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Category: Inspiration

A Favorite Quote

I wanted to share with you one of my favorite quotes…

A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe’; a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.

This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest us.

Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Nobody is able to achieve this completely but striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security

Albert Einstein

Your thoughts? Do you connect to this as much as I do?

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  • Brent Baumeister

    I don’t know if you’ve studied much philosophy, but this quote of Einstein’s is a fairly straightforward restatement of the essence of G.W.F. Hegel’s social/political philosophy, which can perhaps be summed up with a simple quote of his: “The truth is the whole.” By this he meant that the individual human is not the primary social entity, but that the collective is. More specifically, in his framework the primary social unit was the State.

    Hegel’s influence was very profound, and his social/political views directly influenced many other thinkers and political movements, especially in Germany, such as Adolf Hitler on the right, who believed it was Das Deutches Volk, Karl Marx on the left, who believed the primary collective was the International Proletariat, and a biologist-philosopher named Ernst Haeckel, who founded the modern ecology/environmentalist movement in which the primary unit is the whole of Nature. Although he wasn’t much of a philosopher, Einstein takes this collectivist one-upmanship one step further and proclaims that the primary unit is the Universe.

    All collectivist philosophies share the same fundamental viewpoint that some broader collective is the true primary social/political entity, varying in their beliefs of what constitutes the primary collective.

    All of them share the necessary and explicit opposition to individualism, the idea that the individual is the primary social/political unit. Einstein talks of “widening our circle of compassion”, which is part of the same theme running through all such collectivist ideologies that our narrow self interests are harmful to the greater good. Einstein refers to them as a “delusion” and “a prison”. If only individuals could grasp the bigger picture and sacrifice their narrow selfish interests for the greater collective, human society could reach its true potential. That has been the moral ideal common to every collectivist movement.

    November 7 marked the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution. So this blog post of yours is an interesting coincidence. Despite its tragic record of over 100 million documented deaths, Communism persists to this day in attracting many admirers. Its allure is its promise to put fully into practice the moral ideal of collectivism. And that if individuals do not voluntarily choose to subordinate their interests, they should necessarily be forced to do so.

    The poverty, oppression, war and mass death caused by Communism weren’t a result of its mis-implementation. They were the logical outcome of a philosophy that subjugates the value of individual interests to the collective.

    Environmentalism, when it is eventually consistently put into practice, will have the same result, but on a much larger scale.

    That’s the deeper historical meaning of Einstein’s quote and what it would it will mean if put into practice.

  • DJ Helriggle

    Dr. Perlmutter – This sounds very much like Buddhist philosophy. I love it! Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Andrea Tiktin-Fanti

    That is stated so beautifully. I try to live my life this way and wish everyone did. I am going to copy this in calligraphy and hang it on my wall so that I do not forget it. Thank you for sharing

  • julia

    That is an a beautifull and enormous idea, to practice and live embracing all our humain races. I try day to day, and at nigth after to sleep I ask me, what I do in this sence

  • Jean

    I do connect with this. I’ve always felt a strong connection to nature and wildlife. I encourage everyone to check out the cams at explore.org. I’ve fallen in love with brown bears, eagles, owls and more. What a loving Creator we have who has provided so much for us to love and care for.

  • Sandra Clagett

    That was very inspirational!
    Thank you.

  • Silvia Hüglin-Bartholomew

    Yes absolutely. We are part of a an interdependent whole. Our goal is oneness with the Creator of the Universe that includes everything and everybody. I like your quote of Albert Einstein. Thank you.

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