Monthly Archives: November 2016

The Story of Philosophy – Will Durant

Introduction [excerpt]

There is a pleasure in philosophy, and a lure even in the mirages of metaphysics, which every student feels until the coarse necessities of physical existence drag  him from the heights of thought into the mart of economic strife  and gain. Most of us have  known some golden days in the  June of life when philosophy was in fact what Plato calls it, “that dear delight”;  when the love of a modestly elusive  Truth seemed more glorious, incomparably, than the lust for the  ways of the flesh and the dross of the world. And there is always some wistful remnant in us of that early wooing of wisdom. “Life has meaning,”  we feel with Browning—”to find its meaning is my meat and drink.” So much of our lives is meaningless, a self cancelling vacillation  and futility;  we strive with the chaos about us  and within; but  we would believe all the while that there is something vital and significant in us; could we but decipher our own souls. We want to understand ; ‘-life means for us constantly to transform into light  and flame all that we are or meet with”; we are like Mitya in The Brothers. Karamazov—”one of those who don’t want millions, but an answer to their questions”;  we want to seize the value  and perspective of passing things, and so to pull ourselves up out of the maelstrom of daily circumstance. We  want to know that
the little things are little, to the big things big before it is too late;  we want to see things now as they will seem forever – “in the light of eternity.” We  want to learn to laugh in the
face of the inevitable, to smile even at the looming of death. We  want to be whole, to coordinate our energies  by criticizing and harmonizing our desires; for coordinated energy: is the last  word in ethics  and politics, and perhaps in logic  and metaphysics too. “To be a philosopher,” said Thoreau, “is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live, according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust.” We may be sure that if  we can but find wisdom, all things else will be added unto us. “Seek ye first the good things of the mind,”  Bacon admonishes us, “and the rest will either be supplied or its loss will not be felt.” Truth will not make us rich, but it will make us free.

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