Spanish Essayist, Novelist, Poet, Playwright and Philosopher
Miguel de Unamuno, fully Miguel de Unamuno y Jogo
Spanish Essayist, Novelist, Poet, Playwright and Philosopher
Progress usually comes from the barbarian, and there is nothing more stagnant than the philosophy of the philosophers and the theology of the theologians.
The bitterest sorrow that man can know is to aspire to do much and to achieve nothing... so Herodotus relates that a Persian said to a Theban at a banquet. And it is true. With knowledge and desire we can embrace everything, or almost everything; with the will nothing, or almost nothing. And contemplation is not happiness ? no! Not if this contemplation implies impotence. And out of this collision between our knowledge and our power pity arises.
The philosophy of Bergson, which is a spiritualist restoration, essentially mystical, medieval, Quixotesque, has been called a demi-mondaine philosophy. Leave out the demi; call it mondaine, mundane. Mundane ? yes, a philosophy for the world and not for philosophers, just as chemistry ought to be not for chemists alone. The world desires illusion (mundus vult decipi) ? either the illusion antecedent to reason, which is poetry, or the illusion subsequent to reason, which is religion. And Machiavelli has said that whosoever wishes to delude will always find someone willing to be deluded. Blessed are they who are easily befooled!
They will conquer, but they will not convince.
Underlying even the so-called problem of knowledge there is simply this human feeling, just as underlying the inquiry into the "why," the cause, there is simply the search for the "wherefore," the end. All the rest is either to deceive oneself or to wish to deceive others; and to wish to deceive others in order to deceive oneself.
When at the beginning of the so-called modern age, at the Renaissance, the pagan sense of religion came to life again, it took the concrete form in the knightly ideal with its codes of conduct of love and honor. But it was a paganism Christianized, baptized. "Woman ? la donna ? was the divinity enshrined within those savage breasts. Whosoever will investigate the memorials of primitive times will find this ideal of woman in its full force and purity; the Universe is woman.
Reason perhaps teaches certain bourgeois virtues, but it does not make either heroes or saints.
The Catholic solution of our problem, of our unique vital problem, the problem of the immortality and eternal salvation of the soul, satisfies the will, and therefore satisfies life; but the attempt to rationalize it by means of a dogmatic theology fails to satisfy the reason. And reason has its exigencies as imperious as those of life. It is no use seeking to force ourselves to consider as super-rational what clearly appears to us to be contra-rational... Infallibility, a notion of Hellenic origin, is in its essence a rationalistic category.
The philosophy of the soul of my people appears to me as an expression of an inward tragedy analogous to the tragedy of the soul of Don Quixote, as the expression of conflict between what the world is as scientific reason shows it to be and what we wish that it might be, as our religious faith affirms it to be. And in this philosophy is to be found the explanation of what is usually said about us ? namely, that we are fundamentally irreducible to Kultur ? or in other words, that we refuse to submit to it. No, Don Quixote does not resign himself either to the world, or to science or logic, or to art or esthetics, or to morality or ethics.
They will stone you because they will feel lost at first. They will say: "Liberty? Very well, and what shall I do with that?" A galley-slave friend of mine, whose spiritual chains I dedicated myself to filing through and whose soul I was endeavoring to sow with restlessness and doubt, said to me one day: "See here, just leave me in peace and don't upset me further. I live perfectly well as I am. What do I want with trials and tribulations? Besides, if I didn't believe in Hell, I'd be a criminal." I answered: "No, you would go on being what you are and doing what you are doing and not doing what you do not do. And if this were not the case, and instead you turned to crime, then the fact is that you're a criminal now, too." He rejoined: "I need a reason to be good, an objective foundation upon which to base my conduct. I need to know why a thing my conscience rejects is bad." I countered: "It is bad because your conscience, in which God dwells, rejects it." And he again rejoined: "I have no desire to find myself in the middle of the ocean, like a victim of a shipwreck, drowning and without a plank to cling to." I countered once again: "A plank? I myself am a plank. I don't need any other because the ocean you mention and in which I float is God. Man floats in God without needing any sort of plank....Have you so little confidence in God that though you are in Him, in whom we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28), you still need a plant to hang on to? He will keep you afloat without any spar or plank."
Unless a man aspires to the impossible, the possible that he achieves will be scarcely worth the trouble of achieving.
When I contemplate the green serenity of the fields or look into the depths of clear eyes through which shines a fellow-soul, my consciousness dilates, I feel the diastole of the soul and am bathed in the flood of the life that flows about me, and I believe in my future; but instantly the voice of mystery whispers to me, "Thou shalt cease to be!" the angel of Death touches me with his wing, and the systole of the soul floods the depth of my spirit with the blood of divinity.
Reason, that which we call reason, reflex and reflective knowledge, the distinguishing mark of man, is a social product.
The cure for suffering?which, as we have said, is the collision of consciousness with unconsciousness?is not to be submerged in unconsciousness, but to be raised to consciousness and to suffer more. The evil of suffering is cured by more suffering, by higher suffering. Do not take opium, but put salt and vinegar in the soul?s wound, for when you sleep and no longer feel the suffering, you are not. And to be, that is imperative. Do not then close your eyes to the agonizing Sphinx, but look her in the face and let her seize you in her mouth and crunch you with her hundred thousand poisonous teeth and swallow you. And when she has swallowed you, you will know the sweetness of the taste of suffering.
The real sin ? perhaps it is a sin against the Holy Ghost for which there is no remission ? is the sin of heresy, the sin of thinking for oneself. The saying has been heard before now, here in Spain, that to be a liberal ? that is, a heretic ? is worse than being an assassin, a thief, or an adulterer. The gravest sin is not to obey the Church, whose infallibility protects us from reason.
Think of the feeling, feel the thought.
Until she cries really do not know if you have a soul or not.
Whenever a man talks he lies, and so far as he talks to himself ? that is to say, so far as he thinks, knowing that he thinks ? he lies to himself. The only truth in human life is that which is physiological. Speech ? this thing that they call a social product ? was made for lying.
Religion is better described than defined and better felt than described. But if there is any one definition that latterly has obtained acceptance, it is that of Schleiermacher, to the effect that religion consists in the simple feeling of a relationship of dependence upon something above us and a desire to establish relations with this mysterious power.
The devil is an angel too.
The truth is sum, ergo cogito ? I am, therefore I think, although not everything that is thinks. Is not consciousness of thinking above all consciousness of being? Is pure thought possible, without consciousness of self, without personality? Can there exist pure knowledge without feeling, without that species of materiality which feelings lends to it? Do we not perhaps feel thought, and do we not feel ourselves in the act of knowing and willing? Could not the man in the stove [Descartes]have said: "I feel, therefore I am"? or "I will, therefore I am"? And to feel oneself, is it not perhaps to feel oneself imperishable?
This man could not be his wife, because he was not himself, master of himself, but at the same time alienated and possessed.
Warmth, warmth, more warmth! for we are dying of cold and not of darkness. It is not the night that kills, but the frost.
While men believe themselves to be seeking truth for its own sake, they are in fact seeking life in truth.
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.