Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"Modern capitalism has in many instances run mad, so that even to-day in some of our southern states we see the government declaring to those who possess wealth: Come to our state. We offer you . . . our children no matter how young they may be, take them; do with them what you will; place your octopus upon them; drag them into the factory, into the mill or into the mine; grind their bones into dollars; we give you full privilege, only come." - Samuel Gompers

"Our tastes greatly alter. The lad does not care for the child's rattle, and the old man does not care for the young man's whore." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"It still remains true that as a set of cognitive beliefs about the existence of God in any recognizable sense continuous with the great systems of the past, religious doctrines constitute a speculative hypothesis of an extremely low order of probability." - Sidney Hook

"When I was a small boy I was always being told by others, especially grown-ups, to behave, to be good. It never occurred to me that I was always behaving in some manner. But I didn't have the awareness or skill to ask those grown-ups what they meant when they told me to behave and to be good. Now I realize that all they wanted was for me to conform to their idea of what was good and not to do what they called bad behavior, which they sometimes changed at will. Even today people are still telling me how I should behave, but now I ask what they mean and sometimes it drives them up a wall." - Sidney Madwed

"The psychic development of the individual is a short repetition of the course of development of the race." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"Want of exercise was beginning to affect his health and to give him the weak and excitable character of a young German student." - Stendhal, pen name of Marie Henn Beyle or Marie-Henri Beyle NULL

"Before Kuhn, most scientists followed the place-a-stone-in-the-bright-temple-of-knowledge tradition, and would have told you that they hoped, above all, to lay many of the bricks, perhaps even the keystone, of truth's temple. Now most scientists of vision hope to foment revolution. We are, therefore, awash in revolutions, most self-proclaimed." - Stephan Jay Gould

"Eugene Dubois is no hero in my book, if only because I share the spirit of his unorthodoxies, but disagree so strongly with his version, and regard his supporting arguments as so weakly construed and so willfully blind to opposing evidence (the dogmatist within is always worse than the enemy without)." - Stephan Jay Gould

"Natural historians tend to avoid tendentious preaching in this philosophical mode (although I often fall victim to such temptations in these essays). Our favored style of doubting is empirical: if I wish to question your proposed generality, I will search for a counterexample in flesh and blood. Such counterexamples exist in abundance, for they form a staple in a standard genre of writing in natural history — the wonderment of oddity or strange ways of the beaver tradition." - Stephan Jay Gould

"True majorities, in a TV-dominated and anti-intellectual age, may need sound bites and flashing lights—and I am not against supplying such lures if they draw children into even a transient concern with science. But every classroom has one [Oliver] Sacks, one [Eric] Korn, or one [Jonathan] Miller, usually a lonely child with a passionate curiosity about nature, and a zeal that overcomes pressures for conformity. Do not the one in fifty deserve their institutions as well—magic places, like cabinet museums, that can spark the rare flames of genius?" - Stephan Jay Gould

"Whatever a woman's reason may say, her feelings tell her the truth." - Stefan Zweig

"The overbearing matter-of-factness which sacrifices the subject to the ascertainment of the truth, rejects at once truth and objectivity." - Theodor W. Adorno, born Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund

"We, the men of to-day and of the future, need many qualities if we are to do our work well. We need, first of all and most important of all, the qualities which stand at the base of individual, of family life, the fundamental and essential qualities—the homely, every-day, all-important virtues. If the average man will not work, if he has not in him the will and the power to be a good husband and father; if the average woman is not a good housewife, a good mother of many healthy children, then the state will topple, will go down, no matter what may be its brilliance of artistic development or material achievement. But these homely qualities are not enough. There must, in addition, be that power of organization, that power of working in common for a common end [...]. Moreover, the things of the spirit are even more important than the things of the body. We can well do without the hard intolerance and arid intellectual barrenness of what was worst in the theological systems of the past, but there has never been greater need of a high and fine religious spirit than at the present time. So, while we can laugh good-humoredly at some of the pretensions of modern philosophy in its various branches, it would be worse than folly on our part to ignore our need of intellectual leadership… our debt to scientific men is incalculable, and our civilization of to-day would have reft from it all that which most highly distinguishes it if the work of the great masters of science during the past four centuries were now undone or forgotten. Never has philanthropy, humanitarianism, seen such development as now; and though we must all beware of the folly, and the viciousness no worse than folly, which marks the believer in the perfectibility of man when his heart runs away with his head, or when vanity usurps the place of conscience, yet we must remember also that it is only by working along the lines laid down by the philanthropists, by the lovers of mankind, that we can be sure of lifting our civilization to a higher and more permanent plane of well-being than was ever attained by any preceding civilization." - Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

"The Evil-speaker is one who, when asked who so-and-so is, will reply, in the style of genealogists, ‘I will begin with his parentage." - Theophrastus NULL

"Assurance is a jewel worth waiting for." - Thomas Brooks

"Under all speech that is good for anything there lies a silence that is better. Silence is deep as Eternity; speech is shallow as Time." - Thomas Carlyle

"Everything yields to diligence ." - Thomas Jefferson

"I have ever judged of the religion of others by their lives." - Thomas Jefferson

"In truth, the abuses of monarchy had so much filled all the space of political contemplation, that we imagined everything republican which was not monarchy. We had not yet penetrated to the mother principle, that governments are republican only in proportion as they embody the will of their people, and execute it. Hence, our first constitutions had really no leading principles in them. But experience and reflection have but more and more confirmed me in the particular importance of the equal representation then proposed." - Thomas Jefferson

"The priests have so disfigured the simple religion of Jesus that no one who reads the sophistications they have engrafted on it, from the jargon of Plato, of Aristotle and other mystics, would conceive these could have been fathered on the sublime preacher of the sermon on the mount." - Thomas Jefferson

"Let no one hope to find in contemplation an escape from conflict, from anguish or from doubt. On the contrary, the deep, inexpressible certitude of the contemplative experience awakens a tragic anguish and opens many questions in the depths of the heart like wounds that cannot stop bleeding. For every gain in deep certitude there is a corresponding growth of superficial ‘doubt.’ This doubt is by no means opposed to genuine faith, but it mercilessly examines and questions the spurious ‘faith’ of everyday life, the human faith which is nothing but the passive acceptance of conventional opinion." - Thomas Merton

"Love seeks one thing only the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves. Love, therefore, is its own reward." - Thomas Merton

"The importance of detachment from things, the importance of poverty, is that we are supposed to be free from things that we might prefer to people. Wherever things have become more important than people, we are in trouble. That is the crux of the whole matter." - Thomas Merton

"There are days when I am convinced that Heaven starts already, now, in this ordinary life just as it is, in all its incompleteness, yet, this is where Heaven starts… see within yourself, if you can find it. I walked through the field in front of the house, lots of swallows flying, everywhere! Some very near me… it was magical. We are already one, yet we know it not." - Thomas Merton

"The abilities of man must fall short on one side or the other, like too scanty a blanket when you are abed. If you pull it upon your shoulders, your feet are left bare; if you thrust it down to your feet, your shoulders are uncovered." - Thomas Paine

"Uncritical reverence for the Founding Fathers was less ubiquitous while they actually lived. . . . The Reign of Terror that raged in America during the latter end of the Washington Administration, and the whole of that of Adams, is enveloped in mystery to me. That there were men in the Government hostile to the representative system, was once their toast, though it is now their overthrow, and therefore the fact is established against them." - Thomas Paine

"What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: 'tis dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated." - Thomas Paine

"Whatever has a tendency to promote the civil intercourse of nations by an exchange of benefits is a subject as worthy of philosophy as of politics." - Thomas Paine

"But in one thing I would go beyond strict orthodoxy - I am a convinced universalist. I believe that in the end all men will be gathered into the love of God." - William Barclay

"I looked for my soul but my soul I could not see. I looked for my God but my God eluded me. I looked for a friend and then I found all three." - William Blake

"What seems to be, is, to those to whom it seems to be, and is productive of the most dreadful consequences to those to whom it seems to be, even of torments, despair, eternal death." - William Blake

"Forgive the song that falls so low, beneath the gratitude I owe." - William Cowper

"Marble and recording brass decay, and, like the 'graver's memory, pass away; the works of man inherit, as is just, their author's frailty, and return to dust; but truth divine forever stands secure, its head as guarded, as its base is sure; fixes in the rolling flood of endless years, the pillar of the eternal plan appears; the waving storm and dashing wave defies, built by that architect who built the skies." - William Cowper

"The sea has been called deceitful and treacherous, but there lies in this trait only the character of a great natural power, which, to speak according to our own feelings, renews its strength, and, without reference to joy or sorrow, follows eternal laws which are imposed by a higher Power." - Wilhelm von Humboldt, fully Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand von Humboldt

"You are one of the most remarkable women England - you have never written a novel." - Wilkie Collins, fully William Wilkie Collins

"Says Schopenhauer: All epics representative cannot help but imagine a dispute and effort and fighting for happiness but cannot tolerate happiness never the same. She walked to declare false to thousands of risks and difficulties to reach the desired goal, and once you reach these heroes goals acceleration story to curtain as no longer have anything after that to show only that the goal illustrious Buraq, who predicted the hero that he finds happiness may dashed hope, and it was not after reaching happier than before attainable." - Will Durant, fully William James "Will" Durant

"Isn't it queer: there are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before; like the larks in this country, that have been singing the same five notes over for thousands of years." - Willa Cather, fully Willa Sibert Cather

"Every man meets his Waterloo at last." - Wendell Phillips

"To me many of my colleagues at Time, basically kind and intensely well-meaning people, seemed to me as charming and as removed from reality as fish in a fish bowl. To me they seemed to know little about the forces that were shaping the history of our time. To me they seemed like little children, knowing and clever little children, but knowing and clever chiefly about trifling things while they were extremely resistant to finding out about anything else." - Whittaker Chambers, born Jay Vivian Chambers, aka Jay David Whittaker Chambers

"The absolute and static were even taken over by such dynamically oriented psychological schools as the Freudian in the form of the permanent unconscious ideas. In Jung, the unconscious psychic life was enlarged to the static "racial unconscious" and to the static "collective unconscious". Along with the static viewpoint, these psychologies took over the idea of guilt, even after their separation from philosophy. In so doing, they fell into a cul de sac from which there was no way out." - Wilhelm Reich

"Economically ignorant moralism is as objectionable as morally callous economism. Ethics and economics are two equally difficult subjects, and while the former needs discerning and expert reason, the latter cannot do without humane values." - Wilhelm Röepke

"We are not the helpless slaves of technology, but as before - if only we wish to be - captains of our fate.... this argument of technological inevitability is also misleading because it depends entirely on extra-techni­cal factors whether a certain technological process which, for example, favors mass production, is in actual fact really superior from the economic point of view or not." - Wilhelm Röepke

"Except in the sacred texts of democracy and in the incantations of orators, we hardly take the trouble to pretend that the rule of the majority is not at bottom a rule of force. What other virtue can there be in fifty-one percent except the brute fact that fifty-one is more than forty-nine? The rule of fifty-one per cent is a convenience, it is for certain matters a satisfactory political device, it is for others the lesser of two evils, and for others it is acceptable because we do not know any less troublesome method of obtaining a political decision. But it may easily become an absurd tyranny if we regard it worshipfully, as though it were more than a political device. We have lost all sense of its true meaning when we imagine that the opinion of fifty-one per cent is in some high fashion the true opinion of the whole hundred per cent, or indulge in the sophistry that the rule of a majority is based upon the ultimate equality of man." - Walter Lippmann

"Forecasts may tell you a great deal about the forecaster; they tell you nothing about the future." - Warren Buffett, fully Warren Edward Buffett, aka Oracle of Omaha

"If you’re in the luckiest 1 per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent." - Warren Buffett, fully Warren Edward Buffett, aka Oracle of Omaha

"In a bull market, one must avoid the error of the preening duck that quacks boastfully after a torrential rainstorm, thinking that its paddling skills have caused it to rise in the world. A right-thinking duck would instead compare its position after the downpour to that of the other ducks on the pond." - Warren Buffett, fully Warren Edward Buffett, aka Oracle of Omaha

"It’s got to be the best intellectual exercise out there. You’re seeing through new situations every ten minutes…In the stock market you don’t base your decisions on what the market is doing, but on what you think is rational….Bridge is about weighing gain/loss ratios. You’re doing calculations all the time." - Warren Buffett, fully Warren Edward Buffett, aka Oracle of Omaha

"Never depend on single income. Make investment to create a second source." - Warren Buffett, fully Warren Edward Buffett, aka Oracle of Omaha

"The important thing is to keep playing, to play against weak opponents and to play for big stakes." - Warren Buffett, fully Warren Edward Buffett, aka Oracle of Omaha

"What the wise do in the beginning, fools do in the end." - Warren Buffett, fully Warren Edward Buffett, aka Oracle of Omaha