In an age which suffers from this universal education, to what an unnatural, artificial and in any case unworthy state must the most truthful of all sciences, the honest naked goddess philosophy, be reduced! In such a world of compelled external uniformity it must remain the learned monologue of the solitary walker, the individual’s chance capture, the hidden secret of the chamber, or the harmless chatter of academic old men and children. No one dares venture to fulfill the philosophical law in himself, no one lives philosophically with that simple loyalty that constrained a man of antiquity to bear himself as a Stoic wherever he was, whatever he did, once he had affirmed his loyalty to the Stoa. All modern philosophizing is political and official, limited by governments, churches, academies, customs and the cowardice of men to the appearance of scholarship; it sighs ‘if only’ or knows ‘there once was’ and does nothing else.

— Nietzsche, “On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life, ” Untimely Meditations


It seems I am destined to become a market philosopher, but it can’t be helped. Philosophy generally seems to be the science of making simple things difficult to understand, but I can conceive of a philosophy which is the science of making difficult things simple. In spite of names like “materialism,” “humanism,” “transcendentalism,” “pluralism,” and all the other longwinded “isms,” I contend that these systems are no deeper than my own philosophy. Life after all is made up of eating and sleeping, of meeting and saying good-bye to friends, of reunions and farewell parties, of tears and laughter, of having a haircut once in two weeks, of watering a potted flower and watching one’s neighbor fall off his roof, and the dressing up of our notions concerning these simple phenomena of life in a kind of academic jargon is nothing but a trick to conceal either an extreme paucity or an extreme vagueness of ideas on the part of the university professors. Philosophy therefore has become a science by means of which we begin more and more to understand less and less about ourselves. What the philosophers have succeeded in is this: the more they talk about it, the more confused we become.

— Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living