human things

it is always gratifying to discover that frightening, towering intellects can be human too. before I leave for italy tomorrow (where I shall be for a week, writing my thesis on the ligurian coast), here is one of these splendid discoveries: Charles Darwin, extraordinary thinker & naturalist, responsible for one of the most foundational & unified biological theories of our time, scribbled these hasty thoughts on the pros and cons of marriage:


Children – (if it Please God) – constant companion, who will feel interested in one (and friend in old age) – object to be beloved and played with – better than a dog anyhow – Home, & someone to take care of house – Classics of music and female chit-chat – These things good for one’s health – (forced to visit and receive relations – [crossed out]) – but terrible loss of time – My God, it is intolerable to think of spending one’s whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working, and nothing after all – No, no, won’t do – Imagine living all one’s day solitary in smoky dirty London House – Only picture to yourself a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire and books and music perhaps – compare this vision with the dingy reality of Great Marlboro Street

Not Marry

Freedom to go where one liked – choice of Society and little of it. Conversation of clever men at clubs – Not forced to visit relatives and bend in every trifle – to have the expense and anxiety of children – perhaps quarrelling – Loss of Time – cannot read in the evenings – fatness and idleness – anxiety and responsibility – less money for books etc – if many children forced to gain one’s bread (But then it is very bad for ones health to work too much.) Perhaps my wife won’t like London; then the sentence is banishment and degradation with indolent, idle fool.

Marry, Marry, Marry Q.E.D.

I have underlined my favourite remarks 🙂

[crossposted] & thanks to adam for the tip


2 responses to “human things

  • Simon

    How did you not underline “less money for books etc”? Like, omg!

  • musafiremes

    On a related note (not exactly on the point you made above), just realized that this quote by Plato, “extraordinary thinker”, “responsible for one of the most foundational” philosophical “theories” can be frequently seen floating in ether-space: “Homosexuality is regarded as shameful by barbarians and by those who live under despotic governments just as philosophy is regarded as shameful by them, because it is apparently not in the interest of such rulers to have great ideas engendered in their subjects, or powerful friendships or passionate love-all of which homosexuality is particularly apt to produce.” Albert Einstein, “extraordinary thinker”, “responsible for one of the most foundational” scientific “theories of our time”, was a womanizer. Methinks the mere development of the intellect is not sufficient to define the totality of a human being, for mere intellectual pursuits are amoral – the intellect itself is incapable of producing reliable hypotheses, let alone theses, on moral problems. Humans are finite beings, embedded in the universe, and what we perceive is merely information we derive from our surroundings, like the information received through a screen – finite, as the speed of light. We perceive that a flower is red, but the redness is derived from the information that our retina process from the electromagnetic waves hitting them, and in turn transmitting the information to our brains for further processing. It is not that the flower is really an entity of redness by itself. Hopefully this analogy is not a digression…

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