Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Choice

"Man does not choose of necessity... in all particular goods, the reason can consider an aspect of some good, and the lack of some good, which has the aspect of evil; and in this respect, it can apprehend any single one of such goods as to be chosen or to be avoided. The perfect good alone which is Happiness, cannot be apprehended by the reason as an evil, or as lacking in any way. Consequently man wills Happiness of necessity, nor can he will not to be happy, or to be unhappy. Now since choice is not of the end, but of the means... it is not of the perfect good, which is Happiness, but of other particular goods. Therefore man chooses not of necessity, but freely." -

"Life has neither material nor idealistic secrecy or mystery about it. Life is equal to itself only, hence perceiving its meaning is out of the question... The exaggeration of our mental abilities has given rise to what we perceive as “the problem” of discerning life’s purpose... If it is beyond our powers to disembowel love and beauty - we can only ravish them - it means that they are given to us not for cognition but for reflection. Similarly, the freedom of choice granted to man, a freedom denied the rest of the living species, is man’s task, a duty to exercise and fulfill, not merely an opportune option." - Andrei Bitov, fully Andrei Georgiyevich Bitov

"Morality may consist solely in the courage of making a choice." - Léon Blum, fully André Léon Blum

"If decisions were a choice between alternatives, decisions would become easy. Decision is the selection of alternatives." - Kenneth Burke

"Chance makes our parents, but choice makes our friends." - Jacques Delille

"The essential problem of freedom, it seems to me, is the problem of the relation of choice and unimpeded effective action to each other... There is an intrinsic connection between choice as freedom and power of action as freedom. A choice which intelligently manifests individuality enlarges the range of action, and this enlargement in turn confers upon our desires greater insight and foresight, and makes choice more intelligent." - John Dewey

"The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice." - George Eliot, pen name of Mary Ann or Marian Evans

"The freer a man’s judgment is in relation to a definite question, the greater is the necessity with which the content of this judgment will be determined; while the uncertainty, founded on ignorance, which seems to make an arbitrary choice among many different and conflicting possible decisions, shows precisely by this that it is not free, that it is controlled by the very object it should itself control. Freedom therefore consists in the control over ourselves and over external nature, an control founded on knowledge of natural necessity; it is therefore necessarily a product of historical development." - Friedrich Engels

"Of all ennobling sentiments, patriotism may be the most easily manipulated. On the one hand, it gives powerful expression to what is best in a nation’s character: a commitment to principle, a willingness to sacrifice, a devotion to the community by the choice of the individual. But among its toxic fruits are intolerance, belligerence and blind obedience, perhaps because it blooms most luxuriantly during times of war." - Nancy Gibbs

"We accept the verdict of the past until the need for change cries out loudly enough to force upon us a choice between the comforts of further inertia and the irksomeness of action." -

"In the practical use of our intellect, forgetting is as important as remembering... A great many people think they are thinking when they are rearranging their prejudices... the difference between a good man and a bad one is the choice of cause." - William James

"We are ready to be savage in some cause. The difference between a good man and a bad one is the choice of the cause." - William James

"We may, if we like, by our reasonings unwind things to that black and jointless continuity of space and moving clouds of swarming atoms which science calls the only real world. But all the while the world we feel and live in will be that which our ancestors and we, by slowly cumulative strokes of choice, have extricated out of this, like sculptors, by simply rejecting certain portion of the given stuff. Other sculptors, other statues from the same stone! Other minds, other worlds from the same monotonous and inexpressive chaos! My world is but one in a million alike embedded, alike real to those who may abstract them." - William James

"When you have to make a choice and don't make it, that is in itself a choice." - William James

"Committing to a dream is not a one-time occurrence. They must be done daily, hourly, continually. We must choose to commit to our choice, over and over... And the time to commit is now. And now. And now. And now. And now." - John-Roger & Peter McWilliams NULL

"Cultivate fine taste and discrimination in your choice of things. Get a right idea of values. Material possessions that you do not need and cannot use may be only an encumbrance. Let your guiding rule be not how much but how good. A thing you do not want is dear at any price. Avoid surplusage. Choose things that express your own individuality. You must possess your things or they will possess you. Look for quality rather than quantity. Unnecessary possessions bring unnecessary care and responsibility. Excess is waste. Have an occasional stocktaking and eliminate unsparingly." -

"What is it that determines the Will in regard to our Actions?... we shall find, that we being capable but of one determination of the will to one action at once, the present uneasiness, that we are under, does naturally determine the will, in order to that happiness which we all aim at in all our actions: For as much as whilst we are under any uneasiness, we cannot apprehend ourselves happy, or in the way to it... And therefore that, which of course determines the choice of our will to the next action, will always be the removing of pain, as long as we have any left, as the first and necessary step towards happiness." - John Locke

"There is not a vice which more effectually contracts and deadens the feelings, which more completely makes a man’s affections center in himself, and excludes all others from partaking in them, than the desire of accumulating possessions. When the desire has once gotten hold of the heart, it shuts out all other considerations, but such as may promote its views. In its zeal for the attainment of its end, it is not delicate in the choice of means. As it closes the heart, so also it clouds the understanding. It cannot discern between right and wrong; it takes evil for good, and good for evil; it calls darkness light, and light darkness. Beware, then, of the beginning of covetousness, for you know not where it will end." - Richard Mant

"God has so framed us as to make freedom of choice and action the very basis of all moral improvement, and all our faculties, mental and moral, resent and revolt against the idea of coercion." -

"What is then liberty? To be born is at once to be born in the world and to the world. The world is already constituted, but never completely. Under the first rapport, we are solicited, under the second we are open to an infinity of possibilities. But this analysis is still abstract, because we exist under these two relations at once. There is therefore never determinism and never absolute choice; I am never a thing and never naked consciousness." - Maurice Merleau-Ponty

"Every duty brings its peculiar delight, every denial its appropriate compensation, every thought its recompense, every love its elysium, every cross its crown; pay goes with performance as effect with cause. Meanness overreaches itself; vice vitiates whoever indulges it; the wicked wrong their own souls; generosity greatens; virtue exalts; charity transfigures; and holiness is the essence of angelhood. God does not require us to live on credit; he pays us what we earn as we earn it, good or evil, heaven or hell, according to our choice." - Arundell Charles St. John-Mildmay

"Prejudice, like the spider, makes everywhere its home. It has neither taste nor choice of place, and all that it requires is room. If the one prepares her food by poisoning it to her palate and her use, the other does the same. Prejudice may be denominated the spider of the mind." - Thomas Paine

"No man can be provident of his time, who is not prudent in the choice of his company." - Jeremy Taylor

"We may be pretty certain that persons whom all the treats ill deserve the treatment they get. The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly, kind companion; and so let all young persons take their choice." - William Makepeace Thackeray

"If a person is indecisive about which of two courses of action to take, the question to ask himself is: “Which choice will bring more honor to the Almighty?” The reply to this question is the path to choose." - Shmuel Tzvi of Alexander, fully Admor Shmuel Tzvi Dantziger from Alexander, aka Samuel Alexander

"No man is weak by choice." -

"Regardless of where a person actually is physically, he is really where his thoughts are. A person constantly has a choice to think elevated and uplifting thoughts or negative, self-destructive thoughts. How old you feel is greatly dependent on your attitude about yourself. Elderly people can increase their vitality and vigor by considering themselves young." - Yitzchok Waldshein

"If choosing freely for oneself is the highest value, the free choice to wear red socks is as valuable as the free choice to murder one’s father or sacrifice oneself for one’s friend. Such a belief is ridiculous." - Mary Warnock, fully Helen Mary Warnock, Baroness Warnock

"Life is the acceptance of responsibilities or their evasion; it is a business of meeting obligations or avoiding them. To every man the choice is continually being offered, and by the manner of his choosing you may fairly measure him." - Ben Ames Williams

"Let's learn and label properly Disappointment and Discouragement for what they are - two completely different states of mind. Disappointment can be a spur to improvement that will contribute to success. But Discouragement is a mortal enemy that destroys courage and robs one of the will to fight. It is not circumstance that causes Discouragement, but one's own reaction to that circumstance. Everyone must meet Disappointment, many times; it is simply a part of life. When it is met, we may resign ourselves to Discouragement and failure. Or we may recognize each Disappointment as an asset by which we can profit, and take new strength from a lesson learned. The choice is ours, each time, to make." - John M. Wilson, fully John Moulder Wilson

"All I have is a voice to undo the folded lie, the romantic lie in the brain of the sensual man-in-the-street and the lie of Authority whose buildings grope the sky: there is no such thing as the State and no one exists alone; hunger allows no choice to the citizen or the police; we must love one another or die." - W. H. Auden, fully Wystan Hugh Auden

"Poetry is not concerned with telling people what to do, but with extending our knowledge of good and evil, perhaps making the necessity for action more urgent and its nature more clear, but only leading us to the point where it is possible for us to make a rational and moral choice." - W. H. Auden and J. Garrett

"The essential conditions of everything you do must be choice, love, passion." - Nadia Boulanger, fully Juliette Nadia Boulanger

"The winning team like the conquering army claims everything in its path and seems to say that only winning is important. Yet like getting into a college of your choice or winning an election or marrying a beautiful mate, victory is fraught with as much danger as glory. Victory has very narrow meanings and, if exaggerated or misused, can become a destructive force." - Bill Bradley, fully William Warren "Dollar Bill" Bradley

"There are other similarities between poetry and children's speech. Poets tend to look for significant evocative detail --something straight out of life -- to carry their meaning, and to avoid the vaguely general or abstract terms. With young children it is not a matter of choice. Their ideas must take a concrete form of expression because they have not mastered the art of masking and handling (Sign-mind) abstraction. A five year old boy in an infants' class once said, "Oh, yes, I know Geography. Its polar bears at the top and penguins at the bottom."" -

"To decide, to be at the level of choice, is to take responsibility for your life and to be in control of your life." -

"Chance makes our parents, but choice makes our friends." - Abbé Jacques Delille

"No attack on democracy can hide the fact that it can be replaced only by a system that substitutes coercion for persuasion; one that replaces the individual's choice with the choice of some ruler." -

"The best test of the quality of a civilization is the quality of its leisure. Not what the citizens... do when they are obliged to do... but what they do when they can do anything by choice, is the criterion of a people's life." - Irwin Edman

"Nations... borrow billions for war; no nation has ever borrowed largely for education. Probably no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both." - Abraham Flexner

"Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives, the cumulative experience of many masters of craftsmanship. Quality also marks the search for an ideal after necessity has been satisfied and mere usefulness achieved." -

"Were it offered to my choice, I should have no objection to a repetition of the same life from its beginning, only asking the advantages authors have is a second edition to correct some faults of the first." - Benjamin Franklin

"The children who go to bed hungry in a Harlem slum or a West Virginia mining town are not being deprived because no food can be found to give them; they are going to bed hungry because, despite all our miracles of invention and production, we have not yet found a way to make necessities of life available to all of our citizens - including those whose failure is not lack of personal industry or initiative, but only an unwise choice of parents." - James William Fulbright

"No limits are set to the ascent of man, and to each and every one the highest stands open. Here it is only your personal choice that decides." -

"I had a "near death experience" and remember thinking, "If only people knew what it was like to die, they wouldn't be afraid." I reached a point at which a voice began to ask me if I thought I'd completed what I'd come to do. was I going to leave my son, then age three, behind? There was no sense of threat or coercion. An absolute acceptance that whatever I did was all right, but pointing out that the moment of choice was now. The relief and release from the fear of dying changed my life. The reminder that "I am not my body" freed me to live my life in a different way. The understanding that no matter what is going on in our bodies, the essence of who we are is unaffected; this wisdom has enabled me to help other see their bodies in a different way. To see the body in illness not as an enemy, but as a faithful fried, programmed by; the soul to react in that exact way. To see illness as a confrontation in the physical of what one is reluctant to confront on the mental or emotional levels. In other words, a message, a communication, a time to listen and therefore a unique and powerful opportunity for transformation." - Soozi Holbeche

"The will does not choose between good and evil; it is its choice, rather, that makes it good or evil. The act of choosing either liberates it, as good will, or enchains it as ill will. In neither case is there a choice between two possibilities; my will is its own original freedom or anti-freedom." - Karl Jaspers, fully Karl Theodor Jaspers

"Very few live by choice. Every man is placed in his present condition by causes which acted without his foresight, and with which he did not always willingly cooperate; and therefore you will rarely meet one who does not think the lot of his neighbor better than his own." -

"When making your choice in life, do not neglect to live." -

"Now, I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed; -'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.' I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the people's injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. The choice today is not between violence and non-violence. It is either non-violence or non-existence...Segregation is the offspring of an illicit intercourse between injustice and immorality." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

"As there is an infinite number of possible universes in the ideas of God, and as only one can exist, there must be sufficient reason for God’s choice, to determine him to one rather than to another. And this reason can only be found in the fitness, or in the degrees of perfection, which these worlds contain." - Gottfried Leibniz, fully Gottfried Wilhalm von Leibniz, Baron von Leibnitz