The primary source of violence in human affairs is when one’s existence comes up against another’s set of purposes.
The culture of stupidity of our leaders has been very carefully cultivated by their benefactors.
Be open to everything language has to offer.
We have more invested in the reiteration of our own sanctimony than in alleviating the suffering of other people.
As useful as it is, research can also be a form of numbing.
We try to keep the facts on our side, as if that will protect us, somehow, from all the deep hurt.
The facts are inadequate for our purposes however vital they may be for our self-confidence.
The fundamental problem of human progress is and always has been that those who already have the power to change society owe that power to the status quo.
The truth is that there is no end state, no outcome, only the temporary cessation of a task, the momentary manifestation of a phase.
The internet and the worship hall have this in common: they are where we go to have our assumptions reinforced.
When your sense of hope relies on another’s despair, you’re doing it wrong.
Education isn’t learning facts about things; it’s using ideas in order to learn what to do with facts about things.
A tradition is a bad idea that refuses to die.
You develop a taste for ideas the same way you do for art, music, literature, fine food. This taste can—and should—be cultivated as a matter of becoming an educated person. If not, you’re not really engaging in your education, formal or otherwise, no matter what you may call it.
Character isn’t about always doing the right thing; it’s about having the humility to learn and change from having done things wrong.
There is a certain type of professional who always takes care to move the experiences of those he serves out of the equation in order to make room for his own ego.
One reason we don’t change is that, while failure can garner sympathy, change can threaten identity.
Businesses are fine, and we may even need them. But they’re not enough. The main business of a democracy must always be equity.
Framing government as a business and the taxpayer as a customer is misleading: in order to achieve “the general welfare,” we must see government as a means to create a common good, and our duties as citizens as contributions to a society worth living in.
We’ve been taught that tears are punishment for being sad. They’re really what we’ve earned for the privilege of being human.
It’s possible that the idea of a comprehensible universe is an artifact of the human mind, a necessary folly, a reassuring delusion masking fretful, cosmological chaos.
Poetry is primary research into what’s most basic and irreducible about being alive.
Privilege is the power to give your personal fears the force of law.
Our very systems of sorting and ordering data create both insights and cognitive impairments. We tend to forget the filter is there and take to assuming the world really does align with the tools we use to study it.
We’ll recover from the lies, but we’ll never fully recover from all the lying.
It’s a strange quirk of Western thought that the past is seen as the child of the present and the future as the father of now. A more accurate picture would reverse this order. The past, rather than being “primitive” or “innocent,” creates the world we’re emerging into, frames what discovery means for us, and is the very vehicle of all our current explorations.
The thing is the thing; the system is cognitive.
Good literature makes you think and feel; great literature changes the manner in which you think and feel.
For the competitors, the purpose of competition within a market is not to innovate or create efficiencies—still less is it to create jobs. The purpose is to win market share. In other words, the purpose of competition, no matter its means, is to reduce competition by reducing the number of competitors.
There are two ways to experience change: go somewhere or stay put.
Maintaining an identity is more important than addressing an injustice that does us harm.
A successful system of hierarchical power succeeds by rendering evil banal.
I often hear people excuse not reading poetry by claiming that they do not understand it. Do they really think they’ll understand it better by not reading it?
Problematic are not the questions you can’t answer but the ones you can’t ask.
We should first admit that we can’t possibly understand another person’s pain. But then we should do all we can to make space for it.
It’s funny with madness: the sane will ask “why” not because they want to know but because they want to be seen as the sort of people who ask “why.” The mad ask expecting an answer.
Contemporary conservatism: society exists to produce goods for an economy. Classical liberalism: an economy exists to produce goods for a society.
An irony: we feel safe within our own spheres of fear.
The expert, the businessman, th evaluator, the executive are motivated by what they know. The scholar, the artist, the scientist, the philosopher are motivated by what they do not know. This is why our current rush toward business models and toward reliance on existing evidence bases is so pernicious to the university, to creativity, and to science. We have subjugated scholarship to service delivery, artistry to marketing, science to research and evaluation.
Analytical spellbinding: the idea that a clever analysis equates with a complete understanding.
Analytical hegemony: the projection of an analysis or analytical framework into the world as an intervention or the solution to a problem.
The point of ambition is power, but art is impossible without humbling oneself to the task at hand.
Our assumptions form the main barriers to our understanding.