Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Experience

"There is no unmixed good in human affairs; the best principles, if pushed to excess, degenerate into fatal vices. Generosity is nearly allied to extravagance; charity itself may lead to ruin; the sternness of justice is but one step removed from the severity of oppression. It is the same in the political world; the tranquillity of despotism resembles the stagnation of the Dead Sea; the fever of innovation the tempests of the ocean It would seem as if, at particular periods, from causes inscrutable to human wisdom, a universal frenzy seizes mankind; reason, experience, prudence, are alike blinded; and the very classes who are to perish in the storm are the first to raise its fury." - Archibald Alison

"Theory without experience is sterile, practice without theory is blind." -

"Youth is a cause of hope for three reasons... And these three reasons may be gathered from the three conditions of the good which is the object of hope - namely, that it is future, arduous and possible... For youth has much of the future before it, and little of the past; and therefore since memory is of the past, and hope of the future, it has little to remember and lives very much in hope. Again, youths, on account of the heat of their nature, are full of spirit, so that their heart expands, and it is owing to the heart being expanded that one tends to that which is arduous; therefore youths are spirited and hopeful. Likewise they who have not suffered defeat, nor had experience of obstacles to their efforts, are prone to count a thing possible to them. Therefore youths, through inexperience of obstacles and of their own shortcomings, easily count a thing possible, and consequently are of good hope." -

"Experience, which destroys innocence, also leads one back to it." -

"I must confess, as the experience of my own soul, that the expectation of loving my friends in heaven principally kindles my love to them while on earth." - Richard Baxter

"All the tensions and contradictions in life are, and ought to be, reflected in one’s philosophy, and one should not attempt to compose them for the sake of neat philosophical construction. Philosophy cannot ever be divorced from the totality of man’s spiritual experience, from his struggles, his insights, his ecstasies, his religious faith and mystical vision." -

"Young people imagine there is great value in fame. Those with life experience know that in truth publicity is extremely short-lived. The nature of the world is that every piece of news makes an impression for only a very short time. After those few minutes the impression is erased and quickly forgotten. It is as if it never was." - Yosef Leib Bloch, fully R' Yosef Yehudah Leib Bloch

"It is our duty to give meaning to the life of future generations by sharing our knowledge and experience; by teaching an appreciation of work well done and a respect for nature, the source of all life; by encouraging the young to venture off the beaten path and avoid complacency by challenging their emotions." - Paul Bocuse

"I had the opportunity to deliver babies... In each of these numinous moments, I knew that life had meaning; each experience was accompanied by an upwelling of gratitude and humility. These moments, which can be called an experience of the self, or archetype of meaning, are akin to the act of finally seeing the Holy Grail after a long quest... It is through these moments of grace and gratitude that we acquire a sense of meaning and a desire to live a meaningful life. The personal challenge is now." - Jean Shinoda Bolen

"A gentleman who had been very unhappy I marriage, married immediately after his wife died: Johnson said, it was the triumph of hope over experience." - James Boswell

"The meaning of life is experienced when we are in touch with our unique essence, sometimes called the divine spark within... It is both individual and universal. When we are fully aware of this unique inner radiance, we feel what it is to be utterly alive. We experience unconditional love. We sense complete safety because that spark also connects us to the universal divinity within all things." - Barbara Brennan

"Experience is the mother of wisdom." - Nicholas Breton (also Britton or Brittaine)

"What education does is to put a series of filters over your awareness so that year by year... you experience less and less." - Norman O. Brown, fully Norman Oliver Brown

"Orthodoxy can be learnt from others; living faith must be a matter of personal experience." - Wilhelm Büchsel, fully Wilhelm Karl von Gotthilf Büchsel

"To judge human character rightly, a man may sometimes have very small experience, provided he has a very large heart." -

"You who are so wise must know that different nations have different conceptions of things. You will not therefore take it amiss if our ideas of the white man’s kind of education happens not to be the same as yours. We have had some experience with it. Several of our young people were brought up in your colleges. They were instructed in all your sciences; but, when they came back to us, they were bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods, unable to bear either cold or hunger. They didn’t know how to build a cabin, take a deer, or kill an enemy. They spoke our language imperfectly. They were therefore unfit to be hunters, warriors, or counselors; they were good for nothing. We are, however, not less obliged for your kind offer, though we decline accepting it. To show our gratefulness, if the gentlemen of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we will take great care with their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them." - Canassatego Treaty of Lancaster NULL

"Benevolence is not in word and in tongue, but in deed and in truth. It is a business with men as they are, and with human life as drawn by the rough hand of experience. It is a duty which you must perform at the call of principle; though there be no voice of eloquence to give splendor to your exertions, and no music of poetry to lead your willing footsteps through the bowers of enchantment. It is not the impulse of high and ecstatic emotion. It is an exertion of principle. :You must go to the poor man’s cottage, though no verdure flourish around it, the gentleness of its murmurs. If you look for the romantic simplicity of fiction you will be disappointed; but it is your duty to persevere in spite of every discouragement. Benevolence is not merely a feeling but a principle; not a dream of rapture for the fancy to indulge in, but a business for the hand to execute." - Thomas Chalmers

"Life, whether in this world or any other, is the sum of our attainment, our experience, our character. The conditions are secondary. In what other world shall we be more surely than we are here?" - Edwin Hubbell Chapin

"The golden age is not in the past, but in the future: not in the origin of human experience, but in its consummate flower: not opening in Eden, but out from Gethsemane." - Edwin Hubbell Chapin

"Some people gauge their value by what they own. But in reality the entire concept of ownership of possessions is based on an illusion. When you obtain a material object, it does not become part of you. Ownership is merely your right to use specific objects whenever you wish and that no one has a right to take them away from you. How unfortunate is the person who has an ambition to cleave to something impossible to cleave to. Such a person will not obtain what he desires and will experience suffering." - Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler

"A primary responsibility of educators is that they not only be aware of the general principle of the shaping of actual experience by environing conditions, but that they also recognize in the concrete what surroundings, physical and social, that exist so as to extract from them all that they have to contribute to building up experiences that are worthwhile." - John Dewey

"Genuine intellectual integrity is found in experimental knowing. Until this lesson is fully learned, it is not safe to dissociate knowledge from experiment nor experiment from experience." - John Dewey

"Search for a single, inclusive good is doomed to failure. Such happiness as life is capable of comes from the full participation of all our powers in the endeavor to wrest from each changing situation of experience its own full and unique meaning." - John Dewey

"We always live at the time we live and not at some other time, and only by extracting at each present time the full meaning of each present experience are we prepared for doing the same thing in the future. This is the only preparation which in the long run amounts to anything." - John Dewey

"“What” we do belongs to the world. In the “how,” the way we do it, we infallibly revel to ourselves whether our attitude is in harmony with the inner law or in contradiction to it, in accordance with our right form or opposed to it, open to Divine Being or closed to it. What is our right “form”? It is none other than that in which we are transparent to Divine Being. And to be transparent means that we are able to experience Divine Being in our selves and to reveal it in the world." - Karlfried Graf Von Dürckheim, fully Karl Friedrich Alfred Heinrich Ferdinand Maria Graf Eckbrecht von Dürckheim-Montmartin

"Truth is what stands the test of experience." - Albert Einstein

"Now besides life, knowledge, play, aesthetic experience, friendship, practical reasonableness, and religion, there are countless objectives and forms of good. But I suggest that these other objectives and forms of good will be found, on analysis, to be way or combinations of ways of pursuing (not always sensibly) and realizing (not always successfully) one of the seven basic forms of good, or some combination of them." - John Finnis

"Experience is the shroud of illusions." - J. de Finod

"Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other, an scarcely in that; for it is true, we may give advice, but we cannot give conduct. Remember this; they that will not be counseled cannot be helped. If you do not hear reason she will rap you over your knuckles." - Benjamin Franklin

"Mental activity, which works in its way from the memory-image to the production of identity of perception via the outer world, merely represents a roundabout way to wish-fulfillment made necessary by experience. Thinking is indeed nothing but a substitute for the hallucinatory wish; and if the dream is called a wish-fulfillment, this becomes something self-evident, since nothing but a wish can impel our psychic apparatus to activity." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"In the very act of giving, I experience my strength, my wealth, my power." -

"It must be obvious to those who take the time to look at human life that its greatest values lie not in getting things, but in doing them, in doing them together, in all working toward a common aim, in the experience of comradeship, of warmhearted 100% human life." - W. T. Grant, fully William Thomas Grant

"There is no perfect knowledge which can be entitled ours, that is innate; none but what has been obtained from experience, or derived in some way from our senses; all knowledge, at all events, is examined by these, approved by them, and finally presents itself to us firmly grounded upon some preexisting knowledge which we possessed: because without memory there is no experience, which is nothing else than reiterated memory; in like manner memory cannot exist without endurance of the things perceived, and the thing perceived cannot remain where it has never been." - William Harvey

"Be charitable in your thoughts, in your speech and in your actions. Be charitable in your judgments, in your attitudes and in your prayers. Think charitably of your friends, your neighbors, your relatives and even your enemies. And if there be those whom you can help in a material way, do so in a quiet, friendly, neighborly way, as if it were the most command and everyday experience for you. Tongues of men and angels, gifts of prophecy and all mysteries and all knowledge are as nothing without charity." - Patrick Joseph Hayes

"There is no merit where there is no trial; and, till experience stamps the mark of strength, cowards may pass for heroes, faith for falsehood." - Aaron Hill

"The purpose of my existence as I climb is to adapt my personal dimensions to the environment around me at each moment. I become an active player sharing some of the responsibility for my own destiny, achieving a heightened sense of awareness and seeing the direct result of my efforts; either I fall or I reach the top. But the meaning does not come from conquering the rock. Purpose comes from moving in harmony with nature, rather than destroying it or altering it for my immediate satisfaction. What gives life meaning is the fulfillment of directing energy in a way that brings a higher order to, and harmony with, the environment I live in... The ultimate meaning of our lives is relative to how much we have given to others. The ultimate meaning of our lives is connected with death... I would like to know that I have inspired people to go beyond self-limiting stereotypes to experience and nurture the true richness of their passions." - Lynn Hill, aka Lynn Hill-Raffa

"For... what liberty is; there can no other proof be offered but every man’s own experience, by reflection on himself, and remembering what he useth in his mind, that is, what he himself meaneth when he saith an action... is free. Now he that reflecteth so on himself, cannot but be satisfied... that a free agent is he that can do if he will, and forbear if he will; and that liberty is the absence of external impediments. But to those that out of custom speak not what they conceive, but what they heard, and are not able, or will not take the pains to consider what they think when they hear such words, no argument can be sufficient, because experience and matter of fact are not verified by other men’s arguments, but by every man’s own sense and memory." - Thomas Hobbes

"Art and science create a balance to material life and enlarge the world of living experience. Art leads to a more profound concept of life, because art itself is a profound expression of feeling." - Hans Hoffman

"All beings in the universe, consider’d in themselves, appear entirely loose and independent of each other. ‘Tis only by experience we learn their influence and connexion." - David Hume

"Among the other excellencies of man, this is one, that he can form the image of perfection much beyond what he has experience of in himself, and is not limited in his conception of wisdom and virtue." - David Hume

"Custom is the great guide of human life. It is that principle alone which renders our experience useful to us, and makes us expect, for the future, a similar train of events with those which have appeared I the past. Without the influence of custom, we should be entirely ignorant of every matter of fact beyond what is immediately present to the memory and senses. We should never know how to adjust means to ends, or to employ our natural powers in the production of any effect. There would be an end at once of all action, as well as of the chief part of speculation." - David Hume

"Nothing can ever be present to the mind but an image or perception, and that the senses are only the inlets, through which these images are conveyed, without being able to produce any immediate intercourse between the mind and the object... The mind has never anything present to it but the perceptions, and cannot possibly reach any experience of their connection with objects. The supposition of such a connection is, therefore, without any foundation in reasoning." - David Hume

"A large amount of physical pain and suffering is caused by one’s thoughts and behaviors. The desire for food causes people to overeat and consume food that is harmful to their health. Envy, anger, and honor-seeking lead to diseases of the heart, high blood pressure, nervous tension and excessive stress. Moreover, even when you pain is basically caused by physical symptoms, your mental attitude towards the pain can greatly increase or decrease the actual amount of suffering you experience. The pain you suffer from illnesses and injuries is frequently more psychological than physical. A person who learns to master a calm and serene attitude towards life trains himself to tolerate physical pain and the actual suffering is greatly lessened." - Pinchos Hurwitz

"We should utilize every experience as a tool for elevation. Even when someone acts in a condescending manner towards us, we can view the situation in a positive manner and grow from the experience. When we suffer emotionally from a situation, we create the negative attitudes ourselves and hence the emotional suffering is our own creation." - Yosef Y. Hurwitz

"Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"Experience teaches only the teachable." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"From their own experience or from the recorded experience of others (history), men learn only what their passions and their metaphysical prejudices allow them to learn." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"Knowing the truth carries with it an extraordinary responsibility. Meeting that responsibility can be your most rewarding experience." - Richard and Mary-Alice Jafolla

"My experience is what I agree to attend to. Only those items which I notice shape my mind - without selective interest, experience is an utter chaos." - William James

"Nature... is frugal in her operations and will not be at the expense of a particular instinct to give us that knowledge which experience and habit will soon produce. Reproduced sights and contacts tied together with the present sensation in the unity of a thing with a name, these are complex objective stuff out of which my actually perceived table is made. Infants must go through a long education of the eye and ear before they can perceive the realities which adults perceive. Every perception is an acquired perception." - William James