Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Philosophy

"What is philosophy? To deliberate well in reference to any question that emerges, never to be carried away by impulses, but to ponder over the injuries that result from the passions, and to act rightly as the circumstances demand, practicing moderation." - Apocrypha NULL

"A firm faith is the best theology; a good life is the best philosophy, a clear conscience the best law; honesty the best policy, and temperance the best physic." - Arthur Aughey

"All the tensions and contradictions in life are, and ought to be, reflected in one’s philosophy, and one should not attempt to compose them for the sake of neat philosophical construction. Philosophy cannot ever be divorced from the totality of man’s spiritual experience, from his struggles, his insights, his ecstasies, his religious faith and mystical vision." -

"The maxim "Think for yourself," is basic; but the further maxim, "Think socially," must be added if philosophy is to do its whole duty." -

""Know thyself," said, the old philosophy. "Improve thyself," saith the new. Our great object in time is not to waste our passions and gifts on the things external that we must leave behind, but that we cultivate within us all that we carry into the eternal progress beyond." -

"Life is short - while we speak it flies; enjoy, then, the present, and forget the future; such is the moral of ancient poetry, a graceful and a wise moral - indulged beneath a southern sky, and all deserving the phrase applied to it, “The philosophy of the garden.”" -

"Truth travels down from the heights of philosophy to the humblest walks of lie, and up from the simplest perceptions of an awakened intellect to the discoveries which almost change the face of the world. At every stage of its progress it is genial, luminous, creative." - Edward Everett

"What sort of philosophy one chooses depends, therefore, on what sort of man one is; for a philosophical system is not a dead piece of furniture that we can reject or accept as we wish; it is rather a thing animated by the soul of the person who holds it. A person indolent by nature or dulled and distorted by mental servitude, learned luxury, and vanity will never raise himself to the level of idealism." - J. G. Fichte, fully Johann Gottlieb Fichte

"The usefulness of historical knowledge in philosophy, here as elsewhere, is that the prejudices of our own period may lose their grip on us if we imaginatively enter into another period, when people’s prejudices were different." - Peter Geach, fully Peter Thomas Geach

"Knowledge of our duties is the most essential part of the philosophy of life. If you escape duty you avoid action. The world demands results." -

"The business of philosophy is to circumnavigate human nature." - Julius Charles Hare (1795-1855) and his brother Augustus William Hare

"Moral philosophy is nothing else but the science of what is good and evil in the conversation and society of mankind. God and evil are names that signify our appetites and aversions, which in different tempers, customs and doctrines of men are different." - Thomas Hobbes

"Vice and virtue, therefore, may be compar’d to sounds, colours, heat and cold, which, according to modern philosophy, are not qualities in objects, but perceptions in the mind: and this discovery in morals, like that other in physics, is to be regarded as a considerable advancement of the speculative sciences; tho’, like that too it has little or no influence on practice." - David Hume

"God may be worshipped and contemplated in any of his aspects. But to persist in worshipping only one aspect to the exclusion of all the rest is to run into grave spiritual peril... The best that can be said for ritualistic legalism is that it improves conduct. It does little, however, to alter character and nothing of itself to modify consciousness... The complete transformation of consciousness, which is “enlightenment,” “deliverance,” “salvation,” comes only when God is thought of as the perennial Philosophy affirms Him to be - immanent as well as transcendent, supra-personal as well as personal - and when religious practices are adapted to this conception." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"Nobody can have the consolations of religion or philosophy unless he has first experienced their desolations." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"The object of studying philosophy is to know one's own mind, not other people's." - William Ralph Inge

"In civilized life... it has at last become possible for large numbers of people to pass from the cradle to the grave without ever having had a pang of genuine fear. Man of us need an attack of mental disease to teach us the meaning of the word. Hence the possibility of so much blindly optimistic philosophy and religion." - William James

"The things a man believes most profoundly are rarely on the surface of his mind or tongue. Newly acquired notions - decisions based on expediency, the fashionable ideas of the moment - are right on top of the pile, ready to be displayed in bright after-dinner conversation. But the ideas that make up a man's philosophy of life are somewhere way down below." - Eric Allen Johnston

"It’s quite true what philosophy says, that life must be understood backwards. But one then forgets the other principle, that it must be lived forwards. A principle which, the more one thinks it through, precisely leads to the conclusion that life in time can never properly be understood, just because no moment can acquire the complete stillness needed to orient oneself backwards." - Søren Kierkegaard, fully Søren Aabye Kierkegaard

"A philosophy is characterized more by the formulation of its problems than by its solution of them." -

"True philosophy is that which makes us to ourselves and to all about us, better; and at the same time, more content, patient, calm, and more ready for all decent and pure enjoyment." - Johann Kaspar Lavater

"True philosophy is that which renders us to ourselves, and all others who surround us, better, and at the same time more content, more patient, more calm, and more ready for all decent and pure enjoyment." - Johann Kaspar Lavater

"Philosophy is inseparable from scepticism, which follows it like a shadow that it chases away by refuting it, only to find it once again under its feet." - Emmanuel Lévinas , originally Emanuelis Lévinas

"The best thing about philosophy is that it fails. It is better that philosophy fail to totalize meaning for it thereby remains open to the irreducible otherness of transcendence." - Emmanuel Lévinas , originally Emanuelis Lévinas

"I and myself. I feel myself - these are two distinct things. Our false philosophy is incorporated in our whole language; we cannot reason without, so to speak, reasoning wrongly. We overlook the fact that speaking, no matter of what, is itself a philosophy." - Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

"The sole philosophy open to those who doubt the possibility of truth is absolute silence - even mental." - Jacques Maritain

"The defects of human nature afford us opportunities of exercising our philosophy, the best employment of our virtues. If all men were righteous, all hearts true and frank and loyal, what use would our virtues be?" - Molière, pen name of Jean Baptiste Poquelin NULL

"Anyone who wants to be cured of ignorance must confess it... Wonder is the foundation of all philosophy, inquiry its progress, ignorance its end." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"It is the mask of a superior man that, left to himself, he is able endlessly to amuse, interest and entertain himself out of his personal stock of meditations, ideas, criticisms, memories, philosophy, humor and what not." - George Jean Nathan

"If we crave for the goal that is worthy and fitting for man, namely, happiness of life - and this is accomplished by philosophy alone and by nothing else, and philosophy, as I said, means for us desire for wisdom, and wisdom the science of truth in things, and of things some are properly so called, others merely share the name - it is reasonable and most necessary to distinguish and systematize the accidental qualities of things." - Nicomachus of Gerasa NULL

"The People have the right to the Truth as they have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is not right that they be exploited and deceived with false views of life, false characters, false sentiment, false morality, false history, false philosophy, false emotions, false heroism, false notions of self-sacrifice, false views of religion , of duty, of conduct and manners." - Benjamin Franklin "Frank" Norris

"The height of all philosophy is to know thyself; and the end of this knowledge is to know God. Know thyself, that thou mayest know God; and know God, that thou mayest love him and be like him. In the one thou art initiated into wisdom; and in the other perfected in it." - Francis Quarles

"The idea of soul, as a pure ego or mental substance, persists tenaciously in philosophy. I have argued that it cannot satisfactorily discharge the various tasks for which it has been recruited. The body, with marginal, speculative and dependent exceptions, is all that is required to individuate experiences and to supply then with an owner. An unobservable mental substance cannot individuate and provides a merely formal, because wholly inscrutable, solution to the problem of ownership. It is equally, and even more obviously, inept as an explanation of the identity of a person through time, which rests, not on the body, but on the complex of a person’s character and memories, related by continuity." - Anthony Meredith Quinton, Baron Quinton

"The chief danger to our philosophy, apart from laziness and wooliness, is scholasticism, the essence of which is treating what is vague as if it were precise and trying to fit it into an exact logical category." - Frank Plumpton Ramsey

"For the learning of every virtue there is an appropriate discipline and for the learning of suspended judgment the best discipline is philosophy." -

"Our philosophy determines the quality of our life.... how many times you go through those ups and downs you maintain your Divine changelessness." - Shantananda Saraswathi, fully Swami Shantananda Saraswathi, born Chandrashekar

"Any religion or philosophy which is not based on a respect for life is not a true religion or philosophy." - Albert Schweitzer

"Scripture does not teach philosophy, but merely obedience, and... all it contains has been adapted to the understanding and established opinions of the multitude." -

"Philosophy... consists in keeping the demon within a man free from violence and unharmed, superior to pains and pleasures, doing nothing without a purpose, nor feeling the need of another man’s doing or not doing anything; and besides, accepting all that happens, and all that is allotted, as coming from thence, wherever it is, from whence he himself came; and, finally, waiting for death with a cheerful mind." - Marcus Aurelius, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus

"He only can attain to virtue who knows and imitates God - which knowledge and imitation are the only cause of blessedness... for philosophy is directed to the obtaining of the blessed life, and he who loves God is blessed in the enjoyment of God." - Saint Augustine, aka Augustine of Hippo, St. Austin, Bishop of Hippo NULL

"A complete moral philosophy would tell us how and why we should act and feel towards others in relationships of shifting and varying power asymmetry and shifting and varying intimacy." - Annette Baier, née Stoop

"The idea of philosophy is truth; the idea of religion is life." -

"Music is a higher revelation than philosophy." -

"Religion is the true philosophy! Faith is the last great link ‘twixt God and man." -

"Feeling in the young precedes philosophy, and often acts with a better and more certain aim." - Dudley Carleton, fully Sir Dudley Carleton, 1st Viscount Dorchester

"Philosophy abounds more than philosophers, and learning more than learned men." - William Benton Clulow

"True philosophy invents nothing; it merely establishes and describes what is." - Victor Cousin

"There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; my philosophy is kindness." -

"We are weak today in ideal matters because intelligence is divorced from aspiration. The bare force of circumstance compels us onwards in the daily detail of our beliefs and acts, but our deeper thoughts and desires turn backwards. When philosophy shall have co-operated with the course of events and made clear and coherent the meaning of the daily detail, science and emotion will interpenetrate, practice and imagination will embrace. Poetry and religious feeling will be the unforced flowers of life. To further this articulation and revelation of the meanings of the current course of events is the task and problem of philosophy in days of transition." - John Dewey