Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Discernment

"To be a poet is to have a soul so quick to discern that no shade of quality escapes it, and so quick to feel that discernment is but a hand playing with finely ordered variety on the chords of emotion: a soul in which knowledge passes instantaneously into feeling, and feeling flashes back as a new organ of knowledge." - George Eliot, pen name of Mary Ann or Marian Evans

"Wealth is nothing in itself, it is not useful but when it departs from us; its value is found only in that which it can purchase, which, if we suppose it put to its best use by those that posses it, seems not much to deserve the desire or envy of a wise man. It is certain that, with regard to corporal enjoyment, money can neither open new avenues to pleasure, nor block up the passages to anguish. Disease and infirmity still continue to torture and enfeeble, perhaps exasperated by luxury, or promoted by softness. With respect to the mind, it has rarely been observed, that wealth contributes much to quicken the discernment, enlarge the capacity, or elevate the imagination; but may, by hiring flattery, or laying diligence asleep, confirm error, and harden stupidity." -

"The beginning of research is curiosity, its essence is discernment, and its goal truth and justice." - Isaac Halevi Satanov, fully Isaac ben Moses Halevi Satanov

"A great deal may be done by severity, more by love, but most by clear discernment and impartial justice." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Look around this universe. What an immense profusion of beings, animated and organized, sensible and active! You admire this prodigious variety and fecundity. But inspect a little more narrowly these living existences, the only beings worth regarding. How hostile and destructive to each other! How insufficient all of them for their own happiness! How contemptible or odious to the spectator! The whole presents nothing but the idea of a blind nature, impregnated by a great vivifying principle, and pouring forth from her lap, without discernment or parental care, her maimed and abortive children." - David Hume

"Never speak by superlatives; for in so doing you will be likely to wound either truth or prudence. Exaggeration is neither thoughtful, wise, nor safe. It is a proof of the weakness of the understanding, or the want of discernment of him that utters it, so that even when he speaks the truth, he soon finds it is received with partial, or even utter disbelief." - David Hume

"Wealth is nothing in itself; it is not useful but when it departs from us; its value is found only in that which it can purchase. As to corporeal enjoyment, money can neither open new avenues of pleasure, nor block up the passages of anguish. Disease and infirmity still continue to torture and enfeeble, perhaps exasperated by luxury, or promoted by softness. With respect to the mind, it has rarely been observed that wealth contributes much to quicken the discernment or elevate the imagination, but may, by hiring flattery, or laying diligence asleep, confirm error and harden stupidity." -

"Everyone is prejudiced in favor of his own powers of discernment, and will always find an argument most convincing if it leads to the conclusion he has reached for himself; everyone must then be given something he can grasp and recognize as his own idea." -

"We, undisciplined in discernment of the inward, knowing nothing of it, run after the outer, never understanding that it is the inner which stirs us; we are [like] one who sees his own reflection but not realizing whence it comes goes in pursuit of it." -

"The great religions of the world unanimously affirm Transcendence as the goal of the human quest. It is a journey that begins with ordinary knowledge, but when it is seriously pursued it crests in “an intuitive awareness of things, a discernment of the way things are.”" -

"To create consists precisely in not making unclear combinations and in making those which are useful and which are only a small minority. Invention is discernment, choice. If not a brute algorithm, then it must be a heuristic that guides us to a fruitful combination. What is the heuristic?" - Jerome Bruner, fully Jerome Seymour Bruner

"Instead of developing the child’s own faculties of discernment, and teaching it to judge and think for itself, the teacher uses all his energies to stuff its head full of the ready-made thoughts of other people." - Arthur Schopenhauer

"A mirror is of no use to the blind man, nor knowledge to a man without discernment." - Author Unknown NULL

"He is not a reasonable man who by chance stumbles upon reason, but he who derives it from knowledge, from discernment, and from taste." - François de La Rochefoucauld, François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac, Francois A. F. Rochefoucauld-Liancourt

"We are not fond of praising, and never praise any one except from interested motives. Praise is a clever, concealed, and delicate flattery, which gratifies in different ways the giver and the receiver. The one takes it as a recompense of his merit, and the other bestows it to display his equity and discernment." - François de La Rochefoucauld, François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac, Francois A. F. Rochefoucauld-Liancourt

"Wisdom consists in the highest use of the intellect for the discernment of the largest moral interest of humanity. It is the most perfect willingness to do the right combined with the utmost attainable knowledge of what is right… Wisdom consists in working for the better from the love of the best." - Felix Adler

"Education properly understood, is that which teaches discernment." - Joseph Roux

"A man may have wisdom and discernment, but that is not like embracing the favorable opportunity." - Mencius, born Meng Ke or Ko NULL

"The fundamental qualities for good execution of a plan is first; intelligence; then discernment and judgment, which enable one to recognize the best method as to attain it; the singleness of purpose; and, lastly, what is most essential of all, will-stubborn will." - Ferdinand Foch

"The great religions of the world unanimously affirm Transcendence as the goal of the human quest. It is a journey that begins with ordinary knowledge, but when it is seriously pursued it crests in “an intuitive awareness of things, a discernment of the way things are." - Huston Smith, fully Huston Cummings Smith

"He who reads with discernment and choice will acquire less learning, but more knowledge; and as this knowledge is collected with design, and cultivated with art and method, it will be at all times of immediate and ready use to himself and others" - Henry St John, Lord Bolingbroke, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke

"Living in the present moment requires discretion toward memory. Without memory we’d have amnesia. What good would there be in that? Offer discretion and discernment for our past with a broad spectrum of forgiveness. As for our present moment, delight. And dedication to remain fully present to all the possibility" - Mary Anne Radmacher

"We see that God has implanted in all things a natural desire to exist with the fullest measure of existence that is compatible with their particular nature. To this end they are endowed with suitable faculties and activities; and by means of these there is in them a discernment that is natural and in keeping with the purpose of their knowledge, which ensures their natural inclination serving its purpose and being able to reach its fulfilment in that object towards which it is attracted by the weight of its own nature." - Nicholas of Cusa, also Nicholas of Kues and Nicolaus Cusanus NULL

"Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah used to say: “Where there is no Torah there is no culture; and where there is no culture there is no Torah. Where there is no wisdom there is no fear of G-d, and where there is no fear of G-d there is no wisdom. Where there is no knowledge there is no discernment; and where there is no discernment there is no knowledge. Where there is no food there is no Torah; and where there is no Torah there is no food. He used to say: He whose wisdom is more abundant than his works, to what is he like? To a tree whose branches are abundant but whose roots are few; and the wind comes and uproots it and overturns it, as it is written (Jeremiah 17:6) "They shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when relief comes. They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land." But he whose works are more abundant than his wisdom, to what is he like? To a tree whose branches are few but whose roots are many; so that even if all the winds in the world come and blow against it, it cannot be stirred from its place, as it is written (Jeremiah 17:8) "They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit."" - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah used to say: “Where there is no Torah there is no culture; and where there is no culture there is no Torah. Where there is no wisdom there is no fear of G-d, and where there is no fear of G-d there is no wisdom. Where there is no knowledge there is no discernment; and where there is no discernment there is no knowledge. Where there is no food there is no Torah; and where there is no Torah there is no food. He used to say: He whose wisdom is more abundant than his works, to what is he like? To a tree whose branches are abundant but whose roots are few; and the wind comes and uproots it and overturns it, as it is written (Jeremiah 17:6) "They shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when relief comes. They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land." But he whose works are more abundant than his wisdom, to what is he like? To a tree whose branches are few but whose roots are many; so that even if all the winds in the world come and blow against it, it cannot be stirred from its place, as it is written (Jeremiah 17:8) "They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit."" - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"We, undisciplined in discernment of the inward, knowing nothing of it, run after the outer, never understanding that it is the inner which stirs us; we are [like] one who sees his own reflection but not realizing whence it comes goes in pursuit of it." - Plotinus NULL

"If the notion of formal cause is obsolete, then the affi rmation that is based on this notion is also obsolete. If one must “give up” this notion, it is necessary, whether one wants to or not, to give up as well this assertion, just as we gave up the astronomical hypothesis of Ptolemy that wasn’t a true conception, conformed to reality, but merely a practical representation that gave a provisional classifi cation to the phenomena that had been observed up to that time. To give up the notion of formal cause, or of what constitutes a thing formally, would be to give up the notion of essence and the fi rst principles that suppose this notion. It would be to fall into relativism, and the teaching Church herself would fall into it, if it wanted to follow this road which her discernment stops her from taking" - Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, fully Réginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange

"Awesome is the man who conceals the greatness of his labor by self-reproach; at such a man the angels marvel." - Saint Isaac of Nineveh, also Isaac the Syrian, Isaac of Qatar and Isaac Syrus NULL

"I always have for you the highest esteem and regard." - Jean Baptiste Lacordaire, fully Jean Baptiste Henri Lacordaire

"The first object of human association [is] the full improvement of their condition." - Thomas Jefferson

"The poet is not changing external politics but is reclaiming imagination... We ought not underestimate the power of the poet." - Walter Brueggemann

"But self-renunciation means God-possession, the being possessed by God. Out of utter humility and self-forgetfulness comes the thunder of the prophets, "Thus saith the Lord." High station and low are leveled before Him. Be not fooled by the world's power. Imposing institutions of war and imperialism and greed are wholly vulnerable for they, and we, are forever in the hands of a conquering God. These are not cheap and hasty words. The high and noble adventures of faith can in our truest moments be seen as no adventures at all, but certainties. And if we live in complete humility in God we can smile in patient assurance as we work. Will you be wise enough and humble enough to be little fools of God? For who can finally stay His power? Who can resist His persuading love? Truly says Saint Augustine, "There is something in humility which raiseth the heart upward."" - Thomas R. Kelly, fully Thomas Raymond Kelly

"Above, there is abundance of sattva; in the lower order of creation, tamas predominates; in the middle, rajas dominates. Such is creation from Brahma down to a blade of grass." - Ishvarakrishna, aka Iśvarakṛṣṇa NULL