Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"Novelty is both delightful and deceptive." - Honoré de Balzac

"Idleness is the hot-bed of temptation, the cradle of disease, the waster of time, the canker-worm of felicity. To him that has no employment, life in a little while will have no novelty; and when novelty is laid in the grave, the funeral of comfort will soon follow." - Richard Baxter

"Part of human nature resents change, loves equilibrium, while another part welcomes novelty, loves the excitement of disequilibrium. There is no formula for the resolution of this tug-of-war, but it is obvious that absolute surrender to either of them invites disaster." - Wernher von Braun, fully Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun

"It is not in novelty but in habit that we find the greatest pleasure." - Raymond Radiguet

"Admiration is one of the most bewitching, enthusiastic passions of the mind; and every common moralist knows that it arises from novelty and surprise, the inseparable attendants of imposture." - William Warburton

"The three foundations of thought: Perspicuity, amplitude and justness. The three ornaments of thought: Clearness, correctness and novelty." - Joanne Catherall

"Music, in the best sense, does not require novelty; nay, the older it is, and the more we are accustomed to it, the greater its effect." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"All wonder is the effect of novelty upon ignorance." -

"Novelty is indeed necessary to preserve eagerness and alacrity; but art and nature have sores inexhaustible by human intellects; and every moment produces something new to him who has quickened his faculties by diligent observation." -

"Novelty is the storehouse of pleasure." -

"The uprooting of human beings from the land, the concentration in cities, the breakdown of the authority of family, of tradition, and of moral conventions, the complexity and the novelty of modern life, and finally the economic insecurity of our industrial system have called into being the modern social worker. They perform a function in modern society which is not a luxury but an absolute necessity." - Walter Lippmann

"Both the man of science and the man of art live always at the edge of mystery, surrounded by it. Both, as the measure of their creation, have always had to do with the harmonization of what is new and what is familiar, with the balance between novelty and synthesis, with the struggle to make partial order into total chaos... This cannot be an easy life." - Robert Oppenheimer, fully Julius Robert Oppenheimer

"Most important, novelty and creativity are unrecognizable unless they emerge from order." - Ross A. Webber

"We seek “perpetual novelty” to punctuate the dreariness of a life that so easily can be devoid of expectation, excitement, and wonder." - Joe Boot

"If the self-conception of novelty is the basic wonder of the universe, this eliciting of mind from the potentialities of world-stuff, and its intensification and increasing importance during evolution is the basic wonder of life." - Julian Huxley, fully Sir Julian Sorell Huxley

"Only the flexibly creative person can really manage the future, Only the one who can face novelty with confidence and without fear." - Abraham Harold Maslow

"Opposed elements stand to each other in mutual requirement. In their unity, they inhibit or contrast. God and the World stand to each other in this opposed requirement. God is the infinite ground of all mentality, the unity of vision seeking physical multiplicity. The World is the multiplicity of finites, actualities, seeking a perfected unity. Neither God, nor the World, reaches static completion. Both are in the grip of the ultimately metaphysical ground, the creative advance into novelty. Either of them, God and the World, is the instrument of novelty for the other." - Alfred North Whitehead

"Seize from every moment in its unique novelty and do not prepare your joys." - André Gide, fully André Paul Guillaume Gide

"Custom is the law of one description of fools and fashion of another; but the two parties often clash; for precedent is the legislator of the first, and novelty of the last." - Charles Caleb Colton

"Where we cannot invent, we may at least improve; we may give somewhat of novelty to that which was old, condensation to that which was diffuse, perspicuity to that which was obscure, and currency to that which was recondite." - Charles Caleb Colton

"Only God and some few rare geniuses can keep forging ahead into novelty." - Denis Diderot

"As those things which engage us merely by their novelty cannot attach us for any length of time, curiosity is the most superficial of all the affections." - Edmund Burke

"The enormous influence of novelty - the way in which it quickens observation, sharpens sensation, and exalts sentiment - is not half enough taken note of by us, and is to me a very sorrowful matter. And yet, if we try to obtain perpetual change, change itself will become monotonous." - John Ruskin

"Our drive toward novelty is a tool of evolution and transcendence." - Joseph Chilton Pearce, aka Joe

"For the first time, the best may err, art may persuade and novelty spread out its charms. The first fault is the child of simplicity; but every other the offspring of guilt." - Oliver Goldsmith

"The young are slaves to novelty; the old to custom." -

"We have learned so well how to absorb novelty that receptivity itself has turned into a kind of tradition - "the tradition of the new." Yesterday's avant-garde experiment is today's chic and tomorrow's cliché." - Richard Hofstadter

"Sexual boredom, that predator of marriages, is generally ascribed to overfamiliarity; but I think it mighty more aptly be blamed on the lack or failure of true intimacy... Sex thrives on the dynamics between novelty and intimacy... What is inalienably shared... for brief encounters, in which little is genuinely discovered or given, tend to emphasize people’s sameness rather than their individuality, and hence to obliterate the novelty that is sought. Intimacy, which demands time and trust, is available almost exclusively through marriage and long friendship." - Robert Grudin

"The merit of originality is not novelty; it is sincerity. The believing man is the original man; whatsoever he believes, he believes it for himself, not for another." - Thomas Carlyle

"Wonder at the first sign of works of art may be the effect of ignorance and novelty; but real admiration and permanent delight in them are the growth of taste and knowledge." - William Hazlitt

"If nonsatiety were the natural state of human nature then aggressive want-stimulating advertising would not be necessary, nor would the barrage of novelty aimed at promoting dissatisfaction with last year's model. The system attempts to remake people to fit its own presuppositions. If people's wants are not naturally insatiable we must make them so, in order to keep the system going." - Herman E. Daly

"Diversity of stimulation means novelty, and novelty means challenge to thought. The more activity is restricted to a few definite lines-as it is when there are rigid class lines preventing adequate interplay of experiences-the more action tends to become routine on the part of the class at a disadvantage, and capricious, aimless, and explosive on the part of the class having the materially fortunate position." - John Dewey

"In any evolutionary process, even in the arts, the search for novelty becomes corrupting." - Kenneth Boulding, fully Kenneth Ewart Boulding

"The great novelty of the American Constitution was that it imposed checks on the representatives of the people." - John Dalberg-Acton, Lord Acton, fully John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton

"The major source of evolutionary novelty is the acquisition of symbionts - the whole thing then edited by natural selection. It is never just the accumulation of mutations." - Lynn Margulis

"The paradoxes of today are the prejudices of tomorrow, since the most benighted and the most deplorable prejudices have had their moment of novelty when fashion lent them its fragile grace." - Marcel Proust, fully Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust

"It has been four years since I commenced this life of solitude, living in the maid's room and cooking for myself. At first there was a certain novelty in the arrangement. Then, toward the end of last year, the ways of the military government began to grow more arbitrary, and there came a change in the world; and somehow the drab and inconvenient life of the bachelor has come to seem so appropriate to the moods of the days that I would not now find it easy to change. Indeed, my feelings and thoughts are quite beyond description when, on an evening of a sudden autumn rain, I drag my sandals along the cliff, taking care that the frayed thong does not break, and buy onions and radishes in Tanimachi. I am quite drunk with the melancholy poetry of it all. However malicious and arbitrary may be the ways of the government, it cannot keep one's fancies from running free. There will be freedom while there is life." - Kafū Nagai, pen name for Nagai Sōkichi

"I have no doubt that certain learned men, now that the novelty of the hypotheses in this work has been widely reported—for it establishes that the Earth moves, and indeed that the Sun is motionless in the middle of the universe—are extremely shocked, and think that the scholarly disciplines, rightly established once and for all, should not be upset. But if they are willing to judge the matter thoroughly, they will find that the author of this work has committed nothing which deserves censure. For it is proper for an astronomer to establish a record of the motions of the heavens with diligent and skilful observations, and then to think out and construct laws for them, or rather hypotheses, whatever their nature may be, since the true laws cannot be reached by the use of reason; and from those assumptions the motions can be correctly calculated, both for the future and for the past. Our author has shown himself outstandingly skilful in both these respects. Nor is it necessary that these hypotheses should be true, nor indeed even probable, but it is sufficient if they merely produce calculations which agree with the observations... For it is clear enough that this subject is completely and simply ignorant of the laws which produce apparently irregular motions. And if it does work out any laws—as certainly it does work out very many—it does not do so in any way with the aim of persuading anyone that they are valid, but only to provide a correct basis for calculation. Since different hypotheses are sometimes available to explain one and the same motion (for instance eccentricity or an epicycle for the motion of the Sun) an astronomer will prefer to seize on the one which is easiest to grasp; a philosopher will perhaps look more for probability; but neither will grasp or convey anything certain, unless it has been divinely revealed to him. Let us therefore allow these new hypotheses also to become known beside the older, which are no more probable, especially since they are remarkable and easy; and let them bring with them the vast treasury of highly learned observations. And let no one expect from astronomy, as far as hypotheses are concerned, anything certain, since it cannot produce any such thing, in case if he seizes on things constructed for another other purpose as true, he departs from this discipline more foolish than he came to it." - Nicholas Copernicus

"No mistake is more to be deplored than the conception that a system of morals and religion should derive any portion of its authority either from the circumstance of its novelty or its antiquity, that it should be judged excellent, not because it is reasonable or true, but because no person has ever thought of it before, or because it has been thought of from the beginning of time." - Percy Bysshe Shelley

"We listen with deep interest to what we hear, for to man novelty is ever charming." - Pliny the Elder, full name Casus Plinius Secundus NULL

"It is impossible to approve in Catholic publications a style inspired by unsound novelty which seems to deride the piety of the faithful and dwells on the introduction of a new order of Christian life, on new directions of the Church, on new aspirations of the modern soul, on a new social vocation of the clergy, on a new Christian civilization, and many other things of the same kind." - Pope Leo XIII, born Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci NULL

"Is Humanism a religion, perhaps, the next great religion? Yes, it must be so characterized, for the word, religion, has become a symbol for answers to that basic interrogation of human life, the human situation, and the nature of things---which every human being, in some degree and in some fashion, makes. What can I expect from life? What kind of universe is it? Is there, as some say, a friendly Providence in control of it? And, if not, what then? The universe of discourse of religion consists of such questions, and the answers relevant to them. Christian theism and Vedantic mysticism are but historic frameworks in relation to which answers have in the past been given to these poignant and persistent queries. But there is nothing sacrosanct and self-certifying about these frameworks. What Humanism represents is the awareness of another framework, more consonant with wider and deeper knowledge about man and his world. The Humanist movement is engaged in formulating answers, with what wisdom it can achieve, to these basic questions. It would be absurd to expect complete novelty in either framework or answers. Many people throughout the ages have had a shrewd suspicion that established beliefs were insecurely based. Humanism at its best represents a growth and a maturing of its perspective...I fear that the orthodox idea of religion is something static and given---once for all. The Humanist thinks of his answers as responsible ones, that is, responsible to the best thought and knowledge on the subjects involved. He [they are] is always ready for honest debate... I want to contrast the perspective of Humanism with that of traditional rationalism...There is no Humanist who does not appreciate with respect and admiration the moving story of the Gospels. Seen as one of the culminations of Judaism in the setting of the Roman Empire, it speaks to us of nobility of soul, human love, pity, and comradeship; and this among everyday people fired by moral and religious leadership of high quality. The heroic and the earthly touch meet, and mingle; and so it has been ever since... What have the intervening centuries made possible? The gradual disentangling of ethical principle and example from both the early framework of belief and the later ecclesiastical development of power and dogma which supervened. But the notes of love and self-sacrifice remain as perennial chords. This also, is greatly human. The older rationalism was on the defensive. And so it expressed itself too often in negative terms: not this; not that; not God; not revelation; not personal immortality. What Humanism signified was a shift from negation to construction. There came a time when naturalism no longer felt on the defensive. Rather, supernaturalism began, it its eyes, to grow dim and fade out despite all the blustering and rationalizations of its advocates." - R. W. Sellars, fully Roy Wood Sellars

"It is clear according to what we have said that these (doctrines) do not only lead to dogmatic relativism, but already contain it in act; the contempt of the doctrine commonly taught and of the terms in which it expressed itself are already too close to it... .The expressions that, during the course of several centuries, were established by a common consent of Catholic doctors in order to arrive at some understanding of dogma surely do not rest on such a fragile foundation. They rest, in fact, on principles and notions taken from the true knowledge of created things; in the research of these notions revealed truth enlightened the human mind like a star by means of the Church. That is why it is not surprising that some of these notions have not only been used in ecumenical Councils but have received such a sanction that it is not permitted to distance oneself from them. Thus it is very imprudent to substitute for them fl oating and vague notions and expressions of a new philosophy that are used today and will disappear tomorrow like the fl owers of the fi eld; this would be to make dogma itself a reed shaken by the wind. In fact, unfortunately these lovers of novelty easily pass from contempt of Scholastic theology to a lack of respect for and even contempt of the magisterium of the Church which has so strongly supported this theology by its authority." - Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, fully Réginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange

"Good talk is like good scenery - continuous, yet constantly varying, and full of the charm of novelty and surprise." - Randolph Bourne, fully Randolph Silliman Bourne

"All wonder is the effect of novelty on ignorance." - Robertson Davies

"A Faint Music - Maybe you need to write a poem about grace. When everything broken is broken, and everything dead is dead, and the hero has looked into the mirror with complete contempt, and the heroine has studied her face and its defects remorselessly, and the pain they thought might, as a token of their earnestness, release them from themselves has lost its novelty and not released them, and they have begun to think, kindly and distantly, watching the others go about their days— likes and dislikes, reasons, habits, fears— that self-love is the one weedy stalk of every human blossoming, and understood, therefore, why they had been, all their lives, in such a fury to defend it, and that no one— except some almost inconceivable saint in his pool of poverty and silence—can escape this violent, automatic life’s companion ever, maybe then, ordinary light, faint music under things, a hovering like grace appears. As in the story a friend told once about the time he tried to kill himself. His girl had left him. Bees in the heart, then scorpions, maggots, and then ash. He climbed onto the jumping girder of the bridge, the bay side, a blue, lucid afternoon. And in the salt air he thought about the word “seafood,” that there was something faintly ridiculous about it. No one said “landfood.” He thought it was degrading to the rainbow perch he’d reeled in gleaming from the cliffs, the black rockbass, scales like polished carbon, in beds of kelp along the coast—and he realized that the reason for the word was crabs, or mussels, clams. Otherwise the restaurants could just put “fish” up on their signs, and when he woke—he’d slept for hours, curled up on the girder like a child—the sun was going down and he felt a little better, and afraid. He put on the jacket he’d used for a pillow, climbed over the railing carefully, and drove home to an empty house. There was a pair of her lemon yellow panties hanging on a doorknob. He studied them. Much-washed. A faint russet in the crotch that made him sick with rage and grief. He knew more or less where she was. A flat somewhere on Russian Hill. They’d have just finished making love. She’d have tears in her eyes and touch his jawbone gratefully. “God,” she’d say, “you are so good for me.” Winking lights, a foggy view downhill toward the harbor and the bay. “You’re sad,” he’d say. “Yes.” “Thinking about Nick?” “Yes,” she’d say and cry. “I tried so hard,” sobbing now, “I really tried so hard.” And then he’d hold her for a while— Guatemalan weavings from his fieldwork on the wall— and then they’d fuck again, and she would cry some more, and go to sleep. And he, he would play that scene once only, once and a half, and tell himself that he was going to carry it for a very long time and that there was nothing he could do but carry it. He went out onto the porch, and listened to the forest in the summer dark, madrone bark cracking and curling as the cold came up. It’s not the story though, not the friend leaning toward you, saying “And then I realized—,” which is the part of stories one never quite believes. I had the idea that the world’s so full of pain it must sometimes make a kind of singing. And that the sequence helps, as much as order helps— First an ego, and then pain, and then the singing." - Robert Hass, aka The Bard of Berkeley

"When everything broken is broken, and everything dead is dead, and the hero has looked into the mirror with complete contempt, and the heroine has studied her face and its defects remorselessly, and the pain they thought might, as a token of their earnestness, release them from themselves has lost its novelty and not released them, and they have begun to think, kindly and distantly, watching the others go about their days— likes and dislikes, reasons, habits, fears— that self-love is the one weedy stalk of every human blossoming, and understood, therefore, why they had been, all their lives, in such a fury to defend it, and that no one— except some almost inconceivable saint in his pool of poverty and silence—can escape this violent, automatic life’s companion ever, maybe then, ordinary light, faint music under things, a hovering like grace appears." - Robert Hass, aka The Bard of Berkeley

"A pair of lovers are like sunset and sunrise: there are such things every day but we very seldom see them." - Samuel Butler

"Adversity has ever been considered as the state in which a man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being free from flatterers." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson