On the Art of Co-Existence

"There is nothing useless about philosophy. On the contrary, I would like philosophy to recover its original function: as an art of living." — Yasmina Reza
"If [Reza's] work had a house philosopher, it would probably be Thomas Hobbes." — Judith Thurman, The New Yorker

On the Nature of Aggression

"So that in the nature of man, we find three principal causes of quarrel. First competition, secondly diffidence, thirdly glory. The first maketh men invade for gain; the second, for safety; the third for reputation. The first use violence, to make themselves masters of other men's persons, wives, children, and cattle; the second, to defend them; the third, for trifles, as a word, a smile, a different opinion, and any other sign of undervalue, either direct in their persons of by reflection in their kindred, their friends, their nation, their profession, or their name." — Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

On the Commonwealth

"The final cause, end, or design of men (who naturally love liberty, and dominion over others) in the introduction of that restraint upon themselves . . .is the foresight of their own preservation, and of a more contented life thereby; that is to say, of getting themselves out from that miserable condition of war which is necessarily consequent, as hath been shown, to the natural passions of men when there is no visible power to keep them in awe, and tie them by fear of punishment to the performance of their convenants . . . " — Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

On Repression and Self-Control

"It is impossible to overlook the extent to which civilization has been built upon a renunciation of instincts."

— Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents

"Civilization, therefore, obtains the mastery over the dangerous love of aggression in individuals by enfeebling and disarming it and setting up an institution within their minds to keep watch over it, like a garrison in a conquered city."

— Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents

On Civilization

"[German Sociologist Norbert] Elias's theory . . . attributes the decline in European violence to a larger psychological change. He proposed that over a span of several centuries . . . Europeans increasingly inhibited their impulses, anticipating the long-term consequences of their actions, and took other people's thoughts and feelings into consideration. A culture of honor — the readiness to take revenge — gave way to a culture of dignity — the readiness to control one's emotions."

— Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature

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