On what we are… and how we remain what we are

“It was said later that he came under bad influence at this stage. But the secret of the history of Edward d’Eath was that he came under no outside influences at all, unless you count all those dead kings. He just came under the influence of himself. That’s where people get it wrong. Individuals aren’t naturally paid-up members of the human race, except biologically. They need to be bounced around by the Brownian motion of society, which is a mechanism by which human beings constantly remind one another that they are … well … human beings. He was also spiraling inward, as tends to happen in cases like this.”

— Men At Arms (Terry Pratchett)

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