What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.
In what appears to have been an unplanned quip, Wilberforce asked Huxley if he thought he was descended from an ape on his father's or mother's side. Huxley retorted that he would rather have simian relatives than claim kinship with a man who used his charisma and authority to quash free debate.
We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn't, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares. But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think. What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us. This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.
On the morning of November 22nd, a Friday, it became clear the gap between living and dying was closing. Realizing that Aldous [Huxley] might not survive the day, Laura [Huxley's wife] sent a telegram to his son, Matthew, urging him to come at once. At ten in the morning, an almost inaudible Aldous asked for paper and scribbled "If I go" and then some directions about his will. It was his first admission that he might die... Around noon he asked for a pad of paper and scribbled LSD-try it intermuscular 100mm In a letter circulated to Aldous's friends, Laura Huxley described what followed: 'You know very well the uneasiness in the medical mind about this drug. But no 'authority', not even an army of authorities, could have stopped me then. I went into Aldous's room with the vial of LSD and prepared a syringe. The doctor asked me if I wanted him to give the shot- maybe because he saw that my hands were trembling. His asking me that made me conscious of my hands, and I said, 'No, I must do this.' An hour later she gave Huxley a second 100mm. Then she began to talk, bending close to his ear, whispering, 'light and free you let go, darling; forward and up. You are going forward and up; you are going toward the light. Willingly and consciously you are going, willingly and consciously, and you are doing this beautifully - you are going toward the light - you are going toward a greater love ... You are going toward Maria's [Huxley's first wife, who had died many years earlier] love with my love. You are going toward a greater love than you have ever known. You are going toward the best, the greatest love, and it is easy, it is so easy, and you are doing it so beautifully.' All struggle ceased. The breathing became slower and slower and slower until, 'like a piece of music just finishing so gently in sempre piu piano, dolcamente, ' at twenty past five in the afternoon, Aldous Huxley died.
They knew how to live with nature and get along with nature. They didn't try too hard to be all men and no animal. That's the mistake we made when Darwin showed up. We embraced him and Huxley and Freud, all smiles. And then we discovered that Darwin and our religions didn't mix. Or at least we didn't think they did. We were fools. We tried to budge Darwin and Huxley and Freud. They wouldn't move very well. So, like idiots, we tried knocking down religion. We succeeded pretty well. We lost our faith and went around wondering what life was for. If art was no more than a frustrated outflinging of desire, if religion was no more than self-delusion, what good was life? Faith had always given us answer to all things. But it all went down the drain with Freud and Darwin. We were and still are lost people.
Obviously, if theism is a belief in a God and atheism is a lack of a belief in a God, no third position or middle ground is possible. A person can either believe or not believe in a God. Therefore, our previous definition of atheism has made an impossibility out of the common usage of agnosticism to mean 'neither affirming nor denying a belief in God.' Actually, this is no great loss, because the dictionary definition of agnostic is still again different from Huxley's definition. The literal meaning of agnostic is one who holds that some aspect of reality is unknowable. Therefore, an agnostic is not simply someone who suspends judgment on an issue, but rather one who suspends judgment because he feels that the subject is unknowable and therefore no judgment can be made. It is possible, therefore, for someone not to believe in a God (as Huxley did not) and yet still suspend judgment (ie, be an agnostic) about whether it is possible to obtain knowledge of a God. Such a person would be an atheistic agnostic. It is also possible to believe in the existence of a force behind the universe, but to hold (as did Herbert Spencer) that any knowledge of that force was unobtainable. Such a person would be a theistic agnostic.
I was socially isolated as a kid. I had friends, but I wasn't very good at sports and that sort of thing so I became quite comfortable being by myself, exploring. The world was my private playground, and in it, I was supreme. Darwin, Faraday, Huxley and other great scientists were my companions.
Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
Too often critics seem more intent on seeking new ways to alter Congress than to truly learn how it functions. They might well profit from the advice of Thomas Huxley, who said a century ago: Sit down before facts as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notionor you shall learn nothing.
Gerald R. Ford
And I will add this point of merely personal experience of humanity: when men have a real explanation they explain it, eagerly and copiously and in common speech, as Huxley freely gave it when he thought he had it. When they have no explanation to offer, they give short dignified replies, disdainful of the ignorance of the multitude.
Gilbert K. Chesterton
It would be pleasant to believe that the age of pessimism is now coming to a close, and that its end is marked by the same author who marked its beginning: Aldous Huxley. After thirty years of trying to find salvation in mysticism, and assimilating the Wisdom of the East, Huxley published in 1962 a new constructive utopia, The Island. In this beautiful book he created a grand synthesis between the science of the West and the Wisdom of the East, with the same exceptional intellectual power which he displayed in his Brave New World. (His gaminerie is also unimpaired; his close union of eschatology and scatology will not be to everybody's tastes.) But though his Utopia is constructive, it is not optimistic; in the end his island Utopia is destroyed by the sort of adolescent gangster nationalism which he knows so well, and describes only too convincingly. This, in a nutshell, is the history of thought about the future since Victorian days. To sum up the situation, the sceptics and the pessimists have taken man into account as a whole; the optimists only as a producer and consumer of goods. The means of destruction have developed pari passu with the technology of production, while creative imagination has not kept pace with either. The creative imagination I am talking of works on two levels. The first is the level of social engineering, the second is the level of vision. In my view both have lagged behind technology, especially in the highly advanced Western countries, and both constitute dangers.
Medals are great encouragement to young men and lead them to feel their work is of value, I remember how keenly I felt this when in the 1890s. I received the Darwin Medal and the Huxley Medal. When one is old, one wants no encouragement and one goes on with one's work to the extent of one's power, because it has become habitual.
When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can't make them change if they don't want to, just like when they do want to, you can't stop them. "A man is what he thinks about all day long." [Ralph Waldo Emerson] Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting. Aldous Huxley
This passion, so unordered and yet so potent, explains the capacity for teaching that one frequently observes in scientific men of high attainments in their specialties-for example, Huxley, Ostwald, Karl Ludwig, Virchow, Billroth, Jowett, William G. Sumner, Halsted and Osler-men who knew nothing whatever about the so-called science of pedagogy, and would have derided its alleged principles if they had heard them stated.
H. L. Mencken
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.
Much of the geographical work of the past hundred years... has either explicitly or implicitly taken its inspiration from biology, and in particular Darwin. Many of the original Darwinians, such as Hooker, Wallace, Huxley, Bates, and Darwin himself, were actively concerned with geographical exploration, and it was largely facts of geographical distribution in a spatial setting which provided Darwin with the germ of his theory.
David R. Stoddart
You must not say that this cannot be, or that that is contrary to nature. You do not know what Nature is, or what she can do; and nobody knows; not even Sir Roderick Murchison, or Professor Huxley, or Mr. Darwin, or Professor Faraday, or Mr. Grove, or any other of the great men whom good boys are taught to respect. They are very wise men; and you must listen respectfully to all they say: but even if they should say, which I am sure they never would, 'That cannot exist. That is contrary to nature,' you must wait a little, and see; for perhaps even they may be wrong.
Mr. [Aldous] Huxley has been the alarming young man for a long time, a sort of perpetual clever nephew who can be relied on to flutter the lunch party. Whatever will he say next? How does he think of those things? He has been deplored once or twice, but feeling is in his favor: he is steadily read. He is at once the truly clever person and the stupid person's idea of the clever person; he is expected to be relentless, to administer intellectual shocks.
The scientific method," Thomas Henry Huxley once wrote, "is nothing but the normal working of the human mind." That is to say, when the mind is working; that is to say further, when it is engaged in corrrecting its mistakes. Taking this point of view, we may conclude that science is not physics, biology, or chemistry--is not even a "subject"--but a moral imperative drawn from a larger narrative whose purpose is to give perspective, balance, and humility to learning.
The scientific method," Thomas Henry Huxley once wrote, "is nothing but the normal working of the human mind." That is to say, when the mind is working; that is to say further, when it is engaged in corrrecting its mistakes. Taking this point of view, we may conclude that science is not physics, biology, or chemistry-is not even a "subject"-but a moral imperative drawn from a larger narrative whose purpose is to give perspective, balance, and humility to learning.
My main reason for scepticism about the Huxley/Sagan theory is that the human brain is demonstrably eager to see faces in random patterns, as we know from scientific evidence, on top of the numerous legends about faces of Jesus, or the Virgin Mary, or Mother Teresa, being seen on slices of toast, or pizzas, or patches of damp on a wall. This eagerness is enhanced if the pattern departs from randomness in the specific direction of being symmetrical.
The fact is that the modern implementation of the prison planet has far surpassed even Orwell's 1984 and the only difference between our society and those fictionalized by Huxley, Orwell and others, is that the advertising techniques used to package the propaganda are a little more sophisticated on the surface. Yet just a quick glance behind the curtain reveals that the age old tactics of manipulation of fear and manufactured consensus are still being used to force humanity into accepting the terms of its own imprisonment and in turn policing others within the prison without bars.
Paul Joseph Watson
And no one has the right to say that no water-babies exist, till they have seen no water-babies existing; which is quite a different thing, mind, from not seeing water-babies; and a thing which nobody ever did, or perhaps will ever do. But surely ... they would have put it into spirits, or into the Illustrated News, or perhaps cut it into two halves, poor dear little thing, and sent one to Professor Owen, and one to Professor Huxley, to see what they would each say about it.
[Thomas Henry] Huxley, I believe, was the greatest Englishman of the Nineteenth Century""perhaps the greatest Englishman of all time. When one thinks of him, one thinks inevitably of such men as Goethe and Aristotle. For in him there was that rich, incomparable blend of intelligence and character, of colossal knowledge and high adventurousness, of instinctive honesty and indomitable courage which appears in mankind only once in a blue moon. There have been far greater scientists, even in England, but there has never been a scientist who was a greater man.
H. L. Mencken
[Aldous Huxley] compared the brain to a 'reducing valve'. In ordinary perception, the senses send an overwhelming flood of information to the brain, which the brain then filters down to a trickle it can manage for the purpose of survival in a highly competitive world. Man has become so rational, so utilitarian, that the trickle becomes most pale and thin. It is efficient, for mere survival, but it screens out the most wondrous part of man's potential experience without his even knowing it. We're shut off from our own world.
One of the most intensely unlikeable figures of the twentieth century, fanatical anti-Semite, enemy of labour unions and proud recipient of medals from Nazi Germany, where Hitler held him in veneration, Henry Ford was also an employer who paid his workers more than his competitors, an innovator who pioneered the assembly line and a visionary whose part in the creation of the twentieth century was so great that Aldous Huxley, in his Brave New World, prefigured a society whose calendar was divided into BF and AF-Before Ford and After Ford.
There was no sense to life, to the structure of things. D.H. Lawrence had known that. You needed love, but not the kind of love most people used and were used up by. Old D.H. had known something. His buddy Huxley was just an intellectual fidget, but what a marvelous one. Better than G.B. Shaw with that hard keel of a mind always scraping bottom, his labored wit finally only a task, a burden on himself, preventing him from really feeling anything, his brilliant speech finally a bore, scraping the mind and the sensibilities. It was good to read them all though. It made you realize that thoughts and words could be fascinating, if finally useless.
Even time is a concept. In reality we are always in the eternal present. The past is just a memory, the future just an image or thought. All our stories about past and future are only ideas, arising in the moment. Our modern culture is so tyrannized by goals, plans, and improvement schemes that we constantly live for the future. But as Aldous Huxley reminded us in his writings, "An idolatrous religion is one in which time is substituted for eternity...the idea of endless progress is the devil's work, even today demanding human sacrifice on an enormous scale.
Darwin, with his Origin of Species, his theories about Natural Selection, the Survival of the Fittest, and the influence of environment, shed a flood of light upon the great problems of plant and animal life. These things had been guessed, prophesied, asserted, hinted by many others, but Darwin, with infinite patience, with perfect care and candor, found the facts, fulfilled the prophecies, and demonstrated the truth of the guesses, hints and assertions. He was, in my judgment, the keenest observer, the best judge of the meaning and value of a fact, the greatest Naturalist the world has produced. The theological view began to look small and mean. Spencer gave his theory of evolution and sustained it by countless facts. He stood at a great height, and with the eyes of a philosopher, a profound thinker, surveyed the world. He has influenced the thought of the wisest. Theology looked more absurd than ever. Huxley entered the lists for Darwin. No man ever had a sharper sword - a better shield. He challenged the world. The great theologians and the small scientists - those who had more courage than sense, accepted the challenge. Their poor bodies were carried away by their friends. Huxley had intelligence, industry, genius, and the courage to express his thought. He was absolutely loyal to what he thought was truth. Without prejudice and without fear, he followed the footsteps of life from the lowest to the highest forms. Theology looked smaller still. Haeckel began at the simplest cell, went from change to change - from form to form - followed the line of development, the path of life, until he reached the human race. It was all natural. There had been no interference from without. I read the works of these great men - of many others - and became convinced that they were right, and that all the theologians - all the believers in "special creation" were absolutely wrong. The Garden of Eden faded away, Adam and Eve fell back to dust, the snake crawled into the grass, and Jehovah became a miserable myth.
Robert G. Ingersoll
But it so happens that everything on this planet is, ultimately, irrational; there is not, and cannot be, any reason for the causal connexion of things, if only because our use of the word "reason" already implies the idea of causal connexion. But, even if we avoid this fundamental difficulty, Hume said that causal connexion was not merely unprovable, but unthinkable; and, in shallower waters still, one cannot assign a true reason why water should flow down hill, or sugar taste sweet in the mouth. Attempts to explain these simple matters always progress into a learned lucidity, and on further analysis retire to a remote stronghold where every thing is irrational and unthinkable. If you cut off a man's head, he dies. Why? Because it kills him. That is really the whole answer. Learned excursions into anatomy and physiology only beg the question; it does not explain why the heart is necessary to life to say that it is a vital organ. Yet that is exactly what is done, the trick that is played on every inquiring mind. Why cannot I see in the dark? Because light is necessary to sight. No confusion of that issue by talk of rods and cones, and optical centres, and foci, and lenses, and vibrations is very different to Edwin Arthwait's treatment of the long-suffering English language. Knowledge is really confined to experience. The laws of Nature are, as Kant said, the laws of our minds, and, as Huxley said, the generalization of observed facts. It is, therefore, no argument against ceremonial magic to say that it is "absurd" to try to raise a thunderstorm by beating a drum; it is not even fair to say that you have tried the experiment, found it would not work, and so perceived it to be "impossible." You might as well claim that, as you had taken paint and canvas, and not produced a Rembrandt, it was evident that the pictures attributed to his painting were really produced in quite a different way. You do not see why the skull of a parricide should help you to raise a dead man, as you do not see why the mercury in a thermometer should rise and fall, though you elaborately pretend that you do; and you could not raise a dead man by the aid of the skull of a parricide, just as you could not play the violin like Kreisler; though in the latter case you might modestly add that you thought you could learn. This is not the special pleading of a professed magician; it boils down to the advice not to judge subjects of which you are perfectly ignorant, and is to be found, stated in clearer and lovelier language, in the Essays of Thomas Henry Huxley.
THE MANY FACES OF SURVIVAL Sunday, August 10th at 2:00 PST Dachau Liberator, medical whistle-blower, award winning writer, college professor and world renowned garlic farmer, Chester Aaron, talks about the hard choices he's had to make, why he made them, and how it's changed his life. Mr. Aaron was recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, and received the Huntington Hartford Foundation fellowship which was chaired by Aldous Huxley and Tomas Mann. He also inspired Ralph Nader to expose the over-radiation of blacks in American hospitals. Now Mr. Aaron is a world-renowned garlic farmer who spends his days writing about the liberation of Dachau. He is 86 years old and he has a thousand stories to tell. Although he has published over 17 books, he is still writing more and looks forward to publishing again soon.
When in 1863 Thomas Huxley coined the phrase 'Man's Place in Nature, ' it was to name a short collection of his essays applying to man Darwin's theory of evolution. The Origin of Species had been published only four years before, and the thesis that man was literally a part of nature, rather than an earthy vessel charged with some sublimer stuff, was so novel and so offensive to current metaphysics that it needed the most vigorous defense. Half the civilized world was rudely shocked, the other half skeptically amused. Nearly a century has passed since the Origin shattered the complacency of the Victorian world and initiated what may be called the Darwinian revolution, an upheaval of man's ideas comparable to and probably exceeding in significance the revolution that issued from Copernicus's demonstration that the earth moves around the sun. The theory of evolution was but one of many factors contributing to the destruction of the ancient beliefs; it only toppled over what had already been weakened by centuries of decay, rendered suspect by the assaults of many intellectual disciplines; but it marked the beginning of the end of the era of faith.
Homer W. Smith
La historia no ha cambiado. Hace mil anos ellos eran los duenos del mundo. Hoy en dia lo siguen siendo. Claro, lo tienen que compartir con los grandes magnates de la tierra, esos que controlan el petroleo, las drogas, la tecnologia y por supuesto la television y la radio. La Iglesia domina los miedos y la promesa de la salvacion; las grandes empresas tambien manipulan los miedos y los paliativos para estos: la satisfaccion de las necesidades basicas - y las no tan basicas que hoy en dia parecen primordiales: carro, casa, belleza y entretenimiento - , una via directa al consimismo. Ambos en busca de lo mismo, la minipulacion del pueblo que los lleva a la gallina de los huevos de oro: el dinero de las masas. No es causalidad que la gente no quiera pensar. La Iglesia se encargo por siglos de esto, evitando la lectura de cualquier cosa que no fuese su religion. Desde Aristoteles, Ovidio, Pitagoras, Platon, Socrates, Antistenes, Heraclito, hasta Voltaire, Huxley, Hesse, Sade, Maquiavelo, Rousseau, Nietzsche, Dumas, entre otros, fueron censurados.