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A quote for a Sunday morning

January 4, 2009


Every position of permanent agreement or harmony between reason and life, between philosophy and religion, becomes impossible. And the tragic history of human thought is simply the history of a struggle between reason and life – reason bent on rationalizing life and forcing it to submit to the inevitable, to mortality; life bent on vitalizing reason and forcing it to serve as a support for its own vital desires. And this is the history of philosophy, inseparable from the history of religion.

From Del Sentimiento Trágico de la Vida  (The Tragic Sense of Life) by the Spanish existentialist, Miguel de Unamuno. I was made aware of this quote by Robert Richards who uses it in his own wonderful – and highly recommended – biography of Ernst Haeckel, The Tragic Sense of Life (Harvard, 2008). Unamuno’s work was included in the Index of Forbidden Books. As Wikipedia notes, Unamuno summarized his personal creed thus: "My religion is to seek for truth in life and for life in truth, even knowing that I shall not find them while I live."

Discuss if you wish …

  1. January 4, 2009 at 9:01 am

    “You may win; you have more than enough brute force. But you will not convince. For to persuade you would need what you lack; reason and right in your struggle.”

  2. January 4, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    I did a translation of Unamuno’s short story San Manuel Bueno, Martir as a senior in college. Amazing short story.
    It’s about a living saint in a small Spanish village, but he has a secret!

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