Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Refinement

"The same refinement which brings us new pleasures, exposes us to new pains." -

"To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony." - William Ellery Channing

"True purity of taste is a quality of the mind; it is a feeling which can, with little difficulty, be acquired by the refinement of intelligence; whereas purity of manners is the result of wise habits, in which all the interests of the soul are mingled and in harmony with the progress of intelligence. That is why the harmony of good taste and of good manners is more common than the existence of taste without manners, or of manners without taste." - Pierre Louis Roederer

"The same refinement which brings us new pleasures exposes us to new pains." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, fully Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, Lord Lytton

"The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking." - Albert Einstein

"I have no patience with the stupidity of the average teacher of grammar who wastes precious years in hammering rules into children's heads. For it is not by learning rules that we acquire the powers of speaking a language, but by daily intercourse with those accustomed to express themselves with exactness ands refinement and by copious reading of the best authors." -

"It is one proof of a good education, and of true refinement of feeling, to respect antiquity." - Lydia Sigourney, fully Lydia Huntley Sigourney, née Lydia Howard Huntley

"There exists a continuum of consciousness uniting individual minds that could be directly experienced if the psychophysical threshold of perception were sufficiently lowered through refinement in the functioning nervous system." - William James

"Knowledge is the one thing, virtue another; good sense is not conscience, refinement is not humility, nor is largeness and justness of view faith." - John Henry Newman, aka Cardinal Newman and Blessed John Henry Newman

"We have not so much the privilege of intelligence, viewed as something above and against nonhuman nature, but the responsibility and necessity to convert our intelligence to the earth. We need to learn how to use intelligence to mend the distortions we have created and how to convert intelligence into an instrument that can cultivate the harmonies and balances of the ecological community and bring these to a refinement." - Rosemary Radford Ruether

"To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. This is to be my symphony." - William Henry Channing

"Refinement is the lifting of one's self upwards from the merely sensual, the effort of the soul to etherealize the common wants and uses of life." - Henry Ward Beecher

"Whenever education and refinement grow away from the common people, they are growing toward selfishness, which is the monster evil of the world. that is true cultivation which gives us sympathy with every form of human life, and enables us to work most successfully for its advancement. Refinement that carries us away from our fellow-men is not God's refinement." - Henry Ward Beecher

"The general notions about human understanding illustrated by discoveries in atomic physics are not in the nature of things totally unfamiliar, wholly unheard of, nor new. Even in our own culture they have a history, and in Buddhist and Hindu thought a more considerable and central place. What we shall find is an exemplification, an encouragement, and a refinement of old wisdom." -

"That alone can be called true refinement which elevates the soul of man, purifying the manners by improving the intellect." -

"I have no patience with the stupidity of the average teacher of grammar who wastes precious years in hammering rules into children's heads. For it is not by learning rules that we acquire the powers of speaking a language, but by daily intercourse with those accustomed to express themselves with exactness and refinement and by copious reading of the best authors. " - Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, sometimes known as Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam

"In its broad sense, civilization means not only comfort in daily necessities but also the refining of knowledge and the cultivation of virtue so as to elevate human life to a higher plane… It refers to the attainment of both material well-being and the elevation of the human spirit, [but] since what produces man’s well-being and refinement is knowledge and virtue, civilization ultimately means the progress of man’s knowledge and virtue." - Fukuzawa Yukichi

"A cell of a higher organism contains a thousand different substances, arranged in a complex system. This great organized system was not discovered by chemical or physical methods; they are inadequate to its refinement and delicacy and complexity. " - Herbert Spencer Jennings

"It is true that wealth has been greatly increased, and that the average of comfort, leisure, and refinement has been raised; but these gains are not general. In them the lowest class do not share. I do not mean that the condition of the lowest class has nowhere nor in anything been improved; but that there is nowhere any improvement which can be credited to increased productive power. I mean that the tendency of what we call material progress is in nowise to improve the condition of the lowest class in the essentials of healthy, happy human life. Nay, more, that it is still further to depress the condition of the lowest class. The new forces, elevating in their nature though they be, do not act upon the social fabric from underneath, as was for a long time hoped and believed, but strike it at a point intermediate between top and bottom. It is as though an immense wedge were being forced, not underneath society, but through society. Those who are above the point of separation are elevated, but those who are below are crushed down." - Henry George

"The general notions about human understanding… which are illustrated by discoveries in atomic physics are not in the nature of things wholly unfamiliar, wholly unheard of or new. Even in our own culture they have a history, and in Buddhist and Hindu thought a more considerable and central place. What we shall find [in modern physics] is an exemplification, an encouragement, and a refinement of old wisdom." - Robert Oppenheimer, fully Julius Robert Oppenheimer

"Six mistakes mankind keeps making century after century: Believing that personal gain is made by crushing others; Worrying about things that cannot be changed or corrected; Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it; Refusing to set aside trivial preferences; Neglecting development and refinement of the mind; Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do." - Cicero, fully Marcus Tullius Cicero, anglicized as Tully NULL

"We cultivate refinement without extravagance and knowledge without effeminacy; wealth we employ more for use than for show, and place the real disgrace of poverty not in owning to the fact but in declining the struggle against it. Our public men have, besides politics, their private affairs to attend to, and our ordinary citizens, though occupied with the pursuits of industry, are still fair judges of public matters; for, unlike any other nation, regarding him who takes no part in these duties not as unambitious but as useless, we Athenians are able to judge at all events if we cannot originate, and instead of looking on discussion as a stumbling-block in the way of action, we think it an indispensable preliminary to any wise action at all." - Pericles NULL

"Does not refinement imply greater power, as the greater power of the crude iron comes out in steel; and are not these greater and as yet almost unrecognized powers to come out of the highest and most complex form of known organization, man; and are all of man's powers yet known? " - Prentice Mulford

"If this planet has been what geology teaches it has been,--a planet fuller of coarser, cruder, and more violent forces than now; abounding in forms of coarser vegetable, animal, and even human life and organization than now; of which its present condition is a refinement and improvement as regards vegetable, animal, and man,--is not this the suggestion, the hint, the proof, of a still greater refinement and improvement for the future; a refinement and improvement going on now? " - Prentice Mulford

"Relativity is inherently convergent, though convergent toward a plurality of centers of abstract truths. Degrees of accuracy are only degrees of refinement and magnitude in no way affects the fundamental reliability, which refers, as directional or angular sense, toward centralized truths. Truth is a relationship." - Buckminster Fuller, fully Richard Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller

"What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do? What a waste, what a senseless waste! But what of those things which you actually didn't like, not because you were not supposed to like them, not because to dislike them was considered a mark of refinement and education - but because you actually found them distasteful? The very idea annoyed me. How could you know? It involved a problem of choice. I would have to weigh many things carefully before deciding and there would be some things that would cause quite a bit of trouble, simply because I had never formed a personal attitude toward so much. I had accepted the accepted attitudes and it had made life seem simple ..." - Ralph Ellison, fully Ralph Waldo Ellison

"The soul goes about the things of God with much greater freedom and satisfaction of the soul than before it entered the dark night of sense. It now very readily finds in its spirit the most serene and loving contemplation and spiritual sweetness without the labor of meditation. This sweetness overflows into their senses more than was usual… since the sense is now purer. But they also endure many frailties and sufferings and weaknesses of the stomach and are fatigued in spirit. After the second night of the spirit: no raptures and no torments of the body because their senses are now neither clouded nor transported." - Saint John of the Cross, born Juan de Yepes Álvarez NULL

"It is indeed at home that every man must be known by those who would make a just estimate either of his virtue or felicity; for smiles and embroidery are alike occasional, and the mind is often dressed for show in painted honor and fictitious benevolence." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"Concepts create idols; only wonder comprehends [grasps] anything. People kill one another over idols. Wonder makes us fall to our knees." - Gregory Nazianzen, aka Saint Gregory of Nazianzus or Gregory the Theologian

"In love, unlike most other passions, the recollection of what you have had and lost is always better than what you can hope for in the future." - Stendhal, pen name of Marie Henn Beyle or Marie-Henri Beyle NULL

"The exact sciences also start from the assumption that in the end it will always be possible to understand nature, even in every new field of experience, but that we may make no a priori assumptions about the meaning of the word understand." - Werner Heisenberg, fully Werner Karl Heisenberg

"The notion of a farseeing and despotic statesman, who can lay down plans for ages yet unborn, is a fancy generated by the pride of the human intellect to which facts give no support." - Walter Bagehot

"It was left by Aristoxenus, who with great ability and labour classified and arranged in it the different modes. In accordance with it, and by giving heed to these theories, one can easily bring a theatre to perfection, from the point of view of the nature of the voice, so as to give pleasure to the audience." - Vitruvius, fully Marcus Vitruvius Pollio NULL

"What must be the knowledge of Him, from whom all created minds have derived both their power of knowledge, and the innumerable objects of their knowledge! What must be the wisdom of Him, from whom all things derive their wisdom!" - Timothy Dwight, fully Timothy Dwight IV

"I do indeed disbelieve that we or any other mortal men can attain on a given day to absolutely incorrigible and unimprovable truth about such matters of fact as those with which religions deal. But I reject this dogmatic ideal not out of a perverse delight in intellectual instability. I am no lover of disorder and doubt as such. Rather do I fear to lose truth by this pretension to possess it already wholly." - William James

"I wished by treating Psychology like a natural science, to help her become one." - William James

"We like the fine extravagance of that philosopher who declared that no man was as rich as all men ought to be." - Edwin Percy Whipple