Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Carl Lotus Becker

American Historian known for his work on early American intellectual history and the 18th-century Enlightenment

"Economic distress will teach man, if anything can, that realities are less dangerous than fantasies, that fact-finding is more effective than fault-finding."

"No one can deny that much of our modern advertising is essentially dishonest; and it can be maintained that to lie freely and all the time for private profit is not to abuse the right of free speech, whether it is a violation of the law or not. But again the practical question is, how much lying for private profit is to be permitted by law?"

"The most striking defect of our system of government is that it divides political power and thereby conceals political responsibility."

"The significance of man is that he is that part of the universe that asks the question, 'What is the significance of man?' He alone can stand apart imaginatively and, regarding himself and the universe in their eternal aspects, pronounce a judgment: The significance of man is that he is insignificant and is aware of it."

"The past is a kind of screen upon which we project our vision of the future; and it is indeed a moving picture, borrowing much of its form and color from our fears and aspirations."