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Luc de Clapiers Vauvenargues

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It is in our own mind and not in exterior objects that we perceive most things; fools know scarcely anything because they are empty, and their heart is narrow; but great souls find in themselves a number of exterior things; they have no need to read or travel or to listen or to work to discover the highest truths; they have only to delve into themselves and search, if we may say so, their own thoughts.
--
p. 186.

 
Luc de Clapiers Vauvenargues

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It is not events and the things one sees and enjoys that produce happiness, but a state of mind which can endow events with its own quality, and we must hope for the duration of this state rather than the recurrence of pleasurable events. Is this state actually an interior one, and can we recognize it otherwise than the by the changes it produces in all exterior things? If we exclude sensation and memory from our thoughts, there is nothing left but a wordless emptiness. Where can pure ecstasy and pure happiness be found? As certain phosphorescent fish see the deep water, the seaweed, and the other creatures of the sea light up at their approach but never perceive the movable source of this illumination because it is in themselves, so the happy man, though he is aware of his effect upon others, has difficulty in perceiving his happiness and even greater difficulty in predicting it.

 
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We both are, and know that we are, and delight in our being, and our knowledge of it. Moreover, in these three things no true-seeming illusion disturbs us; for we do not come into contact with these by some bodily sense, as we perceive the things outside of us of all which sensible objects it is the images resembling them, but not themselves which we perceive in the mind and hold in the memory, and which excite us to desire the objects. But, without any delusive representation of images or phantasms, I am most certain that I am, and that I know and delight in this. In respect of these truths, I am not at all afraid of the arguments of the Academicians, who say, What if you are deceived? For if I am deceived, I am. For he who is not, cannot be deceived; and if I am deceived, by this same token I am. And since I am if I am deceived, how am I deceived in believing that I am? for it is certain that I am if I am deceived. Since, therefore, I, the person deceived, should be, even if I were deceived, certainly I am not deceived in this knowledge that I am. And, consequently, neither am I deceived in knowing that I know. For, as I know that I am, so I know this also, that I know. And when I love these two things, I add to them a certain third thing, namely, my love, which is of equal moment. For neither am I deceived in this, that I love, since in those things which I love I am not deceived; though even if these were false, it would still be true that I loved false things. For how could I justly be blamed and prohibited from loving false things, if it were false that I loved them? But, since they are true and real, who doubts that when they are loved, the love of them is itself true and real? Further, as there is no one who does not wish to be happy, so there is no one who does not wish [themself] to be [into being]. For how can he be happy, if he is nothing?

 
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Ordinarily when we talk about the human as the advanced product of evolution and the mind as being the most advanced product of evolution, there is an implication that we are advanced out of and away from the structure of the exterior world in which we have evolved, as if a separate product had been packaged, wrapped up, and delivered from a production line. The view I am presenting proposes a mechanism more and more interlocked with the totality of the exterior. This mechanism has no separate existence at all, being in a thousand ways united with and continuously interacting with the whole exterior domain. In fact there is no exterior red object with a tremendous mind linked to it by only a ray of light. The red object is a composite product of matter and mechanism evolved in permanent association with a most elaborate interlock. There is no tremor in what we call the "outside world" that is not locked by a thousand chains and gossamers to inner structures that vibrate and move with it and are a part of it.
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Jean Piaget
 

Thus happiness depends, as Nature shows,
Less on exterior things than most suppose.

 
William Cowper
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