Skip to main content

Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

See other formats

12            Lord, What is Man ?


Nature is essentially mean, mediocre. You can have
schemes for raising the level of this mean, but not for making
every one two inches taller than his neighbour, and this is
what people really care about.


All progress is based upon a universal innate desire on the
part of every organism to live beyond its income.

The World

The world is a gambling-table so arranged that all who
enter the casino must play and all must lose more or less
heavily in the long run, though they win occasionally by the


We play out our days as we play out cards, taking them
as they come, not knowing what they will be, hoping for a
lucky card and sometimes getting one, often getting just the
wrong one.


The world may not be particularly wise—still, we know of
nothing wiser.


The world will always be governed by self-interest. We
should not try to stop this, we should try to make the self-
interest of cads a little more coincident with that of decent

The Individual and the World

There is an eternal antagonism of interest between the
individual and the world at large. The individual will
not so much care how much he may suffer in this world
provided he can live in men's good thoughts long after he
has left it. The world at large does not so much care how
much suffering the individual may either endure or cause
in this life, provided he will take himself clean away out of
men's thoughts, whether for good or ill, when he has left it.