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By Mark Vernon

Mark Vernon takes his idea from forty two of the funniest, wisest, and quirkiest quotations in regards to the gigantic questions in existence, and makes use of those as beginning issues for his exceptional observations. In every one bankruptcy he explains what the best thinkers of all time have needed to say on matters akin to everlasting existence, paintings, love and intercourse, and the character of happiness; he attracts his personal conclusions, and may impress you to imagine deeply your self!

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Sample text

He was disappointed. Politicians, he realised, believe their own hype. Poets, he saw, are brilliant with words but mistake that brilliance for wisdom. Professionals, he concluded, might be experts in their field but are wrong if they take that professionalism to mean they are experts in life as a whole. Then he understood. No one was wiser than he, because no one understood the depth of their ignorance as fully as he did. We are all ignorant but the smart thing is to become wise of the fact. This wise ignorance brought Socrates a profound sense of contentment.

Qxp 11/14/2007 12:26 PM 14 Page 14 42: Deep Thought on Life Socrates, who realised that the key to wisdom is to understand the limits of what you know. This insight came to him after he received a startling message from the Delphic Oracle, which had ventured that no one was wiser than he: something Socrates knew could not be right, since he was highly aware of what little he knew. So, he set out to prove the Oracle wrong, by speaking to all the wise people of Athens. He was disappointed. Politicians, he realised, believe their own hype.

This wise ignorance brought Socrates a profound sense of contentment. When he was condemned to death by the Athenian state he did not flee the city, as he easily could have done. He stayed, comforted his followers, drank the hemlock and died. In short, pig-ignorance is a paltry bliss and wise ignorance supreme; a truth that appears in other traditions. Thomas Aquinas believed that happiness was something that could only completely be found in heaven. However, the very fact that human beings can understand that, by appreciating the flaws of their ‘in between’ condition, allows them a happiness-of-becoming on earth.

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