Great Throughts Treasury

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


"The self is the metaphoric construct of identity and agency, the hypothetical piece of turf on which we construct our strategies for survival, the notion around which we focus our instincts for self-preservation, our needs for self-approval, and the boundaries of our self-interest." - Joanna Macy, fully Joanna Rogers Macy

"Man has a fund of emotional energy which is not all occupied with his self-preservation. This surplus seeks its outlet in the creation of art, for man’s civilization is built upon his surplus." -

"With the exception of the instinct of self-preservation, the propensity for emulation is probably the strongest and most alert and persistent of the economic motives proper." - Thorstein Veblen, fully Thorstein Bunde Veblen, born Torsten Bunde Veblen

"An animal's first impulse is self-preservation." - Diogenes Laërtius, aka "Diogenes the Cynic"

"As a matter of self-preservation, a man needs to be supplied with good friends or ardent enemies, for the former instruct him and the latter take him to task." - Diogenes Laërtius, aka "Diogenes the Cynic"

"That great Law of Nature, Self-Preservation." - Samuel Butler

"I put the hatred aside for self-preservation. If you go on hating, it only hurts you - not the person that you hate. It prevents you from being all that you can be and from doing all that you want to do. It is a burden that slows you down." - Harold Gordon, born Hirshel Grodzienski

"A life of mere self-preservation, for which we may well have instincts, would be for most of us a life without meaning. We want something beyond the routine of a boring and aimless existence. We want to satisfy standards of value to which we consciously adhere." - Irving Singer

"Self-preservation is the first law of nature; self-sacrifice the highest rule of grace." - Author Unknown NULL

"Life as a sum of ends has a right against abstract right. If for example it is only by stealing bread that the wolf can be kept from the door, the action is of course an encroachment on someone’s property, but it would be wrong to treat this action as an ordinary theft. To refuse to allow a man in jeopardy of his life to take such steps for self-preservation would be to stigmatize him as without rights, and since he would be deprived of his life, his freedom would be annulled altogether. Many diverse details have a bearing on the preservation of life, and when we have our eyes on the future we have to engage ourselves in these details. But the only thing that is necessary is to live now, the future is not absolute but ever exposed to accident. Hence it is only the necessity of the immediate present which can justify a wrong action, because not to do the action would in turn be to cause not to do the action would in turn be to commit an offense, indeed the most wrong of all offenses, namely the complete destruction of the embodiment of freedom." - Georg Hegel, fully Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

"Personal health is preserved by learning about one’s own constitution, by finding out what is good or bad for oneself, by continual self-control in eating habits and comforts (but just to the extent needed for self-preservation), by forgoing sensual pleasures, and lastly, by the professional skill of those to whose science these matters belong." - Cicero, fully Marcus Tullius Cicero, anglicized as Tully NULL

"Self-preservation is the first law of nature." -

"With the exception of the instinct of self-preservation, the propensity for emulation is probably the strongest and most alert and persistent of the economic motives proper." -

"If we should venture to name this deep-set desire which we call religious it might be represented as an ultimate demand for self-preservation; it is man’s leap for eternal life in some form, in presence of an awakened fear of fate." - William Ernest Hocking

"An insatiable appetite for glory leads to sacrifice and death, but innate instinct leads to self-preservation and life." - José Martí, fully José Julián Martí Pérez

"No good purpose has ever been served by disturbing the nerves of our little ones with the emotion of fear. A child, for example, may suffer more from the fear of a fall than from the fall itself. While it is true that the early steps of a child must be watched, and its early experiences guided, yet a guardianship based on the instilling of fear into the young soul, is far more harmful than any baleful experience which the unguarded child may encounter. It is seldom that an accident befalls a child through its own lack of care or experience ; the instinct for self-preservation works strongly and unconsciously from the very earliest stages of childhood. God has created His creatures with the necessary provisions for the protection of life." - Rabbi Morris Lichtenstein

"Was there to be any end to the gradual improvement in the techniques and artifices used by the replicators to ensure their own continuation in the world? There would be plenty of time for their improvement. What weird engines of self-preservation would the millennia bring forth? Four thousand million years on, what was to be the fate of the ancient replicators? They did not die out, for they are the past masters of the survival arts. But do not look for them floating loose in the sea; they gave up that cavalier freedom long ago. Now they swarm in huge colonies, safe inside gigantic lumbering robots, sealed off from the outside world, communicating with it by tortuous indirect routes, manipulating it by remote control. They are in you and me; they created us, body and mind; and their preservation is the ultimate rational for our existence. They have come a long way, those replicators. Now they go by the name of genes, and we are their survival machines." - Richard Dawkins

"The enraged man always appears as the gang-leader of his own self, giving his unconscious the order to pull no punches, his eyes shining with the satisfaction of speaking for the many that he himself is. The more someone has espoused the cause of his own aggression, the more perfectly he represents the repressive principle of society. In this sense more than in any other, perhaps, the proposition is true that the most individual is the most general." - Theodor W. Adorno, born Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund

"The Legislative and Executive branches may sometimes err, but elections and dependence will bring them to rights." - Thomas Jefferson

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;" - Thomas Jefferson

"Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of human is through love and in love." - Viktor Frankl, fully Viktor Emil Frankl

"Again and again mothers who lost their sons in France have come to me, and, taking my hand, have not only shed tears upon it, but they have added, `God bless you, Mr. President! Why should they pray God to bless me? I advised the Congress to create the situation that led to the death of their sons. I ordered their sons overseas. I consented to their sons' being put in the most difficult part of the battle line, where death was certain...Why should they weep upon my hand and call down the blessings of God upon me? Because they believe that their boys died for something that vastly transcends any of the immediate and palpable objects of the war. They believe, and rightly believe, that their sons saved the liberty of the world." - Woodrow Wilson, fully Thomas Woodrow Wilson

"He was talking very excitedly to me, said the Vicar, about some apparatus for warming a church in Worthing and about the Apostolic Claims of the Church of Abyssinia. I confess I could not follow him clearly. He seems deeply interested in Church matters. Are you quite sure he is right in the head? I have noticed again and again since I have been in the Church that lay interest in ecclesiastical matters is often a prelude to insanity." - Evelyn Waugh, fully Evelyn Arthur St. John Waugh