Mind confections

Voltaire (1694 – 1778) said:

A witty saying proves nothing.

Like most people I’m a sucker for a good quotation. We’re suckers because quotations, by definition, exist only out of context. The cousins of quotations: axioms, aphorism, proverbs, maxims, and the whole lot of pithy summations are also hazardous to rational thought because they depend on a hosts of rhetorical short cuts and obfuscations.

But that is why we’re so drawn to them. The active mind in globalized world can’t help but see shades of grey where once there was only black and white. That dualistic order (black and white, us vs. them) is what our mind has evolved to crave like our tongues crave sugar and fat. Quotations offer a quick hit of easily digestible order to our minds. We can choose to think of them as junk thought or mind confections so long as we don’t mistake them for the peas (if you will) of long-form nuanced thought.

That’s what Voltaire, one of the wittiest persons in letters, was getting at. So I think he would excuse me for posting quotations quite liberally — especially if they were his.

What say you?

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