Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Necessity

"Man does not choose of necessity... in all particular goods, the reason can consider an aspect of some good, and the lack of some good, which has the aspect of evil; and in this respect, it can apprehend any single one of such goods as to be chosen or to be avoided. The perfect good alone which is Happiness, cannot be apprehended by the reason as an evil, or as lacking in any way. Consequently man wills Happiness of necessity, nor can he will not to be happy, or to be unhappy. Now since choice is not of the end, but of the means... it is not of the perfect good, which is Happiness, but of other particular goods. Therefore man chooses not of necessity, but freely." -

"The human condition is such that pain and effort are not just symptoms which can be removed without changing life itself; they are rather the modes in which life itself, together with the necessity to which it is bound, makes itself felt. For mortals, the "easy life of the gods" would be a lifeless life." -

"Man desires to be free and he desires to feel important. This places him in a dilemma, for the more he emancipates himself from necessity the less important he feels." - W. H. Auden, fully Wystan Hugh Auden

"Necessity is often the spur to genius." - Honoré de Balzac

"Instinct gave place temporarily to a system of habits, each one of which became contingent, their convergence of which became contingent, their convergence towards the preservation of society being alone necessary, and this necessity bringing back instinct with it. The necessity of the whole, felt behind the contingency of the parts, is what we call moral obligation in general - it being understood that the parts are contingent in the eyes of society only; to the individual, into whom society inculcates its habits, the part is as necessary as the whole." - Henri Bergson, aka Henri-Louis Bergson

"Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity." - Albert Einstein

"The freer a man’s judgment is in relation to a definite question, the greater is the necessity with which the content of this judgment will be determined; while the uncertainty, founded on ignorance, which seems to make an arbitrary choice among many different and conflicting possible decisions, shows precisely by this that it is not free, that it is controlled by the very object it should itself control. Freedom therefore consists in the control over ourselves and over external nature, an control founded on knowledge of natural necessity; it is therefore necessarily a product of historical development." - Friedrich Engels

"Everything that depends on necessity is its slave in wise men's eyes." - Euripedes NULL

"No man on earth is truly free. All are slaves of money or necessity. Public opinion or fear of prosecution forces each one, against his conscience, to conform." - Euripedes NULL

"Necessity is cruel, but it is the only test of inward strength. Every fool may live according to his own likings." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"It is only the attainment of the higher level of inner religious life which justifies an abandonment of our religious forms, that on a lower level are both a duty and a necessity." - Samuel Holdheim

"Where necessity ends, curiosity begins; and no sooner are we supplied with everything that nature can command that we sit down to contrive artificial appetites." -

"Black women... are trained from childhood to become workers, and expect to be financially self-supporting for most of their lives. They know they will have to work, whether they are married or single; work to them, unlike to white women, is not a liberating goal, but rather an imposed lifelong necessity." -

"Necessity is the last and strongest weapon." -

"It is a true observation of ancient writers, that as men are apt to be cast down by adversity, so they are easily satiated with prosperity, and that joy and grief produce the same effects. For whenever men are not obliged by necessity to fight they fight from ambition, which is so powerful a passion in the human breast that however high we reach we are never satisfied." - Niccolò Machiavelli, formally Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli

"The more one seeks ‘the good’ outside oneself as something to be acquired, the more one is faced with the necessity of discussing, studying, understanding, analysing the nature of good. the more, therfore, one becomes involved in abstractions and in the confusion of divergent opinions. The more ‘the good’ is objectively analysed, the more it is treated as something to be attained by special virtuous techniques, the less real it becomes." - Thomas Merton

"We are all of us richer than we think we are; but we are taught to borrow and to beg, and brought up more to make use of what is another’s than our own. Man can in nothing fix and conform himself to his mere necessity. Of pleasure, wealth and power he grasps at more than he can hold; his greediness is incapable of moderation." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"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

"He who denies his own vanity usually possesses it in so brutal a form that he instinctively shuts his eyes to avoid the necessity of despising himself... The most vulnerable and yet most unconquerable of things is human vanity; nay, through being wounded its strength increases and can grow to giant proportions." -

"The most intelligent men, like the strongest, find their happiness where others would find only disaster: in the labyrinth, in being hard with themselves and with others, in effort; their delight is self-mastery; in them asceticism becomes second nature, a necessity, an instinct." -

"It would truly be a fine thing if men suffered themselves to be guided by reason, that they should acquiesce in the true remonstrances addressed to them by the writings of the learned and the advice of friends. But the greater part are so disposed that the words which enter by one ear do incontinently go out of the other, and begin again by following the custom. The best teacher one can have is necessity." - François de La Noüe

"If I were asked to sum up in a single phrase the main purpose of individual life I would express it as the enlargement of personality. Unless an individual can transcend the limits of class, sex, race, age and creed, his personality remains of necessity to that extent incomplete." - Frederick William Pethick-Lawrence, born Frederick Lawrence

"Let honor be to us as strong an obligation as necessity is to others." - Pliny the Elder, full name Casus Plinius Secundus NULL

"Necessity is the only successful adviser." - Charles Reade

"It is... most profitable to us in life to make perfect the intellect or reason as far as possible, and in this one thing consists the highest happiness or blessedness of man; for blessedness is nothing but the peace of mind which springs from the intuitive knowledge of God, and to perfect the intellect is nothing but to understand god, together with the attributes and actions of God, which flow from the necessity of His nature. The final aim, therefore, of a man who is guided by reason, that is to say, the chief desire by which he strives to govern all his other desires, is that by which he is led adequately to conceive himself and all things which can be conceived by his intelligence." -

"The ignorant man is not onlyh agitated by external causes in many ways, and never enjoys true peace of soul, but lives also ignorant, as it were, both of God an of things, and as soon as he ceases to suffer ceases also to be. On the other hand, the wise man, in so far as he is considered as such, is scarcely ever moved in his mind, but, being concscious by a certain eternal necessity of himself, of God, and of things, never ceases to be, and always enjoys true peace of soul." -

"Necessity is the mother of "taking chances."" - Mark Twain, pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens

"What do you call Love, Hate, Charity, Revenge, Humanity, Magnanimity, Forgiveness? Different results of the one Master Impulse: the necessity of securing one's self-approval." - Mark Twain, pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens

"Poetry is not concerned with telling people what to do, but with extending our knowledge of good and evil, perhaps making the necessity for action more urgent and its nature more clear, but only leading us to the point where it is possible for us to make a rational and moral choice." - W. H. Auden and J. Garrett

"Destiny is the scapegoat which we make responsible for all our crimes and follies; a necessity which we set down for invincible when we have no wish to strive against it." - Arthur Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, fully Arthur James Balfour, aka Lord Balfour

"The human spirit is in prison. Prison is what I call this world, the given world of necessity." -

"Man is not only of this world but of another world; not only of necessity, but of freedom." -

"In art there is liberation. the essential in artistic creativity is victory over the burden of necessity. In art man lives outside himself, outside his burdens, the burden of life. Every creative artistic act is a partial transfiguration of life." -

"Nature has made occupation a necessity to us; society makes a duty; habit may make it a pleasure." - Capelle NULL

"We all live in the past, because there is nothing else to live in. To live in the present is like proposing to sit on a pin. It is too minute, it is too slight a support, it is too uncomfortable a posture, and it is of necessity followed immediately by totally different experiences, analogous to those of jumping up with a yell. To live in the future is a contradiction in terms. The future is dead, in the perfectly definite sense it is not alive." - G. K. Chesterton, fully Gilbert Keith Chesterton

"Despair is the offspring of fear; of laziness, and impatience; it argues a defect of spirit and resolution, and often of honesty too. I would not despair unless I saw my misfortune recorded in the book of fate; and signed and sealed by necessity." - Jeremy Collier

"True conservatism is substantial progress; it holds fast what is true and good in order to advance in both. To cast away the old is not of necessity to attain the new. To reject anything that is valuable, lessens the power of gaining more. That a thing is new does not of course commend; that it is old does not discredit. The test question is, "Is it true or good?"" - Tyron Edwards

"I do not at all believe in human freedom in the philosophical sense. Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity." - Albert Einstein

"With the seizing of the means of production by society, production of commodities is done away with, and, simultaneously, the mastery of the product over the producer. Anarchy in social production is replaced by plan-conforming, conscious organization. The struggle for individual existence disappears... Only from that time will man himself, with full consciousness, make his own history - only from that time will the social causes set in movement by him have, in the main and in a constantly growing measure, the results intended by him. It is the ascent of man from the kingdom of necessity to the kingdom of freedom." - Friedrich Engels

"A true friend is distinguished in the crisis of hazard and necessity; when the gallantry of his aid may show the worth of his soul and the loyalty of his heart." -

"Necessity will teach a man, however stupid, to be wise." - Euripedes NULL

"Nothing has more strength than dire necessity." - Euripedes NULL

"Poverty teaches a man to play the villain from necessity." - Euripedes NULL

"Necessity is the mother of invention." - William Farquhar

"Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives, the cumulative experience of many masters of craftsmanship. Quality also marks the search for an ideal after necessity has been satisfied and mere usefulness achieved." -