Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Gilbert Keith "G.K." Chesteron

English Writer including Philosophy, Ontology, Poetry, Play Writing, Journalism, Public Lecturing, Debating, Literary and Art Criticism, Biography, Christian Apologetics, Fantasy and Detective Fiction

"Among all the strange things that men have forgotten, the most universal and catastrophic lapse of memory is that by which they have forgotten that they are living on a star."

"Democracy means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy… means government by the badly educated."

"It is necessary to cease to be a man in order to do justice to a microbe; it is not necessary to cease to be a man in order to do justice to men."

"Facts as facts do not always create a spirit of reality, because reality is a spirit."

"Love means to love that which is unlovable, or it is no virtue at all; forgiving means to pardon that which is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all – and to hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all."

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried."

"Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all."

"The paradox of courage is that a man must be a little careless of his life even in order to keep it."

"The mind that finds its way to wild places is the poet's; but the mind that never finds its way back is the lunatic's."

"The men and women who, for good reasons and bad, revolt against the family are, for good and bad, simply revolting against mankind."

"The really great person is the person who makes every person feel great."

"The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost."

"The real trouble with this world of ours is not that it is an unreasonable world, nor even that it is a reasonable one. The commonest kind of trouble is that it is nearly reasonable but not quite. Life is not an illogicality, yet it is a trap for logicians. It looks just a little more mathematical and regular than it is; its exactitude is obvious, but its inexactitude is hidden; its wildness lies in wait."

"There is one thing that gives radiance to everything. It is the idea of something just around the corner."

"The vice of the modern notion of mental progress is that it is always something concerned with the breaking of bonds, the effacing of boundaries, the casting away of dogmas."

"We think for a landlady considering a lodger it is important to know his income, but still more important to know his philosophy."

"You can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it."

"Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference, which is an elegant name for ignorance."

"There is a certain poetic value, and that a genuine one, in this sense of having missed the full meaning of things. There is beauty, not only in wisdom, but in this dazed and dramatic ignorance."

"The only thing that has kept the race of men from the mad extremes of the convent and the pirate-galley, the night-club and the lethal chamber, has been mysticism — the belief that logic is misleading, and that things are not what they seem."

"Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable."

"All government is an ugly necessity."

"To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it."

"Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions."

"Briefly, you can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it."

"What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but absence of self-criticism."

"I've searched all the parks in all the cities — and found no statues of Committees."

"Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously. "

"The cause which is blocking all progress today is the subtle scepticism which whispers in a million ears that things are not good enough to be worth improving. If the world is good we are revolutionaries, if the world is evil we must be conservatives. These essays, futile as they are considered as serious literature, are yet ethically sincere, since they seek to remind men that things must be loved first and improved afterwards."

"There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect."

"Humility is the luxurious art of reducing ourselves to a point, not to a small thing or a large one, but to a thing with no size at all, so that to it all the cosmic things are what they really are — of immeasurable stature."

"The word 'heresy' not only means no longer being wrong; it practically means being clear-headed and courageous. The word 'orthodoxy' not only no longer means being right; it practically means being wrong. All this can mean one thing, and one thing only. It means that people care less for whether they are philosophically right."

"When we reverence anything in the mature, it is their virtues or their wisdom, and this is an easy matter. But we reverence the faults and follies of children. We should probably come considerably nearer to the true conception of things if we treated all grown-up persons, of all titles and types, with precisely that dark affection and dazed respect with which we treat the infantile limitations."

"The truth is that it is our attitude towards children that is right, and our attitude towards grown-up people that is wrong. Our attitude towards our equals in age consists in a servile solemnity, overlying a considerable degree of indifference or disdain. Our attitude towards children consists in a condescending indulgence, overlying an unfathomable respect."

"There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person."

"A man cannot be wise enough to be a great artist without being wise enough to wish to be a philosopher. A man cannot have the energy to produce good art without having the energy to wish to pass beyond it. A small artist is content with art; a great artist is content with nothing except everything"

"Happiness is a mystery like religion, and should never be rationalised."

"Charity is the power of defending that which we know to be indefensible. Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate. It is true that there is a state of hope which belongs to bright prospects and the morning; but that is not the virtue of hope. The virtue of hope exists only in earthquake and, eclipse. It is true that there is a thing crudely called charity, which means charity to the deserving poor; but charity to the deserving is not charity at all, but justice. It is the undeserving who require it, and the ideal either does not exist at all, or exists wholly for them. For practical purposes it is at the hopeless moment that we require the hopeful man, and the virtue either does not exist at all, or begins to exist at that moment. Exactly at the instant when hope ceases to be reasonable it begins to be useful. "

"Human nature simply cannot subsist without a hope and aim of some kind..."

"Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are least dangerous is the man of ideas. He is acquainted with ideas, and moves among them like a lion-tamer. Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are most dangerous is the man of no ideas."

"The modern world is filled with men who hold dogmas so strongly that they do not even know that they are dogmas."

"Truths turn into dogmas the instant that they are disputed. Thus every man who utters a doubt defines a religion. And the scepticism of our time does not really destroy the beliefs, rather it creates them; gives them their limits and their plain and defiant shape."

"There is a great man who makes every man feel small. But the real great man is the man who makes every man feel great."

"An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered."

"Much of our modern difficulty, in religion and other things, arises merely from this: that we confuse the word "indefinable" with the word "vague.""

"The chief object of education is not to learn things; nay, the chief object of education is to unlearn things."

"It is not only possible to say a great deal in praise of play; it is really possible to say the highest things in praise of it. It might reasonably be maintained that the true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground. To be at last in such secure innocence that one can juggle with the universe and the stars, to be so good that one can treat everything as a joke — that may be, perhaps, the real end and final holiday of human souls."

"Materialists and madmen never have doubts."

"It is idle to talk always of the alternative of reason and faith. Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all."

"Life is not an illogicality; yet it is a trap for logicians. It looks just a little more mathematical and regular than it is; its exactitude is obvious, but its inexactitude is hidden; its wildness lies in wait."