Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.


"Gratitude is the virtue most deified and most deserted. It is the ornament of rhetoric and the libel of practical life." - John W. Forney, fully John Wien Forney

"The language of the heart which comes from the heart and goes to the heart - is always simple, graceful, and full of power, but no art of rhetoric can teach it. It is at once the easiest and most difficult language, difficult, since it needs a heart to speak it; easy, because its periods though rounded and full of harmony, are still unstudied." - Christian Nestell Bovee

"The dreary thing about most new causes is that they are praised in such very old terms. Every new religion bores us with the same stale rhetoric about closer fellowship and the higher life." - G. K. Chesterton, fully Gilbert Keith Chesterton

"The life of a pious minister is visible rhetoric." - Richard Hooker

"As a social and as a personal force, religion has become a dependent variable. It does not originate; it reacts. It does not denounce; it adapts. It does not set forth new models of conduct and sensibility; it imitates. Its rhetoric is without deep appeal; the worship it organizes is without piety. It has become less a revitalization of the spirit in permanent tension with the world than a respectable distraction from the sourness of life." - C. Wright Mills, fully Charles Wright Mills

"The voice of humility is God’s music and the silence of humility is God’s rhetoric." - Francis Quarles

"The exploitation of the weak by the powerful, organized for the purposes of economic gain, buttressed by imposing systems of law, and screened by decorous draperies of virtuous sentiment and resounding rhetoric, has been a permanent feature in the life of most communities that the world has yet seen." -

"Where love, trust, mutual aid, equality, and empathy are not linked, the boot, whip, warring, modern inquisitors, and their epigones will supply a rhetoric that accepts humanity's fate as tragic while doing everything to perpetuate that tragedy." - Marcus G. Raskin

"Truth is most beautiful undraped; and in the impression it makes is deep in proportion as its expression has been simple. This is so partly because it then takes unobstructed possession of the hearer’s whole soul, and leaves him no by-thought to distract him; partly, also, because he feels that here he is not being corrupted or cheated by the arts of rhetoric, but that all the effect of what is said comes from the thing itself." - Arthur Schopenhauer

"Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy, deep; moral philosophy, grace; logic and rhetoric, able to contend." - Francis Bacon

"I consider theology to be the rhetoric of morals." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The ICC [Interstate Commerce Commission] illustrates what might be called the natural history of government intervention. A real or fancied evil leads to demands to do something about it. A political coalition forms consisting of sincere, high-minded reformers and equally sincere interested parties. The incompatible objectives of the members of the coalition (e.g., low prices to consumers and high prices to producers) are glossed over by fine rhetoric about “the public interest,” “fair competition,” and the like. The coalition succeeds in getting Congress (or a state legislature) to pass a law. The preamble to the law pays lip service to the rhetoric and the body of the law grants power to government officials to “do something.” The high-minded reformers experience a glow of triumph and turn their attention to new causes. The interested parties go to work to make sure that the power is used for their benefit. They generally succeed. Success breeds its problems, which are met by broadening the scope of intervention. Bureaucracy takes its toll so that even the initial special interests no longer benefit. In the end the effects are precisely the opposite of the objectives of the reformers and generally do not even achieve the objectives of the special interests. Yet the activity is so firmly established and so many vested interests are connected with it that repeal of the initial legislation is nearly inconceivable. Instead, new government legislation is called for to cope with the problems produced by the earlier legislation and a new cycle begins." - Milton Friedman, fully John Milton Friedman

"A grain of real knowledge, of genuine controllable conviction, will outweigh a bushel of adroitness and to produce persuasion there is one golden principle of rhetoric not put down in the booksto understand what you are talking about" - John Robert Seeley, fully Sir John Robert Seeley

"That the poor are invisible is one of the most important things about them. They are not simply neglected and forgotten as in the old rhetoric of reform; what is much worse, they are not seen." - Michael Harrington, fully Edward Michael "Mike" Harrington

"Many of us dismiss talk that does not convey important information as worthless - meaningless small talk if it's a social setting or empty rhetoric if it's public. Such admonitions as Skip the small talk, Get to the point, or Why don't you say what you mean? may seem to be reasonable. But they are reasonable only if information is all that counts. This attitude toward talk ignores the fact that people are emotionally involved with each other and that talking is the major way be establish, maintain, monitor and adjust our relationships. " - Deborah Tannen, fully Deborah Frances Tannen

"Enter into the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed again to enter the Church, be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent." - John Chrysostom, fully Saint John Chrysostom

"As we discern a fine line between crank and genius, so also (and unfortunately) we must acknowledge an equally graded trajectory from crank to demagogue. When people learn no tools of judgment and merely follow their hopes, the seeds of political manipulation are sown." - Stephan Jay Gould

"The equation of evolution with progress represents our strongest cultural impediment to a proper understanding of this greatest biological revolution in the history of human thought." - Stephan Jay Gould

"I must tell you that we artists cannot tread the path of Beauty without Eros keeping company with us and appointing himself as our guide." - Thomas Mann, fully Paul Thomas Mann

"An intense, unyielding stubbornness hides beneath an apparent obedience (the patient brings a vast number of dreams; his associations become endless; he produces an inexhaustible number of recollections, which seem to him very important but are actually of little moment; or he goes off upon some byroad suggested by the analyst and leads the latter into a blind alley). The child manifests the same reactions of defiance and obedience. The child, too, can hide his stubbornness behind an excessive docility (the parent's command: You must be industrious. Industry may become a mania so that the child neither goes out nor has time to sleep). Obedience is the giving up of the resistance; obstinacy the setting up of fresh resistances. This resistance is externally active. We have in recent years had sufficient opportunity to observe the law of resistance (the passive resistance). Activity and defiance show great differences. Defiance is the reaction against activity (aggression) of the environment. It may then manifest itself actively or passively and stands in the service of the defensive tendency of the ego.Every resistance reveals the ego (one's own) in conflict with another." -

"Print produced exhaustive dictionaries and fostered the desire to legislate for "correctness" in language." - Walter J. Ong, fully Walter Jackson Ong

"My father's father, his father's father, his— shadows like winds go back to a parent before thought, before speech, at the head of the past." - Wallace Stevens

"The certainty of punishment, even more than its severity, is the preventive of crime." - Tryon Edwards

"Child of earth and earthly sorrows--child of God and immortal hopes--arise from thy sadness, gird up the loins of thy mind, and with unfaltering energy press toward thy rest and reward on high." - Elias L. Magoon

"To feel physically comfortable with someone else's body is not a decision you make. It has very little thing to do with how two people think or act or talk or even look. The mysterious magnet is either there, buried somewhere deep behind the sternum, or it is not." - Elizabeth Gilbert

"There's little in taking or giving there's little in water or wine this living, this living , this living was never a project of mine. Oh, hard is the struggle, and sparse is the gain of the one at the top for art is a form of catharsis and love is a permanent flop and work is the province of cattle and rest's for a clam in a shell so I'm thinking of throwing the battle would you kindly direct me to hell?" - Dorothy Parker

"Theology is about God, and God is Spirit … we have accumulated a lot of experience in the Christian community of persons treating theology as a subject in which God is studied in the ways we are taught to study in our schools—acquiring information that we can use, or satisfying our curiosity, or obtaining qualifications for a job or profession. There are, in fact, a lot of people within and outside formal religious settings who talk and write a lot about spirituality, things of the spirit or the soul or higher things, but are not interested in God. There is a wonderful line in T. H. White’s novel of King Arthur (The Once and Future King), in which Guinevere in her old age becomes the abbess of a convent: ‘she was a wonderful theologian but she wasn’t interested in God.’ It happens." - Eugene Peterson