Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Daniel Bell

Sociologist and Professor Emeritus at Harvard University best known for his seminal contributions to post-industrialism, described as "one of the leading American intellectuals of the postwar era"

"Wisdom is the tears of experience, the bridge of experience and imagination over time. It is the listening heart, the melancholy sigh, the distillation of despair to provide a realistic, if often despondent, view of the world."

"To think of learning as a preparation for something beyond learning is a defeat of the process. The most important attitude that can be formed is that of desire to go on learning."

"Modern culture is defined by this extraordinary freedom to ransack the world storehouse and to engorge any and every style it comes upon. Such freedom comes from the fact that the axial principle of modern culture is the expression and remaking of the “self” in order to achieve self-realization and self-fulfillment. And in its search, there is a denial of any limits or boundaries to experience. It is a reaching out for all experience; nothing is forbidden, all is to be explored."

"Religion is a response, and sometimes a very coherent response, to the existential predicaments faced by all men in all times."

"You have to turn might into duty and right into obligation. In effect, societies are ruled either by coercion or manipulation, by deceit, cheating, ideology, or by power. How do you get to normative order that avoids the excesses of things? That is the basic problem."