How to be immortal

                                 –The truth is cruel, but it can be loved, and it makes free those who love it.

The human mind is not merely animal, not merely absorbed in the felt transition from one state of life to another. It is partly synthetic, intellectual, contemplative, able to look before and after and to see fleeting things at once in their mutual relations, or as Spinoza expressed it, under the form of eternity

A man who understands himself under the form of eternity knows the quality that eternally belongs to him, and knows that he cannot wholly die, even if he would; for when the movement of his life is over, the truth of his life remains. The fact of him is a part forever of the infinite context of facts.

Man alone knows that he must die; but that very knowledge raises him, in a sense, above mortality, by making him a sharer in eternal truth. . .  He becomes a spectator of his own tragedy; he sympathizes so much with the fury of the storm that he has not ears left for the shipwrecked sailor, though that sailor were his own soul. The truth is cruel, but it can be loved, and it makes free those who love it.

From Santayana’s preface to Spinoza’s Ethics and De intellectus emendatione [On the Improvement of the Understanding], J.M. Dent & sons, 1910.
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4 comments on “How to be immortal

  1. Don Klose says:

    Thanks for this, Ed. This is a note of appreciation, just to let you know I am out here reading all of your posts on Mists on the River. Please keep them coming.
    Don Klose

  2. Thanks, I wasn’t aware of this essay by Santayana: just got my copy in the mail this afternoon!

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