Monday, December 3, 2007

"Who knows," says Euripides, "if life is not death, and death life?" Plato in one of his dialogues puts these words into the mouth of Socrates, the wisest of men, the very man who created the theory of general ideas and first considered the clarity and distinctness of our judgments to be an index of their truth. According to Plato, Socrates almost always when death is discussed says the same, or much the same as Euripides- No one knows whether life is not death and death life. Since the earliest days the wisest of men have lived in this state of mystified ignorance; only common men know quite distinctly what life is, and what death.

How has it happened, how could it happen, that the wisest are in doubt where the ordinary man can see no difficulty whatsoever, and why are the most painful and terrible difficulties always reserved for the wisest? For what can be more terrible than not to know whether one is alive or dead?

- Lev Shestov