Great Throughts Treasury

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


"To assume that anything can be known in isolation from its connections with other things is to identify knowing with merely having some object before perception or in , and is thus to lose the key to the traits that distinguish an object as known... The more connections and interactions we ascertain, the more we know the object in question." - John Dewey

"The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to such a pass that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love, and in order to occupy and distract himsefl without love he gives away his passions and coarse pleasuures, and sinks to bestiality in his vices, all from continual lying to other men and to himsefl. The man wholies to himself can be more easily offended than anyone." - Fyodor Dostoevsky, fully Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoevsky or Feodor Mikhailovich Dostoevski

"Inside the souls of wealthy men bleak famine lives while minds of stature struggle trapped in starving bodies. How then can man distinguish man, what test can he use? The test of wealth? That measure means poverty of mind; of poverty? The pauper owns one thing, the sickness of his condition, a compelling teacher of evil; by nerve in war? Yet who, when a spear is cast across his face, will stand to witness his companion’s courage? We can only toss our judgments random on the wind." - Euripedes NULL

"The meaning of man's life lies in his perfecting the universe. He has to distinguish, father and redeem the sparks of holiness scattered throughout the darkness of the world. This service is the motive of all precepts and good deeds." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"Exert your talents and distinguish yourself, and don’t think of retiring from the world until the world will be sorry that you retire. I hate a fellow whom pride or cowardice or laziness drives into a corner, and who does nothing when he is there but sit and growl. Let him come out as I do, and bark." -

"Goodness does not more certainly make men happy, than happiness makes them good. We must distinguish between felicity and prosperity; for prosperity leads often to ambition, and ambition to disappointment; the course is then over, the wheel turns round but once; while the reaction of goodness and happiness is perpetual." - Walter Savage Landor

"Seven characteristics distinguish the wise: he does not speak before his superior, does not interrupt, is only hasty to answer, asks and answers to the point, talks about first things first and about last things last, admits when he does not know, and acknowledges the truth." - Mishnah or The Mishnah NULL

"If we crave for the goal that is worthy and fitting for man, namely, happiness of life - and this is accomplished by philosophy alone and by nothing else, and philosophy, as I said, means for us desire for wisdom, and wisdom the science of truth in things, and of things some are properly so called, others merely share the name - it is reasonable and most necessary to distinguish and systematize the accidental qualities of things." - Nicomachus of Gerasa NULL

"Teachers of today must have the ability to bring personal meaning to ideas as they investigate, interpret and integrate their thoughts. They must possess their own unique conceptual frameworks on which to hang ideas. They should be able to select, and build upon, significant ideas, observe relationships, and distinguish essential matters from irrelevant and incidental ones." - Dean C. Corrigan

"Not only does the office distinguish the man, but also the man the office." - Epaminondas (or Epameinodas) NULL

"Truth isn’t outside power, or lacking in power: contrary to a myth whose history and functions would repay further study, truth isn’t the reward of free spirits, the child of protracted solitude, nor the privilege of those who have succeeded in liberating themselves. Truth is a thing of this world: it is produced only by virtue of multiple forms of constraint. And it induces regular effects of power. Each society has its regime of truth, its ‘general politics’ of truth: that is, the types of discourse which it accepts and makes function as true; the mechanisms and instances which enable one to distinguish true and false statements, the means by which each is sanctions; the techniques and procedures accorded value in the acquisition of truth; the status of those who are charged with saying what counts as true." - Michel Foucault

"Let us distinguish between the creation of wealth for the community and the extortion of wealth from the community." - William Randolph Hearst

"In civilized life, where the happiness, and indeed almost the existence, of man depends so much upon the opinion of his fellow-men, he is constantly acting a studied part. The bold and peculiar traits of native character are refined away or softened down by the leveling influence of what is termed good-breeding, and he practices so many petty deceptions and affects so many generous sentiments for the purposes of popularity that it is difficult to distinguish his real from his artificial character. " - Washington Irving

"I am happy in having learned to distinguish between ownership and possession. Books, pictures, and all the beauty of the world belong to those who love and understand them - not usually to those who possess them. All of these things that I am entitled to have I have - I own by divine right. So I care not a bit who possesses them." -

"Nature has given women two painful but heavenly gifts, which distinguish them, and often raise them above human nature - compassion and enthusiasm. By compassion, they devote themselves; by enthusiasm they exalt themselves." - Alphonse de Lamartine, fully Alphonse Marie Louis de Lamartine

"We must distinguish between felicity and prosperity; for prosperity leads often to ambition, and ambition to disappointment; the course is then over, the wheel turns round but once, while the reaction of goodness and happiness is perpetual." - Walter Savage Landor

"What can give us surer knowledge than our senses? With what else can we better distinguish the true from the false?" - Lucretius, fully Titus Lucretius Carus NULL

"A tutor should not be continually thundering instruction into the ears of his pupil, as if he were pouring it though a funnel, but induce him to think, to distinguish, and to find out things for himself; sometimes opening the way, at other times leaving it for him to open; and so accommodate his precepts to the capacity of his pupil." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"Divine wisdom, intending to detain us some time on earth, has done well to cover with a veil the prospect of the life to come; for if our sight could clearly distinguish the opposite bank, who would remain on this tempestuous coast of time?" -

"An ideal command system… should be able to gather information accurately, continuously, comprehensively, selectively, and fast. Reliable means must be developed to distinguish the true from the false, the relevant from the irrelevant, the material from the immaterial." - Martin van Creveld

"Tiny children want to learn to the degree that they are unable to distinguish learning from fun. They keep this attitude until we adults convince them that learning is not fun." - Glenn Doman

"An important way to distinguish philosophy from religion is that philosophy, at its best, raises questions, whereas religion provides answers. Answers can sometimes lose their force, however, if the questions to which they provide answers have somehow been lost, muted, or superseded. But philosophy can never end. As long as we live, we are going to ask ourselves about the meaning of life. Some have written about the “end of philosophy.” It has been thought that philosophy exists only if you can construe life as a journey traveling to a new and different dimension. Some have said that the cognitive sciences, linguistics, neuroscience, and so forth will advance so much that traditional technical problems of philosophy will diminish. Insofar as philosophy is a pursuit of the art of living providing (often conflicting) guidance for living, there is a future for philosophy." - Stephen A. Erickson

"We narratively represent our selves in part in order to answer certain questions of identity. It is useful to distinguish two different aims of self-representation that in the end are deeply intertwined. First, there is self-representation for the sake of self-understanding. This is the story we tell ourselves to understand ourselves for who we are. The ideal here is convergence between self-representation and an acceptable version of the story of our actual identity. Second, there is self-representation for public dissemination, whose aim is underwriting successful social interaction." - Owen Flanagan

"We must distinguish between being human and human being. We are born human beings. What we must acquire is being human. Being human is the essential – the decisive – achievement of a human being." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"The accumulated research pertaining to the accuracy of our memories and beliefs can be summarized as follows: All memories and beliefs are subject to change and distortion. Conscious beliefs and memory recall are highly dependent on language, emotion, and social interaction; as these variables change, so do our memories and beliefs. Children’s memories and beliefs distinguish poorly between fantasies and facts. The older a memory, the more difficult it is to ascertain accuracy." - Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman

"Autobiographical memories are particularly prone to inaccuracy. Traumatic events embed memories in a powerful but somewhat fragmentary way. Neurological disorders and drugs can disrupt the brain’s ability to distinguish between true and false memories and beliefs. The brain perceives reality and transforms it into an extraordinary range of personal, ethical, and creative premises that we use to build meaning, value, spirituality, and truth into our lives." - Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman

"How are we to distinguish between the exasperation caused by the chains and the symptoms peculiar to the illness?" - Philippe Pinel

"A great illusion of lovers is to believe that the intensity of their sexual attraction is the guarantee of the perpetuity of their love. It is because of this failure to distinguish between the glandular and the spiritual… that marriages are so full of deception." - Fulton Sheen, fully Archbishop Fulton John Sheen

"Divine wisdom, intending to detain us some time on earth, has done well to cover with a veil the prospect of the life to come; for if our sight could clearly distinguish the opposite bank, who would remain on this tempestuous coast of time?" -

"Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he dies that distinguish one man from another." -

"A man's wisdom is most conspicuous where he is able to distinguish among dangers and make choice of the least." -

"Education has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading." - G. M. Trevelyan, fully George Macaulay Trevelyan

"One of the striking characteristics of successful persons is their faculty of determining the relative importance of different things. There are many things which it is more desirable to do, a few are essential, and there is no more useful quality of the human mind than that which enables its possessor at once to distinguish which the few essential things are... Let one adopt the practice of reflecting, every morning, what must necessarily be done during the day, and then begin by doing the most important things first, leaving the others to take their chance of being done or left undone." - Author Unknown NULL

"Distinguish the man of words from the man of deeds." - Baltasar Gracián

"Nothing is more common than good things; the only question is how to discern them; it is certain that all of them are natural and within our reach and even known by every one. But we do not know how to distinguish them. This is universal. It is not in things extraordinary and strange that excellence of any kind is found. We reach up for it, and we are further away; more often than not we must stoop. The best books are those whose readers think they; could have written them. Nature, which alone is good, is familiar and common throughout." - Blaise Pascal

"Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?" - Confucius, aka Kong Qiu, Zhongni, K'ung Fu-tzu or Kong Fuzi NULL

"Human dignity, economic freedom, individual responsibility, these are the characteristics that distinguish democracy from all other forms devised by man." - Dwight Eisenhower, fully Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower

"Education is the learning how... to distinguish that of things some are in our power, but others are not; in our power are will and all acts which depend on the will; things not in our power are the body, the parts of the body, possessions, parents, brothers, children, country, and, generally, all with whom we live in society." - Epictetus "the Stoic" NULL

"Take nothing for granted as beautiful or ugly, but take every building to pieces, and challenge every feature. Learn to distinguish the curious from the beautiful. Get the habit of analysis - analysis will in time enable synthesis to become your habit of mind. 'Think simples' as my old master used to say - meaning to reduce the whole of its parts into the simplest terms, getting back to first principles." - Frank Lloyd Wright, born Frank Lincoln Wright

"Titles distinguish the mediocre, embarrass the superior, and are disgraced by the inferior." - George Bernard Shaw

"It is necessary to distinguish consciousness from the possibility of consciousness. We have only the possibility of consciousness and rare flashes of it. Therefore we cannot define what consciousness is. For most people, the chief obstacle in the way of acquiring self-consciousness consists in the fact that they think they possess it. It is evident that a man will not be interested if you tell him that he can acquire by long and difficult work something which, in his opinion, he already has." - George Gurdjieff, fully George Ivanovich Gurdjieff

"Education has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading, and easy pray to sensations and cheap appeals." -

"Education... has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading." -

"Not only are moral laws with their principles essentially distinguished from every other kind of practical knowledge in which there is anything empirical, but all moral philosophy rests wholly on its pure part. When applied to man, it does not borrow the least thing from the knowledge of man himself (anthropology), but gives laws a priori to him as a rational being. No doubt these laws require a judgment sharpened by experience, in order on the one hand to distinguish in what cases they are applicable, and on the other to procure for them access to the will of the man and effectual influence on conduct; since man is acted on by so many inclinations that, though capable of the idea of a practical pure reason, he is not so easily able to make it effective in concreto in his life." - Immanuel Kant

"So sharply and clearly marked are the boundaries of morality and self-love that even the commonest eye cannot fail to distinguish whether a thing belongs to the one or the other." - Immanuel Kant

"Honor's a sacred tie, the noble mind's distinguish perfection, that aids and strengthens virtue where it meets her, and imitates her actions where she is not." - Joseph Addison

"The conscience is not automatically infallible; it can easily make mistakes, and it is very difficult to distinguish its voice - the real voice of conscience - from the voice of precipitation, passion, convenience or self-will, or of moral primitiveness." - Karl Rahner

"Sharpen your thinking about goal setting. Be realistic about the amount of time and effort that might be necessary. Make a commitment to excellence. Learn to distinguish between a goal and a wish. Prepare for ultimate goals by achieving your interim goals. Choose goals that will benefit others as well as yourself." - Norman Vincent Peale

"Evil was made sweet to delude you. You have to use your discrimination to distinguish between poisoned honey and that which is in your best interest. Avoid those things that will ultimately hurt you, and choose those that will give you freedom and happiness." - Paramahansa Yogananda, born Mukunda Lal Ghosh

"[The Serenity Prayer] God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things which cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other." -