Great Throughts Treasury

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


"Error is a supposition that pleasure and pain, that intelligence, substance, life, are existent in matter. Error is neither Mind nor one of Mind's faculties. Error is the contradiction of Truth. Error is a belief without understanding. Error is unreal because untrue. It is that which stemma to be and is not. If error were true, its truth would be error, and we should have a self-evident absurdity namely, erroneous truth. Thus we should continue to lose the standard of Truth." - Mary Baker Eddy

"If one should tell of a telescope so exactly made as to have the power of seeing; of a whispering gallery that had the power of haring; of a cabinet so nicely framed as to have the power of memory; or of a machine so delicate as to feel pain when it was touched - such absurdities are so shocking to common sense that they would not find belief even among savages; yet it is the same absurdity to think that the impressions of external objects upon the machine of our bodies can be the real efficient cause of thought and perception." - Paul Reichmann

"What we say to convey the absurdity of our lives often has to do with space or time; we are tiny specks in the infinite vastness of the universe; our lives are mere instants even on a geological time scale, let alone a cosmic one." - Thomas Nagel

"The meaningless absurdity of life is the only incontestable knowledge accessible to man." -

"People who cannot recognize a palpable absurdity are very much in the way of civilization." - Agnes Repplier

"People who cannot recognize a palpable absurdity are very much in the way of civilization." -

"People who cannot recognize a palpable absurdity are very much in the way of civilization." -

"Some truths there are so near and obvious to the mind that a man need only open his eyes to see them. Such I take this important one to be, viz., that all the choir of heaven and furniture of the earth, in a world all those bodies which compose the mighty frame of the world, have not any subsistence without a mind, that their being is to be perceived or known; that consequently so long as they are not actually perceived by me, or do not exist in my mind or that of any other created spirit, they must either have no existence at all, or else subsist in the mind of some Eternal Spirit - it being perfectly unintelligible, and involving all the absurdity of abstraction, to attribute to any single part of them an existence independent of a spirit." - George Berkeley, also Bishop Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne

"There is no more mischievous absurdity than this judging of actions from the outside as they look to us, instead of from the inside as they look to the actors; nothing more irrational than to criticize deeds as though the doers of them had the same desires, hopes, fears, and restraints as ourselves." - Herbert Spencer

"An ostentatious man will rather relate a blunder or an absurdity he has committed, than be debarred from talking of his own dear person." - Joseph Addison

"The best of us being unfit to die, what an inexpressible absurdity to put the worst to death." - Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Every absurdity has a champion to defend it; for error is always talkative." - Oliver Goldsmith

"Writing is employing the chief tool of culture to add to the global chatter as stylishly as possible with the moral imperative of underscoring the absurdity of culture." - Jill Johnston

"It would be the height of absurdity to label ignorance tempered by humility "faith"!" - John Calvin

"The meaningless absurdity of life is the only incontestable knowledge accessible to man. " - Leo Tolstoy, aka Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy or Tolstoi

"And I knew that it was better to live out one's absurdity than to die for that of others." - Ralph Ellison, fully Ralph Waldo Ellison

"Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble." - Robertson Davies

"Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is inside you." - Rumi, fully Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rumi NULL

"It requires time to bring honest Men to think & determine alike even in important Matters. Mankind are governed more by their feelings than by reason." - Samuel Adams

"Like feather bed betwixt a wall and heavy brunt of cannon ball." - Samuel Butler

"The test of a good critic is whether he knows when and how to believe on insufficient evidence." - Samuel Butler

"Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities which he does not possess, and gain applause which he cannot keep." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"But it is an easy thing for men to be deceived by the specious name of liberty; and, for want of judgment to distinguish, mistake that for their private inheritance and birthright which is the right of the public only." - Thomas Hobbes

"The law is more easily understood by few than many words. For all words are subject to ambiguity, and therefore multiplication of words in the body of the law is multiplication of ambiguity. Besides, it seems to imply (by too much diligence) that whosoever can evade the words is without the compass of the law." - Thomas Hobbes

"The question is not, whether a man be a free agent, that is to say, whether he can write or forbear, speak or be silent, according to his will; but whether the will to write, and the will to forbear, come upon him according to his will, or according to anything else in his own power. I acknowledge this liberty, that I can do if I will; but to say, I can will if I will, I take to be an absurd speech." - Thomas Hobbes

"That these are our grievances which we have thus laid before his majesty, with that freedom of language and sentiment which becomes a free people claiming their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate." - Thomas Jefferson

"I detest pornography. I utterly loathe writing that seeks to work on the passions and to exploit them, instead of releasing them in a healthy form : laughter … The utterly sick and subhuman reduction of ‘thought’ to nothingness: to something that appears to be sensual but is not even that." - Thomas Merton

"We have forgotten that Vietnam, and Iraq resent being invaded and know the ground better than we do." - Wendell Berry

"To think that between a Hamburger and a Humburger, she would—invariably, with icy precision—plump for the former." - Vladimir Nabokov, fully Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov

"When we remember our former selves, there is always that little figure with its long shadow stopping like an uncertain belated visitor on a lighted threshold at the far end of some impeccably narrowing corridor." - Vladimir Nabokov, fully Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov

"Mr. President, for the enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization there's no doubt in my mind that it was personal leadership that made this historic development possible." - Václav Havel

"The dissident does not operate in the realm of genuine power at all. He is not seeking power. He has no desire for office and does not gather votes. He does not attempt to charm the public, he offers nothing and promises nothing. He can offer, if anything, only his own skin -- and he offers it solely because he has no other way of affirming the truth he stands for. His actions simply articulate his dignity as a citizen, regardless of the cost." - Václav Havel

"Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed." - Václav Havel

"I sense that novel of my dreams is in the Remington SL3 - although it writes much faster than I can spell." - Tom Robbins, fully Thomas Eugene "Tom" Robbins

"Never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you were meant to do." - H. Jackson Brown, Jr.