The psyche is not of today. Its ancestry goes back many millions of years. Individual consciousness is only the flower and fruit of a season, sprung from the perennial root beneath the earth.
There may be, and there often is, indeed, a regard for ancestry which nourishes only weak pride; as there is also a care for posterity, which only disguises an habitual avarice, or hides the workings of a low and groveling vanity. But there is also a moral and philosophical respect for our ancestors, which elevates the character and improves the heart.
The behavior of an individual is determined not by his racial affiliation, but by the character of his ancestry and his cultural environment.
Men have their intellectual ancestry, and the likeness of some one of them is forever unexpectedly flashing out in the features of a descendant, it may be after a gap of several centuries. In the parliament of the present every man represents a constituency of the past.
What no human soul desires there is no need to prohibit; it is automatically excluded. The very emphasis of the commandment, Thou shalt not kill, makes it certain that we spring from an endless ancestry of murderers, with whom the lust for killing was in the blood, as possibly it is to this day with ourselves.
Title and ancestry render a good man more illustrious, but an ill one more contemptible. Vice is infamous, though in a prince; and virtue honorable, though in a peasant.
No self is of itself alone. It has a long chain of intellectual ancestors. The "I" is chained to ancestry by many factors ... This is not mere allegory, but an eternal memory.
Anarchism is a creed inspired and ridden by paradox, and thus, while its advocates theoretically reject tradition, they are nevertheless very much concerned with the ancestry of their doctrine. This concern springs from the belief that anarchism is a manifestation of natural human urges, and that it is the tendency to create authoritarian institutions which is the transient aberration. If one accepts this view, then anarchism cannot merely be a phenomenon of the present; the aspect of it we perceive in history is merely one metamorphosis of an element constant in society.
Everything comes from experience; yet not from actual experience, reiterated by each individual with each generation, but instead from experience accumulated by the entire ancestry of the species in the course of its evolution.
If we can simply distinguish between the different successive stages of evolution, it is possible to see primeval events within the earthly events of the present.
In a world that holds books and babies and canyon trails, why should one condemn oneself to live day-in, day-out with people one does not like, and sell oneself to chaperone and correct them?
Bacteria have occupied life’s mode from the very beginning, and I cannot imagine a change of status, even under any conceivable new regime that human ingenuity might someday impose upon our planet. Bacteria exist in such overwhelming number and such unparalleled variety; they live in such a wide range of environments and work in so many unmatched modes of metabolism. Our shenanigans, nuclear and otherwise, might easily lead to our own destruction in the foreseeable future. We might take most of the large terrestrial vertebrates with us—a few thousand species at most. I doubt that we could ever substantially touch bacterial diversity. The modal organisms cannot be nuked into oblivion or very much affected by any of our considerable conceivable malfeasances
Very few people, including authors willing to commit to paper, ever really read primary sources—certainly not in necessary depth and comtemplation, and often not at all… When writers close themselves off to the documents of scholarship, and then rely only on seeing or asking, they become conduits and sieves rather than thinkers. When, on the other hand, you study the great works of predecessors engaged in the same struggle, you enter a dialogue with human history and the rich variety of our own intellectual traditions. You insert yourself, and your own organizing powers, into this history—and you become an acive agent, not merely a reporter.