Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"To be fully aware of one's existential situation means that one becomes aware of self-creation. To be aware of the fact that one constitutes oneself, that there are no absolute external referents, that one assigns an arbitrary meaning to the world, means to become aware of one's fundamental groundlessness." - Irvin David Yalom

"Absolute freedom mocks justice; absolute justice denies freedom." - Albert Camus

"Absolute freedom mocks at justice. Absolute justice denies freedom." -

"Absolute freedom mocks justice; absolute justice denies freedom." -

"Certain pains are bad in an absolute manner, others are bad only in so far as they deprive us of some good." - Aristotle NULL

"Religion is Man’s attempt to get into touch with an absolute spiritual Reality behind the phenomena of the Universe, and, having made contact with It, to live in harmony with It." - Arnold J. Toynbee, fully Arnold Joseph Toynbee

"Suffering is the essence of life, because it is the inevitable product of an unresolved tension between a living creature’s essential impulse to try to make itself into the centre of the Universe and its essential dependence on the rest of Creation and on the Absolute Reality." - Arnold J. Toynbee, fully Arnold Joseph Toynbee

"It is difficult, if not impossible, to define the limits which reason should impose on the desire for wealth; for there is no absolute or definite amount of wealth which will satisfy a man." - Arthur Schopenhauer

"All things have been predetermined by God; not, indeed, from the freedom of a will, or from an absolutely arbitrary decree, but from the absolute nature or infinite power of God." -

"If you identify the Absolute with God, that is not the God of religion. If again you separate them, God become s finite factor in the Whole. And the effort of religion is put an end to, and break down, this relation - a relation which, none the less, it essentially presupposes. Hence, short of the Absolute, God cannot rest, and having reached that goal, he is lost and religion with him." - Bernard Bosanquet

"Laughter is satanic, and, therefore, profoundly human. It is born of Man’s conception of his own superiority… It is at once a sign of infinite grandeur and of infinite wretchedness; of infinite wretchedness by comparison with the absolute Being who exists as an idea in Man’s mind; of an infinite grandeur by comparison with animals." - Charles Baudelaire

"Great men are never the promoters of absolute and immutable truths. Each great man belongs to his time and can come only at his proper moment, in the sense that there is a necessary and ordered sequence in the appearance of scientific discoveries." - Claude Bernard

"The nature or very essence of phenomena, whether vital or mineral, will always remain unknown... Absolute knowledge could, therefore, leave nothing outside itself; and only on condition of knowing everything could man be granted its attainment. Man behaves as if he were destined to reach this absolute knowledge; and the incessant why which he puts to nature proves it. Indeed, this hope, constantly disappointed, constantly reborn, sustains and always will sustain successive generation sin the passionate search for truth." - Claude Bernard

"Absolute truth is indestructible. Being indestructible, it is eternal. Being eternal, it is self-existent. Being self-existent, it is infinite. Being infinite, it is vast and deep. Being vast and deep, it is transcendental and intelligent." - Confucius, aka Kong Qiu, Zhongni, K'ung Fu-tzu or Kong Fuzi NULL

"The simple, absolute and immutable mysteries of divine Truth are hidden in the super-luminous darkness of that silence which revealeth in secret. For this darkness, though of deepest obscurity, is yet radiantly clear; and, though beyond touch and sight, it more than fills our unseeing minds with splendours of transcendent beauty." - Dionysius of Halicarnassus NULL

"The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward women, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her." - Elizabeth Cady Stanton

"The institution of marriage makes a parasite of woman, an absolute dependent. It incapacitates her for life’s struggle, annihilates her social consciousness, paralyzes her imagination, and then imposes its gracious protection , which is in reality a snare, a travesty on human character." - Emma Goldman

"The only way to predict the future is to have power to shape the future. Those in possession of absolute power can not only prophesy and make their prophecies come true, but they can also lie and make their lies come true." - Eric Hoffer

"Our sense of power is more vivid when we break a man’s spirit than when we win his heart. For we can win a man’s heart one day and lose it the next. But when we break a proud spirit, we achieve something that is final and absolute." - Eric Hoffer

"The mind-expanding discovery of quantum mechanics is that Newtonian physics does not apply to subatomic phenomena... We cannot know both the position and the momentum of a particle with absolute precision... This is Werner Heisenberg's uncertainty principle." - Gary Zukav

"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

"Precisely because the form is as essential to the essence as the essence to itself, absolute reality must not be conceived and expressed as essence alone, i.e. as immediate substance or pure self-contemplation of the divine, but as form also, and in the whole wealth of the developed form. Only then is it grasped and expressed as really actual. The Truth is the whole. But the whole is nothing other than the essence consummating itself through its development." - Georg Hegel, fully Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

"The Absolute is Mind (Spirit) - this is the supreme definition of the Absolute. To find this definition and to grasp its meaning and burden was, we may say, the ultimate purpose of all education and all philosophy: it was the point to which turned the impulse of all religion and science; and it is this impulse that must explain the history of the world... It remains for philosophy in its own element of intelligible unity to get hold of what was thus given as a mental image, and what implicitly is the ultimate reality." - Georg Hegel, fully Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

"This is the seal of the absolute and sublime destiny of man - that he knows what is good and what is evil; that his destiny is his very ability to will either good or evil." - Georg Hegel, fully Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

"To adhere to man’s absolute freedom - one aspect of the matter - is eo ipso to condemn slavery. Yet if a man is a slave, his own will is responsible for his slavery, just as it is its will which is responsible if a people is subjugated. Hence the wrong of slavery lies at the door not simply of enslavers or conquerors but of the slaves and the conquered themselves. Slavery occurs in man’s transition from the state of nature to genuinely ethical conditions; it occurs in a world where a wrong is still right. At that stage wrong has validity and so is necessarily in place." - Georg Hegel, fully Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

"Religion is moral life rising to think, i.e. becoming aware of the free universality of its concrete essence… the consciousness of “absolute” truth." - Georg Hegel, fully Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

"Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana

"The picture of scientific method drafted by modern philosophy is very different from traditional conceptions. Gone is the ideal of a universe whose course follows strict rules, a predetermined cosmos that unwinds itself like an unwinding clock. Gone is the ideal of the scientist who knows the absolute truth. The happenings of nature are like rolling dice rather than like revolving stars; they are controlled by probability laws, not by causality, and the scientist resembles a gambler more than a prophet. He can tell you only his best posits - he never knows beforehand whether they will come true. He is a better gambler, though, than the man at the green table, because his statistical methods are superior. And his goal is staked higher - the goal of foretelling the rolling dice of the cosmos." - Hans Reichenbach

"Absolute liberty is absence of restraint; responsibility is restraint; therefore, the ideally free individual is responsible to himself." -

"I struggled in the beginning. I said I was going to write the truth, so help me God. And I thought I was. I found I couldn't. Nobody can write the absolute truth." - Henry Miller, aka Henry Valentine Miller

"How absolute and omnipotent is the silence of night! And yet the stillness seems almost audible! From all the measureless depths of air around us some a half-sound, a half-whisper, as if we could hear the crumbling and falling away; of earth and all created things, in the great miracle of nature, decay and reproduction, ever beginning, never ending, the gradual lapse and running of the sand in the great hour-glass of Time." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"Every man is to be respected as an absolute end in himself: and it is a crime against the dignity that belongs to him as a human being, to use him as a mere means for some external purpose." - 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

"There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists, open the door to tragedy. All information is imperfect. We have to treat it with humility." - Jacob Bronowski

"Keep the home near heaven. Let it face toward the Father’s house. Not only let the day begin and end with God, with mercies acknowledged and forgiveness sought, but let it be seen and felt that God is your chiefest joy, His will in all you do the absolute and sufficient reason." - James Hamilton

"Man is a growth by law, and not a creation by artifice, and cause and effect is as absolute and undeviating in the hidden realm of thought as in the world of visible and material things." -

"If Time is considered by itself, it immediately dissolves into an absolute multiplicity of instants which considered separately lose all temporal nature and are reduced purely and simply to the total a-temporality of the this." - Jean-Paul Sartre

"Words like "really," "absolute," "fact," and the like should be stricken from the dictionary, as they all require every person to have the same perception of things. Not only is that not preferable, it may not even be possible." - John A. Marshall, fully John Aloysius Marshall

"There is certainly no absolute standard of beauty. That precisely is what make its pursuit so interesting" - John Kenneth Galbraith, aka "Ken"

"Great completion marks the progress of art, absolute completion usually its decline." - John Ruskin

"Justice is a name for certain classes of moral rules, which concern the essentials of human well-being more nearly, and are therefore of more absolute obligation, than any other rules for the guidance of life." - John Stuart Mill

"If any man thinks he can conceive well enough how there should be nothing, I will engage that what he means by nothing is as much something as anything that he ever though of in his life; and I believe that if he know what nothing was, it would be intuitively evident to him that it could not be... Absolute nothing is the aggregate of all the contradictions in the world." - Jonathan Edwards

"Private property has made us so stupid and one-sided that an object is ours only when we have it - when it exists for us as capital, or when it is directly possessed... In the place of all physical and mental senses there has therefore come to be the sheer alienation of all these senses, the sense of having. The human being has been reduced to this absolute poverty in order that he might yield his inner wealth to the outer world." - Karl Marx

"If anything could testify to the magical powers of the priesthood of science and their technical acolytes, or declare unto mankind the supreme qualifications for absolute rulership held by the Divine Computer, this new invention alone should suffice. So the final purpose of life in terms of the megamachine at last becomes clear: it is to furnish and process an endless quantity of data, in order to expand the role and ensure the domination of the power system." - Lewis Mumford

"An absolute command of your temper, so as not to be provoked to passion, upon any account; patience, to hear frivolous, impertinent, and unreasonable applications; with address enough to refuse, without offending, or, by your manner of granting, to double the obligation; dexterity enough to conceal a truth without telling a lie; sagacity enough to read other people’s countenances; and serenity enough not to let them discover anything by your; a seeming frankness with a real reserve. There are the rudiments of a politician." - Lord Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield

"When the human mind exists in the light of reason and no more than reason we may say with absolute certainty that Man and all that made him will being that instant gone." - Loren Eiseley

"Thou must love God as not-God, not-Spirit, not-person, not-image, but as He is, a sheer, pure absolute One, sundered from all two-ness, and in whom we must eternally sink from nothingness to nothingness." - Meister Eckhart, formally Meister von Hochheim

"God, whatever He is, has essence and essence is absolute stillness; it is immovable." - Meister Eckhart, formally Meister von Hochheim

"It is important for each person to recognize that the values, rules, habits, and attitudes we inherit are useful and necessary, but are not absolute." - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, native form is Csíkszentmihályi Mihály