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Our life is so poor that none of the treasures of the world can make it rich; for the sources of enjoyment are soon found to be all very scanty, and it is in vain that we look for one that will always flow. Therefore, as regards our own welfare, there are only two ways in which we can use wealth. We can either spend it in ostentatious pomp, and feed on the cheap respect which our imaginary glory will bring us from the infatuated crowd; or, by avoiding all expenditure that will do us no good, we can let our wealth grow, so that we may have a bulwark against misfortune and want that shall be stronger and better every day; in view of the fact that life, though it has few delights, is rich in evils.
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It is just because our real and inmost being is will that it is only by its exercise that we can attain a vivid consciousness of existence, although this is almost always attended by pain. Hence it is that existence is essentially painful, and that many persons for whose wants full provision is made arrange their day in accordance with extremely regular, monotonous, and definite habits. By this means they avoid all the pain which the movement of the will produces; but, on the other hand, their whole existence becomes a series of scenes and pictures that mean nothing. They are hardly aware that they exist. Nevertheless, it is the best way of settling accounts with life, so long as there is sufficient change to prevent an excessive feeling of boredom. It is much better still if the Muses give a man some worthy occupation, so that the pictures which fill his consciousness have some meaning, and yet not a meaning that can be brought into any relation with his will.
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A man is wise only on condition of living in a world full of fools.
GENIUS AND VIRTUE.
When I think, it is the spirit of the world which is striving to express its thought; it is nature which is trying to know and fathom itself. It is not the thoughts of some other mind, which I am endeavouring to trace; but it is I who transform that which exists into something which is known and thought, and would otherwise neither come into being nor continue in it.
In the realm of physics it was held for thousands of years to be a fact beyond question that water was a simple and consequently an original element. In the same way in the realm of metaphysics it was held for a still longer period that the ego was a simple and consequently an indestructible entity. I have shown, however, that it is composed of two heterogeneous parts, namely, the Will, which is metaphysical in its character, a thing in itself, and the knowing subject, which is physical and a mere phenomenon.
Let me illustrate what I mean. Take any large, massive, heavy building: this hard, ponderous body that fills so much space exists, I tell you, only in the soft pulp of the brain. There alone, in the human brain, has it any being. Unless you understand this, you can go no further.