^^ The Philosophy of Freaks ^^ – Moral Philosophy & Mortal Capacity

~ Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Salvador Dali

Drink and dance and laugh and lie,

Love, the reeling midnight through,

For tomorrow we may die!

But, alas, we never do.

~ Dorothy Parker, The Flaw in Paganism, Death and Taxes, 1931.


Important definitions on the topic:

  1. Abstainer, noun. A weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.[1]
  2. Consult, verb. To seek another’s approval of a course already decided upon.[2]
  3. Modesty: the gentle art of enhancing your charm by pretending not to be aware of it.[3]
  4. Modesty is the art of encouraging people to find out for themselves how wonderful you are.
  5. Conscience: something that feels terrible when everything else feels swell.[4]
  6. Conscience is the inner voice that warns us that someone may be looking.[5]
  7. Conscience and cowardice are really the same things. Conscience is the trade name of the firm.[6]
  8. Duty is what one expects from others, it is not what one does oneself.[7]

Some truths about the qualities of morality in moderation:

  1. Abstinence is a good thing, but it should always be practiced in moderation.
  2. When people are least sure, they are often dogmatic.[8]
  3. Moderation is a fatal thing; nothing succeeds like excess.[9]

On self-control, anger management:

  1. Keep your temper. Do not quarrel with an angry person, but give him a soft answer. It is commanded by the Holy Writ and, furthermore, it makes him madder than anything else you say.[10]
  2. Every normal man must be tempted at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.[11]

Good and evil:

  1. Wickedness is a myth invented by good people to account for the curious attractiveness of others.[12]
  2. Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.[13]
  3. Evil spelled backward is live.
  4. The best is the enemy of the good.[14]

Facts, facts, facts:

  1. Obviously crime pays or there would be no crime.[15]
  2. To err is human; to forgive, unusual.
  3. The important thing when you are going to do something brave is to have someone on hand to witness it.[16]
  4. Most people have seen worse things in private than they pretend to be shocked in public.[17]
  5. In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants and the other is getting it.[18]
  6. When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.[19]
  7. The central problem of our age is how to act decisively in the absence of certainty.[20]
  8. It’s not the world that’s got so much worse but the news coverage that’s got so much better.[21]

General advise on morality:

  1. Thou shalt not carry moderation into excess.[22]
  2. We have two kinds of morality side by side: one which we preach but do not practice, and the other which we practice but seldom preach.[23]
  3. If you can’t be direct, why be?[24]
  4. A hypocrite always practices what he preaches – against.
  5. Blessed is he who expects no gratitude, for he shall not be disappointed.[25]
  6. Anything that you are good at contributes to happiness.[26]

~ On the Thresholds of Liberty by René Magritte

[1] Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, 1911.

[2] Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, 1911.

[3] Oliver Herford, 1865-1935, English-born American writer.

[4] Anon. Reader’s Digest, 1949.

[5] H. L. Mencken, Sententiae, 1920.

[6] Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891.

[7] Oscar Wilde,  A Woman of No Importance, 1893.

[8] J. K. Galbraith, The Great Crash, 1929, 1955.

[9] Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance, 1893.

[10] Anon. Reader’s Digest, 1949.

[11] H. L. Mencken, Prejudices, First Series, 1919.

[12] Oscar Wilde, Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young, 1894.

[13] Attributed to Voltaire.

[14] Attributed to Voltaire.

[15] G. Gordon Liddy, Watergate conspirator and radio host.

[16] Michael Howard, MC, Professor of the History of War, Oxford, 1980.

[17] Edgar Watson Howe, Country Town Sayings, 1911.

[18] Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan, 1982.

[19] George Bernard Shaw, Caesar and Cleopatra, 1898.

[20] Attributed to Bertrand Russell.

[21] G. K. Chesterton, 1874-1936, English essayist and poet.

[22] Arthur Koestler, writer and journalist, 1905-1983.

[23] Attributed to Bertrand Russell.

[24] Attributed to Lily Tomlin.

[25] Attributed to W. C. Bennett, American Clergyman.

[26] Attributed to Bertrand Russell.

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