Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"Far from seeking to justify, as does the Church, the necessity of torments and afflictions, he cried, in his outraged pity: 'If a God has made this world, I should not wish to be that God. The world's wretchedness would rend my heart." - Joris-Karl "J.K." Huysmans, pseudonym for Charles-Marie-Georges Huysmans

"Modern technology has become a total phenomenon for civilization, the defining force of a new social order in which efficiency is no longer an option but a necessity imposed on all human activity. " - Jacques Ellul

"Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers." - John Jay

"For where is the man that has incontestable evidence of the truth of all that he holds, or of the falsehood of all he condemns; or can say that he has examined to the bottom all his own, or other men's opinions? The necessity of believing without knowledge, nay often upon very slight grounds, in this fleeting state of action and blindness we are in, should make us more busy and careful to inform ourselves than constrain others" - John Locke

"For where is the man that has incontestable evidence of the truth of all that he holds, or of the falsehood of all he condemns; or can say that he has examined to the bottom all his own, or other men's opinions? The necessity of believing without knowledge, nay often upon very slight grounds, in this fleeting state of action and blindness we are in, should make us more busy and careful to inform ourselves than constrain others. " - John Locke

"In matters of great concern, and which must be done, there is no surer argument of a weak mind than irresolution - to be undetermined where the case is plain, and the necessity urgent. To be always intending to live a new life, but never to find time to set about it, this is as if a man should put off eating, drinking, and sleeping, from one day and night to another, till he is starved and destroyed." - John Tillotson, Archbishop of Canterbury

"When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to afford to dare to assess the money-motive at its true value. The love of money as a possession — as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life — will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease ... But beware! The time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight." - John Maynard Keynes

"The scheme of philosophical necessity has been shewn to imply a chain of causes and effects, established by infinite wisdom, and terminating in the greatest good of the whole universe; evils of all kinds natural and moral being admitted, as far as they contribute to that end, or may be in the nature of things inseparable from it." - Joseph Priestley

"Civilized man has been more ruthlessly wasteful and grasping in his attitude toward the natural world than has served even his most material best interests. Possibly - as some hope - a mere enlightened selfishness will save it in time. Even if we should learn just in the nick of time not to destroy what is necessary for our own preservation, the mere determination to survive is not sufficient to save very much of the variety and beauty of the natural world. They can e preserved only if man feels the necessity of sharing the earth with at least some of his fellow creatures to be a privilege rather han an irritation. And he is not likely to feel that without something more than intellectual curiosity - that something more you may call love, fellow-feeling, or reverence for life. Without reverence or love the increasing awareness of what the science of ecology teaches us can come to be no more than a shrewder exploitation of what it would be better to admire, to enjoy, and to share in." - Joseph Wood Krutch

"In one word, to draw the rule from experience, one must generalize; this is a necessity that imposes itself on the most circumspect observer. " - Henri Poincaré, fully Jules Henri Poincaré

"Understand clearly that when a great need appears a great use appears also; when there is a small need there is small use; it is obvious, then, that full use is made of all things at all times according to the necessity thereof." - Dōgen, aka Dōgen Kigen, Eihei Dōgen, titled as Dōgen Zenji NULL

"As our society has become information rich, it has become action poor. It has become poor in the necessity and possibility for struggle against the environment. As affluence has increased, the young person's environment has become impoverished for responsible and productive action, or any action that tests and develops him." - Kurt Hahn, fully Kurt Martin "the rod" Hahn

"For if God is a title of the highest power, He must be incorruptible, perfect, incapable of suffering, and subject to no other being; therefore they are not gods whom necessity compels to obey the one greatest God." - Lactantius, fully Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius NULL

"I suspect it was...the old story of the implacable necessity of a man having honour within his own natural spirit. A man cannot live and temper his mettle without such honour. There is deep in him a sense of the heroic quest; and our modern way of life, with its emphasis on security, its distrust of the unknown and its elevation of abstract collective values has repressed the heroic impulse to a degree that may produce the most dangerous consequences." - Laurens van der Post

"Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them." - Leo Tolstoy, aka Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy or Tolstoi

"Learning carries within itself certain dangers because out of necessity one has to learn from one's enemies." - Leon Trotsky, born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein

"No one can "get" an education, for of necessity education is a continuing process." - Louis L'Amour, fully Louis Dearborn L'Amour

"God, I have said, is the fulfiller, or the reality, of the human desires for happiness, perfection, and immortality. From this it may be inferred that to deprive man of God is to tear the heart out of his breast. But I contest the premises from which religion and theology deduce the necessity and existence of God, or of immortality, which is the same thing. I maintain that desires which are fulfilled only in the imagination, or from which the existence of an imaginary being is deduced, are imaginary desires, and not the real desires of the human heart; I maintain that the limitations which the religious imagination annuls in the idea of God or immortality, are necessary determinations of the human essence, which cannot be dissociated from it, and therefore no limitations at all, except precisely in man’s imagination." - Ludwig Feuerbach, fully Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach

"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. " - Cicero, fully Marcus Tullius Cicero, anglicized as Tully NULL

"The old notion that children are the private property of parents dies very slowly. In reality, no parent raises a child alone. How many of us nice middle-class folk could make it without our mortgage reduction? That's a government subsidy of families, yet we resent putting money directly into public housing. We take our deduction for dependent care yet resent putting money directly into child care. Common sense and necessity are beginning to erode old notions of the private invasion of family life, because so many families are in trouble. " - Marian Wright Edelman

"The Avatar does not as a rule interfere with the working out of human destinies. He will do so only in times of grave necessity — when He deems itabsolutely necessary from His all — encompassing point of view. For a single alteration in the planned and imprinted pattern in which each line and dot is interdependent, means a shaking up and a re-linking of an unending chain of possibilities and events." - Meher Baba, born Merwan Sheriar Irani

"Among those points of self-education which take up the form of mental discipline, there is one of great importance, and, moreover, difficult to deal with, because it involves an internal conflict, and equally touches our vanity and our ease. It consists in the tendency to deceive ourselves regarding all we wish for, and the necessity of resistance to these desires. It is impossible for any one who has not been constrained, by the course of his occupation and thoughts, to a habit of continual self-correction, to be aware of the amount of error in relation to judgment arising from this tendency. The force of the temptation which urges us to seek for such evidence and appearances as are in favour of our desires, and to disregard those which oppose them, is wonderfully great. In this respect we are all, more or less, active promoters of error. In place of practising wholesome self-abnegation, we ever make the wish the father to the thought: we receive as friendly that which agrees with, we resist with dislike that which opposes us; whereas the very reverse is required by every dictate of common sense." - Michael Faraday

"The necessity of reform mustn’t be allowed to become a form of blackmail serving to limit, reduce, or halt the exercise of criticism. Under no circumstances should one pay attention to those who tell one: “Don’t criticize, since you’re not capable of carrying out a reform.” That’s ministerial cabinet talk. Critique doesn’t have to be the premise of a deduction that concludes, “this, then, is what needs to be done.” It should be an instrument for those for who fight, those who resist and refuse what is. Its use should be in processes of conflict and confrontation, essays in refusal. It doesn’t have to lay down the law for the law. It isn’t a stage in a programming. It is a challenge directed to what is." - Michel Foucault

"From the discovery of that necessity which inevitably reduces man to nothing, we have shifted to the scornful contemplation of that nothing which is existence itself. Fear in the face of the absolute limit of death turns inward in a continuous irony; man disarms it in advance, making it an object of derision by giving it an everyday, tamed form, by constantly renewing it in the spectacle of life, by scattering it throughout the vices, the difficulties, and the absurdities of all men. Death's annihilation is no longer anything because it was already everything, because life itself was only futility, vain words, a squabble of cap and bells. The head that will become a skull is already empty." - Michel Foucault

"Law is not born of nature, near the springs frequented by the first shepherds; law is born from real battles, victories, massacres, conquests which have their dates and their heroes of horror. The law is born in torched villages, ravaged lands; it is born with the notorious innocents suffering in the throes of death as the sun rises. But this does not mean that the law and the State are a kind of armistice in these wars, or the definitive sanction of victories. The law is not pacification, because under the law, war continues to rage within all the mechanisms of power even the most lawful. It is war that is the motor of institutions and of order: peace, right down to the smallest of its cogs, obscurely engages in war. In other words, we must decypher war in peace: war is the very cypher of peace. Thus we are at war with each other; a battle front runs through our entire society, continuously and permanently, and it is this battle front which places each of us in one camp or another. There is no neutral subject. We are of necessity someone's adversary." - Michel Foucault

"Repression is not the way to virtue. When people restrain themselves out of fear, their lives are by necessity diminished. Only through freely chosen discipline can life be enjoyed and still kept within the bounds of reason." - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, native form is Csíkszentmihályi Mihály

"It is beyond my power to induce in you a belief in God. There are certain things which are self proved and certain which are not proved at all. The existence of God is like a geometrical axiom. It may be beyond our heart grasp. I shall not talk of an intellectual grasp. Intellectual attempts are more or less failures, as a rational explanation cannot give you the faith in a living God. For it is a thing beyond the grasp of reason. It transcends reason. There are numerous phenomena from which you can reason out the existence of God, but I shall not insult your intelligence by offering you a rational explanation of that type. I would have you brush aside all rational explanations and begin with a simple childlike faith in God. If I exist, God exists. With me it is a necessity of my being as it is with millions. They may not be able to talk about it, but from their life you can see that it is a part of their life. I am only asking you to restore the belief that has been undermined. In order to do so, you have to unlearn a lot of literature that dazzles your intelligence and throws you off your feet. Start with the faith which is also a token of humility and an admission that we know nothing, that we are less than atoms in this universe. We are less than atoms, I say, because the atom obeys the law of its being, whereas we in the insolence of our ignorance deny the law of nature. But I have no argument to address to those who have no faith." - Mahatma Gandhi, fully Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, aka Bapu

"Don’t talk to me of goodness, of abstract justice, of natural law. Necessity is the highest law." - Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon I

"The People with AIDS Coalition (PWAC) was founded in New York City in 1985 by a group of nine people who had contracted AIDS. The founders were inspired by the Denver Principles, a manifesto adopted in 1983 by PWAs at the National Lesbian and Gay Health Conference held in Denver. The Denver Principles proclaimed the need for self-empowerment and self-reliance by PWAs as well as the necessity of their taking an active role in the formulation of decisions affecting their lives. During thealmost eight years of its corporate existence PWAC became the largest self-help organization of people living with AIDS/HIV in America. Projects developed by PWAC include the Community Research Initiative (CRI), a network of medical doctors and patients who undertook their own drug studies; the People With AIDS Health Group, a not-for-profit buyer's club set up to provide easier access to drugs and other therapeutic substances difficult to obtain; a national telephone hotline; and a newsletter." - People with AIDS Coalition NULL

"One of the hardest conditions of boyhood is the almost continuous strain put upon the powers of invention by the constant and harassing necessity for explanations of every natural act." - Booth Tarkington, born Newton Booth Tarkington

"Men never do good unless necessity drives them to it; but when they are free to choose and can do just as they please, confusion and disorder become rampant. " - Niccolò Machiavelli, formally Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli

"The economic transmission of power without wires is of all-surpassing importance to man. By its means he will gain complete mastery of the air, the sea and the desert. It will enable him to dispense with the necessity of mining, pumping, transporting and burning fuel, and so do away with innumerable causes of sinful waste. By its means, he will obtain at any place and in any desired amount, the energy of remote waterfalls — to drive his machinery, to construct his canals, tunnels and highways, to manufacture the materials of his want, his clothing and food, to heat and light his home — year in, year out, ever and ever, by day and by night. It will make the living glorious sun his obedient, toiling slave. It will bring peace and harmony on earth." - Nikola Tesla

"Fixing the intractable problems besetting the world will require a convergence of social intelligence and natural science, two qualities traditional politics lack... The world seems to be looking for the big solution, which is itself part of the problem, since the most effective solutions are both local and systemic... Although the movement may appear inchoate or naively ambitious, its underlying structure and communication techniques can, at times, create a collective social response that can challenge any institution in the world... What its members do share is a basic set of fundamental understandings about the earth, how it functions, and the necessity of fairness and equity for all people dependent on the planet’s life-giving systems." - Paul Hawken

"It is a great difficulty and great necessity to have to start with the smallest. I want to be as though new-born, knowing nothing, absolutely nothing, about Europe; ignoring poets and fashions, to be almost primitive. Then I want to do something very modest; to work out by myself a tiny, formal motive, one that my pencil; will be able to hold without any technique. One favorable moment is enough. The little thing is easily and concisely set down. It’s already done! It was a tiny but real affair, and someday, through the repetition of such small but original deeds, there will come one work upon which I can really build." - Paul Klee

"Thirty years from now the big university campuses will be relics. Universities won't survive. It's as large a change as when we first got the printed book. Do you realize that the cost of higher education has risen as fast as the cost of health care? And for the middle-class family, college education for their children is as much of a necessity as is medical care—without it the kids have no future. Such totally uncontrollable expenditures, without any visible improvement in either the content or the quality of education, means that the system is rapidly becoming untenable. Higher education is in deep crisis. " - Peter F. Drucker, fully Peter Ferdinand Drucker

"As to the impotence of repression — it is sufficiently demonstrated by the disorder of present society and by the necessity of a revolution that we all desire or feel inevitable. In the domain of economy, coercion has led us to industrial servitude; in the domain of politics — to the State, that is to say, to the destruction of all ties that formerly existed among citizens, and to the nation becoming nothing but an incoherent mass of obedient subjects of a central authority." - Peter Kropotkin, fully Prince Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin

"The need for a new life becomes apparent. The code of established morality, that which governs the greater number of people in their daily life, no longer seems sufficient. What formerly seemed just is now felt to be a crying injustice. The morality of yesterday is today recognized as revolting immorality. The conflict between new ideas and old traditions flames up in every class of society, in every possible environment, in the very bosom of the family. ... Those who long for the triumph of justice, those who would put new ideas into practice, are soon forced to recognize that the realization of their generous, humanitarian and regenerating ideas cannot take place in a society thus constituted; they perceive the necessity of a revolutionary whirlwind which will sweep away all this rottenness, revive sluggish hearts with its breath, and bring to mankind that spirit of devotion, self-denial, and heroism, without which society sinks through degradation and vileness into complete disintegration." - Peter Kropotkin, fully Prince Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin

"God knows that a mother needs fortitude and courage and tolerance and flexibility and patience and firmness and nearly every other brave aspect of the human soul. But because I happen to be a parent of almost fiercely maternal nature, I praise casualness . It seems to me the rarest of virtues. It is useful enough when children are small. It is important to the point of necessity when they are adolescents." - Phyllis McGinley

"I stand ready to negotiate, but I want no part of laws: I acknowledge none; I protest against every order with which some authority may feel pleased on the basis of some alleged necessity to over-rule my free will. Laws: We know what they are, and what they are worth! They are spider webs for the rich and mighty, steel chains for the poor and weak, fishing nets in the hands of government." - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

"Although Art is fundamentally everywhere and always the same, nevertheless two main human inclinations, diametrically opposed to each other, appear in its many and varied expressions. One aims at the direct creation of universal beauty, the other at the esthetic expression on oneself, in other words, of that which one thins and experiences. The first aims at representing reality objectively, the second subjectively. Thus we see in every work of figurative art the desire, objectively to represent beauty, solely through form and color, in mutually balanced relations, and, at the same time, an attempt to express that which these forms, colors, and relations arouse in us. The latter attempt must of necessity result in an individual expression which veils the pure representation of beauty." - Piet Mondrian, fully Pieter Cornelis "Piet" Mondriaan, after 1906 Mondrian

"Imagine that the keeper of a huge, strong beast notices what makes it angry, what it desires, how it has to be approached and handled, the circumstances and the conditions under which it becomes particularly fierce or calm, what provokes its typical cries, and what tones of voice make it gentle or wild. Once he's spent enough time in the creature's company to acquire all this information, he calls it knowledge, forms it into a systematic branch of expertise, and starts to teach it, despite total ignorance, in fact, about which of the creature's attitudes and desires is commendable or deplorable, good or bad, moral or immoral. His usage of all these terms simply conforms to the great beast's attitudes, and he describes things as good or bad according to its likes and dislikes, and can't justify his usage of the terms any further, but describes as right and good the things which are merely indispensable, since he hasn't realized and can't explain to anyone else how vast a gulf there is between necessity and goodness. " - Plato NULL

"Looking back at the wake of my ship one day in 1917, I became interested in its beautiful white path. I said to myself, That path is white because of the different refractions of light by the bubbles of water-H20 (not H0). The bubbles are beautiful little spheres. I wonder how many bubbles I am looking at stretching miles astern. I began to make calculations of how many bubbles there were per cubic foot of water. I began to find that in calculating the ship's white wake I was dealing in quintillions to the fourth power times quintillions to the fourth power or some such fantastically absurd number of bubbles. And nature was making those bubbles in sublimely swift ease! Any time one looks carefully at a bubble, one is impressed with the beauty of its structure, its’ beautiful sphericity glinting with the colors of the spectrum. It is ephemeral-elegantly conceived, beautifully manufactured and readily broken. Inasmuch as the kind of mathematics I had learned of in school required the use of the XYZ coordinate system and the necessity of employing in calculating the spheres, I wondered, to how many decimal places does nature carry out before she decides the computation can't be concluded? Next I wondered, to how many arbitrary decimal places does nature carry out the transcendental irrational before she decides to say it's a bad job and call it off? If nature uses she has to do what we call fudging of her design which means improvising, compromisingly. I thought sympathetically of nature's having to make all those myriad frustrating decisions each time she made a bubble. I didn't see how she managed to formulate the wake of every ship while managing the rest of the universe if she had to make all those decisions. So I said to myself, I don't think nature uses. I think she has some other mathematical way of coordinating her undertakings." - Buckminster Fuller, fully Richard Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller

"So long as mathematicians can impose up-and-down semantics upon students while trafficking personally in the non-up-and-down advantages of their concise statements, they can impose upon the ignorance of man a monopoly of access to accurate processing of information and can fool even themselves by thought habits governing the becoming behavior of professional specialists, by disclaiming the necessity of, or responsibility for, comprehensive adjustment of the a priori thought to total reality of universal principles. The everywhere-relative velocities and momentums of interactions, of energetic phenomena of universe, are central to the preoccupations and realizations of the comprehensive designer. The concept of relativity involves high frequency of re-established awareness, and progressively integrating consideration of the respective, and also integrated dynamic complexities of the moving and transforming frame of reference and of the integrated dynamic complexities of the observed, as well as of the series of integrated sub-dynamic complexities, in respect to each of the major categories of the relatively moving frames of reference, of the observer and the observed. It also involves constant reference of all the reciprocating sub-sets to the comprehensive totality of non-simultaneous universe, from which naught may be lost." - Buckminster Fuller, fully Richard Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller

"To pray loudly is not a necessity of devotion; when we pray we must direct our hearts towards heaven." - Rabbinical Proverbs

"It is so often on the name of a misdeed that a life goes to pieces, not the nameless and personal action itself, which was perhaps a perfectly definite necessity of that life and would have been absorbed by it without effort." - Rainer Maria Rilke, full name René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke

"In an industrial society which confuses work and productivity, the necessity of producing has always been an enemy of the desire to create." - Raoul Vaneigem

"Good critical writing is measured by the perception and evaluation of the subject; bad critical writing by the necessity of maintaining the professional standing of the critic." - Raymond Chandler, fully Raymond Thornton Chandler

"Nothing that man ever invents will absolve him from the universal necessity of being good as God is good, righteous as God is righteous, and holy as God is holy." - Charles Kingsley

"Art imitates Nature, and necessity is the mother of invention." - Richard Franck