„Whenever I am lost in admiration for a man or a woman, as fulfilling my ideal of what a human being should be, it is rarely that such a person fits precisely into the formula whose qualities I have defined so patiently as bearing the hallmarks of culture. (…)
Whatever it may be, it is clear that it appeals to elements in us which are deeper-rooted and more widely human than any trained aesthetic taste or any industriously acquired scholarship.”
„I am sometimes tempted to regard the truest culture as the compensation of the unsuccessful, something that … can remain with us when all else is taken away.”
“The truth is that as education is only real education when it is a key to something beyond itself, so culture is only real culture when it has diffused itself into the very root and fibre of our endurance of life. Culture becomes in this way something more than culture. Culture becomes wisdom; a wisdom that can accept defeat, a wisdom that can turn defeat into victory. And it can render us independent of our weakness, of our surroundings, of our age.
It is at once an individual thing, a fortress for the self within the self, and a universal thing, a breaking down of the barriers of race, of class, of nation.”
“The reason why that super-refined aesthete, Mr. Osborne, the villain in Henry James’s “Portrait of a Lady,” is so repulsive a figure, is that his culture has remained purely intellectual and aesthetic. It has neither fortified his stoicism, nor subtilized his human sympathy. Culture without natural human goodness has an extremely disconcerting effect. There is something weird and terrifying about it.”
“It is in fact the problem of how to graft the subtle and the exquisite upon the deep and the vital. For, by this grafting alone can the sap of the natural give life and strength to the unusual, and the roots of the rugged sweeten the distinguished and rare.”
“Self-culture without some kind of integrated habitual manner of thinking is apt to fail us just when it is wanted most. To be a cultured person is to be a person with some kind of original philosophy… This implies a desire to focus such imaginative reason as we possess upon the mystery of life. The subtle and imperceptible stages, however, by which this will to think condenses and hardens into a will to live according to one’s thought are not always easy to articulate.”
“What, however, denotes the cultured person is the conscious banking up of this philosophy of his own, its protection from disintegrating elements, the guiding of its channel-bed through jungles of brutality and stupidity.”
“An educated person can glibly describe what he wishes you to regard as his last ready-made philosophy. A cultured person often finds it very difficult to explain what his philosophy is; but when he does manage to articulate it you feel that this is what he has secretly and profoundly lived by for many a long year. For in a cultured person’s life intellectual snobbishness has ceased to exist. He is not interested in the question whether his attitude is “intellectual” according to the current fashion or not.”
“One always feels that a merely educated man holds his philosophical views as if they were so many pennies in his pocket. They are separate from his life. Whereas with a cultured man there is no gap or lacuna between his opinions and his life. Both are dominated by the same organic, inevitable fatality. They are what he is.”
“To philosophize with the real wisdom of the serpent and the real harmlessness of the dove it is not necessary to exhaust one’s brain upon riddles which are likely enough eternally insoluble. What is necessary, is to experiment with ordinary life; to adjust one’s appreciative and analytical powers to all the natural human sensations which are evoked by the recurrences of the seasons, by birth and death, by good and evil, by all those little diurnal happenings which make up our life upon earth… To isolate them, as they form and re-form in the calm-flowing stream of the deeper reality, to contemplate them, to assimilate them, as they pass, this is the true philosophical art.
„A cultured man is not one who turns from a disorganized feverish day to a nightly orgy with Hegel and Bergson. He is rather one for whom the diurnal magic-mirror, whether its fleeting images catch the sun or sink into shadow, offers a vision of the world that becomes steadily more and more his own. To philosophize is not to read philosophy; it is to feel philosophy… None can call himself a philosopher whose own days are not made more intense and dramatic by his philosophizing.”
“The art of self-culture begins with a deeper awareness … of the marvel of our being alive at all; alive in a world as startling and mysterious, as lovely and horrible, as the one we live in.”