Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"A liberal-arts education is supposed to provide you with a value system, a standard, a set of ideas, not a job." - Caroline Bird

"Sentiment and principle are often mistaken for each other, though, in fact, they widely differ. Sentiment is the virtue of ideas; principle the virtue of action. Sentiment has its seat in the had; principle, in the heart. Sentiment suggest fine harangues and subtle distinctions; principle conceives just notions, and performs good actions in consequence of them. Sentiment refines away the simplicity of truth, and the plainness of piety; and "gives us virtue in words, and vice in deeds."" - Hugh Blair

"Art is the effort of man to express the ideas which nature suggests to him of a power above nature, whether that power be within the recesses of his own being, or in the Great First Cause of which nature, like himself, is but the effect." -

"There is no permanent absolute unchangeable truth; what we should pursue is the most convenient arrangement of our ideas." - Samuel Butler

"Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people." - Hugh C. Cameron

"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

"I do not mean to expose my ideas to ingenious ridicule by maintaining that everything happens to every man for the best; but I will contend, that he who makes the best use of it, fulfills the part of a wise and good man." -

"In short, the actions of man are never free; they are always the necessary consequences of his temperament, of the received ideas, and of the notions, either true or false, which he has formed to himself of happiness." -

"The astonishing thing about him [man] is his range of vision; his gaze into the infinite distance; his lonely passion for ideas and ideals, far removed from his material surroundings and animal activities, and in no way suggested by them, yet for which, such is his affection, he is willing to endure toils and privations, to sacrifice pleasures, to disdain griefs and frustrations. The inner truth is that every man is himself a creator, by birth and nature, an artist, an architect and fashioner of worlds." - W. Macneile Dixon, fully William Macneile Dixon

"The search for static security - in the law and elsewhere - is misguided. The fact is security can only be achieved through constant change, through discarding old ideas that have outlived their usefulness and adapting others to current facts." -

"I am absolutely convinced that no wealth in the world can help humanity forward, even in the hands of the most devoted worker in this cause. The example of great and pure personages is the only thing that can lead us to fine ideas and noble deeds. Money only appeals to selfishness and always irresistibly tempts its owners to abuse it." - Albert Einstein

"All worthwhile men have good thoughts, good ideas and good intentions - but precious few of them ever translate those into action." - John Hancock Field

"Heroes, notwithstanding the high ideas which, by the means of flatterers, they may entertain of themselves, or the world may conceive of them, have certainly ore of mortal than divine about them." - Henry Fielding

"It is by acts and not by ideas that people live." - Anatole France, pen name of Jacques Anatole Francois Thibault

"The direct relation of music is not to ideas, but to emotions - in the works of its greatest masters, it is more marvelous, more mysterious than poetry." - Henry Giles

"You have a shilling. I have a shilling. We swap. You have my shilling and I have yours. We are no better off. But suppose you have an idea and I have an idea. We swap. Now you have two ideas and I have two ideas. We have increased our stock of ideas 100 per cent." -

"Ideas are born, they struggle, triumph, change and they are transformed; but is there a dead idea which in the end does not live on, transformed into a broader and clearer goal?" -

"I found death to be a simple shift in consciousness. It was painless, instantaneous and nothing to be feared. In fact, it felt more natural not to breath than to breathe. It was wonderful not to 'wear' a body. I had complete mobility, perfect memory and knowledge. I was free! I found no fear in dying. The fear came for me when I realized that I was still alive, and I didn't 'stay dead'.You don't lose your cravings or addictions in dying, but I found that you do lose your ability to satisfy them. The opportunities that existed before are no more. Whatever are your attitudes, beliefs, thoughts, ideas, feelings, expectations or apprehensions...that's what you'll wear and that's what you'll be. They become your body and your world. No more games. No more secrets. No more cover-up. You become what you really are! We are in a condition of our own creation. When we die we reap our own harvest." - Phyllis Huffman

"Reason is the discovery of truth or falsehood. Truth or falsehood consists in an agreement or disagreement either to the real relations of ideas, or to real existence and matter of fact. Whatever, therefore, is not susceptible of this agreement or disagreement, is incapable of being true or false, and can never be an object of our reason. Now ‘tis evident our passions, volitions, and actions, are not susceptible of any such agreement or disagreement; being original facts and realities, complete in themselves, and implying no reference to other passions, volitions, and actions. ‘Tis impossible, therefore, they can be pronounced either true or false, and be either contrary or conformable to reason." - David Hume

"He who thinks much says but little in proportion to his thoughts. He selects that language which will convey his ideas in the most explicit and direct manner. He tries to compress as much thought as possible into a few words. On the contrary, the man who talks everlastingly and promiscuously, who seems to have an exhaustless magazine of sound crowds so many words into his thoughts that he always obscures, and very frequently conceals them." - Washington Irving

"There is an everlasting struggle in every mind between the tendency to keep unchanged, and the tendency to renovate, its ideas. Our education is a ceaseless compromise between the conservative and the progressive factors... Most of us grow more and more enslaved to the stock conceptions with which we have once become familiar, and less and less capable of assimilating impressions in any but the old ways... Genius, in truth, means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way." - William James

"The inlet of a man's mind is what he learns; the outlet is what he accomplishes. If his mind is not fed by a continued supply of new ideas which he puts to work with purpose, and if there is no outlet in action, his mind becomes stagnant. Such a mind is a danger to the individual who owns it and is useless to the community." - Jeremiah Whipple Jenks

"The things a man believes most profoundly are rarely on the surface of his mind or tongue. Newly acquired notions - decisions based on expediency, the fashionable ideas of the moment - are right on top of the pile, ready to be displayed in bright after-dinner conversation. But the ideas that make up a man's philosophy of life are somewhere way down below." - Eric Allen Johnston

"Men in general are too material and do not make enough human contacts. If we search for the fundamentals which actually motivate us, we will find that they come under four headings: love, money, adventure and religion. It is to some of them that we always owe that big urge which pushes us onward. Men who crush these impulses and settle down to everyday routine are bound to sink into mediocrity. No man is a complete unity of himself; he needs the contact, the stimulus and the driving power which is generated by his contact with other men, their ideas and constantly changing scenes." - Edward S. "Ned" Jordan

"Relationship means contact, communion. There cannot be communion where people are divided by ideas. A belief may gather a group of people around itself. Such a group will inevitably breed opposition and so form another group with a different belief. Ideas postpone direct relationship with the problem." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"To most of us, relationship is a term for comfort, for gratification, for security, and in that relationship we use property, ideas, and persons for our gratification. We use belief as a means of security." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"What is important is to free ourselves from ideas, from nationalism, from all religious beliefs and dogmas, so that we can act, not according to a pattern or an ideology, but as needs demand... It is only when the mind is free of idea and belief that it can act rightly... and freedom from ideas can take place only through self-awareness and self-knowledge." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"The moral virtues, without religion, are but cold, lifeless and insipid; it is only religion which opens the mind to great conceptions, fills it with the most sublime ideas and warms the soul with more than sensual pleasures." -

"Madmen... do not appear to me to have lost the faculty of reasoning, but having joined together some ideas very wrongly, they mistake them for truths; and they err as men do that argue right from wrong principles. For, by the violence of their imaginations, having taken their fancies for realities, they make right deductions from them." - John Locke

"Perception, thinking, doubting, believing, reasoning, knowing, willing, and all the different actings of our own minds; which we being conscious of, and observing in ourselves, do from these receive into our understanding as do from these receive into our understanding as distinct ideas as we do from bodies affecting our senses. This source of ideas every man has wholly in himself; and though it be not sense, as having nothing to do with external objects, yet it is very like it, and might properly enough be called internal sense. But as I call the other sensation, so I call this reflection, the ideas it affords being such only as the mind gets by reflecting on its own operation within self... These two, I say, vis. external material things, as the objects of sensation, and the operations of our own minds within, as the objects of reflection, are to me the only originals from whence all our ideas take their beginnings." - John Locke

"Since the mind, in all its thoughts and reasonings, hath no other immediate object but its own ideas, which it alone does or can contemplate, it is evident that our knowledge is only conversant about them... Knowledge then seems to me to be nothing but the perception of the connection of and agreement, or disagreement and repugnancy of any of our ideas. In this alone it consists. Where this perception is, there is knowledge, and where it is not, there, though we may fancy, guess, or believe, yet we always come short of knowledge." - John Locke

"Propriety of thought and propriety of diction are commonly found together. Obscurity and affection are the two great faults of style. Obscurity of expression generally springs from confusion of ideas; and the same wish to dazzle, at any cost, which produces affection in the manner of a writer, is likely to produce sophistry in his reasoning." -

"It was left for the Germans to bring about a revolution of a kind never seen before: [the Nazi] revolution, devoid of ideas... and opposed to everything that is higher, better and decent; opposed to liberty, truth, and justice." - Thomas Mann, fully Paul Thomas Mann

"New ideas have a hard time in science. They tend to be suppressed by arrogance - condemnation by acknowledged leaders in the field... Dogmatism restrains, iconoclasm liberates. Vanity, powermongering, avariciousness, pride, dedication, love, industry, sadism and most other attributes of people apply to science and to scientists as well." - Lynn Margulis and Carl Lindegren

"To die for an idea; it is unquestionably noble. But how much nobler it would be if men died for ideas that were true!" - H. L. Mencken, fully Henry Louis Mencken

"He who attempts to act and do things for others and for the world without deepening his own self-understanding, freedom, integrity, and capacity to love, will not have anything to give to others. He will communicate to them only the contagion of his own obsessions, his aggressiveness, his ego-centered ambitions, his delusions about ends and means, and his doctrinaire prejudices and ideas." - Thomas Merton

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." - W. H. Murray, fully William Hutchinson Murray

"It is the mask of a superior man that, left to himself, he is able endlessly to amuse, interest and entertain himself out of his personal stock of meditations, ideas, criticisms, memories, philosophy, humor and what not." - George Jean Nathan

"We live in a narrow reality, partly conditioned by our form of perception and partly made by opinions that we have borrowed, to which our self-esteem is fastened. We fight for our opinions, not because we believe them but because they involve the ordinary feeling of oneself. Though we are continually being hurt owing to the narrowness of the reality in which we dwell, we blame life, and do not see the necessity of finding absolutely new standpoints. All ideas that have a transforming power change our sense of reality." - Maurice Nicoll

"The all-round liberally educated man, from Paleolithic times to the time when the earth shall become a cold cinder, will always be the same, namely, the man who follows his standards, of truth and beauty, who employs his learning and observation, his reason, his expression, for purposes of production, that is, to add something of his own to the stock of the world's ideas." -

"Since there is really no duality, separation is unreal. Until duality is transcended and at-one-ment realized, enlightenment cannot be attained... All phenomena are your own ideas, self-conceived in the mind, like reflections in a mirror. To know whether or not this is true, look inside your own mind." - Padmasamabhava, "The Lotus-Born", aka Guru Rinpoche "Precious Guru" or Lopon Rinpoche or Padum in Tibet NULL

"A great idea is usually original to more than one discoverer. Great ideas come when the world needs them. They surround the world's ignorance and press for admission." - Austin Phelps

"Five minutes, just before going to sleep, given to a bit of directed imagination regarding achievement possibilities of the morrow, will steadily and increasingly bear fruit, particularly if all ideas of difficulty, worry or fear are resolutely ruled out and replace by those of accomplishment and smiling courage." -

"Until man places on tolerance and open-mindedness a value equal to the value that he places on material possessions, he will continue to be stranded on an island surrounded by his own prejudices, ideas, preconceived opinions, and knowledge that is limited by the horizon of his own ignorance." - Cecil F. Poole

"No progress in ethnology will be achieved until scholars rid themselves once and for all of the curious notion that everything possesses a history; until they realize that certain ideas and certain concepts are as ultimate for man, as a social being, as specific physiological reactions are ultimate for him, as a biological being." - Paul Radin

"One should operate by dissociation and not by association, of ideas. An association is almost always commonplace. Dissociation decomposes, and uncovers latent affinities." - Jules Renard, aka Pierre-Jules Renard

"The despotism of will in ideas is styled plan, project, character, obstinacy; its despotism in desires is called passion." -

"Words are often seen hunting for an idea, but ideas are never seen hunting for words." -

"The mind is subject to passions in proportion to the number of inadequate ideas which it has, and... it acts in proportion to the number of adequate ideas which it has." -

"A light and trifling mind never takes in a great ideas, and never accomplishes anything great or good." - Charles Sprague