mortality as a kind of strength

Other forms of sought experience confront mortality very differently, when you try to align yourself with immortal things and, in the presence of quick passing objects, assimilate the perception of mortality as a kind of strength. Nature is usually what we need to experience to make the trick work.

The sights of trees, or mountaintops, or the sea, possess their intrinsic delights by diversity of colors, and motion, and the millions of objects in a single scene. But nature takes on its occult power for redeeming experience when it puts the human being at a middle point between the perishable and the eternal.

You watch nature’s decline in autumn and rebirth in spring, while you stay just as you were; half the objects in a forest clearing will die before you do, the leaves and birds and mushrooms, and yet you stay the same.

Nature’s beauty seems to have been made for you, since only a human being can appreciate it; but you know nature is not created for you, and this melancholy indifference of nature to your appreciation adds its own gratifying experience of superior knowledge.

It’s easier, finally, to have a mountain outlive you than another human being—especially when you know the mountain as it doesn’t know you, and everything smaller submits to you, as the squirrels run away in fright and the leaves fall at your feet.

Greif, Mark. Essays Against Everything. New York: Vintage Books, 2016. 83–84. Print.


Setting one’s heart right

When it is said that the will becomes sincere when there is knowledge, the reference is to self-knowledge, and the point is that one who has self-knowledge will not deceive himself about the motives and principles of his actions. Thus it is said, “What is meant by making the will sincere is that one should not deceive himself.”

People should not try to deceive themselves that if they do something in private no one will know and therefore it is all right. The wrong action will be known to the one who commits it immediately, and soon the effects will be known to others as well.

Corruptness of private character does not remain purely private—a person does not live in isolation—but affects, and is affected by, the whole community of human beings.

When someone is upset by worries and cares, or is overcome with passions, his or her heart is disturbed. This person is hardly in a position to make fair and just decisions concerning any matters, personal or public.

When, on the other hand, “the heart is set right,” one avoids the excesses of defects that affect one’s ability to make good decisions. That is why Confucius says, “The cultivation of the personal life depends on setting one’s heart right.”

With the proper attitude toward life a person will remain calm even in joy and sorrow and will be able to live a good personal life.

Koller, John M. Oriental Philosophies. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1970. 273. Print.


Polaroid 665 B&W P/N film

Manning the photo counter at Hampton Hobby House, Hampton, Va., c. 1985

Manning the photo counter at Hampton Hobby House, Hampton, Va., c. 1985. (Alan Hilliard)

. . .

Both films were fussy, delicate and prone to scratches. But they yielded fine-grained negatives with evocative and funky borders reminiscent of 19th-century wet-plate photographs.

Conrad, Fred R. “Shoptalk: Polaroid’s Quirky Films.” The New York Times. 8 Jun. 2009. Web.


divine command theory

Plato’s writings were in the form of dialogues, usually between Socrates and one or more interlocutors. In one of these dialogues, Euthyphro, there is a discussion concerning whether “right” can be defined as “that which the gods command.” Socrates is skeptical and asks: Is conduct right because the gods command it, or do the gods command it because it is right? It is one of the most famous quotations in the history of philosophy. The contemporary British philosopher Antony Flew suggests that “one good test of a person’s aptitude for philosophy is to discover whether he can grasp its force and point.”

Rachels, James. The Elements of Moral Philosophy. New York: Random House, 1986. 42. Print.


self-actualizing personality

“Their behavior is marked by simplicity and naturalness, and by lack of artificiality and straining for effort. This does not necessarily mean consistently unconventional behavior.

Actually, the ‘self-actualizing personality’ is not extremely unconventional. His unconventionality is not superficial but essential and internal. It is his impulse, thought, and consciousness that are unconventional, spontaneous and natural.

Apparently recognizing that the world of people in which he lives could not understand or accept this, and since he has no wish to hurt people or to fight them over trivialities, he will go through the ordinary trivial conventions with a good-humored shrug and with the best possible grace. . . . But the fact that this ‘conventionality’ is a cloak which rests very lightly on his shoulders and is easily cast aside can be seen from the fact that the self-actualizing person practically never allows convention to hamper him or inhibit him from doing anything that he considers very important and basic.”

Hayakawa, S.I. Symbol, Status, and Personality. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1963. 55–56. Print.