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Titled Aphorisms
Maarten Maartensz


Occasionally, I get an aphoristic fit. Here is one from the beginning of April 1995 - and no, I do not believe that aphorisms are the best way to give a precise, factually correct and adequate judgement of their topic. An aphorism should be a thought that is well-expressed and provoking enough to make one think for oneself.


Relativism and hypocrisy

Relativism is the last refuge of the hypocrite.

Human interest

We care for people only in proportion that we identify with them. All human interest is self-interest.

How people judge people

People judge people first by their appearance; then by their words; and finally by their acts.

On improving society and men

I despise hypocrisy, stupidity, egoism, and conformism, but I have to admit that the intellectual and moral qualities of most men seem to me to be such that it is better they are hypocritical conformers to social values they act but do not live by than that they act on the beliefs and values they could generate by their own independent thinking. As far as most men are concerned, the choice is between well-behaved phonies or ill-behaved monsters.

How people choose their ideas and values

Normally, people choose their ideas and values to suit their own interests and self-image: they are not interested in truth but in convenient or pleasant illusions.

How to be a social human animal

Man is a social creature, but most men are social by lying, communicate by chattering, and socialize with others to further their own egoistic ends while pretending to act for the common interest.

Observation on men, morals and human reasoning

If only a few intelligent men and women reach similar factually adequate conclusions about human frailties and follies, few people are sane.

And indeed, this much is true: As soon as theoretical ideas get involved, remote from everyday practice, or ideas about which strong feelings are held, such as most religious and political ideas and values, most men cease being rational and reasonable - if they were rational and reasonable to begin with, which may be doubted on good statistical grounds and a knowledge of history.

Whether morals improve men

Books of morality, sermons, religion etc. certainly have not influenced the minds or acts of people as they are pretended to have. On the other hand: men are ideological apes and need a system of beliefs, ends, desires and values to orient and guide themselves. And in general, in most circumstances most men act as they believe the members of their groups would desire them to act - for better and for worse, so it depends largely on fashion.

Society requires self-restraint and cooperation

Society requires cooperation; cooperation requires communication and compromises; and all require a certain self-restraint and playing roles by following certained learned rules of behaviour. Society is impossible if its members would follow their present emotions and incliniations whenever they felt them.

There are no morals without self-restraint based on some generalization about what human beings are, can be and should be and do.

Moral virtue by using moral vice

To teach people to forego personal profit for social approbation is one way of making people more social and cooperative: As men are on average, they are much easier civilized by their weaknesses than by their strengths.

It is far easier to make someone behave well by appealing to his vanity than to his principles.

On the successes of human reasoning and education

At least 90% of all men (sofar) is at least 90% deluded at least 90% of the time.

If one thing is certain about the beliefs of mankind, it is that they are usually unfounded, false and harmful, and that those who profess and practice them could have easily avoided this.

On human judgements

All people judge by their own standards and feelings whereas the standards of most people are uninformed and biased while their feelings are egoistic and chauvinistic.

The benefits of old age

Age rarely brings wisdom, though it usually has successfully taught people how to be credible phoneys.

How to survive and be a success

In society, everybody who is not extra-ordinary can survive only by lies and pretensions.

There is hardly any conscious act anyone would perform in just the same way when he believes himself to be seen as when he believes himself not to be seen.

Why ordinary people detest extra-ordinary people

Ordinary people detest rather than admire extra-ordinary others, for to detest means one believes oneself to be better and to admire means to believe oneself to be worse, and all people desire a pleasant self-image.

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