Saturday, January 12, 2008

footnote to civilization

I know that civilization is simply something that seems important, something that lives in the mind along with infinite desires and stories that are no less sensible that the small stone between my fingers.

I am at first affrighted and confounded with that forelorn solitude in which I am placed with my philosophy, and fancy myself some strange uncouth monster who, not being able to mingle and unite in society, has been left...utterly abandoned and disconsolate. Fain would I run into the crowd for shelter and warmth; but I cannot prevail with myself to mix with such deformity. I call upon others to join me, in order to make a company apart; but no one will hearken to me.

Most fortunately it happens that, since reason is incapable of dispelling these clouds, nature herself suffices to that purpose, and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium, either by relaxing this bent of mind, or by some avocation, and lively impression of my senses, which obliterates all these chimaeras. I dine, I play a game of backgammon, I converse and am merry with my friends, and when after three or four hours'amusement I would return to these speculations, they appear so cold, and strained and ridiculous, that I cannot find it in my heart to enter into them any further. Here I find myself absolutely and necessarily determined to live, and act, and talk like other people in common affairs of life.
--David Hume, Treatise on Human Nature