British writer and mathematician Lewis Carrol (1832 – 1898) is renown for his wit. In a simple and direct style, Carroll managed to convey some of the most intricate philosophical conundrums, so much so that entire books have been devoted to the philosophical ideas of Carroll’s, such as Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy: Curiouser and Curiouser, edited by William Irwin and Richard Brian Davis for the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series. In this article we shall survey some of the best quotes of Carroll revealing his philosophical acumen.
"The `Why?' cannot, and need not, be put into words. Those for whom a child's mind is a sealed book, and who see no divinity in a child's smile, would read such words in vain: while for any one that has ever loved one true child, no words are needed."
"I believe this thought, of the possibility of death — if calmly realized, and steadily faced would be one of the best possible tests as to our going to any scene of amusement being right or wrong. If the thought of sudden death acquires, for you, a special horror when imagined as happening in a theatre, then be very sure the theatre is harmful for you, however harmless it may be for others; and that you are incurring a deadly peril in going. Be sure the safest rule is that we should not dare to live in any scene in which we dare not die."
"This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, 'I — I hardly know, sir, just at present — at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.'
'What do you mean by that?' said the Caterpillar sternly. 'Explain yourself!'
'I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, sir' said Alice, 'because I'm not myself, you see.'"
"'I could tell you my adventures — beginning from this morning,' said Alice a little timidly: 'but it's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.'"
"'Then you should say what you mean,' the March Hare went on.
'I do,' Alice hastily replied; 'at least — at least I mean what I say — that's the same thing, you know.'
'Not the same thing a bit!' said the Hatter. 'You might just as well say that "I see what I eat" is the same thing as "I eat what I see"!'"
"When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master— that's all."
""I see nobody on the road," said Alice.
"I only wish I had such eyes," the King remarked in a fretful tone. "To be able to see Nobody! And at that distance, too! Why, it's as much as I can do to see real people, by this light!"
"I suppose every child has a world of his own — and every man, too, for the matter of that. I wonder if that's the cause for all the misunderstanding there is in Life?"
"The West. is the fitting tomb for all the sorrow and the sighing, all the errors and the follies of the Past: for all its withered Hopes and all its buried Loves! From the East comes new strength, new ambition, new Hope, new Life, new Love! Look Eastward! Aye, look Eastward!"