Often in my life I have developed series of propositions that seemed original. On some of these, now, I look back and smile. As a child, I worked out a theory that I thought was my own. Its essence was an understanding of existence. I wrote the words, “I think, and so I exist.” I could not know, at that point, that my seemingly original thought was little more than a rework of Descartes.
As a boy I found a copy of Spinoza. I read it through and, for the most part, disagreed. Tragically, I was more disappointed in his thought structure than I was in his theory. At first, his work promised to organize my inner chaos. It did not. Nothing in philosophy has been able to tame my churnings.
At times, though, I’ll reach out and touch a truth that seems profound enough to at least medicate my condition. Invariably, I discover it somewhere else. This morning I read in the works of Pyrrho of Elis, a series of insights that relates to some of my earlier thinking. I’m not disappointed to find this work. I’m not surprised anymore.
Now, as thoughts occur to me that seem new or profound, I experience them as satire. Who knows? If there be any consolation, it is only this: experiencing an insight from within — before experiencing it from without — produces a different effect in my soul. Sometimes the dark liquor of a new discovery gives me temporary relief.