Great Throughts Treasury

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


"Be true to your own highest convictions." - William Ellery Channing

"No more important duty can be urged upon those who are entering the great theater of life than simple loyalty to their best convictions." - Edwin Hubbell Chapin

"Our inheritance of well-founded, slowly conceived codes of honor, morals and manners, the passionate convictions which so many hundreds of millions share together of the principles of freedom and justice, are far more precious to us than anything which scientific discoveries could bestow." -

"The men of the past had convictions, while we moderns have only opinions." - Heinrich Heine

"Convictions are the mainsprings of action, the driving powers of life. What a man lives are his convictions." - Francis C. Kelley

"The most precious of all possessions, is power over ourselves; power to withstand trial, to bear suffering, to front danger; power over pleasure and pain; power to follow convictions, however resisted by menace and scorn; the power of calm reliance in scenes of darkness an storms. He that has not a mastery over his inclinations; he that knows not how to resist the importunity of present pleasure or pain, for the sake of what reason tells him is fit to be done, wants the true principle of virtue and industry, and is in danger of never being good for anything." - John Locke

"Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies." -

"It would be a mistake to found a natural science on ‘what we really think’ ... opinions are interpretations, and often misinterpretations, of sense-experience; and the man of science must appeal from these to sense-experience itself, which furnishes his real data. In ethics no such appeal is possible... the moral convictions of thoughtful and well-educated people are the data of ethics just as sense-perceptions are the data of a natural science." - W. D. Ross, fully Sir William David Ross

"Whatever may happen in the future, I know that I have learned three things which will remain forever convictions of my heart as well as my mind. Life, even the hardest life, is the most beautiful, wonderful and miraculous treasure in the world. Fulfillment of duty is another beautiful thing, making life happy and giving to the soul an unconquerable force to sustain ideals. This is my second conviction, and my third is that cruelty, hatred, and injustice never can and never will be able to create a mental, moral or material millennium." - Pitirim A. Sorokin, fully Pitirim Alexandrovich (Alexander) Sorokin

"He who once silences his convictions is unclean." -

"Give me the benefits of your convictions, if you have any, but keep your doubts to yourself, for I have enough of my own." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"I will listen to any one’s convictions, but pray keep your doubts to yourself." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"The phrases that men hear or repeat continually, end by becoming convictions and ossify the organs of intelligence." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"A very popular error - having the courage of one's convictions: rather it is a matter of having the courage for an attack upon one's convictions." -

"What man in his right mind would conspire his own hurt? Men are beside themselves when they transgress against their convictions." - William Penn

"Each of us carries about a great many 'truths' with which we are not only comfortable but which we consider sacrosanct. These 'truisms' can be things we learned at our parent's knee... idealities we have nurtured over the years... or prejudices we have hugged to ourselves over a period of time. More often than not, our personal convictions take precedence over antithetical arguments. This is why most people are not good listeners. They hear another person's thesis but simultaneously they form an argument to back their own belief. The result is that they really aren't listening. They are simply hearing. And they mentally counter what it is they choose to hear." - Greta Woodrew, Pseud. for Greta Andron Smolowe

"He who holds convictions, respects convictions." - Leo Baeck

"In order to live we must decide on one course of action rather than another, moment by moment. We declare our values and take our stands in both small ways and large. Were we to admit that we are never certain that we have chosen correctly, and never reassured that this chosen course was the correct course of action, then we would be open to the unending exploration and revision in our way of living. We would have learned to put our prejudices and assumptions, our convictions and beliefs at risk." - Robert E. Carter, fully Robert Edgar Carter

"Moral courage, the courage of one’s convictions, the courage to see things through. The world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave. It’s the age-old struggle – the roar of the crowd on one side and the voice of your conscience on the other." - Douglas MacArthur

"Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies." - Friedrich Nietzsche, fully Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

"Beliefs and convictions reach out from the past, and they cannot be altered by fervent desire alone. They possess their own logic and illogic, their own organic existence, their own rhythm of development." - Raisa Orlova, fully Raisa Davydovna Orlova-Kopeleva

"Doubt is to certainty as neurosis is to psychosis. The neurotic is in doubt and has fears about persons and things; the psychotic has convictions and makes claims about them. In short, the neurotic has problems, the psychotic has solutions." -

"The President must have not only the courage of his convictions but also the courage to change his convictions." - Sidney Warren

"The most human thing we have to do in life is is to learn to speak our honest convictions and feelings and live with the consequences. This is the first requirement of love, and it makes us vulnerable to other people who may ridicule us. But our vulnerability is the only thing we can give to other people." -

"A very popular error - having the courage of one's convictions. Rather it is a matter of having the courage for an attack upon one's convictions." -

"The height of your accomplishments will equal the depth of your convictions." - William F. Scolavino

"Hatred increases in proportion to the amount of shared convictions and interests." - Arthur Koestler

"Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of conforming convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day." - Bertrand Russell, fully Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell

"The value of philosophy is to be sought largely in its very uncertainty. He who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the cooperation or consent of his deliberate reason. As soon as we begin to philosophize, on the contrary, we find that even the most everyday things lead to problems to which only very incomplete answers can be given. Philosophy, though unable to tell us with certainty what is the true answer to the doubts which it raises, is able to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our thought and free them from the tyranny of custom." - Bertrand Russell, fully Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell

"If we regulate our conduct according to our own convictions, we may safely disregard the praise or censure of others." - Blaise Pascal

"Never, for the sake of peace and quiet, deny your own experience or convictions." - Dag Hammarskjöld

"The convictions that leaders have formed before reaching high office are the intellectual capital they will consume as long as they continue in office. There is little time for leaders to reflect. They are locked in an endless battle in which the urgent constantly gains on the important. The public life of every political figure is a continual struggle to rescue an element of choice from the pressure of circumstance." - Henry Kissinger, fully Henry Alfred Kissinger

"Sometimes love is stronger than a man’s convictions." - Isaac Bashevis Singer

"The men who succeed best in public life are those who take the risk of standing by their own convictions." - James A. Garfield

"All the strength and force of man comes from his faith in things unseen. He who believes is strong; he who doubts is weak. Strong convictions precede great actions. The man strongly possessed of an idea is master of all who are uncertain or wavering. Clear, deep, living convictions rule the world." - James Freeman Clarke

"Our convictions on important matters are not the result of knowledge or critical thought, nor, it may be added, are they often dictated by supposed self-interest. Most of them are pure prejudices in the proper sense of that word. We do not form them ourselves. They are the whisperings of “the voice of the herd.”" - James Harvey Robinson

"It is easy enough to praise men for the courage of their convictions. I wish I could teach the sad young of this mealy generation the courage of their confusions." - John Ciardi, fully John Anthony Ciardi

"Who begins life by stifling his convictions is in a fair way for ending it without any convictions to stifle." -

"The convictions of the mass of mankind run hand in hand with their interests or with their class feelings." - John Stuart Mill

"How often the deepest convictions of one generation are the rejects of the next." - Learned Hand, fully Billings Learned Hand

"Most people have convictions about what is right and wrong based on religious beliefs, cultural roots, family background, personal experiences, laws, organizational values, professional norms and political habits. These are not the best values to make ethical decisions by--not because they are unimportant, but because they are not universal." - Michael S. Josephson

"One of my lifelong convictions is that death, far from being the end, is but the door to an existence larger and more glorious than any human conception." - Norman Vincent Peale

"The miracles of genius always rest on profound convictions which refuse to be analyzed." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"It is a blessed thing that in every age someone has had the individuality enough and courage enough to stand by his own convictions." - Robert Ingersoll, fully Robert Green "Bob" Ingersoll

"The peak of tolerance is most readily achieved by those who are not burdened with convictions." - Stuart Alexander Chase

"The people who are the most bigoted are the people who have no convictions at all." -

"The people who are the most bigoted are the people who have no convictions at all. " - G. K. Chesterton, fully Gilbert Keith Chesterton

"It is well known to all experienced minds that our firmest convictions are often dependent on subtle impressions for which words are quite too coarse a medium." -

"The people who are the most bigoted are the people who have no convictions at all." - Gilbert Keith "G.K." Chesteron

"Whereas convictions depend on speed-ups, justice requires delay." - Marshall McLuhan, fully Herbert Marshall McLuhan