Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Jacques Barzun, fully Jacques Martin Barzun

French-born American Historian of Ideas and Culture

"Man is simply here; he has to make what he can of a universe that is not even hostile but strange and uncertain. Man is never given a purpose or mission; he must devise them for himself, knowing that their fulfillment has no external justification or reward - altogether and absurd situation."

"Finding oneself was a misnomer; a self is not found but made."

"Idealism springs from deep feelings, but feelings are nothing without the formulated idea that keeps them whole. "

"Great cultural changes begin in affectation and end in routine."

"Political correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred. "

"You never step in the same river of thought twice, because neither you nor it are the same."

"The test and the use of man's education is that he finds pleasure in the exercise of his mind. "

"In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day's work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years. "

"How then do you pour a little bit of what you feel and think and know into another’s mind?... To help children visualize, to convince them, the teachers use maps, charts, diagrams, they write words on the board, they gesture, admonish, orate. Hence the fatigue and hence the rule that good teaching is a matter of basal metabolism. Some teachers have the facts but not the phosphorescence of learning"

"Music, not being made up of objects nor referring to objects, is intangible and ineffable; it can only be, as it were, inhaled by the spirit: the rest is silence."

"Principle never forgives and its logic is to kill."

"If civilization has risen from the Stone Age, it can rise again from the Wastepaper Age. "

"Only a great mind overthrown yields tragedy. "