Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Albert Einstein

German-born American Physicist, Humanitarian, Philosopher

"Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."

"A person first starts to live when he can live outside of himself."

"A successful man is he who receives a great deal from his fellowmen, usually incomparably more than corresponds to his service to them. The value of a man, however, should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive."

"Any power must be an enemy of mankind which enslaves the individual by terror and force whether it arises under the Fascist or the Communist flag. All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded to the individual."

"By academic freedom I understand the right to search for truth and to publish and teach what one holds to be true. This right implies also a duty: one must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be true."

"Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity."

"Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom."

"Exaggerated respect for athletics, an excess of coarse impressions brought about by the technical discoveries of recent years, the increased severity of the struggle for existence due to the economic crisis, the brutalization of political life: all these factors are hostile to the ripening of the character and the desire for real culture, and stamp our age as barbarous, materialistic and superficial."

"I am absolutely convinced that no wealth in the world can help humanity forward, even in the hands of the most devoted worker in this cause. The example of great and pure personages is the only thing that can lead us to fine ideas and noble deeds. Money only appeals to selfishness and always irresistibly tempts its owners to abuse it."

"If men as individuals surrender to the call of their elementary instincts, avoiding pain and seeking satisfaction only for their own selves, the result for them all taken together must be a state of insecurity, of fear, and of promiscuous misery."

"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."

"It is a welcome symptom in an age which is commonly denounced as materialistic, that it makes heroes of men whose goals lie wholly in the intellectual and moral sphere. This proves that knowledge and justice are ranked above wealth and power by a large section of the human race."

"It is essential that the student acquire an understanding of and a lively feeling for values. He must acquire a vivid sense of the beautiful and of the morally good. Otherwise he - with his specialized knowledge - more closely resembles a well-trained dog than a harmoniously developed person."

"It is only to the individual that a soul is given. And the high destiny of the individual is to serve rather than to rule."

"My understanding of the fundamental laws of the universe did not come out of my rational mind."

"Never regard study as a duty, but as the enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later work belongs."

"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile."

"Real human progress depends not so much on inventive ingenuity as on conscience."

"Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing."

"Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other men - above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellow men, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received. My peace of mind is often troubled by the depressing sense that I have borrowed too heavily from the work of other men."

"The bitter and the sweet come from the outside, the hard from within, from one's own efforts."

"The introduction of compulsory services is... the prime cause of the moral collapse of the white race."

"The man who regards his own life and that of his fellow creatures as meaningless is not merely unhappy but hardly fit for life."

"The real problem is in the hearts and minds of men. It is not a problem of physics but of ethics. It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil spirit in man."

"The road to perdition has ever been accompanied by lip service to an ideal."

"The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and sense in which he has attained liberation from the self."

"There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge and wisdom. Shall we instead, choose death because we cannot forget quarrels? We appeal, as human beings, to human beings; remember your humanity and forget the rest. If you can do this, the way lies open to a new paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death."

"Truth is what stands the test of experience."

"Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value."

"We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality."

"Well-being and happiness never appeared to me as an absolute aim. I am even inclined to compare such moral aims to the ambitions of a pig."

"What is the meaning of human life, or of organic life altogether? To answer this question at all implies a religion. Is there any sense then, you ask, in putting it? I answer, the man who regards his own life and that of his fellow creatures as meaningless is not merely unfortunate but almost disqualified for life."

"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge in the field of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods."

"Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters."

"Whoever remains unmoved, whoever cannot contemplate or know the deep shudder of the soul in enchantment, might just as well be dead for he has already closed his eyes upon life."

"Without creative personalities able to think and judge independently, the upward development of society is as unthinkable as the development of the individual personality without the nourishing soil of the community."

"Without the belief in the inner harmony of the world there could be no science."

"A knowledge of our existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds - it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man."

"An empty stomach is not a good political adviser."

"As long as there are sovereign nations possessing great power, war is inevitable."

"Before God we are all equally wise - equally foolish."

"Concern for man himself and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavor. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations."

"Do not pride yourself on the few great men who, over the centuries, have been born on your earth through no merit of yours. Reflect, rather, on how you have treated them at the time, and how you have followed their teachings."

"Education is that which remains when one has forgotten everything he learned in school."

"Every kind of peaceful cooperation among men is primarily based on mutual trust and only secondarily on institutions such as courts of justice and police."

"Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions."

"God is a Scientist, not a magician."

"He to whom this emotion is a stranger; who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. "

"How extraordinary is the situation of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without going deeper than our daily life, it is plain we exist for our fellow men, in the first place for those upon whose smiles and welfare our happiness depends, and next for all those unknown to us personally but to whose destinies we are bound by the tie of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the measure as I have received and am still receiving."

"I believe that whoever tries to think things through honestly will soon recognize how unworthy and even fatal is the traditional bias against Negroes. What can the man of good will do to combat this deeply rooted prejudice? He must have the courage to set an example by words and deed, and must watch lest his children become influenced by racial bias."