Quotations


 

Below is a dynamic list of some of the most thought-provoking quotations I have come across over the years. These are the thoughts and sentiments of some of the greatest leaders, heroes, intellectuals and polymaths to stamp their mark on humankind.

 

“It is characteristic of the proud man not to aim at the things commonly held in honour, or the things in which others excel; to be sluggish and to hold back except where honour or a great work is at stake, and to be a man of few deeds, but of great and notable ones…He must be unable to make his life revolve round another…Nor is he given to admiration; for nothing to him is great…He is one who will possess beautiful and profitless things rather than profitable and useful ones; for this is more proper to a character that suffices to itself.”

 —  Aristotle (384-322BC)

 

“But for those that are equal to have an unequal share and those that are alike an unlike share is contrary to nature, and nothing contrary to nature is noble.”

—  Aristotle (384-322BC)

 

 

“The wealth required by nature is limited and is easy to procure; but the wealth required by vain ideals extends to infinity.”

—  Epicurus (341-270BC)

 

“Let no one be slow to seek wisdom when he is young nor weary in the search of it when he has grown old. For no age is too early or too late for the health of the soul. And to say that the season for studying philosophy has not yet come, or that it is past and gone, is like saying that the season for happiness is not yet or that it is now no more…So we must exercise ourselves in the things which bring happiness, since, if that be present, we have everything, and, if that be absent, all our actions are directed towards attaining it.”

—  Epicurus (341-270BC)

 

 

“Man, naturally the gentlest class of being, is not ashamed to revel in the blood of others, to wage war, and to entrust the waging of war to his sons, when even dumb beasts and wild beasts keep the peace with one another.”

 —  Seneca (4BC-65AD)

 

“When a man does not know which harbour he is making for, no wind is the right wind.”

 —  Seneca (4BC-65AD)

 

“The same prison surrounds all of us…honors bind one man, wealth another; nobility oppresses some, humility others…All life is slavery. Therefore each one must accustom himself to his own condition and complain about it as little as possible, and lay hold of whatever good is to be found near him.”

—  Seneca (4BC-65AD)

 

“Every day, therefore, should be regulated as if it were the one that brings up the rear, the one that rounds out and completes our lives.”

 —  Seneca (4BC-65AD)

 

 

“How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself and in no instance bypass the discriminations of reason?…If you are careless and lazy now and keep putting things off and always deferring the day after which you will attend to yourself, you will not notice that you are making no progress, but you will live and die as someone quite ordinary…remember that the contest is now: you are at the Olympic Games, you cannot wait any longer, and that your progress is wrecked or preserved by a single day and a single event.”

 —  Epictetus (50-135AD)

 

 

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”

 —  Marcus Aurelius (121-180AD)

 

 

“Men never do good unless necessity drives them to it; but when they are free to choose and can do just as they please, confusion and disorder can become everywhere rampant. Hence it is said hunger and poverty make men industrious, and that laws make them good.”

 —  Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527)

 

 

“My actions are regular, and conformable to what I am and to my condition; I can do no better; and repentance does not properly touch things that are not in our power; sorrow does…I imagine an infinite number of natures more elevated and regular than mine; and yet I do not for all that improve my faculties, no more than my arm or will grow more strong and vigorous for conceiving those of another to be so.”

—  Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)

 

“Virtue refuses facility for her companion…the easy, gentle, and sloping path that guides the footsteps of a good natural disposition is not the path of true virtue. It demands a rough and thorny road.”

—  Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)

 

“How many we know who have fled the sweetness of a tranquil life in their homes, among the friends, to seek the horror of uninhabitable deserts; who have flung themselves into humiliation, degradation, and the contempt of the world, and have enjoyed these and even sought them out.”

—  Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)

 

 

“It is intolerable when an office engrosses a man with fixed hours and a settled routine. Those are better that leave a man free to follow his own devices, combining variety with importance, for the change refreshes the mind.”

—  Baltasar Gracián (1601-1658)

 

“Keep the imagination under control…for it makes us either contented or discontented with ourselves. Before some it continually holds up the penalties of action, and becomes the mortifying lash of these fools. To others it promises happiness and adventure with blissful delusion. It can do all this unless the most prudent self-control keeps it in subjection.”

—  Baltasar Gracián (1601-1658)

 

“Leave something to wish for, so as not to be miserable from very happiness. The body must respire and the soul aspire. If one possessed all, all would be disillusion and discontent. Even in knowledge there should always be something left to know in order to arouse curiosity and excite hope. Surfeits of happiness are fatal.”

 —  Baltasar Gracián (1601-1658)

 

 

“All wars are civil wars because all men are brothers…Each one owes infinitely more to the human race than to the particular country in which he was born.”

—  François Fénelon (1651-1715)

 

 

“The history of the errors of mankind…is more valuable and interesting than that of their discoveries. Truth is uniform and narrow…but error is endlessly diversified [and] in this field, the soul has room enough to expand herself to display all her boundless faculties and all of her beautiful and interesting extravagancies and absurdities.”

 —  Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

 

“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.”

—  Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

 

 

“Nothing confers so much ability to resist the temptations that perpetually surround us, as an habitual consideration of the shortness of life, and the uncertainty of those pleasures that solicit our pursuit; and this consideration can be inculcated only by affliction.”

—  Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

 

 

“What must be thought of that barbarous education which sacrifices the present to an uncertain future, which burdens a child by making him miserable in order to prepare him for I know not what happiness he may enjoy?…Why do you want to fill with bitterness and pain those few years which go by so rapidly and can return no more for them than they can for you?”

 —  Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)

 

 

“What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life, by him who interests his heart in everything, and who, having eyes to see what time and chance are perpetually holding on to him as he journeys on his way, misses nothing he can fairly lay his hands on.”

 —  Laurence Sterne (1713-1768)

 

 

“The human being must be so occupied that he is filled with the purpose that he has before his eyes, in such a way that he is not conscious of himself at all, and the best rest for him is the one that comes after work.”

 —  Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

 

 

“The human race is a monotonous affair. Most people spend the greatest part of their time working in order to live, and what little freedom remains so fills them with fear that they seek out any and every means to be rid of it.”

—  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

 

 

“If the people only understood the rank injustice of our money and banking system, there would be a revolution by morning.”

—  Andrew Jackson (1767-1845)

 

 

“In our time no one has the conception of what is great. It is up to me to show them.”

 —  Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821)

 

 

“Not choice, but habit rules the unreflecting herd.”

—  William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

 

 

“And this the world calls frenzy; but the wise
Have a far deeper madness, and the glance
Of melancholy is a fearful gift;
What is it but the telescope of truth?
Which strips the distance of its fantasies,
And brings life near in utter nakedness,
Making the cold reality too real!”

—  Lord Byron (1788-1824)

 

 

It is really incredible how meaningless and insignificant when seen from without, and how dull and senseless when felt from within, is the course of life of the great majority of men. It is weary longing and worrying, a dreamlike staggering through the four ages from life to death, accompanied by a series of trivial thoughts…Every individual, every human apparition and its course of life, is only one more short dream of the endless spirit of nature.”

 —  Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

 

“The lower a man is in an intellectual respect, the less puzzling and mysterious existence itself is to him.”

 —  Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

 

“The result of this mental dullness is that inner vacuity and emptiness that is stamped on innumerable faces and also betrays itself in a constant and lively attention to all events in the external world, even the most trivial. This vacuity is the real source of boredom and always craves for external excitement in order to set the mind and spirits in motion through something…the craze for society, diversion, amusement, and luxury of every kind which lead many to extravagance and so to misery. Nothing protects us so surely from this wrong turning as inner wealth, the wealth of the mind, for the more eminent it becomes, the less room does it leave for boredom. The inexhaustible activity of ideas, their constantly renewed play with the manifold phenomena of the inner and outer worlds, the power and urge always to make different combinations of them, all these put the eminent mind, apart from moments of relaxation, quite beyond the reach of boredom.”

—  Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

 

“People are often reproached because their desires are directed mainly to money and they are fonder of it than of anything else. Yet it is natural and even inevitable for them to love that which, as an untiring Proteus, is ready at any moment to convert itself into the particular object of our fickle desires and manifold needs.”

 —  Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

 

“Talent works for money and fame; the motive which moves genius to productivity is, on the other hand, less easy to determine…It is rather an instinct of a unique sort by virtue of which the individual possessed of genius is impelled to express what he has seen and felt in enduring works without being conscious of any further motivation. It takes place, by and large, with the same sort of necessity as a tree brings forth fruit, and demands of the world no more than a soil on which the individual can flourish.”

—  Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

 

 

“The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss.”

—  Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)

 

 

“What creates men of genius, or rather, what they create, is not new ideas, it is that idea – inside them – that what has been said has still not been said enough.”

 — Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)

 

 

“If the whole of history is in one man, it is all to be explained from individual experience. There is a relation between the hours of our life and the centuries of time…so the hours should be instructed by the ages, and the ages explained by the hours. Of the universal mind each individual man is one more incarnation. All its properties consist in him. Each new fact in his private experience flashes a light on what great bodies of men have done, and the crises of his life refer to national crises. Every revolution was at first a thought in one man’s mind, and when the same thought occurs to another man, it is the key to that era. Every reform was once a private opinion, and when it shall be a private opinion again, it will solve the problem of the age.”

—  Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

 

“The difficulty is that we do not make a world of our own but fall into institutions already made and have to accommodate ourselves to them to be useful at all and this accommodation is, I say, a loss of so much integrity and of course so much power.” 

—  Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

 

“The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common…To the wise, therefore, a fact is true poetry, and the most beautiful of fables.”

—  Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

 

“Genius is a delicate sensibility to the laws of the world, adding the power to express them again in some new form. The highest measure of poetic power is such insight and faculty to fuse the circumstances of to-day as shall make transparent the whole web of circumstance and opinion in which the man finds himself, so that he releases himself from the traditions in which he grew…but sees so truly the omnipresence of eternal cause that he can convert the daily and hourly event of New York, of Boston, into universal symbols.”

—  Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

 

“Self-trust is the first secret of success, the belief that if you are here the authorities of the universe put you here, and for cause, or with some task strictly appointed you in your constitution, and so long as you work at that you are well and successful.”

—  Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

 

“Every man I meet is my superior in some way, in that, I learn of him.”

 —  Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

 

 

“The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives. Each of them, living apart, is as a stranger to the fate of all the rest – his children and his private friends constitute to him the whole of mankind; as for the rest of his fellow-citizens, he is close to them, but he sees them not – he touches them, but he feels them not; he exists but in himself and for himself alone; and if his kindred still remain to him, he may be said at any rate to have lost his country.”

—  Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)

 

 

“The main constituents of a satisfied life appear to be two, either of which by itself is often found sufficient for the purpose: tranquillity, and excitement. With much tranquillity, many find that they can be content with very little pleasure: with much excitement, many can reconcile themselves to a considerable quantity of pain. There is assuredly no inherent impossibility in enabling even the mass of mankind to unite both; since the two are so far from being incompatible that they are in natural alliance, the prolongation of either being a preparation for, and exciting a wish for, the other.”

—  John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

 

“A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

—  John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

 

 

“Liberty is often a heavy burden on a man. It involves that necessity for perpetual choice which is the kind of labor men have always dreaded. In common life we shirk it by forming habits, which take the place of self-determination.”

 —  Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (1809-1894)

 

“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the World, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it come off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away timid adventurers.”

 —  Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (1809-1894)

 

 

“But surely working for a living can’t be the meaning of life. Surely it is self-contradictory to say that this – the constant effort to provide the conditions of living – should be an answer to the question of the purpose of life, since living itself is what creates those selfsame conditions…To maintain that the purpose of life is to die seems like another contradiction.”

—  Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

 

“What I really need is to get clear about what I must do, not what I must know, except insofar as knowledge must precede every act…The crucial thing is to find a truth which is truth for me, to find the idea for which I am willing to live and die.”

—  Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

 

“It is not uncommon to hear a man who has become confused about what he should do in a particular situation complain about the unique nature of the situation, thinking that he could easily act if the situation were a great event with only one either/or. This is a mistake and a hallucination of the understanding…Anyone who has made the fraudulent trade of getting abnormally good sense by losing the capacity to will and the passion to act is very inclined to stiffen his spinelessness with various and sundry predeliberations that feel their way ahead and various and sundry postmortem reinterpretations of what happened. Compared to this, an action is a brief something and apparently a poor something, yet it is in fact a definite something. The other is more splendid, but for all that it is a splendid shabbiness.”

–  Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

 

“Do not permit the fact that you have been set apart from life in a way, been prevented from participating actively in it, and that you are superflous in the obtruse eyes of a busy world, above all, do not permit this to deprive you of your idea of yourself, as if your life, if lived in inwardness, did not have just as much meaning and worth as that of any human being in the eyes of all-wise Governance, and considerably more than the busy, busiest haste of busy-ness – busy with wasting life and losing itself.”

–  Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

 

 

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

 —  Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

 

“If I should sell both my forenoons and afternoons to society, as most appear to do, I am sure that for me there would be nothing left worth living for. I trust that I shall never thus sell my birthright for a mess of pottage. I wish to suggest that a man may be very industrious, and yet not spend his time well. There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living.”

—  Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

 

“What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?…Grade the ground first. If a man believes and expects great things of himself, it makes no odds where you put him, or what you show him…he will be surrounded by grandeur.”

 —  Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

 

“I have learned, that if one advances in confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

 —  Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

 

“I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other when they came in contact with the more civilized.

—  Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

 

 

“For the whole work of man really seems to consist in nothing but proving to himself every minute that he is a man and not a piano-key!”

—  Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881)

 

 

“The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”

—  William James (1842-1910)

 

“The whole function of philosophy ought to be to find out what definite difference it will make to you and me, at definite instants of our life, if this world-formula or that world-formula be the true one.”

—  William James (1842-1910)

 

“The hell to be endured hereafter, of which theology tells, is no worse than the hell we make for ourselves in this world by habitually fashioning our characters in the wrong way. Could the young but realize how soon they will become mere walking bundles of habits, they would give more heed to their conduct while in the plastic state.”

—  William James (1842-1910)

 

“We have grown literally afraid to be poor. We despise anyone who elects to be poor in order to simplify and save his inner life. If he does not join the general scramble and pant with the money-making street, we deem him spiritless and lacking in ambition.”

 —  William James (1842-1910)

 

 

“To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.”

 —  Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

 

“At bottom, every human being knows very well that he is in this world just once, as something unique, and that no accident, however strange, will throw together a second time into a unity such a curious and diffuse plurality: he knows it, but hides it like a bad conscience.”

–  Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

 

“I know of no better life purpose than to perish in attempting the great and the impossible.”

—  Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

 

“Today as always, men fall into two groups: slaves and free men. Whoever does not have two-thirds of his day for himself, is a slave, whatever he may be: a statesman, a businessman, an official, or a scholar.”

 —  Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

 

“It may be conjectured that the decisive event for a spirit in whom…is one day to ripen to sweet perfection has been a great separation, and that before it he was probably all the more a bound spirit, and seemed to be chained forever to his corner…For such bound people the great separation comes suddenly…an urge, a pressure governs it, mastering the soul like a command: the will and wish awaken to go away, anywhere, at any cost: a violent, dangerous curiosity for an undiscovered world flames up and flickers in all the senses…a rebellious, despotic, volcanically jolting desire to roam abroad…He wanders about savagely with an unsatisfied lust…There is some arbitrariness and pleasure in arbitrariness to it…Behind his ranging activity stands the question mark of an ever more dangerous curiosity…always further onward, always further away.”

 —  Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

 

“Not one of these nobly equipped young men has escaped the restless, exhausting, confusing, debilitating crisis of education…He feels that he cannot guide himself, cannot help himself—and then he dives hopelessly into the world of everyday life and daily routine, he is immersed in the most trivial activity possible, and his limbs grow weak and weary.”

 —  Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

 

“Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions — they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins.”

 —  Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

 

 

“It is not necessary for a man to be actively bad in order to make a failure in life; simple inaction will accomplish it. Nature has everywhere written her protest against idleness; everything which ceases to struggle, which remains inactive, rapidly deteriorates. It is the struggle toward an ideal, the constant effort to get higher and further, which develops manhood and character.”

 —  James Terry White (1845-1920)

 

 

“Genius is often only the power of making continuous efforts…There is no defeat except from within, no really insurmountable barrier save our own inherent weakness of purpose.”

 —  Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915)

 

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.”

 —  Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915)

 

 

“A failure makes one inventive, creates a free flow of associations, brings idea after idea, whereas once success is there a certain narrow-mindedness or thick-headedness sets in so that one always keeps coming back to what has already been established but can make no new combinations.”

 —  Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

 

 

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

 —  George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

 

“What is all human conduct but the daily and hourly sale of our souls for trifles?”

 —  George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

 

 

“A soft, easy life is not worth living, if it impairs the fibre of brain and heart and muscle. We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage…We are face to face with our destiny and we must meet it with a high and resolute courage. For us is the life of action, of strenuous performance of duty; let us live in the harness, striving mightily; let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out.”

 —  Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

 

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again…who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

 —  Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

 

“To waste, to destroy, our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.”

 —  Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

 

 

“Wherever a process of life communicates an eagerness to him who lives it, there the life becomes genuinely significant…Wherever it is found, there is the zest, the tingle, the excitement, of reality; and there is an ‘importance’ in the only real and positive sense in which importance ever anywhere can be.”

 —  Henri Bergson (1859-1941)

 

 

“These young people accomplish little toward the solution of this social problem, and bear the brunt of being cultivated into unnourished, oversensitive lives. They have been shut off from the common labor by which they live which is a great source of moral and physical health. They feel a fatal want of harmony between their theory and their lives, a lack of coordination between thought and action.”

—  Jane Addams (1860-1935)

 

“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain, is floating in mid-air, until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.”

—  Jane Addams (1860-1935)

 

 

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labour and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.”

 —  L.P. Jacks (1860-1955)

 

 

“Many people are busy trying to find better ways of doing things that should not have to be done at all. There is no progress in merely finding a better way to do a useless thing.”

—  Henry Ford (1863-1947)

 

“Youth should not be slandered. Boy nature and girl nature are less repressed and therefore more wholesome today than before. If they at times seem unimpressed by their elders, it is probably because we make a matter of authority what should be a matter of conference. These young people are new people sent to this scene by Destiny to take our places. They come with new visions to fulfill, new powers to exploit.”

—  Henry Ford (1863-1947)

 

 

Content makes the world more comfortable for the individual, but it is the death-knell of progress. Man should be content with each step of progress merely as a station, discontented with it as a destination; contented with it as a step; discontented with it as a finality. There are times when a man should be content with what he has, but never with what he is.

—  William George Jordan (1864-1928)

 

 

“We bring up our children in a mist of vague intimations, in a confusion of warring voices, perplexed as to what they must do, uncertain as to what they may do, doomed to lives of compromise and fluctuating and inoperative opinion.”

 —  H.G. Wells (1866-1946)

 

 

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

 —  André Gide (1869-1951)

 

 

“The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them is.”

 —  Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

 

 

“The modern man does not want to know in what way he can imitate Christ, but in what way he can live his own individual life, however meagre and uninteresting it may be. It is because every form of imitation seems to him deadening and sterile that he rebels against the form of tradition that would hold him in well-trodden ways. All such roads, for him, lead in the wrong direction…However wretched this state may be, it also stands him in good stead, for in this way alone can he get to know himself and learn what an invaluable treasure is the love of his fellow beings. It is, moreover, only in the state of complete abandonment and loneliness that we experience the helpful powers of our own nature.”

 —  Carl Jung (1875-1961)

 

 

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day.”

—  Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

 

 

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far…some day the piercing together of disassociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”

  —  H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937)

 

 

“Of course, our failures are a consequence of many factors, but possibly one of the most important is the fact that society operates on the theory that specialization is the key to success, not realizing that specialization precludes comprehensive thinking.”

—  Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983)

 

“The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”

 —  Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983)

 

“Corporations are neither physical nor metaphysical phenomena. They are socioeconomic ploys — legally enacted game-playing — agreed upon only between overwhelmingly powerful socioeconomic individuals and by them imposed upon human society and its all unwitting members.”

—  Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983)

 

“It is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a ‘higher standard of living than any have ever known.’ It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary and henceforth unrationalizable as mandated by survival.”

—  Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983)

 

 

“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”

 —  Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980)

 

 

“[Man is a] creature of dream [who] has created an invisible world of ideas, beliefs, habits and customs which buttress him about and replace for him the precise instincts of lower creatures.”

 —  Loren Eiseley (1907-1977)

 

 

“In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.”

 —  Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988)

 

 

“Is one to die voluntarily or to hope in spite of everything?”

 —  Albert Camus (1913-1960)

 

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”

 —  Albert Camus (1913-1960)

 

“It happens that the stage-sets collapse. Rising, streetcar, four hours in the office or the factory, meal, streetcar, four hours of work, meal, sleep, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday according to the same rhythm – this path is easily followed most of the time. But one day the ‘why’ arises and everything begins in that weariness tinged with amazement.”

 —  Albert Camus (1913-1960)

 

“The workman of today works every day in his life at the same tasks, and this fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious.”

 —  Albert Camus (1913-1960)

 

“There always comes a time when one must choose between contemplation and action. This is called becoming a man…One must live with time and die with it or else elude it for a greater life.”

 —  Albert Camus (1913-1960)

 

“But practically I know men and recognize them by their behavior, by the totality of their deeds, by the consequences caused in life by their presence.”

—  Albert Camus (1913-1960)

 

“For the mistake is thinking that the quantity of experiences depends on the circumstances of our life when it depends solely on us…Being aware of one’s life, one’s revolt, one’s freedom, and to the maximum, is living, and to the maximum.”

—  Albert Camus (1913-1960)

 

 

“A philosopher, which is what I am supposed to be, is a sort of intellectual yokel who gapes and stares at what sensible people take for granted, a person who cannot get rid of the feeling that the barest facts of life are unbelievably odd. As Aristotle put it, the beginning of philosophy is wonder. I am simply amazed to find myself living on a ball of rock that swings around an immense spherical fire.”

 —  Alan Watts (1915-1973)

 

“If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you’ll spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid.”

 —  Alan Watts (1915-1973)

 

“Beneath such outward appearances, there is a clear change of values: rich experiences are more to be desired than property and bank accounts, and plans for the future are of use only to those who can fully live in the present.”

—  Alan Watts (1915-1973)

 

“We are becoming accustomed to a conception of the universe so mysterious and so impressive that even the best father-image will no longer do for an explanation of what makes it run. But the problem then is that it is impossible for us to conceive an image higher than the human image…However, our image of man is changing as it becomes clearer and clearer that the human being is not simply and only his physical organism. My body is also my total environment, and this must be measured by light-years in the billions…In knowing the world we humanize it, and if, as we discover it, we are astonished at its dimensions and its complexity, we should be just as astonished that we have the brains to perceive it.”

—  Alan Watts (1915-1973)

 

 

“Anything that is theoretically possible will be achieved in practice, no matter what the theoretical difficulties are, if it is desired greatly enough.”

 —  Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008)

 

“But mere extension of the life span, and even improved health and efficiency, are not important in themselves. We all know people who have done more in forty years than others have done in eighty. What is really significant is richness and diversity of experience, and the use to which that is put by men and the societies they constitute.”

—  Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008)

 

 

“If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”

—  Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

 

“An individual has not started living fully until they can rise above the narrow confines of individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of humanity. Every person must decide at some point, whether they will walk in light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment: Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”

–  Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

 

“One of the ways to rise above this self-centeredness is to move away from self and objectify yourself in something outside of yourself. Find some great cause and some great purpose, some loyalty to which you can give yourself and become so absorbed in that something that you give your life to it.”

–  Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

 

“There is the danger that you will misuse your Capitalism. I still contend that money can be the root of all evil. It can cause one to live a life of gross materialism. I am afraid that many among you are more concerned about making a living than making a life. You are prone to judge the success of your profession by the index of your salary and the size of the wheel base on your automobile, rather than the quality of your service to humanity.”

—  Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

 

 

“When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.”

—  Donald James (1931-2008)

 

 

“But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.”

—  Umberto Eco (1932-2016)

 

 

“Most people are not really free. They are confined by the niche in the world that they carve out for themselves. They limit themselves to fewer possibilities by the narrowness of their vision.”

 —  Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul (1932-)

 

 

“The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lifts life a little above the level of farce, and gives it some of the grace of tragedy.”

 —  Steven Weinberg (1933-)

 

 

“…They belong to what is as yet a small but fortunately growing minority of spiritual pioneers: people who are reaching a point where they become capable of breaking out of inherited collective mind patterns that have kept humans in bondage to suffering for eons.”

—  Eckhart Tolle (1948-)

 

 

“Go without a coat when it’s cold; find out what cold is. Go hungry; keep your existence lean. Wear away the fat, get down to the lean tissue and see what it’s all about. The only time you define your character is when you go without.”

 —  Henry Rollins (1961-)

 

 

“Eventually, I sickened of people, myself included, who didn’t think enough of themselves to make something of themselves – people who did only what they had to and never what they could have done. I learned from them the infected loneliness that comes from the end of each misspent day. I knew I could do better.”

 —  Mark Twight (1961-)

 

 

“There is no more effective way of operating in the world than to conceptualize the highest good that you can and then strive to attain it.”

—  Jordan Peterson (1962-)

 


Feel free to leave your favourite quotations in the comments below and they’ll be added to the list

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