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comment by ButterflyEffect
ButterflyEffect  ·  252 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: 25th Sporadic Quotes Jubilee

    ...gradually wider and more impersonal...

I'm finding myself caught up on the more impersonal aspect of this quote. What do you think Russel meant with that?

veen  ·  251 days ago  ·  link  ·  

My impression is that it has to do with the role of one's ego in life, considering the sentences that follow. I think that a large part of getting older and wiser is to better understand your place in the universe as merely one small part of an impersonal universe, as opposed to feeling like you're the center of the universe.

I think we hold way to dearly on to the idea that it is only our experience that matters. So I interpret "impersonal" as less about oneself or one person.

    "We insist on ourself as individual agents in the world - it is the story we trap ourselves in."
lil  ·  252 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    The best way to overcome it [the fear of death]—so at least it seems to me—is to make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life.
Since you asked --

Let's take it apart. He's talking about overcoming the fear of a personal death -- the death of your own ego, being, memory, identity. If one is afraid of death, one is afraid of ceasing to be. One asks, "How can the world exist without me?" It's kind of unimaginable. So, it seems Russell is talking about losing your personal identity and having the Zen hotdog: One with Everything. How can you fear death if you experience yourself as part of everything?

He says as much in the last sentence. It sounds possible in theory. On the other hand, one could "Rage, rage, against the dying of the light."