This coming at you from Alexis de Toqueville
“So the State is full of solicitude for the happiness of the citizens, but it wants to be the unique agent and the sole (illegible word) of it. It is the State that takes care of providing their security, facilitating their pleasures, directing the principle affairs; the State itself creates roads, digs canals, directs industries, divides inheritances. It may even be able to plow the earth and finally take away from each man even the difficulty of living!
“Equality of conditions has prepared men for all these things; it has disposed them to bear them and often even to regard them as a good.
“This is how, aiding itself sometimes with the vices of men, sometimes with their weaknesses, often with their inexperience, the central power little by little and without effort takes hold of the entire life of a democratic people. It does not tear their rights away from them; their rights are abandoned to it. It does not do violence to mores; it does not overturn ideas, but it gently directs both towards servitude.”
~Alexis de Toqueville, What Type of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear from American Democracy
I was reading a chapter from American Democracy and ran across this bit. Think on it. Especially those parts in bold.
P.S. The part in parentheses that says “illegible word” is because it was transcribed form a notebook.
The greater the difficulty, the more the glory in surmounting it.
This one is pretty simple, but I like it nonetheless. We must challenge ourselves and do things that may seem difficult in order to accomplish great things.
Everything’s you’re own fault if you’re any damn good.
I picked this quote because it brings to light a certain feature of successful people. They do not place blame. They take responsibility for their own success. If you want to be successful you need to take responsibility for your own success and more important your failures. Own up to your failures, even those you don’t think you can or could have done anything about, because chances are you can or could have done something about it. We have the opportunity to learn much more from our failures than our successes.
Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.
I quite like this quote from Burke as it embodies an idea that I think is true throughout our lives: every little bit counts. Without the tree a forest is naught. Without the individual a society is naught.
As long as I have a want, I have a reason for living. Satisfaction is death.
-George Bernard Shaw
I happened across this quote in The Harper Book of Quotations and found it to be particularly relevant to my post today. In this quote I see a shadow of the idea I discuss in On Choices. The idea that we are goal-oriented beings that make decisive actions. We act with reason. If we were to be completely satisfied and had no more wants or goals, no more reasoned action, then would we truly still be living?
I found this quote in a book entitled Einstein’s God by Krista Tippett. She quotes a mathematician by the name of Curt Godel. It is simply:
There are some truths that can never be proven to be true.
This statement was made in light of Godel’s then-recent incompleteness theorem which he was able to prove mathematically. The incompleteness theorem states that: In any system at least as complicated as arithmetic: it is either consistent OR complete. Consistent meaning that there are no contradictions and complete meaning that you can prove everything. So, either there are no contradictions OR you can prove everything. If you then choose to consider the system to be consistent then there are truths that cannot be proven. Some food for thought.
So it’s not the 20th anymore but it’s close enough. Here’s one of my all-time favorite quotes.
No concept man forms is valid unless he integrates it without contradiction into the total sum of his knowledge.
this quote has always struck a cord with me as it perfectly describes how I approach philosophy and thinking. Whatever it is you think it should be consistent with everything else you think. You should not believe contradictory things and you should not apply logic differently to different areas of your life. It is similar to Kant’s Categorical Imperative which is a mechanism used to determine the validity of our actions. In short, when determining whether or not to do something you ask yourself if everyone did this would it work or make sense to do. If the answer is yes then its fine, if not then it’s not fine and you shouldn’t do it. Now, that’s just a quick idea of what it’s like but it gets the point across. Be consistent in what you think and what you do and that should be consistent with how the world and those individuals who make up what we call society.
Just some food for thought. I hope this gives you another perspective on any introspective considerations you make.