Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Miguel de Unamuno, fully Miguel de Unamuno y Jogo

Spanish Essayist, Novelist, Poet, Playwright and Philosopher

"At times to be silent is to lie. You will win because you have enough brute force. But you will not convince. For to convince you need to persuade. And in order to persuade you would need what you lack: Reason and Right."

"Life is doubt, and faith without doubt is nothing but death."

"Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible."

"If a person [man] never contradicts himself, it must be that he says nothing."

"Man is said to be a reasoning animal. I do not know why he has not been defined as an affective or feeling animal. Perhaps that which differentiates him from other animals is feeling rather than reason. More often I have seen a cat reason than laugh or weep. Perhaps it weeps or laughs inwardly — but then perhaps, also inwardly, the crab resolves equations of the second degree."

"It is sad not to love, but it is much sadder not to be able to love."

"The less we read, the more harmful it is what we read."

"Those who believe that they believe in God, but without passion in their hearts, without anguish in mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, without an element of despair even in their consolation, believe only in the God idea, not God Himself."

"We should try to be the parents of our future rather than the offspring of our past."

"Those faults we do not have, do not bother us."

"Man is perishing. That may be, and if it is nothingness that awaits us let us so act that it will be an unjust fate."

"That which the fascists hate, above all else, is intelligence."

"My aim is to agitate and disturb people. I'm not selling bread; I'm selling yeast."

"We men do nothing but lie and make ourselves important. Speech was invented for the purpose of magnifying all of our sensations and impressions — perhaps so that we could believe in them."

"Men shout to avoid listening to one another."

"A faith which does not doubt is a dead faith."

"And usually [the philosopher] philosophizes either in order to resign himself to life, or to seek some finality in it, or to distract himself and forget his griefs, or for pastime and amusement."

"Yes, yes, I see it all! — an enormous social activity, a mighty civilization, a profuseness of science, of art, of industry, of morality, and afterwords, when we have filled the world with industrial marvels, with great factories, with roads, museums and libraries, we shall fall exhausted at the foot of it all, and it will subsist — for whom? Was man made for science or was science made for man?"

"Sometimes, to remain silent is to lie, since silence can be interpreted as assent."

"The vanity of the passing world and love are the two fundamental and heart-penetrating notes of true poetry. And they are two notes of which neither can be sounded without causing the other to vibrate. The feeling of the vanity of the passing world kindles love in us, the only thing that triumphs over the vain and transitory, the only thing that fills life again and eternalizes it."

"Consciousness (conscientia) is participated knowledge, is co-feeling, and co-feeling is com-passion. Love personalizes all that it loves. Only by personalizing it can we fall in love with an idea. And when love is so great and so vital, so strong and so overflowing, that it loves everything, then it personalizes everything and discovers that the total All, that the Universe, is also a person possessing a Consciousness, a Consciousness which in its turn suffers, pities, and loves, and therefore is consciousness. And this Consciousness of the Universe, which a love, personalizing all that it loves, discovers, is what we call God."

"The skeptic does not mean him who doubts, but him who investigates or researches, as opposed to him who asserts and thinks that he has found."

"And killing time is perhaps the essence of comedy, just as the essence of tragedy is killing eternity."

"The chiefest sanctity of a temple is that it is a place to which men go to weep in common."

"To say that everything is idea or that everything is spirit, is the same as saying that everything is matter or that everything is energy, for if everything is idea or spirit, just as my consciousness is, it is not plain why the diamond should not endure forever, if my consciousness, because it is idea or spirit, endures forever."

"A man who keeps no secrets from God in his heart, and who, in singing his griefs, his fears, his hopes, and his memories, purifies and purges them all from falsehood… The poet is he whose flesh emerges from the shell, whose soul oozes forth."

"Everything that exalts and expands consciousness is good, while that which depresses and diminishes is evil."

"Beneath the current of our existence and within it, there is another current flowing in the opposite direction. In this life we go from yesterday to tomorrow, but there we go from tomorrow to yesterday. The web of life is being woven and unraveled at the same time. And from time to time we get breaths and vapors and even mysterious murmurs from that other world, from that interior of our own world. The inner heart of history is a counter-history; it is a process which inverts the course of history. The subterranean river flows from the sea and back to its source."

"Faith which does not doubt is a dead faith."

"There is in me a principle which thinks, wills and feels... Now this implies a begging of the question. For it is far from being an immediate truth that there is in me such a principle; the immediate truth is that I think, will and feel. And I — the I that thinks, wills and feels — am immediately my living body with the states of consciousness which it sustains. It is my living body that thinks, wills and feels."

"He who understands everything understands nothing, and he who forgives everything forgives nothing."

"It is only in solitude, when it has broken the thick crust of shame that separates us from one another and separates us all from God, that we have no secrets from God; only in solitude do we raise our hearts to the Heart of the Universe; only in solitude does the redeeming hymn of supreme confession issue from our soul."

"If there exists a man of faith in God joined to a life of purity and moral elevation, it is not so much the believing in God that makes him good, as the being good, thanks to God, that makes him believe in Him."

"Killing time is perhaps the essence of comedy, just as the essence of tragedy is killing eternity."

"Need God, not in order to understand why, but in order to... give a meaning to the Universe."

"Knowledge for the sake of knowledge! Truth for truth's sake! This is inhuman."

"Science is the most intimate school of resignation and humility, for it teaches us to bow before the seemingly most insignificant of facts."

"Skeptic does not mean him who doubts, but him who investigates or researches, as opposed to him who asserts and thinks that he has found."

"Our ethical and philosophical doctrines in general… are merely the justification a posteriori [i.e., after the fact] of our conduct… the means we seek in order to explain and justify to others and to ourselves our own mode of action."

"Man habitually sacrifices his life to his purse, but he sacrifices his purse to his vanity."

"Suffering is the substance of life and the root of personality, for it is only suffering that makes us persons."

"Spiritual love is born of sorrow. For men love one another with a spiritual love only when they have suffered the same sorrow together… For to love is to pity; and if bodies are united by pleasure, souls are united by pain… To love with the spirit is to pity, and he who pities most loves most."

"The meditation of time resting in the eternity, of our life flowing over God’s eternal life, is something to shake the roots of our soul."

"The greatest height of heroism to which an individual, like a people, can attain is to know how to face ridicule."

"The most tragic thing in the world and in life... is love. Love is the child of illusion and the parent of disillusion; love is consolation in desolation; it is the sole medicine against death, for it is death's brother."

"The satisfied, the happy, do not live; they fall asleep in habit, near neighbor to annihilation."

"The supreme triumph of reason, the analytical... faculty, is to cast doubt upon its own validity."

"This personal and effective starting-point of all philosophy and all religion is the tragic sense of life."

"To say that everything is God, and that when we die we return to God, or more accurately, continue in Him avails our longing nothing; for if this indeed be so, then we were in God before we were born, and if when we die we return to where we were before being born, then the human soul, the individual consciousness, is perishable."

"To seek life in truth, then, is to seek, in the cult of truth, to ennoble and elevate our spiritual life and not to convert truth, which is and always must be living, into a dogma, which is usually dead."