Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


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

"To be rich, to be famous? do these profit a year hence, when other names sound louder than yours, when you lie hidden away under ground, along with the idle titles engraven on your coffin? But only true love lives after you, follows your memory with secret blessings or pervades you, and intercedes for you. Non omnis moriar, if, dying, nor am lost and hopeless living, if a sainted departed soul still loves and prays for me." - William Makepeace Thackeray

"There are high spots in all of our lives and most of them have come about through encouragement from someone else. I don't care how great, how famous or successful a man or woman may be, each hungers for applause." - George Matthew Adams

"One who is contented with what he has done will never become famous for what he will do. He has lain down to die. The grass is already growing over him." - Christian Nestell Bovee

"One who is contented with what he has done will never become famous for what he will do. He has lain down to die, and the grass is already growing over him." - Christian Nestell Bovee

"Virtue maketh men on the earth famous, in their graves illustrious, in the heavens immortal." - Chilon of Lacedemon NULL

"He is a valiaunt victor, a famous Conquerour, and a mighty prince, that can vanquishe himselfe." - John Florio

"People seldom become famous for what they say until after they are famous for what they've done." - Cullen Hightower

"Goodness is always an asset. A man who is straight, friendly and useful may never be famous, but he is respected and liked by all who know him. He has laid a sound foundation for success and he will have a worthwhile life." - Herbert Newton Casson

"No woman has ever told the truth of her life. The autobiographies of most famous women are a series of accounts of the outward existence, of petty details and anecdotes which give no realization of their real life. For the great moments of joy or agony they remain strangely silent." - Isadora Duncan

"Sweetness of spirit and sunshine is famous for dispelling fears and difficulties; patience is a mighty help to the burden-bearer." - James Hamilton

"We all want to be famous people, and the moment we want to be something, we are no longer free." - Jewish Proverbs

"Enflamed with the study of learning, and the admiration of virtue; stirred up with the high hopes of living to be brave men, and worthy patriots, dear to God, and famous to all ages." - John Milton

"Our admiration of a famous man lessens upon our nearer acquaintance with him; and we seldom hear of a celebrated person without a catalogue of some notorious weaknesses and infirmities." - Joseph Addison

"A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas - a place where history comes to life." - Norman Cousins

"Not by words would I make my life famous, but by deeds." - Sophocles NULL

"The prestige you acquire by being able to tell your friends that you know famous men proves only that you are yourself of small account." - W. Somerset Maugham, fully William Somerset Maugham

"If the substance of the spiritual experience is always and everywhere the same, differences in its expression and interpretation are secondary and not a valid cause for conflict and intolerance. The world to which our quantum brain connects us is fundamentally one, whether its oneness is due to an information field within the natural world or the work of a divine transcendent intelligence. To enter into communion with this oneness has been the quest of all the great teachers and spiritual masters. And to understand the nature of this oneness has been, and is, the ultimate quest of all great scientists. Still today, physicists seek the one equation that would anchor their famous "Theory of Everything," the theory that would account for all the laws of nature and explain everything that ever happened in our integrally whole universe. Einstein said that knowing this equation would be reading the mind of God." - Ervin László

"As the twentieth century began, science equaled a materialistic worldview. As the twenty-first century began, the worldview of science, at least of physics and astronomy, may have traded place with that of religion. Consider Einstein's famous equation E = mc2. Nothing of matter dies but continues on in another form, elsewhere. The church divines and theologians for two thousand years have devised arguments and "proofs" of immortality but nothing equal to this." - Huston Smith, fully Huston Cummings Smith

"We all want to be famous people, and the moment we want to be something we are no longer free. " - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"Other famous men, those of much talk and few deeds, soon evaporate. Action is the dignity of greatness. " - José Martí, fully José Julián Martí Pérez

"The famous balance of nature is the most extraordinary of all cybernetic systems. Left to itself, it is always self-regulated. " - Joseph Wood Krutch

"To illustrate the difference between the innovator and the dull crowd of routinists who cannot even imagine that any improvement is possible, we need only refer to a passage in Engel's most famous book. Here, in 1878, Engels apodictically announced that military weapons are "now so perfected that no further progress of any revolutionizing influence is any longer possible." Henceforth "all further [technological] progress is by and large indifferent for land warfare. The age of evolution is in this regard essentially closed." This complacent conclusion shows in what the achievement of the innovator consists: he accomplishes what other people believe to be unthinkable and unfeasible." - Ludwig von Mises, fully Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises

"Celebrity distorts democracy by giving the rich, beautiful, and famous more authority than they deserve." - Maureen Dowd, fully Maureen Bridgid Dowd

"No matter how rich you become, how famous or powerful, when you die the size of your funeral will still pretty much depend on the weather." - Michael Pritchard

"There is all the difference in the world, however, between two kinds of assistance through government that seem superficially similar: first, 90 percent of us agreeing to impose taxes on ourselves in order to help the bottom 10 percent, and second, 80 percent voting to impose taxes on the top 10 percent to help the bottom 10 percent -- William Graham Sumner's famous example of B and C decided what D shall do for A. The first may be wise or unwise, an effective or ineffective way to help the disadvantaged -- but it is consistent with belief in both equality of opportunity and liberty. The second seeks equality of outcome and is entirely antithetical to liberty." - Milton Friedman, fully John Milton Friedman

"It is a mistake to think that the practice of my art has become easy to me. I assure you, dear friend, no one has given so much care to the study of composition as I. There is scarcely a famous master in music whose works I have not frequently and diligently studied." - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart

"Today, as you know, I am famous and very rich. But when I am alone with myself, I haven't the 'courage' to consider myself an artist, in the great and ancient sense of that word... I am only a public entertainer, who understands his age." - Pablo Picasso, fully Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso

"The whole Earth is the Sepulchre of famous men; and their story is not graven only on Stone over their native earth, but lives on far away, without visible symbol, woven into the stuff of other men's lives." - Pericles NULL

"They gave her their lives, to her and to all of us, and for their own selves they won praises that never grow old, the most splendid of sepulchers — not the sepulchre in which their bodies are laid, but where their glory remains eternal in men's minds, always there on the right occasion to stir others to speech or to action. For famous men have the whole earth as their memorial: it is not only the inscriptions on their graves in their own country that mark diem out; no, in foreign lands also, not in any visible form but in people's hearts, their memory abides and grows. It is for you to try to be like them. Make up your minds that happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous." - Pericles NULL

"Each famous author of antiquity whom I recover places a new offence and another cause of dishonor to the charge of earlier generations, who, not satisfied with their own disgraceful barrenness, permitted the fruit of other minds, and the writings that their ancestors had produced by toil and application, to perish through insufferable neglect. Although they had nothing of their own to hand down to those who were to come after, they robbed posterity of its ancestral heritage." - Petrarch, anglicized from Italian name Francesco Petrarca NULL

"There is one taboo that has withstood all the recent efforts at demystification: the idealization of mother love. The usual run of biographies illustrates this very clearly. In reading the biographies of famous artists, for example, one gains the impression that their lives began at puberty. Before that, we are told, they had a happy, contented, or untroubled childhood, or one that was full of deprivation or very stimulating. But what a particular childhood really was like does not seem to interest these biographers-as if the roots of a whole life were not hidden and entwined in its childhood." - Alice Miller, née Rostovski

"The lost opportunities of the years since September 11 are the stuff of tragedy. Remember the people rallying in sympathy on the streets of Teheran, the famous headline - 'we are all Americans now.' Five years later much of the world wonders what America is now. As we face this landscape of failure and disorder, nothing is more urgent than for us to begin again to rebuild a bipartisan consensus to ensure our interests, increase our security and advance our values. It could well start with what our founders had in mind when they pledged 'a decent respect for the opinions of mankind' in the Declaration of Independence. I think it's fair to say we are now all internationalists and we are all realists. This Administration's choices were false choices. Internationalism versus unilateralism. Realism versus idealism. Is there really any argument that America must remain a preeminent leader for peace and freedom, and yet we must be more willing to work in concert with other nations and international institutions to reach common goals? The American character is both idealistic and realistic: why can't our government reflect both?" - Hillary Rodham Clinton

"Eighty-five percent of recorded species live in the terrestrial realm, and the majority of these, some 850,000, are arthropods (that is, insects, spiders, and crustaceans). Most of the arthropod species are insects, and almost half of these are beetles, a fact that is said to have inspired a famous epigram from the British biologist J.B.S. Haldane. On being asked, one day, by some clerical gentlemen what his study of the natural world had revealed to him about God. Haldane is said to have replied that it indicated that He had an inordinate fondness of beetles." - Richard Leakey, fully Richard Erskine Frere Leakey

"What does it mean to a physician to practice medicine without mystery? When I was a medical student, my school had a large, black-tie retirement dinner for a very famous man on the medical faculty, whose scientific contribution had earned him a Nobel prize. He was 80 years old. The entire school gathered to honor him, and famous medical people came from all over the world. This doctor gave a wonderful speech describing the progress of scientific knowledge during the 50 years that he had been a physician. We gave him a standing ovation. After we sat down he remained at the podium. There was a brief silence and then he said, There's something else important that I want to say. And I especially want to tell the students. I have been a physician for 50 years and I don't know anything more about life now than I did at the beginning. I am no wiser. It slipped through my fingers. We were stunned into silence. I remember thinking that perhaps he was senile. In retrospect, it was a very remarkable thing he did. He took an opportunity to warn us about the cage of ideas and roles and self-expectations that was closing around us, even as he spoke to us - the cage that would keep us from achieving our good purpose, which is healing. Healing is a matter of wisdom, not of scientific knowledge." - Rachel Naomi Remen

"Yes. In the 60's, there was a famous slogan,] Be Here Now... Be Somewhere Else Now." - Ram Dass, aka Baba Ram Dass, born Richard Alpert

"I knew that the languages which one learns there are necessary to understand the works of the ancients; and that the delicacy of fiction enlivens the mind; that famous deeds of history ennoble it and, if read with understanding, aid in maturing one's judgment; that the reading of all the great books is like conversing with the best people of earlier times; it is even studied conversation in which the authors show us only the best of their thoughts; that eloquence has incomparable powers and beauties; that poetry has enchanting delicacy and sweetness; that mathematics has very subtle processes which can serve as much to satisfy the inquiring mind as to aid all the arts and diminish man's labor; that treatises on morals contain very useful teachings and exhortations to virtue; that theology teaches us how to go to heaven; that philosophy teaches us to talk with appearance of truth about things, and to make ourselves admired by the less learned; that law, medicine, and the other sciences bring honors and wealth to those who pursue them; and finally, that it is desirable to have examined all of them, even to the most superstitious and false in order to recognize their real worth and avoid being deceived thereby" - René Descartes

"I was reminded of a quotation by the famous American physicist Steven Weinberg, Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist. Weinberg said: Religion is an insult to human dignity. Without it, you'd have good people doing good things, and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, it takes religion." - Richard Dawkins

"`We be of one blood, thou and I,' Mowgli answered, `. . . my kill shall be thy kill if ever thou art hungry.'" - Rudyard Kipling

"The bold enterprises are the successful ones. Take counsel of hopes rather than of fears to win in this business." - Rutherford B. Hayes, fully Rutherford Birchard Hayes

"His ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge. Of contemporary literature, philosophy and politics he appeared to know next to nothing. Upon my quoting Thomas Carlyle, he inquired in the naivest way who he might be and what he had done. My surprise reached a climax, however, when I found incidentally that he was ignorant of the Copernican Theory and of the composition of the Solar System. That any civilized human being in this nineteenth century should not be aware that the earth travelled round the sun appeared to me to be such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly realize it." - Arthur Conan Doyle, fully Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle

"Complex organisms cannot be construed as the sum of their genes, nor do genes alone build particular items of anatomy or behavior by themselves. Most genes influence several aspects of anatomy and behavior—as they operate through complex interactions with other genes and their products, and with environmental factors both within and outside the developing organism. We fall into a deep error, not just a harmful oversimplification, when we speak of genes for particular items of anatomy or behavior." - Stephan Jay Gould

"In natural history, great discovery often requires a map to a hidden mine filled with gems then easily gathered by conventional tools, not a shiny new space-age machine for penetrating previously inaccessible worlds." - Stephan Jay Gould

"Natural selection is a theory of local adaptation to changing environments. It proposes no perfecting principles, no guarantee of general improvement," - Stephan Jay Gould

"What constitutes the primordium of the adult parasite [Rhizocephala ]? What can be injected through the narrow opening of the dart's hypodermic device? ...Imagine going through such complexity as nauplius, cyprid, and kentrogon - and then paring yourself down to just a few cells for a quick and hazardous transition to the adult stage. What a minimal bridge at such a crucial transition! ...But other species have achieved the ultimate reduction to a single cell! The dart injects just one cell into the host's interior, and the two parts of the life cyle maintain their indispensable continuity by an absolutely minimal connection - as though, within the rhizocephalan life cycle, nature has inserted a stage analogous to the fertilized egg that establishes minimal connection between generations in ordinary sexual organisms." - Stephan Jay Gould

"Zoocentrism is the primary fallacy of human sociobiology, for this view of human behavior rests on the argument that if the actions of lower animals with simple nervous systems arise as genetic products of natural selection, then human behavior should have a similar basis." - Stephan Jay Gould

"In the history of science we have discovered a sequence of better and better theories or models, from Plato to the classical theory of Newton to modern quantum theories. It is natural to ask: Will this sequence eventually reach an end point, an ultimate theory of the universe, that will include all forces and predict every observation we can make, or will we continue forever finding better theories, but never one that cannot be improved upon?" - Stephen Hawking

"On seeing the Enterprise's warp engine while visiting the set of Star Trek: The Next Generation (where he would briefly play himself in the 1993 episode Descent, Part I), Hawking smiled and said: I'm working on that." - Stephen Hawking

"Sports is to war as pornography is to sex." - Stephen Hawking