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Flies in the History of Philosophy
Flies in the History of Philosophy

'For if you put me to death, you will not easily find such another, one who, ridiculous as it may sound, has literally been attached by the god to the city as though to a horse that is thoroughbred and large but owing to its very size somewhat sluggish and constantly needs to be awakened by a gadfly. That is the guise, I think, in which the god has attached me to the city — a kind of creature that never ceases to awaken you and persuade and reproach you, besetting you one and all the whole day long from every quarter.'

Plato Apology 30e W.D. Woodhead tr.

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'Where solitude ceases, there the market-place begins; and where the market-place begins, there begins the uproar of the great actors and the buzzing of the poisonous flies.

'In the world even the best things are worthless apart from him who first presents them: people call these presenters 'great men'.

'The people have little idea of greatness, that is to say, creativeness. But they have a taste for all presenters and actors of great things.

'The world revolves about the inventor of new values: imperceptibly it revolves. But the people and the glory revolve around the actor: that is 'the way of the world'.'

Friedrich Nietzsche Zarathustra: Of the Flies of the Market-place R.J. Hollingdale tr.

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'The web of the hypocrisy of today hangs on the frontiers of two domains, between which our time swings back and forth, attaching its fine threads of deception and self-deception. No longer vigorous enough to serve morality without doubt or weakening, not yet reckless enough to live wholly to egoism, it trembles now toward the one and now toward the other in the spider-web of hypocrisy, and, crippled by the curse of halfness, catches only miserable, stupid flies.'

Max Stirner The Ego and His Own 'Wheels in the Head' Steven T. Byington tr.

'Max Stirner, whose real name was Johann Caspar Schmidt, was born on Oct. 25, 1806, in Bayreuth. After studying theology and philology in Berlin, Erlangen, and Königsberg, he returned to Berlin, where he spent practically the rest of his life. He taught at a private girls' school until he married a wealthy woman whose money he used partly to write his magnum opus, Der Einzige und sein Eigentum (1844; The Ego and His Own), and partly to speculate in the milk business. The latter activity resulted in his imprisonment for unpaid debts, and his wife became disillusioned with him and left him. He died from the bite of a poisonous fly on June 26, 1856.'

Max Stirner: Biography from

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'Look at a stone and imagine it having sensations. — One says to oneself: How could one so much as get the idea of ascribing a sensation to a thing? One might as well ascribe it to a number! — And now look at a wriggling fly and at once these difficulties vanish and pain seems able to get a foothold here, where before everything was, so to speak, too smooth for it.'

'What is your aim in philosophy? — To shew the fly the way out of the fly-bottle.'

Ludwig Wittgenstein Philosophical Investigations G.E.M. Anscombe tr. Paragraphs 284, 309

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Old Paper Texture by Playingwithbrushes used under Creative Commons license.

Background 'A page of Wittgenstein's notes for the Tractatus, 16th August 1916' (Source).

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