You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘philosophy’ tag.

The Prologue to Bertrand Russell’s Autobiography

What I Have Lived For

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a great ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.

I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy – ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness–that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what–at last–I have found.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.

This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.


Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) won the Nobel prize for literature for his History of Western Philosophy and was the co-author of Principia Mathematica.

 


Return to the Bertrand Russell Society Home Page

 

Eye_of_Horus

No need to die

We are not alive

Dancing blind in the sun

Singing deaf in a celestial choir

We live to die

Die to live

On and on

Eternal

 

ouroboros_en_to_pan_marcianus   It had no beginning. There was nothing as I groped. Did I grope? I just breathed. Breathed in for the first time. Again. That was the beginning. Already felt like something solid was there, something I needed to hold on to but still out of reach, Ariadne’s thread. I saw (envisioned) it stretching onward. I did not see the Minotaur but I felt his presence. And then it ended. Before I held it in my hand, no, in my mind, it was already finite. I saw the void. And the distance. But the distance did not matter. And what happened along the way would not matter either. Because ultimately, it would all end.

“Everything you do in life will be insignificant, but it’s very important that you do it.”  – Ghandi 

 

 

I escaped the moment

but it found me

and punished my cowardice by stretching for days

I hid the memory

but it burst free

rewarding my denial with endless company

I stopped breathing

but life kept on for me 

I shut the doors and drew all the blinds

but the truth shone in the dark

that there is no escape …

 

21-the-sound-of-goodbye_500

Art: Dorothy Grostern, The sound of goodbye

 

 

Art is long, life is short 

A friend of mine has died. I only found out about it the other day, purely by chance. He died last December. To me, he had been alive all this time. I could envision him painting, dressed in a paint-spattered caftan in front of his easel. What is the nature of death? When does a person cease to exist? For me, Fernando lived on… until the sudden news. If I pretended I never got it, would he still be alive in my world?

fernando-urena-rib

Fernando Ureña Rib (21 March 1951 – 27 December 2013)

Fernando_Ure_a_Rib_ImpressioniFotografiche_28

 

Jorge Luis Borges: The Unending Gift

A painter promised us a picture.

Here in New England, having learned of his death, I felt once again the sadness of recognizing that we are but shapes of a dream. I thought about the man and the picture, both lost.

(Only the gods can make promises, for they are immortal.)

I thought about the place, chosen in advance, where the canvas will not hang.

Later, I thought: if it were there, wouldn’t it in time become one thing more – an object, another of the vanities or habits of the house? Now the picture is limitless, unending, capable of taking any form or colour and bound to none.

In some way, it exists. It will live and grow, like music, and will remain with me to the end. Thank you, Jorge Larco.

(Men can make promises, too, for in a promise there is something that does not die).

 

FERNANDO_URE_A_RIB_84

 

crisalidaIII

 

Fernando_Ure_a_Rib_ImpressioniFotografiche_23

 

Art: Fernando Ureña Rib

The unexpected struggle between the need for privacy and quest for human interaction. Suddenly, I find myself questioning the jpg just uploaded, the opening line, or the content of my blog… how personal should it be? How personal will I allow it to get? And the relentless, nagging doubt about the very purpose of my, very personal, musings; who cares? Are my views of any importance? I guess time will tell…

But what is time? When St. Augustine was asked that question, he answered – philosophically, of course – “When you don’t ask me about time, I know what it is. But when you ask, I don’t know.”… this is paraphrased, I’m sure, but its wonderful paradox thrills me.

And since we are on the topic of philosophy, allow me to share with you one of the most striking minds I have ever encountered, alas the year he died, and only via video – the great Finnish thinker and anarchist, Jaana Kokko Veikko Levaaho. If I were to chose a world view to suit my soul at this moment in time, it would be his.Image