some of my favourite excerpts from "the story of philosophy" by will durant

  • Therefore we must be prepared to find in these dialogues much that is playful and metaphorical; much that is unintelligible except to scholars learned in the social and literary minutiae of Plato's time; much that today will seem irrelevant and fanciful, but might well have served as the very sauce and flavor by which a heavy dish of thought was made digestible for minds unused to philosophic fare.
  • What is left to us is too much the flesh of Voltaire, too little the divine fire of his spirit. And yet, darkly as we see him through the glass of time, what a spirit! "sheer intelligence transmuting anger into fun, fire into light"; "a creature of air and flame, the most excitable that ever lived, composed of more ethereal and more throbbing atoms than those of other men; there is none whose mental machinery is more delicate, nor whose equilibrium is at the same time more shifting and more exact."
  • Every part depends upon preceding parts; some obvious and apparently needless proposition turns out to be the cornerstone of an imposing development of logic. You will not understand any important section thoroughly till you have read and pondered the whole; though one need not say, with Jacobi's enthusiastic exaggeration, that "no one has understood Spinoza to whom a single line of the Ethics remains obscure." Read the book not all at once, but in small portions at many sittings. And having finished it, consider that you have but begun to understand it. Read then some commentary, like Pollock's Spinoza, or Martineau's Study of Spinoza; or, better, both. Finally, read the Ethics again; it will be a new book to you. When you have finished it a second time you will remain forever a lover of philosophy.
jun 13 2024 ∞
jul 19 2024 +