It is impossible to escape the impression that people commonly use false standards of measurement – that they seek power, success and wealth for themselves and admire them in others, and that they underestimate what is of true value in life.
The goal towards which the pleasure principle impels us – of becoming happy – is not attainable: yet we may not – nay, cannot – give up the efforts to come nearer to realization of it by some means or other.
What we call happiness in the strictest sense comes from the (preferably sudden) satisfaction of needs which have been dammed up to a high degree, and it is from its nature only possible as an episodic phenomenon.
Towards the outside, at any rate, the ego seems to maintain clear and sharp lines of demarcation. There is only one state – admittedly an unusual state, but not one that can be stigmatized as pathological – in which it does not do this. At the height of being in love the boundary between ego and object threatens to melt away. Against all the evidence of his senses, a man who is in love declares that ‘I’ and ‘you’ are one, and is prepared to behave as if it were a fact.
It is impossible to overlook the extent to which civilization is built up upon a renunciation of instinct.
Beauty has no obvious use; nor is there any clear cultural necessity for it. Yet civilization could not do without it.
A love that does not discriminate seems to me to forfeit a part of its own value, by doing an injustice to its object; and secondly, not all men are worthy of love.
We are so made that we can derive intense enjoyment only from a contrast and very little from a state of things.
The time comes when each one of us has to give up as illusions the expectations which, in his youth, he pinned upon his fellow men, and when he may learn how much difficulty and pain has been added to his life by their ill-will.
The liberty of the individual is no gift of civilization. It was greatest before there was any civilization, though then, it is true, it had for the most part no value, since the individual was scarcely in a position to defend it.