Saturday, September 20, 2003

Philosophy Saturday

Here are some excerpts from The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy by Etienne Gilson.

"At first sight there seems to be no reason at all why intelligent beings like men, with all the resources of the world at their disposal, should not succeed in satisfying their desires. So little it seems is needed for the purpose. Epicurus remarked, and not without reason, that with a little bread and water the wise man is the equal of Jupiter himself."

"The fact is, perhaps, that with a little bread and water a man ought to be happy but precisely is not; and if he is not, it is not necessarily because he lacks wisdom, but simply because he is a man, and because all that is deepest in him perpetually gainsays the wisdom offered. It seems as though he could pursue no other end than his own proper happiness, but is quite incapable of attaining it beccause, although everything pleases, nothing contents. . . . The experience is too common to be worth the trouble of many words. . . that all human pleasure is desirable but none ever suffices."

"We must understand in the first place that the very insatiability of human desire has a positive significance; it means this: that we are attracted by an infinite good. Disgust with each particular good is but the reverse side of our thirst for the total good; weariness is but a presentiment of the infinite gulf that lies between the thing loved and the thing within love's capacity."

"Human love, in spite of all its ignorance, blindness, and even downright error, is never anything but a finite participation in God's own love for Himself. Man's misery lies in the fact that he can so easily deceive himself as to the true object, and suffer accordingly, without even suspecting that he does so; but even in the midst of the lowest pleasures, the most abandoned voluptuary is still seeking God. . . ."

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