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Ernest Gellner

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(Austin's) admirers claim that his supreme preoccupation was truth. His work, with its sad conjunction of extraordinary cunning in presentation with very thin content, leaves rather the impression of a man who had little sense of real problems but who liked winning arguments and dominating people in the course of them, and who was well equipped to gratify his taste. He was the supreme dialectical poker player, unsurpassed at making people believe that their bluff had been called when in fact they weren’t bluffing, and at stone-walling any attempt to call his own. It would be hypocritical not to say all this. Hypocrisy might not matter, but it would also be unfair to those students who are still conned into supposing that this kind of philosophizing has much in common with serious intellecual endeavour.
Poker Player, (1969), reprinted in The Devil in Modern Philosophy, (1974)

Ernest Gellner

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Supposing you knew — not by sight or by instinct, but by sheer intellectual knowledge, as I know the truth of a mathematical proposition — that what we call empty space was full, crammed. Not with lumps of what we call matter like hills and houses, but with things as real — as real to the mind.

John Buchan

War is fought in this fog of falsehood, a great deal of it undiscovered and accepted as truth. The fog arises from fear and is fed by panic. Any attempt to doubt or deny even the most fantastic story has to be condemned at once as unpatriotic, if not traitorous. This allows a free field for the rapid spread of lies. If they were only used to deceive the enemy in the game of war it would not be worth troubling about. But, as the purpose of most of them is to fan indignation and induce the flower of the country's youth to be ready to make the supreme sacrifice, it becomes a serious matter. Exposure, therefore, may be useful, even when the struggle is over, in order to show up the fraud, hypocrisy, and humbug on which all war rests, and the blatant and vulgar devices which have been used for so long to prevent the poor ignorant people from realizing the true meaning of war.

Arthur Ponsonby

Erdõs knows about more problems than anybody else, and he not only knows about various problems and conjectures, but he also knows the tastes of various mathematicians. So if I get a letter from him giving me three of his conjectures and two of his problems, then it's sure that these are exactly the kind of conjectures and problems I'm interested in, and these are exactly the kind of questions I may be able to answer.
Of course, this applies not only to me, but to everybody else. So Erdõs has an amazing ability to match problems with people. Which is why so many mathematicians benefit from his presence. Every letter is likely to inspire you to do some work, or every phone call will give you some problems you are interested in.

Paul Erdos

Indian religion never considered intellectual or theological conceptions about the supreme Truth to be the one thing of central importance. To pursue that Truth under whatever conception or whatever form, to attain to it by inner experience, to live in it in consciousness, this it held to be the sole thing needful. One school or sect might consider the real self of man to be indivisibly one with the universal Self or the supreme Spirit. Another might regard man as one with the Divine in essence but different from him in Nature. A third might hold God, Nature and the individual soul in man to be three eternally different powers of being. But for all the truth of Self held with equal force; for even to the Indian dualist God is the supreme self and reality in whom and by whom Nature and man live, move and have their being and, if you eliminate God from his view of things, Nature and man would lose for him all their meaning and importance. The Spirit, universal Nature (whether called Maya, Prakriti or Shakti) and the soul in living beings, Jiva, are the three truths which are universally admitted by all the many religious sects and conflicting religious philosophies of India. Universal also is the admission that the discovery of the inner spiritual self in man, the divine soul in him, and some kind of living and uniting contact or absolute unity of the soul in man with God or supreme Self or eternal Brahman is the condition of spiritual perfection. It is open to us to conceive and have experience of the Divine as an impersonal Absolute and Infinite or to approach and know and feel Him as a transcendent and universal sempiternal Person: but whatever be our way of reaching him, the one important truth of spiritual experience is that he is in the heart and centre of all existence and all existence is in him and to find him is the great self-finding.

Sri Aurobindo

“Abjuring love? Real people don’t do that. Now you’re the one who sounds like someone on a stage. That’s not the real world. Real people follow their hearts, wherever it takes them. Real people refuse to be put into a little tiny box. You can say you love me or you don’t love me, it doesn’t matter; I know you have foresworn nothing except an existence you found intolerable.”
She really did smile this time. “Now you’re making me sound like a heroine. Be honest, Lucius. For all that you go on about the real world with its real people, you don’t really want to live in it, either.”

Ellen Kushner
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