Archive for the ‘selfishness’ Category

Russell’s life seems to have been inexorably drawn towards disaster, determined on its course by two fundamental traits of character: a deep-seated fear of madness and a quite colossal vanity

November 15, 2009

Ray Monk spent more than 10 years on his two volume biography of Bertrand Russell. He comments:

Another reason – perhaps the main one – that this has been a difficult book to write has been my growing realisation of the tragedy of Russell’s life . . .I do not just mean that there was sadness in Russell’s life, though, to be sure, the degree of suffering he endured – and caused – has been one of the hardest revelations of my work on this book…what I mean when I speak of tragedy is principally that Russell’s life seems to have been inexorably drawn towards disaster, determined on its course by two fundamental traits of character: a deep-seated fear of madness and a quite colossal vanity…He was, it sometimes seems, simply not capable of loving another human being.  Russell had what he considered to be an exalted conception of love — which he expressed in Marriage and Morals and in numerous other places — according to which love takes the form of ‘merging’ one ego with another.  In many of his political writings this notion reappears as the duty to love humanity in the sense of regarding all humanity as, in some sense, coextensive with one’s ego.  One might regard this as a harmlessly fanciful way of urging people to empathise with each other, but Russell’s relations with those close to him suggest another interpretation: that he was unable to conceive of loving another person unless he could regard that person as part of himself.  In other words, loving another was, for him, inconceivable. He was, as it were (as, indeed, his epistemology maintains we all are), trapped inside the boundaries of his own ego. He could imagine — and frequently did imagine — extending those boundaries, but what he could not imagine doing was reaching out beyond them. Would that this was only a theoretical problem, but the experience of Russell’s wives, children and friends suggests that, on this point, theory and practice combined in the most devastating manner.

Ray Monk, Bertrand Russell: The Ghost of Madness: 1921-1970 (xi-xii)

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A man spoke with the Lord about heaven and hell. The Lord said to the man, “Come, I will show you hell.”

October 14, 2009

A man spoke with the Lord about heaven and hell. The Lord said to the man, “Come, I will show you hell.”

They entered a room where a group of people sat around a huge pot of stew. Everyone was famished, desperate and starving. Each held a spoon that reached the pot, but each spoon had a handle so much longer than their own arm that it could not be used to get the stew into their own mouths. The suffering was terrible.

“Come, now I will show you heaven,” the Lord said after a while. They entered another room, identical to the first — the pot of stew, the group of people, the same long-handled spoons. But there everyone was happy and well-nourished. “I don’t understand,” said the man. “Why are they happy here when they were miserable in the other room and everything was the same?”

The Lord smiled, “Ah, it is simple,” he said. “Here they have learned to feed each other.”

Chinese or Indian story

The Most Important Person in the whole wide world is YOU

October 13, 2009

The Most Important Person in the whole wide world
is YOU and you hardly even know you. The most important person in the whole wide world is YOU c’mon we’ll show you. . .

Captain Kangaroo (Children’s TV) aired on CBS

This is what the kids are taught. Then once the lesson is learned, you get this:

Do what feels good for you. “The most important person in the whole world is YOU.” I heard that ditty on some Saturday morning cartoon thing when i was a kid and it’s stuck in my head.

I have had to learn hard lessons about looking out for No. 1 in my own life and so now, to help me stay focused on not worrying about everyone else so much, i keep these words on my cell phone when i open it up: “Be Good To You.”

Advice given on a blog

We can be what we want to be.

Billy Bragg, Sexuality

This is our narcissistic day and age

Intellectual Pride

September 3, 2009

I am quite indifferent to the mass of human creatures; though I wish, as a purely intellectual problem, to discover some way in which they might all be happy. I wouldn’t sacrifice myself to them though their unhappiness, at moments, about once in three months, gives me a feeling of discomfort, and an intellectual desire to find a way out….I live mostly for myself–everything has for me, a reference to my own education. I care for very few people, and have several enemies–two or three at least whose pain is delightful to me. I often wish to give pain, and when I do, I find it pleasant for a moment. I feel myself superior to most people, and only pity myself at rare intervals, when I am tired out. I used to pity myself at all times and deeply. I believe in happiness and I am happy. I enjoy work immensely. I wish for fame among the expert few, but my chief desire–the desire by which I regulate my life–is a purely self-centered desire for intellectual satisfaction about things that puzzle me.

Bertrand Russell, Ray Monk, vol.1., p.120

‘Knowledge puffs up but love builds up’ (1 Cor.8.1)

A man is drowning, I tell you

August 29, 2009

A Chinese, Peter, fell head first into a canal. The water was low and he was held fast in deep sludge somewhere under the water. Hudson Taylor saw a fishing boat with a drag net and hooks. ‘Come!’ he shouted, ‘Come and drag this spot. A man is drowning!’

‘It is not convenient,’ the fisherman replied.

‘Don’t talk of convenience – a man is drowning, I tell you!’

‘We are busy fishing and cannot come.’

‘Never mind fishing. I’ll give you more money than many a day’s fishing will bring. Just come. Come at once!’

‘How much money will you give us?’

Taylor couldn’t believe his ears. ‘We can’t discuss that now! Come quickly, or it will be too late. I’ll give you five dollars.’

‘We won’t drag for that. Give us $20 and we will drag.’

‘I haven’t got that much. Come quickly and I will give you all I have!’

‘How much will that be?’

‘I don’t know exactly. About $14 I think.’

At last, but even then slowly, the fishermen brought their boat over and let down the net. In less than one minute they brought up Peter’s body…During Taylor’s attempts at rescuscitation the fishermen complained they weren’t being paid immediately.

source unknown, p.121

Hedonism

August 26, 2009

My body isn’t a temple, it’s an amusement park

Bumper sticker

Make sure what you’re doing makes you happy

Ben Sherman T-Shirt, 2004

cf. “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”