Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"It is the whole soul, in fact, that gives rise to the free decision, and the act will be so much the freer the more the dynamic series with which it is connected tends to be the fundamental self... but the moments at which we thus grasp ourselves are rare, and that is why we are rarely free." - Henri Bergson, aka Henri-Louis Bergson

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

"Our moral strength is in ourselves, in our patience, in our courage, in our decision and in our resolution." - William J. Donovan, fully William Joseph "Wild Bill" Donovan

"My will does not produce the motive power to move my limbs. Rather, he who imparted motion to matter, and ordained its laws, shaped my will also; he thus joined together two utterly different things - the movement of matter and the decision of my will in such a way that whenever my will desires some action, the desired bodily movement will occur and vice versa, without there being any causation involved, or any influence of the one upon the other. It is just as if there were two clocks appropriately adjusted with reference to each other and the time of day in such a way that when one struck the hour the other immediately did likewise." - Arnold Geulincx

"Deliberate with caution, but act with decision; and yield graciously, or oppose with firmness." - Charles Hole

"The tragedy of all political action is that some problems have no solution; none of the alternatives are intellectually consistent or morally uncompromising; and whatever decision is taken will harm somebody." - James Joll

"Personality is the supreme realization of the innate individuality of a particular living being. Personality is an act of the greatest courage in the face of life, the absolute affirmation of all that constitutes the individual, and the most successful adaptation to the universal conditions of existence coupled with the greatest possible freedom of personal decision." - Carl Jung, fully Carl Gustav Jung

"He knows not how to speak who cannot be silent; still less how to act with vigor and decision. Who hastens to the end is silent; loudness is impotence." - Johann Kaspar Lavater

"When you determine what you want, you have made the most important decision of your life. You have to know what you want in order to attain it." - Douglas Ellsworth Lurton

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." - W. H. Murray, fully William Hutchinson Murray

"The time-man in us does not know now. He is always preparing something in the future, or busy with what happened in the past... All decisions that belong to the life in time, to success, to business, comfort, are about ‘tomorrow’. All decisions about the right thing to do, about how to act, are about tomorrow. It is only what is done in now that counts, and this is a decision always about oneself and with oneself, even though its effect may touch other people’s lives ‘tomorrow’. Now is spiritual... Spiritual values have nothing to do with time." - Maurice Nicoll

"The bravery founded on hope of recompense, fear of punishment, experience of success, on rage, or on ignorance of danger, is but common bravery, and does not deserve the name. True bravery proposes a just end; measures the dangers, and meets the result with calmness and unyielding decision." - François de La Noüe

"I think somehow we learn who we really are and then live with that decision." -

"Our path in life is often not our decision abut how we decide to live with decisions we have already made." - Noah benShea

"Repose is agreeable to the human mind; and decision is repose. A man has made up his opinions; he does not choose to be disturbed; and he is much more thankful to the man who confirms him in his errors, and leaves him alone, than he is to the man who refutes him, or who instructs him at the expense of his tranquillity." - Sydney Smith

"A moral decision is the loneliest thing that exists. Knowledge is shed abroad everywhere. Anybody may dip his cup into that great sea and take out what he can. It is a public appropriation from a public store. But what the man himself must do as a moral being, what ordering he shall make of his life, what allegiance he shall choose, what cause he shall cleave to - this is decided in that solitude where his soul in authentic presence lives with no other companion than the Final Authority which he recognizes as supreme." - William L. Sullivan

"While an open mind is priceless, it is priceless only when its owner has the courage to make a final decision which closes the mind for action after the process of viewing all sides of the question has been completed. Failure to make a decision after due consideration of all the facts will quickly brand a man unfit for a position of responsibility. Not all of your decisions will be correct. None of us is perfect. But if you get into the habit of making decisions, experience will develop your judgment to a point where more and more of your decisions will be right. After all, it is better to be right 51 percent of the time and get something done, than it is to get nothing done because you fear to reach a decision." - H. W. Andrews

"Decision of character is one of the most important of human qualities, philosophically considered. Speculation, knowledge, is not the chief end of man; it is action." - Jacob Burnap

"Any path is only a path. There is no affront to yourself or others in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear and ambition. I warn you, look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself and yourself alone one question. It is this: Does the path have a heart? Does this path have a heart is the only question. If it does, then the path is good. If it doesn't, it is of no use." -

"The thing to do when you're impatient is to turn to your left and ask advice from your death. It is always on our left, as at arms length. An immense amount of pettiness is dropped if your death makes a gesture to you, or if you have the feeling that your companion is there watching you. How can anyone feel so important when we know that death is stalking us? Death is the only wise advise that we have. When we feel that everything is gong wrong, turn to your death and ask if that is so. Your death will tell you that you're wrong. That nothing really matters outside its touch. Ask death's advice and drop the cursed pettiness that belongs to men that live their lives as if death will never tap them... It doesn't matter what the decision is. Nothing could be more or less serious than anything else. In a world where death is the hunter there are no small or big decisions. There are only decisions we make in the face of our inevitable death." -

"If you make the unconditional commitment to reach your most important goals, if the strength of your decision is sufficient, you will find the way and the power to achieve your goals." - Robert Conkin, aka Bob Conkin

"In the long run, the only limits to the technological growth of a society are internal. A society has always the option of limiting its growth, either by conscious decision or by stagnation or by disinterest. A society in which these internal limits are absent may continue its growth forever." - Freeman John Dyson

"The benefit of proverbs, or maxims, is that they separate those who act on principle from those who act on impulse; and they lead to promptness and decision in acting. Their value deepens on four things; do they embody correct principles; are they on important subjects; what is the extent, and what is the ease of their application?" - Tyron Edwards

"Fear must not motivate a decision." - Simeon ben Gamaliel

"Decision is a sharp knife that cuts clean and straight; indecision, a dull one that hacks and tears and leaves ragged edges behind it." - Gordon Graham

"A decision without the pressure of consequence is hardly a decision at all." - Eric Langmuir

"I can never decide whether my dreams are the result of my thoughts, or my thoughts are the result of my dreams. It is very queer, but my dreams make conclusions for me. They decide things finally. I dream a decision. Sleep seems to hammer out for me the logical conclusion of my vague days and offer me them as dreams." - D. H. Lawrence, fully David Herbert "D.H." Lawrence

"My brother, you cannot forget your sins; but it lies within your own decision whether the remembrance shall be thankfulness and blessedness, or whether it shall be pain and loss forever." - Alexander Maclaren

"When intuition is developed, it should lead the way into the unknown, with slower-moving reason following behind, evaluating the appropriateness of intuitive insights and inspirations along the way. Thus intuition might inspire us to embark on a new path through life, but rationality can help us with everyday decision-making as we struggle to manifest our vision." - Frances E. Vaughan

"There is always a latent tension between what facilitates timely decision and what promotes thoroughness and accuracy in assessment." - Richard K. Betts

"This is as true in everyday life as it is in battle: we are given one life and the decision is ours whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind, or whether to act, and in acting, to live." - Omar Bradley, fully Omar Nelson Bradley

"If morality be regarded as a mere convention, and God as the projection of men’s hopes and fears, then the way is open for the false religions which relieve the maimed will of the many from the burden of decision." - Sydney Cave

"Disagreement alone can provide alternatives to a decision. And a decision without an alternative is a desperate gambler’s throw, no matter how carefully thought through it might be." - Peter F. Drucker, fully Peter Ferdinand Drucker

"Despite many assertions to the contrary, the brain is not “like a computer.” Yes, the brain has many electrical connections, just like a computer. But at each point in a computer only a binary decision can be made – yes or no, on or off, zero or one. Each point in the brain, each brain cell, contains all the genetic information necessary to reproduce the entire organism. Brain cell is not a switch. It has a memory; it can be subtle. Each brain cell is like a computer. The brain is like a hundred billion computers all connected together. It is impossible to understand because it is so complex." -

"The most fateful choices are made in tragic loneliness. In the valley of decision, we stand alone, accompanied by our haunting fears and our stubborn hopes, by dread despair or gritty faith. Yet, though we appear to stand solitary, in truth we are accompanied by the tall and brave spirits who have stood where we stand and who, when torn between “No” and “Yes” to life and its infinite possibilities; by those who have had the wisdom to focus not on what they had lost but on what they had left; by those who understood that fate is what life gives us and that destiny is what we do with what’s given; and by those who, therefore, grasped the liberating truth that while we have no control over our fate, we do have an astonishing amount of control over our destiny." - Sidney Greenberg

"There is no inherent authority of `truth’ to any concept except for the subjective value ascribed to it. Credibility is a subjective decision and purely experiential and indefinable. What is convincing to one person may be dismissed as nonsense by another. The realization and knowingness of God is radically and purely subjective. There is not even the hypothetical possibility that reason could arrive at Truth. Truth is knowable only by virtue of the identity of being it." - David R. Hawkins, fully David Ramon Hawkins

"Responsibility, not to a superior, but to one’s conscience, the awareness of a duty not exacted by compulsion, the necessity to decide which of the things one values are to be sacrificed to others, and to beat the consequences of one’s own decision, are the very essence of any morals which deserve the name." - F. A. Hayek, fully Friedrich August Hayek or von Hayek

"Outside the sphere of individual responsibility there is neither goodness or badness… Only where we ourselves are responsible for our own interests and are free to sacrifice them has our decision moral value." - F. A. Hayek, fully Friedrich August Hayek or von Hayek

"Purpose directs decision making. Our willingness to accept direction in almost all walks of life suggest that many, if not most, may actually prefer to be told what to think, how to behave, and what to buy. Being told, I suppose, simplifies life." - David Hockey

"Purpose directs decision making. We look for leaders with vision, people who can imagine possible futures, describe desirable ideals, then tell us how they might be achieved. Our willingness to accept direction in almost all walks of life suggest that many, if not most, may actually prefer to be told what to think, how to behave, and what to buy. Being told simplifies life." - David Hockey

"There is a magic power in your own hands. Take your vital decisions – they may be grave and momentous and far-reaching in their consequences. Think a hundred times before you take any decision, but once a decision is taken, stand by it as one man." - Fatima Jinna, also known as Madr-e-Millat, mother of the nation

"In any decision situation, the amount of relevant information available is inversely proportional to the importance of the decision." - Cooke’s Law NULL

"The decision-maker must not be distracted by problems his subordinates should resolve for themselves." - George Marshall, fully George Catlett Marshall, Jr.

"Each person lives his life in this world according to his own times; whether to come forth and serve, or to retire in withdrawal, is not a fortuitous decision." - Zhao Mengfu, romanization Chao Meng-fu

"To serve the God of Love one must be free, one must face the terrible responsibility of the decision to love in spite of all unworthiness whether in oneself or in one’s neighbor." - Thomas Merton

"Repentance is not an emotion. It is not feeling sorry for your sins. It is a decision. It is deciding that you have been wrong in supposing that you could manage your own life and be your own god." - Eugene Peterson

"What one decides to do in a crisis depends upon one’s philosophy of life, and that philosophy cannot be changed by an incident. If one hasn’t any philosophy in a crisis, others make the decision." - Jeanette Rankin

"There are many things children accept as “grown-up things” over which they have no control and for which they have no responsibility – for instance, weddings, having babies, buying houses, and driving cars. Parents who are separating really need to help their children put divorce on that grown-up list, so that children do not see themselves as the cause of their parents’ decision to live apart." - Fred Rogers, "Mister Rogers," born Frederick McFeely Rogers

"Somewhere along the line of development, we discover what we really are, and then we make our real decision for which we are responsible. Make that decision primarily for yourself, because you can never really live anyone else’s life, not even your own child’s. The influence you exert is through your own life and what you become yourself." - Eleanor Roosevelt, fully Anna Eleanor Roosevelt

"In business, the chief focus is on profitability. Government, by contrast, has no simple bottom line but rather a vast array of interests and priorities, many of which exist in a state of tension or conflict. For that reason, decision making in government is vastly more complex." - Robert Edward Rubin, aka Eddy Rubin