Wednesday, June 22, 2005

That man is never happy for the present is so true, that all his relief from unhappiness is only forgetting himself for a little while. Life is a progress from want to want, not from enjoyment to enjoyment.

Samuel Johnson to James Boswell, in his The Life of Samuel Johnson

Saturday, June 18, 2005

In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.


[A} cynic [is] a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
And a sentimentalist…is a man who sees an absurd value in everything, and doesn't know the market price of any single thing.

Oscar Wilde, Act III, Lady Windermere’s Fan

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Balkans create more history than they can consume locally.

Saki (HH Munro) as quoted by Lord Burnham

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

[F]or general improvement, a man should read whatever his immediate inclination prompts him to.

Samuel Johnson to James Boswell, in his The Life of Samuel Johnson

Monday, June 13, 2005

How does a pattern of brain activity generate feeling? This is not a question about how that pattern of brain activity is generated, for that can be explained in the usual way, just as we explain how a pattern of activity in a car is or a kidney is generated. It is a question about how feeling itself is generated. Otherwise the feeling just remains something that is mysteriously (but reliably) correlated with certain brain patterns.

We don't know how brain activity could generate feeling. Even less do we know why.

Stevan Harnad, "Letters: What is Consciousness?" in the June 23, 2005 NYRB.

Monday, June 06, 2005

[T]rue politeness is a moral quality, whereby the self is abnegated (concealed, Pascal would have said) in order to further the happiness of the group.

Peter France, "The Pleasure of Their Company," in the June 23, 2005 NYRB.