Life is a succession of tasks rather than a cascade of inspiration, an experience that is more repetitive than revelatory, at least on a day-to-day basis. The thing is to perform the task well and find reward even in the mundane.
Roger Cohen, Mow the Lawn
This is not a world where you can simply express love for other people, where you can praise them. Perhaps it should be. But it’s not. I’ve found that people will fear your enthusiasm and warmth, and wait to hear the price. Which is fair. We’ve all been drawn into someone’s love only to find out that we couldn’t afford it. A little distance buys everyone time.
Micaela McGlone, How to Be Polite
The initial organization of the brain does not depend that much on experience. Nature provides a first draft, which experience then revises. Built-in doesn’t mean unmalleable; it means organized in advance of experience.
Gary Marcus, The Birth of the Mind, 2004
Facts are things that are true. Opinions are things we believe. Some of our beliefs are true. Others are not. Some of our beliefs are backed by evidence. Others are not. Value claims are like any other claims: either true or false, evidenced or not. The hard work lies not in recognizing that at least some moral claims are true but in carefully thinking through our evidence for which of the many competing moral claims is correct.
Justin P. McBrayer, Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts
History can be written at any magnification. One can write the history of the universe on a single page, or the life cycle of a mayfly in 40 volumes.
Norman Davies, Europe: a history, 1997
It takes … a mind debauched by learning to carry the process of making the natural seem strange, so far as to ask for the why of any instinctive human act. To the metaphysician alone can such questions occur as: Why do we smile, when pleased, and not scowl? Why are we unable to talk to a crowd as we talk to a single friend? Why does a particular maiden turn our wits so upside-down? The common man can only say, ‘Of course we smile, of course our heart palpitates at the sight of the crowd, of course we love the maiden, that beautiful soul clad in that perfect form, so palpably and flagrantly made for all eternity to be loved!’
William James, The Principles of Psychology
Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you must first believe.”
Winston Churchill, paraphrased from The Scaffolding of Rhetoric