Favorite Quotations

No one mans all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous.
        ==Brooks Adams

If the world were empty of good people, it would end.
   ==Arab saying

It is our choice of good and evil that determines our character, not our opinions about good and evil.

We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence therefore is not an act but a habit.

Without friends, noone would wish to live, although he had all other goods.

O look, look in the mirror,
   O look in your distress.
Life remains a blessing
   although you cannot bless.
O stand, stand at the window
   as the tears scald and start.
You shall love your crooked neighbor
   with your crooked heart.
    ==W.H. Auden

Life is a hard school. The test comes first, then the lesson.
    ==Author unknown

There is no meaning or purpose
     save what we give ourselves.
There is no justice or mercy
     save what we give each other.
    ==Author unknown

A little learning is a dangerous thing.
     Learn a little.
     Live dangerously.
    ==Author unknown

If you would understand other people, observe yourself.
If you would understand yourself, observe other people.
    ==Author unknown

Self-discipline consists in remembering what you want.
    ==Author unknown

If you can laugh at something, it can’t hurt you.
It can kill you, but it can’t hurt you.
    ==Author unknown

Being ashamed doesn’t prove you’re wrong, any more than being angry proves you’re right.
    ==Author unknown

Love is a gift.
Friendship is an exchange.
    ==Author unknown

It’s true we don’t know what we’ve got until we lose it, but it’s also true we don’t know what we’ve been missing until it arrives.
    ==Author unknown

        When in doubt, doubt.
            ==Author unknown

In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, theory and practice are different.
    ==Author unknown

Failure is an event, not a person.
        ==Author unknown

Evil did not come into the world with the first murder.
Evil did not come into the world with the first execution.
Evil came into the world when the people killed an innocent person because he was the same family or tribe as a murderer.
        ==Author unknown

Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper.
    ==Francis Bacon

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed that is not faced.
                ==James Baldwin

I wish I’d known at 18 that I was going to live as long as I have done. I wish I’d known I would have a great deal of time, time to make mistakes and to recover from them, time to do all sorts of extravagant things.
People say, you know, life is short. But that isn’t true at all, actually. In fact, life is long, long enough to make a great deal more of ourselves than most people do.
We’re like people who always go to the same restaurant and always order the same meal. Without making very much effort, we could all have far richer and more diverse, more exciting and interesting experiences.
    ==SF writer J.G. Ballard

A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.
    ==Dave Barry

Living beyond doubt:  Developing a sound professional and personal self -confidence is ever a challenge, as many possess the superb self-confidence that comes only to those whose skeptical inner life is faint.
    ==Hal Bauer

As I now know, to look for reasons why one should not stamp on a man’s face is to accept stamping on it.
        ==Simone de Beauvoir, Force of Circumstance.

Ever tried.
Ever failed.
No matter.
Try again.
Fail again.
Fail better.
        ==Samuel Beckett

Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.
    ==King James Bible.  Exodus 23: 2.

The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, not yet favor to men of skill, but time and chance happeneth to them all.
    ==King James Bible.  Ecclesiastes 9: 11.

Remember that death is coming for you some day, and you haven’t been told when that day will be. Before that day comes, be as generous as you can. Don’t deny yourself a single day’s happiness.If there is something you want to do and it is lawful, go ahead! Someday all you have worked for will be divided up and given to others. So be generous, but also be willing to receive from others. Enjoy yourself, for you will not find any pleasures in the world of the dead.
The human body wears out like a piece of clothing. The ancient law decrees that we must die. Human beings are like leaves on a spreading tree. New growth takes the place of the fallen leaves. While some of us die, others are being born. Everything made by human hands will decay and perish, along with the person who made it.
    ==Good News Bible. Sirach 14: 12-19

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whosoever things are of good repute: if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
    ==King James Bible. Philippians 4: 8

There is nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don’t know.
    ==Ambrose Bierce

SIR THOMAS MORE: … If we lived in a State where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us good and greed would make us saintly. And we’d live like animals or angels in the happy land that needs no heroes.
But since in fact we see that avarice, anger, envy, pride, sloth, lust and stupidity commonly profit far beyond humility, chastity, fortitude, justice and thought, why then perhaps we must stand fast a little …
    ==Robert Bolt, A Man For All Seasons

I have always imagined paradise to be a kind of library.
    ==Jorge Luis Borges

I never thought my life would take up so much of my time.
    ==Sign in Boulder Coffee Co. coffee shop

Starting anew with a clean slate has been one of the must harmful ideas in history. … The accumulated past is life’s best resource for innovation.
    ==Stewart Brand

With haste, mistakes cascade.
With deliberation, mistakes instruct.
    ==Stewart Brand

Do not believe anything simply because you heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything because it is found in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find anything that is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
    ==Siddarta Buddha

It’s the first death which infects everyone with the feelings of being threatened.  It is impossible to overrate the part played by the first dead man in the kindling of wars.  Rulers who want to unleash war know very well that they must first procure or invent a first victim.  It needs not be anybody of particular importance and can even be someone quite unknown.  Nothing matters except his death; and it must be believed the enemy is responsible for this.  Every possible cause of his death is suppressed except one: his membership of the group to which one belongs oneself.
            ==Elias Canetti

A thing worth doing is worth doing badly.
    ==G.K. Chesterton

It may be said with rough accuracy that there are three stages in the life of a strong people. First, it is a small power, and fights small powers. Then it is a great power and fights great powers. Then it is a great power, and fights small powers, but pretends they are great powers, in order to rekindle the ashes of its ancient emotion and vanity.
    ==G.K. Chesterton

Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are least dangerous is the man of ideas.  He is acquainted with ideas, and moves among them like a lion-tamer.  Ideas are dangerous, but the man who whom they are most dangerous is the man with no ideas.
        ==G.K. Chesteron

Speak well of your enemies.
After all, you made them.
    ==Church sign in England

There is no better investment than putting milk into babies.
    ==Winston Churchill

Personally I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.
    ==Winston Churchill

Experts should be on tap, but not on top.
    ==Attributed to Winston Churchill

The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way into the impossible.
    ==Arthur C. Clarke

Shall I teach you what knowledge is? When you know a thing, to recognize that you know it, and when you do not know a thing, to recognize that you do not know it. That is knowledge.
    ==Analects of Confucius

He who does not understand words is incapable of understanding men.
    ==Analects of Confucius

In passing by the side of Mount Thai, Confucius came on a woman who was weeping bitterly by a grave. The Master pressed forward and drove quickly to her, then he sent Tze-lu to question her. “Your wailing,” said he, “is that of one who has suffered sorrow on sorrow.” She replied, “This is so. Once my husband’s father was killed here by a tiger. My husband was also killed, and now my son was killed in the same way.” The Master said, “Why do you not leave this place?” The answer was, “There is no oppressive government here.” The Master said, “Remember this, my children, oppressive government is worse than a tiger.”
    ==Analects of Confucius

How lucky I am! Every time I make a mistake, there’s always somebody to point it out to me.
    ==Analects of Confucius

As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil they set out to destroy.
    ==Analects of Confucius

It is better to vote for what you want and not get it, than vote for what you don’t want and get it.
    ==Eugene V. Debs

Nobody has to change.  Survival is optional.
                                                                                            ==W. Edwards Deming

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.
    ==Philip K. Dick

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them.
        ==Frederick Douglass

Right is of no Sex – Truth is of no Color – God is the Father of us All, and we are all brethren.
        ==Motto of Frederick Douglass’s North Star

A man’s rights rest in three boxes.  The ballot box, jury box and the cartridge box.  Let no man be kept from the ballot box because of his color.  Let no woman be kept from the ballot box because of her sex.
        ==Frederick Douglass, in 1867

Don’t solve problems. Pursue opportunities.
    ==Attributed to Peter Drucker

If the only prayer we ever said was “thank you,” it would still be enough.
    ==Meister Eckhart

The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.
    ==Albert Einstein

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.
    ==Albert Einstein

Insanity [is] doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.
    ==Attributed to Albert Einstein

Never before in history have things been so much the way they are now.
    ==Attributed to President Eisenhower

If you visit your friend, why need you apologize for not having visited him, and waste his time and deface your own act? Visit him now.
    ==Ralph Waldo Emerson

Character is that which can do without success.
    ==Ralph Waldo Emerson

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.
    ==Ralph Waldo Emerson

We learn geology the morning after the earthquake.
        ==Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.
        ==Ralph Waldo Emerson

To accuse others for one’s misfortunes is a sign of want of education; to accuse oneself shows that one’s education has begun; to accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one’s education is complete.

Female beauty is the world’s most potent drug.
    ==Warren Farrell

Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.
    ==Richard Feynman, on the Challenger disaster.

LIve as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now.
    ==Victor Frankl

Dost thou love Life? Then do not squander Time for that’s the stuff Life is made of.
    ==Benjamin Franklin

Economics is the science of how what’s good for you and good for me can be bad for us.
    ==Attributed to Milton Friedman

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
    ==Mohandas K. Gandhi

Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.
                ==Attributed to M.K. Gandhi

The society that scorns excellence in plumbing because it is a humble activity, yet accepts shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activityl, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. … Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.
    ==John Gardner

To love someone is to find happiness in his happiness. This is what is common to all forms of love  — of parents for their children, of a man for his wife, or of a saint for all mankind. …
To be loved is to have someone find happiness in your happiness. To love someone who loves you is one of the most glorious things that can happen, for happiness builds on happiness as is possible in no other way.
    ==Adapted from Bernard Gert, The Moral Rules ◊

It is not propaganda’s task to be intelligent.
    =Joseph Goebbels

Let us fathom those things that are fathomable, and reserve those things that are unfathomable to reverence in quietude.

Virtue is … a habit, the accumulated and consistent practice of certain behaviors based on certain beliefs.
    ==Peter J. Gomes, The Good Book

We owe our existence above all:
• To the universe, cosmic forces, as we would put it now, to Nature.  The ground of our existence.  To be repaid through ritual: ritual becoming an act of respect and recognition to all that beside we are small.
• To those who have created the knowledge and cultural accomplishments that we value most; that give our existence its form, its meaning, but also its shape.  Here we would include not only the philosophers and scientists who created our intellectual tradition but everyone from William Shakespeare to that long-since-forgotten woman, somewhere in the Middle East, who created leavened bread.  We repay them by becoming learned ourselves and contributing to human knowledge and human culture.
• To our parents, and their parents—our ancestors.  We repay them by becoming ancestors.
• To humanity as a whole.  We repay them by generosity to strangers, by maintaining that basic communistic ground of sociality that makes human relations, and hence human life, possible.
    ==David Graeber, Debt: the First 5,000 Years

… Sharing is not simply about morality, but about pleasure.  Solitary pleasures will always exist, but for most human beings, the most pleasurable activities always involve sharing something: music, food, liquor, drugs, gossip, drama, beds.  There is a certain communism of the senses at the root of most things we consider fun.
    ==David Graeber, Debt: the First 5,000 Years

… the Church had been … uncompromising in its attitude toward usury.  It was not just a philosophical question; it was a matter of moral rivalry.   Money always has the potential to become a moral imperative unto itself.  Allow it to expand, and it can quickly become a morality so imperative that all others seem frivolous in comparison.  For the debtor, the world is reduced to a collection of potential dangers, potential tools, and potential merchandise.  Even human relations become a matter of cost-benefit calculation.
    ==David Graeber, Debt: the First 5,000 Years

The small man
builds cages for everyone he knows
while the sage,
who has to duck his head
when the moon is low,
keeps dropping keys all night long
for the
    ==Hafix, 14th century Sufi poet.

The hardest years are those that come between 10 and 70.
    ==Helen Hayes

Never believe in a meritocracy in which no one is funny looking.
    ==Teresa Neilsen Hayden

The road to wisdom?
Well it’s plain
and simple to express.
and err
and err again,
but less
and less
and less.
    ==Piet Hein

Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.
    ==Robert A. Heinlein

Men should fight for their law as well as their city wall.

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am for myself only, what am I?
If not now, when?
    ==Attributed to Rabbi Hillel

The whole point of society is to be less unforgiving than nature
    ==SF fan Arthur D. Hlavaty

The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race, or his holy cause.
    ==Eric Hoffer, The True Believer

The act of self-denial seems to confer on us the right to be harsh and merciless toward others. The impression somehow prevails that the true believer, particularly the religious individual, is a humble person. The truth is that surrendering and humbling of the self breed pride and arrogance.
    ==Eric Hoffer, The True Believer

If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought — not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought of those we hate.
                                                    ==Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Freedom of contract begins when equality of bargaining power begins.
        ==Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Before impugning an opponent’s motives, even when they may legitimately be impugned, answer his arguments.
        ==Sidney Hook

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
“What writest thou?”
The vision raised its head,
And, with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.”
“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still, and said, “I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow-men.”
   The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again, with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And, lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest!
    ==Leigh Hunt

Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting.
    ==Aldous Huxley

Justice is the only worship.
Love is the only priest.
Ignorance is the only slavery.
Happiness is the only good.
The time to be happy is now.
The place to be happy is here.
The way to be happy is to make others so.
    ==Robert Ingersoll

Banish me from Eden when you will, but first let me eat of the Tree of Knowledge.
    ==Robert G. Ingersoll

If certain acts and violations of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them. We are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.
    ==Robert H. Jackson, U.S. prosecutor at Nuremberg

A man, sir, should keep his friendships in constant repair.
    ==Dr. Samuel Johnson

Solitude is dangerous to reason without being favorable to virtue; pleasures of some sort are necessary to the intellectual as to the corporeal health; and those who resist gaiety will be likely for the most part to fall a sacrifice to appetite; for the solicitations of sense are always at hand.
    ==Dr. Samuel Johnson

The true art of memory is the art of attention.
    ==Dr. Samuel Johnson

The sight of people who want food and raiment is so common in great cities that a surly fellow like me has no compassion to spare for wounds given only to vanity and softness.
    ==Dr. Samuel Johnson

Sir, all the arguments which are brought to represent poverty as no evil show it to be evidently a great evil. You never find people laboring to convince you [that] you may live very happily upon a great fortune.
    ==Dr. Samuel Johnson

Aging people should know that their lives are not mounting and unfolding, but that an inexorable process forces the contraction of life. For a younger person it is almost a sin — and certainly a danger — to be too much preoccupied with himself, but for the aging person, it is a duty and a necessity to give serious attention to himself. After having lavished its light upon the world, the sun withdraws its rays in order to examine itself.
    ==C.G. Jung

Suggested exercise: Sit with dignity for 30 seconds.  Notice how you feel.  Try standing with dignity.  Where are your shoulders?  How is your spine?  Your head?  What would it mean to walk with dignity?
              ==Jon Kabit-Zen, quoted on Corrente web log

We have a backstage view of ourselves and a third-row view of everybody else.
        ==Garrison Keillor

There is no surer way to corrupt a society than to cut the connection between effort and reward.
        ==John Maynard Keynes

Faith is taking the first step even if you don’t see the whole staircase.
    ==Martin Luther King Jr.

Thinking about sex is like scratching poison ivy.
    ==Stephen King

We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in lives to come. Was it better to be with Tereza or to remain alone? There is no means of testing which decision is better, because there is no basis for comparison. We live everything as it comes, without warning, like an actor going on cold. … Life is always like a sketch.
    ==Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Not forgiving is like eating rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.
    ==Anne Lamott

The feelings I don’t have, I don’t have.
The feelings I don’t have, I won’t say I have.
The feelings you say you have, you don’t have.
The feelings you would like both of us to have, we neither of us have.
The feelings people ought to have, they never have.
If people say they’ve got feelings,  you may be pretty sure they haven’t got them.
So if you want either of us to feel anything at all, you’d better abandon all ideas of feelings altogether.
    ==D.H. Lawrence

Morning comes whether you set the alarm or not.
    ==SF writer Ursula K. LeGuin

“If you can see a thing whole,” he said, “it seems like it is always beautiful.  Planets, lives … … But close up, a world’s all dirt and rocks.  And day to day, life’s a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern.  You need distance, interval.  The way to see how beautiful the earth is, is to see it as the moon.  The way to see how beautiful life is, is from the vantage point of death.”
    ==Ursula LeGuin, The Dispossessed

You can’t crush ideas by suppressing them.  You can only crush them by ignoring them.  By refusing to think, refusing to change.
    ==Ursula LeGuin, The Dispossessed

The scientific definition of dictatorship means nothing less but this: power without limit, resting directly on force, restrained by no laws, absolutely unrestricted by rules.
    ==V.I. Lenin

Literature enlarges our being by admitting us to experiences other than our own. … They may be beautiful, terrible, awe-inspiring, exhilarating, pathetic, comic or merely piquant. Literature gives us the entrée to them all. Those of us who have been true readers all our life seldom realize the enormous extension of our being that we owe to authors. We realize it best when we talk with an unliterary friend. He may be full of goodness and good sense, but he inhabits a tiny world.
    ==C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism

We must picture Hell as a state where everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance, and where everyone lives the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance and resentment.
    ==C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Active habits are strengthened by repetition, but passive ones are weakened. The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.
    ==C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

There comes of course a degree of evil against which a protest will have to be made, however little chance it has of success. There are cheery agreements in cynicism or brutality which one must contract out of unambiguously. If it can’t be done without seeming priggish, then priggish we must seem.
For what really matters is not seeming, but being a prig. If we sufficiently dislike making the protest, if we are strongly tempted not to, we are unlikely to be priggish in reality.
    ==C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms

“Didn’t we agree that God is a spirit? Don’t you worship Him because he is a pure Spirit?”
“Good heavens, no. We worship him because He is wise and good.”
    ==C.S. Lewis, Perelandra

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
    ==Attributed to Abraham Lincoln

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.
    ==Attributed to Abraham Lincoln

The gift without the giver is bare.
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three —
Himself, his hungering neighbor, and me.
    ==James Russell Lowell

Philosophical disagreements can be bloody serious. The Battle of Stalingrad was the decisive confrontation between the heirs of the Right and the Left Hegelians.
    ==SF writer Ken MacLeod

To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.
    ==The Magna Carta

Brahma said, “Well, after hearing ten thousand explanations, a fool is no wiser. But an intelligent man needs only two thousand five hundred.”
    ==The Mahabharata

Hope is belief in the plausibility of the possible as opposed to the necessity of the probable.
        ==Moses Maimonides

Wretchedness, in fact, is destructive to our human dignity and self-respect—it does us no harm to get a little self-understanding of these matters.  For there is much that is strange about them, not to say thrilling.  It does the man no good to keep on protesting that he is not guilty, for in most cases he despises himself for his own unhappiness.  And self-contempt and bad conduct stand in the most frightful mutual relation: they feed each other, they play into each other’s hands, in a way shocking to behold.
            ==Thomas Mann, “The Way to the Churchyard”

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.
Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.
    ==Attributed to Groucho Marx

Drink the local wine and make no comparisons
    ==Canadian businessman Harrison McCain

You won’t kill the earth with a bad dance.
    ==Michael Meade

Don’t be so humble. You’re not that great.
    ==Attributed to Golda Meir

The only way to reconcile science and religion is to set up something that is not science and not religion.
    ==Henry Louis Mencken

The fact that I have no panacea for the world’s ills is no reason why I should accept yours. It merely increases the likelihood that yours is a fake.
    ==Henry Louis Mencken

But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie.  I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave.  And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant.
    ==Henry Louis Mencken

The main constituents of a happy life appear to be … tranquility and excitement. With much tranquility, many filnd they can be content with very little pleasure; with much excitement, many can reconcile themselves to a considerable quantity of pain.
    ==John Stuart Mill

The partition separating life from death is so tenuous.  The unbelievable fragility of our organism suggests a vision on a screen: a kind of mist condenses itself into a human shape, lasts a minute and scatters.
        ==Czelaw Milosz

Lend yourself to others, but give yourself to yourself.
                ==Michel de Montaigne

Cowardice is the mother of cruelty.
        ==Michel de Montaigne

There are ways to fail in solitude as well as in company.
    ==Montaigne, “Of solitude”

Wiser men, having a strong and vigorous soul, can make for themselves a purely spiritual repose. But I, who have a commonplace soul, must help support myself by bodily comforts; and since age has lately robbed me of those that were more to my fancy, I train and sharpen my appetite for those that remain and are more suitable to this present season. We must hold on, tooth and nail, to our enjoyment of the pleasures of life, which our years tear, one after the other, from our hands.
    ==Montaigne, “Of solitude”

Is it not a singular evidence of our imperfection that we cannot establish our contentment in any one thing, and even in our desire and imagination it is beyond our power to choose what we need?
    ==Montaigne, “Of a saying of Caesar’s”

The advantage of living is not measured by length, but by use; some men have lived long and lived little; attend to it while you are in it. It lies in your will, not in the number of years, for you to have lived enough. Did you think you would never arrive where you never ceased going? Yet there is no road but has its end. And if company can comfort you, does not the world keep pace with you?
    ==Montaigne, “That to learn to philosophize is to learn to die”

[Anger] is a passion that takes pleasure in itself and flatters itself. How many times, when we have got in stride for a wrong reason, if we are offered some good defense or excuse, we are vexed even at truth and innocence.
    ==Montaigne, “Of anger”

Many abuses are engendered in the world, or, to put it more boldly, all the abuses in the world are engendered, by our being taught to be afraid of professing our ignorance and our being bound to accept everything we cannot refute.
    ==Montaigne, “Of cripples”

The ancient mariner spoke thus to Neptune in a great tempest: “O God, you may save me if you will, you may destroy me if you will, but I shall still hold my rudder straight.”
    ==Montaigne, “Of glory”

This great precept is often cited in Plato: “Do thy job and know thyself.” Each of its two parts generally includes our whole duty, and likewise includes its fellow. He who would do his job would see that his first lesson is to know what he is and what is proper for him.
    ==Montaigne, “Our feelings each out beyond us”

Let is remember that Hitler trusted his intuitions, celebrated the myth, boasted of his scorn for mere reason, stirred up the depths of his people; and what came out was not wisdom.
    ==Herbert J. Muller

True religion invites us to become better people.
False religion tells us this has already occurred.
    ==Adbul Hakim Murad

Love is the perception of individuals. Love is the extremely difficult realization that something other than oneself is real. Love, and so art and morals, is the discovery of reality.
    ==Iris Murdoch

You can’t wake someone up who is just pretending to sleep.
        ==Navajo saying

God give us the grace to accept the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed and the wisdom to know the difference.
    ==Reinhold Niebuhr

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.
Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith.
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love.
No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.
    ==Reinhold Niebuhr

“Faith” is not wanting to know what is true.
    ==Friedrich Nietzsche

Beware of those in whom the impulse to punish is strong.
    ==Friedrich Nietzsche

That which does not kill me makes me stronger.
    ==Friedrich Nietzsche

He who has found a why to live can bear with almost any how.
    ==Friedrich Nietzsche

To think that disasters happen only to somebody else is human nature. But when human nature runs into Mother Nature, regret usually follows.
    ==CBS hurricane specialist Bryan Norcross

If liberty means anything, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
    ==George Orwell, introduction to Animal Farm

When human beings are governed by “thou shalt not,” the individual can practice a certain amount of eccentricity; when they are supposedly governed by “love” or “reason,” he is under continuous pressure to make him behave and think in exactly the same way as everyone else.
    ==George Orwell, “Politics Vs. Literature”

The really frightening thing about totalitarianism is not that it commits “atrocities,” but that it attacks the concept of objective truth; it claims to control the past as well as the future.
    ==George Orwell, in 1944 newspaper column

In the past, people deliberately lied, or they unconsciously colored what they wrote, or they struggled after truth, well knowing they would make many mistakes, but in each case they believed “the facts” existed and were more or less discoverable.
… It is just this common bond of agreement, with its implication that human beings are all one species of animal, that totalitarianism destroys. Nazi theory indeed specifically denies that such a thing as “the truth” exists. There is, for instance, no such thing as science. There is only “German science,” “Jewish science,” etc.
The implied objective of this line of thought is a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future, but the past. If the leader says of such and such an event, “It never happened” – well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five – well, two and two are five. This prospect frightens me much more than bombs – and after our experience of the last two years, that is not a frivolous statement.
    ==George Orwell, “Looking Back on the Spanish War”

We have sunk to such a depth that the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.
    ==George Orwell, in 1939 book review

Chance favors the prepared mind.
    ==Louis Pasteur

The great impediment to action is, in our opinion, not discussion, but want of knowledge which is gained by discussion preparatory to action.
    ==Funeral oration of Pericles, per Thucydides

The path from good to evil goes through bogus.
        ==Tara Ploughman, quoted by Paul Graham

Every man’s soul has implanted in it the desire to love, and it is as much its nature to love as it is to feel, to understand and to remember …
    ==Plutarch, Life of Solon

… The divine nature … is believed to be distinguished by three superior attributes, immortality, power and virtue, and of these, the noblest and most truly divine is virtue. The void and the elements are, in a sense, immortal, and earthquakes, thunderbolts, floods and hurricanes can overwhelm by their power, but justice belongs only to those beings  who are capable of reason and the knowledge of the divine. …
Men long for immortality, which no flesh can attain, and for power, which remains for the most part in the hands of fortune, while they give virtue, the only part of the divine excellence of which we are capable, the last place in their scheme of values. But here they show themselves fools, since a life spent in the midst of power and great fortune and authority still needs justice to make it divine, for injustice renders it merely brutish.
    ==Plutarch, Life of Aristides

Fortune we prize for the good things we may possess and enjoy from her, but virtue for the good deeds we can perform: the former we are content to receive at the hands of others, but the latter we desire others to experience from ourselves.
Moral good … has a power to attract toward itself. It is no sooner seen that it rouses the spectator to action, and yet it does not form his character by mere imitation, but by promoting the understanding of virtuous deeds it provides him with a dominating purpose.
    ==Plutarch, Life of Pericles

Rationality consists in the fact that we learn from our mistakes.
    ==Karl Popper

The paradox of America is that we have built a history and tradition, a national culture, on the defiance of history and tradition. From William Penn, who would not take off his hat, to Rosa Parks, who would not give up her seat, we teach our children the stories of stiff-necked heroes.
Rhett Butler, not Ashley Wilkes, is the hero of Gone With the Wind. Nobody thinks Huck Finn should return Jim to slavery or stick around and be civilized. We’re not a by-the-book country.
    ==Virginia Postrel

We can ignore reality, but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.
    ==Attributed to Ayn Rand

It was Locke, followed by Adam Smith and others, who first built the theory of liberal social mechanisms – public processes, like voting or trading or performing experiments, in which no one gets special personal authority (no kings, no dictators, no high priests or oracles) and noone in particular gets to control the outcome. In the liberal scheme of things, no matter who you are, your vote is just a vote, your dollar is just a dollar, and your experiment had better work when anyone else tries it. Moreover, there is no last election, last trade, or last hypothesis. America is John Locke’s country.
    ==Jonathan Rauch

There’s no education in the second kick of a mule.
    ==Sam Rayburn

There are no easy answers, but there are clear choices.
    ==Attributed to Ronald Reagan

[The Tibetans] were cheerful, which was different than happy; a policy, perhaps, rather than a feeling.
    ==Kim Stanley Robinson, Forty Signs of Rain

Adulthood is a wonderful thing, and brief. You must be sure to enjoy it while it lasts.
    ==John Ames, per Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

A successful autocracy rests on the universal failure of individual courage.  In a democracy, abdications of conscience are never trivial.
    ==Marilynne Robinson

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.
    ==Attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt

Your old grandmother says,
“Maybe you shouldn’t go to school.
You look a little pale.”
Run when you hear that.
A father’s stern slaps are better.
Your bodily soul wants comforting.
The severe father wants spiritual clarity.
He scolds, but eventually
leads you into the open.
Pray for a tough instructor
to hear and act and stay within you.
We have been busy accumulating solace.
Make us ashamed of how we were.

Come, come, whoever you are,
wanderer, worshiper, lover of learning,
even if you’ve broken your vows a thousand times.
Ours is no caravan of despair.
Come, yet again, come.

And after all this time the Sun has never yet said to the Earth:
“You owe me.”

If a problem cannot be solved, it may not be a problem, but a fact.
    ==Donald Rumsfeld

However ardently I or all mankind may desire something, however necessary it may be to human happiness, this is no ground for supposing it to be true. There is no law of nature guaranteeing that mankind should be happy.
    ==Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy

The civilized nations have accepted democratic government as a method of settling internal disputes without violence.  Democratic government may have all the faults attached to it, but it has the great merit that people are, on the whole, willing to accept it as a substitute for civil war in political disputes. ……
Civilization is not so stable that it could not be easily broken up; and a condition of lawless violence is not one out of which any good thing is likely to emerge.  For this reason revolutionary violence in a democracy is infinitely dangerous.
        ==Bertrand Russell, Practice and Theory of Bolshevism

Those who accept Bolshevism become impervious to scientific evidence, and commit intellectual suicide.  Even if all the doctrines of Bolshevism were true, this would still be the case, since no unbiased examination of them is tolerated.  One who believes, as I do, that the free intellect is the chief engine of human progress cannot but be opposed to Bolshevism…
        ==Bertrand Russell, Practice and Theory of Bolshevism

Rationality in practice may be defined as the habit of remembering all our relevant desires, and not only the one which happens at the moment to be strongest.
    ==Bertrand Russell, Skeptical Essays

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out.
    ==Bertrand Russell, Skeptical Essays

There are two simple principles which, if they were adopted, would solve almost all social problems. The first is that education should have for one of its aims to teach people only to believe propositions when there is some reason to think they are true. The second is that jobs should be given solely for fitness to do the work.
    ==Bertrand Russell, Skeptical Essays

It may be laid down as a general rule to which there are few exceptions that, when people are mistaken as to what is to their own interest, the course they believe to be wise is more harmful to others than the course that really is wise.
    ==Bertrand Russell, Skeptical Essays

The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holder’s lack of rational conviction. Opinions in politics and religion are almost always held passionately.
        ==Bertrand Russell, Skeptical Essays

The satisfactions of the lover, taking the word in its broadest sense, exceed the satisfactions of the tyrant.
    ==Bertrand Russell,The Scientific Outlook

“Postulating” what we want has many advantages; they are the same as the advantages of theft over honest toil.
    ==Bert. Russell, Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

The fundamental fallacy which is committed by almost everyone is this: “A and B hate each other, therefore one is good and the other is bad.”
    ==Bertrand Russell, in 1956 letter

Half the useful work in the world consists in combating the harmful work. A little time spent in trying to appreciate facts is not time wasted.
        ==Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relative to other such matter; second, telling other people what to do.
Those who do the unpleasant task of moving matter around are poorly paid, while those who order them to do so from comfortable offices and distant boardrooms are very well paid. …
The second kind is capable of indefinite expansion: there are not only those who give orders, but those who give advice on what orders are to be given.
        ==Bertrand Russell, In Praise of Idleness

“You know, all the evil in the world, all the sadness comes from not having a good answer to that question: What do I do next? You just keep thinking of good things to do, lad. You’ll be all right.”
    ==Geoff Ryman, “Elsewhere”

“Hai Bin, tell me – what are the two things that  you think about most, that pass through your mind most, whether you like it or not?”
He paused for a few seconds, scratching his head, then answered, “Eating and sleeping.” …
I realized, to my disappointment, that he was being sincere, and when he put the question to me, I became flustered.
“Well, Hai Bin, I guess I want people to like me, for one thing. Especially women – do you know what I mean?”
“And the other?”
“I want to be very good at something.”
“At what?”
“It doesn’t matter, I guess. I want to do something well enough that I feel satisfied with it, or get some kind of recognition for it.”
He looked at me curiously. “Why do you think about these things?”
“Because they are important – aren’t they?”
“Yes,” he said, but these goals can be achieved so easily. All you have to do is be kind and work hard. But to eat and sleep well, that is a difficult wish, because you cannot control these things yourself.”
    ==Mark Salzman, Iron and Silk

Why do the children
put beans in their ears
when the one thing we told the children
they must not do
was put beans in their ears?
    ==Carl Sandburg, The People, Yes

Fidelity gives friendship its deepest sanctity, and the respect we have for aman, for his force, ability, constancy and dignity, is no sentiment evoked by his floating thoughts, but an assurance founded on our own observations that his conduct and character are to be counted upon.
    ==George Santayana, The Life of Reason

There is nothing sweeter than to be sympathized with, while nothing requires a rarer intellectual heroism than a willingness to see one’s equation written out.
    ==George Santayana, The Life of Reason

A man’s hatred for his own condition no more helps to improve it than hatred of other people helps to improve them.
    ==George Santayana, The Life of Reason

We cannot cease to think and still continue to know.
    ==George Santayana, The Life of Reason

The time has come to stop allowing the clutter
to clutter my mind like dirty snow,
shove it off and find clear time, clear water.
         Time for a change.  Let silence in like a cat
who has sat at my door neither wild nor strange
hoping for food from my store, and shivering on the mat.
          Let silence in.  She will rarely speak or mew,
she will sleep on my bed, and all I have ever been
either false or true will live again in my head.
         For it is now or not, as old age silts the stream,
to shove away the clutter, to untie every knot,
to take the time to dream, to come back to still water.
             ==May Sarton

To have accepted mediocrity does not mean to be humble or even modest. Exactly the opposite, in fact. The mediocre have their own passionate pride.
    ==Jean-Paul Sartre

You’re mature when you stop doing the things you have to make excuses for, and when you stop making excuses for the things you have to do.
    ==Marilyn vos Savant

History is to the nation as memory is to the individual.
    ==Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.

The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who don’t have it.
        ==George Bernard Shaw

Information … consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.
    ==Herbert A. Simon, in 1971

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.
    ==Upton Sinclair

What can be added to the happiness of a man who is in health, out of debt and has a clear conscience?
                ==Adam Smith

The believer is happy.
The doubter is wise.
    ==Spanish proverb

Self-knowledge is a kind of funny thing because the less of it you have, the more you think you have.
        ==Attributed to Bruce Springsteen

Any man who has once proclaimed violence as his method is inevitably forced to take the lie as his principle.
    ==Alexander Solzhenitzyn

It is obvious to everyone outside the United Stes that our arch-buzzwords, multiculturalism and diversity, are false fronts that are being used … to conceal a global trend to eradicate cultural differences. The basic tenet of multiculturalism … is that people need to stop judging each other – to stop asserting and eventually to stop believing, that this is right and this is wrong, that true and that false, one thing ugly and another thing beautiful, that God exists and has this or that set of qualities.
The problem is that once you have done away with the ability to make judgments as to right and wrong, true and false, etc., there’s no real culture left. All that remains is clog dancing and macrame. The ability to make judgments, to believe things, is the point of having a culture.
    ==SF writer Neal Stephenson

But you know, ladies and gentlemen, just because you ignore someone doesn’t mean that person ceases to exist. And you’ve not converted someone’s beliefs merely because you don’t listen to him.
    ==SF writer Bruce Sterling

Real futurism means staring directly into your own grave and accepting the slow but thorough obliteration of everyone and everything you know and love.
    ==SF writer Bruce Sterling.

My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.
    ==Adlai Stevenson

No man is useless while he has a friend.
    ==Robert Louis Stevenson

My body which my dungeon is
and yet my parks and palaces.
    ==Robert Louis Stevenson

You cannot run away from a weakness, you must sometimes fight it out or perish. And if that be so, why not now and where you stand?
    ==Robert Louis Stevenson

… My characterization of a loser is someone who, after making a mistake, doesn’t introspect, doesn’t exploit it, feels embarrassed and defensive rather than enriched with a new piece of information, and tries to explain why he made the mistake rather than moving on.
        ==Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile

He who has never sinned is less reliable than he who has only sinned once.  And someone who has made plenty of errors—though never the same error more than once—is more reliable than someone who has never made any.
        ==Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile

The true hero in the Black Swan world is someone who prevents a calamity and, naturally, because the calamity did not happen, does not get recognition—or a bonus—for it.
                ==Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile

Anything that needs to be marketed heavily is necessarily either an inferior product or an evil one.
                ==Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile

If there is something in nature you don’t understand, odds are it makes sense in a deeper way that is beyond your understanding.
                ==Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile

My idea of the modern Stoic sage is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into information, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking.
        ==Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile

There is no duty we underrate so much as the duty of being happy.
        ==Robert Louis Stevenson

Undertake difficult tasks
     by approaching what is easy in them.
Do great deeds
     by focusing on their minute aspects.
    ==Tao Té Ching

To recognize one’s ignorance of unknowable things is mental health, and to be ignorant of knowable things is sickness.
    ==Tao Té Ching

Understanding others is knowledge.
Understanding oneself is enlightenment.
Conquering others is power.
Conquering oneself is strength.
Contentment is wealth.
    ==Tao Té Ching    

Live your life so the fear of death can never enter your heart. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for your life and your strength. Give thanks for your food and the joy of living. And if perchance you see no reason for thanks, rest assured the fault is in yourself.
    ==Attributed to Chief Tecumseh

The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.
    ==Attributed to Harry Truman

You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
    ==Mark Twain

To do good is noble. To teach others to do good is nobler, and less work.
    ==Mark Twain

Whatever may be the limitations which trammel inquiry elsewhere, we believe that the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that fearless and endless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth may be found.
    ==University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, in 1894

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.
    ==Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Mother Night

Chuang Tzu and Hui Tzu were strolling one day on the bridge over the river Hao. Chuang Tzu said, “Look how the minnows dart hither and thither where they will. Such is the pleasure that fish enjoy.”
Hui Tzu said, “You are not a fish. How can you know what gives pleasure to fish?”
Chuang Tzu said, “You are not I. How do you know that I do not know what gives pleasure to fish?”
Hui Tzu said, “If because I am not you, I cannot know whether you known, then equally because you are not a fish, you cannot know what gives pleasure to fish. My argument still stands.”
Chuang Tzu said, “Let us go back to where we started. You asked me how I knew what gives pleasure to fish. But you already know how I knew it when you asked me. You knew that I knew it by standing here on the bridge at Hao.”
    ==Arthur Waley, Three Ways of Thought in Ancient China

It is better to fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail.
            ==Woodrow Wilson

Progress does not consist of destroying good things in the mere hope that the things that replace them will be better (they will not be) but in retaining good things while adding more.
    ==SF writer Gene Wolfe

2 Responses to “Favorite Quotations”

  1. tr Says:

    In perhaps a similar vein:

    George Bernard Shaw:

    “This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”


  2. Khushboo Arora Says:

    I loved the collection of your favourite quotes! I’ve bookmarked it to read them again. Thanks for making it a page and happy blogging🙂


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