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On Ego, Consciousness, and “Eternal Life”

It is a good thing that this individual life has an end with all its conflicts and problems. … Those who brought about the belief that the individual continues to live after death must have been very sorry people indeed.

… nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death ; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life … (clearly Einstein means here the eternity of life as a whole, rather than the life of an individual - ed.)

I believe the mind is immortal in the same sense as the body for it is difficult to doubt that the capacity to build living bodies and consciousness is connected with matter. But I see no justification to extend personality beyond the span of life of the individual. (Goldman sees a change in tone between this quotation and the preceding one; but I find each quotation consistent with the other. - ed.)

On Consciousness
We know consciousness as the essential part of our ego and by analogy as the essential part of other egos. The poverty of our expression does not show us more of it. We can only guess and even this guessing does not have a clear meaning to our thought. There seems to be no other attitude than humility and modesty. The only thing I am feeling strongly about is: It seems foolish to extend our personality beyond our life in both directions and we do not know what consciousness means outside the frame of the personality.

On the Ego
The fact that man produces a concept "I" besides the totality of his mental and emotional experiences or perceptions does not prove that there must be any specific existence behind such a concept. We are succumbing to illusions produced by our self-created language, without reaching a better understanding of anything. Most of so-called philosophy is due to this kind of fallacy.

The more deeply philosophical doctrines, as far as questions of existence are concerned, are thought about, the less different they are from each other.

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