“It is true that Christianity, and all previous optimisms, have represented the world as eternally ruled by a beneficent Providence, and thus metaphysically good. But this has been at bottom, only a device by which to prove the future excellence of the world – to prove, for example, that good men would be happy after death. It has always been this deduction – illegitimately made of course – which has given comfort. ‘He’s a good fellow, and ‘t will all be well.’
It may be said, indeed that there is comfort in the mere abstract doctrine that Reality is good. I do not myself accept the proof of this doctrine, but even if true, I cannot see why it should be comforting. For the essence of my contention is that Reality, as constructed by metaphysics, bears no sort of relation to the world of experience. It is an empty abstraction, from which no single inference can be validly made as to the world of appearance, in which world, nevertheless, all our interests lie.

– Bertrand Russell, Seems, Madam? Nay, it is.

I love this extract. I’m constantly confronted with what at first seems like impossibly dense texts for my course. Reading thinkers like Russell or Schopenhauer convince me that it is entirely unnecessary to write in such a convoluted manner. (A style which, in my opinion, French philosophers especially enjoy.)

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