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Book Summaries Philosophy

The Romantic movement (A History of Western Philosophy)

The romantic movement had a taste for scenery and gothic architecture, they liked what was strange, ghosts, pirates, the occult sciences, mesmerism. 

The realists reacted against Romanticism. But the extreme emotions that are embraced by the Romantics are destructive, they include: anger, hatred, despair, outraged pride, jealousy. The kind of man that is a model for romantics is an anarchic rebel, violent, antisocial, and a conquering tyrant. 

By self-interest, man has become gregarious, but in instinct he has remained to a great extent solitary; hence the need of religion and morality to reinforce self-interest.

Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy

But forgoing the present for the future is difficult. When passions are aroused, the prudent restraints of social rules become hard to endure. Those who throw them off gain a new energy and sense of power from the cessation of inner conflict. While they may come to disaster in the end, they enjoy a sense of godlike exaltation, while known by the mystics, cannot be experienced by pedestrian virtue.

The solitary part of their nature reasserts itself, but if the intellect survives the reassertion must clothe itself in myth. The mystic becomes one with God, and in the contemplation of the Infinite feels himself absolved from duty to his neighbour. The anarchic rebel does even better: he feels himself not one with God, but God.

Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy

Truth and duty, which represent our subjection to matter and to society, do not exist for the man who has become God.

If we could all live solitary and without labor, we could enjoy the ecstasy of independence, but we cannot, so its delights can only be enjoyed by madmen and dictators.

Christianity managed to tame the ego, but the economic, political, and intellectual causes spurred a revolt against the churches. The romantic movement brought the revolt into the sphere of morals. By encouraging a lawless Ego, it made cooperation among people impossible. Its disciples were left with the alternative of anarchy or despotism.

At first, egoism allowed men to feel a tenderness from others, but when they discovered that others had their own ego, the disappointed desire for tenderness transformed to hatred and violence.

Man is not a solitary animal, and so long as social life survives, self realization cannot be the supreme principle of ethics 

Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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