Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Civilization

"Love is rarely a hypocrite; but hate - how detect and how guard against it! It lurks where you least expect it; it is created by causes that you can the least foresee; and civilization multiplies its varieties, whilst it favors its disguise." -

"If men can ever learn to accept their truths as not final, and if they an ever learn to build on something better than dogma, they may not be found saying, discouragedly, every once in so often, that every civilization carries in it the seeds of decay." - Clarence Shepard Day, Jr.

"From its first day to this, sheer greed was the driving spirit of civilization; wealth and again wealth and once more wealth, wealth, not of society, but of the single scurvy individual - here was its one and final aim." - Friedrich Engels

"The ultimate tendency of civilization is towards barbarism." - Julius Charles Hare (1795-1855) and his brother Augustus William Hare

"The contradiction between what is requested of man and what can be offered to him has become so striking, the ideology so thin, the discontents in civilization so great that they must be compensated through annihilation of those who do not conform, political enemies, Jews, asocial persons, the insane. The new order of fascism is reason revealing itself as unreason." - Max Horkheimer

"Revolution is the larva of civilization." - Victor Hugo

"Character is the beginning and the end of all things. Without it, we have only the ashes of a people's failure; with it, we have the rainbow of civilization's desires." - Eric Allen Johnston

"Civilization is simply applied conscience, and Progress is a widening conscience." - Henry Demarest Lloyd

"Civilization is just a slow process of learning to be kind." - Charles Lucas, fully Sir Charles L. Lucas

"The attempted transformation of the Indian by the white man and the chaos that has resulted are but the fruits of the white man’s disobedience of a fundamental and spiritual law. “Civilization” has been thrust upon me since the days of reservations, and it has not added one whit to my sense of justice, to my reverence for the rights of life, to my love of truth, honesty, and generosity, or to my faith in Wakan Tanka, God of the Lakotas. For after all the great religions have been preached and expounded, or have been revealed by brilliant scholars, or have been written in fine books and embellished in fine language with finer covers, man - all man - is still confronted with the Great Mystery." - Chief Luther Standing Bear

"Cynics build no bridges; they make no discoveries; no gaps are spanned by them. Cynics may pride themselves in being realistic in their approach, but progress and the onward march of Christian civilization demand an inspiration and motivation that cynicism never affords. If we want progress we must take the forward look." - Paul L. McKay, D.D.

"Intelligence is kindness. Kindness is intelligence. The fundamental, which the two terms suggest in different ways... is the same quality on which all human civilization is built." - Alexander Meiklejohn

"The metaphysical comfort - with which, I am suggesting even now, every true tragedy leaves us - that life is at the bottom of things, despite all the changes of appearances, indestructibly powerful and pleasurable - this comfort appears in the incarnate clarity in the chorus of satyrs, a chorus of natural being who live ineradicably, as it were behind all civilization and remain eternally the same, despite the changes of generations and of the history of nations." -

"Wherever there is lost the consciousness that every man is an object of concern for us just because he is a man, civilization and morals are shaken, and the advance to fully developed inhumanity is only a question of time." - Albert Schweitzer

"Gross utility kills beauty. We now have all over the world huge production of things, huge organizations, huge administrations of empire - all obstructing the path of life. Civilization is waiting for a great consummation, for an expression of its soul in beauty. This must be your contribution to the world." -

"Man has a fund of emotional energy which is not all occupied with his self-preservation. This surplus seeks its outlet in the creation of art, for man’s civilization is built upon his surplus." -

"The best of us still have our aspirations for the supreme goals of life, which is so often mocked by prosperous people who now control the world. We still believe that the world has a deeper meaning than what is apparent, and that therein the human soul finds its ultimate harmony and peace. We still know that only in spiritual wealth does civilization attain its end, not in a prolific production of materials, and not in the competition of intemperate power with power." -

"The tendency in modern civilization is to make the world uniform... Let the mind be universal. The individual should not be sacrificed." -

"Ideas are the factors that lift civilization. They create revolutions. There is more dynamite in an idea than in many bombs." - John H. Vincent, fully John Heyl Vincent

"The melancholy prudence of the abandonment of such a great being as a man is to the toss and pallor of years of money making with all their scorching days and icy nights... is the great fraud upon modern civilization." - Walt Whitman, fully Walter "Walt" Whitman

"Every civilization rests on a set of promises... If the promises are broken too often, the civilization dies, no matter how rich it may be, or how mechanically clever. Hope and faith depend on promises; if hope and faith go, everything goes." - Herbert Sebastian Agar

"Unless there is a recovery of the true dualism or, what amounts to the same thing, a reaffirmation of the truths of the inner life in some form - traditional or critical, religious or humanistic - civilization in any sense that has been attached to that term hitherto is threatened at its base." - Irving Babbitt

"The origin of civilization is man's determination to do nothing for himself which he can get done for him." - Henry Christopher "H.C." Bailey

"Vocabulary is an index to a civilization, and ours is a disturbed one. That's why so many of the new words deal with war, violence, drugs, racism, and not so many with peace and prosperity." - Clarence Edward Barnfield

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

"If civilization has profoundly modified man, it is by accumulating in his social surroundings, as in a reservoir, the habits and knowledge which society pours into the individual at each new generation. Scratch the surface, abolish everything we owe to an education which is perpetual and unceasing, and you find in the depth of our nature primitive humanity, or something very near it." - Henri Bergson, aka Henri-Louis Bergson

"Learning is the heart of life - the mystical power that turns a word into a sign, a look into a smile, a house into a home, and a people into a civilization." - Eugene P. Bertin, fully Eugene Peter Bertin

"Man have long begun to suspect that civilization's repression of our primitive impulses has somehow warped what are potentially the most productive forces in human nature. We are increasingly disturbed by the thought that society's passion for obedience and conformity may have overreached itself, causing us to lose in individual happiness perhaps as much as we have gained in group activity." -

"The dissemination of information is one of the cornerstones of modern civilization." -

"Upon the sacredness of property civilization depends - the right of the laborer. There is very little success where there is little laughter." - Andrew Carnegie

"We shall find in the experience of the past, in the observation of the progress that the sciences and civilization have already made, in the analysis of the progress of the human mind and of the development of its faculties, the strongest reasons for believing that nature has set no limit to the realization of our hopes." -

"Civilization is an active deposit which is formed by the combustion of the Present with the Past. Neither in countries without a Present nor in those without a Past is it to be discovered." - Cyril Connolly, fully Cyril Vernon Connolly

"All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work. Work is not a curse; it is the prerogative of intelligence, the only means to manhood, and the measure of civilization." - Calvin Coolidge, fully John Calvin Coolidge, Jr.

"Civilization and profits go hand in hand." - Calvin Coolidge, fully John Calvin Coolidge, Jr.

"What distinguishes man from his innocent brothers, the animals... is not language, nor reason, nor even civilization... it is man's enormous appetite for suffering." - Georges Duhamel, Pen name Denis Thevenin

"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

"Tracing the progress of mankind in the ascending path of civilization, and moral and intellectual culture, our fathers found that the divine ordinance of government, in every stage of ascent, was adjustable on principles of the common reason to the actual condition of a people, and always had for its objects, in the benevolent councils of the divine wisdom, the happiness, the expansion, the security, the elevation of society, and the redemption of man. They sought in vain for any title of authority of man over man, except of superior capacity and higher morality." - William Maxwell Evarts

"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

"It may be difficult, too, for many of us, to abandon the belief that there is an instinct towards perfection at work in human beings, which has brought them to their present high level of intellectual achievement and ethical sublimation and which may be expected to watch over their development as supermen. I have no faith, however, in the existence of any such internal instinct and I cannot see how this benevolent illusion is to be preserved. The present development of human beings requires, as it seems to me, no different explanation from that of animals. What appears in a minority of human individuals as an untiring impulsion towards further perfection can easily be understood as a result of the instinctual repression upon which is based all that is most precious in human civilization." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"Civilization, in the real sense of the term, consists not in the multiplication, but in the deliberate and voluntary reduction of wants. This alone promotes real happiness and contentment, and increases the capacity for service." -

"Culture is good, genius is brilliant, civilization is a blessing, education is a great privilege; but we may be educated villains. The thing that we want most of all is the precious gift of the Holy Ghost." - John Hall

"Music is for the betterment and enrichment of the individual, just as education and reading are. When people come together to play music as they do to play bridge, civilization will have taken its longest stride forward since the beginning of time. Music is something to live with always, and children should be taught to regard it as a close and inalienable friend." - Jascha Heifetz

"The civilization malaise, in a word, reflects the inability of a civilization directed to material improvement - higher incomes, better diets, miracles of medicine, triumphs of applied physics and chemistry - to satisfy the human spirit." - Robert Heilbroner, fully Robert Louis Heilbroner

"Art is a staple of mankind - never a by-product of elitism. So urgent, so utterly linked with the pulse of feeling that it becomes the singular sing of life when every other aspect of civilization fails... Like hunger and sex, it is a disposition of the human cell - a marvelous fiction of the brain which recreates itself as something as mysterious as mind. Art is consistent with every aspect of every day in the life of every people." - Jamake Highwater

"A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization." -

"The problem of our purpose is a religious problem... Our purpose is derived from faith and is imposed onto reality by our own souls. But faith and religious truth themselves are not absolute. They are relative. Thus the answers one gives to questions about the purpose of life must necessarily be relative to a time, a place, a tradition... To know and worship God means, in Baha’ullah’s words, to promote the unity of the human race and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men”... Someday there will be a global society in which humanity will realize its spiritual and moral potential... The destiny of mankind, actually, is the ultimate creation of the world civilization. It is only in the service of such a cause that I find the meaning and purpose of life." - Firuz Kazemzadeh

"All of us confronts limits of body, talent, temperament. But that is not all. We are, all of us, also constrained by our time, our place, our civilization. We are bound by the culture we have in common, that culture which distinguishes us from other people in other times. Cultural constraints condition and limit our choices, shaping our characters with their imperatives." - Jeane Kirkpatrick

"All the civilization we know have been created and directed by small intellectual aristocracies, never by people in the mass. The power of crowds is only to destroy." -

"The quality of civilization depends on a balance of body, mind and spirit in its people, measured on a scale less human than divine... To survive, we must keep this balance. To progress, we must improve it. Science is upsetting it with an overemphasis of mind and a neglect of spirit and body." - Charles Lindbergh, fully Charles Augustus Lindbergh, nicknamed "Slim,""Lucky Lindy" and "The Lone Eagle"