Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on April 10, 2014
poet816 posted: “PORCUPINES AND APHORISMS—SCHOPENHAUER Of all the aphorisms made by a philosopher, perhaps the most well-known and famous is Schopenhauer’s about the Procupines and how people resemble them. The main point, of course, is how people do need society in gene”

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by poet816

Of all the aphorisms made by a philosopher, perhaps the most well-known and famous is Schopenhauer’s about the Procupines and how people resemble them. The main point, of course, is how people do need society in general, but that they are, literally, a pain in the ass. Thus, they must keep a difference for one another. Well, here it is, at the end of a couple other interesting ones.

The young Schopenhauer, a version not as often seen. The young Schopenhauer, a version not as often seen.

In a field of ripening corn I came to a place which had been trampled
down by some ruthless foot; and as I glanced amongst the countless
stalks, every one of them alike, standing there so erect and bearing
the full weight of the ear, I saw a multitude of different flowers,
red and blue and violet. How pretty they looked as they grew there so
naturally with their little foliage! But, thought I, they are quite
useless; they bear no fruit; they are mere weeds, suffered to remain
only because there is no getting rid of them. And yet, but for these
flowers, there would be nothing to charm the eye in that wilderness
of stalks. They are emblematic of poetry and art, which, in civic
life–so severe, but still useful and not without its fruit–play the
same part as flowers in the corn.
* * * * *
There are some really beautifully landscapes in the world, but the
human figures in them are poor, and you had not better look at them.
* * * * *
The fly should be used as the symbol of impertinence and audacity; for
whilst all other animals shun man more than anything else, and run
away even before he comes near them, the fly lights upon his very
* * * * *
Two Chinamen traveling in Europe went to the theatre for the first
time. One of them did nothing but study the machinery, and he
succeeded in finding out how it was worked. The other tried to get at
the meaning of the piece in spite of his ignorance of the language.
Here you have the Astronomer and the Philosopher.
* * * * *
Wisdom which is only theoretical and never put into practice, is like
a double rose; its color and perfume are delightful, but it withers
away and leaves no seed.
No rose without a thorn. Yes, but many a thorn without a rose.
* * * * *
A wide-spreading apple-tree stood in full bloom, and behind it a
straight fir raised its dark and tapering head. _Look at the thousands
of gay blossoms which cover me everywhere_, said the apple-tree; _what
have you to show in comparison? Dark-green needles! That is true_,
replied the fir, _but when winter comes, you will be bared of your
glory; and I shall be as I am now_.
* * * * *
Once, as I was botanizing under an oak, I found amongst a number
of other plants of similar height one that was dark in color, with
tightly closed leaves and a stalk that was very straight and stiff.
When I touched it, it said to me in firm tones: _Let me alone; I am
not for your collection, like these plants to which Nature has given
only a single year of life. I am a little oak_.
So it is with a man whose influence is to last for hundreds of years.
As a child, as a youth, often even as a full-grown man, nay, his whole
life long, he goes about among his fellows, looking like them and
seemingly as unimportant. But let him alone; he will not die. Time
will come and bring those who know how to value him.
* * * * *
The man who goes up in a balloon does not feel as though he were
ascending; he only sees the earth sinking deeper under him.
There is a mystery which only those will understand who feel the truth
of it.
* * * * *
Your estimation of a man’s size will be affected by the distance at
which you stand from him, but in two entirely opposite ways according
as it is his physical or his mental stature that you are considering.
The one will seem smaller, the farther off you move; the other,
* * * * *
Nature covers all her works with a varnish of beauty, like the tender
bloom that is breathed, as it were, on the surface of a peach or a
plum. Painters and poets lay themselves out to take off this varnish,
to store it up, and give it us to be enjoyed at our leisure. We drink
deep of this beauty long before we enter upon life itself; and when
afterwards we come to see the works of Nature for ourselves, the
varnish is gone: the artists have used it up and we have enjoyed it in
advance. Thus it is that the world so often appears harsh and devoid
of charm, nay, actually repulsive. It were better to leave us to
discover the varnish for ourselves. This would mean that we should
not enjoy it all at once and in large quantities; we should have no
finished pictures, no perfect poems; but we should look at all things
in that genial and pleasing light in which even now a child of Nature
sometimes sees them–some one who has not anticipated his aesthetic
pleasures by the help of art, or taken the charms of life too early.
* * * * *
The Cathedral in Mayence is so shut in by the houses that are built
round about it, that there is no one spot from which you can see it
as a whole. This is symbolic of everything great or beautiful in the
world. It ought to exist for its own sake alone, but before very long
it is misused to serve alien ends. People come from all directions
wanting to find in it support and maintenance for themselves; they
stand in the way and spoil its effect. To be sure, there is nothing
surprising in this, for in a world of need and imperfection everything
is seized upon which can be used to satisfy want. Nothing is exempt
from this service, no, not even those very things which arise only
when need and want are for a moment lost sight of–the beautiful and
the true, sought for their own sakes.
This is especially illustrated and corroborated in the case of
institutions–whether great or small, wealthy or poor, founded, no
matter in what century or in what land, to maintain and advance human
knowledge, and generally to afford help to those intellectual efforts
which ennoble the race. Wherever these institutions may be, it is not
long before people sneak up to them under the pretence of wishing to
further those special ends, while they are really led on by the desire
to secure the emoluments which have been left for their furtherance,
and thus to satisfy certain coarse and brutal instincts of their own.
Thus it is that we come to have so many charlatans in every branch
of knowledge. The charlatan takes very different shapes according
to circumstances; but at bottom he is a man who cares nothing about
knowledge for its own sake, and only strives to gain the semblance
of it that he may use it for his own personal ends, which are always
selfish and material.
* * * * *
Every hero is a Samson. The strong man succumbs to the intrigues of
the weak and the many; and if in the end he loses all patience he
crushes both them and himself. Or he is like Gulliver at Lilliput,
overwhelmed by an enormous number of little men.
* * * * *
A mother gave her children Aesop’s fables to read, in the hope of
educating and improving their minds; but they very soon brought the
book back, and the eldest, wise beyond his years, delivered himself as
follows: _This is no book for us; it’s much too childish and stupid.
You can’t make us believe that foxes and wolves and ravens are able to
talk; we’ve got beyond stories of that kind_!
In these young hopefuls you have the enlightened Rationalists of the
* * * * *
A number of porcupines huddled together for warmth on a cold day in
winter; but, as they began to prick one another with their quills,
they were obliged to disperse. However the cold drove them together
again, when just the same thing happened. At last, after many turns of
huddling and dispersing, they discovered that they would be best off
by remaining at a little distance from one another. In the same way
the need of society drives the human porcupines together, only to be
mutually repelled by the many prickly and disagreeable qualities of
their nature. The moderate distance which they at last discover to be
the only tolerable condition of intercourse, is the code of politeness
and fine manners; and those who transgress it are roughly told–in
the English phrase–_to keep their distance_. By this arrangement the
mutual need of warmth is only very moderately satisfied; but then
people do not get pricked. A man who has some heat in himself prefers
to remain outside, where he will neither prick other people nor get
pricked himself.

poet816 | April 9, 2014 at 5:48 pm | Tags: Aphorisms, Philosophy, Schopenhauer | Categories: philosophy, Uncategorized | URL:

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