The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.
All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.
Il n’est pas certain que tout soit incertain.
(Translation: It is not certain that everything is uncertain.)
Let each of us examine his thoughts; he will find them wholly concerned with the past or the future. We almost never think of the present, and if we do think of it, it is only to see what light is throws on our plans for the future. The present is never our end. The past and the present are our means, the future alone our end. Thus we never actually live, but hope to live, and since we are always planning how to be happy, it is inevitable that we should never be so.
Le coeur a ses raisons que le raison ne connaît point.
When I consider the brief span of my life absorbed into the eternity which precedes and will succeed it—memoria hospitis unius diei praetereuntis (remembrance of a guest who tarried but a day)—the small space I occupy and which I see swallowed up in the infinite immensity of spaces of which I know nothing and which know nothing of me, I take fright and am amazed to see myself here rather than there: there is no reason for me to be here rather than there, now rather than then. Who put me here? By whose command and act were this place and time allotted to me?
Reason’s last step is the recognition that there are an infinite number of things which are beyond it.
What a Chimera is man! What a novelty, a monster, a chaos, a contradiction, a prodigy! Judge of all things, an imbecile worm; depository of truth, and sewer of error and doubt; the glory and refuse of the universe.
If they [Plato and Aristotle] wrote about politics it was as if to lay down rules for a madhouse. And if they pretended to treat it as something really important it was because they knew that the madmen they were talking to believed themselves to be kings and emperors. They humored these beliefs in order to calm down their madness with as little harm as possible.
Being unable to cure death, wretchedness and ignorance, men have decided, in order to be happy, not to think about such things.
What must I do? I see nothing but obscurities on every side.’
‘Shall I believe I am nothing? Shall I believe I am God?
All that is made perfect by progress perishes also by progress.
What then is to become of man? Will he be the equal of god or the beasts? What a terrifying distance! What then shall he be? Who cannot see from all this that man is lost, that he has fallen from his place, that he anxiously seeks it, and cannot find it again? And who then is to direct him there? The greatest men have failed.
reason can be bent in any direction.
If we do not know ourselves to be full of pride, ambition, lust, weakness, misery, and injustice, we are indeed blind. And if, knowing this, we do not desire deliverance, what can we say of a man…?
Imagine a number of men in chains, all under sentence of death, some of whom are each day butchered in the sight of others those remaining see their own condition in that of their fellows, and looking at each other with grief and despair await their turn. This is an image of the human condition.