A PHILOSOPHICAL PRACTITIONER'S
NOTEBOOK OF QUOTATIONS
Compiled by Shlomit Schuster (c) 19-9-1996
All rights reserved
| G. B. ACHENBACH
||"It was Schopenhauer who recognized in the pre-Freudian image of
Oedipus the critical image of the philosopher: 'Those who have
the courage not to leave any question hidden have the power to
|| "The study of pleasure and pain belongs to the providence of the
political philosopher; for he is the architect of the end, with a
view to which we call one thing bad and another good without
|| "I repeatedly asseverated that to me no fortune seemed favorable
unless it afforded leisure to apply oneself to philosophy; that
no life was a happy one except insofar as it was lived in
|| "The Devil take me if I really know who I am"
|| "Errors, like straws, upon the surface flow;
He who would search for pearls must dive below."
| R. M. HARE
|| "Sympathy is a vital ingredient in moral thinking, because only
if we have it can we be sure that in universalizing our moral
judgments we are doing so with an understanding of what their
acceptance in cases where we were the victims would mean for us,
i.e. what it is like to be at the receiving end."
| ALDOUS HUXLEY
|| " 'Households, cities, countries and nations have enjoyed great
happiness, when a single individual has taken heed of the Good
and the Beautiful . . . Such men not only liberate themselves;
they fill those they meet with a free mind.' Philo
Similar views are expressed by Al-Ghazzali. . ."
| KARL JASPERS
|| "We can determine the nature of philosophy only by actually
experiencing it. Philosophy then becomes the realization of the
living idea and the reflection upon this idea, action and
discourse on action in one."
| SOREN KIERKEGAARD
"For in truth to be able to help another person, I must understand more
than him - but nevertheless first and foremost also understand what he
understands. If I do not then my superior knowledge does not help him at
all. If, nevertheless, I asset my superior knowledge, then it is because
I am vain or proud, for basically instead of helping him I essentially
want to be admired by him. But all true help begins with an act of
humility; the helper must first humble himself under the one he wants to
help, and therewith understand that to help is not to command but to
"The unhapy person is one who has his lifes ideal, the content of his
life, the fullness of his consciousness, the essence of his being, in
some manner outside himself. The unhappy is always absent from himself,
never present for himself."
| ARTHUR KLEINMAN, M.D.
Healing has become increasingly marginal to the West's
dominant healing system.
| R.D. LAING, M.D.
"Doctors in all ages have made fortunes by killing their patients by
means of their cures. The difference in psychiatry is that is the death
of the soul."
| BLAISE PASCAL
||347. Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is
a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him.
A vapour, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the universe
were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed
him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe
has over him; the universe knows nothing of this.
All our dignity consists, then, in thought. By it we must elevate
ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot fill. Let us
endeavour, then, to think well; this is the principle of morality.
348. A thinking reed.--It is not from space that I must seek my
dignity, but from the government of my thought. I shall have no more if
I possess worlds. By space the universe encompasses and swallows me up
like an atom; by thought I comprehend the world.
|| "Socrates: 'Rhetoric is like medicine.' Phaedrus: 'How so?'
Socrates: 'Why, because medicine has to define the nature of the
body and rhetoric of the soul--if we would proceed, not
empirically but scientifically, in the one case to impart health
and strength by giving medicine and food, in the other to implant
the conviction or virtue which you desire, by the right
application of words and training.'"
|| "Can one expect good faith from the leaders of parties? Their
philosophy is meant for others; I need one for myself. Let me
seek it with all my might while there is still time, so that I
may have an assured rule of conduct for the rest of my days."
"If all men were Socrates, science would not be harmful to them,
but they would not have need of it."
On Emile's thinking exercises: "A course in practical philosophy,
a philosophy better understood and more thoroughly mastered than
all the empty speculations with which the brains of lads are
muddled in our schools."
|| "If I were a comet, I should consider the men of our present age
a degenerate breed. We have blotted out the heavens and only a
few scientists remain aware of stars and planets, meteorites and
comets. The world of our daily life is more man-made than at any
previous epoch. In this there is loss as well as gain: Man in
the security of his dominion, is becoming trivial, arrogant, and
a little mad. But I do not think a comet would now produce the
wholesome moral effect which it produced in Boston in 1662; a
stronger medicine would now be needed."
|| "It [the mind] cannot attain anything sublime and lofty so long
as it is sane."
| SUSAN SONTAG
|| "The creative phase of an idea coincides with the period during
which it insists, cantankerously, on its boundaries, on what
makes it different; but an idea becomes false and impotent when
it seeks reconciliation, at cut-rate prices, with other ideas."
|| "Many things we affirm and deny, because the nature of words
allows us to do so, though the nature of things does not. While
we remain unaware of this fact, we may easily mistake falsehood
| THOMAS SZASZ, M.D.
"The empire of psychiatric power is more than three hundred
years old and grows daily more all-encompassing. But we have
not yet begun to acknowledge its existence, much less to
understand its role in our society."
| SIMONE WEIL
||"In a general way, the literature of the twentieth century is
essentially psychological; and psychology consists in describing
states of the soul by displaying them all on the same plane
without any discrimination of value, as though good and evil were
external to them, as though the effort towards the good could be
absent at any moment from the thought of any man."
||Quotations from De Profundis:
Ultimately the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in
friendship, is conversation, and conversation must have a common basis . . .
Every day I said to myself, "I must keep Love in my heart today, else how
shall I live through the day."
The poor are wiser, more charitable, more kind, more sensitive than we are.
In their eyes prison is a tragedy in a man's life, a misfortune, a casualty,
something that calls for sympathy in others.
Now I find hidden away in my nature something that tells me that nothing in
the world is meaningless, and suffering least of all. That something hidden
away in my nature, like a treasure in a field, is Humility. . . . . It is
the one thing that has in it the elements of life, of a new life, a Vita
Nuova for me.
I remember saying once to Andre Gide . . . that while Metaphysics had but
little real interest for me, and Morality absolutely none, there was nothing
that either Plato or Christ had said that could not be transferred
immediately into the sphere of art, and there find its complete fulfillment.
People whose desire is solely for self-realisation never know where they are
going. They can't know. In one sense of the word it is, of course,
necessary, as the Greek oracle said, to know oneself. That is the first
achievement of knowledge. But to recognise that the soul of man is
unknowable is the ultimate achievement of Wisdom.
Do not be afraid of the past. If people tell you that it is irrevocable, do
not believe them. The past, the present and the future are but one moment in
the sight of God, in whose sight we should try to live. Time and space,
succession and extension, are merely accidental conditions of thought. The
Imagination can transcend them, and move in a free sphere of ideal
||"Now to what extent is it a matter of logic rather than
psychology that someone can or cannot learn a game? I say: The
person who cannot play this game does not have this concept."
Contributions have been received so far from Red Buffalo--the M.D. quotes--and from Anders Holt--on Kierkegaard.
|Contributions are encouraged. Send your favorite philosophical
practice quotation to the Notebook Committee who will add them when
considered appropriate. E-mail: