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Quote Book -[16]-Civilisation & Change (Society)

Page 120 “There is,” said an Italian philosopher. “nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”
Page 131 It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope; and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
Page 133 We are faced with evil. I feel rather like Augustine did before becoming a Christian when he said, “I tried to find the source of evil and I got nowhere. But it is also true that I and a few others knew what must be done if not to reduce evil at least not to add to it.” Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being a world in which children are tortured. But we can reduce the number of tortured children. And if you believers don’t help us, who else in the world can help us do this?” – Albert Camus
Page 134 We also know that only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly
Page 134 Have faith and pursue an unknown end. – Francis Bacon
Page 134 Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their flows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vial quality of those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.

Source: Make gentle the life of the world – Robert F. Kennedy

Quote Book -[13]- People & Society

Page 95 Thucydides wrote at the end of the Peloponnesian War and the end of the great age of Athens: “The kind of events that once took place will by reason of human nature take place again.”
Page 95 “The time for extracting a lesson from history is ever at hand for those who are wise” – Demosthenes

Source: Make gentle the life of this world – By: Robert Kennedy

http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Make_Gentle_the_Life_of_this_World.html

Quote Book -[12]- People & Society

Page 18 Again, only religion has an answer to the question of the purpose of life. It can hardly be wrong to conclude that the notion that life has a purpose stand or falls with the religious system.

We will therefore turn now to the more modest question of what human beings themselves reveal, through their behaviour, about the aim and purpose of their lives, what they demand of life and wish to achieve in it.   The answer can scarcely be in doubt: they strive for happiness, they want to become happy and remain so.

This striving has tow goals, one negative and one positive: on the one hand it aims at an absence of pain and unpleasurable experiences, on the other at strong feelings of pleasure.   ‘Happiness’, in the strict sense of the word, relates only to the latter. In conformity with this dichotomy in its aims, human activity develops in two directions, according to whether it seeks to realize – mainly or even exclusively – the one or the other of these aims.

As we see, it is simply the programme of the pleasure principle that determines the purpose of life. This principle governs the functioning of our mental apparatus from the start; there can be no doubt about its efficacy, and yet its programme is at odds with the whole world – with the macrocosm as much s with the microcosm. It is quite incapable of being realised; all the institutions of the universe are opposed to it; one is inclined to say that the intention that man should be ‘happy’ has no part in the plan of ‘creation’. What was call happiness, in the strictest sense of the word, arises from the fairly sudden satisfaction of pent-up needs. By its very nature it can be no more than an episodic phenomenon. Any prolongation of a situation desired by the pleasure principle produces only a feeling of lukewarm comfort;; we are so constituted that we can gain intense pleasure only from the contrast, and only very little from the condition itself.   Hence , our prospects of happiness are already restricted by our constitution. Unhappiness is much less difficult to experience. Suffering threatens us from three sides: from our own body, which being doomed to decay and dissolution, cannot dispense with pain and anxiety as warning signals; from the external world, which can unleash overwhelming, implacable, destructive forces against us; and finally from our relations with others. The suffering that arises from the last source perhaps causes us more pain than any other; we are inclined to regard it as a somewhat superfluous extra, though it is probably no less ineluctable than suffering that originates elsewhere.

It is no wonder that, under the pressure of these possibilities if suffering, people are used to tempering their claim to happiness, just as the pleasure principle itself has been transformed, under the influence of the eternal world, into the more modest ‘reality principle’; that one counts oneself lucky to have escaped unhappiness and survive suffering; and that in general the task of avoiding suffering pushes that of obtaining pleasure into the background. Reflection teaches us that we can try to perform this task by following very different paths; all these paths have been recommended by various schools of worldly wisdom and trodden by human beings. Unrestricted satisfaction of all our needs presents itself as the most enticing way to conduct one’s life, but it means putting enjoyment before caution, and that soon brings its own punishments.

Source: Civilization and its discontents. By Sigmund Freud

http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Civilization_and_Its_Discontents.html

Quote Book -[11]- People & Society

Page 18 “It is right in principle that those should be the best loved who have contributed most to the elevation of the human race and human life.  But, if one goes on to ask who they are, one finds oneself in no inconsiderable difficulties.  In the case of political, and even religious leaders, it is often very doubtful whether they have done more good or harm”
Page 18 “The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained to liberation from the self”
Page 31 “Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common.

If you always keep that in mind you will find meaning in life and work and acquire the right attitude towards other nations and ages.”

Source: The World As I See It. By: Albert Einstein

Quote Book -[10]- Economics & Society

Page 62 – 63 The communist think they have found the way to redeem mankind from evil.  Man is unequivocally good and well disposed to his neighbour, but his nature has been corrupted by the institution of private property.  Ownership of property gives the individual the power and so the temptation, to mistreat his neighbour; whoever is excluded from ownership is bound to be hostile to the oppressor and rebel against him.  When private property is abolished, when goods are held in common and enjoyed by all, ill will and enmity among human beings will cease.  Because all needs will be satisfied, no one will have any reason to see another person as his enemy; everyone will be glad to undertake whatever work is necessary.  I am not concerned with economic criticisms of the communist system; I have no way of knowing whether the abolition of private property is expedient and beneficial.*   But I can recognise the psychological presumption behind it as baseless illusion.  With the abolition of private property the human love of aggression is robbed of one of its tools, a strong one no doubt, but certainly not the strongest.  No change has been made in the disparities of power and influence that aggression exploits in pursuit of its end, or in nature.  Aggression was not created by property; it prevailed with almost no restriction in primitive times, when property was very scanty.

[* – Anyone who tasted the misery of poverty in his youth and experienced the indifference and arrogance of propertied people, should be safe from the suspicion that he has no sympathy with current efforts to combat inequalities of wealth and all that flows from them.  Of course, if this struggle seeks to appeal to the abstract demand, made in name of justice, for equality among all men, the objection is all too obvious: nature, by her highly unequal endowment of individuals with physical attributes and mental abilities, has introduced injustices that cannot be remedied.]

Source: Civilisation and its discontents, By: Sigmund Freud

Quote Book -[9]- People & Society

Page 22 Unless a special aptitude dictates the direction that a person’s interest in life is to take, the ordinary professional work available to everyone can occupy the place assigned to it by Voltaire’s wise advice.   Within the scope of a short survey it not possible to pay sufficient attention to the vital role of work in the economy of the libido. No other technique for the conduct of life binds the individual so firmly to reality as an emphasis on work, which at least gives him a secure place in one area of reality, the human community, The possibility of shifting a large number of libidinal components – narcissistic, aggressive, even erotic – towards professional work and the human relations connected with it lends it a value that is in no way inferior to the indispensable party it plays in asserting and justifying a person’s existence in society. Special satisfaction comes from professional activity when this is freely chosen and therefore make possible the use, through sublimation, of existing inclinations, of continued or constitutionally reinforced instinctual impulses. And yet people show scant regard for work as a path to happiness. Thy do not strive after it as they do after other possibilities of satisfaction. The great majority work only because they have to and this aversion to work is the source of the most difficult social problems.
Page 29 – 31 “We shall never wholly control nature; our constitution, itself part of this nature, will always remain a transient structure, with a limited capacity for adaption and achievement. Recognition of this fact does not have a paralysing effect on us; on the contrary, it gives direction to our activity. Even if we cannot put an end to all suffering, we can remove or alleviate some of it; the experience of thousands of years has convinced us of this. Our attitude to the third source of suffering, the social source, is different.

We refuse to recognise it at all; we cannot see why institutions that we ourselves have created should not protect and benefit us all.   However, when we consider how unsuccessful we have been at preventing suffering in this very sphere, the suspicion arises that here too an element of unconquerable nature may be at work in the background – this time our own psyche.

When considering this possibility, we come up against a contention which is so astonishing that we will dwell on it for a while. It is contended that much of the blame for our misery lies with what we call our civilisation, and that we should be far happier if we were to abandon it and revert to primitive conditions. I say this is astonishing because, however one defines the concept of civilisation, it is certain that all the means we use in our attempts to protect ourselves against the threat of suffering belong to this very civilisation.

By what route have so many people arrived at this strange attitude of hostility to civilization? I think a deep, long-standing dissatisfaction with the state of civilization at any given time prepared the ground on which a condemnation of it grew up owing to particular historical causes.   I thin I can identify the last two of these; I am not sufficiently erudite to trace the casual chain back for enough into the history of the human race. Some such hostility to civilisation must have been involved already in the victory of Christianity over paganism. After all this hostility was very close to the devaluation of earthly life that came through Christian teaching. The penultimate cause arose when voyages of discovery brought us into contact with primitive peoples and tribes. Owing to inadequate observation and misinterpretation of their manner and customs, they appeared to the Europeans to lead a simple, happy life, involving few needs, which was beyond the reach of their culturally superior visitors. Subsequent experience has corrected several such judgments; the fact that these peoples found life so much easier was mistakenly ascribed to the absence of complicated cultural requirements, when in fact it was due to nature’s bounty and the with which their major needs could be satisfied. The final cause is particularly familiar to us; it arose when we became acquainted with the mechanism of the neuroses that threaten to undermine the modicum of happiness enjoyed by civilised man. It was discovered that people became neurotic because they could not endure the degree of privation that society imposed on them in the service of its cultural ideals, and it was inferred that a suspension or a substantial reduction of its demands would mean a return to possibilities of happiness.

There is an added factor of disappointment. In recant generations the human race has made extraordinary advances in the natural sciences and their technical application, and it had increased its control over nature in ways that would previously have been unimaginable. The details of these advances are generally known and need no be enumerated. Human beings are proud of these achievements, and rightly so. Yet they believe they have observed that this newly won master over space and time, this subjugation of the force of nature – the fulfilment of an age-old longing – has not increased the amount of pleasure they can expect from life of made them feel any happier.”

Page 32 – 33 What is the good of the reduction of infant mortality if it forces us to practise extreme restraint in the procreation of children, with the result that on the whole we rear no more children than we did before hygiene became all important, but have imposed restraints on sexual life within marriage and probably worked against the benefits of natural selection? And finally, what good is a long life to us if it is hard, joyless and so full of suffering that we can only welcome death as a deliverer?

It seems certain that we do not feel comfortable in our present civilisation, but it is very hard to form a judgement as to whether and to what extent people of an earlier age felt happier, and what part their cultural conditions played in the matter. We shall always tend to view misery objectively, that is to project ourselves, with all our demands and susceptibilities, into their conditions, and then try to determine what occasions for happiness or unhappiness we should find in them . This way of looking at things, which appears objective because it ignores the variations in subjective sensitivity, is of course the most subjective there can be, in that it substitutes our own mental state for all others, of which we nothing. Happiness, however, is something altogether subjective.   However much we recoil in horror when considering certain situations – that of the gallery slave in ancient times, of the peasant in the Thirty Years War, of the victim of the Holy Inquisition, of the Jew waiting for the pogrom – it is none the less impossible for us to empathise with these people, to divine what changes the original insensitivity, the gradual diminution of sensitivity, the cessation of expectations, and cruder of more refined methods of narcotisation have wrought in man’s receptivity to pleasurable and unpleasurable feelings. In cases where there is a possibility of extreme suffering, certain protective psychical mechanisms are activated. It seems to me fruitless to pursue this aspect of the problem any further.

Page 33 It is time to consider the essence of the civilisation whose value for our happiness has been called into question. We will reframe from demanding a formula that captures this essence in a few words before we have learnt anything from our investigation.   We will content ourselves with repeating that the word ‘civilisation’ designates the sum total of those achievements and institutions that distinguish our life from that of our animal ancestors and serve the dual purpose of protecting human beings against nature and regulating their mutual relations.

Source: Civilization and its discontents. By: Sigmund Freud