There is no one, except perhaps for the very stupid, who has all his
ideas about any subjects at any moment ready. Therefore it makes sense
to draw up maxims, not as truths, but as reminders of useful insights
that seem more probable or more sensible than not.
That intelligence is roughly
proportional to the ability to see and make specific sensible
distinctions, does not imply that anyone can do without general
The mediocre and the stupid
have neither the incentive nor the ability to think, for they neither
can do it well nor do they have reasons to expect any special advantage
or insight from their thinking.
The mediocre and the stupid
are nearly always conformists and followers, and indeed are rational if
they rely on others to think for them, even if they often rely on those
who use and deceive them.
Anybody who believes all that any author outside mathematics wrote,
very probably has no ability to think rationally for himself.
Outside pure mathematics, there is not a single book that contains
anything like "the truth, all the truth, and nothing but the truth"
about any subject (apart from telephone-directories and the like).
Those who believe that they know such a book, generally are little
better than fanatics, and can be excused only by their ignorance or
For humans, to establish
anything like the truth about anything whatsoever generally is the work
of generations, and not of one man, or one generation.
All state-sponsored education aims first and foremost at producing
conformist citizens rather than learned, civilised or individualist
The well educated tend to be
the privately educated.
It is extra-ordinarily difficult to judge men and their affairs without
prejudice or bias, if only because such judgments tend to derive from
personal interests or concerns.
A man without personal
interests and concerns is a dead man.
Morals and science that are not applied, or not applied well, are as
useless as fantasies, and no better than wishful thinking.
The worst things tend to be
done for the noblest sounding reasons.
The only reasoning that can corrupt is false, biased or prejudiced
reasoning; the only personal feelings that are not biased are those
that sincerely aim at justice or truth.
Man is naturally a social animal, and most human social behavior is
There are two kinds of
pretense: altruistic pretense, that tends to be restricted to one's
family, friends and fellows, and generally tends to help them; and
egoistic pretense, that tends to be extended to everybody else, and
generally aims to use or deceive them, in the interest of oneself or
Society requires cooperation;
cooperation requires communication and compromises, and all members of
society must have some self-control and need to play according to
learned socially agreed upon rules.
Society would be impossible if
its members would follow their present emotions whenever they felt them.
Social peace is generally due
to indifference that's praised as tolerance.
The two main reasons why so very few men dare to be honest in society
are that honest persons in authoritarian societies risk their lives,
while in non-authoritarian societies they risk their incomes.
Indeed, in society almost all
public acting is dishonest and conformist, and almost the only
exceptions to this are geniuses, comedians, fools, and idiots.
Criminals also have their moral principles and rules of honor, for
without agreements between people there is no human cooperation.