Jostein Gaarder


Norwegian Intellectual, Author of Novels, Short Stories and Children's Books

Author Quotes

Philosophers are always trying to climb up the fine hairs of the fur in order to stare right into the magician's eyes.

Slaves did all the manual work, leaving a void at the full free citizens interesting cultural and political life. Thus we have seen a new way of thinking, born in big cities. As it was one of the individual, the right to question the organization of society.

Sophie knew that 'modesty' was an old-fashioned word for shyness - for example, about being seen naked. But was it really natural to be embarrassed about that? If something was natural, she supposed, it was the same for everybody. In many parts of the world it was completely natural to be naked. So it must be society that decides what you can and can't do. When Grandma was young you certainly couldn't sunbathe topless. But today, most people think it is 'natural,' even though it is still strictly forbidden in lots of countries. Was this philosophy? Sophie wondered.

The artist should thus derive the freest possible inspiration from his dream images and strive toward a super realism in which the boundaries between dream and reality were dissolved. For an artist too it can be necessary to break the censorship of the conscious and let words and images have free play.

The history of ideas is like a drama in many acts.

The only thing we need to be good philosophers is the ability to wonder.

The universe is a great mystery.

There is an artist in everyone. A dream is, after all, a little work of art, and there are new dreams every night.

Those who are asking the questions are always the most dangerous.

Watching Limelight with my mother really brought home to me the brevity of life. I realized in a little while that I would die and leave everything behind. Unlike vain people, I had the ability to think this right through. I had no difficulty in picturing full theatres and cinemas long after myself was gone. Not everybody can do that. Many are so intoxicated with sensual impressions that they're not able to grasp that there is a world out there. And therefore they're not able to comprehend the opposite either - they don't understand that one day the world will end. We, however, are only a few missing heartbeats away from being divorced from humanity forever.

We do not believe in the notion of God's chosen people. We laugh at this people's fancies and weep over its misdeeds. To act as God's chosen people is not only stupid and arrogant, but a crime against humanity. We call it racism.

When I die, I will quit one silver thread strung with smooth pearls that will be scattered on the ground and roll her mother shells on the sea bottom.

When you realize there is something you don't understand, then you're generally on the right path to understanding all kinds of things.

You animals body, but the soul of an angel!

Philosophy days were not a social game! She speaks of who we are and where we came.

Smarter is one who knows he does not know.

Sophie left the den and wandered about in the large garden. She tried to forget what she had learned at school, especially in science classes. If she had grown up in this garden without knowing anything at all about nature, how would she feel about the spring? Would she try to invent some kind of explanation for why it suddenly started to rain one day? Would she work out some fantasy to explain where the snow went and why the sun rose in the morning?

The best way of approaching philosophy is to ask a few philosophical questions: How was the world created? Is

The history of thought - or of reason - is like this river. The thoughts that are washed along with the current of past tradition, as well as the material conditions prevailing at the time, help to determine how you think. You can therefore never claim that any particular thought is correct for ever and ever. But the thought can be correct from where you stand.

The perspectives are so labyrinthine that several possibilities must be kept open. If there is a Creator, what is he? And if there isn?t a Creator, what is this world?

The vast majority of people simply live among the shadows. Imagine that these shadows, the only thing existing is not aware that they are just pictures. In this fact, forget the timeless nature of their souls.

There is hardly another possible intimacy that can be compared with two eyes, meeting flatly and firmly decided at all to not detach from one another.

Throughout the entire history of philosophy, philosophers have sought to discover what man is - or what human nature is. But Sartre believed that man has no such eternal nature to fall back on. It is therefore useless to search for the meaning of life in general. We are condemned to improvise. We are like actors dragged onto the stage without having learned our lines, with no script and no prompter to whisper stage directions to us. We must decide for ourselves how to live.

We (as human beings) see everything in a glass, darkly. Sometimes we can peer through the glass and catch a glimpse of what is on the other side. If we were to polish the glass clean, we'd see much more. But then we would no longer see ourselves.

We don't know when we're going to make our exits. But one day we'll pass away from this carnival with all its masks and roles, and only a few transient props will remain after us, until they too are swept away. We will step outside time; leave what we call 'reality'.

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Norwegian Intellectual, Author of Novels, Short Stories and Children's Books