I hereby announce a contest: What is the longest sentence ever written by a philosopher?
The kind of sentence that, as you are reading it through — trying to hold the context and decipher the meaning — flows majestically onwards, or meanders along deceptively, with occasional side streams (and parenthetical remarks), until your cerebrum is full, your powers of concentration are taxed, your resolve is flagging, and you find yourself praying ‘Please God let there be a period soon.’
(Pretty pathetic, hmm? A mere 62 words.)
My contribution to the contest will be four quotations, which I will post once per week over the next few weeks.
Here is my first candidate, weighing in at 161 words, from Chapter 2 of John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism:
“We may give what explanation we please of this unwillingness; we may attribute it to pride, a name which is given indiscriminately to some of the most and to some of the least estimable feelings of which mankind are capable; we may refer it to the love of liberty and personal independence, as appeal to which was with the Stoics one of the most effective means for the inculcation of it; to the love of power or to the love of excitement, both of which do really enter into and contribute to it; but its most appropriate appellation is a sense of dignity, which all human beings possess in one form or other, and in some, though by no means in exact, proportion to their higher faculties, and which is so essential a part of the happiness of those in whom it is strong that nothing which conflicts with it could be otherwise than momentarily an object of desire to them.”
Feel welcome to post your candidates in the comments below.