Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Idealism

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." -

"What sort of philosophy one chooses depends, therefore, on what sort of man one is; for a philosophical system is not a dead piece of furniture that we can reject or accept as we wish; it is rather a thing animated by the soul of the person who holds it. A person indolent by nature or dulled and distorted by mental servitude, learned luxury, and vanity will never raise himself to the level of idealism." - J. G. Fichte, fully Johann Gottlieb Fichte

"Words without action are the assassins of idealism." - Herbert Hoover, fully Herbert Clark Hoover

"At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"It is not materialism that is the chief curse of the world, as pastors teach, but idealism. Men get into trouble by taking their visions and hallucinations too seriously." - H. L. Mencken, fully Henry Louis Mencken

"Idealism is what precedes experience; cynicism is what follows." - David T. Wolfe

"Idealism tends to absorb all of objective reality into a system made up solely of experience… Sooner or later the idealist has to admit that his experience touches something beyond its own content." - Langdon Gilkey, fully Langdon Brown Gilkey

"Every one of us is endowed at birth with all sorts of magnificent possibilities and potentialities. There is a capacity for idealism, a yearning for truth and beauty and nobility, a sensitivity to the hurt of others and to the dreams and needs of our fellow man. In the hopeful dawn of youth we feel these stirrings within us and we promise to bring them to life. And yet so often as the years pass by we permit these promises to be swept under the rug of expediency. We chalk them up to immaturity and we go on to live “more realistically.”" - Sidney Greenberg

"Without nonviolence - mind states of loving kindness and compassion - at the core of our societal construct, however, even the desire to protect and preserve can be manipulated in service to barbarism masquerading as idealism." - Charlene Spretnak

"At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice, and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols." -

"At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols." -

"At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice, and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols." -

"At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols." -

"At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice, and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols." -

"At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols." -

"Ideas are great arrows, but there has to be a bow. And politics is the bow of idealism." - Bill Moyers

"Words without actions are the assassins of idealism." -

"The unique ability of humans to imagine gives enormous power to idealism, an imagining of a better state of things not yet in existence. That power has been misused to send young men to war. But the power of idealism can also be used to attain justice, to end the massive violence of war." - Howard Zinn

"The world will never have lasting peace so long as men reserve for war the finest human qualities. Peace, no less than war, requires idealism and self-sacrifice and a righteous and dynamic faith." - John Foster Dulles

"It's time for greatness -- not for greed. It's a time for idealism -- not ideology. It is a time not just for compassionate words, but compassionate action." - Marian Wright Edelman

"With his discovery of the discrepancy between thinking and being, Freud not only undermined the Western tradition of idealism in its philosophical and popular forms, he also made a far-reaching discovery in the field of ethics. Until Freud, sincerity could be defined as saying what one believed. Since Freud this is no longer a sufficient definition. The difference between what I say and what I believe assumes a new dimension, namely that of my unconscious belief or my unconscious striving...Since Freud, the sentence I meant well has lost its function as an excuse. " - Erich Fromm, fully Erich Seligmann Fromm

"Quiet heroism or youthful idealism, or both? What do we know? That life without heroism and idealism is not worth living - or that either can be fatal?" - Erich Segal, fully Erich Wolf Segal

"A vague uncritical idealism always lends itself to ridicule and too much of it might be a danger to mankind, leading it round in a futile wild-goose chase for imaginary ideals." - Lin Yutang

"Idealism and metaphysics are the easiest things in the world, because people can talk as much nonsense as they like without basing it on objective reality or having it tested against reality. Materialism and dialectics, on the other hand, need effort. They must be based on and tested by objective reality. Unless one makes the effort one is liable to slip into idealism and metaphysics." - Mao Tse-tung, alternatively Zedong, Ze dong, aka Chairman Mao

"Life is stronger than death… Life without idealism is empty indeed." - Pearl S. Buck, fully Pearl Sydenstricker Buck, also known by her Chinese name Sai Zhenzhu

"I believe one of America's most priceless assets is the idealism which motivates the young people of America. My generation has invested all that it has, not only its love but its hope and faith, in yours." - Richard Nixon, fully Richard Milhous Nixon

"Idealism without realism is impotent. Realism without idealism is immoral." - Richard Nixon, fully Richard Milhous Nixon

"Nothing matters more to the future of this Nation than insuring that our young men and women learn to believe in themselves and believe in their dreams, and that they develop this capacity-that you develop this capacity, so that you keep it all of your lives.... I believe one of America's most priceless assets is the idealism which motivates the young people of America. My generation has invested all that it has, not only its love but its hope and faith, in yours." - Richard Nixon, fully Richard Milhous Nixon

"Plausible as the idea of the United States of Europe as a peace arrangement may seem to some at first glance, it has on closer examination not the least thing in common with the method of thought and the standpoint of social democracy . . . At the present stage of development of the world market and of world economy, the conception of Europe as an isolated economic unit is a sterile concoction of the brain. Europe no more forms a special unit within world economy than does Asia or America." - Rosa Luxemburg, aka Rosalia Luxemburg, "Bloody Rosa"

"He did not want to be buried in Austria, as he was afraid his grave will be mutilated." - Simon Wiesenthal

"Take a stress pill and think things over-- HAL in 2001" - Stanley Kubrick

"The whole idea of god is absurd. If anything, '2001' shows that what some people call 'god' is simply an acceptable term for their ignorance. What they don't understand, they call 'god' -Stanley Kubrick, interview, 1963" - Stanley Kubrick

"It's not the critic who counts. Not the man who points out how the doer of deeds might have done them better. Instead, the credit belongs to the man in the arena whose face is marred by sweat and blood and tears." - Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

"Practical equality of opportunity for all citizens, when we achieve it, will have two great results. First, every man will have a fair chance to make of himself all that in him lies; to reach the highest point to which his capacities, unassisted by special privilege of his own and unhampered by the special privilege of others, can carry him, and to get for himself and his family substantially what he has earned. Second, equality of opportunity means that the commonwealth will get from every citizen the highest service of which he is capable. No man who carries the burden of the special privileges of another can give to the commonwealth that service to which it is fairly entitled." - Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

"A member of the human race! To think that such a commonplace realization should suddenly seem like news that one holds the winning ticket in a cosmic sweepstake." - Thomas Merton

"Am I not arrogant too? Am I not unreasonable, unfair, demanding, suspicious and often quite arbitrary in my dealings with others? The point is not just “who is right” but “judge not” and “forgive one another” and “bear one another’s burdens”. This by no means implies passive obsequiousness and blind obedience, but a willingness to listen, to be patient. This is our task." - Thomas Merton

"Sometimes, of a spring evening, Papa would hear that distant honking that always makes his scalp tingle, and we would all rush out to see the geese, in lines of hundreds, steer up from the southwest, turn over the barn as over a landmark, and head into the north. Or on autumn nights of sudden cold that set the ewes breeding in the orchard, Papa would call you out of the house to stand with him in the now celebrated pumpkin patch and watch the northern lights flicker in electric clouds on the horizon, mount, die down, fade and mount again till they filled the whole northern sky with ghostly light in motion. Thus, as children, you experienced two of the most important things men ever know--the wonder of life and the wonder of the universe, the wonder of life within the wonder of the universe. More importantly, you knew them not from books, not from lectures, but simply from living among them. Most important, you knew them with reverence and awe--that reverence and awe that has died out of the modern world and has been replaced by man's monkeylike amazement at the cleverness of his own inventive brain." - Whittaker Chambers, born Jay Vivian Chambers, aka Jay David Whittaker Chambers

"Political institutions are a superstructure resting on an economic foundation." - Vladimir Lenin, fully Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

"Now and then it occurs to one to reflect upon what slender threads of accident depend the most important circumstances of his life; to look back and shudder, realizing how close to the edge of nothingness his being has come." - Upton Sinclair, fully Upton Beall Sinclair, Jr.

"In essence, the science of agronomy is inseparable from biology." - Trofim Lysenko, fully Trofim Denisovich Lysenko

"On the haunted staircase of life, art is the only step that doesn't creak." - Tom Robbins, fully Thomas Eugene "Tom" Robbins

"Some were brilliant bordering on genius. Others, genius bordering on madness." - Erich Segal, fully Erich Wolf Segal