Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Ability

"At the same time that the information which is required to use and maintain modern products is increasing dramatically, the human ability to comprehend that information is decreasing catastrophically." - Norman Augustine, fully Norman Ralph Augustine

"There is only one proof of ability - results. Men with ability in action get results." - Harry F. Banks, real name possibly Harry Band

"For success, attitude is equally as important as ability." - Harry F. Banks, real name possibly Harry Band

"During my eighty-seven years I have witnessed a whole succession of technological revolutions. But none of them has done away with the need for character in the individual or the ability to think." - Bernard Baruch, fully Bernard Mannes Baruch

"Children who have been taught, or conditioned, to listen passively most of the day to the warm verbal communication coming from the TV screen, to the deep emotional appeal of the so-called TV personality, are often unable to respond to real persons because they arouse so much less feeling than the skilled actor. Worse, they lose the ability to learn from reality because life experiences are more complicated than the ones they see on the screen, and there is no one who comes in at the end to explain it all. The “TV child”... gets discouraged when he cannot grasp the meaning of what happens to him.... If, later in life, this block of solid inertia is not removed, the emotional isolation from others that starts in front of TV may continue... This being seduced into passivity and discouraged about facing life actively on one’ sown is the real danger of TV." - Bruno Bettelheim

"Thrift is not, as many suppose, a self repression. It is self expression, the demonstration of a will and ability to raise one's self to a higher plane of living. No depression was ever caused by people having too much money in reserve. No human being ever became a social drifter through the practice of sensible thrift." - Harvey A. Blodgett

"What is Zen in the art of helping? It is easier to say what it is not than more positively to describe the essence. It is to avoid the boosting of the ego through ‘good works’. It is to aid oneself and others in the pursuit of the good life; to discover and uncover new vigour and freshness in the art of living; to uncover the primal ability of love. Living in the here and now is a major ingredient." - David A. Brandon

"Measure obligation by inherent ability!" - Horace Bushnell

"The man who acquires the ability to take full possession of his own mind may take possession of anything else to which he is justly entitled." - Andrew Carnegie

"Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. It may not be difficult to store up in the mind a vast quantity of facts within a comparatively short time, but the ability to form judgments requires the severe discipline of hard work and the tempering heat of experience and maturity." - Calvin Coolidge, fully John Calvin Coolidge, Jr.

"Teachers of today must have the ability to bring personal meaning to ideas as they investigate, interpret and integrate their thoughts. They must possess their own unique conceptual frameworks on which to hang ideas. They should be able to select, and build upon, significant ideas, observe relationships, and distinguish essential matters from irrelevant and incidental ones." - Dean C. Corrigan

"The child's entire life is influenced by his ability to listen. Good listening habits make it possible for him to broaden his knowledge, enjoy music, conversation, storytelling, drama; discriminating listening makes it possible for him to select radio and television programs for enjoyment. Critical listening helps him function intelligently in selection of governmental leaders. It is quite possible that the ability to listen effectively may be one of the most valuable tools he can use in his efforts to bring understanding and peace to the world." - Lucile Cypreansen

"Laughter is an integral part of life, one that we could ill afford to lose. If I were asked what single quality every human being needs more than any other, I would answer, the ability to laugh at himself. When we see our own grotesqueries, how droll our ambitions are, how comical we are in almost all respects, we automatically become more sane, less self-centered, more humble, more wholesome. To laugh at ourselves we have to stand outside ourselves - and that is an immense benefit. Our puffed-up pride and touchy self-importance vanish; a clean and sweet humility begins to take possession of us. We are on the way to growing a soul." - Arthur Powell Davies

"There is no human reason why a child should not admire and emulate his teacher's ability to do sums, rather than the village bum's ability to whittle sticks and smoke cigarettes. The reason why the child does not is plain enough - the bum has put himself on an equality with him and the teacher has not." - Floyd Dell

"Genuine ignorance is... profitable because it is likely to be accompanied by humility, curiosity, and open-mindedness; whereas ability to repeat catch-phrases, cant terms, familiar propositions, gives the conceit of learning and coats the mind with varnish water-proof to new ideas." - John Dewey

"The school should always have as its aim that the young man leave it as a harmonious personality, not as a specialist. This in my opinion is true in a certain sense even in technical schools.... The development of general ability for independent thinking and judgment should always be placed foremost, not the acquisition of special knowledge." - Albert Einstein

"The most distinctive mark of a cultured mind is the ability to take another's point of view; to put one's self in another's place, and see life and its problems from a point of view different from one's own. To be willing to test a new idea; to be able to live on the edge of difference in all matters intellectually; to examine without heat the burning question of the day; to have imaginative sympathy, openness and flexibility of mind, steadiness and poise of feeling, cool calmness of judgment, is to have culture." - A. H. R. Fairchild, fully Arthur Henry Rolph Fairchild

"I have suggested that listening requires something more than remaining mute while looking attentive, namely, it requires the ability to attend imaginatively the another's language. Actually, in listening we speak the others' words." - Leslie H. Farber

"Too much voting is based on affability rather than on ability." - William Feather

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise." - F. Scott Fitzgerald, fully Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see things as hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise." - F. Scott Fitzgerald, fully Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald

"Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over." - F. Scott Fitzgerald, fully Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald

"Genius is the ability to put into effect what is in your mind." - F. Scott Fitzgerald, fully Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald

"If money is your only hope for independence, you will never have it. The only real security that a man can have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience and ability." - Henry Ford

"Reason is man's faculty for grasping the world by thought, in contradiction to intelligence, which is man's ability to manipulate the world with the help of thought." -

"To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness." -

"Great ability without discretion comes almost invariably to a tragic end." - Léon Gambetta

"Young children possess the ability to cut across the customary categories; to appreciate usually undiscerned links among realms, to respond effectively in a parallel manner to events which are usually categorized differently, and to capture these original conceptions in words." - Howard Gardner, fully Howard Earl Gardner

"The ability to think straight, some knowledge of the past, some vision of the future, some skill to do useful service some urge to fit that service into the well-being of the community - these are the most vital things education must try to produce." - Virginia Gildersleeve, fully Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve

"Faith in the ability of a leader is of slight service unless it be united with faith in his justice." - George Washington Goethals

"To accept good advice is but to increase one's own ability." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Cowardice, as distinguished from panic, is almost always simply a lack of ability to suspend the function of the imagination." - Ernest Hemingway, fully Ernest Miller Hemingway

"It generally happens that assurance keeps an even pace with ability." -

"We are born with faculties and powers capable of almost anything, such as at least would carry us further than can be easily imagined; but it is only the exercise of those powers which gives us ability and skill in anything, and leads us towards perfection." - John Locke

"Have you ever rightly considered what the mere ability to read means? That it is the key which admits us to the whole world of thought and fancy and imagination? to the company of the saint and sage, of the wisest and the wittiest at their wisest and wittiest moment? That it enables us to see with the keenest eyes, hear with the finest ears, and listen to the sweetest voices of all time? More than that, it annihilates time and space for us." - James Russell Lowell

"The inescapable price of liberty is an ability to preserve it from destruction." - Douglas MacArthur

"Men seldom die of hard work; activity is God's medicine. The highest genius is willingness and ability to do hard work. Any other conception of genius makes it a doubtful, if not a dangerous possession." - Robert S. MacArthur

"A politician must often talk and act before he has thought and read. He may be very ill informed respecting a question: all his notions about it may be vague and inaccurate; but speak he must. And if he is a man of ability, of tact, and of intrepidity, he soon find that, even under such circumstances, it is possible to speak successfully." -

"Five things are requisite to a good officer - ability, clean hands, despatch, patience, and impartiality." - William Penn

"Genius... in the capacity to see ten things where the ordinary man sees one, and where the man of talent sees two or three, plus the ability to register that multiple perception in the material of his art." -

"The finest fruit of serious learning should be the ability to speak the word God without reserve or embarrassment. And it should be spoken without adolescent resentment, rather with some sense of communion, with reverence and with joy." - Nathan Marsh Pusey

"If there be anything that can be called genius, it consists chiefly in ability to give that attention to a subject which keeps it steadily in the mind, till we have surveyed it accurately on all sides." - Paul Reichmann

"Presence of mind, penetration, fine observation, are the sciences of women; ability to avail themselves of these is their talent." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"Since the beginning of civilization we have explained our existence in terms of what we could observe... Maybe we will discover that the only true reality is a state of mind, shaped by the information we can process and contexts in which we see it. Maybe the Supreme Being we call God can best be appreciated as the power of ultimate understanding. Maybe our destination has always been to learn and grow as we approach the light of ultimate understanding. Only the context of our ability to process information changes." - Frank Scully

"If the body is only the vehicle by which the soul can access the experience of physical living, then there is no real physical me. The soul (or life force) is the only real me. If you and I (the souls) want to achieve the most from this earthly lifetime, the more varied the experiences we should seek. That said, it’s too easy for you and me to fall into a comfort zone and try to avoid change. To keep this from happening, the experiences change rapidly as a result of the body moving from infancy though old age. The physical changes help to enhance our learning curve, our ability to serve, and our chance to evolve." - Richard Smolowe, fully Richard Edward Smolowe

"We are wrong to fear superiority of mind and soul; this superiority is very moral, for understanding everything makes one tolerant and the ability to feel deeply inspires great goodness." -

"We love old travelers: we love to hear them prate, drivel and lie; we love them for their asinine vanity, their ability to bore, their luxuriant fertility of imagination, their startling, brilliant, overwhelming mendacity." -

"There seems to be direct link between truly creative intelligence and the ability to dilute consciousness, to cut mental corners and practice unusual, lateral thinking in what amounts almost to a state of trance. All the most profound insights seem to flow from breaches in the barrier between waking thought, which tends to be conservative, and dream logic, which is essential liberal." - Lyall Watson

"We cherish our friends not for their ability to amuse us, but for ours to amuse them." -

"“Why are we here?” is surely the most important question human beings must face, whatever their origin, whatever their belief. Our obligation is to confer meaning to life and, in doing so, overcome temptations of passivity and indifference. A person who chooses indifference is dead without knowing it. In his or her case, life has no meaning, nor does death. And yet for those who believe in sharing experiences, life does have meaning in spite of the meaningless death some of us may have witnessed. Those who share teach us that one must make every minute rich and enriching, not for oneself but for someone else, thereby creating living links between the individuals and groups. Ultimately, life is a gift and meaning is its reward. So is the art and ability of asking questions. The meaning of life is to be found in the question that becomes encounter. Then every moment becomes a moment of grace." -