Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"Many men who spend an hour a day in physical exercises to keep fit refuse to spend an hour a week in the cultivation of their morals and their ethics. We have put so little emphasis on developing our souls that our children are beginning to doubt if we have any souls at all." - Allen E. Claxton

"All religion and all ethics are summed up in justice." - Moncure Daniel Conway

"The real problem is in the hearts and minds of men. It is not a problem of physics but of ethics. It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil spirit in man." - Albert Einstein

"God is that indefinable something which we all feel but which we do not know. To me God is truth and love, God is ethics and morality, god is fearlessness, God is the source of light and life and yet He is above and beyond all these. God is conscience. he is even the atheism of the atheist." -

"In the end physics will replace ethics just as metaphysics displaced theology. The modern statistical view of ethics contributes towards that." - Søren Kierkegaard, fully Søren Aabye Kierkegaard

"Theology and Absolute Ethics are two famous subjects which we have realized to have no real objects." - Frank Plumpton Ramsey

"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

"The premises of politics lie in the conclusions of the ethics." - Lord Samuel, Herbert Louis Samuel, First Viscount Samuel

"What we call love is in its essence Reverence for Life. All material and spiritual values are values only insofar as they serve the maintenance of life at its highest level and furtherance of life. Ethics are boundless in their domain and limitless in their demands. They are concerned with all living things that come into our sphere." - Albert Schweitzer

"The development of values, morals and ethics expands a person's ability to express freedom." - Alan William Smolowe

"Man’s actions proceed from his innate character and the motives acting upon him. What is conscience and the perception of right and wrong in actions that follows from the consciousness of freedom? That is a question for ethics." -

"Religion is a hunger for beauty and love and glory. It is wonder and the mystery and majesty, passion and ecstasy. It is emotion as well as mind, feeling as well as knowing, the subjective as well as the objective. It is the heart soaring to heights the head alone will never know; the apprehension of meanings science alone will never find; the awareness of values ethics alone will never reveal. It is the human spirit yearning for, and finding, something infinitely greater than itself which it calls God." - Waldemar Argow, fully Wendelin Waldemar Wieland Argow

"Ethics is the vital principle of Judaism. Its religion aims to be, and is, moral doctrine. Love of God is knowledge of God, and that is knowledge of the ultimate moral purpose of mankind." - Hermann Cohen

"Art neither belongs to religion, nor to ethics; but, like these, it brings us nearer to the Infinite, on of the forms of which it manifests to us. God is the source of all beauty, as of all truth of all religion, of all morality. The most exalted object, therefore, of art is to reveal in its own manner the sentiment of the Infinite." - Victor Cousin

"The true opposite of love is not hate but indifference. Hate, bad as it is, at least treats a neighbor as a thou, whereas indifference turns the neighbor into an it, a thing. That is why we may say there is actually one thing worse than evil itself and that is indifference to evil. In human relations the nadir of morality, the lowest point as far as Christian ethics is concerned, is manifest in the phrase, 'I could care less.'" -

"Jewish ethics, with its emphasis on the motives of the heart and its concern for the actions of men, has shown itself able to preserve the tension between the inner and the outer." -

"How shall man obtain conception of the majesty of the Divine...? Through the expansion of his scientific faculties; through the liberation of his imagination...; through the disciplined study of the world and of life; through the cultivation of a rich, multifarious sensitivity to every phase of being. All these desiderata require obviously the study of all the branches of wisdom, all the philosophies of life, all the ways of the diverse civilizations and doctrines of ethics and religion in every nation and tongue." - Abraham Isaac Kook

"It was in Israel that ethics broke down national barriers for the first time." -

"Ethics, as has been well said, are the finest fruits of humanity; but they are not its roots." -

"My life is full of meaning to me. The life around me must be full of significance to itself. If I am to expect others to respect my life, then I must respect the other life I see, however strange it may be to mine... Ethics in our Western world has hitherto been largely limited to the relations of man to man. But that is limited ethics. We need a boundless ethics which will include the animals also." - Albert Schweitzer

"Reverence for life is the only sound basis for viable ethics." - Albert Schweitzer

"The pyramidal effect is essential to all the arts - the effect of starting from the level, rising to the supreme height, and sinking back to the original level again. This in truth is the meaning of key in music; in art, as in life, the secret of happiness is first of all to get as far away from home as you can, and then get back to your home: every work of art is a sort of Prodigal Son, that learns to appreciate the fixed point in space as in ethics, by straying from it." - Nahum Sokolow

"Ethics is the science of human duty. Arithmetic tells man how to count his money; ethics how he should acquire it, whether by honesty or fraud. Geography is a map of the world; ethics is a beautiful map of duty. This ethics is not Christianity, it is not even religion; but it is the sister of religion, because the path of duty is in full harmony, as to quality and direction, with the path of God." - David Swing, aka Professor Swing

"Ethics alone will decide whether atomic energy will be an earthly blessing or the source of mankind’s utter destruction." -

"What is between one person and another is emptiness, nothingness, a space or field in which we can meet, talk, love, hate, hurt, nurture, encourage, and otherwise engage in ethically significant activity with one another. The between is the place wherein we are able to interact with one another, and it is a field of possibility, an opportunity as much as an emptiness to fill. Leaving the notion of emptiness to one side for the present, the betweenness of men and women works itself out in the way called “ethics,” which occasions and is the description of the consensual rules and structures of social existence." - Robert E. Carter, fully Robert Edgar Carter

"Ethics is… to be regarded as a therapeutic attempt – as an endeavor to achieve, by means of a command of the superego, something which has so far not been achieved by means of any other cultural activities. As we already know, the problem before us is how to get rid of the greatest hindrance to civilization – namely, the constitutional inclination of human beings to be aggressive towards one another." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"There is not even one single thing we value when we restrict the question to ethical values. Instead, there is a plurality of different things we value, but in ethics and in life in general. In life we value pleasure, human interaction, achievement and contact with reality. In ethics we value human flourishing but also commitment and justice per se… No single set of rules seems adequate to the irreducible plurality of incommensurable things that we value." - Patrick Grim

"To glorify God is to be engaged in a concrete spirituality that refuses to draw marked distinctions between sacred and secular, contemplation and deed, theology and ethics." - John Douglas Hall

"In humans, social conditioning establishes acceptable versus unacceptable behaviors and belief systems. Pejorative denunciations and condemnations are institutionalized, and judgmentalism is supported and encouraged. Behaviors are identified with morality and ethics and simply classified as good versus bad or right versus wrong." - David R. Hawkins, fully David Ramon Hawkins

"When anything is clear enough, true enough, real enough, beyond the point of doubt, then that something raises within itself its own requiredness, its own demand-character, its own suitabilities. It “calls for” certain kinds of action rather than others. If we define ethics, morals, and values as guides to action, then the easiest and best guides to the most decisive actions are very facty facts; the more facty they are, the better guides to action they are." -

"In the so-called Western secular democracy… a divorce has been effected between politics and religion, and as a result of this secularization, the society and particularly its politically active elements have ceased to attach much or any importance to morality or ethics." - Abu’l A’la Mawdudi

"Let me give you a definition of ethics: It is good to maintain and further life; it is bad to damage and destroy life." - Albert Schweitzer

"Ethics is not definable, is not implementable, because it is not conscious; it involves not only our thinking, but also our feeling." - Valdemar W. Setzer

"An organized money market has many advantages. But it is not a school of social ethics or political responsibility." -

"Just as individual ethics can be understood only in relation to the society within which it is practiced, it is also true that individual ethical behavior is far likelier to flourish within a just society. It might be argued that to lead an ethical life one must work to build a just society." - Randy Cohen

"A Humanist Code of Ethics: Do no harm to the earth, she is your mother. Being is more important than having. Never promote yourself at another's expense. Hold life sacred; treat it with reverence. Allow each person the dignity of his or her labor." - Arthur Dobrin

"I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it." - Albert Einstein

"All human societies supplement politics with ethics; all of them to some degree are ordered by a moral code, if only honor among thieves." - James R. Flynn, aka Jim Flynn

"There are seven things that will destroy us: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Religion without sacrifice; Politics without principle; Science without humanity; Business without ethics." -

"The most powerful lessons about ethics and morality do not come from school discussions or classes in character-building. They come from family life where people treat one another with respect, consideration, and love." - Neil Kurshan

"The Ethics and equity and the principles of justice do not change with the calendar." -

"Ethics, too, are nothing but reverence for life. This is what gives me the fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, promoting, and enhancing life, and that destroying, injuring, and limiting life are evil." - Albert Schweitzer

"We should each ask ourselves: what place does ethics have in my daily life? In thinking about this question, ask yourself: what do I think of as a good life, in the fullest sense of that term? This is an ultimate question. To ask it is to ask: what kind of a life do I truly admire, and what kind of life do I hope to be able to look back on, when I am older and reflect on how I have lived? Will it be enough to say: "It was fun"?" - Peter Singer

"Human dignity… can be achieved only in the field of ethics, and ethical achievement is measured by the degree in which our actions are governed by compassion and love, not by greed and aggressiveness." - Arnold J. Toynbee, fully Arnold Joseph Toynbee

"Human dignity...can be achieved only in the field of ethics, and ethical achievement is measured by the degree in which our actions are governed by compassion and love, not by greed and aggressiveness." - Arnold J. Toynbee, fully Arnold Joseph Toynbee

"I am not sure whether what the philosophers call ethical absolutes exist, but I am sure that we have to act as if they existed. Ethics must be freed from its utilitarian chains." - Arthur Koestler

"Ethics is in origin the art of recommending to others the sacrifices required for cooperation with oneself." - Bertrand Russell, fully Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell

"Our very lives depend on the ethics of strangers, and most of us are always strangers to other people." - Bill Moyers

"The number-one thing young people in American - indeed, young people around the world - have going for them is their sense of honesty, morality, and ethics. Young people refuse to accept the lies and rationalizations of the established order." - Dick Gregory