Posts in Philosophy
Wish I'd said that - January 7, 2019

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment. If the cause of the trouble lies in your own character, set about reforming your principles; who is there to hinder you? If it is the failure to take some apparently sound course of action that is vexing you, then why not take it, instead of fretting? ‘There is an insuperable obstacle in the way.’ In that case, do not worry; the responsibility for inaction is not yours. ‘But life is not worth living with this undone.’ Why then, bid life a good-humoured farewell; accepting the frustration gracefully, and dying like any other man whose actions have not been inhibited.”

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Wish I'd said that - January 3, 2019

“Nobody worries, within the ‘hard’ sciences, about the morality of molecules. Even quarks, whatever their assigned properties of color, flavor, and charm, have yet to be regarded as good or evil. But no work of history of which I’m aware has ever been written without making some kind of statement – explicitly or implicitly, consciously or subconsciously – about where its subjects lie along the ubiquitous spectrum that separates the admirable from the abhorrent. You can’t escape thinking about history in moral terms…. The reason is that we are, unlike all others, moral animals…. even Hitler knew that the Holocaust was immoral, or he wouldn’t have gone to the efforts he did to try to conceal it. To try to purge human nature of a moral sense is to deny what distinguishes it. You’d be writing the histories of schools of fish, flocks of birds, and herds of deer, not people. The issue for historians, then, is not whether we should make moral judgements, but how we can do so responsibly…”

John Lewis Gaddis, The Landscape of History