Great Throughts Treasury

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


"Work isn't to make money; you work to justify life." - Marc Chagall, born Moishe Shagal

"Let no man be sorry he has done good, because others concerned with him have done evil! If a man has acted right, he has done well, though alone; if wrong, the sanction of all mankind will not justify him." - Henry Fielding

"The individual who needs a reason for being moral which is not itself a moral reason cannot have it. There is nothing surprising about this; it would be much more surprising if such reasons could be found. For it is more than apparently paradoxical to suppose that considerations of advantage could ever of themselves justify accepting a real disadvantage." - David P. Gauthier

"Inherent in revivalism is the temptation to stress results and to justify whatever produces them." - W. S. Hudson

"The end cannot justify the means, for the simple and obvious reason that the means employed determine the nature of the ends produced." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"The unexamined life, said Socrates, is unfit to be lived by man. This is the virtue of liberty, and the ground on which we may justify our belief in it, that it tolerates error in order to serve truth." - Walter Lippmann

"Of all hostile feelings, envy is perhaps the hardest to be subdued, because hardly any one owns it even to himself, but looks out for one pretext after another to justify his hostility." - Richard Whately

"Then still a purpose enclosing all, and over and beneath all, ever since what might be call’d thought, or the budding of thought, fairly began in my youthful mind, I had had a desire to attempt some worthy record of that entire faith and acceptance to justify the ways of God to man... which is the foundation of moral America... to formulate a poem whose every thought or fact should directly or indirectly be or connive at an implicit belief in the wisdom, health, mystery, beauty of every process, every concrete object, every human or other existence, not only consider’d from the point of view of all, but of each. While I can not understand it or argue it out, I fully believe in a clue and purpose in Nature, entire and several; and that invisible spiritual results, just as real and definite as the visible, eventuate all concrete life and all materialism through Time." - Walt Whitman, fully Walter "Walt" Whitman

"The ends justify the means. To reach a certain goal, one must vanquish everything that stands in the way." - Francois-Noel Babeuf

"The more horrible a depersonalized scientific mass war becomes, the more necessary it is to find universal ideal motives to justify it." - John Dewey

"Man has such a predilection for systems and abstract deductions that he is ready to distort the truth intentionally, he is ready to deny the evidence of his senses only to justify his logic." - Fyodor Dostoevsky, fully Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoevsky or Feodor Mikhailovich Dostoevski

"Let no man be sorry he has done good because others have done evil. If a man has acted right, he has done well, though alone; if wrong, the sanction of all mankind will not justify him." - Henry Fielding

"One precedent creates another. They soon accumulate, and constitute law. What yesterday was fact, to-day is doctrine. Examples are supposed to justify the most dangerous measures; and where they; do not suit exactly the defect is supplied by analogy." -

"Three things we should keep in mind [in conversation]: first, that we speak in the presence of people as vain as ourselves, whose vanity suffers in proportion as ours is satisfied; second, that there are few truths important enough to justify paining and reproving others for not knowing them; finally, that any man who monopolizes the conversation is a fool or would be fortunate if he were one." - Baron de Montesquieu, fully Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu

"It is often easier to justify one’s self to others than to respond to the secret doubts that arise in one’s own bosom." - Margaret Oliphant, fully Margaret Oliphant Wilson Oliphant, née Margaret Oliphant Wilson

"The end must justify the means." - Matthew Prior

"One of the main tasks of adolescence is to achieve an identity – not necessarily a knowledge of who we are, but a clarification of the range of what we might become, a set of self-references by which we can make sense of our responses, and justify our decisions and goals." - Terri Apter

"Reason has a legitimate function to fulfill, for which it is perfectly adapted; and this is to justify and illumine for man his various experiences and to give him faith and conviction in holding on to the enlarging of his consciousness. But reason cannot arrive at any final truth because it can neither get to the root of things nor embrace their totality." -

"To “justify” means nothing else than to acquit of guilt him who was accused as if his own innocence were confirmed." -

"Four senses in which something may be meaningless: (1) worthless where it has no intrinsic value, (2) pointless where it is not directed to any goal, (3) trivial where its point is insufficiently important to justify it, and (4) futile where the way the world is prevents the required end from being achieved. Something is fully meaningful if it has none of these shortcomings." - W. D. Joske, fully William "Bill"

"The dogma that “mental diseases are diseases of the brain” is a hangover from the materialism of the 1870s. It has become a prejudice which hinders all progress, with nothing to justify it." - Carl Jung, fully Carl Gustav Jung

"Friendship involves intimacy, sharing and mutual support... Most often, boys cultivate friendships around activities… Girls look for friends with whom they can share inner sentiments, communicate, and generally feel comfortable. They are much less compelled to justify a relationship on the basis of shared recreational agendas… It is not that boys don’t want to communicate intimately with other boys, nor is it true that girls shun joint activities. To the contrary, both needs pertain to both groups, but there are significant differences in the extent to which they determine and frame relationships." - Mel Levine, formally Melvin D Levine

"Morality is a means for the satisfaction of human wants. In other words, morality must justify itself at the bar of life, not life at the bar of morality." - Max Otto, fully Max Carl Otto

"No degree of prosperity could justify the accumulation of large highly toxic substances which nobody knows how to make “safe” and which remain an incalculable danger to the whole of creation for historical or even geological ages. To do such a thing is a transgression against life itself, a transgression infinitely more serious than any crime ever perpetrated by man." - E. F. Schumacher, fully Ernst Friedrich "Fritz" Schumacher

"Non-violence is not a biblical term but a Western ideal which has evolved in large measure because of the misuse of Christianity by Western powers to justify imperial wars, class injustice and racial prejudice." - Philip Wheaton and Duane Shank

"If humanity, or life in general, was created to serve a particular purpose beyond itself, our being would be analogous to a manufactured artifact. There seems to be little in this state of affairs to justify the exultation that religious people sometimes feel in thinking that God's plan reveals the purpose and the meaning of all reality." - Irving Singer

"The end cannot justify the means for the simple and obvious reason that the means employed determine the nature of the ends produced." -

"The end cannot justify the means for the simple and obvious reason that the means employed determine the nature of the ends produced." -

"The end cannot justify the means for the simple and obvious reason that the means employed determine the nature of the ends produced." -

"Man’s dwelling place, who could found you on reasoning, or build your walls with logic? You exist, and you exist not. You are, and are not. True, you are made out of diverse materials, but for your discovery an inventive mind was needed. Thus if a man pulled his house to pieces, with the design of understanding it, all he would have before him would be heaps of bricks and stones and tiles. he would not be able to discover therein the silence, the shadows and the privacy they bestowed. Nor would he see what service this mass of bricks, stones and tiles could render him, now that they lacked the heart and soul of the architect, the inventive mind which dominated them. For in mere stone the heart and soul of man have no place. But since reasoning can deal with only such material things as bricks and stones and tiles, and there is no reasoning about the heart and soul that dominate them and thus transform them into silence - inasmuch as the heart and soul have no concern with the rules of logic or the science of numbers - this is where I step in and impose my will. I, the architect; I, who have a heart and soul; I, who wield the power of transforming stone into silence. I step in and mold that clay, which is the raw material, into the likeness of the creative vision that comes to me from God; and not through any faculty of reason. Thus, taken solely by the savor it will have, I build my civilization; as poets build their poems, bending phrases to their will and changing words, without being called upon to justify the phrasing of the changes, but taken solely by the savor these will have, vouched by their hearts." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"My life has been a long pilgrimage to the highest goal of total service to humanity... Life is lived once and must be lived fully to justify one’s creation." - Benazir Bhutto

"Life as a sum of ends has a right against abstract right. If for example it is only by stealing bread that the wolf can be kept from the door, the action is of course an encroachment on someone’s property, but it would be wrong to treat this action as an ordinary theft. To refuse to allow a man in jeopardy of his life to take such steps for self-preservation would be to stigmatize him as without rights, and since he would be deprived of his life, his freedom would be annulled altogether. Many diverse details have a bearing on the preservation of life, and when we have our eyes on the future we have to engage ourselves in these details. But the only thing that is necessary is to live now, the future is not absolute but ever exposed to accident. Hence it is only the necessity of the immediate present which can justify a wrong action, because not to do the action would in turn be to cause not to do the action would in turn be to commit an offense, indeed the most wrong of all offenses, namely the complete destruction of the embodiment of freedom." - Georg Hegel, fully Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

"The brute necessity of believing something so long as life lasts does not justify any belief in particular." - George Santayana

"Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burned women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears." - Louis D. Brandeis, fully Louis Dembitz Brandeis

"Our ethical and philosophical doctrines in general… are merely the justification a posteriori [i.e., after the fact] of our conduct… the means we seek in order to explain and justify to others and to ourselves our own mode of action." -

"War in our own civilization is as good an illustration as one can take of the destructive lengths to which the development of a culturally selected trait may go. If we justify war, it is because all peoples always justify the traits of which they find themselves possessed, not because war will bear an objective examination of its merits." - Ruth Benedict, born Ruth Fulton

"What we call rational grounds for our beliefs are often extremely irrational attempts to justify our instincts." - Thomas Henry Huxley, aka T.H. Huxley and Darwin's Bulldog

"Men use thought only to justify their wrongdoings, and speech only to conceal their thoughts." - Voltaire, pen name of François-Marie Arouet NULL

"The individual who has to justify his existence by his own efforts is in eternal bondage to himself. " - Eric Hoffer

"What is the ideal for mental health, then? A lived, compelling illusion that does not lie about life, death, and reality; one honest enough to follow its own commandments: I mean, not to kill, not to take the lives of others to justify itself." -

"When freedom fails, politicians use that failure to justify abandoning freedom, but when the state fails, politicians use the failure to justify expanding the state." - Gary Snyder

"Disapproval of homosexuality cannot justify invading the houses, hearts and minds of citizens who choose to live their lives differently." - Harry Blackmun, fully Harold "Harry" Andrew Blackmun

"I am constantly trying to justify my thoughts, to make them true." - Helen Schucman, born Helen Cohn

"What we want, above all things, in this age is heartiness and holy simplicity; men who justify the holy impulse of grace in their hearts, and do not keep it back by artificial clogs of prudence and false fear, or the sham pretences of fastidiousness and artificial delicacy. These are they whom God will make His witnesses in all ages. They dare to be holy, dare just as readily to be singular. What God puts in them, that they accept; and when He puts a song, they sing it." - Horace Bushnell

"Give God the margin of eternity to justify himself in, and the more we live and know of our own souls and of spiritual experiences generally, the more we shall be convinced that we have to do with one who is good and just." - Hugh Reginald Haweis

"My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. God’s word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes - many times - my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When that happens - and it happens every day in some measure - I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth." - John Piper, fully John Stephen Piper

"If the end does not justify the means, what does? The answer is, obviously, Nothing!" - Joseph Fletcher, fully Joseph Francis Fletcher

"One precedent creates another. They soon accumulate, and constitute law. What yesterday was fact, to-day is doctrine. Examples are supposed to justify the most dangerous measures; and where they; do not suit exactly the defect is supplied by analogy." - Junius, psyeudonym of unknown English Political Writer NULL

"Those who argue and discuss without understanding the truth are lost amid all the forms of relative knowledge, running about here and there and trying to justify their view of the substance of ego. If you realize the self in your inmost consciousness, it will appear in its purity. This is the womb of wonder, which is not the realm of those who live only by reason. Pure in its own nature and free from the categories of finite and infinite, Universal Mind is the undefiled wonder, which is wrongly apprehended by many." - Lankavatara Sutra NULL

"The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end." - Leon Trotsky, born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein