A Masquerade of the Gods

“If a workman were sure to dream for twelve straight hours every night that he was king,” said Pascal, “I believe that he would be just as happy as a king who dreamt for twelve hours every night that he was a workman.” In fact, because of the way that myth takes it for granted that miracles are always happening, the waking life of a mythically inspired people–the ancient Greeks, for instance–more closely resembles a dream than it does the waking world of a scientifically disenchanted thinker. When every tree can suddenly speak as a nymph, when a god in the shape of a bull can drag away maidens, when even the goddess Athena herself is suddenly seen in the company of Peisastratus driving through the market place of Athens with a beautiful team of horses–and this is what the honest Athenian believed–then, as in a dream, anything is possible at each moment, and all of nature swarms around man as if it were nothing but a masquerade of the gods, who were merely amusing themselves by deceiving men in all these shapes.

Nietzsche, On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense


The Philosopher

If the philosophers were in a position to discover the truth, who among them would take an interest in it? Each knows well that his system is no better founded that the others. But he maintains it because it is his. There is not a single one of them who, if he came to know the true and the false, would not prefer the lie he has found to the truth discovered by another. Where is the philosopher who would not gladly deceive mankind for his own glory? Where is the one who in the secrecy of his heart sets himself any other goal than that of distinguishing himself? Provided that he raises himself above the vulgar, provided that he dims the brilliance of his competitors, what more does he ask? The essential thing is to think differently from others. Among believers he is an atheist; among atheists he would be a believer.

Rousseau, Emile – Book IV


Seers of the Infinite

Seers of the Infinite have ever been quiet souls. They abide alone with themselves and the Infinite, or if they do look around them, grudge to no one who understands the Mighty Word his own peculiar way.

I maintain that in all better souls religion springs necessarily by itself, that a province of its own in the mind belongs to it, in which it has ultimate sway; that it is worthy to animate most profoundly the noblest and best and to be fully accepted and known by them.

The sum total of religion is to feel that, in its highest unity, all that moves us in feeling is one; to feel that whatever is single and particular is only possible by means of this unity; to feel, that is to say, that our being and living is a being and living in and through God.