The lunatic who thinks he is a crowned head may be, in a sense, happy, but his happiness is not of a kind that any sane person would envy.
After ages during which the earth produced harmless trilobites and butterflies, evolution progressed to the point at which it has generated Neros, Genghis Khans, and Hitlers. This, however, I believe is a passing nightmare; in time the earth will become again incapable of supporting life, and peace will return.
The tragedy of one successful politician after another is the gradual substitution of narcissism for an interest in the community and the measures for which he stands.
William James used to preach the 'will to believe.' For my part, I should wish to preach the 'will to doubt' ... what is wanted is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out, which is the exact opposite.
It is evident as a matter of logic that, since they (world religions) disagree, not more than one of them can be true.
Of all the studies by which men acquire citizenship of the intellectual commonwealth, no single one is so indispensable as the study of the past.
And a society composed of men and women who do not bow too much to the conventions is a far more interesting society than one in which all behave alike.
How pleasant a world would be in which no man was allowed to operate on the Stock Exchange unless he could pass and examination in economics and Greek poetry, and in which politicians were obliged to have a competent knowledge of history and modern novels.
So in everything: power lies with those who control finance, not with those who know the matter upon which the money is to be spent. Thus, the holders of power are, in general, ignorant and malevolent, and the less they exercise their power the better.
Most of the greatest evils that man has inflicted upon man have come through people feeling quite certain about something which, in fact, was false.
Among ourselves (Westerners), the people who are regarded as moral luminaries are those who forgo ordinary pleasures themselves and find compensation in interfering with the pleasures of others.
The belief in a happy "state of nature" in the remote past is derived partly from the biblical narrative of the age of the patriarchs, partly from the classical myth of the golden age. The general belief in the badness of the remote past only came with the doctrine of evolution.