* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
A student in the audience raised her hand and asked me:
“Why should I live?”
… In the very act of asking that question, you are seeking reasons for your convictions, and so you are committed to reason as the means to discover and justify what is important to you. And there are so many reasons to live!
As a sentient being, you have the potential to flourish. You can refine your faculty of reason itself by learning and debating. You can seek explanations of the natural world through science, and insight into the human condition through the arts and humanities. You can make the most of your capacity for pleasure and satisfaction, which allowed your ancestors to thrive and thereby allowed you to exist. You can appreciate the beauty and the richness of the natural and cultural world. As the heir to billions of years of life perpetuating itself, you can perpetuate life in turn. You have been endowed with a sense of sympathy – the ability to like , love, respect, help, and show kindness – and you can enjoy the gift of mutual benevolence with friends, family, and colleagues.
And because reason tells you that none of this is particular to you, you have the responsibility to provide to others what you expect for yourself. You can foster the welfare of other sentient beings by enhancing life, health, knowledge, freedom, abundance, safety, beauty, and peace. History shows that when we sympathize with others and apply our ingenuity to improving the human condition, we can make progress in doing so, and you can help to continue that progress.
Stephen Pinker in Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress
Comments are welcome!
*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
This celebration, renewal and collision with the past and with the indians’ own identity, breaks down everyday order and routine to establish the magic dimension, the exception and the anomaly. An explosion of vitality, abundance and liberty demolishes everyday slavery and misery. But the festive chaos which transports one to the anomalous and to the sacred, simultaneously causes the return to profane normality. Just when the disorder and confusion reach the state of paroxysm, when everything is agitated and intermixed indiscrimanently, the celebration is over. The bands all play at the same time in deafening competition, the dancers can no longer hold themselves up, and all distinctions between groups, musicians, dancers and sexes are erased. It is the kacharpaya, the limit of disorder and cataclysm, which signals the return to routine.
To Cover in Order to Uncover, by Fernando Montes in Masks of the Bolivian Andes, Photographs: Peter McFarren, Sixto Choque, Editorial Quipos and BancoMercantil
Comments are welcome!