"I think it's impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves."
"I don't care if I pass your test, I don't care if I follow your rules. If you can cheat, so can I. I won't let you beat me unfairly - I'll beat you unfairly first."
"I've lived too long with pain. I won't know who I am without it."
"Perhaps it's impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be."
"Then I'll tell the truth. We're allowed to do that in emergencies. We can't plan for everything, you know."
"If you can't do it twice, you can't do it at all."
“The wise are not wise because they make no mistakes. They are wise because they correct their mistakes as soon as they recognize them.”
“They never know anything. They don’t have enough years in their little lives to come to an understanding of anything at all. And yet they think they understand. From earliest childhood, they delude themselves into thinking they comprehend the world, while all that’s really going on is that they’ve got some primitive assumptions and prejudices. As they get older they learn a more elevated vocabulary in while to express their mindless pseudo-knowledge and bully other people into accepting their prejudices as if they were truth, but it all amounts to the same thing. Individually, human beings are all dolts.
Collectively, they’re a collection of dolts. But in all their scurrying around and pretending to be wise, throwing out idiotic half-understood theories about this and that, one or two of them will come up with some idea that is just a little bit closer to the truth than what was already known. And in a sort of fumbling trial and error, about half the time the truth actually rises to the top and becomes accepted by the people who still don’t understand it, who simply adopt it as a new prejudice to be trusted blindly until the next dolt accidentally comes up with an improvement.
So…no one is ever individually intelligent, and groups are even stupider than individuals—and yet by keeping so many fools engaged in pretending to be intelligent, they still come up with some of the same results that an intelligent species would come up with."
“Free will doesn’t exist. Only the illusion of free will, because the causes of our behavior are so complex that we can’t trace them back. If you’ve got one line of dominoes knocking each other down one by one, then you can always say, Look, this domino fell because that one pushed it. But when you have an infinite number of directions, you can never find where the casual chain begins. So you think, That domino fell because it wanted to.”
“Even if there is no such thing as free will, we have to treat each other as if there were free will in order to live together in society. Because otherwise, every time somebody does something terrible, you can’t punish him, because he can’t help it, because his genes or his environment or God made him do it, and every time somebody does something good, you can’t honor him, because he was a puppet, too. If you think that everybody around you is a puppet, why bother talking to them at all? Why even try to plan anything or create anything, since everything you plan or create or desire or dream of is just acting out the script your puppeteer built into you.
So we conceive of ourselves and everyone around us as volitional beings. We treat everyone as if they did things with a purpose in mind, instead of because they’re being pushed from behind. We punish criminals. We reward altruists. We plan things and build things together. We make promises and expect each other to keep them. It’s all a made-up story, but when everybody believes that everybody’s actions are the result of free choice, and takes and gives responsibility accordingly, the result is civilization.”
“When you have wisdom that another person knows that he needs, you give it freely. But when the other person doesn’t yet know that he needs your wisdom, you keep it to yourself. Food only looks good to a hungry man.”
“Earthborn animals do this thing, inside their brains—a sort of firing-off of synapses, controlled insanity. While they’re asleep. The part of their brain that records sight or sound, it’s firing off every hour or two while they sleep; even when all the sights and sounds are complete random nonsense, their brains just keep on trying to assemble it into something sensible. They try to make stories out of it. It’s complete random nonsense with no possible correlation to the real world, and yet they turn it into these crazy stories. And then they forget them. All that work, coming up with these stories, and when they wake up they forget almost all of them. But when they do remember, then they try to make stories about those crazy stories, trying to fit them into their real lives.
…They change what their stories mean. They transform things so that the same memory can mean a thousand different things. Even from their dreams, sometimes they make up out of that randomness something that illuminates everything.
…Even if the vast majority of them are wrong, even if ninety-nine of every hundred is stupid and wrong, out of then thousand ideas that still leaves them with a hundred good ones. That’s how they make up for being so stupid and having such short lives and small memories.”
"All the stories are fictions. What matters is which fiction you believe."
"Your trust in rationality makes you irrational."
"Religion is tied to the deepest feelings people have. The love that arises from that stewing pot is the sweetest and strongest, but the hate is the hottest, and the anger is the most violent."
"This emotion I'm feeling now, this is love, right?"
"I don't know. Is it a longing? Is it a giddy stupid happiness just because you're with me?" "Yes," she said.
"That's influenza," said Miro. "Watch for nausea or diarrhea within a few hours."
"Isn't that the sweetest little well-balanced undergraduate-level philosophy of life."
"Knowledge is just opinion that you trust enough to act upon."
"Please don't disillusion me. I haven't had breakfast yet."
"And then he thought: Is this how idiots rationalize their stupidity to themselves?"
Analyzing things was fine, but good reflexes could save your life.
Know, think, choose, do.
"What a laugh, though. To think that one human being could ever really know another. You could get used to each other, get so habituated that you could speak their words right along with them, but you never knew why other people said what they did, because they never even knew themselves. Nobody understands anybody.
And yet somehow we live together, mostly in peace, and get things done with a high enough success rate that people keep trying. Human beings get married and a lot of marriages work, and they have children and most of them grow up to be decent people, and they have schools and businesses and factories and farms that have results at some level of acceptability—all without having a clue what’s going on inside anybody’s head. "
“…You are so convinced that you believe only what you believe that you believe, that you remain utterly blind to what you really believe without believing you believe it.”
“You were born in the wrong century, you could have made Thomas Aquinas tear out his hair. Nietzsche and Derrida would accuse you of obfuscation. Only the Inquisition would know what to do with you—toast you nice and brown.”
"I'll have that someday...Someone who'll kiss me good-bye at the door. Or maybe just someone to put a blindfold over my head before they shoot me. Depending on how things work out."
"Most victories came from instantly exploiting your enemy's stupid mistakes, and not from any particular brilliance in your own plan."