The problem of the value of truth came before us — or was it we who came before the problem? Who of us is Oedipus here? Who the Sphinx? It is a rendezvous, it seems, of questions and question marks.
— Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
As a college freshman, I memorized the tenets fo quantum mechanics, without hope of understanding. Sir Isaac Newton: “All objects have a gravitational pull on one another.” The strength of attraction, what we call “weight,” is determined by the relative mass and distance between objects. The greater the mass, the greater the pull. Gravity bends beams of light. Gravity bends space itself. Collapsed stars create vortexes of gravity so intense that light cannot escape. Gravity is neither magnetism nor electricity. During my lifetime, we have built electromagnetic accelerators (I have wondered at the one at Standford stretching miles and miles), bombarded atoms and discovered smaller and smaller integers of matter, but gravity itself remains a mystery, like love.
— Dewitt Henry, “Gravity” (from Safe Suicide)
After having looked long enough between the philosopher’s lines and fingers, I say to myself: by far the greater part of conscious thinking must still be included among instinctive activities, and that goes even for philosophical thinking. We have to relearn here, as one has had to relearn about heredity and what is “innate.” As the act of birth deserves no consideration in the whole process and procedure of heredity, so “being conscious” is not in any decisive sense the opposite of what is instinctive: most of the conscious thinking of a philosopher is secretly guided and forced into certain channels by his instincts.
Behind all logic and its seeming sovereignty of movement, too there stand valuations or, more clearly, physiological demands for the preservation of a certain type of life. For example, that the definite should be worth more than the indefinite, and mere appearance worth less than “truth” — such estimates might be, in spite of their regulative importance for us, nevertheless mere foreground estimates, a certain kind of niaiserie which may be necessary for the preservation of just such beings as we are. Supposing, that is, that not just man is the “measure of things.”
— Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (3)
The yearning of these words, tethered to vanishing.
— Dewitt Henry