"Against positivism, which halts at phenomena—“There are only facts”—I would say: No, facts is precisely what there is not, only interpretations. We cannot establish any fact “in itself”: perhaps it is folly to want to do such a thing. “Everything is subjective,” you say; but even this is interpretation. The “subject” is not something given, it is something added and invented and projected behind what there is.—Finally, is it necessary to posit an interpreter behind the interpretation? Even this is invention, hypothesis. In so far as the word “knowledge” has any meaning, the world is knowable; but it is interpretable otherwise, it has no meaning behind it, but countless meanings(“Perspectivism”). It is our needs that interpret the world; our drives and their For and Against. Every drive is a kind of lust to rule; each one has its perspective that it would like to compel all the other drives to accept as a norm."
Nietzsche, The Will To Power
"There exists neither “spirit,” nor reason, nor thinking, nor consciousness, nor soul, nor will, nor truth: all are fictions that are of no use. There is no question of “subject and object,” but of a particular species of animal that can prosper only through a certain relative rightness; above all, regularity of its perceptions (so that it can accumulate experience). Knowledge works as a tool of power. Hence it is plain that it increases with every increase of power. The meaning of “knowledge”: here, as in the case of “good” or “beautiful”, the concept is to be regarded in a strict and narrow anthropocentric and biological sense. In order for a particular species to maintain itself and increase its power, its conception of reality must comprehend enough of the calculable and constant for it to base a scheme of behavior on it. The utility of preservation —not some abstract-theoretical need not to be deceived—stands as the motive behind the development of the organs of knowledge—they develop in such a way that their observations suffice for our preservation. In other words: the measure of the desire for knowledge depends upon the measure to which the will to power grows in a species: a species grasps a certain amount of reality in order to become master of it, in order to press it into service."
Nietzsche, The Will To Power
"I do not believe that an occurrence in which my mental life takes no part can teach me anything hidden concerning the future shaping of reality; but I do believe that an unintentional manifestation of my own mental activity surely contains something concealed which belongs only to my mental life—that is, I believe in outer (real) chance, but not in inner (psychic) accidents. With the superstitious person the case is reversed: he knows nothing of the motive of his chance and faulty actions, he believes in the existence of psychic contingencies; he is therefore inclined to attribute meaning to external chance, which manifests itself in actual occurrence, and to see in the accident a means of expression for something hidden outside of him."
Sigmund Freud, The Psychopathology of Everyday Life
"Science has probably never demanded a more sweeping change in a traditional way of thinking about a subject; nor has there ever been a more important subject. In the traditional picture a person perceives the world around him, selects features to be perceived, discriminates among them, judges them good or bad, changes them to make them better (or, if he is careless, worse), and may be held responsible for his action and justly rewarded or punished for its consequences. In the scientific picture a person is a member of a species shaped by evolutionary contingencies of survival, displaying behavioral processes which bring him under the control of the environment in which he lives, and largely under the control of a social environment which he and millions of others like him have constructed and maintained during the evolution of a culture. The direction of the controlling relation is reversed: a person does not act upon the world, the world acts upon him."
B.F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity
"Language is a guide to ‘social reality’. Though language is not ordinarily thought of as of essential interest to the students of social science, it powerfully conditions all our thinking about social problems and processes. Human beings do not live in the objective world alone, nor alone in the world of social activity as ordinarily understood, but are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of expression for their society. It is quite an illusion to imagine that one adjusts to reality essentially without the use of language and that language is merely an incidental means of solving specific problems of communication or reflection. The fact of the matter is that the “real world” is to a large extent unconsciously built upon the language habits of the group. No two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality. The worlds in which different societies live are distinct worlds, not merely the same world with different labels attached … We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation."
"The present argument is this: mental life and the world in which it is lived are inventions. They have been invented on the analogy of external behaviour occurring under external contingencies. Thinking is behaving, the mistake is allocating the behaviour to the mind."
B. F. Skinner
"Success has always been the greatest liar—and the “work” itself, the deed, is a success too; the great statesman, the conqueror, the
discoverer, are disguised in their creations until they can no
longer be recognised, the “work” of the artist, of the philosopher,
only invents him who has created it, who is reputed to have
created it, the “great men,” as they are reverenced, are poor little
fictions composed afterwards; in the world of historical values
counterfeit coinage prevails. Those great poets, for example, such as Byron, Musset, Poe, Leopardi, Kleist, Gogol (I do not dare to mention much greater names, but I imply them), as they now appear, and were perhaps obliged to be: men of the moment, sensuous, absurd, versatile, light-minded and quick to trust and to distrust, with souls in which usually some flaw has to be concealed, often taking revenge with their works for an internal blemish, often seeking forgetfulness in their soaring from a too accurate memory, idealists out of proximity to the mud:—what a torment these great artists are and the so-called higher men in general, to him who has once found them out!"
Friedrich Nietzshe, Nietzsche Contra Wagner
"Your conscious is so small, it’s the broom closet in the mansion of the brain."
"Brains are like parliaments. They are built of multiple, overlapping experts who compete over how best to proceed. This is why you sometimes find yourself arguing with yourself — a seemingly illogical feat that our current computers do not attempt. The human brain runs on conflict. When someone offers you chocolate cake, you are presented with a dilemma: some parts of your brain have evolved to crave sugar, while others care about potential consequences, such as a bulging belly. Part of you wants the cake and part of you tries to muster the will to refuse it."
"I did not direct my life. I didn’t design it. I never made decisions. Things always came up and made them for me. That’s what life is."
B. F. Skinner
"He asked why people are sad. ‘That’s simple,’ says the old man. ‘They are the prisoners of their personal history. Everyone believes that the main aim in life is to follow a plan. They never ask if that plan is theirs or if it was created by another person. They accumulate experiences, memories, things, other people’s ideas, and it is more than they can possibly cope with. And that is why they forget their dreams."
"We simply have no organ for knowing, for ‘truth’: we ‘know’ (or believe or imagine) exactly as much as is useful to the human herd, to the species; and even what is here called ‘usefulness’ is finally also just a belief, a fiction, and perhaps just that supremely fatal stupidity of which we some day will perish."
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science
"Humanity today is like a waking dreamer, caught between the fantasies of sleep and the chaos of the real world. The mind seeks but cannot find the precise place and hour. We have created a Star Wars civilization, with Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions, and god-like technology. We thrash about. We are terribly confused by the mere fact of our existence, and a danger to ourselves and to the rest of life."
E.O. Wilson, On Human Nature