Spanish Essayist, Novelist, Poet, Playwright and Philosopher
Miguel de Unamuno, fully Miguel de Unamuno y Jogo
Spanish Essayist, Novelist, Poet, Playwright and Philosopher
Once the needs of hunger are satisfied ? and they are soon satisfied ? the vanity, the necessity ? for it is a necessity ? arises of imposing ourselves upon and surviving in others. Man habitually sacrifices his life to his purse, but he sacrifices his purse to his vanity. He boasts even of his weakness and his misfortunes, for want of anything better to boast of, and is like a child who, in order to attract attention, struts about with a bandaged finger.
Rousseau has said in his Emile (book iv.): "Even though philosophers should be in a position to discover the truth, which of them would take any interest in it? Each one knows well that his system is not better founded than the others, but he supports it because it is his. ...The essential thing is to think differently from others. With believers he is an atheist; with atheists he is a believer." How much substantial truth there is in these gloomy confessions of this man of painful sincerity.
The immeasurable beauty of life is a very fine thing to write about, and there are, indeed, some who resign themselves to accept it and accept it as it is, and even some who would persuade us that there is no problem in the "trap." But it has been said by Calder¢n that "to seek to persuade a man that the misfortunes which he suffers are not misfortunes, does not console him for them, but it is another misfortune in addition." And furthermore, "only the heart can speak to the heart."
The truth is that reason is the enemy of life.
This mortal Don Quixote died and descended into hell, which he entered lance on rest, and freed all the condemned, as he freed the galley slaves, and he shut the gates of hell, and tore down the scroll that Dante saw there and replaced it by one on which was written "Long live hope!" and escorted by those whom he had freed, and they laughing at him, he went to heaven. And God laughed paternally at him, and this divine laughter filled his soul with eternal happiness.
Was man made for science, or was science made for man?
Why do I wish to know whence I come and whither I go, whence comes and whither goes everything that environs me, and what is the meaning of it all? For I do not wish to die utterly, and I wish to know whether I am to die or not definitely. If I do not die, what is my destiny? and if I die, then nothing has any meaning for me. And there are three solutions: (a) I know that I shall die utterly, and then irremediable despair, or (b) I know that I shall not die utterly, and then resignation, or (c) I cannot know either one or the other, and then resignation in despair or despair in resignation, a desperate resignation or are resigned despair, and hence conflict.
One of those leaders of what they call the social revolution has said that religion is the opiate of the people. Opium...opium...opium, yes. Let us give them opium so that they can sleep and dream.
Science does not give Don Quixote what he demands of it. "Then let him not make the demand," it will be said, "let him resign himself, let him accept life and truth as they are." But he does not accept them as they are, and he asks for signs, urged thereto by Sancho, who stands by his side. And it is not that Don Quixote does not understand what those understand who talk thus to him, those who succeed in resigning themselves and accepting rational life and rational truth. No, it is that the needs of his heart are greater. Pedantry? Who knows!... And he wishes, unhappy man, to rationalize the irrational and irrationalize the rational. And he sinks into despair of the critical century whose two greatest victims were Nietzsche and Tolstoi. And through this despair he reaches the heroic fury of which Giordano Bruno spoke ? that intellectual Don Quixote who escaped from the cloister ? and became an awakener of sleeping souls (dormitantium animorum excubitor), as the ex-Dominican said of himself ? he who wrote: "Heroic love is the property of those superior natures who are called insane (insano) not because they do not know, but because they over-know (soprasanno)."
The intellectual world is divided into two classes ? dilettantes, on the one hand, and pedants, on the other.
The vain man is in like cause with the avaricious ? he takes the mean for the end; forgetting the end he pursues the means for its own sake and goes no further. The seeming to be something, conducive to being it, ends by forming our objective. We need that others should believe in our superiority to them in order that we may believe in it ourselves, and upon their belief base our faith in our own persistence, or at least in the persistence of our fame. We are more grateful to him that congratulates us on the skill with which we defend a cause than we are to him who recognizes the truth or goodness of the cause itself. A rabid mania for originality is rife in the modern intellectual world and characterizes all individual effort. We would rather err with genius than hit the mark with the crowd.
This visionary [ Emanuel Swedenborg] tells us, under the form of images, that each angel, each society of angels, and the whole of heaven comprehensively surveyed, appear in human form, and in the virtue of this human form the Lord rules them as one man.
We can only know and feel humanity in the one human being which we have at hand.
Windelband, the historian of philosophy, in his essay on the meaning of philosophy (Was ist Philosophie? in the first volume of hisPr„ludien) tells us that "the history of the word 'philosophy' is the history of the cultural significance of science." He continues: "When scientific thought attains an independent existence as a desire for knowledge, it takes the name of philosophy; when subsequently knowledge as a whole divides into its various branches, philosophy is the general knowledge of the world that embraces all other knowledge. As soon as scientific thought stoops again to becoming a means to ethics or religious contemplation, philosophy is transformed into an art of life or into a formulation of religious beliefs. And when afterwards the scientific life regains its liberty, philosophy acquires once again its character as an independent knowledge of the world, and in so far as it abandons the attempt to solve this problem, it is changed into a theory of knowledge itself." Here you have a brief recapitulation of the history of philosophy from Thales to Kant, including the medieval scholasticism upon which it endeavored to establish religious beliefs. But has philosophy no other office to perform, and may not its office be to reflect upon the tragic sense of life itself, such as we have been studying it, to formulate this conflict between reason and faith, between science and religion, and deliberately to perpetuate this conflict?
One should move in order not to make any wrong steps.
Science is a cemetery of dead ideas, even though life may issue from them.
The longing for immortality, is it not perhaps the primal and fundamental condition of all reflective or human knowledge? And is it not therefore the true base, the real starting-point, of all philosophy, although philosophers, perverted by intellectualism, may not recognize it? For the present let us remain keenly suspecting that the longing not to die, the hunger for personal immortality, the effort whereby we tend to persist indefinitely in our own being, which is, according to Spinoza, our very essence, that this the affective basis of all knowledge is the personal inward starting-point of all human philosophy, wrought by a man and for all men? And this personal and affective starting point of all philosophy and all religion is the tragic sense of life.
The very same reason which one man may regard as a motive for taking care to prolong his life may be regarded by another man as a motive for shooting himself.
Those who love me dearly--who are they? They are simply those who want me to be as they wish so they may love me. Love, love, terrible love, which leads us to seek in the beloved for the man we made of him. Who can love me as I am? You, you alone, my Lord, who create me continually out of love, for my very existence is the work of your eternal love. Reader, listen: though I do not know you, I love you so much that if I could hold you in my hands, I would open up your breast and in your heart's core I would make a wound and into it I would rub vinegar and salt, so that you might never again know peace but would live in continual anguish and endless longing. If I have not succeeded in disquieting you with this Quixote of mine it is because of my heavy-handedness, believe me, and because this dead paper on which I write neither shrieks, nor cries out, nor sighs, nor laments, and because language was not made for you and me to understand each other.
We must needs believe in the other life, in the eternal life beyond the grave. ...And we must needs believe in that other life, perhaps, in order that we may deserve it, in order that we may obtain it, for it may be that he neither deserves it nor will obtain it who does not passionately desire it above reason and, if need be, against reason.
Without the inner beauty of a free and harmonious life, ham and eau de cologne can become merely forms of barbarism. Without tolerance and broad spiritual understanding, hygiene will only make for clean animals, very clean and very healthy, but also very animal. External riches will merely smother us, if we do not cultivate inner riches.
Our life is a hope which is continually converting itself into memory and memory in its turn begets hope. Give us leave to live! The eternity that is like an eternal present, without memory and without hope, is death. Thus do ideas exist in the God-Idea, but not thus do men live in the living God, in the God-Man.
Science robs men of wisdom and usually converts them into phantom beings loaded up with facts.
The man of flesh and bone; the man who is born, suffers, and dies?above all, who dies; the man who eats and drinks and plays and sleeps and thinks and wills; the man who is seen and heard; the brother, the real brother.
The work of charity, of the love of God, is to endeavor to to liberate God from brute matter, to endeavor to give consciousness to everything, to spiritualize or universalize everything; it is to dream that the very rocks may find a voice and work in accordance with the spirit of this dream; it is to dream that everything that exists may become conscious, that the Word may become life.