Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"The test of every religious, political, or educational system is the man which it forms. If it injures the intelligence, it is bad; if it injures the character, it is vicious; if it injures the conscience it is criminal." -

"Foremost among the barriers to equality is the system which ignores the mother’s service to Society in making a home and rearing children. The mother is still the uncharted servant of the future, who receives from her husband, at his discretion, a share in his wages." - Katharine Anthony, fully Katharine Susan Anthony

"Instinct gave place temporarily to a system of habits, each one of which became contingent, their convergence of which became contingent, their convergence towards the preservation of society being alone necessary, and this necessity bringing back instinct with it. The necessity of the whole, felt behind the contingency of the parts, is what we call moral obligation in general - it being understood that the parts are contingent in the eyes of society only; to the individual, into whom society inculcates its habits, the part is as necessary as the whole." - Henri Bergson, aka Henri-Louis Bergson

"A liberal-arts education is supposed to provide you with a value system, a standard, a set of ideas, not a job." - Caroline Bird

"The human mind feels restless and dissatisfied under the anxieties of ignorance. It longs for the repose of conviction; and to gain this repose it will often rather precipitate its conclusions than wait for the tardy lights of observation and experiment. There is such a thing, too, as the love of simplicity and system, a prejudice of the understanding which disposes it to include al the phenomena of nature under a few sweeping generalities, and indolence which loves to repose on the beauties of a theory rather than encounter the fatiguing detail of its evidences." - Thomas Chalmers

"The whole history of science, art and morals proves that the mind that appears in individuals, is not as such individual mind. The former is in itself a system of belief, recognitions, and ignorances, of acceptances and rejections, of expectancies and appraisals of meanings which have been instituted under the influence of custom and tradition." - John Dewey

"It is better to give love. Hatred is a low and degrading emotion and is so poisonous that no man is strong enough to use it safely. The hatred we think we are directing against some person or thing or system has a devilish way of turning back upon us. When we seek revenge we administer slow poison to ourselves. When we administer affection it is astonishing what magical results we obtain." - Thomas Dreier

"To accept as a fact of life that a certain technology will be used for the simple reason that we know how to use it, or that we shall continue to live under a certain social system after it has become too complicated for human understanding, is tantamount to an abdication of intellectual and social responsibility." -

"We have inadvertently designed a system in which being good at what you do as a teacher is not formally rewarded, while being poor at what you do is seldom corrected nor penalized." - Elliot W. Eisner

"We have in America the largest public school system on earth, the most expensive college buildings, the most extensive curriculum, but nowhere else is education so blind to its objectives, so indifferent to any specific outcome as in America. One trouble has been its negative character. It has aimed at the repression of faults rather than the creation of virtues." - William H. P. Faunce

"Our system of thought and opinion, is often the only history of our heart. Men do not so much will according to their reason, as reason according to their will." - Immanual Hermann Fichte

"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

"There is a sort of knowledge beyond the power of learning to bestow, and this is to be had in conversation; so necessary is this to the understanding the characters of men, that none are more ignorant of them than those learned pedants whose lives have been entirely consumed in colleges and among books; for however exquisitely human nature may have been described by writers the true practical system can be learned only in the world." - Henry Fielding

"It seems not to be true that there is a power in the universe, which watches over the well-being of every individual with parental care and brings all his concerns to a happy ending. On the contrary, the destinies of man are incompatible with a universal principle of benevolence or with - what is to some degree contradictory - a universal principle of justice... Dark, unfeeling, and unloving powers determine human destiny; the system of rewards and punishments, which according to religion, governs the world, seems to have no existence." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"War is nothing less than a temporary repeal of the principles of virtue. It is a system out of which almost all the virtues are excluded, and in which nearly all the vices are included." - Robert Hall

"As the very atoms of the earth and the stars of the sky seek harmony with the system which binds them in a cosmic unity, so the souls of men seek harmony with the Spirit which makes them one." - John Haynes Holmes

"The only difference betwixt the natural vices and justice lies in this, that the good, which results from the former, arises from every single act, and is the object of some natural passion: whereas a single act of justice, consider’d in itself, may often be contrary to the public good; and ‘tis only the concurrence of mankind, in a general scheme or system of action, which is advantageous." - David Hume

"Our belief in truth itself.. that there is a truth, and that our minds and it are made for each other, what is it but a passionate affirmation of desire, in which our social system backs us up? We want to have a truth; we want to believe that our experiments and studies and discussions must put us in a continually better and better position towards it; and on this line we agree to fight out our thinking lives." - William James

"The only moral virtue of war is that it compels the capitalist system to look itself in the face and admit it is a fraud. It compels the present society to admit that it has no morals it will not sacrifice for gain." - Garrison Keillor, fully Gary Edward "Garrison" Keillor

"A wise system of education will at least teach us how little man yet knows, how much he has still to learn." - John Lubbock, fully Sir John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury

"To the acquisition of the rare quality of politeness, so much of the enlightened understanding is necessary that I cannot but consider every book in every science, which tends to make us wiser, and of course better men, as a treatise on a more enlarged system of politeness." - Neil Monro, sometimes wrote under pen name Hugh Foulis

"Religious addiction is using God, the Church, or a belief system as an escape from reality, in an attempt to find or elevate a sense of self-worth or well-being... It is the ultimate form of co-dependency - feeling worthless in and of ourselves and looking outside for something or someone to tell us we are worthwhile... Recovery means discovering divinity in one's own life." - Leo Booth

"Wherever progress ends, decline in variably begins; but remember that the healthful progress of society is like the natural life of man - it consists in the gradual and harmonious development of all its constitutional powers, all its component parts, and you introduce weakness and disease into the whole system whether you attempt to stint or to force its growth." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, fully Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, Lord Lytton

"The happiness of every man depends on the harmony between the development of his various faculties and the entire system of circumstances which govern his life." - Auguste Comte, formally Isidore Auguste Marie François Xavier Comte

"No attack on democracy can hide the fact that it can be replaced only by a system that substitutes coercion for persuasion; one that replaces the individual's choice with the choice of some ruler." -

"Science is the attempt to make the chaotic diversity of our sense-experience correspond to a logically uniform system of thought." - Albert Einstein

"We have in America the largest public school system on earth, the most expensive college buildings, the most extensive curriculum, but nowhere else is education so blind to its objectives, so indifferent to any specific outcome as in America. One trouble has been at the repression of faults rather than creation of virtues." - William P. Faunce

"Money, after all, is extremely simple. It is a part of our transportation system. It is a simple and direct method of conveying goods from one person to another. Money is in itself most admirable. It is essential. It is not intrinsically evil. It is one of the most useful devices in social life, and when it does what it was intended to do, it is all help and no hindrance." - Henry Ford

"To regard teachers - in our entire educational system from the primary grades to the university - as priests of our democracy is therefore not to indulge in hyperbole. It is the special task of teachers to foster those habits of open-mindedness and critical inquiry which alone make for responsible citizens, who in turn, make possible an enlightened and effective public opinion." - Felix Frankfurter

"The idea of life having a purpose stands and falls with the religious system." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"What kind of society isn't structured on greed? The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm; capitalism is that kind of a system." - Milton Friedman, fully John Milton Friedman

"A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that works." - John Gaule

"Every system of knowledge contains meaningful tenets whose truth or falsity cannot be established if one remains completely within that system." - Kurt Gödel, also Goedel

"Abortion almost always symbolizes failure - the failure of a contraceptive, of a relationship, of a family, of a dream, even of a social system. Government need not add an extra lash to the whip." - Soma Golden, fully Soma Golden Behr

"There is no separation between a patient’s neurobiology, spiritual life, life perspectives, and quality of life force. Words, and spiritual/therapeutic interventions can tangibly affect a patient’s neurochemistry and physical health just as assuredly as psycho-pharmacological drugs can tangibly affect a patient’s feelings and thoughts... I have found that working with the meaning of a patient’s illness can profoundly alter not only the prognosis but can influence and give meaning to all other aspects of a patient’s life. Depression, for example, is often a direct communication from the soul that one’s belief system is not working... It is all too easy, and part of the human condition, to be misled by our lower half into believing that the sensory world is all that’s real." - Brian Greer

"It is undeniable that a man needs to be provided with some sort of philosophical background for his existence. And still more... does he need to be provided with a proper system of transcendental cosmology. But it remains true that the primary concern of the seeker after spiritual fulfillment is not with philosophy, but with wisdom." - Lawrence Hyde, 1st Earl of Rochester

"Disease is not so much the effect of noxious, external forces - the 'bugs,' both literal and figurative in our lives - as it is the faulty effort of our minds and bodies to deal with them... already reside in our bodies. When our responses to problems in life are excessive or deficient, the central nervous system and hormones act on our immune defenses in such a way that the microbes aid and abet disease. The balance is upset between us and our resident pathogens." - Blair Justice

"What we have today in the United States is not so much a health-care system as a disease-cure system." - Ted Kennedy, fully Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy

"The uprooting of human beings from the land, the concentration in cities, the breakdown of the authority of family, of tradition, and of moral conventions, the complexity and the novelty of modern life, and finally the economic insecurity of our industrial system have called into being the modern social worker. They perform a function in modern society which is not a luxury but an absolute necessity." - Walter Lippmann

"You may make everything else out of the passions of men except a political system that will work, and that there is nothing so pitilessly and unconsciously cruel as sincerity formulated into dogma." - James Russell Lowell

"A segregated school system produces children who when they graduate, graduate with crippled minds." -

"Our chief aim of any true system of education must be to impart to the individual the courage to play the game against any and all odds, the nerve to walk into the ambushes of existence, the hardiness to face the most despicable truth about himself and not let it daunt him permanently; it must armour him with an ultimate carelessness." -

"The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property. By modern bourgeois private property is the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products that is based on class antagonisms, on the exploitation of the many by the few." - Karl Marx (1818-1883) German Philosopher, Socialist and Friedrich Engels

"Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous system and profoundly affects the health. I have never known a man who died from overwork, but many who died from doubt." - Charles Horace Mayo

"The universe is infinite response. Mentally understood, it is all possibilities. Every point of view is possible, and because it ‘exists’ it is right... The universe gives more than we give... Unless one sees the world differently, unless new ideas touch our consciousness we cannot rise to any apprehension of the second system. To all that we know naturally we must add something, and in this volume this addition is taken in terms of adding first the dimension of Time to our own lives and considering what this means for oneself." - Maurice Nicoll

"Science provides a vision of reality seen from the perspective of reason, a perspective that sees the vast order of the universe, living and nonliving matter, as a material system governed by rules that can be known by the human mind. It is a powerful vision, formal and austere but strangely silent about many of the questions that deeply concern us. Science shows us what exists but not what to do about it." - Heinz Pagels

"Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system." - Thomas Paine

"Every science has for its basis a system of principles as fixed and unalterable as those by which the universe is regulated and governed. Man cannot make principles; he can only discover them." - Thomas Paine

"Can a man control his future? Yes. Despite the system they live under, men everywhere have, I believe, more power over the future than ever before. The important thing is that we must choose to exercise it. What we do today determines how the world shall go, for tomorrow is made up of the sum total of today's experiences... Far from feeling hopeless or helpless, we must seize every opportunity, however small, to help the world around us toward peace, productivity and human brotherhood." - Bons (Leonidovich) Pasternak

"The great majority of us are required to live a life of constant, systematic duplicity. Your health is bound to be affected, if day after day, you say the opposite of what you feel, if you grovel before what you dislike and rejoice at what brings you nothing but misfortune. Our nervous system isn't just a fiction, it's a part of our physical body, our soul exists in space inside us, like the teeth in our mouth. It can't be forever violated with impunity." - Bons (Leonidovich) Pasternak