lettre II

All the men that exist in the world, are far removed from truth and just dealings;
but they are full of evil foolishness, which leads them to insatiable covetousness
and vain-glorious ambition.
I, however, forgetting all their worthlessness,
and shunning satiety,
and who wish to avoid all envy on the part of my countrymen,
and all appearance of arrogance, will never come to Persia,
since I am quite contented with a little,
and live as best suits my own inclination.

Heraclitus

fragments

Those are amusing persons, he said,
who take great pride in the things which are not under our control.
A man says, ”I am better than you ; for I have many estates,
and you are half-dead with hunger.”
Another says, “I am a consular.”
Another, ”I am a procurator”
Another, ” I have thick curly hair”
But one horse does not say to another horse,
“I am better than you, for I have quantities of fodder,
and a great deal of barley, and my bridles are of gold,
and my saddle-cloths are embroidered,” but
“I can run faster than you can.”
And every creature is better or worse
because of its own particular virtue or vice.
Can it be, then, that man is the only creature without a special virtue,
but he must have recourse to his hair, and his clothes, and his grandsires ?

Epictetus

dada self-portrait

in the midst of life we are in death
poets tell many lies,
the philosophers tend to give with one hand
and take away with the other.
All knowledge that the world has ever received comes from the mind;
the infinite library of the universe is in our own mind,
the softest things in the world overcome
the hardest things in the world,
non-being penetrates that in which there is no space
through this I know the advantage of taking no action.
I am not at all interested in immortality, only in the taste of tea.
Don’t eat your heart.
Granting our wish one of Fate’s saddest jokes is.

What you do not want done to yourself,
do not do to others.
Nothing endures but change,
let things flow naturally forward
in whatever way they like.
Wisdom outweighs any wealth,
and one evil, ignorance…
you cannot teach a crab to walk straight.

in the midst of life we are in life
poets tell no lies,
the philosophers tend to give with one hand
and take away with the other,
nothing is easier than self-deceit
for what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true…

education

The first book of Moses cites as one of the distinctive marks of man:
to give animals names.
Now it is characteristic of the ordinary man,
the man of the people, to have that gift.
If the ordinary man sees a bird for some years,
which is not normally seen, he immediately gives it a name,
and a characteristic name.
But take ten learned men and how incapable they are of finding a name.
What a satire on them when one reads scientific works
and sees the names which come from the people,
and then the silly miserable names
when once in a while a learned man has to think of a name.
Usually they can think of nothing better than calling the animal or the plant
after their own name.

Søren Kierkegaard

pessimism

In early youth, as we contemplate our coming life,
we are like children in a theater before the curtain is raised,
sitting there in high spirits and eagerly waiting for the play to begin.
It is a blessing that we do not know what is really going to happen.
Could we foresee it, there are times when children might seem like innocent prisoners,
condemned, not to death, but to life,
and as yet all unconscious of what their sentence means.
Nevertheless every man desires to reach old age;
in other words, a state of life of which it may be said,
“It is bad today, and it will be worse tomorrow — and so on till the worst of all.”

Arthur Schopenhauer