Will Durant, fully William James "Will" Durant

Will
Durant, fully William James "Will" Durant
1885
1981

American Writer, Historian and Philosopher, known for The Story of Civilization, 11 volumes written in collaboration with his wife Ariel Durant

Author Quotes

The ego is willing but the machine cannot go on. It's the last thing a man will admit, that his mind ages.

The world wisely prefers happiness to wisdom.

We discovered birth control, and now it sterilizes the intelligent, multiplies the ignorant, debases love with promiscuity, frustrates the educator, empowers the demagogue, and deteriorates the race.

It is an illuminating sign of beauty's generation by desire, that when the object of desire is securely won, the sense of its beauty languishes; few men are philosopher enough to desire what they have, and fewer still can find beauty in what no longer stirs desire.

Perhaps Gandhi failed as saints are likely to fail in this very hostile, selfish and Darwinian world. But these very failures are the eternal successes attained by saintly people as they can never stoop to the detestable levels of this materialistic world in which each one is running after the god of Mammon.

The finger that turns the dial rules the air.

There have been only 268 of the past 3,421 years free of war.

We have here the fundamental problem of ethics, the crux of the theory of moral conduct. What is justice? -shall we seek righteousness, or shall we seek power? -is it better to be good, or to be strong?

It is true that even across the Himalayan barrier India has sent to us such unquestionable gifts as grammar and logic, philosophy and fables, hypnotism and chess, and above all our numerals and our decimal system. But these are not the essence of her spirit; they are trifles compared to what we may learn from her in the future.

Perhaps in return for conquest, arrogance and spoliation, India will teach us the tolerance and gentleness of the mature mind, the quiet content of the inquisitive soul, the calm of the understanding spirit, and a unifying, a pacifying love for all living things.

The future never just happened. It was created.

There is no greater drama in human record than the sight of a few Christians, scorned or oppressed by a succession of emperors, bearing all trials with a fierce tenacity, multiplying quietly, building order while their enemies generated chaos, fighting the sword with the word, brutality with hope, and at last defeating the strongest state that history has known. Caesar and Christ had met in the arena, and Christ had won.

When liberty becomes license, dictatorship is near.

It may be true, as Lincoln supposed, that 'You can't fool all the people all the time,' but you can fool enough of them to rule a large country.

Perhaps our supercilious disgust with existence is a cover for a secret disgust with ourselves; we have botched and bungled our lives, and we cast the blame upon the environment or the world, which have no tongues to utter a defense. The mature man accepts the natural limitations of life; he does not expect Providence to be prejudiced in his favor; he does not ask for loaded dice to play the game of life. He knows, with Carlyle, that there is no sense in vilifying the sun because it will not light our cigars. And perhaps, if we are clever enough to help it, the sun will even do that; and this vast neutral cosmos may turn out to be a pleasant place enough if we bring a little sunshine of our own to help it out. In truth, the world is neither with us or against us; it is but raw material in our hands, and can be heaven or hell according to what we are.

The greatest question of our time is not communism vs. individualism, not Europe vs. America, not even the East vs. the West; it is whether men can bear to live without God.

There is nothing in Socialism that a little age or a little money will not cure.

When liberty exceeds intelligence, it begets chaos, which begets dictatorship.

Man became free when he recognized that he was subject to law.

Perhaps the cause of our contemporary pessimism is our tendency to view history as a turbulent stream of conflicts – between individuals in economic life, between groups in politics, between creeds in religion, between states in war. This is the more dramatic side of history; it captures the eye of the historian and the interest of the reader. But if we turn from that Mississippi of strife, hot with hate and dark with blood, to look upon the banks of the stream, we find quieter but more inspiring scenes: women rearing children, men building homes, peasants drawing food from the soil, artisans making the conveniences of life, statesmen sometimes organizing peace instead of war, teachers forming savages into citizens, musicians taming our hearts with harmony and rhythm, scientists patiently accumulating knowledge, philosophers groping for truth, saints suggesting the wisdom of love. History has been too often a picture of the bloody stream. The history of civilization is a record of what happened on the banks.

The health of nations is more important than the wealth of nations.

Those who have suffered much become very bitter or very gentle.

When people ask me to compare the century to older civilizations, I always say the same thing: The situation is normal.

Man, not the earth, makes civilization.

Philosophy is harmonized knowledge making a harmonious life; it is the self-discipline which lifts us to serenity and freedom. Knowledge is power, but only wisdom is liberty.

Author Picture
First Name
Will
Last Name
Durant, fully William James "Will" Durant
Birth Date
1885
Death Date
1981
Bio

American Writer, Historian and Philosopher, known for The Story of Civilization, 11 volumes written in collaboration with his wife Ariel Durant