Saturday, 19 February 2022

The Shortest Way to Winchester

 For some unknown reason, I keep getting quotations from Bertrand Russell flung at me via Facebook, complete with photographs of the man, looking superior and sucking on a pipe  – not the best way to start the day. Today's quotation was rather good though – well, it made me smile – so I'll share it here, even if the sharing does condemn me to a lifetime of Bertrand bombardment via Facebook:

'These modern philosophers remind me of a shopkeeper of whom I once asked the shortest way to Winchester. He called to a man in the back premises:
'Gentleman wants to know the shortest way to Winchester.'
'Winchester?' an unseen voice replied.
'Way to Winchester?'
'Shortest way?'

He wanted to get the nature of the question clear, but took no interest in answering it. This is exactly what modern philosophy does for the earnest seeker after truth. Is it surprising that young people turn to other studies? '

Well, quite. 


  1. Happy was Beckett. He said he did not read books of philosophy because he can not understand them...

  2. Some two thousand plus years of philosophy and what have we got for it? I don't feel the epistemic or ontological firmament has gotten any firmer...the best bits of philosophy (for me: Wittgenstein, Kant, Schopenhauer) broadly seem to resolve in "of that which we cannot speak (and this includes all the important things, more or less), we must be silent" so back to square one I guess.

    Seems like keeping the faith alive was the best bet, in the end.

  3. Thank you both. I can but agree, more or less, though I guess you'd have to file Aquinas under both Faith and Philosophy (and I've got a kind of soft spot for Spinoza, or rather for those who can explain what the hell he's talking about)...