Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"Hatred and unpopularity at the moment have fallen to the lot of all who have aspired to rule others; but where odium must be incurred, true wisdom incurs it for the highest objects. Hatred also is short-lived; but that which makes the splendour of the present and the glory of the future remains for ever unforgotten. Make your decision, therefore, for glory then and honour now, and attain both objects by instant and zealous effort: do not send heralds to Lacedaemon, and do not betray any sign of being oppressed by your present sufferings, since they whose minds are least sensitive to calamity, and whose hands are most quick to meet it, are the greatest men and the greatest communities." - Pericles NULL

"It is evident that no review of evolution can be complete, unless these two dominant currents are analyzed. However, the self-assertion of the individual or of groups of individuals, their struggles for superiority, and the conflicts which resulted therefrom, have already been analyzed, described, and glorified from time immemorial. In fact, up to the present time, this current alone has received attention from the epical poet, the annalist, the historian, and the sociologist. History, such as it has hitherto been written, is almost entirely a description of the ways and means by which theocracy, military power, autocracy, and, later on, the richer classes' rule have been promoted, established, and maintained." - Peter Kropotkin, fully Prince Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin

"He who allows me to rule is in fact my master." - Pierre Cornielle

"My reason, it's true, controls my feelings, but whatever its authority, it doesn't rule them so much as tyrannize them." - Pierre Cornielle

"It may be laid down as a general rule that, if the result of a long series of precise observations approximates a simple relation so closely that the remaining difference is undetectable by observation and may be attributed to the errors to which they are liable, then this relation is probably that of nature. " - Pierre-Simon Laplace, Compte de Laplace, Marquis de Laplace

"In order that art may be really abstract, in other words, that it should not represent relations with the natural aspect of things, the law of the denaturalization of matter is of fundamental importance. In painting, the primary color that is as pure as possible realizes this abstraction of natural color. But color is, in the present state of technique, also the best means for denaturalizing matter in the realm of abstract constructions in three dimensions; technical means are as a rule insufficient." - Piet Mondrian, fully Pieter Cornelis "Piet" Mondriaan, after 1906 Mondrian

"Ben Bag-Bag used to say of the Torah: “Turn it and turn it again, for everything is in it. Pore over it, and wax gray and old over it. Stir not from it for you can have no better rule than it.”" - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"A city whose future rulers are the least eager to rule will necessarily be the best governed and freest from strife, and the one with opposite rulers the worst. " - Plato NULL

"If you can discover a better way of life than office-holding for your future rulers, a well-governed city becomes a possibility. For only in such a state will those rule who are truly rich, not in gold, but in the wealth that makes happiness — a good and wise life. [You must contrive for your future rulers another and a better life than that of a ruler, and then you may have a well-ordered State; for only in the State which offers this, will they rule who are truly rich, not in silver and gold, but in virtue and wisdom, which are the true blessings of life.]" - Plato NULL

"Justice is establishing the parts of the soul so that they dominate and are dominated by each other according to nature, injustice so that they rule and are ruled contrary to nature. " - Plato NULL

"The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself. " - Plato NULL

"It is easy to rule over the good." - Plautus, full name Titus Maccius Plautus NULL

"In our own time the whole of Greece has been subject to a low birth rate and a general decrease of the population, owing to which cities have become deserted and the land has ceased to yield fruit, although there have neither been continuous wars nor epidemics...For as men had fallen into such a state of pretentiousness, avarice, and indolence that they did not wish to marry, or if they married to rear the children born to them, or at most as a rule but one or two of them, so as to leave these in affluence and bring them up to waste their substance, the evil rapidly and insensibly grew." - Polybius NULL

"Ours will be the task of defining and explaining the notions of the most important truths… as well as that of leading back to the rule and straight path of honesty both in public and in private life, in the social and political spheres, all men and, indeed, each and every one of them, those who must obey as well as those whose duty is to command, for they are all sons of the same Father Who is in Heaven. We are also quite conscious of the fact that some will be shocked in hearing Us mention that We will, through necessity, concern Ourselves with politics. But anyone seeking to judge fairly will be quick to understand that the Sovereign Pontiff, who has been invested with the Supreme Magisterium, has no right whatsoever of divorcing questions relating to politics from the field of Faith and Morals. Moreover, in his capacity as chief and sovereign guide of that perfect society which is the Catholic Church, a society made up of men and also set up amongst men, he can only wish to foster and entertain close relationships with [all] heads of countries and members of governments if he wishes to see all the countries of the world protect their Catholic citizens' liberty and security." - Pope Pius X, aka Saint Pope Pius X and Pope of the Eucharist, born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto NULL

"Gandhi, that great apostle of non-violence, and Aung San, the founder of a national army, were very different personalities, but as there is an inevitable sameness about the challenges of authoritarian rule anywhere at any time, so there is a similarity in the intrinsic qualities of those who rise up to meet the challenge." - Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

"The effort necessary to remain uncorrupted in an environment where fear is an integral part of everyday existence is not immediately apparent to those fortunate enough to live in states governed by the rule of law. Just laws do not merely prevent corruption by meting out impartial punishment to offenders. They also help to create a society in which people can fulfill the basic requirements necessary for the preservation of human dignity without recourse to corrupt practices. Where there are no such laws, the burden of upholding the principles of justice and common decency falls on the ordinary people. It is the cumulative effect on their sustained effort and steady endurance which will change a nation where reason and conscience are warped by fear into one where legal rules exist to promote man's desire for harmony and justice while restraining the less desirable destructive traits in his nature." - Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

"Within a system which denies the existence of basic human rights, fear tends to be the order of the day. Fear of imprisonment, fear of torture, fear of death, fear of losing friends, family, property or means of livelihood, fear of poverty, fear of isolation, fear of failure. A most insidious form of fear is that which masquerades as common sense or even wisdom, condemning as foolish, reckless, insignificant or futile the small, daily acts of courage which help to preserve man's self-respect and inherent human dignity. It is not easy for a people conditioned by fear under the iron rule of the principle that might is right to free themselves from the enervating miasma of fear. Yet even under the most crushing state machinery courage rises up again and again, for fear is not the natural state of civilized man." - Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

"Quite unconsciously, and despite her own good intentions, the mother then tries to assuage her own narcissistic needs through her child, that is, she cathects [i.e. engulfs] him narcissistically. This does not rule out strong affection. On the contrary, the mother often loves her child as her self-object, passionately, but not in the way he needs to be loved." - Alice Miller, née Rostovski

"An autocratic system of coercion, in my opinion, soon degenerates. For force always attracts men of low morality, and I believe it to be an invariable rule that tyrants of genius are succeeded by scoundrels." - Albert Einstein

"Each one of us has something to contribute. This really depends on each one doing their own thinking, but not following any kind of rule that I can give out, any command. We're all on the frontier; we're all in a great mystery — incredibly mysterious." - Buckminster Fuller, fully Richard Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller

"I never try to tell anybody else what to do, number one. And number two, I think that's what the individual is all about. Each one of us has something to contribute. This really depends on each one doing their own thinking, but not following any kind of rule that I can give out, any command. We're all on the frontier, we're all in a great mystery — incredibly mysterious. Each one possesses exactly what each one is working out, and what each one works out relates to their particular set of circumstances of any one day, or any one place around the world." - Buckminster Fuller, fully Richard Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller

"Rule A: Don't. Rule A1: Rule A doesn't exist. Rule A2: Do not discuss the existence or non-existence of Rules A, A1 or A2." - R. D. Laing, fully Ronald David Laing

"Three great forces rule the world: stupidity, fear and greed." - Albert Einstein

"Would you have a great empire? Rule over yourself." - Publius Syrus

"The confidence essential to effective habit-making comes as a rule from knowledge of previous and related successes. " - Ralph A. Habas, fully Ralph Alfred Habas

"If understanding followed no rule at all, there would be no good in the understanding nor in the matter understood, and to remain in ignorance would be the greatest good." - Ramon Llul, aka Raymond Lully, Raymond Lull, Raimundus, Raymundus Lullus or Lullius

"To make wisdom to be regulated by such a plumbean and flexible rule as that [the will] is, is quite to destroy the nature of it." - Ralph Cudworth

"After that, I thought about what a proposition generally needs in order to be true and certain because, since I had just found one that I knew was such, I thought I should also know what this certainty consists in. Having noticed that there is nothing at all in the proposition 'I think, therefore I am' [cogito ergo sum] which convinces me that I speak the truth, apart from the fact that I see very clearly that one has to exist in order to think, I judged that I could adopt as a general rule that those things we conceive very clearly and distinctly are all true. The only outstanding difficulty is in recognizing which ones we conceive distinctly." - René Descartes

"And the final rule was: in all cases, to make such comprehensive enumerations and such general review that I was certain not to omit anything." - René Descartes

"Each problem that I solved became a rule which served afterwards to solve other problems." - René Descartes

"I can establish as a general rule that all things which I perceive very clearly and distinctly are true." - René Descartes

"I concluded that I might take as a general rule the principle that all things which we very clearly and obviously conceive are true: only observing, however, that there is some difficulty in rightly determining the objects which we distinctly conceive." - René Descartes

"My first rule was to accept nothing as true which I did not clearly recognize to be so; to accept nothing more than what was presented to my mind so clearly and distinctly that I could have no occasion to doubt it. The second rule was to divide each problem or difficulty into as many parts as possible. The third rule was to commence my reflections with objects which were the simplest and easiest to understand, and rise thence, little by little, to knowledge of the most complex. The fourth rule was to make enumerations so complete, and reviews so general, that I should be certain to have omitted nothing." - René Descartes

"The last rule was to make enumerations so complete, and reviews so comprehensive, that I should be certain of omitting nothing." - René Descartes

"This result could have been achieved either by his [God] endowing my intellect with a clear and distinct perception of everything about which I would ever deliberate, or simply by impressing the following rule so firmly upon my memory that I could never forget it: I should never judge anything that I do not clearly and distinctly understand." - René Descartes

"Orgel's second rule is : 'Evolution is cleverer than you are.' Never say, and never take seriously anyone who says, 'I cannot believe that so-and-so could have evolved by gradual selection.' I have dubbed this kind of fallacy 'the Argument from Personal Incredulity.' Time and again, it has proven the prelude to an intellectual banana-skin experience." - Richard Dawkins

"We lust, because our ancestors' lust helped pass their lustful genes on to us. Here, as it happens, Darwinism agrees with commonsense: the convention works. But sometimes the convention breaks down. If we are on the Pill, or know that our sexual partner is, it doesn't diminish our desire. We still inherit the ancient rule of thumb, now out of date. As Steven Pinker says, in his splendid book How the Mind Works, Had the Pleistocene contained trees bearing birth-control pills, we might have evolved to find them as terrifying as a venomous spider." - Richard Dawkins

"As a rule of thumb, when the quality of the ore drops, the amount of energy required to extract the resource rises (often the amount of water, too)." - Richard Heinberg

"For whereas god hath left sundry kinds of laws unto men, and by all those laws the actions of men are in some sort directed; they hold that the one only law, the Scripture, must be the rule to direct all things." - Richard Hooker

"God's children are neither madmen nor fools; it is but a scandal cast upon them by the madmen of the world. They are the only wise men if it be well considered. First, they make the highest end their aim, which is to be children of God here, and saints hereafter in heaven. Secondly, they aim to be found wise men at their death, and therefore are always making their accounts ready. Thirdly, they labor to live answerable to the rule; they observe the rule of the Word to be governed continually by it. Fourthly, they improve all advantages to advance their grand end; they labor to grow better by blessings and crosses, and to make a sanctified use of all things. Fifthly, they swim against the stream of the times and though they eat and drink and sleep as other men, yet (like the stars) they have a secret settled course of their own which the world cannot discern; therefore a man must be changed and set in a higher rank before he can have a sanctified judgment of the ways of God." - Richard Sibbes (or Sibbs)

"I refuse to make a decision that somebody else can make. The first rule of leadership is to save yourself for the big decision. Don't allow your mind to become cluttered." - Richard Nixon, fully Richard Milhous Nixon

"We shall support vigorously the principle that no country has the right to impose its will or rule on another by force." - Richard Nixon, fully Richard Milhous Nixon

"While technically I did not commit a crime, an impeachable offense... these are legalisms, as far as the handling of this matter is concerned; it was so botched up, I made so many bad judgments. The worst ones, mistakes of the heart, rather than the head. But let me say, a man in that top job-he's got to have a heart, but his head must always rule his heart." - Richard Nixon, fully Richard Milhous Nixon

"No rule is so general, which admits not some exception." - Robert Burton

"To behave ethically is not a one-step process: Do the right thing. It is a sometimes arduous eight-step process. To behave ethically, you must: 1. Recognize that there is a situation that deserves to be noticed and reflected upon. 2. Define the situation as having an ethical component. 3. Decide that the ethical component is important enough to deserve attention. 4. View the ethical component as relevant to you personally. 5. Ascertain what ethical rule applies to the situation. 6. Figure out how to apply the ethical rule. 7. Prepare for possible adverse consequences, such as retaliation, if you should act ethically. 8. Act." - Robert Sternberg, fully Robert Jeffrey Sternberg

"One reason the Golden Rule is so popular is that it seems to require no specific faith and no specific religious beliefs. Men may argue over many questions, but often they can agree on the Golden Rule. Religious teachers all over the world, many of them long before Jesus, taught one form or another of the Golden Rule. Look at a few examples. 1. The Hindu Mahabharata teaches: "Men gifted with intelligence and purified souls should always treat others as they themselves wish to be treated." 2. A Jainist writing, also from India, says: "A man should wander about treating all creatures in the world as he himself would be treated." 3. When Confucius was asked for a single word to sum up the rules of life, he answered: "Is not reciprocity such a word ? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others." 4. The Taoists taught: "Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and regard your neighbor's loss as your own loss." 5. In the generation before Jesus a man asked the great Rabbi Hillel to teach him the Law while standing on one foot. Hillel answered: "What thou thyself hatest, do not to thy neighbor. This is the whole Law. The rest is commentary. Go and learn it."" - Roger L. Shinn, fully Roger Lincoln Shinn

"Who shall declare Thy righteousness? For Thou hast compassed the firmament of the moon with a second sphere Without deviation or infraction, And within it is a star called Mercury, And its measure to the earth is like one to twenty-two thousand. And it completeth its turbulent course in ten months And is the stirrer up in the world of strifes and contentions And enmities and cries of complaint, And it giveth the force to obtain power and to heap up wealth, To gather riches and to lay up abundance, According to the command of Him who created it to be His minister As a servant before a master. And it is the star of prudence and wisdom, "Giving subtlety to the simple And to the young man knowledge and discretion."" - Salomon ibn Gabirol, aka Solomon ben Judah or Avicebron

"O my God, If my iniquity is too great to be borne, What wilt Thou do for Thy great name’s sake? And if I do not wait on Thy mercies, Who will have pity on me but Thee? Therefore though Thou shouldst slay me, yet will I trust in Thee. For if Thou shouldst pursue my iniquity, I will flee from Thee to Thyself, And I will shelter myself from Thy wrath in Thy shadow, And to the skirts of Thy mercies I will lay hold until Thou hast had mercy on me, And I will not let Thee go till Thou hast blessed me. Remember, I pray Thee, that of slime Thou hast made me, And by all these hardships tried me, Therefore visit me not according to my wanton dealings, Nor feed me on the fruit of my deeds, But prolong Thy patience, nor bring near my day, Until I shall have prepared provision for returning to my eternal home, Nor rage against me to send me hastily from the earth, With my sins bound up in the kneading-trough on my shoulder. And when Thou placest my sins in the balance Place Thou in the other scale my sorrows, And while recalling my depravity and frowardness, Remember my affliction and my harrying, And place these against the others. And remember, I pray Thee, O my God, That Thou hast driven me rolling and wandering like Cain, And in the furnace of exile hast tried me, And from the mass of my wickedness refined me, And I know ’tis for my good Thou hast proved me, And in faithfulness afflicted me, And that it is to profit me at my latter end That Thou hast brought me through this testing by troubles. Therefore, O God, let Thy mercies be moved toward me, And do not exhaust Thy wrath upon me, Nor reward me according to my works, But cry to the Destroying Angel: Enough! For what height or advantage have I attained That Thou shouldst pursue me for my iniquity, And shouldst post a watch over me, And trap me like an antelope in a snare? Is not the bulk of my days past and vanished? Shall the rest consume in their iniquity? And if I am here to-day before Thee, "To-morrow Thine eyes are upon me and I am not." "And now wherefore should I die And this Thy great fire devour me?" O my God, turn Thine eyes favourably upon me For the remainder of my brief days, Pursue not their escaping survivors, Nor let the remnant of the crops that the hail hath spared Be finished off by the locust for my sins. For am I not the creation of Thy hands, And what shall it avail Thee That the worm shall take me for its meal And feed on the product of Thy hands?" - Salomon ibn Gabirol, aka Solomon ben Judah or Avicebron

"All is change in the world of the senses, But changeless is the supreme Lord of Love. Meditate on him, be absorbed by him, Wake up from this dream of separateness." - Shvetashvatara Upanishad