Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"Good is all that serves life, evil is all that serves death. Good is reverence for life...and all that enhances life. Evil is all that stifles life, narrows it down, cuts it to pieces... Dostoevsky said, "If there is no God, then anything is possible." I would say that if there is no love, nothing is possible. Man absolutely cannot live by himself... Uniformity and freedom are incompatible. Uniformity and mental health are incompatible." -

"It is universally acknowledged that there is a great uniformity among the actions of men, in all nations and ages, and that human nature remains still the same, in its principles and operations. The same motives always produce the same actions: the same events follow the same causes. Ambition, avarice, self-love, vanity, friendship, generosity, public spirit: these passions, mixed in various degrees, and distributed through society, have been from the beginning of the world, and still are, the source of all the actions and enterprises, which have ever been observed among mankind." - David Hume

"Man gains freedom only through the use of his highest faculties. Materialism makes him more and more a slave to the forces of the phenomenal world... Our present-day materialism points in this direction - that is, in the direction of the enslavement of man by mechanisation and by its direct results, by state organisations, uniformity, the sacrifice of independent intelligence, the sweeping away of individual differences, local customs, local diversity, and all the infinite branchings of humanity that enrich life... Man is made free by ‘truth’. The truth spoken here is equated with mind. This kind of truth begins with self-knowledge." - Maurice Nicoll

"Science has sometimes been said to be opposed to faith, and inconsistent with it. But all science, in fact, rests on a basis of faith, for it assumes the permanence and uniformity of natural laws - a thing which can never be demonstrated" - Tyron Edwards

"The unity of freedom has never relied on uniformity of opinion." - John F. Kennedy, fully John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy

"It is a consoling fact that, in the end, the moral independence of mankind remains indestructible. Never has it been possible for a dictatorship to enforce one religion or one philosophy upon the whole world. Nor will it ever be possible, for the spirit always escapes from servitude; refuses to think in accordance with prescribed forms, to become shallow and supine at the word of command, to allow uniformity to be permanently imposed upon it." - Stefan Zweig

"You will to believe that because you are an individual expression of God there is purpose, real and meaningful in your life, and you will to believe that to achieve this purpose you are also equipped with the talent and potential necessary for its achievement. Will to believe it!... It is the originality in each of us and not our uniformity which gives life its deepest meaning." - Marcus Bach, fully James Marcus Bach

"In nothing is the uniformity of human nature more conspicuous than in its respect for virtue." -

"I believe that, for the rest of the world, contemporary America is an almost symbolic concentration of all the best and the worst of our civilization. On the one hand, there are its profound commitment to enhancing civil liberty and to maintaining the strength of its democratic institutions, and the fantastic developments in science and technology which have contributed so much to our well-being; on the other, there is the blind worship of perpetual economic growth and consumption, regardless of their destructive impact on the environment, or how subject they are to the dictates of materialism and consumerism, or how they, through the omnipresence of television and advertising, promote uniformity, and banality instead of a respect for human uniqueness." - Václav Havel

"Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burned, tortured, fined and imprisoned, yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half of the world fools and the other half hypocrites." - Thomas Jefferson

"Good qualities are easier to destroy than bad ones, and therefore uniformity is most easily achieved by lowering all standards." - Bertrand Russell, fully Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell

"Uniformity brings death, variety brings life." - Herbert Spencer

"What science calls unity and uniformity of nature, truth calls the fidelity of God." - James Martineau

"The unity of freedom has never relied on the uniformity of opinion." -

"It is not by wearing down into uniformity all that is individual in themselves, but by cultivating it, and calling it forth, within the limits imposed by the rights and interests of others, that human beings become noble and beautiful object of contemplation; and as the works partake the character of those who do them, by the same process human life also becomes rich, diversified, and animating, furnishing more abundant aliment to high thoughts and elevating feelings, and strengthening the tie which binds every individual to the race, by making the race infinitely better worth belonging to." - John Stuart Mill

"Differences are likely to lead to... the world's advancement, and add to the charms of social intercourse. Nothing leads to boredom more than uniformity of manners and thoughts." - Joseph Jacobs

"America has believed that in differentiation, not in uniformity, lies the path of progress. It acted on this belief; it has advanced human happiness, and it has prospered." - Louis D. Brandeis, fully Louis Dembitz Brandeis

"These mysteries have a common element: they exhibit a staggering coherence throughout the reaches of space and time.” Furthermore, “There is no reasonable explanation in 'BB [big bang] theory' for the observed flatness of the universe; for the missing mass in it; for the accelerating expansion of galaxies; for the coherence of some basic cosmic ratios; and for the 'horizon problem,' the uniformity of the macrostructures throughout cosmic space. The problem known as the 'tuning of the constants' is particularly vexing. The three dozen or more physical parameters of the universe are so finely tuned that together they create the highly improbable conditions under which life can emerge... These are all puzzles of coherence, and they raise the possibility that this universe did not arise in the context of a random fluctuation of the underlying quantum vacuum. Instead, it may have been born in the womb of a prior 'meta-universe'... [i.e.] a vaster, more fundamental universe that is behind or beyond the universe we observe and inhabit." - Ervin László

"Every character is in some respects uniform, and in others inconsistent; and it is only by the study both of the uniformity and inconsistency, and a comparison of them with each other, that the knowledge of man is acquired." -

"Since there are only a few original people in the world, there is more uniformity than one might expect, in view of the large number who think they have something to say" -

"The uniformity of earth's life, more astonishing than its diversity, is accountable by the high probability that we derived, originally, from some single cell, fertilized in a bolt of lightning as the earth cooled. " - Lewis Thomas

"In nothing is the uniformity of human nature more conspicuous than in its respect for virtue. " - Cicero, fully Marcus Tullius Cicero, anglicized as Tully NULL

"The art of government ... which has now become the program of most governments in capitalist countries, absolutely does not seek the constitution of ... [a] standardizing, mass society of consumption and spectacle, etcetera... It involves, on the contrary, obtaining a society that is not orientated towards the commodity and the uniformity of the commodity, but towards the multiplicity and differentiation of enterprises... An enterprise society and a judicial society, a society orientated towards the enterprise and a society framed by a multiplicity of judicial institutions, are two faces of a single phenomenon." - Michel Foucault

"War is the health of the State. It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense...the nation in war-time attains a uniformity of feeling, a hierarchy of values culminating at the undisputed apex of the State ideal, which could not possibly be produced through any other agency than war...The State is intimately connected with war, for it is the organization of the collective community when it acts in a political manner, and to act in a political manner towards a rival group has meant, throughout all history - war." - Randolph Bourne, fully Randolph Silliman Bourne

"The man who loves other countries as much as his own stands on a level with the man who loves other women as much as he loves his own wife." - Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." - Thomas Jefferson

"I do not believe that in the four administrations which have taken place, there has been a single instance of departure from good faith towards other nations. We may sometimes have mistaken our rights, or made an erroneous estimate of the actions of others, but no voluntary wrong can be imputed to us. In this respect England exhibits the most remarkable phaenomenon in the universe in the contrast between the profligacy of its government and the probity of its citizens. And accordingly it is now exhibiting an example of the truth of the maxim that virtue and interest are inseparable. It ends, as might have been expected, in the ruin of its people, but this ruin will fall heaviest, as it ought to fall on that hereditary aristocracy which has for generations been preparing the catastrophe. I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." - Thomas Jefferson

"It accords with our principles to acknowledge any government to be rightful which is formed by the will of the nation substantially declared." - Thomas Jefferson

"While I am writing, the sea's roar is coming up to me, and I close my eyes. I am looking into an unborn and shapeless world that longs to be called to life and order, I am looking into a throng of phantoms of human forms which beckon me to conjure them and set them free: some of them tragic, some of them ridiculous, and some that are both at once." - Thomas Mann, fully Paul Thomas Mann

"Seek happiness for its own sake, and you will not find it; seek for duty, and happiness will follow as the shadow comes with the sunshine." - Tryon Edwards

"Politicians promise you heaven before election and give you hell after." - Emma Goldman

"The whole history of man is continuous proof of the maxim that to divest one's methods of ethical concepts means to sink into the depths of utter demoralization." - Emma Goldman