Quotations and Commentary

Edited by L. James Hammond

© L. James Hammond 2003



The Revolt of the Masses

1--“There is one fact which, whether for good or ill, is of utmost importance in the public life of Europe at the present moment. This fact is the accession of the masses to complete social power. As the masses, by definition, neither should nor can direct their own personal existence, and still less rule society in general, this fact means that actually Europe is suffering from the greatest crisis that can afflict peoples, nations, and civilisation.”

--“The mass, as a psychological fact, can be defined without waiting for individuals to appear in mass formation. In the presence of one individual we can decide whether he is ‘mass’ or not. The mass is all that which sets no value on itself—good or ill—based on specific grounds, but which feels itself ‘just like everybody’, and nevertheless is not concerned about it; is, in fact, quite happy to feel itself as one with everybody else.”

--“The most radical division that it is possible to make of humanity is that which splits it into two classes of creatures: those who make great demands on themselves, piling up difficulties and duties; and those who demand nothing special of themselves, but for whom to live is to be every moment what they already are, without imposing on themselves any effort towards perfection.”

--“The characteristic of the hour is that the commonplace mind, knowing itself to be commonplace, has the assurance to proclaim the rights of the commonplace and to impose them wherever it will.”

--“The mass crushes beneath it everything that is different, everything that is excellent, individual, qualified and select. Anybody who is not like everybody, who does not think like everybody, runs the risk of being eliminated.”

2--“The history of the Roman Empire is also the history of the uprising of the Empire of the Masses, who absorb and annul the directing minorities and put themselves in their place.”

--“Human society is always, whether it will or no, aristocratic by its very essence, to the extreme that it is a society in the measure that it is aristocratic, and ceases to be such when it ceases to be aristocratic.”

--“The sovereignty of the unqualified individual, of the human being as such, generically, has now passed from being a juridical idea or ideal to be a psychological state inherent in the average man.”

--“The human army is now made up of officers. Enough to watch the energy, the determination, the ease with which each individual moves through life today, snatches at the passing pleasure, imposes his personal will.”

--“That the ordinary level of life today is that of the former minorities, is a new fact in Europe, but in America the natural, the ‘constitutional’ fact.”

3--“The rule of the masses...presents a favourable aspect, inasmuch as it signifies an all-round rise in the historical level, and reveals that average existence today moves on a higher altitude than that of yesterday.”

--“Thirty years ago, the European believed that human life had come to be what it ought to be, what for generations previous it had been desiring to be, what it was henceforward always bound to be.”

--“These centuries, so self-satisfied, so perfectly rounded-off, are dead within. Genuine vital integrity does not consist in satisfaction, in attainment, in arrival.... When a period has satisfied its desires, its ideal, this means that it desires nothing more; that the wells of desire have been dried up.”

--“Only the political or cultural aspects of history are considered, and it is not realised that these are the mere surface of history; that in preference to, and deeper than, these, the reality of history lies in biological power, in pure vitality, in what there is in man of cosmic energy, not identical with, but related to, the energy which agitates the sea, fecundates the beast, causes the tree to flower and the star to shine.”

--“Our present life feels itself as ampler than all previous lives....Through sheer regard of itself as ‘more’ life, it has lost all respect, all consideration for the past. Hence for the first time we meet with a period which makes tabula rasa of all classicism, which recognises in nothing that is past any possible model or standard [and] gives the impression of a commencement, a dawn, an initiation, an infancy.”

4--“Each portion of the earth is no longer shut up in its own geometrical position, but for many of the purposes of human life acts upon other portions of the planet....This nearness of the far-off...has extended in fabulous proportions the horizon of each individual existence.”

--“We live at a time when man believes himself fabulously capable of creation, but he does not know what to create. Lord of all things, he is not lord of himself. He feels lost amid his own abundance. With more means at its disposal, more knowledge, more technique than ever, it turns out that the world today goes the same way as the worst of worlds that have been; it simply drifts.”

5--“Our life as a programme of possibilities is magnificent, exuberant, superior to all others known to history.”

--“[When the mass-man is dominant, the Government’s] activities are reduced to dodging the difficulties of the hour; not solving them, but escaping from them for the time being, employing any methods whatsoever, even at the cost of accumulating thereby still greater difficulties for the hour which follows. Such has public power always been when exercised directly by the masses: omnipotent and ephemeral. The mass-man is he whose life lacks any purpose, and simply goes drifting along. Consequently, though his possibilities and his powers be enormous, he constructs nothing.”

--“Heap after heap of human beings have been dumped on to the historic scene at such an accelerated rate, that it has been difficult to saturate them with traditional culture. And in fact, the average type of European at present possesses a soul, healthier and stronger it is true than those of the last century, but much more simple. Hence, at times he leaves the impression of a primitive man suddenly risen in the midst of a very old civilization. In the schools, which were such a source of pride to the last century, it has been impossible to do more than instruct the masses in the technique of modern life; it has been found impossible to educate them.”

6--During the nineteenth century, “whilst there was a proportionate decrease of great fortunes and life became harder for the individual worker, the middle classes found their economic horizon widened every day....From 1900 on, the worker likewise begins to extend and assure his existence.”

--“For the ‘common’ man of all periods ‘life’ had principally meant limitation, obligation, dependence; in a word, pressure....The life of the average man today is easier, more convenient and safer than that of the most powerful of another age.”

--“The mass-man of today [has] two fundamental traits: the free expansion of his vital desires, and therefore, of his personality; and his radical ingratitude towards all that has made possible the ease of his existence. These traits together make up the well-known psychology of the spoilt child.”

7--“The man we are now analysing accustoms himself not to appeal from his own to any authority outside him. He is satisfied with himself exactly as he is.”

--“The select man, the excellent man is urged, by interior necessity, to appeal from himself to some standard beyond himself, superior to himself, whose service he freely accepts....Contrary to what is usually thought, it is the man of excellence, and not the common man who lives in essential servitude. Life has no savour for him unless he makes it consist in service to something transcendental.... This is life lived as a discipline—the noble life. Nobility is defined by the demands it makes on us—by obligations, not by rights. Noblesse oblige. ‘To live as one likes is plebeian; the noble man aspires to order and law’ (Goethe).”

--“Nobility is synonymous with a life of effort, ever set on excelling oneself, in passing beyond what one is to what one sets up as a duty and an obligation. In this way the noble life stands opposed to the common or inert life, which reclines statically upon itself, condemned to perpetual immobility, unless an external force compels it to come out of itself. Hence we apply the term mass to this kind of man—not so much because of his multitude as because of his inertia.”

--The mass today is “hermetically enclosed within itself, incapable of submitting to anything or anybody, believing itself self-sufficient—in a word, indocile....The masses are incapable of submitting to direction of any kind.”

8--“There has happened something supremely paradoxical, but which was in truth most natural; from the very opening-out of the world and of life for the average man, his soul has shut up within him.”

9--“There is no doubt that on striking a balance of our public life the adverse factors far outweigh the favourable ones, if the calculation be made not so much in regard to the present, as to what they announce and promise for the future.”

--“I am astonished at the ease with which when speaking of technicism it is forgotten that its vital centre is pure science, and that the conditions for its continuance involve the same conditions that render possible pure scientific activity.”

--“Philosophy needs neither protection, attention nor sympathy from the masses. It maintains its character of complete inutility, and thereby frees itself from all subservience to the average man.”

10--“If you want to make use of the advantages of civilisation, but are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilisation—you are done. In a trice you find yourself left without civilisation.”

--“Historical knowledge is a technique of the first order to preserve and continue a civilisation already advanced....It prevents us committing the ingenuous mistakes of other times.”

--“Historical knowledge of the governing minorities...made possible the prodigious advance of the XIXth Century. Their policy was thought out—by the XVIIIth Century—precisely in order to avoid the errors of previous politics.”

--“The past has reason on its side, its own reason. If that reason is not admitted, it will return to demand it. Liberalism had its reason, which will have to be admitted per saecula saeculorum. But it had not the whole reason, and it is that part which was not reason that must be taken from it. Europe needs to preserve its essential liberalism. This is the condition for superseding it.”

11--The hereditary aristocrat and the mass-man share a “propensity to make out of games and sports the central occupation of his life; the cult of the body—hygienic regime and attention to dress; [and] lack of romance in his dealings with women.”

--“The human species has flourished in zones of our planet where the hot season is compensated by a season of intense cold. In the tropics the animal-man degenerates.”

--“The vital level represented by Europe at the present day is superior to the whole of the human past, but if we look to the future, we are made to fear that it will neither preserve the level reached nor attain to a higher one, but rather will recede and fall back upon lower heights.”

12--“The actual scientific man is the prototype of the mass-man. Not by chance, not through the individual failings of each particular man of science, but because science itself—the root of our civilization—automatically converts him into mass-man, makes of him a primitive, a modern barbarian....In order to progress, science demanded specialisation....Generation after generation, the scientist has been gradually restricted and confined into narrower fields of mental occupation....In each generation the scientist, through having to reduce the sphere of his labour, was progressively losing contact with other branches of science, with that integral interpretation of the universe which is the only thing deserving the names of science, culture, European civilization.”

--“Experimental science has progressed thanks in great part to the work of men astoundingly mediocre, and even less than mediocre. That is to say, modern science, the root and symbol of our actual civilisation, finds a place for the intellectually commonplace man and allows him to work therein with success.”

--“Previously, men could be divided simply into the learned and the ignorant, those more or less the one, and those more or less the other. But your specialist cannot be brought in under either of these two categories. He is not learned, for he is formally ignorant of all that does not enter into his specialty; but neither is he ignorant, because he is ‘a scientist’, and ‘knows’ very well his own tiny portion of the universe. We shall have to say that he is a learned ignoramus...a person who is ignorant, not in the fashion of the ignorant man, but with all the petulance of one who is learned in his own special line....That state of ‘not listening’, of not submitting to higher courts of appeal which I have repeatedly put forward as characteristic of the mass-man, reaches its height precisely in these partially qualified men.”

--“The most immediate result of this unbalanced specialisation has been that today, when there are more ‘scientists’ than ever, there are much less ‘cultured’ men than, for example, about 1750.”

13--“The day when a genuine philosophy once more holds sway in Europe—it is the one thing that can save her—that day she will once again realise that man, whether he like it or no, is a being forced by his nature to seek some higher authority. If he succeeds in finding it of himself, he is a superior man; if not, he is a mass-man and must receive it from his superiors.”

--“America is, in a fashion, the paradise of the masses.”

--“The enormous disproportion between social strength and the strength of public power made possible the Revolution, the revolutions—up to 1848. But with the Revolution the middle class took possession of public power and applied their undeniable qualities to the State, and in little more than a generation created a powerful State, which brought revolutions to an end.”

--“This is the gravest danger that today threatens civilization: State intervention; the absorption of all spontaneous social effort by the State, that is to say, of spontaneous historical action.”

14, i--“Europe [during the last three centuries] was the ruler, and under its unity of command the world lived in unitary fashion, or at least was progressively unified. This fashion of existence is generally styled the Modern Age, a colourless, inexpressive name, under which lies hidden this reality: the epoch of European hegemony.”

--“This stable, normal relation amongst men which is know as ‘rule’ never rests on force; on the contrary, it is because a man or group of men exercise command that they have at their disposition that social apparatus or machinery known as ‘force’....Rule is the normal exercise of authority, and is always based on public opinion.”

--“Rule is, when all is said and done, nothing else but a spiritual power. This is confirmed with precision by the facts of history. All primitive rule has a ‘sacred’ character, for it is based on religion and religion is the first form under which appears what is afterwards to be spirit, idea, opinion....In the Middle Ages the same phenomenon is reproduced on a larger scale.”

ii--“The frivolous spectacle offered by the smaller nations today is deplorable. Because it is said that Europe is in decadence and has given over ruling, every tuppeny-ha’penny nation starts skipping, gesticulating, standing on its head or else struts around giving itself airs of a grown-up person who is the ruler of his own destinies.”

--“There are...also relatively mass-peoples determined on rebelling against the great creative peoples, the minority of human stocks which have organised history.”

--“The mass-peoples have decided to consider as bankrupt that system of standards which European civilization implies, but as they are incapable of creating others, they do not know what to do.”

iii--“Europe—we are told—is ceasing to rule, and no one sees who is going to take her place. By Europe we understand primarily and properly the trinity of France, England, Germany.”

--“Without commandments, obliging us to live after a certain fashion, our existence is that of the ‘unemployed’. This is the terrible spiritual situation in which the best youth of the world finds itself today. By dint of feeling itself free, exempt from restrictions, it feels itself empty.”

--The Russians are “a people still in process of fermentation; that is to say, a child-people....Russia will require centuries before she can aspire to command. Because she is still lacking in commandments she has been obliged to feign adherence to the European principles of Marx.”

--“America is younger than Russia. I have always maintained, though in fear of exaggeration, that it is a primitive people camouflaged behind the latest inventions.”

iv--“It will not do...to adopt the trivial notion which thinks it sees in the activity of great nations—as of great men—a merely egoistic inspiration....The apparent egoism of great nations and of great men is the inevitable sternness with which anyone who has his life fixed on some undertaking must bear himself.”

--“If the European grows accustomed not to rule, a generation and a half will be sufficient to bring the old continent, and the whole world along with it, into moral inertia, intellectual sterility, universal barbarism.”

--“A creative life is energetic life, and this is only possible in one or other of these two situations: either being the one who rules, or finding oneself placed in a world which is ruled by someone in whom we recognize full right to such a function: either I rule or I obey. By obedience I do not mean mere submission—this is degradation—but on the contrary, respect for the ruler and acceptance of his leadership, solidarity with him, an enthusiastic enrollment under his banner.”

v--“To my mind, the feeling of shrinkage, of impotency, which undoubtedly lies heavy on the vitality of Europe in these times is nourished on that disproportion between the great potentialities of Europe and the form of political organisation within which they have to act. The impulse to tackle questions of grave urgency is as vigorous as it has ever been, but it is trammeled in the tiny cages in which it is imprisoned, in the relatively small nations into which up to the present Europe has been organised.”

--“Everywhere Parliament is spoken ill of, but people do not see that in no one of the countries that count is there any attempt at substitution. Nor do even the Utopian outlines exist of other forms of the State which seem, at any rate ideally, preferable.”

vi--Socrates: “‘I have nothing to do with the trees of the field, I have to do only with the man of the city.’”

vii--“Life is at the start a chaos in which one is lost. The individual suspects this, but he is frightened at finding himself face to face with this terrible reality, and tries to cover it over with a curtain of fantasy, where everything is clear. It does not worry him that his ‘ideas’ are not true, he uses them as trenches for the defence of his existence, as scarecrows to frighten away reality. The man with the clear head is the man who frees himself from those fantastic ‘ideas’ and looks life in the face, realises that everything in it is problematic, and feels himself lost. As this is the simple truth—that to live is to feel oneself lost—he who accepts it has already begun to find himself, to be on firm ground.”

--“There was much ingenuity in the well-known political emblem of Saavedra Fajardo: an arrow, and beneath it, ‘It either rises or falls’. That is the State. Not a thing, but a movement.”

--“The ancient State never succeeds in fusing with the others. Rome rules and educates the Italians and the provincials, but it does not raise them to union with itself. Even in the city it did not bring about the political fusion of the citizens.”

viii--“It is not patriotism which has made the nations.”

--“There is now coming for Europeans the time when Europe can convert itself into a national idea. And it is much less Utopian to believe this today than it would have been to prophesy in the XIth Century the unity of Spain.”

ix--“There is truth only in an existence which feels its acts as irrevocably necessary. There exists today no politician who feels the inevitableness of his policy, and the more extreme his attitudes, the more frivolous, the less inspired by destiny they are. The only life with its roots fixed in earth...is that which is made up of inevitable acts.”

--“The years are passing and there is the risk that the European will grow accustomed to the lower tone of the existence he is at present living, will get used neither to rule others nor to rule himself. In such a case, all his virtues and higher capacities would vanish into air.”


The Dehumanization of Art

--“It is amazing how compact a unity every historical epoch presents throughout its various manifestations. One and the same inspiration, one and the same biological style, are recognizable in the several branches of art.”

--“Romanticism was very quick in winning ‘the people’ to whom the old classical art had never appealed....Modern art, on the other hand, will always have the masses against it. It is essentially unpopular; moreover, it is antipopular.”

--“The unpopularity of the new music has its counterpart in a similar unpopularity of the other Muses.”

--“Accustomed to ruling supreme, the masses feel that the new art, which is the art of a privileged aristocracy of finer senses, endangers their rights as men.”

--“Behind all contemporary life lurks the provoking and profound injustice of the assumption that men are actually equal.”

--“The new art...helps the elite to recognize themselves and one another in the drab mass of society.”

--“19th century art [is] made for the masses inasmuch as it is not art but an extract from life.”

--“Cult of the body is an infallible symptom of a leaning toward youth, for only the young body is lithe and beautiful. Whereas cult of the mind betrays the resolve to accept old age, for the mind reaches plenitude only when the body begins to decline. The triumph of sport marks the victory of the values of youth over the values of age. Note in this context the success of the motion picture, a preeminently corporeal art.”

--“The trend toward pure art betrays not arrogance, as is often thought, but modesty. Art that has rid itself of human pathos is a thing without consequence—just art with no other pretenses.”

--“It may be said that the new art has so far produced nothing worth while, and I am inclined to think the same....The task it sets itself is enormous; it wants to create from nought. Later, I expect, it will be content with less and achieve more.”


Notes on the Novel

--“A literary genre may wear out....There exist a definite number of possible themes for the novel. The workmen of the primal hour had no trouble finding new blocks—new characters, new themes. But present-day writers face the fact that only narrow and concealed veins are left them.”

--“The genre of the novel, if it is not yet irretrievably exhausted, has certainly entered its last phase.”

--“The works of highest rank are likely to be products of the last hour when accumulated experience has utterly refined the artistic sensitivity.”

--“To us the great Balzac, save for one or two of his books, makes rather difficult reading.”

--“The Spanish theater is popular; and nothing in history, as far as I can see, has ever been classical and popular at once. The French tragedy, on the other hand, is an art for aristocrats.”

--“In French tragedies, action is reduced to a minimum....The aristocratic audience [goes] to the theater [to] feel elated by the model deportment of those great-hearted figures....French theater is ethical contemplation.”

--“In every order of life, abandonment is characteristic of the popular spirit. Popular religions have always reveled in orgiastic rites.”

--“The men and women in Spanish plays [are] seen roving through the wide world, tossed about by the whirlwind of adventure.”

--On Proust’s work: “Plot there is almost none; and not a whit of dramatic interest. Thus the novel is reduced to pure motionless description, and the diffuse, atmospheric character, which is in fact essential to the genre, appears here with exaggerated purity....Action and plot may play a minor part in a modern novel, but [they] cannot be entirely dispensed with....Proust has demonstrated the necessity of movement by writing a paralytic novel.”


Invertebrate Spain

1--“The history of a nation is not solely that of its formative and ascendant period. It is also the history of its decadence. If the former consists in amalgamation, the latter may be described as an inverse process. The history of the decadence of a nation is the history of a vast disintegration.”

--“Moral suasion and material compulsion are intimately linked in every act of command. I am sorry that I cannot agree with modern pacifism in its antipathy toward force. Without force there would have been nothing of that which is most important to us in the past, and if we exclude it from the future we can only imagine a humanity in chaos.”

--“In every true amalgamation, force has the character of an adjective. The substantive, motivating power always consists in a national dogma, an inspiring plan for a life in common.”

--“The great nations have been made not from within but from without. A successful international policy, a policy of high emprise, is the only thing that creates a fruitful internal policy—which is always, in the last analysis, a rather shallow affair.”

--“Everything which has happened in Spain from the year 1580 up to the present time is disintegration and decay.... The process of disintegration moved in an orderly fashion from the periphery to the center. First we lost the Low Countries and Milan, then Naples. At the beginning of the 19th century the great overseas provinces broke away....In 1900 the Spanish corpus had returned to its native peninsular nakedness....The loss of those last overseas possessions seemed the signal for the beginning of a peninsular break-up. In 1900, talk of regionalism, sectionalism, separatism, began.”

3--“When a nation is in the ascendant, the masses feel themselves a mass, an anonymous collectivity which...finds its symbol in certain chosen people on whom it pours out the vast store of its vital enthusiasm....When a nation is declining...the masses do not want to be masses.”

--“When the mass refuses to be a mass—that is to say when it refuses to follow the directing minority—the nation goes to pieces, society is dismembered, and social chaos results.”

--“There are races which have been characterized by an almost monstrous abundance of outstanding personalities, with a small and unruly mass behind them. That was the case with Greece, and that was the cause of her instability.”

--“Russia and Spain [are] races that suffer from an obvious and continuous lack of eminent individuals. The Slavic nation is an enormous mass of people on top of which trembles a minute head.”

--“The difference between France and Spain is not so much a matter of the difference between Gauls and Iberians, as it is a result of the different quality of the tribes which invaded both territories. To go from France to Spain is to go from the Frank to the Visigoth....If you could arrange the wandering German tribes in order of their historic vitality, the Frank would be at the top, the Visigoth at the bottom.”

--“It has always seemed astonishing that, in a short fifty years, our people could pass from the miserable state in which they found themselves around 1450 to an eminence unknown in the modern world....Spain had the honor of being the first country to become a nation....The reason that unity was achieved with such speed was that Spain was weak, that she lacked a strong pluralism supported by great personalities of the feudal type.”

6--“The castle presupposes daily warfare—life as a series of battles. It is very difficult for us to picture a soul to whom living is synonymous with waging war. Our lives are the exact contrary of this....Ever since Spencer’s time, the spirit of industry has customarily been opposed to the spirit of war, and has unhesitatingly been preferred to it.”

--“Everyone who has known a great man well has been surprised to find that his soul preserved a certain youthful halo.”

--“The most acute minds in Europe today are wondering if those vital resources, upon which culture flourishes, are exhausted. Especially the warrior spirit.”

--“Modern morality has cultivated a sentimental standard by which anything is preferable to dying....If life merely drags on in emptiness, what value has it? Would we really like to organize the planet into an immense hospital and a gigantic clinic?”

--“During the Middle Ages, the relations between men rested on the principle of fidelity, which in turn was based on that of honor. Modern society, on the contrary, is based on contract.”

9--“A life which is private, hidden, solitary, closed to public view, becomes more difficult every day.”

--“The more advanced a country is, the less important the family.”

--“There is a delicious epidemic of feeling oneself part of the mass, of ceasing to have any individual destiny.”

10--“‘The means of production and distribution’ as Marx says—is one of the great wheels in the mechanism of history, but it travels in gear with many other wheels. The whole machine is much more complex than this....Probably the remaining pieces will also be discovered by force of successive exaggerations.”

--“At the height of their power the Arabs had 500 names for the sword.”


Concord and Liberty

“Concord and Liberty”

“Concord and Belief”--“Concord, that kind of concord which forms the foundation of stable society, presupposes that the community holds a firm and common, unquestionable and practically unquestioned, belief as to the exercise of supreme power. And that is tremendous. For a society without such a belief has little chance of obtaining stability. Ideas, even great ones, may be improvised; not so beliefs. Beliefs, to be sure, begin as ideas. But in the process of slowly pervading the minds of the multitude they lose the character of ideas and establish themselves as ‘unquestionable realities’.”

“Kings”, etc.--“European man never allowed public power to invade the entire realm of his personal life....In the Roman conception public power has no limits; it is total.”

“The Tribunate”, etc.--Between the upper and lower classes in Rome there were “long and obstinate struggles; struggles, no revolution. For underground, the contestants were welded together by profound concord based on common beliefs and on an imperturbable common aspiration to grow into one people. That is the reason why the plebeians chose, as their supreme weapon, that mildest possible device the noble tale of which used to move us so deeply in the days of our childhood. They left the city as a body with their leaders at their head and occupied first the Sacred Mount and then the Aventine Hill.”

“Prologue to a History of Philosophy”

“Epochs Without Splendor”--“After Aristotle [we] have the three great philosophical systems of the ‘decline’ of antiquity: stoicism, epicureanism, skepticism. [Compared with the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle,] stoicism [is] not only another doctrine but a sudden drop in the level of the intellectual endeavor theretofore called philosophy.”

--“Kant [said] that it is possible to understand Plato better than Plato understood himself.”


On Love

II, 1--“The genuine philosopher...does not have more than one [theory].”

--“Such beings [as Stendhal] will live in a constant state of fictitious love. They needn’t wait for a particular object to excite their erotic streak, for anyone will serve the purpose.”

--“In Stendhal’s case....we are dealing with a man who never truly loved.”

2--Stendhal and Chateaubriand never really loved; “apparently, it is a difficult matter for an elevated spirit to succumb to an amorous passion.”

--Stendhal and Chateaubriand “took their love affairs much more seriously than their work.”

--“The most genuine lovers will truthfully admit that they did not feel—at least, initially—a desire for physical union.”

5--“The maniac is a man with an abnormal attention-span. Almost all great men have been maniacs”, e.g., Newton.

7--“I think that the European soul is approaching a new experience of God...that most important of all realities.”

--The mystic directs his attention to one thing, anything.

--“We can induce sleep in proportion to our ability to stop thinking about things.”

III, 1--“In their choice of lovers both the male and the female reveal their essential nature.”

2--“Men seldom fall in love with the most plastically beautiful woman.”

3--“The male is almost always pluralistic in love.”

4--“When we are confronted with another creature of our species his inner state is at once revealed to us.”

6--“Genius horrifies a woman....She manifests a decided enthusiasm for mediocrity.”

IV--Women secretive, men self-revealing.

--“The Renaissance [is] the offspring of Provencal culture which flourished in the 13th century.”

VI--“A man feels love primarily as a violent desire to be loved, whereas for a woman the primary experience is to feel love itself.”

VII, 2--“Love, in Plato, is romantic love in perhaps its first appearance in history.”

--“Love is not an instinct but rather a creation....the savage has no inkling of it, the Chinese and the Indian are unfamiliar with it.”

--love is rare and “a specific talent which some individuals possess”

--“The ability to interest oneself in a thing for what it is in itself [is] the magnificent gift of generosity which flourishes only at the peaks of the greatest altitudes of vitality. A body weak from a medical standpoint does not in itself indicate a deficiency in vitality, as, by contrast, a Herculean physique does not guarantee organic energy.”

--“From my point of view it is immoral for a being not to make the most intense effort every instant of his life.”


Historical Reason

1940, 1--“Philosophy is so hard to section; it is rather like an elastic loop that will stretch and contract but cannot be cut.”

--“Throughout the world people are engaged in frenetic activity, drugging themselves with inauthentic hyperactivity in order to fill the vacuum of not knowing what to do.

--Philosophy circular and thus “philosophy lacks an order for beginning and ending. None of its ideas is first, and none last.”

--“Thought...gives birth to world-views and life-visions that, once they become beliefs, will be like vast continents for man to inhabit, often for centuries.”

--“No science ever stops to question whether or not its principles are ultimately true.”

--The philosopher is “cold and bland” since he lives in the future, not the present.

3--The ancients believed in things; the moderns, starting with Descartes, believed in thought as the basis of things; the most advanced of the moderns, including the author, believe in life as the basis of thought.

4--Animals neither happy nor unhappy.

--Man always aspires after more than his circumstances permit, hence he’s “always, to a degree, unhappy.”

 Lisbon, 1944, 1--“A felicitous idea appears suddenly in our mind’s cavity the way a startled bird enters our window in springtime.”

--In the 20th century “intellectuals have gone from being everything to being nothing.”

--Comte: “‘toute la participation dans le commandement est radicalement dégradante’” for intellectuals.

--The intellectual “an opinion-giver.”

--“When one has the truth about what a thing is, one also has the exact design of its future behavior.”

2--“Profession and vocation sometimes coincide but have nothing to do with one another.”

--The Hebrew prophet Amos and the Greek writer Hesiod were the first intellectuals; before them were ecstatics, delirious ravers.

--“Intelligence is the opinion that opposes public opinion.”

3--“The whole nation should participate in university intellectual life.”

--“Professions, offices, ministries, all are inauthentic life forms.”

--“Philosophers should never get angry.”

--“Some of the most complicated mathematical problems have been solved in sleep....Just as there is sleepwalking, there is also sleepthinking.”

--“I believe only in ambiguity, because reality itself is that way.”

--“The precise outline of every particular law—as of every institution—is the profile or frontier of forces in collision that, exhausted with fighting, settled on a compromise. To destroy one law without replacing it with another is to conjure up the infinite capacity that man—who was once a beast—still has for fighting.”

4--“No one in our social environment can offer any authentic direction or clear guidelines....Each is abandoned to his own, individual life.”

--“Philosophy, when it really is philosophy, ought to awaken terror, enthusiasm in us, uneasiness, curiosity, exaltation, special delight.”

5--“Man, whose sole reality consists in moving toward a target, is now suddenly without one.”

--“Philosophy is the only knowledge that counts as knowledge even without being able to solve its problems.”


Some Lessons in Metaphysics

1--“To be a student is to see oneself as the person obliged to interest himself in the very thing that does not interest him.”

--“In no order of life is the element of falsity so constant, so habitual, and so tolerated as it is in teaching.”

--“The terrible gap...between living culture, genuine knowledge, and the ordinary man.”

--The modern paradox: “an enormous progress in terms of culture should have produced...a man indisputably more barbarous than was the man of a hundred years ago.”

2--“Life is what we do and what happens to us...if life is always what we are doing, it is very important to analyze why we are doing one thing, and not another.”

--“From moment to moment, we find ourselves forced to choose between various possibilities.”

6--“Within the destiny marked out by your environment, you are free.”

10--“One cannot live without some interpretation of life.”

--“I must justify to myself every one of my acts.”


The Mission of the University

2--The handshake a way of occupying the right hand, the killing hand.

--From India: “‘our acts follow our thoughts as the wheel of the cart follows the hoof of the ox.’”

--“We are our ideas.”

5--“Self-justification is a constituent part of our life”, though lacking in mass-man.

--“Science is not something by which we live.”

--“Culture [is] required to [be] the plan of life, the path leading through the forest of existence.”

6--The modern democratic state “has given up governing the life of the people to be governed instead by their opinion.”

--Since church and state are weak, “in the collective life of society today there is no other ‘spiritual power’ than the press.”


An Interpretation of Universal History

4--“The superiority of the Roman army over all the others, particularly the Greek, lay in the unlimited powers... granted to the chief of the army.”

6--The Roman religion “penetrated the entire life of that people much more than Christianity...has ever entered into the lives of Europeans.”

--“These Romans were not only incapable of all theory but even inimical to it.”

--Roman and European government both derived their legitimacy from kingship, which in turn derived its legitimacy from the king’s role as chief priest, favored of heaven.

8--“Nothing can crack, break, and pulverize a religion except other religions.”

--Amos 7:15-16: “‘the Lord said unto me, go, prophecy against my people Israel.’”

9--Toynbee: a civilization begins with an invasion of barbarians, then a chaotic interregnum, then individual nations, which fight among themselves, then one achieves dominance and creates a universal state, which spawns a universal religion, arising in the internal proletariat, a religion inherited by the next invaders.


Man and Crisis

1--“We are now approaching a splendid flowering of the historic sciences” since historians will first “construct an imaginary reality” then compare it “with the actual facts.”

--This is what all real science does, it doesn’t just gather facts.

--“Man cannot take a single step without anticipating more or less clearly his entire future.”

2--“Periods having a deep concern with God are periods of a backward technique, and vice versa.”

3--“In history it is important to distinguish between that which is contemporary and that which is coeval.”

4--“The peak of intellectual life is reached when a man is around 50”; Aristotle said 51.

--“The young man lives for himself.”

--“The face of the world changes every 15 years.”

5--“Each of us lives through himself alone...life is solitude.”

--For 30 years after Copernicus published, only one astronomer agreed with him.

--Cynicism appears when a world view is crumbling.

6--The Renaissance a crisis, i.e., old convictions rejected, and no replacements found.

--“There is no creation without withdrawal into oneself.”

--In Renaissance, man returned to himself after being overcultured in late Middle Ages.

7--“A period of cultural bigotry has always been followed by one of anticultural insolence.”

--Jesus was a rebel against cultural bigotry.

8--When an old and mature culture totters, women come to the fore.

10--“The modern era...made a terrible blunder by clinging to the belief that man’s primary being consists in thinking...this error is called idealism.”

12--“Around the year 1400 man ceased to live within the folds of Christianity.”


Man and People

1--“We think in order that we may succeed in surviving.”

--“There is no authentic thought if it is not duly referred to action and made virile by its relation to action.”

--The Greeks, having discovered thought, overrated it and said God did nothing but think.

6--“Woman...lives in a perpetual twilight; she is never sure whether she loves or not, will do something or not do it.”

--Men enjoy women since they’re inferior, less human; women characterized by confusion and weakness.

--A woman’s spirit is permeated by her body, hence she adorns her body.


The Modern Theme

2--“Historical science is only possible in the proportion that prophecy is possible.”

--“In the realm of pure thought...the earliest faint signs of the coming age can be traced.”

3--Life “an illusion and an absurdity” without the belief in truth.

--Scepticism “a theory of suicidal character.”

4--“I cannot think usefully, for my biological purposes, if I do not think what is true.”

7--We should worship life itself, not culture and not utopias.

8--Goethe: “The more I think of it the more evident it appears to me that life exists simply for the purpose of being lived.”

10--“The peculiar property of every living being...far from impeding the capture of truth, is precisely the organ by which the specially corresponding portion of reality is perceived.”

Sunset of Revolution

--“In Europe revolutions are things of the past.”

--Revolutions only in rationalistic eras, when man breaks with the past and tradition.

--Spanish unintelligent, English and Romans not very intelligent, Greeks and French intelligent.


Meditations on Quixote

To the Reader: “The possibility of heroism must subsist beneath the surface everywhere.”

1st Meditation, #17--“Far from the tragic originating in fate...it is essential for the hero to want his tragic destiny.”


The Sportive Origin of the State

#4--“Maniacal conservatism” characterizes Rome and England, both of which were politically successful.


The Unity and Diversity of Europe

1--“It is impossible for men truly to understand one another...they are condemned to profound loneliness.”

3--The mass-man “has no insides, no inalienable privacy of his own, no irrevocable ‘I’.”

--“There have always been a few men who were able to foresee the future.”

4--“The first condition for improving the present situation [is] an awareness of its enormous difficulty. We must realize that it is very hard to save a civilization when its hour has come to fall beneath the power of demagogues.”


“Ortega and Ecological Philosophy”, by W. Kim Rogers (Journal of the History of Ideas, July 1994, vol. 55, #3)

--Ortega believed that Spain was “devoid of authentic thinking and speaking. The task which he set for himself as teacher and author [was] the reforming of Spain.”

--Ortega believed that Spain should be educated by Europe, particularly Germany, and then create a “‘Spanish interpretation of the world’.”

--“Ortega was very impressed with the quality of Husserl’s work”, but tried to go beyond Husserl’s phenomenology, as well as beyond existentialism.

--“What makes Ortega’s approach ecological in character [is] its focus upon the interaction between living beings and their environment.” The author of this essay argues that Ortega’s thought is split between the idea that the individual interacts with his environment, and the idea that the individual is basically solitary.

--Ortega said, “Life is a problem because it ‘consists not so much in what it is as...in what it has not yet become.’ Our life ‘is that paradoxical reality which consists...in being what we not yet are, in starting to be the future.’”

--“Our circumstance includes for us a specific, present repertory of possibilities from which we must choose one.” The possibilities are fate, the choice is freedom. The choice is made by our character, which Ortega defines as “the program of life one has invented for oneself by means of the imagination.”

--“‘Living is a constant process of deciding what we are going to do.’”

--“Inasmuch as my thinking and speaking do not proceed from convictions I myself have formed... ‘I cease to be the supremely individual person that I am, and I act on society’s account.’”

--“My life ceases to be mine by my accepting the ideas of others, through which I see the whole world ‘as through prison bars.’ I see myself in terms of what ‘they’ say and do, and the radical reality of my life is thus ‘concealed from my own eyes by a crust, made up of what I have received from other men.’”