Gleanings From The Past #36

Personal Identity

Suppose a brave Officer to have been flogged when a boy at school, for robbing an orchard, to have taken a standard from the enemy in his first campaign, and to have been made a General in advanced life: Suppose also, which must be admitted to be possible, that when he took the standard, he was conscious of his having been flogged at school; and that, when made a General, he was conscious of his taking the standard, but had absolutely lost the consciousness of his flogging. These things being supposed, it follows from Mr. Locke’s doctrine, that he who was flogged at school is the same person who took the standard; and that he who took the standard is the same person who was made a General. Whence it follows, if there be any truth in logic, that the General is the same person with him who was flogged at school. But the General’s consciousness does not reach so far back as his flogging; therefore, according to Mr. Locke’s doctrine, he is not the person who was flogged. Therefore the General is, and at the same time is not, the same person with him who was flogged at school.

— Thomas Reid, Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man, 1785

Questions (An Elegy for a Dog)

Where are you now, little wandering
Life, that so faithfully dwelt with us,
Played with us, fed with us, felt with us,
Years we grew fonder and fonder in?

You who but yesterday sprang to us,
Are we forever bereft of you?
And is this all that is left of you —
One little grave, and a pang to us?

— William Hurrell Mallock, cited in J. E. Clauson, The Dog’s Book of Verse, 1916

Benefit of Oral Communication

It is sometimes dangerous to write what would be well received if spoken. So much depends on countenance, tone, and manner, none of which can be conveyed on paper, that it is prudent to check all those little sallies, which in a mirthful moment may suggest themselves to us while writing, if they can by any construction be tortured into offence.

— Laetitia Matilda Hawkins, Memoirs, Anecdotes, Facts, and Opinions, Vol. 1, 1824

Posted by

My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is

10 thoughts on “Gleanings From The Past #36

  1. When I read the the “benefit of oral communication,” I was reminded of what I frequently said when working in Washington, D.C.: the worst thing is to be quoted accurately [because you can’t deny it]. I always tried to avoid sarcasm when talking to a reporter.


  2. The third quote – haven’t we slipped down an easy road to the world of Presidential tweets.
    And how sad is the world of the ‘texting’ process. How often am I tempted to shout, “Stop bloody well texting and ring your friends.”


    1. It’s unfortunate but it seems to me that this is where we are heading. In HK, more and more households have opted to not have telephones. And from what I hear from others, calling is troublesome and a waste of time.


What's On Your Mind?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s