Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Ideas

"Thoughts are neither things of the outer world or ideas. A third realm must be recognized. What belongs to this corresponds with ideas, in that it cannot be perceived by the senses, but with things, in that it needs no bearer to the contents of whose consciousness to belong. Thus the thought, for example, which we express in the Pythagorean Theorem is timeless true, true independently of whether anyone takes it to be true. It needs no bearer. It is not true for the first time when it is discovered, but is like a planet which, already before anyone has seen it, has been in interaction with other planets." - Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege

"We try to evade the question [of existence] with property, prestige, power, production, fun, and, ultimately, by trying to forget that we - that I - exist. No matter how often he thinks of God or goes to church, or how much he believes in religious ideas, if he, the whole man, is deaf to the question of existence, if he does not have an answer to it, he is marking time, and he lives and dies like of the million things he produces. He thinks of God, instead of experiencing God." -

"Familiarity may breed contempt in some areas of human behavior, but in the field of social ideas it is the touchstone of acceptability." - J. William Galbraith

"All ideas are some extent subversive. Christianity was subversive to Roman paganism." - Albert Gerard Schatz

"Whenever I hear people talking about "liberal ideas," I am always astounded that men should love to fool themselves with empty sounds. An idea should never be liberal; it must be vigorous, positive, and without loose ends so that it may fulfill its divine mission and be productive. The proper place for liberality is in the realm of the emotions." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"So many new ideas are at first strange and horrible though ultimately valuable that a very heavy responsibility rests upon those who would prevent their dissemination." - J. B. S. Haldane, fully John Burdon Sanderson Haldane

"Fanaticism is such an overwhelming impression of the ideas relating tot he future world as disqualifies for the duties of life." -

"I've noticed two things about men who get big salaries. They are almost invariably men who, in conversation or in conference, are adaptable. They quickly get the other fellow's view. They are more eager to do this than to express their own ideas. Also, they state their own point of view convincingly." - John Hallock

"Ideas move fast when their time comes." - Carolyn Gold Heilbrun, pen name Amanda Cross

"In all human activities, it is not ideas or machines that dominate; it is people. I have heard people speak of “the effect of personality on science.” But this is a backward thought. Rather, we should talk about he effect of science on personalities. Science is not the dispassionate analysis of impartial data. It is the human, and thus passionate, exercise of skill and sense on such date. Science is not an exercise in objectivity, but, more accurately, an exercise in which objectivity is prized." - Philip J. Hilts, fully Philip James Hilts

"Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprang up." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

"Nothing is more free than the imagination of man; and though it cannot exceed that original stock of ideas furnished by the internal and external senses, it has unlimited power of mixing, compounding, separating, and dividing these ideas, in all the varieties of fiction and vision. It can feign a train of events, with all the appearance of reality, ascribe to them a particular time and place, conceive them as existent, and paint them out of itself with every circumstance, that belongs to any historical fact, which it believes with the greatest certainty." - David Hume

"Notwithstanding the empire of the imagination, there is a secret tie or union among particular ideas, which causes the mind to conjoin them more frequently together, and makes the one, upon its appearance, introduce the other... These principles of association are reduced to three, viz. Resemblance... Contiguity... Causation... as it is by means of thought only that any thing operates upon our passions, and as these are only ties of our thought, they are really to us the cement of the universe, and all the operations of the mind must, in a great measure, depend on them." - David Hume

"The memory, senses, and understanding are, therefore, all of them founded on the imagination, or the vivacity of our ideas." - David Hume

"To me, there appear to be only three principles of connection among ideas, namely, Resemblance, Contiguity in time or place, and Cause or Effect." - David Hume

"Redundancy of language is never found with deep reflection. Verbiage may indicate observation, but not thinking. He who thinks much, says but little in proportion to his thoughts. He selects that language which will convey his ideas in the most explicit and direct manner. He tries to compress as much thought as possible into a few words. On the contrary, the man who talks everlastingly and promiscuously, who seems to have an exhaustless magazine of sound, crowds so many words into his thoughts that he always obscures, and very frequently conceals them." - Washington Irving

"In propaganda the appeal of love is slow and lumbering in comparison with the appeal of hatred. hatred is the piquant sauce which accelerates both the swallowing and digestion of ideas and policies." - Ze'ev Jabotinsky, born Vladimir Jabotinsky

"Every pupil you have carries in his mind or heart or conscience a bit of you. Your influence, your example, your ideas and values keep marching on - how far into the future and into what realms of our spacious universe you will never know." - Margaret Jenkins

"Words are daughters of earth, but ideas are sons of heaven." -

"Education by means of pre-fabricated ideas is propaganda." -

"A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on. Ideas have endurance without death." - John F. Kennedy, fully John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy

"What art expresses is not actual feeling, but ideas of feeling; as language does not express actual things and events but ideas of them. Art is expressive through and through - every line, every sound, every gesture; and therefore it is a hundred per cent symbolic. It is not sensuously pleasing and also symbolic; the sensuous quality is in the service of its vital import." -

"In a war of ideas it is people who get killed." -

"As there is an infinite number of possible universes in the ideas of God, and as only one can exist, there must be sufficient reason for God’s choice, to determine him to one rather than to another. And this reason can only be found in the fitness, or in the degrees of perfection, which these worlds contain." - Gottfried Leibniz, fully Gottfried Wilhalm von Leibniz, Baron von Leibnitz

"We are a great deal more certain that our will is free than that everything that happens is bound to have a cause. This being the case, could we not for once in a way reverse the argument, and say: our ideas of cause and effect must be very inaccurate, for were they right, our will could not be free?" - Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

"The thinker dies, but his thoughts are beyond the reach of destruction. Men are mortal; but ideas are immortal." - Walter Lippmann

"True opinions can prevail only if the facts to which they refer are known; if they are not known, false ideas are just as effective as true ones, if not a little more effective." - Walter Lippmann

"Figured and metaphorical expressions do well to illustrate more abstruse and unfamiliar ideas, which the mind is not yet thoroughly accustomed to." - John Locke

"Reverie is when ideas float in our mind without reflection or regard of the understanding." - John Locke

"We should have a great many fewer disputes in the world if words were taken for what they are, the signs of our ideas only, and not for things themselves." - John Locke

"Wit lying most in the assemblage of Ideas, and putting those together with quickness and variety wherein can be found any resemblance or congruity." - John Locke

"You cannot confine an idea behind prison bars... Ideas cannot be shut in nor shut out." - Nancy Gentile Ford

"Obscurity and affection are the two great faults of style. Obscurity of expression generally springs from confusion of ideas; and the same wish to dazzle, at any cost, which produces affection in the manner of a writer, is likely to produce sophistry in his reasoning." -

"The concepts of morality too are subject to fashion; and he who cannot incline to the ideas in vogue in his century, is misunderstood and decried by his contemporaries." - Moses Mendelssohn

"The unluckiest insolvent in the world is the man whose expenditure of speech is too great for his income of ideas." - Christopher Morley, fully Christopher Darlington Morley

"The meaning of life is to be found in our surroundings and in our relationships... Life is meaningful when we respect the best of tradition while still loving innovation... Life is fulfilling when we marry pride with tolerance, when our deeds and our words are nourished by hope and by realism, when the wisdom of the ages catches the passionate eye of youth. Life on this earth in our time is, above all, a parade of interdependent peoples, interdependent ideas, interdependent solutions. We are all artists of the possible - and dreamers of that which is just now beyond our reach, but may not be tomorrow." - Youssou N’Dour

"All ideas require preparation for their meaning to engage the soul... There is no question whether they are true or not. One buys for oneself. There is no absolute truth. All truth is relative - relative to one’s needs, relative to one’s position in psychological space." - Maurice Nicoll

"The universe is infinite response. Mentally understood, it is all possibilities. Every point of view is possible, and because it ‘exists’ it is right... The universe gives more than we give... Unless one sees the world differently, unless new ideas touch our consciousness we cannot rise to any apprehension of the second system. To all that we know naturally we must add something, and in this volume this addition is taken in terms of adding first the dimension of Time to our own lives and considering what this means for oneself." - Maurice Nicoll

"Under the illusion of passing-time we can have no unity. To be is to have the permanent sense of something else... For integration, ideas that halt time are necessary, and these ideas must feed us continually... The mystery of time is in ourselves... The mystic ocean of existence is not to be crossed as something outside ourselves. It is in oneself... Every further stage of ourselves is within us, above us... Outside us is outer truth; within us, inner truth, and both make up All - the WORLD." - Maurice Nicoll

"This world of ours is a new world, in which the unit of knowledge, the nature of human communities, the order of society, the order of ideas, the very notions of society and culture have changed, and will not return to what they have been in the past. What is new is new, not because it has never been there before, but because it has changed in quality." - Robert Oppenheimer, fully Julius Robert Oppenheimer

"Most ideas are step-by-step children of other ideas." - Alex Faickney Osborn

"I’m not afraid of facts, I welcome facts but a congeries of facts is not equivalent to an idea. This is the essential fallacy of the so-called “scientific” mind. People who mistake facts for ideas are incomplete thinkers, they are gossips." - Cynthia Ozick

"That in which every man is interested, is every man’s duty to support; and any burden which falls equally on all men, and from which every man is to receive an equal benefit, is consistent with the most perfect ideas of liberty." - Thomas Paine

"At present we can only reason of the divine justice form what we know of justice in man. When we are in other scenes, we may have truer and nobler ideas of it; but while we are in this life, we can only speak from the volume that is laid open before us." - Alexander Pope

"Justice is that which is most primitive in the human soul, most fundamental in society, most sacred among ideas, and what the masses demand today with most ardor. It is the essence of religions and at the same time the form of reason, the secret object of faith, and the beginning, middle and end of knowledge. What can be imagined more universal, more strong, more complete than justice?" - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

"The contemplation of night should lead to elevating rather than to depressing ideas. Who can fix his mind on transitory and earthly things, in presence of those glittering myriads of worlds; and who can dread death or solitude in the midst of this brillings, animated universe, composed of countless suns and worlds, all full of light and life and motion?" -

"Ideas are a capital that bears interest only in the hands of talent." - Antoine de Rivarol, also known as Comte de Rivarol

"Thought engenders thought. Place one idea upon paper, another will follow it, and still another, until you have written a page. You cannot fathom your mind. It is a well of thought which has no bottom. The more you draw from it, the more clear and fruitful will it be. If you neglect to think yourself, and use other people's thoughts, giving them utterance only, you will never know what you are capable of. At first your ideas may come out in lumps, homely and shapeless; but no matter; time and perseverance will arrange and polish them. Learn to think, and you will learn to write; the more you think, the better you will express your ideas." - George Augustus Sala, fully George Augustus Henry Sala

"We are all salesmen every day of our lives. We are selling our ideas, our plans, our enthusiasms to those with whom we come in contact." - Charles Michael Schwab

"There are no hard times for good ideas." - Harry Gordon Selfridge, Sr.