We’re No Angels!

What is the use of those high philosophical peaks on which no human being can settle and those rules which exceed our practice and our power?

It is not very clever of [man] to tailor his obligations to the standards of a different kind of being.

May we not say that there is nothing in us during this earthly prison either purely corporeal or purely spiritual and that it is injurious to tear a living man apart?

– Montaigne, quoted in Botton’s The Consolation of Philsophy, p. 130

What is Man? What is Your Life?

What is man? A vessel that the slightest shaking, the slightest toss will break… A body weak and fragile, naked, in its natural state defenceless, dependent upon another’s help and exposed to all the affronts of Fortune.”

(Seneca, quoted in Alan de Botton’s The Consolations of Philosophy)

The New Testament says something similar; the difference is it subscribes to the idea of providence, not fortune.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16)