I profoundly admire Aldous Huxley, both for his philosophy and uncompromising sincerity. But I disagree with his advocacy of 'the chemical opening of doors into the Other World', and with his belief that drugs can procure 'what Catholic theologians call a gratuitous grace'. Chemically induced hallucinations, delusions and raptures may be frightening or wonderfully gratifying; in either case they are in the nature of confidence tricks played on one's own nervous system.
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The continuous disasters of man's history are mainly due to his excessive capacity and urge to become identified with a tribe, nation, church or cause, and to espouse its credo uncritically and enthusiastically, even if its tenets are contrary to reason, devoid of self-interest and detrimental to the claims of self-preservation.We are thus driven to the unfashionable conclusion that the trouble with our species is not an excess of aggression, but an excess capacity for fanatical devotion.
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Of all forms of mental activity, the most difficult to induce even in the minds of the young, who may be presumed not to have lost their flexibility, is the art of handling the same bundle of data as before, but placing them in a new system of relations with one another by giving them a different framework, all of which virtually means putting on a different kind of thinking-cap for the moment. It is easy to teach anybody a new fact...but it needs light from heaven above to enable a teacher to break the old framework in which the student is accustomed to seeing.
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The integrative tendencies of the individual operate through the mechanisms of empathy, sympathy, projection, introjection, identification, worship- all of which make him feel that he is a part of some larger entity which transcends the boundaries of the individual self. This psychological urge to belong, to participate, to commune is as primary and real as its opposite. The all-important question is the nature of that higher entity of which the individual feels himself a part.
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Satan, on the contrary, is thin, ascetic and a fanatical devotee of logic. He reads Machiavelli, Ignatius of Loyola, Marx and Hegel; he is cold and unmerciful to mankind, out of a kind of mathematical mercifulness. He is damned always to do that which is most repugnant to him: to become a slaughterer, in order to abolish slaughtering, to sacrifice lambs so that no more lambs may be slaughtered, to whip people with knouts so that they may learn not to let themselves be whipped, to strip himself of every scruple in the name of a higher scrupulousness, and to challenge the hatred of mankind because of his love for it-an abstract and geometric love.
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on the historical scale, the damages wrought by individual violence for selfish motives are insignificant compared to the holocausts resulting from self-transcending devotion to collectively shared belief-systems. It is derived from primitive identification instead of mature social integration; it entails the partial surrender of personal responsibility and produces the quasi-hypnotic phenomena of group-psychology.
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It was quiet in the cell. Rubashov heard only the creaking of his steps on the tiles. Six and a half steps to the door, whence they must come to fetch him, six and a half steps to the window, behind which night was falling. Soon it would be over. But when he asked himself, For what actually are you dying? he found no answer. It was a mistake in the system; perhaps it lay in the precept which until now he had held to be uncontestable, in whose name he had sacrificed others and was himself being sacrificed: in the precept, that the end justifies the means. It was this sentence which had killed the great fraternity of the Revolution and made them run amuck. What had he once written in his diary? "We have thrown overboard all conventions, our sole guiding principle is that of consequent logic; we are sailing without ethical ballast.
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Ivanov- "Up to now , all revolutions have been made by moralizing diletantes. They were always in good faith and perished because of their dilettantism. We for the first time are consequent... " "Yes, " said Rubashov. "So consequent, that in the interests of a just distribution of land we deliberately let die of starvation about five million farmers and their families in one year. So consequent were we in the liberation of human beings from the shackles of industrial exploitation that we sent about ten million people to do forced labour in the Artic regions and the jungles of the East, under conditions similar to those of antique galley slaves. So consequent that, to settle a difference of opinion, we know only one argument: death, whether it is a matter of submarines, manure, or the Party line to be followed in Indo-China...
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For the movement was without scruples; she rolled towards her goal unconcernedly and deposed the corpses of the drowned in the windings of her course. Her course had many twists and windings; such was the law of her being. And whosoever could not follow her crooked course was washed on to the bank, for such was her law. The motives of the individual did not matter to her. His conscience did not matter to her, neither did she care what went on in his head and his heart. The Party knew only one crime: to swerve from the course laid out; and only one punishment: death. Death was no mystery in the movement; there was nothing exalted about it: it was the logical solution to political divergences
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I don't approve of mixing ideologies, " Ivanov continued. "There are only two conceptions of human ethics, and they are at opposite poles. One of them is Christian and humane, declares the individual to be sacrosanct, and asserts that the rules of arithmetic are not to be applied to human units. The other starts from the basic principle that a collective aim justifies all means, and not only allows, but demands, that the individual should in every way be subordinated and sacrificed to the community-which may dispose of it as an experimentation rabbit or a sacrificial lamb. The first conception could be called anti-vivisection morality, the second, vivisection morality. Humbugs and dilettantes have always tried to mix the two conceptions; in practice, it is impossible.
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Rubashov had always believed that he knew himself rather well. Being without moral prejudices, he had no illusions about the phenomenon called the "first person singular" and had taken for granted, without particular emotion, that this phenomenon was endowed with certain impulses which people are generally reluctant to admit. Now, when he stood with his forehead against the window or suddenly stopped on the third black tile, he made unexpected discoveries. He found that those processes wrongly known as monologues are really dialogues of a special kind - dialogues in which one partner remains silent while the other, against all grammatical rules, addresses him as "I" instead of "you, " in order to creep into his confidence and to fathom his intentions, but the silent partner just remains silent, shuns observation, and even refuses to be localized in time and space.
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History has taught us that often lies serve her better than the truth, for man is sluggish and has to be led through the desert for forty years before each step in his development. And he has to be driven through the desert with threats and promises, by imaginary terrors and imaginary consolations, so that he should not sit down prematurely to rest and divert himself by worshipping golden calves.
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Our Press and our schools cultivate Chauvinism, militarism, dogmatism, conformism and ignorance. The arbitrary power of the Government is unlimited, and unexampled in history; freedom of the Press, of opinion and of movement are as thoroughly exterminated as though the proclamation of the Rights of Man had never been. We have built up the most gigantic police apparatus, with informers made a national institution, and the most refined scientific system of political and mental torture. We whip the groaning masses of the country towards a theoretical future happiness, which only we can.
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When one contemplates the streak of insanity running through human history, it appears highly probable that homo sapiens is a biological freak, the result of some remarkable mistake in the evolutionary process. The ancient doctrine of original sin, variants of which occur independently in the mythologies of diverse cultures, could be a reflection of man's awareness of his own inadequacy, of the intuitive hunch that somewhere along the line of his ascent something has gone wrong.
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As modern physics started with the Newtonian revolution, so modern philosophy starts with what one might call the Cartesian Catastrophe. The catastrophe consisted in the splitting up of the world into the realms of matter and mind, and the identification of 'mind' with conscious thinking. The result of this identification was the shallow rationalism of l' esprit Cartesien, and an impoverishment of psychology which it took three centuries to remedy even in part.
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Nobody before the Pythagorean had thought that mathematical relations held the secret of the universe. Twenty-five centuries later, Europe is still blessed and cursed with their heritage. To non-European civilizations, the idea that numbers are the key to both wisdom and power, seems never to have occurred.
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The life we led was a proof of man's capacity for adaptation.I think that even the condemned souls in purgatory after time develop a sort of homely routine.That is ,by the way, why most prison memoirs are unreadable.The difficulty of conveying to the reader an idea of a nightmare world from which he has emerged makes the author depict the prisoner's state of mind as an uninterruped continuity of despair.He fears to appear frivolous or to spoil his effect by admitting that even in the depths of misery cheerfulness keeps breaking in.
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If there is a lesson in our story it is that the manipulation, according to strictly self-consistent rules, of a set of symbols representing one single aspect of the phenomena may produce correct, verifiable predictions, and yet completely ignore all other aspects whose ensemble constitutes reality...
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Man's destiny was no longer determined from 'above' by a super-human wisdom and will, but from 'below' by the sub-human agencies of glands, genes, atoms, or waves of probability. ...they could determine his fate, but could provide him with no moral guidance, no values and meaning. A puppet of the Gods is a tragic figure, a puppet suspended on his chromosomes is merely grotesque.
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Modern man lives isolated in his artificial environment, not because the artificial is evil as such, but because of his lack of comprehension of the forces which make it work- of the principles which relate his gadgets to the forces of nature, to the universal order. It is not central heating which makes his existence 'unnatural,' but his refusal to take an interest in the principles behind it. By being entirely dependent on science, yet closing his mind to it, he leads the life of an urban barbarian.
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No man is an island- he is a holon. A Janus-faced entity who, looking inward, sees himself as a self-contained unique whole, looking outward as a dependent part. His self-assertive tendency is the dynamic manifestation of his unique wholeness, his autonomy and independence as a holon. Its equally universal antagonist, the integrative tendency, expresses his dependence on the larger whole to which he belongs: his 'part-ness.'.
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If one looks with a cold eye at the mess man has made of his history, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that he has been afflicted by some built-in mental disorder which drives him towards self-destruction. Murder within the species on an individual or collective scale is a phenomenon unknown in the whole animal kingdom, except for man, and a few varieties of ants and rats.
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Zen is to religion what a Japanese "rock garden" is to a garden. Zen knows no god, no afterlife, no good and no evil, as the rock-garden knows no flowers, herbs or shrubs. It has no doctrine or holy writ: its teaching is transmitted mainly in the form of parables as ambiguous as the pebbles in the rock-garden which symbolise now a mountain, now a fleeting tiger. When a disciple asks "What is Zen?", the master's traditional answer is "Three pounds of flax" or "A decaying noodle" or "A toilet stick" or a whack on the pupil's head.
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In the index to the six hundred odd pages of Arnold Toynbee's A Study of History, abridged version, the names of Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes and Newton do not occur yet their cosmic quest destroyed the medieval vision of an immutable social order in a walled-in universe and transformed the European landscape, society, culture, habits and general outlook, as thoroughly as if a new species had arisen on this planet.
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Some tribes [of monkeys] have taken to washing potatoes in the river before eating them, others have not. Sometimes migrating groups of potato-washers meet non-washers, and the two groups watch each other's strange behavior with apparent bewilderment. But unlike the inhabitants of Lilliput, who fought holy crusades over the question at which end to break the egg, the potato-washing monkeys do not go to war with the non-washers, because the poor creatures have no language which would enable them to declare washing a diving commandment and eating unwashed potatoes a deadly heresy.
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The moment of truth, the sudden emergence of a new insight, is an act of intuition. Such intuitions give the appearance of miraculous flushes, or short-circuits of reasoning. In fact they may be likened to an immersed chain, of which only the beginning and the end are visible above the surface of consciousness. The diver vanishes at one end of the chain and comes up at the other end, guided by invisible links.
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The greatest temptation for the like of us is: to renounce violence, to repent, to make peace with oneself. Most revolutionaries fell before this temptation, from Spartacus to Danton and Dostoevsky; they are the classical form of betrayal of the cause. The temptations of God were always more dangerous for mankind than those of Satan. As long as chaos dominates the world, God is an anachronism; and every compromise with one's own conscience is perfidy. When the accursed inner voice speaks to you, hold your hands over your ears... .
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Somebody once asked Niels Bohr why he had a horseshoe hanging above the front door of his house. Surely you, a world famous physicist, can't really believe that hanging a horseshoe above your door brings you luck? Of course not, Bohr replied, but I have been reliably informed that it will bring me luck whether I believe in it or not.
If time is treated in modern physics as a dimension on a par with the dimensions of space, why should we a priori exclude the possibility that we are pulled as well as pushed along its axis? The future has, after all, as much or as little reality as the past, and there is nothing logically inconceivable in introducing, as a working hypothesis, an element of finality, supplementary to the element of causality, into our equations. It betrays a great lack of imagination to believe that the concept of "purpose" must necessarily be associated with some anthropomorphic deity.
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The creativity and pathology of the human mind are, after all, two sides of the same medal coined in the evolutionary mint. The first is responsible for the splendour of our cathedrals, the second for the gargoyles that decorate them to remind us that the world is full of monsters, devils, and succubi.
I have repeatedly stressed that the selfish impulses of man constitute a much less historic danger than his integrative tendencies. To put it in the simplest way: the individual who indulges in an excess of aggressive self-assertiveness incurs the penalties of society-he outlaws himself, he contracts out of the hierarchy. The true believer, on the other hand, becomes more closely knit into it; he enters the womb of his church, or party, or whatever the social holon to which he surrenders his identity.
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The inner censor of the mind of the true believer completes the work of the public censor; his self-discipline is as tyrannical as the obedience imposed by the regime; he terrorizes his own conscience into submission;he carries his private Iron Curtain inside his skull, to protect his illusions against the intrusion of reality.
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All "if" statements about the past are as dubious as prophecies of the future are. It seems fairly plausible that if Alexander or Ghengis Khan had never been born, some other individual would have filled his place and executed the design of the Hellenic or Mongolic expansion; but the Alexanders of philosophy and religion, of science and art, seem less expendable; their impact seems less determined by economic challenges and social pressures; and they seem to have a much wider range of possibilities to influence the direction, shape and texture of civilizations.
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Wherever we find orderly, stable systems in Nature, we find that they are hierarchically structured, for the simple reason that without such structuring of complex systems into sub-assemblies, there could be no order and stability- except the order of a dead universe filled with a uniformly distributed gas.
It is impossible to decide whether a particular detail of the Pythagorean universe was the work of the master, or filled in by a pupil a remark which equally applies to Leonardo or Michelangelo . But there can be no doubt that the basic features were conceived by a single mind; that Pythagoras of Samos was both the founder of a new religious philosophy, and the founder of Science, as the word is understood today.
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The inner defenses are unconscious. They consist of a kind of magic aura which the mind builds around cherished belief. Arguments which penetrate into the magic aura are not dealt with rationally but by a specific type of pseudo-reasoning. Absurdities and contradictions are made acceptable by specious rationalizations.
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