Wednesday’s Words to Ponder

“People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them.”     – Eric Hoffer  

“ It is by its promise of a sense of power that evil often attracts the weak.”                    – Eric Hoffer


Eric Hoffer – 25 July, 1902 – 21 May, 1983

Born in New York City to immigrant parents (Alsace) he authored ten books. His first book, The True Beliver, was recognized as a classic and received critical acclaim from Scholars and laymen alike. In the author’s own opinion his finest work was, The Ordeal of Change. Shortly before his death, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Regan. An early reader, he read voraciously in both English and German.

In 1920, after the death of his father, he departed New York for Los Angeles by bus. With three hundred dollars to his name, he spent the next decade living on L.A.’s skid row. Taking any job that came his way he tried selling, oranges, door to door. Alas, he discovered he was a natural and at the end of his first day, dismayed by his success.  

In the thirties, he began following the migrants harvesting crops across California. During a sojourn in the hopes of discovering gold he found himself snowed through the winter. He made great use of that time when he discovered the essays of Michel de Montaigne which would have a profound effect on his perspective.

During the 1940’s he arrived in San Francisco and after being rejected by the military for war duty, he took to working as a longshoreman. A voracious reader since childhood, he continued this passion and began to write his stories. He stayed working on the docks until retirement at age 65.

In 1970 he endowed the Lili Fabilli and Eric Hoffer Laconic Essay Prize for students, faculty and staff at the University of California, Berkeley.




Wednesday’s words to ponder…

“Any person of honor chooses rather to lose his honor than to lose his conscience.”  – Michel de Montaigne  

“The public weal requires that men should betray, and lie, and massacre; let us leave this commission to men who are more obedient and more supple.”                      – Michel de Montaigne

Michel de Montaigne was an influential and key figure of the French Renaissance. The father of modern skepticism is best known for his essays which are among the best ever composed. Furthermore, it is he who is credited with establishing the essay as a recognized genre in literature and was the first to use the word essay when speaking of his writings. Among the most famous writers influenced by the essays of Montaigne were Isaac Asmiov, René Decartes and William Shakespeare.



The Abstract Principle of Equality


It was 1871 when Swiss philosopher Henry Frèderic Amiel  pondered on the nature of democracy in his “Journal Intime”. It is impressive how Amiel in few clear words nails effectively the problems implied by a representation where one is worth one despite merit, experience, education etc. and foresees the processes that will shape the world as we know it. Of course, he could not predict how the impact of modern means of communications would have made the development of those processes more dangerous and faster with the consequences we know worldwide, however, his intuition has become astonishingly and bitterly true.

“The masses will always be below the average. Besides, the age of majority will be lowered, the barriers of sex will be swept away, and democracy will finally make itself absurd by handing over the decision of all that is greatest to all that is most incapable. Such…

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