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Sarah Bernhardt

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I am so superstitious that if I had arrived when there was no sunshine I should have been wretched and most anxious until after my first performance. It is a perfect torture to be superstitious to this degree, and, unfortunately for me, I am ten times more so now than I was in those days, for besides the superstitions of my own country, I have, thanks to my travels, added to my stock all the superstitions of other countries. I know them all now, and in any critical moment of my life, they all rise up in armed legions for or against me. I cannot walk a single step or make any movement or gesture, sit down, go out, look at the sky or ground, without feeling some reason for hope or despair, until at last, exasperated by the trammels put upon my actions by my thought, I defy all superstitions and just act as I want to act.
--
Ch. 33

 
Sarah Bernhardt

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No man really thinks and feels monotonously. If he is monotonous in his manner of setting forth his thoughts and feelings, that is either because he has not learned the art of writing, or because he is more or less consciously imitating the manner of others. The subtle play of thought will give movement and life to his style if he do not clog it with critical superstitions. I do not say that it will give him grace and power; I do not say that relying on perfect sincerity will make him a fine writer, because sincerity will not give talent; but I say that sincerity will give him all the power that is possible to him, and will secure him the inestimable excellence of Variety.

 
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It may indeed prove to be far the most difficult and not the least important task for human reason rationally to comprehend its own limitations. It is essential for the growth of reason that as individuals we should bow to forces and obey principles which we cannot hope fully to understand, yet on which the advance and even the preservation of civilization depend. Historically this has been achieved by the influence of the various religious creeds and by traditions and superstitions which made men submit to those forces by an appeal to his emotions rather than to his reason. The most dangerous stage in the growth of civilization may well be that in which man has come to regard all these beliefs as superstitions and refuses to accept or to submit to anything which he does not rationally understand. The rationalist whose reason is not sufficient to teach him those limitations of the powers of conscious reason, and who despises all the institutions and customs which have not been consciously designed, would thus become the destroyer of the civilization built upon them. This may well prove a hurdle which man will repeatedly reach, only to be thrown back into barbarism … Common acceptance of formal rules is indeed the only alternative to direction by a single will man has yet discovered.

 
Friedrich Hayek
 

Superstitions, and especially the early cultivation of religion, with its “fear of the Lord” and of unknown mysterious agencies, are especially potent in the development of the instinct of fear. Even the early cultivation of morality and conscientiousness, with their fears of right and wrong, often causes psychoneurotic states in later life. Religious, social, and moral taboos and superstitions, associated with apprehension of threatening impending evil, based on the fear instinct, form the germs of psychopathic affections.

 
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He quickly lowered his eyes to his knees again, to conceal the pain in them, to conceal his broken faith in the innate goodness of men, the profound despair of realization that reason might not after all triumph over ignorance.
“Perhaps,” he murmured aloud, “To believe in the inevitable triumph of rationality might, in itself, be no more than another expression of those same superstitions which we deplore in the ignorant. It is apparently an occupational disease, perhaps a fatal one, for the scientist to be too sanguine about eventual rule by reason. There is so little evidence...”

 
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How entirely does the Oupnekhat breathe throughout the holy spirit of the Vedas! How is every one who by a diligent study of its Persian Latin has become familiar with that incomparable book, stirred by that spirit to the very depth of his soul! How does every line display its firm, definite, and throughout harmonious meaning! From every sentence deep, original, and sublime thoughts arise, and the whole is pervaded by a high and holy and earnest spirit. Indian air surrounds us, and original thoughts of kindred spirits. And oh, how thoroughly is the mind here washed clean of all early en grafted Jewish superstitions, and of all philosophy that cringes before those superstitions! In the whole world there is no study, except that of the originals, so beneficial and so elevating as that of the Oupnekhat. It has been the solace of my life, it will be the solace of my death!

 
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