Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Insignificance

"Man transcends death by finding meaning in his life... It is the burning desire for the creature to count... What man really fears is not so much extinction, but extinction with insignificance." - Ernest Becker

"The meaning of life is to live in balance and harmony with every other living thing in creation. We must all strive to understand the interconnectedness of all living things and accept our individual role in the protection and support of other life forms on earth. We must also understand our own insignificance in the totality of things." - Wilma Mankiller, fully Wilma Pearl Mankiller

"Meaning is at the core of the creative process and of storytelling… When it is our own life story we are telling or a story from our lives, we become aware that we are not the victims of random and chaotic circumstances, that we, too, despite our grief or feelings of insignificance, are living meaningfully in a meaningful universe." - Deena Metzger

"A study of comparative religion gives insight into the values of the various faiths, values which transcend different symbols and creeds and in transcending penetrate to the depths of the spiritual consciousness where the symbols and formulas shrink into insignificance." - Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, fully Sir or Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

"What the psychiatrist calls a “delusion of persecution” is one of the most dramatic human defenses against the feeling of personal insignificance and worthlessness. In fact, no one cares a hoot about Jones. He is an extra on the stage of life. But he wants to be a star." -

"Our insignificance is often the cause of our safety." - Aesop NULL

"Our insignificance is often the cause of our safety." -

"Our insignificance is often the cause of our safety." -

"Thus with love. They err who think that they have but to learn about love, if they are to come by it. And that man hoodwinks himself who drifts through life hoping to be vanquished by love, learning by fitful fevers to enjoy brief stirrings of the heart, ever thinking to encounter that supreme fever which will enkindle his whole life; though, by reason of his pettiness of mind and the insignificance of the hill he has climbed, it can be but a short-lived exaltation of his heart. Thus, too, love is no sure resting place if it does not transform itself from day to day, like a child in the womb... For all that is neither ascent nor a transition lacks significance." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"There is nothing so insupportable to man as to be in entire repose, without passion, occupation, amusement, or application. Then it is that he feels his own nothingness, isolations, insignificance, dependent nature, powerlessness, emptiness. Immediately there issue from his soul ennui, sadness, chagrin, vexation, despair." - Blaise Pascal

"It is easier to accept the message of the stars than the message of the salt desert. The stars speak of man's insignificance in the long eternity of time; the desert speaks of his insignificance right now." - Edwin Way Teale

"To live with a high degree of artfulness means to attend to the small things that keep the soul engaged in whatever we are doing, and it is the very heart of soul making. From some grand overview of life, it may seem that only the big events are ultimately important. But to the soul, the most minute details and the most ordinary activities, carried out with mindfulness and art, have an effect far beyond their apparent insignificance." - Thomas Moore

"The human mind loves the bondage of words and is apt, when freed from one form of their tyranny, to set up another more oppressive than the last. The highest function of philosophy is to enforce the attitude of meditation and therewithall restrain the excessive volubility of the tongue. To us it seems that the reflective thinker wins his greatest victories when by what he says he compels us to recognise the relative insignificance of anything he can say. His task is not to capture Reality, but to free it from captivity. " - L. P. Jacks, fully Lawrence Pearsall Jacks

"The person with a secular mentality feels himself to be the center of the universe. Yet he is likely to suffer from a sense of meaninglessness and insignificance because he knows he’s but one human among five billion others - all feeling themselves to be the center of things - scratching out an existence on the surface of a medium-sized planet circling a small star among countless stars in a galaxy lost among countless galaxies. The person with the sacred mentality, on the other hand, does not feel herself to be the center of the universe. She considers the Center to be elsewhere and other. Yet she is unlikely to feel lost or insignificant precisely because she draws her significance and meaning from her relationship, her connection, with that center, that Other." - M. Scott Peck, fully Morgan Scott Peck

"The massive bulk of the earth does indeed shrink to insignificance in comparison with the size of the heavens." - Nicholas Copernicus

"Souls without prayer are like bodies, palsied and lame, having hands and feet they cannot use." - Saint Teresa of Ávila, aka Saint Teresa of Jesus, baptized as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada NULL

"Thus we obtain our concept of the unconscious from the theory of repression. The repressed is the prototype of the unconscious for us." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"In the face of an obstacle which is impossible to overcome, stubbornness is stupid." - Simone de Beauvoir, fully Simone-Ernestine-Lucie-Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir

"If you can talk brilliantly about a problem, it can create the consoling illusion that it has been mastered." - Stanley Kubrick

"But there was lots of lawyers among the guests, and I knew cows better than I did lawyers. There is a way of studying a cow and learning all about her, but a lawyer? There has never been any course at college devised where you can take in What Makes A Lawyer Like He Is? This young Bill Hearst, Jr. is a mighty promising young fellow, and looks like he is going to pick up W. R.'s [William Randolph Hearst's] trail and keep the ink smearing over half the pulp wood of Canada." - Will Rogers, fully William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers

"Keep straw, its time will come." - Turkish Proverbs

"[Autonomy] is freedom to develop one’s self – to increase one’s knowledge, improve one’s skills, and achieve responsibility for one’s conduct. And it is freedom to lead one’s own life, to choose among alternative courses of action so long as no injury to others results." - Thomas Szasz, fully Thomas Stephen Szasz