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Oscar Wilde, "The Critic as Artist":


«Ernest: Gilbert, you treat the world as if it were a crystal ball. You hold it in your hand, and reverse it to please a wilful fancy. You do nothing but rewrite history.


Gilbert: The one duty we owe to history is to rewrite it. That is not the least of the tasks in store for the critical spirit. When we have fully discovered the scientific laws that govern life, we shall realise that the one person who has more illusions than the dreamer is the man of action. He, indeed, knows neither the origin of his deeds nor their results. From the field in which he thought that he had sown thorns, we have gathered our vintage, and the fig-tree that he planted for our pleasure is as barren as the thistle, and more bitter. It is because Humanity has never known where it was going that it has been able to find its way.


Ernest: You think, then, that in the sphere of action a conscious aim is a delusion?


Gilbert: It is worse than a delusion. If we lived long enough to see the results of our actions it may be that those who call themselves good would be sickened with a dull remorse, and those whom the world calls evil stirred by a noble joy. Each little thing that we do passes into the great machine of life which may grind our virtues to powder and make them worthless, or transform our sins into elements of a new civilisation, more marvellous and more splendid than any that has gone before. But men are the slaves of words. They rage against Materialism, as they call it, forgetting that there has been no material improvement that has not spiritualised the world, and that there have been few, if any, spiritual awakenings that have not wasted the world's faculties in barren hopes, and fruitless aspirations, and empty or trammelling creeds. What is termed Sin is an essential element of progress. Without it the world would stagnate, or grow old, or become colourless. By its curiosity Sin increases the experience of the race. Through its intensified assertion of individualism, it saves us from monotony of type. In its rejection of the current notions about morality, it is one with the higher ethics. And as for the virtues! What are the virtues? Nature, M. Renan tells us cares little about chastity, and it may be that it is to the shame of the Magdalen, and not to their own purity, that the Lucretias of modern life owe their freedom from stain. Charity, as even those of whose religion it makes a formal part have been compelled to acknowledge, creates a multitude of evils. The mere existence of conscience, that faculty of which people prate so much nowadays, and are so ignorantly proud, is a sign of our imperfect development. It must be merged in instinct before we become fine. Self-denial is simply a method by which man arrests his progress, and self-sacrifice a survival of the mutilation of the savage, part of that old worship of pain which is so terrible a factor in the history of the world, and which even now makes its victims day by day, and has its altars in the land. Virtues! Who knows what the virtues are? Not you. Not I. Not any one. It is well for our vanity that we slay the criminal, for if we suffered him to live he might show us what we had gained by his crime. It is well for his peace that the saint goes to his martyrdom. He is spared the sight of the horror of his harvest.»

publicado às 13:38

A política é bem mais complicada do que muitos crêem

por Samuel de Paiva Pires, em 01.01.13

Roger Scruton: "O mercado livre é o princípio segundo o qual a vida económica deve ser organizada. Mas a vida económica é só parte da vida. As pessoas não procuram apenas o lucro e bens económicos. Procuram a felicidade, valores religiosos, ordem moral. Procuram a amizade com outros, querem unir-se com outros em pequenas comunidades. Isto significa que há muitos aspectos da sociedade para além do mercado. Há clubes, instituições e igrejas e há toda a ordem moral que é difícil de definir caso a caso, mas que é de muito maior importância para nós que a mera acumulação do lucro e evitar perdas. É o entender estes outros aspectos da sociedade humana que nos leva a reconhecer que a política é bem mais complicada do que os free-marketeers gostariam que acreditássemos. A política tem de proteger não apenas o mercado livre, mas também estes outros aspectos da vida social, que são repetidamente ameaçados não só por inimigos exteriores, mas também pela anarquia individual."



(Vídeo via Filipe Faria)

publicado às 21:48

O estado que não sentimos

por John Wolf, em 17.12.12


Não conheço as noites de papelão. Aquelas passadas no mármore da avenida onde afirmam que o ar gélido passa a correr, para ir morrer na parte baixa da cidade. Não sinto as mãos, o tronco e os membros da minha família. O bafo que me sai das entranhas, aquece a ponta do nariz enquanto farejo a urina deixada na sarjeta, que passei a ser. Naquelas horas da natureza, que dizem pertencer aos grilos, escutei vozes, atei a trouxa ao pulso aberto pelo cordel - a corda que enforca o horizonte que já não avisto. Estou deitado no passeio junto a um copo e o mundo. Corpo imundo. Nada tem de ser dito porque o fétido emana como a última vela de um santuário arrendado, arredado de si - põe-te daqui para fora -, mas que permanece nessa caixa que em tempos albergava o espírito, o pai nosso divorciado de si. E se me esquecer de alguns detalhes quando a polícia me deitar a mão, direi que está tudo assente num livro de penúrias, escrito nas linhas rugosas da minha cara, nos vincos que migraram das palmas, dos aplausos de dignatários que inauguraram a dependência bancária e me encerraram neste estado que já não sinto, que não sentimos. 

publicado às 11:20

John Gray e a natureza humana

por Samuel de Paiva Pires, em 19.07.10


Retirado da introdução, que podem encontrar aqui:


Contemporary humanism is a religion that lacks the insight into human frailty of traditional faiths. In envisioning the universe as the work of a divine person Western monotheism has always been anthropocentric, but it has preserved a sense of mystery, the insight that the nature of things is finally unknowable. In contrast secular rationalists have promoted a type of solipsism. Like the Tlonists of Borges’s fable, examined in Chapter 5, they think the real world and their intellectual constructions are — or can be made to be — identical. Hence the ornate theories of justice devised by credulous philosophers, the elaborate systems of incentives designed by bien-pensant economists and the recondite schemes for taxing emissions advanced by Greens — just the latest of many attempts to reorder human life by the use of reason.

Humankind is not a collective agent that can decide its destiny. If humans are different from other animals it is chiefly in being governed by myths, which are not creations of the will but creatures of the imagination. Emerging unbidden from subterranean regions, they rule the lives of those they possess. Many of the worst crimes of the last century were the work of people possessed by what they believed to be reason. Science is believed to confer a superior rationality on its initiates, but science cannot make us into a rational animal of the kind imagined by humanist philosophers. Humans can anthropomorphize anything, except themselves.

A little realism would surely be useful. Accepting that we are flawed and our problems not fully soluble need not be paralysing; it could make us more flexible and resourceful. But no realist will try to convert the world. The myth-free civilization of secular rationalism is itself the stuff of myth. Myths are fictions, which cannot be true or false; but fictions can be more or less truthful depending on how they capture human experience. No traditional myth is as untruthful as the modern myth of progress. All prevailing philosophies embody the fiction that human life can be altered at will. Better aim for the impossible, they say, than submit to fate. Invariably, the result is a cult of human self-assertion that soon ends in farce.

publicado às 23:03


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