Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Originality

"Originality and the feeling of one's own dignity are achieved only through work and struggle." - Fyodor Dostoevsky, fully Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoevsky or Feodor Mikhailovich Dostoevski

"We are what we are; we cannot be truly other than ourselves. We reach perfection not by copying, much less by aiming at originality, by constantly and steadily working out the life which is common to all, according to the character which God has given us." - Anne Baxter

"There is nothing mysterious about originality, nothing fantastic. Originality is merely the step beyond." - Louis Danz

"People are always talking about originality; but what do they mean? As soon as we are born, the world begins to work on us; and this goes on to the end. And after all, what can we call our own, except energy, strength, and will. If I could give an account of all that I owe to great predecessors and contemporaries there would be but a small balance in my favor." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Originality is simply a pair of fresh eyes." - Thomas Wentworth Higginson

"What is originality? Undetected plagiarism." - William Ralph Inge

"Originality does not consist in saying what no one has ever said before, but in saying exactly what you think yourself." - James Stephens

"Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone - that is the secret of invention: be alone, that is when ideas are born." - Nikola Tesla

"Originality is the supreme evidence of genius." -

"Originality is the essence of true scholarship. Creativity is the soul of the true scholar." - A. J. Ayer, Alfred Jules Ayer

"You will to believe that because you are an individual expression of God there is purpose, real and meaningful in your life, and you will to believe that to achieve this purpose you are also equipped with the talent and potential necessary for its achievement. Will to believe it!... It is the originality in each of us and not our uniformity which gives life its deepest meaning." - Marcus Bach, fully James Marcus Bach

"Originality usually amounts only to plagiarizing something unfamiliar." - Katherine Fullerton Gerould

"Crisis demands dictatorship, centralization, concentration, obedience, and bias. Intercrisis permits concessions toward democracy, decentralization, dispersion, originality, and objectivity." - Harold Dwight Lasswell

"Cerebration is the enemy of originality in art." - Martin Ritt

"Creativity is the retention throughout life of something that belongs properly to infant experience: the ability to create the world. . . . By creative living I mean not getting killed or annihilated all the time by compliance or by reacting to the world that impinges; I mean seeing everything afresh all the time… When we are surprised at ourselves we are being creative, and we find we can trust our own unexpected originality." - Donald Woods Winnicott

"Originality is the essence of true scholarship. Creativity is the soul of the true scholar." - Nnamdi Azikiwe, fully Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe, aka "The Zik of Africa"

"Originality is the art of concealing your sources." - Author Unknown NULL

"The originality of a subject is in its treatment." - Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield

"In proportion as our own mind is enlarged we discover a greater number of men of originality. Commonplace people see no difference between one man and another." - Blaise Pascal

"The more intelligent a man is, the more originality he discovers in men. Ordinary people see no difference between men." - Blaise Pascal

"The great intellect one has, the more originality one finds in men. Ordinary persons find no difference between men." - Blaise Pascal

"When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other. Originality is deliberate and forced, and partakes of the nature of a protest." - Eric Hoffer

"Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything." - George Lois

"But it is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation... He who has never failed somewhere, that man can not be great." - Herman Melville

"Originality is something that is easily exaggerated, especially by authors contemplating their own work." - John Kenneth Galbraith, aka "Ken"

"All men who have sense and feeling are being continually helped; they are taught by every person they meet and enriched by everything that falls in their way. The greatest is he who has been oftenest aided. Originality is the observing eye." - John Ruskin

"Originality is the one thing which unoriginal minds cannot feel the use of." - John Stuart Mill

"All good things which exist are the fruits of originality." - John Stuart Mill

"Should we all confess our sins to one another we would all laugh at one another for our lack of originality." - Kahlil Gibran

"Originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear but forgetting where you heard it." - Laurence J. Peter, fully Laurence Johnston Peter

"The Great don't innovate, they fertilize seeds planted by lackeys, then leave to others the inhaling of the flowers whose roots they've manured. A deceptive memory may be the key to their originality." - Ned Rorem

"Great men are more distinguished by range and extent than by originality." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Schools teach you to imitate. If you don't imitate what the teacher wants you get a bad grade. Here, in college, it was more sophisticated, of course; you were supposed to imitate the teacher in such a way as to convince the teacher you were not imitating, but taking the essence of the instruction and going ahead with it on your own. That got you A's. Originality on the other hand could get you anything -- from A to F. The whole grading system cautioned against it." -

"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

"It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation. " - Herman Melville

"Imposing an alleged uniform general method upon everybody breeds mediocrity in all but the very exceptional. And measuring originality by deviation from the mass breeds eccentricity in them." - John Dewey

"I am very careful to be shallow and conventional where depth and originality are wasted." - Lucy Maud Montgomery, aka Maud or L.M. Montgomery

"The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. No big laboratory is needed in which to think. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone, that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born." - Nikola Tesla

"No one wants my painting because it is different from other people's — peculiar, crazy public that demands the greatest possible degree of originality on the painter's part and yet won't accept him unless his work resembles that of the others!" - Paul Gaugin, fully Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin

"Each time these institutions, issued from popular genius, when it had reconquered its liberty for a moment, — each time these institutions developed in a new direction, the moral level of society, its material well-being, its liberty, its intellectual progress, and the affirmation of individual originality made a step in advance. And, on the contrary, each time that in the course of history, whether following upon a foreign conquest, or whether by developing authoritarian prejudices men become more and more divided into governors and governed, exploiters and exploited, the moral level fell, the well-being of the masses decreased in order to insure riches to a few, and the spirit of the age declined." - Peter Kropotkin, fully Prince Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin

"The correct analogy for the mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting — no more — and then it motivates one towards originality and instills the desire for truth. Suppose someone were to go and ask his neighbors for fire and find a substantial blaze there, and just stay there continually warming himself: that is no different from someone who goes to someone else to get to some of his rationality, and fails to realize that he ought to ignite his own flame, his own intellect, but is happy to sit entranced by the lecture, and the words trigger only associative thinking and bring, as it were, only a flush to his cheeks and a glow to his limbs; but he has not dispelled or dispersed, in the warm light of philosophy, the internal dank gloom of his mind." - Plutarch, named Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus after becoming Roman citizen NULL

"If a man were to look over the fence on one side of his garden and observe that the neighbor on his left had laid his garden path round a central lawn; and were to look over the fence on the other side of his garden and observe that the neighbor on his right had laid his path down the middle of the lawn, and were then to lay his own garden path diagonally from one corner to the other, that man's soul would be lost. Originality is only to be praised when not prefaced by the look to right and left." - Quentin Crisp, born Denis Charles Pratt

"Schools teach you to imitate. If you don't imitate what the teacher wants you get a bad grade. Here, in college, it was more sophisticated, of course; you were supposed to imitate the teacher in such a way as to convince the teacher you were not imitating, but taking the essence of the instruction and going ahead with it on your own. That got you A's. Originality on the other hand could get you anything -- from A to F. The whole grading system cautioned against it." - Robert M. Pirsig

"Our life is not really a mutual helpfulness; but rather, it's fair competition cloaked under due laws of war; it's a mutual hostility." - Thomas Carlyle

"In his time, this one had little to speak of, the softest word went gurrituck in his skull. For him the moon was always in Scandinavia and his daughter was a foreign thing." - Wallace Stevens

"Machines might give us more time to think but will never do our thinking for us." - Thomas J. Watson, Jr., fully Thomas John Watson, Jr.

"Nothing responds to us, but this silence; the voice of this silence is understood and frightens like the silence of those infinite spaces Pascal speaks of." - Emmanuel Lévinas , originally Emanuelis Lévinas