Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Wills

"Man does not choose of necessity... in all particular goods, the reason can consider an aspect of some good, and the lack of some good, which has the aspect of evil; and in this respect, it can apprehend any single one of such goods as to be chosen or to be avoided. The perfect good alone which is Happiness, cannot be apprehended by the reason as an evil, or as lacking in any way. Consequently man wills Happiness of necessity, nor can he will not to be happy, or to be unhappy. Now since choice is not of the end, but of the means... it is not of the perfect good, which is Happiness, but of other particular goods. Therefore man chooses not of necessity, but freely." -

"Life is not the creature of circumstance. Indeed, in the whole universe of everything that is, life alone, life by its very nature, is the antagonist of circumstance... If there is any one thing that is utterly clear about the nature of life, it is that it was meant to master circumstance. The spirit conquers all things when the spirit wills it, and no excuse remains when we fail to live as we wish." - Arthur Powell Davies

"Lying is an ugly vice... Since mutual understanding is brought about solely by way of words, he who breaks his word betrays human society. It is the only instrument by means of which our wills and thoughts communicate, it is the interpreter of our soul. If it fails us, we have no more hold on each other, no more knowledge of each other. If it deceives us, it breaks up all our relations and dissolves all the bonds of our society." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"Yet it may be asked how a man can be at once free and forced to conform to wills which are not his own. How can the opposing minority be both free and subject to laws to which they have not consented? I answer that the question is badly formulated. The citizen consents to all the laws, even to those that are passed against his will, and even to those which punish him when he dares to break any one of them. The constant will of all the members of the state is the general will; it is through it that they are citizens and are free." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"Our memories are independent of our wills. It is not so easy to forget." - Richard Brinsley Sheridan

"It will easily be seen in what consist the difference between a man who is led by affect or opinion alone and one who is led by reason. The former, whether he wills it or not, does those things of which he is entirely ignorant, but the latter does the will of no one but himself, and does those things only which he knows are of greatest importance in life, and which he therefore desires above all things. I call the former, therefore, a slave, and the latter free." -

"If there is free will, all things do not happen according to fate; if all things do not happen according to fate, there is not a certain order of causes; and if there is not a certain order of causes, neither is there a certain order of things foreknown by God - for things cannot come to pass except they are preceded by efficient causes - but if there is no fixed and certain order of causes foreknown by God, all things cannot be said to happen according as He foreknew that they would happen... But it does not follow that, though there is for God a certain order of all causes, there must therefore be nothing depending on the free exercise of our own wills, for our wills themselves are included in that order of causes which is certain to God and is embraced by His foreknowledge, for human wills are also causes of human actions; and He Who foreknew all the causes of things would certainly among those causes not have been ignorant of our wills." - Saint Augustine, aka Augustine of Hippo, St. Austin, Bishop of Hippo NULL

"Inspiration always comes when a man wills it, but it does not always depart when he wishes." - Charles Pierre Baudelaire

"Nothing is small or great in God's sight. Whatever He wills becomes great to us, however seemingly trifling; and if once the voice of conscience tells us that He requires anything of us, we have no right to measure its importance." -

"Nothing is small or great in God’s sight. Whatever He wills becomes great to us, however seemingly trifling; and if once the voice of conscience tells us that He requires anything of us, we have no right to measure its importance." -

"As the flowers follow the sun, and silently hold up their petals to be tinted and enlarged by its shining, so must we, if we would know the joy of God, hold our souls, wills, hearts, and minds, still before Him, whose voice commands, whose love warns, whose truth makes fair our whole being. God speaks for the most pat in such silence only. If the soul be full of tumult and jangling voices, His voice is little likely to be heard." - Alexander Maclaren

"Do not let the loud utterances of your own wills anticipate, nor drown, the still, small voice in which God speaks. Bridle impatience till He does. If you cannot hear His whisper, wait till you do. Take care of running before you are sent. Keep your wills in equipoise till God’s hand gives the impulse and direction." - Alexander Maclaren

"He produces not only our choice, but also the very freedom that is in our chance... In order to understand that God creates our free will in us, we must understand only that He wills us to be free. But He will not only that we should be free in power, but that we should be free in its exercise." - Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

"Whatever that which feels, which has knowledge, which wills, which has the power of growth, it is celestial and divine, and for that reason must of necessity be eternal." -

"When we pray for another, it is not an attempt to alter God’s mind toward him. In prayer we add our wills to God’s good will… that in fellowship with Him He and we may minister to those whom both He and we love." - Henry Sloane Coffin

"Bitter is the criticism for which, with the best of wills, we can derive no benefit." -

"Our wills are the slaves of the accumulated influence of our interior companionships. What we can do is to get new mental images." -

"Speculating will not do. It takes the forward movement of deliberate, dynamic living to make this journey – especially the longest and most important journey of all, the journey from our heads to our hearts and from our hearts to our wills. If the journey is life, then only through living will truths gain force that are otherwise barren platitudes." - Os Guiness

"The unreflective person thinks and imagines that when he prays, the important thing, the thing he must concentrate upon, is that God should hear what he is praying for. And yet in the true, eternal sense it is just the reverse; the true relation in prayer is not when God hears what is prayed for, but when the person continues to pray until he is the one who hears, who hears what God wills." -

"Sin is not exhausted in describing individual acts which aren’t very nice. “Sin” is fundamentally a description of our entire situation, one of separation from God, alienation from him, arising out of our rebellion, our refusal to do his will, our insistence upon the following of our wills." - James A. Martin, Jr.

"When our wills are united with the will of God, we never take all the goodness and beauty and people and things in life for granted, but we accept them again and again as a gift from him – given that we may serve him with still greater joy and thank him for it." - Albert Schweitzer

"Only through a harmonization of human wills, in a compact freely entered into in the light of divine necessity, can peace prevail among men." - Arnold J. Toynbee, fully Arnold Joseph Toynbee

"Great souls have wills; feeble ones have only wishes." - Chinese Proverbs

"It is only man who is good, and he is good only because he can also be evil. Good and evil are inseparable, and their inseparability is rooted in the fact that the concept becomes an object to itself, and as object it eo ipso acquires the character of difference. The evil will wills something opposed to the university of the will, while the good will acts in accordance with its true concept." - Georg Hegel, fully Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

"To will what God wills is the only science that gives us rest." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"The notion of happiness is so indefinite that although every man wishes to attain it yet he never can say definitely and consistently what it is that he really wishes and wills." - Immanuel Kant

"The notion of happiness is so indefinite that although every man wishes to attain it, yet he never can say definitely and consistently what it is that he really wishes and wills. The reason of this is that all the elements which belong to the notion of happiness are altogether empirical, i.e., they must be borrowed from experience, and nevertheless the idea of happiness requires an absolute whole, a maximum of welfare in my present and all future circumstances." - Immanuel Kant

"All the grand agencies which the progress of mankind evolves are the aggregate result of countless wills, each of which, thinking merely of its own end, and perhaps fully gaining it, is at the same time enlisted by Providence in the secret service of the world." - James Martineau

"The first party of painted savages who raised a few huts upon the Thames did not dream of the London they were creating, or know that in the lighting the fire on their hearth they were kindling one of the great foci of Time... All the grand agencies which the progress of mankind evolves are formed in the same unconscious way. They are the aggregate results of countless single wills, each of which, thinking merely of its own end, and perhaps fully gaining it, is at the same time enlisted by Providence in the secret service of the world." - James Martineau

"In order to get any truth about myself, I must have contact with another person. The other is indispensable to my own existence, as well as to my knowledge bout myself. This being so, in discovering my inner being I discover the other person at the same time, like a freedom placed in front of me which thinks and wills only for or against me. Hence, let us at once announce the discovery of a world which we shall call inter-subjectivity; this is the world in which man decides what he is and what others are." - Jean-Paul Sartre

"Man simply is. Not that he simply is what he conceives himself to be, but he is what he wills, and as he conceives of himself after already existing - as he will to be... Man is nothing else but that which is makes of himself. That is the first principle of existentialism." - Jean-Paul Sartre

"There is no human nature, since there is no God to conceive it. Not only is man what he conceives himself to be, but he is also only what he wills himself to be after this thrust toward existence." - Jean-Paul Sartre

"The most learned men have told us that only the wise man is free. What is freedom but the ability to live as one will? The man who lives as he wills is none other than the one who strives for the right, who does his duty, who plans his life with forethought, and who obeys the laws because he knows it is good for him, and not out of fear. Everything he says, does, or thinks is spontaneous and free. His tasks and conduct begin and end in himself, because nothing has so much influence over him as his own counsel and decision. Even the supreme power of fortune is submissive to him. The wise poet has reminded us that fortune is molded for each man by the manner of his life. Only the wise man does nothing against his will, or with regret and by compulsion. Thought this truth deserves to be discussed at greater length, it is nevertheless proverbial that no one is free except the wise. Evil men are nothing but slaves." - Cicero, fully Marcus Tullius Cicero, anglicized as Tully NULL

"Whatever that be which thinks, understand, wills, and acts, it is something celestial and divine." - Cicero, fully Marcus Tullius Cicero, anglicized as Tully NULL

"What am I? A thing which thinks. What is a thing which thinks? It is a thing which doubts, understands, affirms, denies, wills, refuses, which also imagines and feels." - René Descartes

"Man does not choose of necessity... Consequently man wills Happiness of necessity, nor can he will not to be happy, or to be unhappy. Now since choice is not of the end, but of the means... it is not of the perfect good, which is Happiness, but of other particular goods. Therefore man chooses not of necessity but freely." -

"Voices of the glorified urge us onward. they who have passed from the semblances of time to the realities of eternity call upon us to advance. The rest that awaits us invites us forward. We do not pine for our rest before God wills it. We long for no inglorious rest. We are thankful rather for the invaluable training of difficulty, the loving discipline of danger and strife. Yet in the midst of it all the prospect of rest invites us heavenward. Through all, and above all, God cries, “Go forward!” “Come up higher.”" - William Jones, fully Sir William Jones of Nayland, aka Trinity Jones

"Our bodies are our gardens... our wills our gardeners." -

"Our wills and fates do so contrary run, that our devices still are overthrown; our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own." -

"Our wills are the slaves of the accumulated influence of our interior companionships. What we can do is to get new mental images. " - Harry Emerson Fosdick

"Within us there is someone who knows everything, wills everything, does everything better than we ourselves. " - Herman Hesse

"A man has to learn that he cannot command things, but that he can command himself; that he cannot coerce the wills of others, but that he can mold and master his own will: and things serve him who serves Truth; people seek guidance of him who is master of himself. " - James Allen

"Nothing is small or great in God’s sight. Whatever He wills becomes great to us, however seemingly trifling; and if once the voice of conscience tells us that He requires anything of us, we have no right to measure its importance." - Jean Grou, fully Jean Nicholas Grou

"What do we mean by saying that existence precedes essence? We mean that man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world – and defines himself afterwards. If man as the existentialist sees him is not definable, it is because to begin with he is nothing. He will not be anything until later, and then he will be what he makes of himself. Thus, there is no human nature, because there is no God to have a conception of it. Man simply is. Not that he is simply what he conceives himself to be, but he is what he wills, and as he conceives himself after already existing – as he wills to be after that leap towards existence. Man is nothing else but that which he makes of himself. That is the first principle of existentialism." - Jean-Paul Sartre

"The processes of teaching the child that everything cannot be as he wills it are apt to be painful both to him and to his teacher." - Anne Sullivan, fully Johanna "Anne" Mansfield Macy

"In every soul to be saved is a godly will that has never consented to sin, in the past or in the future. Just as there is an animal will in our lower nature that oes not will what is good, so there is a godly will in our higher part, which by its basic goodness never wills what is evil, but only what is good." - Julian of Norwich NULL

"What is the cause of historical events? Power. What is power? Power is the sum total of wills transferred to one person. On what condition are the will so for the masses transferred to one person? On condition that the person express the will of the whole people. That is, power is power. That is, power is a word the meaning of which we do not understand." - Leo Tolstoy, aka Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy or Tolstoi

"How can we speak of Democracy or Freedom when from the very beginning of life we mould the child to undergo tyranny, to obey a dictator? How can we expect democracy when we have reared slaves? Real freedom begins at the beginning of life, not at the adult stage. These people who have been diminished in their powers, made short-sighted, devitalized by mental fatigue, whose bodies have become distorted, whose wills have been broken by elders who say: “your will must disappear and mine prevail!”—how can we expect them, when school-life is finished, to accept and use the rights of freedom?" - Maria Montessori

"Whithersoever they may flee, there is God. Wherever they find themselves, once more they flee away, for God is everywhere. Ever more desperately they flee; but God is already in every place, waiting for them to come...Ever more desperately they fling themselves away, but they can only fling themselves so far, because they have torn themselves away from God...Yet God's power is still manifested in man's tearing himself away from God...They are being hunted by God and they can move so swiftly only because he hunts them. Even this is God's love, that he, he and no other, wills to pursue the fleeing, so that he, the swiftest, may always be the nearest to those in flight." - Max Picard