Topics (click on the link below for quotes on that specific topic.)
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… if it is not my destiny to find favor with everyone, I am consoled for the present by the reflection that almost universally I am well regarded by those who themselves are best regarded; and I hope that at some not distant time that which now pleases the best of men will come to please the majority of men. ~Erasmus
Remember that there is nothing stable in human affairs; therefore avoid undue elation in prosperity, or undue depression in adversity. ~Stephen J. Gould
For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
$100 million represents roughly ten years’ worth of spending on the biology of aging for the NIA budget. This weekend, [July 19, 2004] Spiderman II brought in $180 million in ticket receipts in its first six days of performance. So any one day’s receipts for Spiderman represents five years of basic aging research. ~Richard Miller
It’s now clear in the last ten years that there are at least eight different genes, which, when changed, can slow aging down proportionately and extend the life span by 40 percent. If this sort of change also applied to people, and that’s a big if, but if it applied to people, then the average person at the age of about 130 would be as healthy as the average 80-year-old today. ~Richard Miller
I am an agnostic; I do not pretend to know what many ignorant men are sure of.
We should be agnostic about those things for which there is no evidence. We should not hold beliefs merely because they gratify our desires for afterlife, immortality, heaven, hell, etc. ~Julian Huxley
You really haven’t been a virgin for so long
It’s ludicrous to keep up the pretext . . .
You’ve slept with all the big powers
In military uniforms
And you’ve taken the sweet life
Of all the little brown fellows . . .
Being one of the world’s big vampires
Why don’t you come out and say so
Like Japan, and England, and France
And all the other nymphomaniacs of power. ~Langston Hughes
In the American republic the fact of oligarchy is the most dreaded knowledge of all, and our news keeps that knowledge from us. By their subjugation of the press, the political powers in America have conferred on themselves the greatest of political blessing—Gyges’ ring of invisibility. ~Walter Karp
If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. ~James Madison
The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries.
Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you. ~Pericles
When others make us angry at them–at their shamelessness, injustice, inconsideration- then they exercise power over us, they proliferate and gnaw at our soul, then anger is like a white-hot poison that corrodes all mild, noble and balanced feelings and robs us of sleep. Sleepless, we turn on the light and are angry at the anger that has lodged like a succubus who sucks us dry and debilitates us. We are not only furious at the damage, but also that it develops in us all by itself, for while we sit on the edge of the bed with aching temples, the distant catalyst remains untouched by the corrosive force of the anger that eats at us. …
We can be sure that we will hold on to the deathbed as part of the last balance sheet–and this part will taste bitter as cyanide–that we have wasted too much, much too much strength and time on getting angry and getting even with others in a helpless shadow theater, which only we, who suffered impotently, knew anything about. What can we do to improve this balance sheet? Why did our parents, teachers and other instructors never talk to us about it? Why didn’t they tell something of this enormous significance? Not give us in this case any compass that could have helped us avoid wasting our soul on useless, self-destructive anger? ~Pascal Mercier
… intellectuals can cook up an argument for anything, and religious intellectuals, who cut their teeth on justifying some wildly improbable stuff, are especially ingenious …
I don’t believe in God, because I don’t believe in Mother Goose. ~Clarence Darrow
… Atheism is an attitude, a frame of mind that looks at the world objectively, fearlessly, always trying to understand all things as a part of nature. It could be said that Atheism has a doctrine to question and a dogma to doubt. It is the human mind in its natural environment, nothing is too holy to be investigated, nor too sacred to be questioned. The Atheist Bible, it could be said, has but one word: “THINK.” Atheism is the complete emancipation of the human mind from the chains and fears of superstition.
~Emmet F. Fields
All thinking men are atheists. ~Ernest Hemingway
Atheist – A person to be pitied in that he is unable to believe things for which there is no evidence, and who has thus deprived himself of a convenient means of feeling superior to others. It is difficult, none the less, for the ordinary man to cast off orthodox beliefs, for he is seldom allowed to hear the other side…. Whereas the Christian view is pressed on him day in and day out. ~Margaret Knight
Theists have good reasons for not believing in every god but their own. Atheists make no exception for the last one. ~Brett Lemoine
“God”, “immortality of the soul”, “redemption”, “beyond”. Without exception, concepts to which I have never devoted any attention, or time; not even as a child. Perhaps I have never been childlike enough for them? I do not by any means know atheism as a result; even less as an event: It is a matter of course with me, from instinct. I am too inquisitive, too questionable, too exuberant to stand for any gross answer. God is a gross answer, an indelicacy against us thinkers—at bottom merely a gross prohibition for us: you shall not think! ~Friedrich Nietzsche
An Atheist loves himself and his fellow man instead of a god. An Atheist thinks that heaven is something for which we should work for now—here on earth—for all men together to enjoy. An Atheist knows that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An Atheist knows that a deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An Atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanquished, war eliminated. ~Madalyn Murray O’Hair
I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours. ~Stephen Roberts
Something akin to laws of Nature was once glimpsed in a determinedly polytheistic society, in which some scholars toyed with a form of atheism. This approach of the pre-Socratics was, beginning in about the fourth century B.C., quenced by Plato, Aristotle, and the Christian theologians. if the skein of historical causality had been different—if the brilliant guesses of the atomists on the nature of matter, the plurality of worlds, the vastness of space and time had been treasured and built upon, if the innovative technology of Archimedes had been taught and emulated, if the notion of invariable laws of Nature that humans must seek out and understand had been widely propagated—I wonder what kind of world we would live in now. ~Carl Sagan
But man, proud man,
Drest in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d;
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven,
As make the angels weep. ~William Shakespeare
Men will cease to commit atrocities only when they cease to believe absurdities. ~Voltaire
Beauty is no quality in things themselves. It exists merely in the mind which contemplates them. ~David Hume
Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true. ~Francis Bacon
What is wanted is not the will-to-believe, but the wish to find out, which is its exact opposite. ~ Bertrand Russell
The general root of superstition is that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss, and commit to memory the one, and pass over the other. ~Francis Bacon
It”s not easy to change world views. Faith has its own momentum and belief is comfortable. To restructure reality is traumatic and scary. That is why many intelligent people continue to believe: unbelief is an unknown. ~Dan Barker
We do everything by custom, even believe by it our very axioms, let us boast of freethinking as we may, are oftenest simply such beliefs as we have never heard questioned. ~Thomas Carlyle
I have steadily endeavored to keep my mind free, so as to give up any hypothesis, however much beloved (and I cannot resist forming one on every subject), as soon as facts are shown to be opposed to it. ~Charles Darwin
I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I’m not absolutely sure of anything, and many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here, and what the question might mean. I might think about it a little bit, but if I can’t figure it out, then I go on to something else. But I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t have to…I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell, possibly. It doesn’t frighten me. ~Richard Feynman
In our reasonings concerning matter of fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance, from the highest certainty to the lowest species of moral evidence. A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence. ~David Hume
As a rule we disbelieve all facts and theories for which we have no use. ~William James
For, by believing passionately in something which still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired ~Nikos Kazantzakis
Intellectual honesty consists in stating the precise conditions under which one will give up one’s belief. ~Imre Lakatos
Nothing is so firmly believed as what we least know. ~Montaigne
We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield. ~George Orwell
Doubt is an uneasy and dissatisfied state from which we struggle to free ourselves and pass into the state of belief; while the latter is a calm and satisfactory state which we do not wish to avoid, or to change to a belief, in anything else. On the contrary, we cling tenaciously, not merely to believing, but to believing just what we do believe.
~Charles Sanders Pierce
Every man is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day. ~Bertrand Russell
I am in no degree ashamed of having changed my opinions. What physicist who was active in 1900 would dream of boasting that his opinions had not changed? ~Bertrand Russell
Indeed the reasoned criticism of a prevailing belief is a service to the proponents of that belief; if they are incapable of defending it, they are well advised to abandon it. This self-questioning and error-correcting aspect of the scientific method is its most striking property. ~Carl Sagan
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. ~George Bernard Shaw
The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it. ~George Bernard Shaw
Existential anxiety of doubt drives the person toward the creation of certitude of systems of meaning, which are supported by tradition and authority. Neurotic anxiety builds a narrow castle of certitude which can be defended with the utmost certainty. ~Paul Tillich
Supposing is good, but finding out is better. ~Mark Twain
He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves. ~Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. ~A. J. Liebling
The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.
~John Stuart Mill
Censorship reflects society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime. ~Potter Stewart
The Fates lead those who come willingly, and drag those who do not. – Stoic adage ~Anonymous
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. ~Viktor Frankl
Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
~ James Baldwin
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable. ~Kahlil Gibran
I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations — one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it — you will regret both. ~Soren Kierkegaard
Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness. ~George Orwell
The idea [of consciousness] is ludicrous, if it is not monstrous. It means to know that one is food for worms. This is the terror: to have emerged from nothing, to have a name, consciousness of self, deep inner feelings, and excruciating inner yearning for life and self-expression — and with all this yet to die. ~Ernest Becker
Instead of studying how to make it worth men’s while to buy my baskets, studied rather how to avoid the necessity of selling them. ~Henry David Thoreau
Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from convention, largely because they regard such departure as a criticism of themselves. ~Bertrand Russell
I remember that I could not bear the pyrotechnics of human existence: how life ignited for an instant, burst in the air in a myriad of color flares, then all at once vanished. Who ignited it? Who gave it such fascination and beauty, then suddenly, pitilessly, snuffed it out? “No,” I shouted, “I will not accept this, will not subscribe; I shall find some way to keep life from expiring.” ~ Nikos Kazantzakis
… remind yourself that what you love is mortal … at the very moment you are taking joy in something, present yourself with the opposite impressions. What harm is it, just when you are kissing your little child, to say: Tomorrow you will die, or to your friend similarly:
Tomorrow one of us will go away, and we shall not see one another any more? ~ Epictetus
Let us continually think as much about our own mortality as about that of all those we love … Now is the time for you to reflect, not only that all things are mortal, but also that their mortality is subject to no fixed law. Whatever can happen at any time can happen today. ~ Seneca
I think with sadness of all the books that I have read, all the places I’ve seen, all the knowledge I’ve amassed that will be no more. All the music, all the paintings, all the culture, so many places: and suddenly nothing. ~ Simone de Beauvoir
I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying. ~Woody Allen
Death has this much to be said for it:
You don’t have to get out of bed for it.
Wherever you happen to be
They bring it to you—free. ~Kingsley Amis
Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have. ~James Baldwin
This is the terror: to have emerged from nothing, to have a name, consciousness of self, deep inner feelings, an excruciating inner yearning for life and self-expression—and with all this yet to die. ~Ernest Becker
I have never killed anyone, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction. ~Clarence Darrow
I should prefer to an ordinary death, being immersed with a few friends in a cask of Madeira, until that time, then to be recalled to life by the solar warmth of my dear country! But in all probability, we live in a century too little advanced, and too near the infancy of science, to see such an art brought in our time to its perfection. ~Benjamin Franklin
Insignificant mortals, who are as leaves are, and now flourish and grow warm with life, and feed on what the ground gives, but then again fade away and are dead. ~Homer
This is what is sad when one contemplates human life, that so many live out their lives in quiet lostness…they live, as it were, away from themselves and vanish like shadows. Their immortal souls are blown away, and they are not disquieted by the question of its immortality, because they are already disintegrated before they die. ~Soren Kierkegaard
This is what is sad when one contemplates human life, that so many live out their lives in quiet lostness … they live, as it were, away from themselves and vanish like shadows. Their immoral souls are blown away, and they are not disquieted by the question of its immortality, because they are already disintegrated before they die. ~Soren Kierkegaard
So, the fear of death might be described as the fear of not being able to become whom one had planned to be. ~Pascal Mercier
[T]he fear of death is somewhat abject and ignoble. The best way to overcome it –so at least it seems to me– is to make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life. An individual human existence should be like a river –small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past boulders and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being. The man who, in old age, can see his life in this way, will not suffer from the fear of death, since the things he cares for will continue. And if, with the decay of vitality, weariness increases, the thought of rest will be not unwelcome. ~Bertrand Russell
…the idea of a spiritual part of our nature that survives death, the notion of an afterlife, ought to be easy for religions and nations to sell. This is not an issue of which we might anticipate widespread skepticism. People will want to believe it, even if the evidence is meager to nil… compelling testimony … provides that our personality, character, memory … resides in the matter of the brain, it is easy not to focus on it, to find ways to evade the weight of the evidence. ~Carl Sagan
I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But as much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking. ~Carl Sagan
A free man thinks of nothing less than of death, and his wisdom is a meditation not on death, but on life. ~Baruch Spinoza
After I die, human history will continue, but I won’t get to be part of it. I will see no more movies, read no more books, make no more friends, and take no more trips. If my wife survives me, I will not get to be with her. I will not know my grandchildren’s children. New inventions will appear and new discoveries will be made about the universe, but I won’t ever know what they are. New music will be composed, but I won’t hear it. Perhaps we will make contact with intelligent beings from other worlds, but I won’t know about it. That is why I don’t want to die, and Epicurus’ argument is beside the point. ~James Rachels
Grow strong my comrade …
That you may stand Unshaken when I fall;
That I may know the shattered fragments of my song
Will come at last to finer melody in you;
That I may tell my heart that you begin
Where passing I leave off, and fathom more. ~Will Durant
Through the long years
I sought peace
I found ecstasy,
I found anguish
I found madness,
I found loneliness
I found the solitary pain
That gnaws the heart,
But peace I did not find.
Now, old and near my end,
I have known you,
And, knowing you,
I have found both ecstasy and peace
I know rest,
After so many lonely years,
I know a little of what life and love may be
Now, if I sleep,
I shall sleep fulfilled. ~Bertrand Russell
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. ~ Winston Churchill
The spirit of dogmatic theology poisons anything it touches. ~Jeremy Bentham
… none of his [a priest’s] certainties were worth a single strand of a woman’s hair.
No country or people who are slaves to dogma and dogmatic mentality can progress. ~Jawaharlal Nehru
What the world needs is not dogma but an attitude of scientific inquiry combined with a belief that the torture of millions is not desirable, whether inflicted by Stalin or by a Deity imagined in the likeness of the believer. ~Bertrand Russell
If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life, you doubt, as far as possible, all things. ~Rene Descartes
I did not imitate the skeptics who doubt only for doubting’s sake, and pretend to be always undecided; on the contrary, my whole intention was to arrive at a certainty, and to dig away the drift and the sand until I reached the rock or the clay beneath. ~Rene Descartes
Philosophy begins when one learns to doubt particularly to doubt one’s cherished beliefs, one’s dogmas and one’s axiom ~Will Durant
Men dare not avow, even to their own hearts, the doubts which they entertain on such subjects. They make a merit of implicit faith; and disguise to themselves their real infidelity, by the strongest asseverations and the most positive bigotry. ~David Hume
Ubi dubium ibi libertas. (Where there is doubt, there is freedom.) ~Latin proverb
Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt. ~H.L. Mencken
I think we ought always to entertain our opinions with some measure of doubt. I shouldn’t wish people dogmatically to believe any philosophy, not even mine. ~Bertrand Russell
Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. ~Voltaire
If we could sniff or swallow something that would, for five or six hours each day, abolish our solitude as individuals, atone us with our fellows in a glowing exaltation of affection and make life in all its aspects seem not only worth living, but divinely beautiful and significant, and if this heavenly, world-transfiguring drug were of such a kind that we could wake up next morning with a clear head and an undamaged constitution-then, it seems to me, all our problems (and not merely the one small problem of discovering a novel pleasure) would be wholly solved and earth would become paradise. ~Aldous Huxley
Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric. ~Bertrand Russell
Every person, if possible, ought to enjoy the fruits of his labour, in a full possession of all the necessaries, and many of the conveniences of life. No one can doubt, but such an equality is most suitable to human nature, and diminishes much less from the happiness of the rich than it adds to that of the poor. ~David Hume
The money our society spends goes to appease those with power. As such, it goes mainly to those who don’t need it. A nation that redistributes income to its poor buys a civilized and humane society, and it buys this with a miniscule share of the national income and a modest reduction in the supply of cleaning women. A country that subsidizes workers in the prime working years sacrifices, not a dust-free living room, but the very muscle of the national economy. ~Mancur Olson
Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate. ~Bertrand Russell
Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned. ~ Mark Twain
The best thing a human being can do is to help another human being know more.
~ Charlie Munger
Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it and by the same token save it from that ruin which, except for renewal, except for the coming of the new and young, would be inevitable. ~Hannah Arendt
Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all. ~Aristotle
Go to bed smarter than when you woke up. ~ Charlie Munger
Universities should be safe havens where ruthless examination of realities will not be distorted by the aim to please or inhibited by the risk of displeasure. ~Kingman Brewster
We must not believe the many, who say that only free people ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free. ~Epictetus
Teaching is more difficult than learning because what teaching calls for is this: to let learn. The real teacher, in fact, lets nothing else be learned than-learning. His conduct, therefore, often produces the impression that we properly learn nothing form him, if by “”learning”” we now suddenly understand merely the procurement of useful information. The teacher is ahead of his apprentices in this alone, that he has still far more to learn than they-he has to learn to let them learn. The teacher must be capable of being more teachable than the apprentices. The teacher is far less assured of his ground than those who learn are of theirs. If the relation between the teacher and the taught is genuine, therefore, there is never a place in it for the authority of the know-it-all or the authoritative sway of the official. It is an exalted matter, then, to become a teacher-which is something else entirely than becoming a famous professor. ~Martin Heidegger
Why do we go through the struggle to be educated? Is it merely in order to pass some examinations and get a job? Or is it the function of education to prepare us while we are young to understand the whole process of life? Surely, life is not merely a job, an occupation: life is wide and profound, it is a great mystery, a vast realm in which we function as human beings. ~Krishnamurti
A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another; and the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government – in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body. ~John Stuart Mill
The principle goal of education is to create [persons] who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done-[persons] who are creative, inventive, and discoverers. ~Jean Piaget
If I thought of a future, I dreamt of one day founding a school in which young people could learn without boredom, and would be stimulated to pose problems and discuss them; a school in which no unwanted answers to unasked questions would have to be listened to; in which one did not study for the sake of passing examinations. ~Karl Popper
I do not know how to teach philosophy without becoming a disturber of the peace. ~Baruch Spinoza
Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. ~ Thomas Henry Huxley
I tramp a perpetual journey, (come listen all!)
My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the woods,
No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair,
I have no chair, no church, no philosophy,
I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, or exchange,
But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,
My left hand hooks you round the waist,
My right hand points to landscapes of continents and the public road.
Not I, not anyone else can travel that road for you,
You must travel it for yourself. (from Song of Myself in Leaves of Grass) ~Walt Whitman
Have patience, and endure. ~William Shakespeare
Like characters in a perpetual Chekhov drama, we can imagine a more enlightened future age looking back on our time with distaste and incredulity but nevertheless acknowledging those voices in our wilderness who kept the Enlightenment alive until humanity in general became worthy of it. ~Philip Appleman
Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another. Sapere Aude! [dare to know] “Have courage to use your own understanding!”—that is the motto of enlightenment. ~Immanuel Kant
Every production of genius must be the production of enthusiasm. ~Benjamin Disraeli
None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm. ~Henry David Thoreau
The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. ~W.B. Yeats
But man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself.
~ Rachel Carson
The boundaries of the skin are not the boundaries of the self. ~ Arne Naess
It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly. ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
He who knows what sweets and virtues are in the ground, the waters, the plants, the heavens, and how to come at these enchantments, is the rich and royal man.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. ~ Aldo Leopold
Our task must be to free ourselves … by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. ~ Albert Einstein
The use of sea and air is common to all; neither can a title to the ocean belong to any people or private persons, forasmuch as neither nature nor public use and custom permit any possession therof. ~ Elizabeth I of England
Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed. ~ Gandhi
To halt the decline of an ecosystem, it is necessary to think like an ecosystem.
~ Douglas Wheeler
We will look upon the earth and her sister planets as being with us, not for us. ~ Mary Daly
I know that our bodies were made to thrive only in pure air, and the scenes in which pure air is found. ~ John Muir
We cannot interfere in one area of the ecosystem without paying due attention to both the consequences of such interference in other areas and to the well-being of future generations. ~ Pope John Paul II
When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect…. That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics. ~ Aldo Leopold
Technological progress is not identical with human progress. ~ Pope Francis
We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.
~ Aldo Leopold
Our modern industrial economy takes a mountain covered with trees, lakes, and running streams and transforms it into a mountain of junk, garbage, slime pits, and debris.
~ Edward Abbey
We are the generation with the awareness of a great danger. We are the ones with the responsibility and the ability to take steps of concrete action, before it is too late.
~ The Dalai Lama
Environmentally friendly cars will soon cease to be an option … they will become a necessity. ~ Fujio Cho, Chairman of Toyota Motors
The man who is thoroughly convinced of the universal operation of the law of causation cannot for a moment entertain the idea of a being who interferes in the course of events—that is, if he takes the hypothesis of causality really seriously. He has no use for the religion of fear and equally little for social or moral religion. A God who rewards and punishes is inconceivable to him for the simple reason that a man’s actions are determined by necessity, external and internal, so that in God’s eyes he cannot be responsible, any more than an inanimate object is responsible for the motions it goes through. Hence science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death. ~Albert Einstein
I do not believe in the immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it. ~Albert Einstein
It appears evident that the ultimate ends of human actions can never, in any case, be accounted for by reason, but recommend themselves entirely to the sentiments and affections of mankind, without any dependence on the intellectual faculties. Ask a man why he uses exercise; he will answer, because he desires to keep his health. If you then enquire, why he desires health, he will readily reply, because sickness is painful. If you push your enquiries farther, and desire a reason why he hates pain, it is impossible he can ever give any. This is an ultimate end, and is never referred to any other object.
The scientific doctrine of progress is destined to replace not only the myth of progress, but all other myths of human earthly destiny. It will inevitably become one of the cornerstones of man’s theology, or whatever be the future substitute for theology, and the most important external support for human ethic. ~Julian Huxley
The foundation of morality is to … give up pretending to believe that for which there is no evidence, and repeating unintelligible propositions about things beyond the possibilities of knowledge. ~T. H. Huxley
The infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists – that is why they invented hell. ~Bertrand Russell
He believed that happiness is the only good, reason the only torch, justice the only worship, humanity the only religion, and love the only priest. ~Robert G. Ingersoll
What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. ~Christopher Hitchens
Looking back at a million years of our struggle to be human, at our errant and painful attempts to be a special kind of animal—the animal who thinks, the animal who creates—it seems to me that despite our shortcomings, we have some cause for satisfaction … We are worth keeping because, given our remarkable past, we may continue to hope that we have, as Darwin surmised, “a still higher destiny in the future.” ~Philip Appleman
[evolution is the ] general condition to which all other theories, all hypotheses, all systems must bow and which they must satisfy henceforward if they are to be thinkable and true. Evolution is a light illuminating all facts, a curve that all lines must follow.
~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Mankind is still embryonic … [man is] the bud from which something more complicated and more centered than man himself should emerge. ~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities, with sympathy which feels for the most debased, with benevolence which extends not only to other men but to the humblest living creature, with his godlike intellect which has penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar system — with all these exalted powers — Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin. ~Charles Darwin
There is grandeur in this [evolutionary] view of life … whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the laws of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and wonderful have been, and are being evolved. ~Charles Darwin
Whoever is led to believe that species are mutable will do good service by conscientiously expressing his conviction. For only thus can the load of prejudice by which this subject is overwhelmed be removed. ~Charles Darwin
Man in his arrogance thinks himself a great work worthy the interposition of deity. More humble and I think truer to consider himself created from animals. ~Charles Darwin
… Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin. ~Charles Darwin
… humans can now impose moral principles upon ever-widening areas of cosmic process, in whose further slow unfolding they are now the protagonist. They can inject their ethics into the heart of evolution. …Evolutionary biology … has given us a new view … impossible of attainment in an earlier age, of our human destiny. That destiny is to be the agent of the evolutionary process on this planet, as the instrument for realizing new possibilities for its future. ~Julian Huxley
Man is that part of reality in which and through which the cosmic process has become conscious and has begun to comprehend itself. His supreme task is to increase that conscious comprehension and to apply it as fully as possible to guide the course of events. In other words, his role is to discover his destiny as agent of the evolutionary process, in order to fulfill it more adequately. ~Julian Huxley
I asserted – and I repeat – that a man has no reason to be ashamed of having an ape for his grandfather. If there were an ancestor whom I should feel shame in recalling, it would rather be a man – a man of restless and versatile intellect – who, not content with an equivocal success in his own sphere of activity, plunges into scientific questions with which he has no real acquaintance, only to obscure them by an aimless rhetoric, and distract the attention of his hearers from the real point at issue by eloquent digressions and skilled appeals to religious prejudice. ~T. H. Huxley
Evolution, as such, is no longer a theory for the modern author. It is as much of a fact as that the earth revolves around the sun. ~Ernst Mayr
Every modern discussion of man’s future, the population explosion, the struggle for existence, the purpose of man and the universe, and man’s place in nature rests on Darwin ~Ernst Mayr
The ancient covenant is in pieces; man knows at last that he is alone in the universe’s unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out. Nor is his duty. The kingdom above, or the darkness below: it is for him to choose. ~Jacques Monod
The living thing is not the clay molded by the potter, nor the harp played upon by the musician. It is the clay modeling itself. ~Edward Stuart Russell
It is often felt that Darwin, more than anyone, banished “meaning” from the world — in the sense of any overall divine meaning or purpose.…. [And yet] evolutionary theory provided, for many of us, a sense of deep meaning and satisfaction that belief in a divine plan had never achieved. The world that presented itself to us became a transparent surface, through which one could see the whole history of life. The idea that it could have worked out differently, that dinosaurs might still be roaming the earth or that human beings might never have evolved, was a dizzying one. It made life seem all the more precious and a wonderful, ongoing adventure. ~Oliver Sachs
In the evolutionary long run, humanity will survive only as integral parts of a wild nexus of widely divergent life forms whose reproduction becomes possible only in concert.
We are a fluke of nature, a quirk of evolution, a glorious contingency. ~Michael Shermer
We want to be special. We want our place in the cosmos to be central. We want evolution—even godless evolution—to have been directed toward us so that we stand at the pinnacle of nature’s ladder of progress. Rewind the tape of life and we want to believe that we (Homo Sapiens) would appear again and again. Would we? Probably not.
Today the theory of evolution is an accepted fact for everyone but a fundamentalist minority, whose objections are based not on reasoning, but on doctrinaire adherence to religious principles. ~James Watson
Evolution by natural selection is not an idle hypothesis. The genetic variation on which selection acts is well understood in principle all the way down to the molecular level. ~E. O. Wilson
The evolutionary epic is … the best myth we will ever have. ~E. O. Wilson
I venture the challenging statement that if American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt
Faith is deciding to allow yourself to believe something your intellect would otherwise cause you to reject—otherwise there’s no need for faith. ~Anonymous
Truth does not demand belief. Scientists do not join hands every Sunday, singing “Yes, gravity is real! I will have faith! I will be strong! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up must come down, down. down. Amen!” If they did, we would think they were pretty insecure about it. ~Anonymous
He is a person of faith, and faith has that effect. It is, as James’ schoolboy said, “believing what you know ain’t true”. This means lying to yourself, to tell yourself you are justified in believing it. And of course, you have to keep adding to the lies to bolster the story you believe. The result of this continual lying is the loss of your intellectual integrity. Once intellectual integrity is lost, so is moral integrity. The believer will then lie in God’s name, cheat in God’s name, exploit in God”s name, and persecute in God’s name. ~Anonymous
Faith is a cop-out. It is intellectual bankruptcy. If the only way you can accept an assertion is by faith, then you are conceding that it can’t be taken on its own merits. ~Dan Barker
Faith, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel. ~Ambrose Bierce
The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason. ~Benjamin Franklin
Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable. . . . A man full of faith is simply one who has lost (or never had) the capacity for clear and realistic thought. ~H.L. Mencken
Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what one does not believe. It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime. ~Thomas Paine
Faith is believing things for which there is no evidence. ~Bertrand Russell
Faith is believing what any darn fool knows ain’t so. ~Mark Twain
They, believe me, who await
No gifts from chance, have conquered fate. ~Matthew Arnold
Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt
Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom. ~Bertrand Russell
Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear. ~Bertrand Russell
The most common of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind. ~H.L. Mencken
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. ~Bertrand Russell
You can fool too many of the people too much of the time. ~James Thurber
Those in whose eyes this reticence on the part of heretics is no evil, should consider in the first place, that in consequence of it there is never any fair and thorough discussion of heretical opinions; and that such of them as could not stand such a discussion, though they may be prevented from spreading, do not disappear. But it is not the minds of heretics that are deteriorated most, by the ban placed on all inquiry which does not end in the orthodox conclusions. The greatest harm done is to those who are not heretics, and whose whole mental development is cramped, and their reason cowed, by the fear of heresy. Who can compute what the world loses in the multitude of promising intellects combined with timid characters, who dare not follow out any bold, vigorous, independent train of thought, lest it should land them in something which would admit of being considered irreligious or immoral? Among them we may occasionally see some man of deep conscientiousness, and subtle and refined understanding, who spends a life in sophisticating with an intellect which he cannot silence, and exhausts the resources of ingenuity in attempting to reconcile the promptings of his conscience and reason with orthodoxy, which yet he does not, perhaps, to the end succeed in doing. No one can be a great thinker who does not recognize, that as a thinker it is his first duty to follow his intellect to whatever conclusions it may lead. Truth gains more even by the errors of one who, with due study and preparation, thinks for himself, than by the true opinions of those who only hold them because they do not suffer themselves to think. ~John Stuart Mill
If the moon, in the act of completing its eternal way around the earth, were gifted with self-consciousness, it would feel thoroughly convinced that it was traveling its way of its own accord on the strength of a resolution taken once and for all. So would a Being, endowed with higher insight and more perfect intelligence, watching man and his doings, smile about man’s illusion that he was acting according to his own free will. ~Albert Einstein
Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper. ~Albert Einstein
So would a Being, endowed with higher insight and more perfect intelligence, watching man and his doings, smile about man’s illusion that he was acting according to his own free will. ~Albert Einstein
Ultimately, we are not subject to the conditions that confront us; rather, these conditions are subject to our decision … we must decide whether we will face up or give in, whether or not we will let ourselves be determined by the conditions. ~Viktor Frankl
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
… freedom is a conquest, always partial, always precarious, always challenged. … the freest person is the one with the most hope. ~Gabriel Marcel
The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. ~John Stuart Mill
It would be very strange that all nature, all the planets, should obey eternal laws, and that there should be very little animal, five feet high, who, in contempt of these laws, could act as he pleased. ~Voltaire
Freethinkers reject faith as a valid tool of knowledge. Faith is the opposite of reason because reason imposes very strict limits on what can be true, and faith has no limits at all. A Great Escape into faith is no retreat to safety. It is nothing less than surrender.
Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith! Banish me from Eden when you will, but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge! ~ Robert G. Ingersoll
The soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.
To all freethinkers, past and present, whose independence of mind isolates them from the sympathy and understanding of their community, but whose courageous and unwavering devotion to the scientific method has liberated their community from the dark ages.
~ David Mills
What makes a freethinker is not his beliefs but the way in which he holds them. If he holds them because his elders told him they were true when he was young, or if he holds them because if he did not he would be unhappy, his thought is not free; but if he holds them because, after careful thought he finds a balance of evidence in their favour, then his thought is free, however odd his conclusions may seem. ~ Bertrand Russell
Without the possibility of a future, there is nothing left but despair. Thus, if we give up on the future, we give up on ourselves. ~Wendell Bell
The future is the only transcendent value for men without God. ~Albert Camus
What disconcerts the modern world at its very roots is not being sure, and not seeing how it ever could be sure, that there is an outcome—a suitable outcome to evolution. Half our present uneasiness would be turned to happiness if we could once make up our minds to accept the facts and place the essence and the measure of our modern cosmogonies within a noogenesis. ~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
The future belongs to those who give the next generation reason for hope.
~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
But at the same time, in reality, what a difference there is between the world today, and what it used to be! And with the passage of more time, some two or three hundred years, say, people will look back at our own times with horror, or with sneering laughter, because all of our present day life will appear so clumsy, and burdensome, extraordinarily inept and strange. Yes, certainly, what a life it will be then, what a life! ~Anton Chekhov
… not one living species will transmit its unaltered likeness to a distant futurity.
The development of artificial intelligence may well imply that man will relinquish his intellectual supremacy in favor of thinking machines. With oceans of time available for future innovation, there seems to be no reason why machines cannot achieve and surpass anything of which the human brain is capable. ~Paul Davies
Humanity looks to me like a magnificent beginning but not the final word. ~Freeman Dyson
Scientists who have dedicated their lives to building machines that think, feel that it’s only a matter of time before some form of consciousness is captured in the laboratory.
By 2050 we expect AI systems to have a modest range of emotions. ~Michio Kaku
Robots may gradually attain a degree of ‘self-awareness’ and consciousness of their own. ~Michio Kaku
Intelligent machines, which will grow from us, learn our skills, and share our goals and values, can be viewed as children of our minds. ~Hans Moravec
Man is a rope stretched between the animal and the Superman — a rope over an abyss. A dangerous crossing, a dangerous wayfaring, a dangerous looking-back, a dangerous trembling and halting. What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal.
We know what we are, but we know not what we may become. ~William Shakespeare
Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not. ~George Bernard Shaw
No theory changes what it is a theory about. Nothing is changed because we look at it, talk about it, or analyze it in a new way. Keats drank confusion to Newton for analyzing the rainbow, but the rainbow remained as beautiful as ever and became for many even more beautiful. Man has not changed because we look at him, talk about him, and analyze him scientifically. … What does change is our chance of doing something about the subject of a theory. Newton’s analysis of the light in a rainbow was a step in the direction of the laser. ~B.F. Skinner
All the past is but the beginning of a beginning; all that the human mind has accomplished is but the dream before the awakening. ~H.G. Wells
I say no man has ever yet been half devout enough;
None has ever yet adored or worship’d half enough;
None has begun to think how divine he himself is,
And how certain the future is.
O strain, musical, flowing through the ages—now reaching hither!
I take to your reckless and composite chords—I add to them,
And cheerfully pass them forward. ~Walt Whitman
This day before dawn I ascended a hill,
and look’d at the crowded heaven,
And I said to my Spirit,
When we become the enfolders of those orbs,
and the pleasure and knowledge
of everything in them,
shall we be fill’d and satisfied then?
And my Spirit said:
No, we but level that lift,
to pass and continue beyond. ~Walt Whitman
God is not only whimsical but also a vandal. After years of our taking good care of our tidy little temple, God suddenly and without explanation breaks down the door, smashes the windows, rips the paintings, and slashes the furniture. All our lives, we have been prudent. . . everything in moderation—and all of a sudden, without any warning at all, God shrieks in our ear: “cancer!” And one more of many: the author says that our loss of innocence had nothing to do with eating an apple but rather our belief that all living things are subject to our whims. ~ Philip Appleman
Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. ~Marcus Aurelius
It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. ~Albert Einstein
God is the immemorial refuge of the incompetent, the helpless, the miserable. They find not only sanctuary in His arms, but also a kind of superiority, soothing to their macerated egos; He will set them above their betters. ~H.L. Mencken
Those to whom his word was revealed were always alone in some remote place, like Moses. There wasn’t anyone else around when Mohammed got the word, either. Mormon Joseph Smith and Christian Scientist, Mary Baker Eddy, had exclusive audiences with God. We have to trust them as reporters—and you know how reporters are. They’ll do anything for a story. ~Andy Rooney
And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence. ~Bertrand Russell
Everytime we say that god is the author of some phenomenon, that signifies that we are ignorant of how such a phenomenon was caused by the forces of nature.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley
Faith is believing what you know ain’t so. “In God We Trust.” I don’t believe it would sound any better if it were true. It ain’t the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand. Our Bible reveals to us the character of our god with minute and remorseless exactness… It is perhaps the most damnatory biography that exists in print anywhere. It makes Nero an angel of light and leading by contrast. [The Bible is] a mass of fables and traditions, mere mythology. Man is a marvelous curiosity . . . he thinks he is the Creator’s pet . . . he even believes the creator loves him; has a passion for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes and watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to him and thinks He listens. Isn’t it a quaint idea. If there is a God, he is a malign
~ Mark Twain
We can have a democratic society or we can have great concentrated wealth in the hands of a few. We cannot have both. ~Louis Brandeis
What experience and history teach is this—that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it. ~Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
If a nation expects to be both ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. ~Thomas Jefferson
Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human liberty;
it is the argument of tyrants;
it is the creed of slaves. ~William Pitt
[T]he liberty of a democracy is not safe, if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism… ~Franklin D. Roosevelt
The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over the government. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt
Nations! What are nations? . . . Like insects, they swarm. The historian strives in vain to make them memorable. ~Henry David Thoreau
Be a lamp unto yourself. ~Buddha
Here’s the true secret of life: We mostly do everything over and over. In the morning, we let the dogs out, make coffee, read the paper, help whoever is around get ready for the day. We do our work. In the afternoon, if we have left, we come home, put down our keys and satchels, let the dogs out, take off constrictive clothing, make a drink or put water on for tea, toast the leftover bit of scone. I love ritual and repetition. Without them, I would be a balloon with a slow leak. ~Anne Lamott
He who is not satisfied with a little, is satisfied with nothing . ~Epicurus
A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy dare live. ~ Bertrand Russell
… there can be no contentment except in proceeding … Felicity … by which we mean continual delight consisteth not in having prospered, but in prospering. ~Thomas Hobbes
Those only are happy … who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness; on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit. ~ John Stuart Mill
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. This creed is somewhat short, but is long enough for this life; long enough for this world. If there is another world, when we get there, we can make another creed. But this creed certainly will do for this life.
~Robert G. Ingersoll
True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not. ~Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner. ~Lao Tzu
You will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do. ~David Foster Wallace
Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
In a century or two, or in a millennium, people will live in a new way, a happier way. We won”t be there to see it – but it”s why we live, why we work. It”s why we suffer. We”re creating it. That”s the purpose of our existence. The only happiness we can know is to work toward that goal. ~Anton Chekhov
Not to know what has happened before one was born is always to be a child. ~Cicero
The nations wax, the nations wane away; in a brief space the generationspass. And like runners hand the lamp of life one unto the other. ~Lucretius
Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly found, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living. ~Karl Marx
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it. ~George Santayana
It is a mistake to think that the past is dead. Nothing that has ever happened is quite without influence at this moment. The present is merely the past rolled up and concentrated in this second of time. You, too, are your past; often your face is your autobiography; you are what you are because of what you have been; because of your heredity stretching back into forgotten generations; because of every element of environment that has affected you, every man or woman that has met you, every book that you have read, every experience that you have had; all these are accumulated in your memory, your body, your character, your soul. So with a city, a country, and a race; it is its past, and cannot be understood without it. ~ Will Durant
Chorus: Did you perhaps go further than you have told us?
Prometheus: I caused mortal to cease foreseeing doom.
Chorus: What cure did you provide them with against that sickness?
Prometheus: I placed in them blind hopes. ~Aeschylean
My personal philosophy is anchored in optimism. It must be, for optimism brings with it hope, a future with a purpose, and therefore, a will to fight for a better world. The question arises: Why the struggle, the conflict, the heartbreak, the danger, the sacrifice? Why the constant climb? Our answer is the same as that which a mountain climber gives when he is asked why he does what he does: “Because it is there.” Because life is there ahead of you and either one tests oneself in its challenges or huddles in the valleys in a dreamless day-to-day existence whose only purpose is the preservation of an illusory security and safety. ~Saul Alinsky
Surely the evidence that mankind has risen thus far may give him hope for a still higher destiny in the future. ~Charles Darwin
Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope is not prognostication. It is an orientation of the spirit, and orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good. ~Vaclav Havel
the freest [person] is the one who has the most hope. ~Gabriel Marcel
We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt
The present is not a time for desperation but for hopeful activity. ~ Thomas Berry
The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence. ~Gertrude Stein
Hope is like peace. It is not a gift from God. It is a gift that only we can give to one another. ~Elie Wiesel
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
~ John Donne
Man will become better when you show him what he is like. ~Anton Chekhov
The astonishing hypothesis is that “”You,”” your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. … This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing. ~Francis Crick
Origin of man now proved.—Metaphysics must flourish.—He who understand baboon
would do more toward metaphysics than Locke. Plato says that our ‘imaginary
ideas’ arise from the preexistence of the soul, are not derivable from
experience—read monkeys for preexisttence. ~Charles Darwin
Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made ~Immanuel Kant
Every man as long as he remains alive is in himself a multitude of conflicting men.
The story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short. ~Abraham Maslow
The man’s (a heathen south sea islander) a human being, just as I am; he has just as much reason to fear me, as I have to be afraid of him. Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian. ~Herman Melville
This may be the curse of the human race. Not that we are so different from one another, but that we are so alike. ~Salman Rushdie
But man, proud man,
Drest in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d;
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven,
As make the angels weep. ~William Shakespeare
Such is the human race … Often it does seem such a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat. ~Mark Twain
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. ~Oscar Wilde
When people who are fairly fortunate in their material circumstances don’t ﬁnd sufﬁcient enjoyment to make life valuable to them, this is usually because they care for nobody but themselves. ~ John Stuart Mill
Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power.
Mankind is blessed with a creative talent for inventing and applying ideas, and cursed with an inability to shed them when their time is passed. ~A. C. Grayling
We call our generous ideas illusions and our mean one’s truths. ~ Edith Wharton
Greater than the tread of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come. ~ Victor Hugo
Ideology – that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others’ eyes…. That was how the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills: by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands, by extolling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers, by civilization; the Nazis, by race; and the Jacobins (early and late), by equality, brotherhood, and the happiness of future generations…. ~Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’ ~Isaac Asimov
Ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.
… ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by knowledge. ~Charles Darwin
Ignorance of reality provides no protection from it. ~Harold Gordon
Nothing is more terrible than ignorance in action. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they’ve been fooled. ~UNKNOWN
The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. ~W.B. Yeats
The evil in the world comes almost always from ignorance, and goodwill can cause as much damage as ill-will if it is not enlightened. People are more often good than bad, though in fact that is not the question. But they are more or less ignorant and this is what one calls vice or virtue, the most appalling vice being the ignorance that thinks it knows everything and which consequently authorizes itself to kill. ~ Albert Camus
Illusion is the first of all pleasures. ~Voltaire
I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
Some believe what separates men from animals is our ability to reason. Others say it’s language or romantic love, or opposable thumbs. Living here in this lost world, I’ve come to believe it is more than our biology. What truly makes us human is our unending search, our abiding desire for immortality. ~Arthur Conan Doyle
I do not believe in the immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it. ~Albert Einstein
I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes his creatures or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls from fear or absurd egotism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature. ~Albert Einstein
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.
Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you. ~Walt Whitman
Flight from insecurity is catastrophic to any kind of human growth. To flee from insecurity is to miss the whole point of being human. It is to miss, at any rate, the whole point of religion. ~Peter Bertocci
Irreverence is the champion of liberty. ~Mark Twain
We stand on a mountain pass in the midst of whirling snow and blinding mist, through which we get glimpses now and then of paths which may be deceptive. If we stand still, we show be frozen to death. If we take the wrong road, we shall be dashed to pieces. We do no certainly know whether there is any right one. What must we do? Be strong and of good courage. Act for the best, hope for the best, and take what comes. … If death ends all, we cannot meet death better. ~William James
As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts. ~Herman Melville
People who are on the journey are a lot more interesting than people who, having found answers, are in dry dock. ~Lori Villamil
While timorous knowledge stands considering, audacious ignorance hath done the deed. ~Saul Bellow
To learn is to broaden, to experience more, to snatch new aspects of life for yourself. To refuse to learn or to be relieved at not having to learn is to commit a form of suicide; in the long run, a more meaningful type of suicide than the mere ending of physical life. Knowledge is not only power; it is happiness, and being taught is the intellectual analog of being loved. ~ Isaac Asimov
It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows. ~Epictetus
The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life.
I do not say with Socrates that the unexamined life is not worth living–that would be unnecessarily harsh. However, when we guide our lives by our own pondered thoughts, it is then our life that we are living, not someone else’s. In this sense the unexamined life is not lived as fully. ~ Robert Nozick
Live not as though there were a thousand years ahead of you. Fate is at your elbow; make yourself good while life and power are still yours. ~Marcus Aurelius
Life is warfare and a stranger’s sojourn, and after fame, oblivion. ~Marcus Aurelius
Just as the hand, held before the eye, can hide the tallest mountain, so the routine of everyday life can keep us from seeing the vast radiance and the secret wonders that fill the world. (Eighteenth century, Hasidic) ~Anonymous
I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burdens again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy. ~Albert Camus
After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with color, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. ~Richard Dawkins
The ideals which have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth… ~Albert Einstein
Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying. ~T.S. Eliot
Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
For what is life but a play in which everyone acts a part until the curtain comes down? ~Erasmus
The main interest in life and work is to become someone else whom you were not in the beginning. ~Michel Foucault
It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual. ~Viktor Frankl
A dangerous path is this, like the edge of a razor. ~Hindu proverb
How can life ever be a good teacher if there is only one of them to be lived? How can one perform life when the dress rehearsal for life is life? ~Eugene Knight
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. And what can life be worth if the first rehearsal for life is life itself? That is why life is always like a sketch. No, “sketch” is not quite a word, because a sketch is an outline of something, the groundwork for a picture, whereas the sketch that is our life is a sketch for nothing, an outline with no picture. ~Milan Kundera
For my part,just as southern Europe laughs at husbands in love with their unfaithful wives, so I laugh at the human race in love with life; and I judge it very unmanly to let oneself be deceived and deluded like a fool, and in addition to the evils one suffers, to be as it were the laughing stock of nature and destiny. I’m still speaking of the deception that is not of the imagination,but of the intellect…I trample upon the cowardice of mankind, reject every childish consolation and deception; and I have the courage to bear the privation of every hope, to gaze intrepidly upon the desert of life, not to conceal from myself any part of human unhappiness, and to accept all the consequences of a philosophy that is grievous but true. ~Giacomo Leopardi
Encounters between people, it often seems to me, are like trains passing at breakneck speed in the night. We cast fleeting looks at the passengers sitting behind dull glass in dim light, who disappear from our field of vision almost before we perceive them. Was it really a man and a woman who flashed past like phantoms, who came out of nothing into the empty dark, without meaning or purpose? Did they know each other? Did they talk? Laugh? Cry? People will say: That’s how it is when strangers pass one another in rain and wind and there might be something in the comparison. But we sit opposite people for longer, we eat and work together, lie next to each other, live under the same roof. Where is the haste? Yet everything that gives the illusion of permanence, familiarity, and intimate knowledge: isn’t it a deception invented to reassure, with which we try to conceal and ward off the flickering, disturbing haste because it could be impossible to live with all the time. Isn’t every exchange of looks between people like the ghostly brief meeting of eyes between travellers passing one another, intoxicated by the inhuman speed and the shock of air pressure that makes everything shudder and clatter? Don’t our looks bounce off others, as in the hasty encounter of the night, and leave us with nothing but conjectures, slivers of thoughts and imagined qualities? Isn’t it true that it’s not people who meet, but rather the shadows cast by their imaginations? ~Pascal Mercier
To understand yourself: Is that a discovery or a creation? ~Pascal Mercier
Life is not what we live; it is what we imagine we are living. ~Pascal Mercier
Have you been able to think out and manage your own life? Our great and glorious masterpiece is to live appropriately. ~Montaigne
Life is an art we are required to practice without preparation, a score that we play at sight even before we have mastered our instruments. ~Lewis Mumford
And life itself confided this secret to me: “Behold,” it said, “I am that which must always overcome itself. ~Friedrich Nietzsche
When I consider the brief span of my life, swallowed up in the eternity before and after, the little space which I fill, and even can see, engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces of which I am ignorant, and which know me not, I am frightened, and am astonished at being here rather than there; for there is no reason why here rather than there, now rather than then. ~Blaise Pascal
Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers. ~Rainer Maria Rilke
…nothing at all rides on the life or death of the individual. ~Arthur Schopenhauer
All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts ~William Shakespeare
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by and idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. ~William Shakespeare
This is the true joy of 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.
~George Bernard Shaw
Life at its noblest leaves mere happiness far behind; and indeed cannot endure it. Happiness is not the object of life: life has no object: it is an end in itself; and courage consists in the readiness to sacrifice happiness for an intenser quality of life.
~George Bernard Shaw
I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle”” to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations. ~George Bernard Shaw
The ultimate possible attitudes to life are irreconcilable, and hence their struggle can never be brought to a final conclusion. ~Max Weber
Is it possible that existence is our exile and nothingness our home? ~ Emil Cioran
LIFE WITHOUT THOUGHT
The person who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of their age or their nation, and from the convictions which have grown up in their mind without the consent of their deliberate reason. To such a person the world tends to become definite, finite, obvious; common objects rouse no questions, and unfamiliar possibilities are contemptuously rejected. As soon as we begin to philosophize, on the contrary, we find … that even the most everyday things lead to problems to which only very incomplete answers can be given. Philosophy … removes the somewhat arrogant dogmatism of those who have never traveled into the region of liberating doubt. ~Bertrand Russell
The unexamined life is not worth living. ~Socrates
One discovers the light in darkness. That is what darkness is for. But everything in our lives depends on how we bear the light. It is necessary, while in darkness, to know that there is a light somewhere, to know that in oneself, waiting to be found there is a light. What the light reveals is danger, and what it demands is faith…I know we often lose…and how often one feels that one cannot start again. And yet, on pain of death, one can never remain where one is. The light. The light. One will perish without the light…For nothing is fixed, forever, and forever, and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have…The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. And the moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out. ~James Baldwin
Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world seek each other so that the world may come into being. … the universal gravity of bodies, … is merely the reverse or shadow of that which really moves nature. Love in all its subtleties is nothing more, and nothing less, than the more or less direct trace marked on the heart of the element by the psychical convergence of the universe upon itself. ~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves. This is a fact of daily experience. At what moment do lovers come into the most complete possession of themselves if not when they say they are lost in each other? In truth, does not love every instant achieve all around us, in the couple or the team, the magic feat, the feat repudiated to be contradictory, of personalizing by totalizing? And if that is what it can achieve daily on a small scale, why should it not repeat this one day on world-wide dimensions?
~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Put away the book, the description, the tradition, the authority, and take the journey of self-discovery. Love, and don’t be caught in opinions and ideas about what love is or should be. When you love, everything will come right. Love has its own action. Love, and you will know the blessings of it. Keep away from the authority who tells you what love is and what it is not. No authority knows and he who knows cannot tell. Love, and there is understanding. ~Krishnamurti
We must hope that traces of our love reverberate through time, in ripples and waves that one day reach peaceful shores now unbeknownst to us. ~John G. Messerly
Love is the name for our pursuit of wholeness, for our desire to be complete. ~Plato
The lover of life knows his labour divine, And therein is at peace. ~ George Meredith
Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century. ~Mark Twain
The result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lies will now be accepted as truth…but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world…is being destroyed. ~Hannah Arendt
The way to get a lie believed is to continue to REPEAT it. ~George Orwell
Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late. ~Jonathan Swift
The lies are told so often that after a while you find yourself nodding because it’s hard to get your head around the idea that they are lying quite so much and quite so brazenly, and at some level you feel that if [they] can lie so much and get away with it, doesn’t that mean they have real power, the power to define what is true and what isn’t? ~ Peter Pomerantsev
The feeling of awed wonder that science can give us is one of the highest experiences of which the human psyche is capable. It is a deep aesthetic passion to rank with the finest that music and poetry can deliver. It is truly one of the things that make life worth living.
~ Richard Dawkins
If a lie be believed only for an hour, it has done its work, and there is no further occasion for it. ~ Jonathan Swift
Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it. ~ Jonathan Swift
I like mathematics because it is not human and has nothing particular to do with this planet or with the whole accidental universe – because, like Spinoza’s God, it won’t love us in return. ~Bertrand Russell
The true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than Man, which is the touchstone of the highest excellence, is to be found in mathematics as surely as poetry. ~Bertrand Russell
We could use up two Eternities in learning all that is to be learned about our own world and the thousands of nations that have arisen and flourished and vanished from it. Mathematics alone would occupy me eight million years. ~Mark Twain
The significance of our lives and our fragile planet is then determined only by our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life’s meaning. We long for a Parent to care for us, to forgive us our errors, to save us from our childish mistakes. But knowledge is preferable to ignorance. Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable. If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal. ~ Carl Sagan
The meaning of life is to help others find theirs. ~Viktor Frankl
Man’s concern about a meaning of life is the truest expression of the state of being human. ~Viktor Frankl
Man’s search for meaning is the primary motivation of his life. This meaning is unique and specific in that it must and can be fulfilled by him alone; only then does it achieve a significance which will satisfy his own will to meaning. ~Viktor Frankl
What is demanded of man is not, as some existential philosophers teach, to endure the meaninglessness of life, but rather to bear his incapacity to grasp its unconditional meaningfulness in rational terms. ~Viktor Frankl
An individual piece only has meaning when it is seen as part of the whole.
~Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
These, then, are my last words to you: Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact. The “scientific proof” that you are right may not be clear before the day of judgment … is reached. But the faithful fighters of this hour, or the beings that then and there will represent them, may then turn to the faint-hearted, who here decline to go on, with words like those with which Henry IV greeted the tardy Crillon after a great victory had been gained: “Hang yourself, brave Crillon! We fought at Arques, and you were not there. ~William James
… the sole purpose of human existence: to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.
All my life I struggled to stretch my mind to the breaking point, until it began to creak,
in order to create a great thought which might be able to give a new meaning to life,
a new meaning to death, and to console mankind. ~Nikos Kazantzakis
What is the purpose of life? I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. ~Dalai Lama
Meaningfulness lies not in what is achieved or recognized, but in how a life is lived. Narrative values show us that the way we go about crafting our lives, whether consciously so or not, can determine their meaningfulness. This has nothing to do with success, no matter how much importance our world seems to accord to it. (from “A Significant Life” ) ~Todd May
A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how”. ~Friedrich Nietzsche
People … yearn to have a purpose larger than themselves. We are obliged by the deepest drives of the human spirit to make ourselves more than animated dust, and we must have a story to tell about where we came from, and why we are here. ~E. O. Wilson
Consider the idea of God. We do not know how it arose in the meme pool. Probably it originated many times by independent “mutation.” In any case, it is very old indeed. How does it replicate itself? By the spoken and written word, aided by great music and great art. Why does it have such high survival value? Remember that “survival value” here does not mean value for a gene in a gene pool, but value for a meme in a meme pool. The question really means: What is it about the idea of a god that gives it its stability and permanence in the cultural environment? The survival value of the god meme in the meme pool results from its great psychological appeal. It provides a superficially plausible answer to deep and troubling questions about existence. It suggests that injustices in this world may be rectified in the next. The “everlasting arms” hold out a cushion against our own inadequacies which, like a doctor”s placebo, is none the less effective for being imaginary. There are some of the reasons why the idea of God is copied so readily by successive generations of individual brains. God exists, if only in the form of a meme with high survival value, or infective power, in the environment provided by human culture.
A mind that is stretched by new experiences can never go back to its old dimensions. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.
Miracles seem to me to rest not so much on faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but on our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what was there always. ~Willa Cather
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless . . . its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish. The Christian religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one. ~David Hume
That no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavors to establish; and even in that case there is a mutual destruction of arguments, and the superior only gives us an assurance suitable to that degree of force, which remains, after deducting the inferior.” When anyone tells me, that he saw a dead man restored to life, I immediately consider with myself, whether it be more probable, that this person should either deceive or be deceived, or that the fact, which he relates, should really have happened. I weigh the one miracle against the other; and according to the superiority, which I discover, I pronounce my decision, and always reject the greater miracle. If the falsehood of his testimony would be more miraculous, than the event which he relates; then, and not till then, can he pretend to command my belief or opinion. ~David Hume
There is nothing more awe-inspiring than a miracle except the credulity that can take it at par. ~Mark Twain
The difference between a Miracle and a Fact is exactly the difference between a mermaid and seal. It could not be expressed better. ~Mark Twain
The distinguished physiologist Anton J. Carlson, when asked what he thought of the 1950 ex cathedra (that is, infallible) pronouncement by Pius XII that the Virgin Mary ascended bodily into heaven, is reported to have responded that he couldn’t be sure because he wasn’t there, but of one thing he was certain, that she passed out at thirty thousand feet. ~E. O. Wilson
If you say that 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, in order to go on doing things you don’t like doing — which is stupid! ~Alan Watts
How little is required for pleasure! The sound of a bagpipe — without music, life would be an error. ~Friedrich Nietzsche
Music is the effort we make to explain to ourselves how our brains work. We listen to Bach transfixed because this is listening to a human mind. ~Lewis Thomas
Forever I shall be a stranger to myself ~Albert Camus
There is nothing I congratulate myself on more heartily than on never having joined a sect. ~Erasmus
An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” ~ Martin Luther King
All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labor, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral color when it is committed by ‘our’ side … The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them. ~George Orwell
After every idea has had its day with us and we have fought for it not wisely or too well, we in our turn shall tire of the battle, and pass on to the young our thinning fascicle of ideals. Then we shall take to the woods with Jacques, Jean-Jacques, and Lao-tze; we shall make friends of the animals, and discourse more contentedly than Machiavelli with simple peasant minds; we shall leave the world to stew in its own deviltry, and shall take no further thought of its reform. ~Will Durant
We suspect that when our fires begin to burn low, we shall want the healing peace of uncrowded mountains and spacious fields. After every idea has had its day with us and we have fought for it not wisely or too well, we in our turn shall tire of the battle, and pass on to the young our thinning fascicle of ideals. Then we shall take to the woods; we shall make friends of the animals; we shall leave the world to stew in its own deviltry, and shall take no further thought of its reform. ~ Will Durant
In my opinion, the greatest scandal of philosophy is that, while all around us the world of nature perishes … philosophers continue to talk, …about the question of whether this world exists. ~Karl Popper
Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself and you shall have the suffrage of the world. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
When someone is properly grounded in life, they shouldn’t have to look outside themselves for approval. ~Epictetus
You have to be somebody before you can share yourself. ~Jaron Lanier
The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.
~John Stuart Mill
We are all born originals. Why is it so many of us die copies? ~Edward Young
Do as Socrates did, never replying to the question of where he was from with, ‘I am Athenian,’ or ‘I am from Corinth,’ but always, ‘I am a citizen of the world.’ ~Epictetus
Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. ~Samuel Johnson
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest to children ardent for some desperate glory. The old lie: It is sweet and fitting that you should die for your country. ~Wilfred Owen
Flags are bits of colored cloth that governments use first to shrink-wrap people’s minds & then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead. ~Arundhati Roy
Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons. ~Bertrand Russell
Patriots always talk of dying for their country and never of killing for their country. ~Bertrand Russell
Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. ~Mark Twain
Patriotism is a pernicious, psychopathic form of idiocy. ~ George Bernard Shaw
Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism – how passionately I hate them! ~ Albert Einstein
Patriotism is an unnatural, irrational, and harmful feeling… Patriotism is the principle that will justify the training of wholesale murderers. ~ Leo Tolstoy
Of what use is a philosopher who doesn’t hurt anybody’s feelings? ~Diogenes
Sooner or later, life makes philosophers of us all. ~Maurice Riseling
Morally, a philosopher who uses his professional competence for anything except a disinterested search for truth is guilty of a kind of treachery. ~Bertrand Russell
When you are philosophizing you have to descend into primeval chaos and feel at home there. ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
Philosophy means the complete liberty of the mind, and therefore independance of all social, political, or religious prejudice. ~Henri Frederic Amiel
Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questions. ~Anonymous
Philosophy, noun. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.
The first step toward philosophy is doubt. ~Denis Diderot
Philosophy is a stubborn attempt to think clearly. ~William James
… philosophy is to science as pornography is to sex: it’s cheaper, easier and some people prefer it. ~Steve Jones
The great virtue of philosophy is that it teaches not what to think, but how to think.
~The Times of London
It was while teaching philosophy that I saw how easily one can say … what one wants to say. … In fact, I became particularly aware if the dangers of speculation … It’s so much easier than digging out the facts. You sit in your office and build a system. But with my training in biology, I felt this kind of undertaking precarious. ~Jean Piaget
[Philosophy] …can lead to wonderful things, and it can lead to terrible things. But it means … that you take the responsibility of trying to think deeply and with integrity seriously. ~Hilary Putnam
Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions … but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation. ~Bertrand Russell
The aim of philosophy, abstractly formulated, is to understand how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term. ~Wilfrid Sellars
The perfection of wisdom, and the end of true philosophy is to proportion our wants to our possessions, our ambitions to our capacities, we will then be a happy and a virtuous people. ~Mark Twain
The beginning and end of all philosophy is—freedom. ~F. W. J. von Schelling
Philosophy asks the simple question, what is it all about? ~Alfred North Whitehead
I learned long ago from Candide that both optimism and pessimism are just ways of avoiding the work of improving the world. For optimism, improvement is unnecessary, for pessimism it’s impossible. But it always makes sense to do what we can to make things better in our immediate locale, where we have some reasonable chance of alleviating what Voltaire rightly saw as the three great evils of vice, poverty, and boredom. It might seem that philosophy would have little relevance to such immediate and mundane concerns, and it’s true that theory, high or deep, won’t tell us how to work in our gardens. But effective action requires accurate thought, and in our culture at least, the basic ideas we need for thinking trickle down from philosophy, as do the methods of thinking well.
~ Gary Gutting
Philosophy is an alpine road, and the precipitous path which leads to it is strewn with stones and thorns. The higher you climb, the lonelier, the more desolate grows the way; but he who threads it must know no fear; he must leave everything behind him; he will at last have to cut his own path through the ice. His road will often bring him to the edge of a chasm, whence it can look into the green valley beneath. Giddiness will overcome him, and strive to draw him down, but he must resist and hold himself back. In return, the world will soon lie beneath him; its deserts and bogs will disappear from view; its irregularities grow indistinguishable; its discords cannot pierce so high; its roundness become discernible. The climber stands amid clear fresh air, and can behold the sun when all beneath is still shrouded in the blackness of the night. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer
Populus vult decipi. (The people want to be deceived.) ~Ancient Roman saying
If the average man had had his way there would probably never have been any state. Even today he resents it, classes death with taxes, and yearns for that government which governs least. If he asks for many laws it is only because he is sure that his neighbor needs them; privately he is an unphilosophical anarchist, and thinks laws in his own case superfluous. ~ Will Durant
The benefit of controlling a modern state is less the power to persecute the innocent, more the power to protect the guilty. ~Anonymous
The mode of production of material life determines the general character of the social, political, and spiritual processes of life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being determines their consciousness.
As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. ~H.L. Mencken
Whenever you hear a man speak of his love for his country, it is a sign that he expects to be paid for it. ~H.L. Mencken
Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard. ~H.L. Mencken
Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. ~George Orwell
All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side. ~George Orwell
The manner in which public affairs are conducted gives a sufficiently accurate indication of the moral character and state of health of the body politic. ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau
I promise to question everything my leaders tell me. I promise to use my critical faculties. I promise to develop my independence of thought. I promise to educate myself so I can make my own judgments. ~Carl Sagan
Those who seek power at any price detect a societal weakness, a fear that they can ride into office. ~Carl Sagan
There is no distinctive native American criminal class except Congress. ~Mark Twain
Political virtue does not follow geographical divisions. It follows the eternal division inside of each country between the more animal and the more intellectual kind of men, between the tory and the liberal tendencies, the jingoism and animal instinct that would run things by main force and brute possession, and the critical conscience that believes in educational methods and in rational rules of right … The great international and cosmopolitan liberal party, the party of conscience and intelligence the world over, has, in short, absorbed us [‘us’ being anti-imperialists]; and we are only its American section, carrying on the war against the powers of darkness here, playing our part in the long, long campaign for truth and fair dealing which must go on in all the countries of the world until the end of time. Let us cheerfully settle into our interminable task. ~ William James
If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment. ~Marcus Aurelius
Force always attracts men of low morality. ~Albert Einstein
the powerful do what they wish and the weak suffer what they must. [the message of the Athenians to Melos in Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War].
It is best to read the weather forecast before praying for rain. ~Mark Twain
To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner, confessedly unworthy. ~Elie Wiesel
Priests dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight.
Progress is a noxious, culturally embedded, untestable, nonoperational, intractable idea that must be replaced if we wish to understand the patterns of history. ~Stephen J. Gould
Progress, then, as I see it, is to be measured by the accuracy of man’s knowledge of nature’s forces. If you examine this sentence carefully you will observe that I conceive progress as a sort of process of disillusion. Man gets ahead, in other words, by discarding the theory of today for the fact of tomorrow. Moses believed that the earth was flat, Caesar believed that his family doctor could cure pneumonia, and Columbus believed that devils entered into harmless old women and turned them into witches… You and I, knowing that all three of these distinguished men were wrong in their beliefs, are their superiors to that extent. ~H.L. Mencken
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
One must view a wicked man, like a sickly one—We cannot help loathing a diseased offensive object, so we view wickedness.—it would however be more proper to pity than to hate and be disgusted. ~Charles Darwin
The man who is thoroughly convinced of the universal operation of the law of causation cannot for a moment entertain the idea of a being who interferes in the course of events — that is, if he takes the hypothesis of causality really seriously. He has no use for the religion of fear and equally little for social or moral religion. A God who rewards and punishes is inconceivable to him for the simple reason that a man’s actions are determined by necessity,external and internal, so that in God’s eyes he cannot be responsible, any more than an inanimate object is responsible for the motions it goes through. Hence science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death. ~Albert Einstein
We shall look on crime as a disease, and its physicians shall displace the judges, its hospitals displace the Galleys. Liberty and health shall be alike. We shall pour balm and oil where we formerly applied iron and fire; evil will be treated in charity, instead of in anger. This change will be simple and sublime. ~Victor Hugo
If you do not find a remedy to these evils, it is a vain thing to boast of your severity in punishing theft, which though it may have the appearance of justice, yet in itself is neither just nor convenient. For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them? ~Thomas More
An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself. ~Thomas Paine
One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes the wicked have committed, but by the punishments the good have inflicted; a community is infinitely more brutalized by the habitual employment of punishment than it is by the occasional occurrence of the crime. ~Oscar Wilde
The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy. ~H.L. Mencken
He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever. ~Chinese Proverb
There was no telling what people might find out once they felt free to ask whatever questions they wanted to. ~Joseph Heller
He is one of those who don’t want millions, but an answer to their questions.
~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Maintaining the division between the Colony and the Nation is treacherous precisely because of the constant threat that the tools honed in the Colony will be wielded in the Nation; that tyranny and violence tolerated at the periphery will ultimately infiltrate the core. ~Chris Hayes
There were people who read and there were the others. Whether you were the a reader or a non-reader was soon apparent. There was no greater distinction between people. ~Pascal Mercier
Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? ~Douglas Adams
Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
And generally let every student of nature take this as a rule: that whatever his mind seizes and dwells upon with peculiar satisfaction is to be held in suspicion, and that so much the more care is to be taken dealing with such questions to keep the understanding even and clear. ~Francis Bacon
It is wrong always, everywhere, and for everyone to believe upon insufficient evidence.
~W. K. Clifford
We are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it. ~Thomas Jefferson
Lost in an immense forest during the night I have only a small light to guide me. An unknown man appears and says to me:” My friend blow out your candle so you can better find your way”. This unknown man is a theologian. ~Denis Diderot
He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; and he who dares not is a slave. ~William Drummond
Man is an emotional animal, occasionally rational; and through his feelings he can be deceived to his heart’s content. ~Will Durant
You ought to realize, you take up very little space in the world as a whole – your body, that is; in reason, however, you yield to no one, not even to the gods, because reason is not measured in size but sense. So why not care for that side of you, where you and the gods are equals? ~Epictetus
For what does reason purport to do? “Establish what is true, eliminate what is false and suspend judgement in doubtful cases.” … What else does reason prescribe? “To accept the consequence of what has been admitted to be correct.” ~Epictetus
Imagination abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters: united with her, she is the mother of the arts and the source of her wonders. ~Francisco Goyo
Intelligence is the only moral guide. ~Robert G. Ingersoll
It is much easier to do and die than it is to reason why. ~H. A. Studdert Kennedy
It is an established maxim and moral that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false is guilty of falsehood, and the accidental truth of the assertion does not justify or excuse him. ~Abraham Lincoln
So, little by little, time brings out each several thing into view, and reason raises it up into the shores of light. ~Lucretius
Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God. ~Martin Luther
The Church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen its shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the Church. ~Ferdinand Magellan
The agents of such quackeries gain their converts by the simple process of reducing the inordinately complex to the absurdly simple. Unless a man is already equipped with a considerable knowledge of chemistry, bacteriology and physiology, no one can ever hope to make him understand what is meant by the term anaphylaxis, but any man, if only he be idiot enough, can grasp the whole theory of chiropractic in twenty minutes. ~H.L. Mencken
For every complex question there’s a simple answer—and it is clever, neat, and wrong. ~H.L. Mencken
The misunderstanding of passion and reason, as if the latter were an independent entity and not rather a system of relations between various passions and desires; and as if every passion did not possess its quantum of reason. ~Friedrich Nietzsche
Our whole dignity consists in thought. Let us endeavor, then, to think well: this is the principle of ethics. ~Blaise Pascal
Our thinking tends to be hazy, hasty, narrow, or sprawling—causal terms for impulsive. Just like anything else, thinking skills require upkeep. If they aren’t nourished, they’ll fade away. ~David Perkins
The weapon that most readily conquers reason is terror and violence. ~Kahlan Rahl
To save the world requires faith and courage: faith in reason, and courage to proclaim what reason shows to be true. ~Bertrand Russell
It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this. ~Bertrand Russell
Most people would rather die than think—in fact, they do! ~Bertrand Russell
I wish to propose for the reader’s’ favorable consideration a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine in question is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no good ground for supposing it to be true ~Bertrand Russell
Reason deserves to be called a prophet; for in showing us the consequences and effect of our actions in the present, does it not tell us what the future will be? ~Arthur Schopenhauer
You cannot reason a person out of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place. ~Jonathan Swift
Its name is Public Opinion. It is held in reverence. It settles everything. Some think it is the voice of God. Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul. ~Mark Twain
Does the human being reason? No; he thinks, muses, reflects, but does not reason…that is, in the two things which are the peculiar domain of the heart, not the mind, politics and religion. He doesn’t want to know the other side. He wants arguments and statistics for his own side, and nothing more. ~Mark Twain
You dispute, you quarrel, you fight for that which is uncertain, that of which you doubt. O men! Is this not folly? … We must trace a line of distinction between those that are capable of verification, and those that are not, and separate by an inviolable barrier the world of fantastical beings from the world of realities, that is to say, all civil effect must be taken away from theological and religious opinions. ~C. F. Volney
It is a farce to call any being virtuous whose virtues do not result from the exercise of its own reason. ~Mary Wollstonecraft
Religion stalks across the face of human history, knee-deep in the blood of innocents, clasping its red hands in hymns of praise to an approving God. ~Philip Appleman
There is no pestilence in a state like a zeal for religion, independent of morality.
Religion is a byproduct of fear. For much of human history, it may have been a necessary evil, but why was it more evil than necessary? Isn’t killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity? ~Arthur C. Clarke
My religion is to seek for truth in life and for life in truth, even knowing that I shall not find them while I live. ~Miguel de Unamuno
He who begins by loving Christianity better than truth, will proceed by loving his own sect or Church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself better than all.
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge
I can hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother, and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine. ~Charles Darwin
During these two years [October 1836 to January 1839] I was led to think much about religion. Whilst on board the Beagle I was quite orthodox, and I remember being heartily laughed at by several of the officers (although themselves orthodox) for quoting the Bible as an unanswerable authority on some point of morality. I suppose it was the novelty of the argument that amused them. But I had gradually come by this time … to see that the Old Testament from its manifestly false history of the world, with the Tower of Babel, the rainbow at sign, etc., etc., and from its attributing to God the feelings of a revengeful tyrant, was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos, or the beliefs of any barbarian. The question then continually rose, before my mind and would not be banished, is it credible that if God were now to make a revelation to the Hindoos, he would permit it to be connected with the belief in Vishnu, Siva, etc., as Christianity is connected with the Old Testament? This appeared to me utterly incredible. ~Charles Darwin
The human psyche has two great sicknesses: the urge to carry vendetta across generations, and the tendency to fasten group labels on people rather than see them as individuals. Abrahamic religion gives strong sanction to both—and mixes explosively with both. Only the willfully blind could fail to implicate the divisive force of religion in most, if not all, of the violent enmities in the world today. ~Richard Dawkins
If I have said anything about religions and religion that seems harsh, I have said those things because of a firm belief that the claim on the part of religions to possess a monopoly of ideals and of the supernatural means by which alone, it is alleged, they can be furthered, stands in the way of the realization of distinctively religious values inherent in natural experience. For that reason, if for no other, I should be sorry if any were misled by the frequency with which I have employed the adjective “religious” to conceive of what I have said as a disguised apology for what have passed as religions. The opposition between religious values as I conceive them and religions is not to be abridged. Just because the release of these values is so important, their identification with the creeds and cults of religions must be dissolved. ~John Dewey
Religion is all bunk. ~Thomas Edison
There is no point beating around the bush. Supernatural concepts have no philosophical warrant. Furthermore, it is not that such concepts are displaced only if we accept, from the start, a naturalistic or scientific vision of things. There simply are no good arguments—theological, philosophical, humanistic, or scientific—for beliefs in divine beings, miracles, or heavenly afterlives. ~Owen Flanagan
Religion … the universal … neurosis of humanity. ~Sigmund Freud
These [religious ideas] are given out as teachings, are not precipitates of experience or end-results of thinking: they are illusions, fullfilments of the oldest, strongest and most urgent wishes of mankind. ~Sigmund Freud
The whole thing is so patently infantile, so foreign to reality, that to anyone with a friendly attitude to humanity it is painful to think that the great majority of mortals will never be able to rise above this view of life. ~Sigmund Freud
There is no greater social evil than religion. It is the cancer in the body of humanity. Human credulity and superstition, and the need for comforting fables, will never be extirpated, so religion will always exist, at least among the uneducated. The only way to manage the dangers it presents is to confine it entirely to the private sphere, and for the public domain to be blind to it in all but one respect: that by law no one’s private beliefs should be allowed to cause a nuisance or an injury to anyone else. ~A. C. Grayling
In the Dark Ages people found their surest guide in religion—just as a blind man is the best guide on a pitch-black night. He knows the way better than the seeing. But it is folly to use the blind old man as a guide after day-break. ~Heinrich Heine
History does not record anywhere or at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help. But, like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it. ~Robert A. Heinlein
Fear of things invisible is the natural seed of that which every one in himself calleth religion. ~Thomas Hobbes
The aim of a religious movement is to inflict a malady on society, then offer the religion as a cure. ~Eric Hoffer
If you want to make a little money, write a book. If you want to make a lot of money, create a religion. ~L. Ron Hubbard
Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous. ~David Hume
You never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion. . . . Dogs do not ritually urinate in the hope of persuading heaven to do the same and send down rain. Asses do not bray a liturgy to cloudless skies. Nor do cats attempt, by abstinence from cat’s meat, to wheedle the feline spirits into benevolence. Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly. It is the price he has to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, quite intelligent enough. Maybe this world is another planet’s hell. ~Aldous Huxley
Man is a marvelous curiosity . . . he thinks he is the Creator’s pet . . . he even believes the Creator loves him; has a passion for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes and watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to him and thinks He listens. Isn’t it a quaint idea ~Robert G. Ingersoll
I knew that man’s womanish heart has constant need of consolation, a need to which that super-shrewd sophist the mind is constantly ready to minister. I began to feel that every religion which promises to fulfill human desires is simply a refuge for the timid, and unworthy of a true man. … We ought, therefore, to choose the most hopeless of world views, and if by chance we are deceiving ourselves and hope does exist, so much the better. At all events, in this way man’s soul will not be humiliated, and neither God nor the devil will ever be able to ridicule it by saying that it became intoxicated like a hashish-smoker and fashioned an imaginary paradise out of naivete and cowardice—in order to cover the abyss. The faith most devoid of hope seemed to me not the truest, perhaps, but surely the most valorous. I considered the metaphysical hope an alluring bait which true men do not condescend to nibble. I wanted whatever was most difficult, in other words most worthy of man, of the man who does not whine, entreate, or go about begging.
I count religion but a childish toy and hold there is no sin but ignorance.
Religion is the opiate of the masses. ~Karl Marx
To abdicate from the rule of reason and substitute for it an authentication of belief by the intentness and degree of conviction with which we hold it can be perilous and destructive. Religious beliefs give a spurious spiritual dimension to tribal enmities…. It goes with the passionate intensity and deep conviction of the truth of a religious belief, and of course of the importance of the superstitious observances that go with it, that we should want others to share it – and the only certain way to cause a religious belief to be held by everyone is to liquidate nonbelievers. The price in blood and tears that mankind generally has had to pay for the comfort and spiritual refreshment that religion has brought to a few has been too great to justify our entrusting moral accountancy to religious belief.
~Sir Peter Brian Medawar
Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration—courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of the truth. ~H.L. Mencken
We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the same sense and to the same extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart. Religion is so absurd that it comes close to imbecility. ~H.L. Mencken
Since the early days, [the church] has thrown itself violently against every effort to liberate the body and mind of man. It has been, at all times and everywhere, the habitual and incorrigible defender of bad governments, bad laws, bad social theories, bad institutions. It was, for centuries, an apologist for slavery, as it was an apologist for the divine right of kings. ~H.L. Mencken
For centuries, theologians have attempted to explain the unknowable in terms of the-not-worth-knowing. ~H.L. Mencken
The time appears to me to have come when it is the duty of all to make their dissent from religion known. ~John Stuart Mill
One does well to put on gloves when reading the New Testament. The proximity of so much uncleanliness almost forces one to do this. ~Friedrich Nietzsche
Finding that no religion is based on facts and cannot therefore be true, I began to reflect what must be the condition of mankind trained from infancy to believe in error.
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. ~Blaise Pascal
No man who ever lived knows any more about the hereafter … than you and I; and all religion … is simply evolved out of chicanery, fear, greed, imagination and poetry.
~Edgar Allan Poe
I condemn false prophets, I condemn the effort to take away the power of rational decision, to drain people of their free will—and a hell of a lot of money in the bargain. Religions vary in their degree of idiocy, but I reject them all. For most people, religion is nothing more than a substitute for a malfunctioning brain. We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes. ~Gene Roddenberry
The Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world. ~Bertrand Russell
Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines. ~Bertrand Russell
I am myself a dissenter from all known religions, and I hope that every kind of religious belief will die out. Religion is based . . . mainly on fear . . . fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand. . . . My own view on religion is that of Lucretius. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race. ~Bertrand Russell
The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic. ~Bertrand Russell
The fact that so little of the findings of modern science is prefigured in Scripture to my mind casts further doubt on its divine inspiration. ~Carl Sagan
Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful. ~Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Emotional excitement reaches men through tea, tobacco, opium, whisky, and religion. ~George Bernard Shaw
In exchange for obedience, Christianity promises salvation in an afterlife; but in order to elicit obedience through this promise, Christianity must convince men that they need salvation, that there is something to be saved from. Christianity has nothing to offer a happy man living in a natural, intelligible universe. If Christianity is to gain a motivational foothold, it must declare war on earthly pleasure and happiness, and this, historically, has been its precise course of action. In the eyes of Christianity, man is sinful and helpless in the face of God, and is potential fuel for the flames of hell. Just as Christianity must destroy reason before it can introduce faith, so it must destroy happiness before it can introduce salvation. ~George H Smith
The memory of my own suffering has prevented me from ever shadowing one young soul with the superstitions of the Christian religion. ~Elizabeth Cady Stanton
During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after doing its duty in but a lazy and indolent way for 800 years, gathered up its halters, thumbscrews, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood. Then it was discovered that there as no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry. ~Mark Twain
Every sensible man, every honorable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror. Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd and bloody religion that has ever infected the world. If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities. Superstition, born of paganism and adopted by Judaism, invested the Christian Church from earliest times. All the fathers of the Church, without exception, believed in the power of magic. The Church always condemned magic, but she always believed in it: she did not excommunicate sorcerers as madmen who were mistaken, but as men who were really in communication with the devil. Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense. ~Voltaire
Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile. ~Kurt Vonnegut
With or without [religion] you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, it takes religion. ~Steven Weinberg
RELIGION (ACCORDING TO EARLY AMERICANS)
I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! ~John Adams
I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absenteed myself from Christian assemblies. ~Benjamin Franklin
It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. ~Thomas Jefferson
During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution. In no instance have . . . the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people. Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.
Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. ~Thomas Paine
Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible [by which Paine means the Old Testament] is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel. Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind and monopolize power and profit. ~Thomas Paine
Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system. ~Thomas Paine
The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion. It has been the most destructive to the peace of man since man began to exist. Among the most detestable villains in history, you could not find one worse than Moses, who gave an order to butcher the boys, to massacre the mothers and then rape the daughters. One of the most horrible atrocities found in the literature of any nation. I would not dishonor my Creator’s name by attaching it to this filthy book. ~Thomas Paine
RELIGION AND SCIENCE
You will find men like him [Wainwright, a character in Clarke’s novel, Childhood’s End] in all of the world’s religions. They know that we represent reason and science, and, however confident they may be in their beliefs, they fear that we will overthrow their gods. Not necessarily through any deliberate act, but in a subtler fashion. Science can destroy a religion by ignoring it as well as by disproving its tenets. No one ever demonstrated, so far as I am aware, the nonexistence of Zeus or Thor, but they have few followers now. The Wainwright fear too, that we know the truth about the origins of their faiths. ~Arthur C. Clarke
Nor is any reconcilement possible between free thought and traditional authority. One or other will have to succumb after a struggle of unknown duration, which will have as side issues vast political and social troubles. ~T. H. Huxley
There is no harmony between religion and science. When science was a child, religion sought to strangle it in the cradle. Now that science has attained its youth, and superstition is in its dotage, the trembling, palsied wreck says to the athlete: ‘Let us be friends.’ It reminds me of the bargain the cock wished to make with the horse: ‘Let us agree not to step on each other’s feet.’ For ages, a deadly conflict has been waged between a few brave men and women of thought and genius upon the one side, and the great ignorant religious mass on the other. This is the war between Science and Faith. The few have appealed to reason, to honor, to law, to freedom, to the known, and to happiness here in this world. The many have appealed to prejudice, to fear, to miracle, to slavery, to the unknown, and to misery hereafter. The few have said, “Think!” The many have said, “Believe”.
~Robert G. Ingersoll
Science makes godlike – it is all over with priests and gods when man becomes scientific. Moral: science is the forbidden as such – it alone is forbidden. Science is the first sin, the original sin. This alone is morality. “Thou shall not know” – the rest follows.
Religion is based upon blind faith supported by no evidence. Science is based upon confidence that results from evidence. … Science approaches truth, closer and closer … Religion already has it all decided, and it’s ‘in the book.’ It’s dogma, unchangeable, and unaffected by .. whatever facts we come upon in the real wor ~James Randi
I do feel that evolution is being controlled by some sort of divine engineer. I can’t help thinking that. And this engineer knows exactly what he or she is doing and why, and where evolution is headed. That’s why we’ve got giraffes and hippopotami and the clap. ~ Kurt Vonnegut
If you send a damned fool to St. Louis, and you don’t tell them he’s a damned fool, they’ll never find out. ~Mark Twain
If the way which, as I have shown, leads hither seem difficult, it can nevertheless be found. It must indeed be difficult since it is so seldom discovered, for if salvation lay ready to hand and could be discovered without great labor, how could it be possible that it should be neglected almost by everybody? But all noble things are as difficult as they are rare. ~Baruch Spinoza
The end of our foundation is the knowledge of causes, and secret motions of things; and the enlarging of the bounds of human empire, to the effecting of all things possible. ~Francis Bacon
Thus have I made as it were a small globe of the intellectual world, as truly and faithfully as I could discover. ~Francis Bacon
It appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against Christianity and theism produce hardly any effect on the public; and freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men’s minds which follows from the advance of science. ~Charles Darwin
All our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike—and yet it the most precious thing we have. ~Albert Einstein
Artists may pour out their angst; philosophers and theologians may fume, lament, and obfuscate; but only science can know. ~Stephen J. Gould
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. ~Max Planck
For my part, I have no doubt, although progressive changes are to be expected in physics, the present doctrines are likely to be nearer to the truth, than any rival doctrines now before the world. Science is at no moment quite right, but it is seldom quite wrong, and has, as a rule, a better chance of being right than the theories of the unscientific. It is, therefore, rational to accept it hypothetically. ~Bertrand Russell
Those to whom intellectual freedom is personally important may be a minority in the community, but among them are the [humans] of most importance to the future. We have seen the importance of Copernicus, Galileo, and Darwin in this history of mankind, and it is not to be supposed that the future will produce no more such men. If they are prevented from doing their work and having their due effect, the human race will stagnate, and a new Dark Ages will succeed, as the earlier Dark Ages succeeded the brilliant period of antiquity. New truth is often uncomfortable, especially to the holders of power; nevertheless, amid the long record of cruelty and bigotry, it is the most important achievement of our intelligent but wayward species. ~Bertrand Russell
At the heart of science is an essential tension between two seemingly contradictory attitudes- an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counter-intuitive they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense…. ~Carl Sagan
If we were to back off from science and technology, we would in fact be condemning most of the human population of the Earth to death. ~Carl Sagan
There is nothing which can better serve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.
The feeling of awed wonder that science can give us is one of the highest experiences of which the human psyche is capable. It is a deep aesthetic passion to rank with the finest that music and poetry can deliver. It is truly one of the things that make life worth living.
~ Richard Dawkins
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. ~Max Planck
We shall not seek from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. ~T.S. Eliot
But to me the search for unity is much more substantial than the affirmation of unity; the need and the search, and the idea that one is working at it … ~Jean Piaget
We declare at the outset that we do not make any positive assertion that anything we shall say is wholly as we affirm it to be. We merely report accurately on each thing as our impressions of it are at the moment. ~Sextus Empiricus
Trust a witness in all matters in which neither his self-interest, his passions, his prejudices, nor the love of the marvelous is strongly concerned. When they are involved, require corroborative evidence in exact proportion to the contravention of probability by the thing testified. ~T. H. Huxley
I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong. ~Bertrand Russell
Those who have something to sell, those who wish to influence public opinion, those in power, a skeptic might suggest, have a vested interest in discouraging skepticism.
If we can’t think for ourselves, if we’re unwilling to question authority, then we’re just putty in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us. In every country we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the Bill of Rights. With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit. In the demon-haunted world that we inhabit by virtue of being human, this may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness.
Skeptics are the watchmen of reasoning errors, aiming to expose bad ideas.
Not to grow up properly is to retain our ‘caterpillar’ quality from childhood (where it is a virtue) into adulthood (where it becomes a vice). In childhood our credulity serves us well. It helps us to pack, with extraordinary rapidity, our skulls full of the wisdom of our parents and our ancestors. But if we don’t grow out of it in the fullness of time, our caterpillar nature makes us a sitting target for astrologers, mediums, gurus, evangelists and quacks.
The genius of the human child, mental caterpillar extraordinary, is for soaking up information and ideas, not for criticizing them. If critical faculties later grow it will be in spite of, not because of, the inclinations of childhood. The blotting paper of the child’s brain is the unpromising seedbed, the base upon which later the sceptical attitude, like a struggling mustard plant, may possibly grow. We need to replace the automatic credulity of childhood with the constructive scepticism of adult science. ~Richard Dawkins
Solitude is the path over which destiny endeavors to lead man to himself. Solitude is the path that men most fear. A path fraught with terrors, where snakes and toads lie in wait… Without solitude there is no suffering, without solitude there is no heroism.
~ Herman Hesse
True action, good and radiant action, my friends, does not spring from activity, from busy bustling, it does not spring from industrious hammering. It grows in the solitude of the mountains, it grows on the summits where silence and danger dwell. It grows out of the suffering which you have not yet learned to suffer. ~ Herman Hesse
Speech is the mirror of the soul; as a man speaks, so is he. ~Publilius
STATE OF NATURE
… continual fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. ~Thomas Hobbes
Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. ~Robert F. Kennedy
You read something which you thought only happened to you, and you discovered it happened 100 years ago to Dostoyevsky. This is a very great liberation for the suffering, struggling person, who always thinks that he [she] is alone. ~James Baldwin
Very brief is the time in which we can help them, in which their happiness or misery is decided. Be it ours to shed sunshine on their path, to lighten their sorrows by the balm of sympathy, to give them the pure joy of a never-tiring affection, to strengthen failing courage, to instil faith in hours of despair. Let us not weigh in grudging scales their merits and demerits, but let us think only of their need–of the sorrows, the difficulties, perhaps the blindnesses, that make the misery of their lives; let us remember that they are fellow-sufferers in the same darkness, actors in the same tragedy as ourselves. ~ Bertrand Russell
If you accustom yourself to this view of life you will regulate your expectations accordingly, and cease to look upon all its disagreeable incidents, great and small, its sufferings, its worries, its misery, as anything unusual or irregular; nay, you will find that everything is as it should be, in a world where each of us pays the penalty of existence in his own peculiar way. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer
… I cannot see as plainly as others do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent god would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice. ~Charles Darwin
We all have strength enough to bear the misfortunes of others.
~François de La Rochefoucauld
Were it possible for us to see further than our knowledge reaches … perhaps we would endure our sadnesses with greater confidence than our joys. For they are the moments when something new has entered us, something unknown. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
There is no evil I have to accept because ‘there’s nothing I can do about it’. There is no abused child, no oppressed peasant, no starving beggar, no crack-addicted infant, no cancer patient, literally no one that I cannot look squarely in the eye. I’m working to save everybody, heal the planet, solve all the problems of the world. ~Eliezer Yudkowsky
Action and suffering, which together make up our lives, are a whole; they are one. A child suffers its begetting, it suffers its birth, its weaning; it suffers here and suffers there until in the end it suffers death. But all the good in a man, for which he is praised or loved, is merely good suffering, the right kind, the living kind of suffering, a suffering to the full. The ability to suffer well is more than half of life — indeed, it is all life. Birth is suffering, growth is suffering, the seed suffers the earth, the root suffers the rain, the bud suffers its flowering. In the same way, my friends, man suffers destiny. Destiny is earth, it is rain and growth. Destiny hurts. ~ Herman Hesse
It is hard to learn to suffer. Women succeed more often and more nobly than men. Learn from them! Learn to listen when the voice of life speaks! Learn to look when the sun of destiny plays with your shadows! Learn to respect life! Learn to respect yourselves! From suffering springs strength… ~ Herman Hesse
A day given over by Americans to wishing that they themselves were dead and in Heaven, and that their neighbors were dead and in Hell. ~H.L. Mencken
Technology does not drive change at all. Technology merely enables change. It’s our collective cultural response to the options and opportunities presented by technology that drives change. ~Paul Saffo
If scientists don’t play God, who will? ~James Watson
Everyone knows that testosterone, the so-called male hormone, is found in both men and women. What is not so well-known is that men have an overdose. Until now it has been thought that the level of testosterone in men is normal simply because they have it. But if you consider how abnormal their behavior is, then you are led to the hypothesis that almost all men are suffering from testosterone poisoning. ~ Alan Alda
The single greatest underlying risk to the future of intelligent life isn’t technological, but both natural and evolutionarily ancient, namely competitive male (dominance) behavior. Crudely speaking, evolution “designed” human male primates to be hunters/warriors. Adult male humans are still endowed with the hunter-warrior biology—and primitive psychology—of our hominoid ancestors. For the foreseeable future, all technological threats must be viewed through this sinister lens. ~David Pearce
Why is the half of humanity with a special sensitivity to the preciousness of life, the half untainted by testosterone poisoning, almost wholly unrepresented in defense establishments and peace negotiations worldwide? ~Carl Sagan
The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks. ~ Mortimer Adler
The human understanding is no dry light, but receives an infusion from the will and affections; whence proceed sciences which may be called “sciences as one would.” For what a man had rather were true he more readily believes. Therefore he rejects difficult things from impatience of research; sober things, because they narrow hope; the deeper things of nature, from superstition; the light of experience, from arrogance and pride, lest his mind should seem to be occupied with things mean and transitory; things not commonly believed, out of deference to the opinion of the vulgar. Numberless in short are the ways, and sometimes imperceptible, in which the affections colour and infect the understanding. ~Francis Bacon
Rarely do we find [people] who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.” ~Martin Luther King
Beginning to think is beginning to be undermined. ~Albert Camus
You can lead me to college, but you can’t make me think. ~College Sweatshirt
When people learn no tool of judgment and merely follow their hopes, the seeds of political manipulations are sown. ~Stephen J. Gould
A person who does not think about life is a stranger mapless in a foreign land, for one such, lost and without directions, any turning in the road is as good as any other, and if it takes him somewhere worthwhile it will have done so by the merest chance. ~A. C. Grayling
I don’t know what I may seem to the world. But to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself in now and then to find a smoother pebble or prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. ~Isaac Newton
We are but thinking reeds; but because we know, we are superior to the universe. Thought constitutes our greatness. ~Blaise Pascal
There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.
~Sir Joshua Reynolds
Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth – more than ruin, more even than death. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible; thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habits; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless of the well-tried wisdom of the ages. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. ~Bertrand Russell
If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption n the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time. ~Bertrand Russell
In our time, with total fabrication of realistic stills, motion pictures, and videotapes technologically within reach, with television in every home, and with critical thinking skills in decline, restructuring societal memories even without much attention from the secret police seems possible. ~Carl Sagan
As soon as man does not take his existence for granted, but beholds it as something unfathomably mysterious, thought begins. ~Albert Schweitzer
We are such things as dreams are made on. ~William Shakespeare
No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking. ~Voltaire
Enjoy life. There’s plenty of time to be dead. ~Hans Christian Andersen
Pass then through this little space of time conformably to nature and end thy journey in content, just as an olive falls off when it is ripe, blessing nature who produced it, and thanking the tree on which it grew. ~Marcus Aurelius
The chief beauty about time is that you cannot waste it in advance. The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you, as perfect, as unspoiled, as if you had never wasted or misapplied a single moment in all your life. You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose. ~Arnold Bennett
Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them. ~Dion Boucicault
Dost thou love life, then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.
Yesterday is but today’s memory, and tomorrow is today’s dream. ~Kahlil Gibran
It is looking at things for a long time that ripens you and gives you a deeper meaning. ~Vincent van Gogh
If you start the day reading the obituaries, you live your day a little differently.
We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there. ~Pascal Mercier
The strangeness of Time. Not in its passing . . . but in the sudden realization that something finite has passed, and is irretrievable. ~Joyce Carol Oates
Our minds may occupy just a small spatial volume in the universe, but mind/time interaction during this historical era of consciousness is pregnant with significance and possibility. Now is the time of awareness and experience. It is the time of progress and evolution. It is the time of your life. ~Lawrence Rifkin
Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. ~Carl Sandburg
The closing years of life are like the end of a masquerade party, when the masks are dropped. ~Arthur Schopenhauer
As if you could kill time without injuring eternity. ~Henry David Thoreau
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run. ~Henry David Thoreau
For aeons, time was not the measure but rather the form of human days, years, and lives. Each was an arc having beautiful words that named its parts: morning, noon, and night; spring, summer, fall, and winter; childhood, maturity, and old age…The parts of a human life are not temporal; they cannot be measured with clocks and watches. They are activities and powers, different kinds of things to do and be….Mixed together, they make a life lovely; regimented or required, time itself becomes a prison. ~Charles Van Doren
All the tragedies which we can imagine, return in the end to the one and only tragedy: the passage of time. ~Simone Weil
The present is the ever moving shadow that divides yesterday from tomorrow. In that lies hope. ~Frank Lloyd WrightEverywhere, imperceptibly or otherwise, things are passing, ending, going. And there will be other summers, other band concerts, but never this one, never again, never as now. Next year I will not be the self of this year now. And that is why I laugh at the transient, the ephemeral; laugh, while clutching, holding, tenderly, like a fool his toy, cracked glass, water through fingers. ~ Sylvia Plath
Intolerance is the natural concomitant of strong faith; tolerance grows only when faith loses certainty; certainty is murderous. ~Will Durant
If human life is again to become tolerable, mankind must acquire two things which are at present increasingly disappearing: loving kindness and scientific impartiality. These two things are inter-connected. At present, in every country, the schools teach a narrow nationalism and a view of history quite different from that taught in any other country. There is no scientific impartiality, and the departures from impartiality are such as to diminish loving kindness between nations. ~ Bertrand Russell
What prepares men for the totalitarian domination in the non-totalitarian world is the fact that loneliness, once a borderline experience usually suffered in certain marginal social conditions like old age, has become an everyday experience of the evergrowing masses of our century. The merciless process into which totalitarianism drives and organizes the masses looks like a suicidal escape from this reality. ~Hannah Arendt
As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air—however slight—lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. ~William Orville Douglas
I believe in transhumanism: once there are enough people who can truly say that, the human species will be on the threshold of a new kind of existence, as different from ours as ours is from that of Peking man. It will at last be consciously fulfilling its real destiny. ~Julian Huxley
TRAVEL (PHYSICAL OR MENTAL)
To travel is to live. ~Hans Christian Andersen
Wherever you go, go with all your heart. ~Confucius
A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places. ~Isabelle Eberhard
The journey is the destination. ~Dan Eldon
Once a year go somewhere you’ve never been before. ~Dalai Lama
Not all who wander are lost. ~J. R. R. Tolkien
If we were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots instead of feet. ~Rachel Wolchin
the search for the truth is the noblest occupation of man; its publication is a duty.
~ Madame de Stael
God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please, — you can never have both. Between these, as a pendulum, man oscillates. He in whom the love of repose predominates will accept the first creed, the first philosophy, the first political party he meets, — most likely his father’s. He gets rest, commodity, and reputation; but he shuts the door of truth. He in whom the love of truth predominates will keep himself aloof from all moorings, and afloat. He will abstain from dogmatism, and recognize all the opposite negations, between which, as walls, his being is swung. He submits to the inconvenience of suspense and imperfect opinion, but he is a candidate for truth, as the other is not, and respects the highest law of his being. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
In war, truth is the first casualty. ~Aeschylus
Truth is the greatest secret of eloquence and of virtue, the basis of moral authority; it is the highest summit of art and life. ~Henri Frederic Amiel
There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth: not going all the way, and not starting. ~Anonymous
“The truth be told….” That admonition has faint resonance within our public discourse today. Candor, veracity and conviction are rarely delivered nor are they expected. Artifice and contrivance rule our thoughts. Terms of reference are conveniently obscured, facts are noted or misstated at whim. Virtual reality so eclipses actual reality as to make the very notion of truth infinitely elastic. As a consequence, we collectively have become literally mindless.
Ceaseless image-mongering, laxness among the populace that is it’s target, and a pandering fourth estate together have degraded the way we think and behave in the public realm. Our ultra-permissive culture gives license to public figures to say just about anything without being held to account – by ethical, political, or aesthetic standards. All democracies generate enormous amounts of trash. That is especially so in America. The key to a healthy democratic policy is to provide shoveling capacity to match. We no longer do. Therefore, it becomes every caring citizen’s responsibility to grab a shovel.
A credulous mind … finds most delight in believing strange things, and the stranger they are the easier they pass with him; but never regards those that are plain and feasible, for every man can believe such. ~Samuel Butler
If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life, you doubt, as far as possible, all things. ~Rene Descartes
It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. ~Arthur Conan Doyle
Nothing is too wonderful to be true. ~Michael Faraday
Truth springs from argument amongst friends. ~David Hume
…in matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it can carry you without other considerations… do not pretend the conclusions are certain that are not demonstrated or demonstrable. It is wrong for a man to say he is certain of the objective truth of a proposition unless he can produce evidence which logically justifies that certainty.
~T. H. Huxley
One unerring mark of the love of truth is not entertaining any proposition with greater assurance than the proofs it is built upon will warrant. ~John Locke
Truth emerges from the clash of adverse ideas. ~John Stuart Mill
The main thing that I learned about conspiracy theory is that conspiracy theorists actually believe in a conspiracy because that is more comforting. The truth of the world is that it is chaotic. The truth is, that it is not the Jewish banking conspiracy or the grey aliens or the 12 foot reptiloids from another dimension that are in control. The truth is more frightening, nobody is in control. The world is rudderless. ~Alan Moore
Insight, untested and unsupported, is an insufficient guarantee of truth. ~Bertrand Russell
It is morally as bad not to care whether a thing is true or not, so long as it makes you feel good, as it is not to care how you got your money as long as you have got it.
~Edmund Way Teale
Truth is more of a stranger than fiction. ~Mark Twain
But as for certain truth, no man has known it,
Nor will he know it; neither of the gods,
Nor yet of all the things of which I speak.
And even if by chance he were to utter
The final truth, he would himself not know it;
For all is but a woven web of guesses. ~Zenophanes
It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it. ~Upton Sinclair
I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them. ~Baruch Spinoza
I opened my heart to the benign indifference of the universe. ~Albert Camus
Out yonder there was this huge world… which stands before us like a great eternal riddle. ~Albert Einstein
My own suspicion is that the universe is not only stranger than we suppose, but stranger than we can suppose. ~John B. Haldane
We are the frontal lobes of the Universe. ~Carl Sagan
[Vanity] is an unrecognised form of stupidity, you have to forget the cosmic meaninglessness of all our acts to be able to be vain and that’s a glaring form of stupidity. ~Pascal Mercier
Unless we can so enlarge our interests as to include the whole outer world, we remain like a garrison in a beleaguered fortress, knowing that the enemy prevents escape and that ultimate surrender is inevitable. In such a life there is no peace, but a constant strife between the insistence of desire and the powerlessness of will. In one way or another, if our life is to be great and free, we must escape this prison and this strife. ~Bertrand Russell
The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation …(their) vision does not penetrate the surface of things. ~Henry David Thoreau
To carry out a war of aggression is the supreme international crime which encompasses all the evil that follows. ~Noam Chomsky
The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles…. ~Eugene Debs
The plain truth is that people want war. They want it anyhow; for itself; and apart from each and every possible consequence. It is the final bouquet of life’s fireworks. The born soldiers want it hot and actual. The non-combatants want it in the background, and always as an open possibility, to feed imagination on and keep excitement going. ~ William James
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children … This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from an iron cross. ~Dwight D. Eisenhower
Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger. ~Herman Goering
Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.
The strength of a civilization is not measured by its ability to fight wars, but rather by its ability to prevent them. ~Gene Roddenberry
War is the form nostalgia takes when men are hard-pressed to say something good about their country ~Roy Scranton
In going to war, it is a common mistake to begin at the wrong end: to act first, and wait for disaster to discuss the matter. ~Thucydides
Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely 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 that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it. ~Buddha
What, then, is to be done? To make the best of what is in our power, and take the rest as it naturally happens. ~Epictetus
Imagination disposes of everything; it creates beauty, justice, happiness, which is everything in the world. ~Blaise Pascal
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ~Mark Twain
A wise man sees as much as he ought, not as much as he can. ~ Michel de Montaigne
“Good Sir, you are an Athenian, a citizen of the greatest city with the greatest reputation for both wisdom and power; are you not ashamed of your eagerness to possess as much wealth, reputation, and honors as possible, while you do not care for nor give thought to wisdom or truth, or the best possible state of your soul?” ~ Plato (The Apology)
Nothing is too wonderful to be true. ~Michael Faraday
This feeling of wonder is the touchstone of the philosopher, and all philosophy has its origins in wonder. ~Plato
But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think. ~Lord Byron
That words could cause something in the world, make someone move or stop, laugh or cry: even as a child he had found it extraordinary and it never stopped impressing him. How did words do that? Wasn’t it like magic? ~Pascal Mercier
Most people…still cling to what I call the rearview-mirror view of their world. By this I mean to say that because of the invisibility of any environment during the period of its innovation, man is only consciously aware of the environment that has preceded it; in other words, an environment becomes fully visible only when it has been superseded by a new environment; thus we are always one step behind in our view of the world.
Learn as much by writing as by reading. ~Lord Acton
Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.
~ Francis Bacon
I don’t know what I think until I see myself write. ~Annie Dillard
We are born into a box of time and space. We use words and communication to break out of it and to reach out to others. ~Roger Ebert
The writer of today, if he is truly alive, is someone who suffers and worries at the sight of reality. He is led to cooperate with all the still surviving powers of light to advance man’s burdensome destiny a little. The modern writer, if he is true to his mission, is a fighter. ~Nikos Kazantzakis
I feel assured I should write from the mere yearning and fondness I have for the Beautiful even if my night’s labours should be burnt every morning, and no eye ever shine upon them. ~John Keats
Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen — in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all — and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money. ~George Orwell
But surpassing all stupendous inventions, what sublimity of mind was his who dreamed of finding means to communicate his deepest thoughts to any other person, though distant by mighty intervals of place and time! Of talking with those who are in India; of speaking to those who are not yet born and will not be born for a thousand or ten thousand years; and with what facility, by the different arrangement of twenty characters upon a page! ~Sagredo
The relation of word to thought, and the creation of new concepts, is a complex, delicate, and enigmatic process unfolding in our soul. ~Leo Tolstoy
I write to understand as much as to be understood. ~Elie Wiesel
Young philosophers because they are made to specialize immediately on entering the university in a discipline which the greatest thinkers in the history of philosophy have entered only after years of scientific investigations, believe they have immediate access to the highest regions of knowledge, when neither they nor sometimes their teachers have the least experience of what it is to acquire and verify a specific piece of knowledge.
YOUTH AND MATURITY
To refuse ever to deny your youth, right up to extreme old age, to battle all life long to transubstantiate your adolescent flowering into a fruit-laden tree – that, I believe, is the road of the fulfilled man. ~ Nikos Kazantzakis
Youth is often too sure of its future. The imagination paints the vision of success and fortune in the rosiest tints; the sufferings and disappointments of which one hears are for youth but the exception which proves the rule; the instinctive and blind faith of youth is in the relative happiness of some form of external success. Maturity, on the other hand, has often learned to be content with scraps and fragments, wretched crumbs saved out of the disasters on which its early hopes suffered shipwreck. Youth pursues an ideal that is illusory; age has learned, O wretched wisdom! to do without an ideal altogether. But the ideal is there … and no mirages of happiness or clouds of disappointment, not the stupor of habit or the frivolity of thoughtlessness, can entirely erase the sense of it from the depths of the soul. ~David Swenson