Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Maxims

"In the conduct of life, habits count for more than maxims; because habit is a living maxim, becomes flesh and instinct. To reform one's maxims is nothing: it is but to change the title of the book. To learn new habits is everything, for it is to reach the substance of life. Life is but a tissue of habits." -

"Maxims are often quoted by those who stand in more need of their application." -

"Those who, in the confidence of superior capacities or attainments, neglect the common maxims of life, should be reminded that nothing will supply the want of prudence; but that negligence and irregularity, long continued will make knowledge useless, with ridiculous, and genius contemptible." -

"In the conduct of life, habits count for more than maxims; because habit is a living maxim, becomes flesh and instinct. To reform one's maxims is nothing: it is but to change the title of the book. To learn new habits is." -

"One of the favorite maxims of my father was the distinction between the two sorts of truths, profound truths recognized by the fact that the opposite is also a profound truth, in contrast to trivialities where opposites are obviously absurd." - Niels Bohr, fully Aage Niels Bohr

"Always have a book at hand, in the parlor, on the table, for the family; a book of condensed thought and striking anecdote, of sound maxims and truthful apothegms. It will impress on your mind a thousand valuable suggestions, and teach your children lessons of truth and duty. Such a book is a casket of jewels for your household." - Tyron Edwards

"The benefit of proverbs, or maxims, is that they separate those who act on principle from those who act on impulse; and they lead to promptness and decision in acting. Their value deepens on four things; do they embody correct principles; are they on important subjects; what is the extent, and what is the ease of their application?" - Tyron Edwards

"It is from our enemies that we often gain excellent maxims, and are frequently surprised into reason by their mistakes." - Thomas Paine

"Thinking, not growth, makes manhood. Accustom yourself, therefore, to thinking. Set yourself to understand whatever you see or read. To join thinking with reading is one of the first maxims, and one of the easiest operations." - Isaac Taylor

"Few maxims are true from every point of view." -

"Ethical maxims are bandied about as a sort of current coin of discourse, and, being never melted down for use, those that are of base metal are never detected." - Richard Whately

"It is only in the lonely emergencies of life that our creed is tested: then routine maxims fail, and we fall back on our gods." - William James

"History is not, of course, a cookbook offering pretested recipes. It teaches by analogy, not by maxims. It can illuminate the consequences of actions in comparable situations, yet each generation must discover for itself what situations are in fact comparable." - Henry Kissinger, fully Henry Alfred Kissinger

"History is not, of course, a cookbook offering pre-tested recipes. It teaches by analogy, not by maxims." - Henry Kissinger, fully Henry Alfred Kissinger

"Poverty is very good in poems, but it is very bad in a house. It is very good in maxims and in sermons, but it is very bad in practical life." - Henry Ward Beecher

"Freedom and the consciousness of it as a faculty of following the moral law with unyielding resolution is independence of inclinations, at least as motives determining (though not as affecting) our desire, and so far as I am conscious of this freedom in following my moral maxims, it is the only source of an unaltered contentment which is necessarily connected with it and rests on no special feeling." - Immanuel Kant

"The whole course of our life must be subject to moral maxims; but this is impossible, unless with the moral law, which is a mere idea, reason connects an efficient cause which ordains to all conduct which conforms to the moral law an issue either in this or another life, which is in exact conformity with our highest aims." - Immanuel Kant

"Justice is a name for certain moral requirements, which, regarded collectively, stand higher in the scale of social utility, and are therefore of more paramount obligation, than any others; though particular cases may occur in which some other social duty is so important, as to overrule any one of the general maxims of justice. Thus, to save a life, it may not only be allowable, but a duty, to steal, or take by force, the necessary food or medicine, or to kidnap, and compel to officiate, the only qualified medical practitioner. In such cases, as we do not call anything justice which is not a virtue, we usually say, not that justice must give way to some other moral principle, but that what is just in ordinary case is, by reason of that other principle, not just in the particular case. By this useful accommodation of language, the character of indefeasibility attributed to justice is kept up, and we are saved from the necessity of maintaining that there can be laudable injustice." - John Stuart Mill

"Good maxims are the germs of all excellence." - Joseph Joubert

"Maxims are to the intellect what laws are to actions; they do not enlighten, but they guide and direct, and, although themselves blind, are protective." - Joseph Joubert

"In the conduct of life, habits count for more than maxims, because habit is a living maxim, becomes flesh and instinct. To reform one's maxims is nothing: it is but to change the title of the book. To learn new habits is everything, for it is to reach the substance of life. Life is but a tissue of habits." - Henri Frédéric Amiel

"Legislators confounded in one code the two currents of custom of which we have just been speaking, the maxims which represent principles of morality and social union wrought out as a result of life in common, and the mandates which are meant to ensure external existence to inequality." - Peter Kropotkin, fully Prince Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin

"They assembled together and dedicated these as the first-fruits of their love to Apollo in his Delphic temple, inscribing there those maxims which are on every tongue- 'know thyself’ and 'Nothing overmuch.' " - Plato NULL

"Puritanism prolonged in America the medieval Christian view of the world and of human destiny. It taught men to distrust their natural inclinations as well as their natural faculties, and to find their origin and their salvation in a supernatural order.... The Enlightenment, on the other hand, was humane, optimistic, and eudaemonistic. The fact that Benjamin Franklin formulated maxims for conduct only served to accentuate the difference in the ultimate ground of moral appeal. The puritan maxims consisted largely in prohibitions, and were imposed by the will of God; the maxims of the new philosophy were recipes for success, discovered by common sense, and motivated by the end of happiness." - Ralph Barton Perry

"It's not how old you are, it's how hard you work at it." - Jonah Barrington, Sir Jonah Barrington

"Those writers who lie on the watch for novelty can have little hope of greatness; for great things cannot have escaped former observation." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"Few men have depth enough to hear or tell the truth." - Vauvenargues, Luc de Clapiers, Marquis de Vauvenargues NULL

"No more fiendish punishment could be devised, were such a thing physically possible, than that one should be turned loose in society and remain absolutely unnoticed." - William James

"God grant indeed thy words are not for nought! Then shalt thou save me, since for many a day to such a dreadful life I have been brought: nor will I spare with all my heart to pay what man soever takes my grief away; ah! I will love thee, if thou lovest me but well enough my saviour now to be." - William Morris

"To choose her words with care; to avoid vulgar language; to speak at appropriate times; and nor to weary others with much conversation, may be called the characteristics of womanly words." - Ban Zhao, courtesy name Huiban