Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"In this country my Lords... the individual subject... 'has nothing to do with the laws but to obey them'" - Samuel Horsley

"Extended empire, like expanded gold exchanges solid strength for feeble splendor." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"No woman wrote Procedure , Moby Dick or the Seven Pillars of Wisdom . They do not deny the human condition, because they begin to take it fully. This explains why his works lack the metaphysical resonance and humor black: they do not put the world in brackets, do not you ask questions, do not denounce the contradictions: take it seriously." - Simone de Beauvoir, fully Simone-Ernestine-Lucie-Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir

"The ideal of happiness has always taken material form in the house, whether cottage or castle; it stands for permanence and separation from the world." - Simone de Beauvoir, fully Simone-Ernestine-Lucie-Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir

"Like many men who override the opinions of others, Challenger was exceedingly sensitive when anyone took a liberty with his own" - Arthur Conan Doyle, fully Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle

"To impress the truth upon a soul when it is still fresh, like wax not yet subjected to the seal, is an easier task than inscribing pious doctrine on top of inscriptions—I mean wrong doctrines and dogmas—with the result that the former are confused and thrown into disorder by the latter." - Gregory Nazianzen, aka Saint Gregory of Nazianzus or Gregory the Theologian

"Man witnesseth to a God in the operations and reflections of conscience. Their thoughts are accusing or excusing. An inward comfort attends good actions, and an inward torment follows bad ones; for there is in every man’s conscience fear of punishment and hope of reward: there is, therefore, a sense of some superior judge, which hath the power both of rewarding and punishing. If man were his supreme rule, what need he fear punishment, since no man would inflict any evil or torment on himself; nor can any man be said to reward himself, for all rewards refer to another, to whom the action is pleasing, and is a conferring some good a man had not before; if an action be done by a subject or servant, with hopes of reward, it cannot be imagined that he expects a reward from himself, but from the prince or person whom he eyes in that action, and for whose sake he doth it." - Stephen Charnock

"By liberty is understood, according to the proper signification of the word, the absence of external impediments; which impediments may oft take away part of a man's power to do what he would, but cannot hinder him from using the power left him according as his judgment and reason shall dictate to him." - Thomas Hobbes

"From whence it happens, that they which trust to books, do as they that cast up many little sums into a greater, without considering whether those little sums were rightly cast up or not; and at last finding the error visible, and not mistrusting their first grounds, know not which way to clear themselves; but spend time in fluttering over their books, as birds that entering by the chimney, and finding themselves enclosed in a chamber, flutter at the false light of a glass window, for want of wit to consider which way they came in." - Thomas Hobbes

"The law is more easily understood by few than many words. For all words are subject to ambiguity, and therefore multiplication of words in the body of the law is multiplication of ambiguity. Besides, it seems to imply (by too much diligence) that whosoever can evade the words is without the compass of the law." - Thomas Hobbes

"A man does not serve God when he prays, for it is himself he is trying to serve" - Thomas Paine

"One of the most important distinctions of our judgments is, that some of them are intuitive, others grounded on argument." - Thomas Reid

"The Hiss Case has turned my wife and me into old people - not a disagreeable condition. But we who used to plan in terms of decades, now find a year, two years, the utmost span of time we can take in." - Whittaker Chambers, born Jay Vivian Chambers, aka Jay David Whittaker Chambers

"Man's right to know, to learn, to inquire, to make bona fide errors, to investigate human emotions must, by all means, be safe, if the word FREEDOM should ever be more than an empty political slogan." - Wilhelm Reich

"I say there are no principles but those of the mind, and nothing exists apart from the mind." - Wang Yang-Ming or Yangming, aka Wang Shouren or Wang Shou-jen, courtesy name Bo'an

"Perhaps immortality is a gift of heaven rather than the result of some human effort." - Wang Yang-Ming or Yangming, aka Wang Shouren or Wang Shou-jen, courtesy name Bo'an

"At first critics classified authors as Ancients, that is to say, Greek and Latin authors, and Moderns, that is to say, every post-Classical Author. Then they classified them by eras, the Augustans, the Victorians, etc., and now they classify them by decades, the writers of the '30's, '40's, etc. Very soon, it seems, they will be labeling authors, like automobiles, by the year." - W. H. Auden, fully Wystan Hugh Auden

"In order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed: They must be fit for it: they must not do too much of it: and they must have a sense of success in it --not a doubtful sense, such as needs some testimony of others for its confirmation, but a sure sense, or rather knowledge, that so much work has been done well, and fruitfully done, whatever the world may say or think about it." - W. H. Auden, fully Wystan Hugh Auden

"To become a power the class-conscious workers must win the majority to their side.As long as no violence is used against the people there is no other road to power. We are not Blancists, we do not stand for the seizure of power by a minority." - Vladimir Lenin, fully Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

"My angel, oh my angel, perhaps our whole earthly existence is now but a pun to you, or a grotesque rhyme, something like dental and transcendental (remember?), and the true meaning of reality, of that piercing term, purged of all our strange, dreamy, masquerade interpretations, now sounds so pure and sweet that you, angel, find it amusing that we could have taken the dream so seriously (although you and I did have an inkling of why everything disintegrated at one furtive touch-- words, conventions of everyday life, systems, persons-- so, you know, I think laughter is some chance little ape of truth astray in our world." - Vladimir Nabokov, fully Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov

"What is this jest in majesty? This ass in passion? How do God and Devil combine to form a live dog?" - Vladimir Nabokov, fully Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov

"In every province, the chief occupations, in order of importance, are lovemaking, malicious gossip, and talking nonsense." - Voltaire, pen name of François-Marie Arouet NULL

"We offer up prayers to God only because we have made Him after our own image. We treat Him like a Pasha, or a Sultan, who is capable of being exasperated and appeased." - Voltaire, pen name of François-Marie Arouet NULL

"The white man is problem-solving. His conceptualizations merge into science and then emerge in his social life as problems, the solutions of which are the adjustments of his social machine. Slavery, prohibition, Civil Rights, and social services are all important adjustments of the white man's social machine. No solution he has reached has proven adequate. Indeed, it has often proven demonic." - Vine Deloria, fully Vine Victor Deloria, Jr.

"Our patience wore rather thin. Visitors do tend to chafe one, though impeccable as friends. L. and I discussed this. He says that with people in the house his hours of positive pleasure are reduced to one; he has I forget how many hours of negative pleasure; and a respectable margin of the acutely unpleasant. Are we growing old?" - Virginia Woolf, nee Stephen, fully Adeline Virginia Woolf

"There’s no excuse for poverty in a state as rich as California. We can produce so much food that we have to dump it into our bay." - Upton Sinclair, fully Upton Beall Sinclair, Jr.

"One who is bent on courting his death will not take kindly to sage counsel given by his well-wishers" - Valmiki NULL

"If you fear others will find out about your bad deeds, those are truly bad deeds." - Hsuan Hua, aka An Tzu and Tu Lun

"Perfectibility is one of the most unequivocal characteristics of the human species." - William Godwin

"Ministers and officials should attend the Court early in the morning and retire late, for the whole day is hardly enough for the accomplishment of state business. If one is late in attending Court, emergencies cannot be met; if officials retire early, the work cannot be completed." - Prince Shōtoku, born Shotoku Taishi, aka Prince Umayado or Prince Kamitsumiya

"Since the affairs of men rest still incertain, let's reason with the worst that may befall." -

"Such it is as are those dulcet sounds in break of day that creep into the dreaming bridegroom's ear and summon him to marriage." -

"He was possessed now with that obsession for the cross in which so many lips have worn themselves away on crucifixes." - Emile Zola

"The higher mental development of woman, the less possible it is for her to meet a congenial male who will see in her, not only sex, but also the human being, the friend, the comrade and strong individuality, who cannot and ought not lose a single trait of her character." - Emma Goldman

"In the I [moi], the identity of Being reveals its nature as enchainment, for it appears in the form of suffering and invites us to escape. Thus escape is the need to get out of oneself, that is, to break that most radical and most unalterably binding of chains, the fact that the I is the oneself [soi-même]." - Emmanuel Lévinas , originally Emanuelis Lévinas

"Nature always… knows where and when to stop. Greater even than the mystery of natural growth is the mystery of the natural cessation of growth. There is measure in all natural things – in their size, speed, or violence. As a result, the system of nature, of which man is a part, tends to be self-balancing, self-adjusting, self-cleansing." - E. F. Schumacher, fully Ernst Friedrich "Fritz" Schumacher

"The insights of wisdomÂ… enable us to see the hollowness and fundamental unsatisfactoriness of a life devoted primarily to the pursuit of material ends, to the neglect of the spiritual. Such a life necessarily sets man against man and national against nation, because man's needs are infinite and infinitude can be achieved only in the spiritual realm, never in the material." - E. F. Schumacher, fully Ernst Friedrich "Fritz" Schumacher

"There exists a modern trend towards total quantification at the expense of the appreciation of qualitative differences; for private enterprise is not concerned with what it produces but only with what it gains from production." - E. F. Schumacher, fully Ernst Friedrich "Fritz" Schumacher

"Speaking on the near skepticism of the study of the history of philosophy:" - Étienne Gilson, fully Étienne Henry Gilson

"I distinguish three sorts of signs: 1. Accidental signs, or the objects which particular circumstances have connected with some of our ideas, so as to render the one proper to revive the other. 2. Natural signs, or the cries which nature has established to express the passions of joy, of fear, or of grief, 3. Instituted signs, or those which we have chosen ourselves, and bear only an arbitrary relation to our ideas." - Étienne Bonnot de Condillac

"If we want to revive a perception which is not familiar to us, such as the taste of a fruit of which we have eaten but once, our endeavors will terminate, generally speaking, in causing a kind of concussion in the fibres of the brain and of the mouth; and the perception shall bear no resemblance to the taste of that fruit. It would be the same in regard to a melon, to a peach, or even to a fruit of which we had never tasted. The like remark may be made in respect to the other senses." - Étienne Bonnot de Condillac

"Language was a long time without having any other words than the names which had been given to sensible objects, such as these, tree, fruit, water, fire, and others, which they had more frequent occasion to mention." - Étienne Bonnot de Condillac

"The expression of the sounds in their tuneful prosody, and that which they had also in their musical recitation, must have been introductory to the impression they were to make, when separate from the human voice." - Étienne Bonnot de Condillac

"There is evidence that the faculty of reflection will appear as soon as our senses begin to develop, and it is equally true that we have the use of the senses from an early age, just because at an early age we began to reflect." - Étienne Bonnot de Condillac

"Poetry is a sort of inspired mathematics, which gives us equations, not for abstract figures, triangles, squares, and the like, but for the human emotions. If one has a mind which inclines to magic rather than science, one will prefer to speak of these equations as spells or incantations; it sounds more arcane, mysterious, recondite." - Ezra Pound, fully Ezra Weston Loomis Pound

"The condition of all progress is experience. We go wrong a thousand times before we find the right path. We struggle, and grope, and hurt ourselves until we learn the use of things, and this is true of things spiritual as well as of material things. Pain is unavoidable, but it acquires a new and higher meaning when we perceive that it is the price humanity must pay for an invaluable good." - Felix Adler

"Speech is silver, silence is golden." - Italian Proverbs

"Voice of one, voice of none." - Italian Proverbs