The victory [over Communism] is real and celebration is in order. But so is some cautious self-examination, for there's perhaps no more dangerous time for any society than its moment of greatest triumph. It would be truly foolish to let the decline of communism blind us to the long-term contradictions in a free market economy unrestrained by the considerations of the environment and social justice, and driven by heedless consumerism, instant gratification, and the quick fix. Our dedication to growth at all costs puts us on a collision course with the environment. Our dedication to the illusion of endless climaxes puts us on a collision course with the human psyche. [p.36]
For the master, surrender means there are no experts. There are only learners. [p.88]
No need here to count the ways that organizations and cultures resist change and backslide when change does occur. Just let it be said that the resistance here (as in other cases) is proportionate to the size and speed of the change, not to whether the change is a favorable or unfavorable one. If an organization or cultural reform meets tremendous resistance, it is because it's either a tremendously bad idea or a tremendously good idea. Trivial change, bureaucratic meddling, is much easier to accept, and that's one reason why you see so much of it. [p.112]
Is it possible to be too positive? Only if you deny the existence of negative factors, of situations in your life and in the world at large that need correcting. Some Eastern philosophies as well as certain Western religions and quasi-religions do just that. Their insistence that evils and ills are nothing more than illusion comforts the converted but often leads to a harmful denial of personal reality and a callousness toward the injustices in the world. Generally, denial inhibits energy, while realistic acknowledgment of the truth releases it. [p.125]
Before you can use your potential energy, you have to decide what you're going to do with it. And in making any choice, you face a monstrous fact: to move in one direction, you must forgo all others. To choose one goal is to forsake a very large number of other possible goals. A friend of mine, twenty-nine and still looking for a cause, a purpose in life, said, "Our generation has been raised on the idea of keeping all your options open. But if you keep all your options open, you can't do a damned thing." It's a problem: How can any one option, any one goal, match up to the possibilities contained in all others?
...Ultimately, liberation comes through acceptance of limits. You can't do everything, but you can do one thing, and then another and another. In terms of energy, it's better to make a wrong choice than none at all. [p.128&129]
But my brain, which is also I, your brain and the thoughts within it, as well as the house across the street, are all forms of an inextricably interwoven process called the real world. Conscious or unconscious of it as I may be, it is all I in the sense that the sun, the air, and human society are just as vital to me as my brain or my lungs. If, then, this brain is my brain -- unaware of it as I am -- the sun is my sun, the air is my air, and society my society. [p.108]
Where there is to be creative action, it is quite beside the point to discuss what we should or should not do in order to be right or good. A mind that is single and sincere is not interested in being good, in conducting relations with other people so as to live up to a rule. Nor, on the other hand, is it interested in being free, in acting perversely just to prove its independence. Its interest is not in itself, but in the people and problems of which it is aware; these are "itself." It acts, not according to rules, but according to the circumstances of the moment, and the "well" it wishes to others is not security but liberty. [p.132]
It is obvious that the only interesting people are interested people, and to be completely interested is to have forgotten about "I." [p.148]
The greater the scientist, the more he is impressed with his ignorance of reality, and the more he realizes that his laws and labels, descriptions and definitions, are the products of his own thought. They help him use the world for purposes of his own rather than to understand and explain it.
The more he analyzes the universe into infinitesimals, the more things he finds to classify, and the more he perceives the relativity of all classification. What he does not know seems to increase in geometric progression to what he knows. Steadily he approaches the point where what is unknown is not a mere blank space in a web of words but a window in the mind, a window whose name is not ignorance but wonder. [p.149&150]
From the author's bio:
Standing apart, however, from sectarian membership, he has earned the reputation of being on of the most original and "unrutted" philosophers of the century.
While working there I found myself confronted by the biggest dilemma that anthropologists face: if their human subjects' lives are at risk, should they intervene or carry on dispassionately? [p.38]
Study so intense [to be a "genius"] requires resources -- time and space to work, teachers to mentor -- and the subjects of Bloom's study, like most elite performers, almost invariably enjoyed plentiful support in their formative years. [p.42]
On college campuses there is less interest in asking questions about the state of the world than in refining one's presence on Facebook or MySpace. [Sherry Turkle, p.49]
"It's creating a big weapon against Christians that's killing our faith...when children go to museums they'll start believing we evolved from these apes." -- Bishop Boniface Adoyo of Kenya who is leading a campaign to have human fossil remains removed from the National Museum of Kenya (The Observer, London, 10 September)