
That is to say that the will of God does not keep being for itself alone but truly communicates it. It is a parasite on goodness. Eastern religions do not consider it to be real. They consider it to be illusion or false knowledge, what they call maya. This ultimate principle or substance is spiritual in nature, but is not usually thought of as having attributes of personality. Tao is the undifferentiated, indefinable source of all things and virtues.
At the first sight, therefore, their theories and speculations might seem to be utterly impractical in the sense that they have nothing to do with life, being merely transcendental roamings in the clouds. And yet, if they talk about purposelessness, they have in mind a higher purpose; if they talk about uselessness, they have in mind a higher usefulness; and if they talk about a complete detachment from the world, it is only because they want to show how one should conduct oneself in the world.
In the last analysis, Tao is nothing but a way of life. In this sense, the Taoists are eminently practical. The model or analogy of the universe favoured by materialism is the machine model, the idea that the universe can best be thought of as an extremely complicated system of gears and levers. An emphasis on this model is often called reductionism because it reduces all existence to such easily understood units and interactions. Materialism exalts logic, disdains faith, and tends to be impatient with mystery.
Until the advent of quantum theory which is rife with paradox it regarded paradox as a kind of nonsense or confusion that the advance of science would eventually eradicate. Though conceptually similar to monism in its rejection of dualism of mind and body, matter and spirit , the emotional tone of materialism is utterly different. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence?
Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion. Buddhism teaches that salvation lies in the death of desire since the objects of desire, being unreal, will inevitably lead to suffering and disappointment.