come_to_think (come_to_think) wrote,

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Nothing matters but evidence.

I've been reading The Age of Longing ( once again.  Of course, being by Koestler, it is full of arguments.  In one of them, in Paris, a defected Russian has told his French friend that he is about to redefect to the Communist Party & return to the USSR, having been wooed by the Party after the death of Stalin.  His friend is appalled:

     "You have written three books to prove that the future is not theirs[...]."

     "I have also given dozens of lectures on the subject.  Self-deception is a powerful motor.[...]  But once the motor stops, it is dead."

     Julien gave no answer.  Vardi continued:

     "You may of course ask how I know that I am not the victim of a new self-deception of the opposite kind.  But I have gone into that carefully.  Self-deception is always accompanied by wishful thinking.  Wishful thinking means hope.  Since I have stopped fooling myself, my mood is not one of hope but of resignation.  Hence it cannot be based on self-deception."

I bought my present copy in 1965.  (It has just begun to fall apart.)  At some time between then and now, I wrote in the margin:

*A common mistake.  Resignation is a comfort, & as such can be as tempting, & as illicitly so, as hope.  There is no feeling or motive accompanying a belief that can guarantee its truth.  (No, M. Descartes, not even the feeling of clearly & distinctly perceiving a thing.)  Nothing matters but evidence.

I have not changed my mind about that.
Tags: koestler, self-deception
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