Words of Alexandre Jollien - 1

By Matthieu Ricard on February 05, 2013

A few days ago, I had the joy of meeting again Alexandre Jollien — a much loved Swiss philosopher who is handicapped from birth — in the quiet of a village in the snow. I asked him questions on a number of topics. Here are some of his answers:


Individualism: ‟Individualism is to cut off oneself from others and position oneself as separate from the other. This is the beginning of suffering. Many philosophers today have made themselves dealers of a ‟custom-made happiness” by praising the difference between self and other. The other person is seen, at best, as a footstep or, worse, as an opponent. Both are serious problems.”

Narcissism: ‟Instead of being open to the other, one closes in on oneself. This is the world upside down.”

On ‟interested” altruism: ‟You can take altruism to make it an instrument of the ego, a screen to achieve your own interest.”

Goodness: ‟We are used to look for what is wrong. We are glad to devalue the other. We must learn to look for what is good.”

How to extend altruism: ‟By acknowledging the connection we have to our loved ones and by understanding that our fellows are as close to us as our child. Altruism is like the ripples on the surface of water when you throw a stone. The circles are very small at first, then they expand to embrace the entire surface of the ocean.”