- The beginning of life is the beginning of an illusion to the effect that there is such a thing as free will and that there is such another thing as necessity – the recognition of the fact that there is an “I can” and an “I cannot,” an “I may” and an “I must.”
- Life is not so much a riddle to be read as a Gordian knot that will get cut sooner or later.
- Life is the distribution of an error – or errors.
- Life is a superstition. But superstitions are not without their value. The snail’s shell is a superstition, slugs have no shells and thrive just as well. But a snail without a shell would not be a slug unless it had also the slug’s indifference to a shell.
- Life is one long process of getting tired.
- Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.
- Life is eight parts cards and two parts play, the unseen world is made manifest to us in the play.
- Life is like music, it must be composed by ear, feeling and instinct, not by rule. Nevertheless one had better know the rules, for they sometimes guide in doubtful cases – though not often.
—From Samuel Butler’s Note-Books.