Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Distinction

"No student ever attains very eminent success by simply doing what is required of him; it is the amount and excellence of what is over and above the required, that determines the greatness of ultimate distinction." - Charles Kendall Adams

"Distinction is the consequence, never the object, of a great mind." -

"Between levity and cheerfulness there is a wide distinction; and the mind which is most open to levity is frequently a stranger to cheerfulness." - Hugh Blair

"It has always struck me that there is a far greater distinction between man and man than between many men and most other animals." - Robert Hall

"The distinction of vice and virtue is not founded merely on the relations of objects, nor is perceiv’d by reason." - David Hume

"The distinction between men’s and women’s language is a symptom of a problem in our culture, not the problem itself. Basically it reflects the fact that men and women are expected to have different interests and different roles, hold different types of conversations, and react differently to other people." - Robin Lakoff, fully Robin Tolmach Lakoff

"Everything really comes down to the distinction between what we have and what we are." - Garbriel Honoré Marcel

"To have to die is a distinction which no man is proud." - Alexander Smith

"Distinction is the consequence, never the object of a great mind." - Washington Allston

"The general conclusion is that all the objects of science, including minds and goods, are things occurring in space and time... and that we can study them in virtue of the fact that we come into spatial and temporal relations with them. And therefore all ideals, ultimates, symbols, agencies and the like are to be rejected, and no such distinction as that of facts and principles, or facts and values, can be maintained. There are only facts, i.e., occurrences in space and time." - John Anderson

"One of the favorite maxims of my father was the distinction between the two sorts of truths, profound truths recognized by the fact that the opposite is also a profound truth, in contrast to trivialities where opposites are obviously absurd." - Niels Bohr, fully Aage Niels Bohr

"In every visible Creature there is a Body and a Spirit... or, more Active and more Passive Principle, which may fitly be termed Male and Female, by reason of that Analogy a Husband hath with his Wife. For as the ordinary Generation of Men requires a Conjunction and Co-operation of Male and Female; so also all Generations and Productions whatsoever they be, require an Union, and conformable Operation of those Two Principles, to wit, Spirit and Body; but the Spirit is an Eye or Light beholding its own proper Image, and the Body is a Tenebrosity or Darkness receiving that Image, when the Spirit looks thereinto, as when one sees himself in a Looking-Glass; for certainly he cannot so behold himself in the Transparent Air, nor in any Diaphanous Body, because the reflexion of an Image requires a certain opacity or darkness, which we call a Body: Yet to be a Body is not an Essential property of any Thing; as neither is it a Property of any Thing to be dark; for nothing is so dark that nothing else, neither differs any thing from a Spirit, but in that it is more dark; therefore by how much the thicker and grosser it is become, so much the more remote it is from the degree of Spirit, so that this distinction is only modal and gradual, not essential or substantial." - Anne Conway

"There is a distinction, but no opposition, between theory and practice. Each to a certain extent supposes the other. Theory is dependent on practice; practice must have preceded theory." - William Hamilton, fully Sir William Hamilton, 9th Baronet

"In shamanism there is ultimately no distinction between helping others and helping yourself. By helping others shamancially, one becomes more powerful, self-fulfilled, and joyous. Shamanism goes far beyond a primarily self-concerned transcendence of ordinary reality. It is a transcendence for a broader purpose, the helping of mankind." - Michael Harner

"There is a broad distinction between character and reputation, for one may be destroyed by slander, while the other can never be harmed, save by its possessor. Reputation is in no man's keeping. You and I cannot determine what other men shall think and say about us. We can only determine what they ought to think of us and say about us." - Jack Holland

"Here are taught three doctrines which shall be taught here as the essence of Judaism: First, there is a God, one, indivisible, eternal, spiritual, most holy and most perfect. Second, there is an immortal life and man is a son of eternity. Thirdly, love thy fellow men without distinction of creed or race as thyself." - Alfred M. Lilienthal

"Our problem is that once we have accepted an irreducible distinction between mental and physical facts and properties, and have allowed that physical facts and properties constitute sufficient causes of actions, we seem to be forced to admit that mental facts and properties are epiphenomenal, causally idle; yet this conclusion is itself implausible." - John Leslie "J. L." Mackie

"The Hebrew form of thought rebels against the very idea of a distinction between the secular and religious aspects of life." -

"The friend of humanity cannot recognize a distinction between what is political and what is not. There is nothing that is not political." - Thomas Mann, fully Paul Thomas Mann

"Time is change - on all sorts of different scales; and the phenomenal world is made up of this continual changing, at different rates, of everything, like an enormous clock full of wheels. Outside, there is this stream of becoming; and within, a stream of ever-changing thoughts and feelings, a succession of different I’s, of fragmentary bits of ourselves - an inner world of becoming in which nothing is, in which we possess nothing and do not possess ourselves. We think of all this changing in time as progress; and not only do we have this extraordinary and absurd illusion, but we imagine that the stability that we all secretly crave can be sought for in all this machinery of change, in the turning wheels of this enormous clock. But we know that what is stable was always beyond time... The real distinction, therefore, between time and eternity is qualitative and so must lie in the realm of psychological experience." - Maurice Nicoll

"No man is nobler born than another, unless he is born with better abilities and more amiable disposition. They who make such a parade with their family pictures, and pedigrees, are, properly speaking, rather to be called noted or notorious than noble persons. I thought it right to say this much, in order to repel the insolence of men who depend entirely upon chance and accidental circumstances for distinction, and not at all on public services and personal merit." -

"The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent everything becomes clear and undisguised. Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart." -

"To divide human functioning into the mental and physical is to make an artificial distinction. You are, in fact, one integrated being, functioning as a whole. Every physical state has emotional components." - Harold S. Streitfeld

"Taste is not stationary. It grows every day, and is improved by cultivation, as a good temper is refined by religion. In its most advanced state it takes the title of judgment. Hume quotes Fontenelle's ingenious distinction between the common watch that tells the hours, and the delicately constructed one that marks the seconds and smallest differences of time." - Robert Aris Willmott

"Perhaps there is no property in which men are more distinguished from each other, than in the various degrees in which they possess the faculty of observation. The great herd of mankind pass their lives in listless inattention and indifference as to what is going on around them, being perfectly content to satisfy the mere cravings of nature, while those who are destined to distinction have lynx-eyed vigilance that nothing can escape." - William Wirt

"Spirit unites itself upwardly to soul and transfigures it. The distinction between spirit and soul does not imply their separation." - Nikolai Berdyaev, fully Nikolai Alexandrovich Berdyaev, also spelled Nichlas Berdiaev

"We are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size." - Bernard of Chartres, born Bernardus Carnotensis NULL

"For millennia, shamans and witch doctors... made no distinction between physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. To them, all symptoms were signs of something awry in the individual’s relationship with the larger universe of spirits and animal powers." - Katy Butler

"For conscience, instead of allowing us to stifle our perceptions, and sleep on without interruption, acts as an inward witness and monitor, reminds us of what we owe to God, points out the distinction of good and evil, and thereby convicts us of departure from duty." -

"The peculiar character of an individual human being is distinction from an atom lies in this, that he is the owner of himself and responsible to himself." - Martin D’Arcy, fully Fr. Martin Cyril D'Arcy

"There are some passions so close to virtues that there is danger lest we be deceived by the doubtful distinction between them." - Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, sometimes known as Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam

"The philosophical and religious West has been axial for almost 3,000 years. In the axial model, a sharp distinction was made between this world and a world beyond, and the idea arose that, although, we are in this world, we are not of this world. According to this model, human life is a journey that leads us from appearance to reality, bondage to liberation, confusion to insight, and darkness to light." - Stephen A. Erickson

"Since we were all born of the same father of souls, why should there be any distinction between you and me or between others and ourselves?" - Wang Hui-yueh

"They all knelt together and suddenly - not a barrier of any kind remained, not a sundering distinction in the whole throng; but every life flamed into the other, and all flamed into the one Life and were hushed in ineffable peace." - Zephrine Humphrey

"Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored… It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious. It thirsts and burns for distinction." - Abraham Lincoln

"Universal love… means that one makes no distinction between the state of others and one’s own; none between the houses of other and one’s own; none between the other person and oneself." - Mozi or Mo-tze, Mocius or Mo-tzu, original name Mo Di, aka Master Mo NULL

"In the kingdom of God there is no invidious distinction, and therefore this dispensation gathers all men and nations, all races and tribes, the high and the low, and seeks to establish one vast brotherhood among the children of the great God, who hath made of one blood all nations of men." - Keshub Chandra Sen

"The universal line of distinction between the strong and the weak is that one persists; the other hesitates, falters, trifles, and at last collapses or “caves in.”" - Edwin Percy Whipple

"People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubborn, persistent illusion." - Albert Einstein

"The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." - Albert Einstein

"Nature, in her indifference, makes no distinction between good and evil." -

"So far there has been no known human society in which the distinction between right and wrong, and the obligation to do right, have been denied." - Arnold J. Toynbee, fully Arnold Joseph Toynbee

"Most successful men have not achieved their distinction by having some new talent or opportunity presented to them. They have developed the opportunity that was at hand." - Bruce Barton

"There is not even a meaning to the word experience which would not presuppose the distinction between past and future." - Carl Friedrich Freiherr von Weizsäcker

"Nothing the Great Mystery placed in the land of the Indian pleased the white man, and nothing escaped his transforming hand. Wherever forests have not been mowed down, wherever the animal is recessed in their quiet protection, wherever the earth is not bereft of four-footed life - that to him is an “unbroken wilderness.” But, because for the Lakota there was no wilderness, because nature was not dangerous but hospitable, not forbidding but friendly, Lakota philosophy was healthy - free from fear and dogmatism. And here I find the great distinction between the faith of the Indian and the white man. Indian faith sought the harmony of man with his surrounding; the other sought the dominance of surrounding. In sharing, in loving all and everything, one people naturally found a due portion of the thing they sought, while, in fearing, the other found need of conquest. For one man the world was full of beauty; for the other it was a place of sin and ugliness to be endured until he went to another world, there to become a creature of wings, half-man and half-bird. Forever one man directed his Mystery to change the world He had made; forever this man pleaded with Him to chastise the wicked ones; and forever he implored his God to send His light to earth. Small wonder this man could not understand the other. But the old Lakota was wise. He knew that man’s heart, away from nature, become hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans, too. So he kept his children close to nature’s softening influence." -

"The power of perpetuating our property in our families is one of the most valuable and interesting circumstances belonging to it, and that which tends the most to perpetuation of society itself. It makes our weakness subservient to our virtue; it grafts benevolence even upon avarice. The possession of family wealth and of the distinction which attends hereditary possessions (as most concerned into it), are the natural securities for this transmission." - Edmund Burke

"Will without freedom is an empty word, while freedom is actual only as will, as subject... Mind is in principle thinking, and man is distinguished from beast in virtue of thinking. But it must not be imagined that man is half thought and half will, and that he keeps thought in one pocket and will in another, for this would be a foolish idea. The distinction between thought and will is only that between the theoretical attitude and the practical. These, however, are surely not two faculties; the will is rather a special way of thinking, thinking translating itself into existence, thinking as the urge to give itself existence." - Georg Hegel, fully Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

"All who achieve real distinction in life begin as revolutionists. the most distinguished persons become more revolutionary as they grow older, though they are commonly supposed to become more conservative owing to their loss of faith in conventional methods of reform." - George Bernard Shaw

"When a man wants to murder a tiger, he calls it sport: when the tiger wants to murder him, he calls it ferocity. The distinction between crime and justice is no greater." - George Bernard Shaw

"The political leaders with whom we are familiar generally aspire to be superstars rather than heroes. The distinction is crucial. Superstars strive for approbation; heroes walk alone. Superstars crave consensus; heroes define themselves by the judgment of a future they see it as their task to bring about. Superstars seek success in a technique for eliciting support; heroes pursue success as the outgrowth of inner values." - Henry Kissinger, fully Henry Alfred Kissinger