Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.


"To assume that anything can be known in isolation from its connections with other things is to identify knowing with merely having some object before perception or in , and is thus to lose the key to the traits that distinguish an object as known... The more connections and interactions we ascertain, the more we know the object in question." - John Dewey

"The Indians were religious from the first moments of life. From the moment of the mother’s recognition that she had conceived to the end of the child’s second year of life, which was the ordinary duration of lactation, it was supposed by us that the mother’s spiritual influence was supremely important. Her attitude and secret meditations must be such to instill into the receptive soul of the unborn child the love of the Great Mystery and a sense of connectedness with all creation. Silence and isolation are the rule of life for the expectant mother... Silence, love, reverence - this is the trinity of first lessons, and to these she later adds generosity, courage and chastity." - Charles Alexander Eastman, first named Ohiyesa

"For man's greatest actions are performed in minor struggles. Life, misfortune, isolation, abandonment and poverty are battlefields which have their heroes - obscure heroes who are at times greater than illustrious heroes." - Victor Hugo

"Children who have been taught, or conditioned, to listen passively most of the day to the warm verbal communication coming from the TV screen, to the deep emotional appeal of the so-called TV personality, are often unable to respond to real persons because they arouse so much less feeling than the skilled actor. Worse, they lose the ability to learn from reality because life experiences are more complicated than the ones they see on the screen, and there is no one who comes in at the end to explain it all. The “TV child”... gets discouraged when he cannot grasp the meaning of what happens to him.... If, later in life, this block of solid inertia is not removed, the emotional isolation from others that starts in front of TV may continue... This being seduced into passivity and discouraged about facing life actively on one’ sown is the real danger of TV." - Bruno Bettelheim

"People are much greater and stronger than we imagine, and when unexpected tragedy comes we see them often grow to a stature that is far beyond anything we imagined. We must remember that people are capable of greatness, of courage, but not in isolation. They need the conditions of solidly linked human unit in which everyone is prepared to bear the burden of others." - Anthony of Sourozh, fully Archbishop Metropolitan Anthony Bloom of Sourozh NULL

"The lack of emotional security of our American young people is due, I believe, to their isolation from the larger family unit. No two people - no mere father and mother - as I have often said, are enough to provide emotional security for a child. He needs to feel himself one in a world of kinfolk, persons of variety in age and temperament, and yet allied to himself by an indissoluble bond which he cannot break if he could, for nature has welded him into it before he was born." - Pearl S. Buck, fully Pearl Sydenstricker Buck, also known by her Chinese name Sai Zhenzhu

"Quantum physics teaches us that nothing exists in isolation. All of matter, from subatomic particles to galaxies, is part of an intricate web of relationship within a unified whole." - Gloria D. Karpinski

"Religion is really experiencing a state in which there is creation. This is not an idea, a process. It can be realized when there is freedom from self. There can be freedom from self only through understanding the self in relationship; but there can be no understanding in isolation." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"Wisdom is alone, but a lonely path does not lead to wisdom. Isolation is death, and wisdom is not found in withdrawal. There is no path to wisdom, for all paths are separative, exclusive. In their very nature, paths can only lead to isolation, though these isolations are called unity, the whole, the one, and so end is as the means. The means is not separate from the goal, the “what should be.” Wisdom comes with the understanding of one’s relationship with the field, with the passer-by, with the fleeting thought. To withdraw, to isolate oneself in order to find, is to put an end to discovery. Relationship leads to an aloneness that is not of isolation. There must be an aloneness, not of the enclosing mind, but of freedom. The complete is the alone, and incompleteness seeks the way of isolation." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. And we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence, in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance and sing our sorrowful song - but in this dance or in this song there are fulfilled the most ancient rites of our conscience in the awareness of being human and of believing in a common destiny." - Pablo Neruda, pen name for Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto

"Isolation from reality is inseparable from the exercise of power." - George Edward Reedy

"Life's errors cry for the merciful beauty that can modulate their isolation into a harmony with the whole." -

"Life survives in the chaos of the cosmos by picking order out of the winds... Nothing happens in isolation. We breathe and bleed, we laugh and cry, we crash and die in time with cosmic cues." - Lyall Watson

"No life, no mind, no thought or inspiration can exist in isolation." - Lyall Watson

"The beginning of faith is not a feeling for the mystery of living or a sense of awe, wonder, or fear. The root of religion is the question what to do with the feeling for the mystery of living, what to do with awe, wonder, or fear. Religion, the end of isolation, begins with a consciousness that something is asked of us. It is in that tense, eternal asking in which the soul is caught and in which man’s answer is elicited." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"Life, misfortunes, isolation, abandonment, poverty, are battlefields which have their heroes; obscure heroes, sometimes greater than the illustrious heroes." - Victor Hugo

"No person can be religious alone, however rich may be the ecstasy or despair of his isolation. Authentic religion… is rather a relationship in which one person responds reverently to another person." - Paul E. Johnson

"Most of the inmates of mental hospitals have been committed as the result of a petition by a family member. Psychiatric commitment is often the result of an acute or prolonged family disruption, which results in the exclusion and isolation of one member (usually the least powerful). Psychiatric commitment therefore serves to relieve intolerable family conflicts by removing one member from the group." - Ron Leifer, fully Ronald Leifer

"The age of isolation is gone. And gone are the days in which barbed wire served as demarcation lines, separating and isolating countries from one another. No country can escape looking beyond its boundaries to find the source of the currents which influence how it can live with others." - Gamel Abdel Nasser

"Many Americans draw the boundaries of their self-interest very narrowly. Our culture's emphasis on individualism and competition reinforces an attitude of isolation and impotence toward global problems." - Betsy Taylor

"In contrast to symbiotic union, mature love is union under the condition of preserving one's integrity, one's individuality. Love is an active power in man; a power which breaks through the walls which separate man from his fellow men, which unites him with others; love makes him overcome the sense of isolation and separateness, yet it permits him to be himself, to retain his integrity. In love, the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two." -

"Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending we are individuals that can go it alone." - Margaret J. Wheatley, aka Meg Wheatley

"The ultimate dread occurs when we confront nothing. In the face of nothing, no thing and no being can help us; it is at that moment when we experience existential isolation in its fullness." - Irvin David Yalom

"The kingdom of heaven is not the isolation of good from evil. It is the overcoming of evil by good. God has in his nature the knowledge of evil, of pain, and of degradation, but it is there as overcome with what is good." - Alfred North Whitehead

"All social and political problems are interwoven – that energy, for example, affects economics, which in turn affects health, which in turn, affects education, work, family life, and a thousand other things. The attempt to deal with neatly defined problems in isolation from one another… creates only confusion and disaster." - Alvin Toffler

"Nothing exists in isolation. The very concept of isolation is a philosophical abstraction. It does not exist in nature any more than does a wave without water. The universe exhibits a duality of concreteness and fluidity. Neither is ultimately real; each is the condition of the manifestation of all that exists. Every particular is embraced within a whole, and every whole extends beyond itself to other wholes, circles within circles and so on ad infinitum." - Arthur W Osborn

"Love means in general terms the consciousness of my unity with another, so that I am not in selfish isolation but win my self-consciousness only as the reunification of my independence and through knowing myself as the unity of myself with another and of the other with me. Love, however, is feeling, that is, ethical life in the form of something natural. In the state, feeling disappears; there we are conscious of unity as law; there the content must be rational and known to us. The first moment in love is that I do not wish to be a self-subsistent and independent persona and that, if I were, then I would feel defective and incomplete. The second moment is that I find myself in another person, that I count for something in the other, while the other in turn comes to count for something in me. Love, therefore, is the most tremendous contradiction; the Understanding cannot resolve it since there is nothing more stubborn than this point of self-consciousness which is negated and which nevertheless I ought to possess as affirmative. Love is at once the propounding and the resolving of this contradiction. As the resolving of it, love is unity of an ethical type." - Georg Hegel, fully Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

"Listening brings about intensity. The greatest intensity - as experienced in love - is that of becoming one... Seeing is not possible without separating into subject and object. Someone listening, however, takes in, dissolving separation. Hearing disperses 'isolation'." - Joachim-Ernst Berendt

"The serene decision of the tombs is beautiful, their uncompromising architecture and the little squares with the coolness of a patio and the isolation and eternal individuation; each contemplated his own death, unique and personal like a memory. The quietude pleases us, we confuse such peace in life with dying and while we believe we desire not to be , we are praying for a peaceful life." - Jorge Luis Borges

"Solitude vivifies; isolation kills." - Joseph Roux

"Only the communion of love produced by the conversations of lovers overcomes our human isolation and our human aloneness or loneliness." - Mortimer J. Adler, fully Mortimer Jerome Adler

"American cultural traditions define personality, achievement, and the purpose of human life in ways that leave the individual suspended in glorious, but terrifying, isolation. These are limitations of our culture, of the categories and ways of thinking we have inherited, not limitations of individuals... who inhabit this culture." - Robert Bellah, fully Robert Neelly Bellah

"Isolation is the sum total of wretchedness to man." - Thomas Carlyle

"Man is like an island, a circle within circles. Man is separated from these outer circles by his mind, his beliefs, and the limitations put upon him by a life away from the Earth. The circle of man, the island of self, is the place of logic, the ‘I,’ the ego, and the physical self. That is the island that man has chosen to live within today, and in doing so he has created a prison for himself. The walls of the island prison are thick, made up of doubts, logic and lack of belief. His isolation from his greater circles of self is suffocating and prevents him from seeing life clearly and purely. It is a world of ignorance where the flesh is the only reality, the only god... Beyond man’s island of ego, his prison, lies the world of the spirit-that-moves-in-all-things, the force that is found in all things. It is a world that communicates to all entities of Creation and touches the creator. It is a circle of life that houses all man’s instinct, his deepest memory, his power to control his body and mind, and a bridge that helps man transcend flesh. It is a world that expands man’s universe and helps him to fuse himself to the earth. Most of all, it is a world that brings man to his higher self and to spiritual rapture." - Tom Brown, Jr.

"The only real secularism in a bad sense is isolation from the full stream of natural interests. When business tries to go its own way in defiance of the common good, it tends to become secular. But the same is also true of religion. When the church withdraws into its sanctuary and denies its organic relation to scientific knowledge or to the institutions of society around it, there results a deadly secularization of religion. Too often this has happened, and far too widely it is happening today. It happens not only with those sects which cultivate an intense emotionalism, like the Holy Rollers, or the sects that stress other-worldliness, but to many old and settled churches whose theologians speak in dialectical tongues and declare that the God in whom they believe is beyond the reach of man’s best efforts." -

"In contrast to symbiotic union, mature love is union under the condition of preserving one's integrity, one's individuality. Love is an active power in man; a power which breaks through the walls which separate man from his fellow men, which unites him with others; love makes him overcome the sense of isolation and separateness, yet it permits him to be himself, to retain his integrity. In love, the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two. " - Erich Fromm, fully Erich Seligmann Fromm

"What holds true of thinking and feeling holds also true of willing. Most people are convinced that as long as they are not overtly forced to do something by an outside power, their decisions are theirs, and that if they want something, it is they who want it. But this is one of the great illusions we have about ourselves. A great number of our decisions are not really our own but are suggested to us from the outside; we have succeeded in persuading ourselves that it is we who have made the decision, whereas we have actually conformed with expectations of others, driven by the fear of isolation and by more direct threats to our life, freedom, and comfort. " - Erich Fromm, fully Erich Seligmann Fromm

"I understand how it was possible for Spinoza to find deep and sustained happiness when he was excommunicated, poor, despised and suspected alike by Jew and Christian; not that the kind world of men ever treated me so, but that his isolation from the universe of sensuous joys is somewhat analogous to mine. He loved the good for its own sake. Like many great spirits he accepted his place in the world, and confided himself childlike to a higher power, believing that it worked through his hands and predominated in his being. He trusted implicitly, and that is what I do. Deep, solemn optimism, it seems to me, should spring from this firm belief in the presence of God in the individual; not a remote, unapproachable governor of the universe, but a God who is very near every one of us, who is present not only in earth, sea and sky, but also in every pure and noble impulse of our hearts, 'the source and centre of all minds, their only point of rest.'" - Helen Keller. aka Helen Adams Keller

"National isolation breeds national neurosis. " - Hubert Humphrey, fully Hubert Horatio Humphrey

"Loneliness is total isolation which is brought about through our daily activity of selfish ambitions or ideological ambitions, competitions, each one out for himself. Those are the activities which bring about loneliness. But if you run away from it, you will never solve sorrow." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"The political object is the goal, war is the means of reaching it, and the means can never be considered in isolation form their purposes." - Carl von Clausewitz, fully Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz, also Karl von Clausewitz

"Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated." - Kofi Annan, fully Kofi Atta Annan

"I am interested in the way that we look at a given landscape and take possession of it in our blood and brain. None of us lives apart from the land entirely; such an isolation is unimaginable. If we are to realize and maintain our humanity, we must come to a moral comprehension of earth and air as it is perceived in the long turn of seasons and of years." - N. Scott Momaday, fully Navarre Scott Momaday

"And here in my isolation I can grow stronger. Poetry seems to come of itself, without effort, and I need only let myself dream a little while painting to suggest it." - Paul Gaugin, fully Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin

"The lack of emotional security of our American young people is due, I believe, to their isolation from the larger family unit. No two people - no mere father and mother - as I have often said, are enough to provide emotional security for a child. He needs to feel himself one in a world of kinfolk, persons of variety in age and temperament, and yet allied to himself by an indissoluble bond which he cannot break if he could, for nature has welded him into it before he was born." - Pearl S. Buck, fully Pearl Sydenstricker Buck, also known by her Chinese name Sai Zhenzhu

"On the other hand, against the evil of Germany's collapse stood the alternative of giving Adolf Hitler, under a Four-Power accord, carte blanche to break out of his dangerous isolation by clearing himself a road through Czechoslovakia to the oil and wheat fields of Rumania, thus putting him in possession of the wherewithal to risk a war of long duration with the Soviet Union. For it is Russia, which Herr Hitler, by a stroke of the pen, has relegated to Asia, that is to provide Germany with the markets and colonies she lacks at present. In this way Germany's pressure on the Western imperialisms will be lessened, and at the same time the intolerable burden of carrying the Reich's colossal war machine will be shifted, at least partially, from the shoulders of the German people to those of the prospective colonial tribes in the Muscovite plan." - Pierre van Paassen

"The One so good and so great desires you to embrace him and is waiting to embrace you." - Saint Bonaventure, born John of Fidanza Bonaventure

"The former colonial powers were drawing lines all over the world. And many of the ills of the world since then are the consequence of those acts." - Salman Rushdie, fully Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie

"Our Sages were enemies of ignorance. They regarded education, intellectual enlightenment, and the acquisition of knowledge as the first of all moral commandments. They viewed the dissemination of intellectual enlightenment among all classes of the population as the prime concern of the nation, and the training of a child's mind as the first and most sacred duty of fatherhood. They considered it a matter of conscience for every Jewish father to see that his child should not remain a boor and am ha'arets; no Jewish child must be allowed to grow up as an ignorant, uneducated person." - Samson Raphael Hirsch

"Are you conscious of the restful influence which the stars exert? To me they are the most soothing things in Nature. I am proud to say that I don't know the name of one of them. The glamour and romance would pass away from them if they were all classified and ticketed in one's brain. But when a man is hot and flurried, and full of his own little ruffled dignities and infinitesimal misfortunes, then a star bath is the finest thing in the world." - Arthur Conan Doyle, fully Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle