Category Archives: philosophy
A person of high virtue is not conscious of virtue and therefore possesses Virtue.A person of little virtue tries to be virtuous and therefore lacks Virtue.A person of high virtue does not make a fuss and is not seen.A person of little virtue always makes a fuss and is always seen.A truly good person functions without ulterior motive.A moralist acts out of private desires.A ritualist acts and, when no one responds, rolls up a sleeve and marches.When we lose the Tao, we turn to Virtue.When we lose Virtue, we turn to kindness.When we lose kindness, we turn to morality. When we lose morality, we turn to ritual.Ritual is the mere husk of good faith and loyalty and the beginning of disorder.Knowledge of what is to come may be a flower of the Tao, but it is the beginning of folly.Hence, the well-formed person relies on what is solid and not on what is flimsy,on the fruit and not the flower.Therefore, such a person lets go of that without and is content with this within.
–Laozi, Dao De Qing (Tao Te Ching), chapter 38; courtesy of here.
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
–Robert Burns, “To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough”
This is famously misquoted in standard English (as opposed to Burns’s Scots dialect) as “The best-laid plans of mice and men go oft awry.” In any case, the sentiment is true enough. How often do we plan something only to have events seemingly conspire to screw it all up? How often does the most meticulous planning crash and burn before our eyes? It’s not for no reason that we have the American idiom “Plan B”. This is, of course, what you do–or attempt to do–when your original idea, Plan A, fails. Sometimes we seem to run through the whole alphabet of plans and still things “gang agley”. Then again, we’re not God.
The point I’m getting at here is something I’ve alluded to numerous time over the course of this and other series of posts at this blog. In this post, I want to address the matter in a more direct and explicit manner. The matter at hand relates to the interpretation of the Fall of Man, as described in the opening chapters of the Book of Genesis. My main purpose in “Legends of the Fall” has been to try to find a way to understand the aforementioned Fall given our current understanding of human origins and the impossibility of reconciling that understanding with the Genesis account. I’m still pretty far out from coming to such an understanding, admittedly. Nevertheless, I think it is useful to look at issues which, while partially tangential, nevertheless have implications for the course of the main argument.
Ἀλλήλοις θ᾽ ὁμιλεῖν, ὡς τοὺς μὲν φίλους ἐχθροὺς μὴ ποιῆσαι, τοὺς δ᾽ ἐχθροὺς φίλους ἐργάσασθαι. ἴδιόν τε μηδὲν ἡγεῖσθαι.
We ought so to behave to one another as to avoid making enemies of our friends, and at the same time to make friends of our enemies.
–As quoted in Diogenes Laërtius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, “Pythagoras”, Sect. 23, as translated in Dictionary of Quotations (1906) by Thomas Benfield Harbottle, p. 320; courtesy of Wikiquote.
They who know the truth are not equal to those who love it, and they who love it are not equal to those who delight in it.
–Confucius, The Analects, Chapter VI; courtesy of Wikiquote.
But if any excursive brain rove over the images of forepassed times, and wonder that Thou the God Almighty and All-creating and All-supporting, Maker of heaven and earth, didst for innumerable ages forbear from so great a work, before Thou Wouldest make it; let him awake and consider, that he wonders at false conceits. For whence could innumerable ages pass by, which Thou madest not, Thou the Author and Creator of all ages? or what times should there be, which were not made by Thee? or how should they pass by, if they never were? Seeing then Thou art the Creator of all times, if any time was before Thou madest heaven and earth, why say they that Thou didst forego working? For that very time didst Thou make, nor could times pass by, before Thou madest those times. But if before heaven and earth there was no time, why is it demanded, what Thou then didst? For there was no “then,” when there was no time.
–Augustine of Hippo, Confessions Eleventh Book, XIII (370-400 AD) The Confessions of S. Augustine (1840) Tr. Edward Bouverie Pusey, pp. 233-234. courtesy of Wikiquote