of the Philosophers
Just the famous words
"There is nothing so absurd but some philosopher has said it." Cicero
Edited by Glyn Hughes © 2012
Solon (the Lawgiver) c640 - c556 BC Statesman of Athens, writer of its compassionate legal code.
Wrongdoing can only be avoided if those who are not wronged feel the same indignation at it as those who are. Greek Wit (F. Paley)
Speech is the image of actions;... that laws were like cobwebs, for that if any trifling or powerless thing fell into them, they held it fast; while if it were something weightier, it broke through them and was off. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (Diogenes Laertius)
Consider your honour, as a gentleman, of more weight than an oath. Never tell a lie. Pay attention to matters of importance. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (Diogenes Laertius)
As some say, Solon was the author of the apophthegm, "Nothing in excess." Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (Diogenes Laertius)
Thales c624-547 BC Astronomer, physicist and pioneer of analytic philosophy from Miletus
Thales said there was no difference between life and death. "Why, then," said some one to him, "do not you die?" "Because," said he, "it does make no difference." Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (Diogenes Laertius)
When Thales was asked what was difficult, he said, "To know one's self." And what was easy, "To advise another." Ib
He said that men ought to remember those friends who were absent as well as those who were present. Ib
The apophthegm "Know thyself" is his. Ib
Anaximander c610-546 BC Astronomer and thinker of Miletus, a pupil of Thales
Anaximander used to assert that the primary cause of all things was the Infinite,-not defining exactly whether he meant air or water or anything else. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (Diogenes Laertius)
Xenophanes c570-475 BC Poet and sage of Colophon.
It takes a wise man to discover a wise man. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (Diogenes Laertius)
Confucius Kung-fu-tzu or Kong Zi c551-479 BC The impecunious teacher and civil servant from Shangdong whose compassionate ideas were eventually adopted by the Chinese state. All quotations are from his Analects.
One who knows and knows he knows is a wise man, Follow Him
One who knows and knows not he knows is asleep, Awaken him
One who knows not and knows he knows not is a child, Teach him
One who knows not and knows not he knows not is a Fool, Avoid him Attributed.
When you meet someone better than yourself, turn your thoughts to becoming his equal. When you meet someone not as good as you are, look within and examine your own self. Analects
Men's natures are alike; it is their habits that carry them far apart. Analects
Study the past, if you would divine the future. Analects
Learning without thought is labour lost; thought without learning is perilous. Analects
Fine words and an insinuating appearance are seldom associated with true virtue. Analects
Have no friends not equal to yourself. Analects
When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them. Analects
To be able to practise five things everywhere under heaven constitutes perfect virtue...gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness. Analects
The superior man is satisfied and composed; the mean man is always full of distress. Analects
The people may be made to follow a course of action, but they may not be made to understand it. Analects
Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness. Analects
The superior man is distressed by his want of ability. Analects
What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others Analects
All men are born good. Analects
Oppressive government is more dreadful than a tiger. Analects
Like the heart of the wise, a mirror reflects all things, but remains unchanged. Analects
Study the past if you wish to know the future. Analects
The Scholar who wishes comfort, is not fit to be called a scholar. Analects
Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. Analects
They must often change who would be constant in happiness or wisdom. Analects
What the wise seek is in themselves, what the fool seeks is in others. Analects
For the sake of one word a man is judged wise or foolish. Take care in what you say. Analects
Cowardice is seeing what is right, and failing to do it. Analects
Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without. Analects
Lao Tze c550BC Lao Tze (the 'Old Teacher') reputedly wrote the Taosit (or Daoist) classic Tao Te Ching in a single night as he left China for the West.
The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. Nameless is the source of heaven.
Beauty is seen only because of ugliness, good by evil.
Not exalting avoids quarrelling. Not coveting avoids theft.
Well-being is in not doing.
Water is like the Tao. It flows in secret places and gives life.
Oversharpen a blade and it will soon blunt. Retire when the work is done.
It is the centre hole that makes the wheel useful.
Shape clay into a vessel. It is the space within that gives it worth.
Cut holes for windows for a room. It is the holes that make value.
Therefore profit comes from what is there. Usefulness from what is not there.
Accept disgrace. Accept being unimportant. The body is source of misfortune.
The great Tao nourishes the ten thousand things. Yet it is small.
The ten thousand things return to it. It is very great.
It does not show greatness. And therefore is truly great.
He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.
Pursuing learning, something is acquired every day. Pursuing Tao, it is dropped.
In the universe great acts are made up of small deeds.
When men lack a sense of awe, there will be disaster.
Heaven's net is cast wide. Though its mesh is coarse, nothing slips through.
Man is born gentle and weak. In death he is hard and stiff.
Green plants are tender. At death they are withered and dry.
Stiff and unbending is death. Gentle and yielding is life.
The more the wise man gives to others the greater is his abundance.
Pythagoras c550BC Mathematician and mystic from the island of Samos
Do not stir the fire with a sword. Do not sit down on a bushel. Do not devour thy heart. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (Diogenes Laertius)
Number is the ruler of forms and ideas, and the cause of gods and demons. Iamblichus
The soul is a kind of harmony, for harmony is a blend of contraries, and the body is compounded out of contraries Aristotle
Heraclitus c535-475 BC The gloomy 'weeping philosopher' who thought the world is in a ceaseless state of flux.
Everything flows and nothing stays. Cratylus (Plato)
You can't step twice into the same river. Cratylus (Plato)
Empedocles c490-430 BC Sicilian who thought that all is made from earth, air, fire and water
God is a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. Attributed.
For wisdom increases in men according to what is before them. Metaphysics - Aristotle
I go about you an immortal god, honoured among all as is meet, crowned with flowery garlands...both men and women do reverence to me, some desiring oracles, some, suffering the grievous pangs of sickness, beg to hear my words of healing. Attributed.
Protagoras c485-415 BC Travelling teacher of Aldera who held that nothing can be known other than human knowledge itself.
Man is the measure of all things, and that things are to me as they appear to me, and that they are to you as they appear to you. Cratylus - Plato
I, above all other men, am bound to say that wisdom and knowledge are the highest of human things. Protagoras - Plato
Socrates c469-399 BC Philosopher who taught in the marketplace in Athens - he wrote nothing himself but is known from the writings of his disciples, Xenophon and Plato. Charged with corrupting youth and atheism, he was condemned to death.
The philosopher is wholly unacquainted with his next-door neighbour; he is ignorant, not only of what he is doing, but he hardly knows whether he is a man or an animal; he is searching into the essence of man. Theaetetus (Plato)
How many things I can do without! (Examining the range of goods on sale at a market) Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (Diogenes Laertius)
There is only one good, namely, knowledge; and one only evil, namely, ignorance. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (Diogenes Laertius)
Those who want fewest things are nearest to the gods. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (Diogenes Laertius)
Whichever you do, you will repent it. (When asked whether it was better to marry or not) Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (Diogenes Laertius)
I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world. Of Banishment (Plutarch)
Are not we the cup-bearers? and here are two fountains which are flowing at our side: one, which is pleasure, may be likened to a fountain of honey; the other, wisdom, a sober draught in which no wine mingles, is of water unpleasant but healthful; out of these we must seek to make the fairest of all possible mixtures. Philebus (Plato)
Nothing can harm a good man, either in life or after death. Apology (Plato)
The unexamined life is not worth living. Apology (Plato)
Either death is a state of nothingness and utter unconsciousness, or, as men say, there is a change and migration of the soul from this world to another. Now if you suppose that there is no consciousness, but a sleep like the sleep of him who is undisturbed even by the sight of dreams, death will be an unspeakable gain. Apology (Plato)
But already it is time to depart, for me to die, for you to go on living; which of us takes the better course, is concealed from anyone except God. Apology (Plato)
Men of Athens, I honour and love you; but I shall obey God rather than you, and while I have life and strength I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy Apology (Plato)
The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways - I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows. Apology (Plato)
Crito, we owe a cock to Aesculapius; please pay it and don't let it pass. (Last words before his execution by drinking hemlock) Phaedo (Plato)
Plato 429-347 BC A disciple of Socrates and teacher of Aristotle, founder of the first university (the Academy) in Athens.
Time is the image of eternity. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (Diogenes Laertius)
Virtue is sufficient of herself for happiness. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (Diogenes Laertius)
There is a written and an unwritten law. The one by which we regulate our constitutions in our cities is the written law; that which arises from custom is the unwritten law. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (Diogenes Laertius)
He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing Apology
The good is the beautiful. Lysis
You must consider this too, that we are born, each of us, not for ourselves alone but partly for our country, partly for our parents and partly for our friends. Epistles
Our object in the construction of the state is the greatest happiness of the whole, and not that of any one class. Republic
How then may we devise one of those needful falsehoods of which we lately spoke -just one royal lie which may deceive the rulers, if that be possible, and at any rate the rest of the city? ...Citizens, we shall say to them in our tale, you are brothers, yet God has framed you differently. Republic
Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils, -nor the human race, as I believe, -and then only will this our State have a possibility of life and behold the light of day. Republic
Democracy passes into despotism. Republic
And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: -Behold! human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets....And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow? ...To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images. ...And now look again, and see what will naturally follow it' the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows. Republic
Poets utter great and wise things which they do not themselves understand. Republic
Hearing of enormous landed proprietors of ten thousand acres and more, our philosopher deems this to be a trifle, because he has been accustomed to think of the whole earth. Theaetetus
Let no one ignorant of mathematics enter here. Inscription written over the entrance to the Academy
Diogenes of Sinope c412-322 BC Aescetic Corinthian former slave.
If I were running in the stadium, ought I to slacken my pace when approaching the goal? Ought I not rather put on speed? Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (Diogenes Laertius)
I do not know whether there are gods, but there ought to be. Ad Nationes
I am Diogenes the Cynic, called a dog because I fawn on those who give me anything, I yelp at those who refuse, and I set my teeth in rascals. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (Diogenes Laertius)
The foundation of every state is the education of its youth. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (Diogenes Laertius)
Aristotle 384-322 BC Stagirian philosopher and scientist, a disciple of Plato and tutor to Alexander the Great, he founded the Lyceum school in Athens.
What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (Diogenes Laertius)
Education is bitter, but the fruits are sweet Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (Diogenes Laertius)
What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing. Nicomachean Ethics
The man who gets angry at the right things and with the right people, and in the right way and at the right time and for the right length of time, is commended. Nicomachean Ethics
Obstinate people can be divided into the opinionated, the ignorant, and the boorish. Nicomachean Ethics
Now a whole is that which has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Poetics
For this reason poetry is something more philosophical and more worthy of serious attention than history. Poetics
Man is by nature a political animal. Politics
He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god. Politics
Where some people are very wealthy and others have nothing, the result will be either extreme democracy or absolute oligarchy, or despotism will come from either of those excesses. Politics
Inferiors revolt in order that they may be equal, and equals that they may be superior. Such is the state of mind which creates revolutions. Politics
Plato is dear to me, but dearer still is truth. Attributed.
Mencius (Mengzi or Meng-tzu) 371-289 BC Shantung-born Chinese follower of Confucius.
A man's surroundings transform his air just as the food he eats changes his body.
Do not do what you do not do; do not desire what you do not desire. That is all.
If you wear the clothes of Yao, speak the words of Yao and behave the way Yao behaved, then you are a Yao. On the other hand, if you wear the clothes of Chieh, speak the words of Chieh and behave the way Chieh behaved, then you are a Chieh. That is all.
What is common to all hearts? Reason and rightness.
Heaven does not speak but reveals itself through its acts and deeds.
When joy arises how can one stop it?
The heart of compassion is the germ of benevolence.
There was a man from Sung who pulled at his rice plants because he was worried about their failure to grow.
If you fail to understand words, do not worry about this in your heart; and if you fail to understand in your heart, do not seek satisfaction in your spirit.
Chuang-Tse (or Chuangtse) c369-286BC The clever and witty storyteller of Taoism
Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man. Between a man and a butterfly there is necessarily a distinction. The transition is called the transformation of material things.
Euclid c360-280 BC Greek geometer, whose Elements described all shape from simple first principles.
Quod erat demonstrandum (Which was to be proved.) Elements
There is no royal road to geometry. (Said to Ptolemy I when asked if there were an easier way to solve theorems ) Comment on Euclid (Proclus)
Epicurus 341-270 BC Teacher from Samos who held that the greatest good was pleasure attained by tranquillity and detachment.
Ergo vivida vis animi pervicit, et extra,
Processit longe flammantia moenia mundi,
Atque omne immensum peragravit, mente animoque.
(So the vital energy of his mind prevailed, and he ventured far beyond the flaming walls of the world and traversed the immensity of the universe in his mind and imagination) Said of Epicurus by Titus Lucretius in De Rerum Natura
Death is nothing to us; for that which has been dissolved into its elements experiences no sensations, and that which has no sensation is nothing to us. Principal Doctrines (also known as Sovran Maxims)
The wealth required by nature is limited and is easy to procure; but the wealth required by vain ideals extends to infinity. Ib.
If you fight against all your sensations, you will have no standard to which to refer, and thus no means of judging even those sensations which you claim are false. Ib.
Of all the means which wisdom acquires to ensure happiness throughout the whole of life, by far the most important is friendship. Ib.
Natural justice is a pledge of reciprocal benefit, to prevent one man from harming or being harmed by another. Ib.
There never was such a thing as absolute justice, but only agreements made in mutual dealings among men in whatever places at various times providing against the infliction or suffering of harm. Ib.
In general justice is the same for all, for it is something found mutually beneficial in men's dealings, but in its application to particular places or other circumstances the same thing is not necessarily just for everyone. Ib.
It is impossible for a man who secretly violates the terms of the agreement not to harm or be harmed to feel confident that he will remain undiscovered, even if he has already escaped ten thousand times; for until his death he is never sure that he will not be detected. Ib.
Cicero, Marcus Tullius 106-43 BC Roman consul, orator and statesman who dared to oppose Caesar.
Sed nescio quod modo nihil tam absurde dicti potest quod non dicatur ab aliquo philosophorum. (There is nothing so absurd but some philosopher has said it.) De Divinatione
Salus populi suprema est lex. (The good of the people is the supreme law) De Legibus
O tempora ! O mores ! (What times! What customs!) Catilinam
Numquam se minus otiosum esse quam cum otiosus, nec minus solum quam cum solus esset (Never less idle that than when free from work, nor less lonely than when completely alone) De Officiis
Mens cuiusque is est quisque (The spirit is the true self) De Republica
Nervos belli, pecuniam infinitam. (The sinews of war, unlimited money.) Philippic
Errare mehercule malo cum Platone, ... quam cum istis vera sentire. (I would rather be wrong with Plato ... than right with such men as these.) Tusculanae Disputationes
Socrates was the first to call philosophy down from the heavens and to place it in cities, and even to introduce it into homes and compel it to enquire about life and standards and good and ill. Tusculanae Disputationes
Lucretius (Titus Lucretius Carus) c95-55 BC Roman poet whose book On the Nature of the Universe explains the philosophy of Epicurus.
Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum. (So potent a persuasion to evil was religion) On the Nature of the Universe
Nil posse creari de nilo (Nothing can be created out of nothing.) On the Nature of the Universe
Stillicidi casus lapidem cavat. (The fall of drip after drip hollows out the stone) On the Nature of the Universe
Augescunt aliae gentes, aliae minuuntur, inque brevi spatio mutantur saecla animantum et quasi cursores vitai lampada tradunt. (Some groups increase, others diminish, and in a short time the generations of living things pass, and like runners hand on the torch of life.) On the Nature of the Universe
Ut quod ali cibus est aliis faut acre venenum (One man's meat is another man's poison.) On the Nature of the Universe
Medio de fonte leporum, Surgit amari aliquid quod in floribus angat. (From the midst of the fountain of delights rises something bitter, which is a torment even among the flowers) On the Nature of the Universe
Seneca (Lucius Annaeus Seneca) c4 BC-65 AD Roman statesman, playwright, tutor to Nero and author of philosophical essays.
Nil melius aeterna lex fecit, quam quod unum introitum nobis ad vitam dedit, exitus multos (Eternal law has arranged nothing better than this, that it has given us one way in to life, but many ways out) Epistulae Morales
Victima haud ulla amplior
Potest magisque opima mactari lovi
Quam rex iniquus (There can be slain no sacrifice more acceptable to God than an unjust king) Hercules Furens
The body is not a permanent dwelling, but a sort of inn (with a brief sojourn at that) which is to be left behind when one perceives that one is a burden to the host. Epistulae ad Lucilium
Epictetus c60-110 AD Epictetus (c. 60-110 AD) Stoic philosopher. His teaching was recorded by his pupil Arrian in Discourses and in the Enchiridon.
Don't demand that things happen as you wish, but wish that they happen as they do happen, and you will go on well. Enchiridion
If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid with regard to external things. Don't wish to be thought to know anything; and even if you appear to be somebody important to others, distrust yourself. Ib.
Remember that you are an actor in a drama, of such a kind as the author pleases to make it. If short, of a short one; if long, of a long one. If it is his pleasure you should act a poor man, a cripple, a governor, or a private person, see that you act it naturally. For this is your business, to act well the character assigned you; to choose it is another's. Ib.
If you have an earnest desire of attaining to philosophy, prepare yourself from the very first to be laughed at, to be sneered by the multitude Ib.
If you hear that someone is speaking ill of you, instead of trying to defend yourself you should say: 'He obviously does not know me very well, since there are so many other faults he could have mentioned'. Ib.
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus 121-180 AD Roman emperor from161 to180, writer of 12 books of Stoic aphorisms.
Whatever this is that I am, it is a little flesh and breath, and the ruling part. Meditations
And thou wilt give thyself relief, if thou doest every act of thy life as if it were the last. Meditations
Remember that no man loses any other life than this which he now lives, nor lives any other than this which he now loses. Meditations
All things from eternity are of like forms and come round in a circle. Meditations
The universe is transformation; our life is what our thoughts make it. Meditations
Everything that happens happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so. Meditations
Everything is only for a day, both that which remembers and that which is remembered. Meditations
Time is like a river made up of the events which happen, and its current is strong; no sooner does anything appear than it is swept away, and another comes in its place, and will be swept away too. Meditations
Nothing happens to any man that he is not formed by nature to bear. Meditations
Live with the gods. And he does so who constantly shows them that his soul is satisfied with what is assigned to him. Meditations
Remember that to change your mind and follow him who sets you right is to be none the less free than you were before. Meditations
Whatever may happen to you was prepared for you from all eternity; and the implication of causes was from eternity spinning the thread of your being. Meditations
Plotinus (205-270 AD) Egyptian sage who developed Plato's mysticism into neo-platonism.
It is bad enough to be condemned to drag around this image in which nature has imprisoned me. Why should I consent to the perpetuation of the image of this image? Refusing to have his portrait painted. Attributed.
Augustine of Hippo, Saint (354-430 AD) North African Bishop.
Da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo (Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.) Confessions
Sero te amavi, pulchritudo tam antiqua et tam nova, sero te amavi. Et ecce intus eras et ego foris, et Ibi te quaerebam. (Too late I came to you, O beauty both so ancient and so fresh, too late I came to love you. And behold, you were within me and I was out of myself, and there I was searching for you.) Ib.
Here all are equal in thy spiritual grace where, as far as sex is concerned, there is neither male nor female, just as there is neither Jew nor Greek, nor bond nor free Ib.
Multi quidem facilius se abstinent ut non utantur, quam temperent ut bene utantur. (Many find it easier to abstain totally than to use moderation) De bono Conjugali (The Good Marriage)
Ama et fac quod vis. (Love, and do as you wish) In Joannis
Salus extra ecclesiam non est.
There is no salvation outside the church. De Baptismo
We make ourselves a ladder out of our vices if we trample the vices themselves underfoot. Sermons
Boethius, Anicius Manlius Severinus c480-524 AD Roman statesman and scholar who translated Aristotle and wrote on theology, music and mathematics.
In omni adversitate fortunae infelicissimum est genus infortunii, fuisse felicem (Of all misfortunes, the worst of all is to have been happy) De Consolatione Philosophiae (The Consolations of Philosophy)
Nihil est miserum nisi cum putes; contraque beata sors omnis est aequanimatate tolerantis. (Nothing is miserable unless you think it so, conversely, every lot is happy if you are content with it) Ib.
Quis legem dat amantibus? Major lex amor est sibi. (Who can give law to lovers, love is a law unto itself) Ib.
John Scotus Eriugena c800-c877 AD Irish theologian who reintroduced Plato to the West.
Authority proceeds from true reason, but reason certainly does not proceed from authority. De Divisione Naturae
True philosophy is the true religion, and reciprocally that the true religion is the true philosophy. De Divina Praedestinatione
No one enters heaven except through philosophy. Annotationes in Marciam
Avicenna Ibn Sina 980-1037 Persian physician, author of encyclopaedias of philosophy (the Ash-Shifa) and of Medicine.
Writing about erotics is a perfectly respectable function of medicine, and about the way to make the woman enjoy sex; these are an important part of reproductive physiology. Quoted in 'Sex in Society' (Alex Comfort)
Aquinas, Saint Thomas c1225-74 Italian Dominican theologian and philosopher.
Human law is law only by virtue of its accordance with right reason, and by this means it is clear that it flows from Eternal law. In so far as it deviates from right reason it is called an Unjust law; and in such a case, it is no law at all, but rather an assertion of violence. Summa theologica
Beauty adds to goodness a relation to the cognitive faculty: so that "good" means that which simply pleases the appetite; while the "beautiful" is something pleasant to apprehend. Ib
William of Ockham c1285-1349 English Franciscan monk - the 'Invincible Doctor'
Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate (Plurality must never be posited without necessity) On Petri Lombardi
Frustra fit per plura quod potest fieri per pauciora (It is futile to do with more things that which can be done with fewer) Summa Totius Logicae
(This principle, known as 'Occam's Razor', a way of cutting the unnecessary out of philosophy)
Charron, Pierre 1541-1603 French theologian.
Le vraye science et la vray estude de l'homme, c'est l'homme. (The true science and the real study of humanity is man) De la Sagesse
Bruno, Giordano 1548-1600 Italian Dominican who was executed as a heretic for discussing philosophy.
Perhaps your fear in passing judgement is greater than mine in receiving it. (Said to the cardinals who excommunicated him) Attributed.
Bacon, Francis (1561-1626) Lord chancellor of England, dismissed for corruption, an early advocate of logical reasoning.
For all knowledge and wonder (which is the seed of knowledge) is an impression of pleasure in itself. The Advancement of Learning
If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts, but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties. The Advancement of Learning
They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea. The Advancement of Learning
Just as it is always said of slander that something always sticks when people boldly slander, so it might be said of self-praise (if it is not entirely shameful and ridiculous) that if we praise ourselves fearlessly, something will always stick. The Advancement of Learning
One of the Seven was wont to say: 'That laws were like cobwebs; where the small flies were caught, and the great brake through.' Apothegms
I have often thought upon death, and I find it the least of all evils. An Essay on Death
I do not believe that any man fears to be dead, but only the stroke of death. An Essay on Death
Prosperity doth best discover vice; but adversity doth best discover virtue. Essays - Of Adversity
Virtue is like a rich stone, best plain set. Essays - Of Beauty
There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion. Essays - Of Beauty
There is in human nature generally more of the fool than of the wise. Essays - Of Boldness
Mahomet made the people believe that he would call a hill to him...when the hill stood still, he was never a whit abashed, but said, If the hill will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet will go to the hill. Essays - Of Boldness
A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds. Essays - Of Ceremonies and Respects
When he wrote a letter, he would put that which was most material in the postscript, as if it had been a by-matter. Essays - Of Cunning
Men fear death, as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other. Essays - Of Death
It is as natural to die as to be born; and to a little infant, perhaps, the one is as painful as the other. Essays - Of Death
To choose time is to save time. Essays - Of Dispatch
Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god. Essays - Of Friendship
In charity there is no excess. Essays - Of Goodness, and Goodness of Nature
As in nature things move violently to their place and calmly in their place, so virtue in ambition is violent, in authority settled and calm. Essays - Of Great Place
He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils: for time is the greatest innovator. Essays - Of Innovations
The place of justice is a hallowed place. Essays - Of Judicature
He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief. Essays - Of Marriage and the Single Life
Nature is often hidden, sometimes overcome, seldom extinguished. Essays - Of Nature in Men
The joys of parents are secret, and so are their griefs and fears. Essays - Of Parents and Children
Fame is like a river, that beareth up things light and swollen, and drowns things weighty and solid. Essays - Of Praise
Dreams and predictions ought to serve but for winter talk by the fireside. Essays - Of Prophecies
A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green. Essays - Of Revenge
Money is like muck, not good except it be spread. Essays - Of Seditions and Troubles
The remedy is worse than the disease. Essays - Of Seditions and Troubles
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. Essays - Of Studies
It were better to have no opinion of God at all, than such an opinion as is unworthy of him. Essays - Of Superstition
All colours will agree in the dark. Essays - Of Unity in Religion
Books must follow sciences, and not sciences books. Proposition touching Amendment of Laws
Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est. (Knowledge itself is power.) Religious Meditations - Of Heresies
I have taken all knowledge to be my province. Letter to Lord Burleigh, 1592
Hobbes, Thomas (1588-1679) English theorist of politics and of human nature.
The condition of man...is a condition of war of everyone against everyone. Leviathan
True and False are attributes of speech, not of things. And where speech is not, there is neither Truth nor Falsehood. Leviathan
They that approve a private opinion, call it opinion; but they that mislike it, heresy: and yet heresy signifies no more than private opinion. Leviathan
No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Leviathan
The only way to erect such a common power, as may be able to defend them from the invasion of foreigners, and the injuries of one another...is, to confer all their power and strength upon one man, or upon one assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills, by plurality of voices, unto one will...This is the generation of that great Leviathan, or rather (to speak more reverently) of that Mortal God, to which we owe under the Immortal God, our peace and defence. Leviathan
They that are discontented under monarchy, call it tyranny; and they that are displeased with aristocracy, call it oligarchy: so also, they which find themselves grieved under a democracy, call it anarchy, which signifies the want of government; and yet I think no man believes, that want of government, is any new kind of government. Leviathan
I am about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark. Last words
Descartes, Rene (1596-1650) French mathematician whose works began the modern philosophical method of looking into the nature of the mind itself.
Le bon sens est la chose du monde la mieux partagée, car chacun pense en être bien pourvu. (Common sense is the best distributed thing in the world, for we all think we possess a good share of it) Le Discours de la methode
Cogito, ergo sum. (I think, therefore I am.) Ib.
La lecture de tous les bons livres est comme une conversation avec les plus honnêtes gens des siècles passés. (The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest men of past centuries.) Ib.
But the need to get things done does not always leave us the leisure time for careful inquiry, one must believe that the life of a man is vulnerable to errors regarding particular things, and we must acknowledge the infirmity of our nature. Meditations
Pascal, Blaise 1623-62 French mathematician and religious thinker.
Not to care for philosophy is to be a true philosopher. Pensees
The more intelligence one has the more people one finds original. Commonplace people see no difference between men. Pensees
If you want people to think well of you, do not speak well of yourself. Pensees
I cannot forgive Descartes; in all his philosophy he did his best to dispense with God. But he could not avoid making Him set the world in motion with a flip of His thumb; after that he had no more use for God. Pensees
Had Cleopatra's nose been shorter, the whole face of the world would have changed. Pensees
The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of. Pensees
Locke, John 1632-1704 English political thinker, a pioneer of liberal democracy and empiricism.
New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
No man's knowledge here can go beyond his experience. Ib.
It is one thing to show a man that he is in an error, and another to put him in possession of truth. Ib.
Spinoza, Benedict or Baruch 1632-77 Dutch optical technician and theologian who enraged both Jewish and Christian scholars.
Homo sit animale sociale (Man is a social animal.) Ethics
Sentimus experimurque, nos aeternos esse. (We feel and know that we are eternal.) Ib.
Appetitus; qui proinde nihil aliud est quam ipsa hominis essentio. (Desire is the very essence of man.) Ib.
Sedula curavi, humanas actiones non ridere, non lugere, neque detestare, sed intelligere. (I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, nor to hate them, but to understand them.) Tractatus Politicus
Christians ... defend their cause, like everyone else, by miracles, that is by ignorance, which is the source of all malice; thus they turn a faith, which may be true, into superstition. Letter to Henry Oldenburg
Everyone should be free to choose for himself the foundations of his creed, and that faith should be judged only by its fruits Theological-Political Treatise
Berkeley, George 1685-1753 Bishop of Cloyne who tried to discredit the material view of the world.
We have first raised a dust and then complain we cannot see. Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge
All the choir of heaven and furniture of earth - in a word, all those bodies which compose the mighty frame of the world - have not any subsistence without a mind. Ib.
Truth is the cry of all, but the game of the few. Siris
Montesquieu, Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de 1689-1755 Influential French historian.
An empire founded by war has to maintain itself by war. Considerations sur les causes de la grandeur et de la decadence des romains
A really intelligent man feels what other men only know. Essai sur les causes qui peuvent affecter les esprits et les caracteres
Liberty is the right to do everything which the laws allow. L'Esprit des lois
There is a very good saying that if triangles invented a god, they would make him three-sided. Lettres persanes
No kingdom has ever had as many civil wars as the kingdom of Christ. Ib.
Hutcheson, Francis 1694-1746 Scottish author of System of Moral Philosophy (1755).
That action is best, which procures the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers. Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue
Hume, David 1711-76 Scottish empiricist, political thinker and historian.
We never remark any passion or principle in others, of which, in some degree or other, we may not find a parallel in ourselves. Treatise on Human Nature
Every one has observed how much more dogs are animated when they hunt in a pack, than when they pursue their game apart ... We might, perhaps, be at a loss to explain this phenomenon, if we had not experience of a similar in ourselves. Ib.
Nothing appears more surprising to those, who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few. Essays, Moral, Political and Literary
Beauty is no quality in things themselves: it exists merely in the mind which contemplates them; and each mind perceives a different beauty. Ib.
We soon learn that there is nothing mysterious or supernatural in the case, but that all proceeds from the usual propensity of mankind towards the marvellous, and that though this inclination may at intervals receive a check from sense and learning, it can never be thoroughly extirpated from human nature. Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding
If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion. Ib. - final sentence
Opposing one species of superstition to another, set them a-quarrelling; while we ourselves, during their fury and contention, happily make our escape into the calm, though obscure, regions of philosophy. The Natural History of Religion - final sentence
Rousseau, Jean Jacques 1712-78 French-Swiss political thinker
L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers. (Man was born free and everywhere he is in irons.) Du Contrat social
Les lois sont toujours utiles à ceux qui possèdent et nuisibles à ceux qui n'ont rien. (Laws are always useful to those who have possessions, and harmful to those who have nothing.) Ib.
He who pretends to look on death without fear lies. All men are afraid of dying, this is the great law of sentient beings, without which the entire human species would soon be destroyed. Julie, ou la Nouvelle Heloise
Everything is good when it leaves the Creator's hands; everything degenerates in the hands of man. Attributed.
Diderot, Denis 1713-84 French writer, editor of the Encyclopedie, novelist, dramatist and satirist.
Wandering in a vast forest at night, I have only a faint light to guide me. A stranger appears and says to me: 'My friend, you should blow out your candle in order to find your way more clearly.' This stranger is a theologian. Addition aux pensees philosophiques
Voyez-vous cet oeuf. C'est avec cela qu'on renverse toutes les écoles de théologie, et tous les temples de la terre. (See this egg. It is with this that one reverses all the schools of theology, and all the temples of the earth.) Le Rêve de d'Alembert
On a dit que l'amour qui ôtait l'espirit à ceux qui en avaient en donnait à ceux qui n'en avaient pas. (It has been said that love robs those who have it of their wit, and gives it to those who have none.) Paradoxe sur le comedien
Oh! que ce monde-ci serait une bonne comédie si l'on n'y faisait pas un rôle (What a fine comedy this world would be if one did not play a part in it!) Letter to Sophie Volland
Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest Dithyrambe sur la Fête des Rois
Helvetius, Claude Adrien 1715-71 French thinker whose book De l'esprit (1758), was publicly denounced by the Sorbonne.
Education made us what we are. De l'esprit (1758)
Smith, Adam 1723-90 The Scottish economist who taught logic and morals.
People of the same trade seldom meet together but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. The Wealth of Nations
No society can be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. Ib.
With the great part of rich people, the chief employment of riches consists in the parade of riches. Ib.
There is no art which one government sooner learns of another than that of draining money from the pockets of the people. Ib.
Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition. Ib.
The discipline of colleges and universities is in general contrived, not for the benefit of the students, but for the interest, or more properly speaking the ease, of the masters. Ib.
Kant, Immanuel 1724-1804 German who investigated the mind's role in constructing the objective world.
Aus so krummem Holze, als woraus der Mensch gemacht ist, kann nichts ganz Gerades gezimmert werden. (Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing can ever be made.) Idea for a General History
Ich soll niemals anders verfahren als so, dass ich auch wollen könne, meine Maxime solle ein allgemeines Gesetz werden. (I should always act in such a way that I wish my maxim to become a general law) Metaphysics of Morals
Enlich gibt es einen imperativ, der, ohne irgend eine andrere durch ein gewisses Verhalten zu erreichende Absicht als Bedingung zum Grunde zu legen, dieses Verhalten unmittelbar gebietet. Dieser Imperativ ist kategorisch ... Dieser Imperativ mag der Sittlichkeit heissen. (Finally, there is an imperative which commands a certain conduct immediately, without requiring any other purpose to be achieved. This imperative is Categorical ...This imperative may be called that of Morality.) Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten
Philosophy must always continue to be the guardian of this science; and although the public does not take any interest in its subtle investigations, it must take an interest in the resulting doctrines, which such an examination first puts in a clear light. Critique of Practical Reason
Zwei Dinge erfüllen das Gemüt mit immer neuer und zunehmender Bewunderung und Ehrfurcht, je öfter und anhaltender sich das Nachdenken damit beschäftigt: der bestirnte Himmel über mir und das moralische Gesetz in mir. (Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and the more steadily we reflect on them: the starry heavens above and the moral law within.) Critique of Practical Reason
Es ist nur eine (wahre) Religion, aber es kann vielerlei Arten des Glaubens gebn. (There is only one (true) religion, but there can be many different kinds of belief) Religion Within the Boundaries of Mere Reason
Büchergelehrsamkeit vermehrt zwar die Kenntnisse, aber erweitert nicht den Begriff und die Einsicht, wo nicht Vernunft dazukommt. (Book learning certainly increases knowledge, but it does not broaden one's ideas and insight when it is not accompanied by reason) Pragmatic Anthropology
Ob ... der Mensch nun von Natur moralisch gut oder böse ist? Keines von beiden, denn er ist von Natur gar kein moralisches Wesen; er wird dieses nur, wenn seine Vernunft sich bis zu den Begriffen der Pflicht und des Gesetzes erhebt. (Is man by nature morally good or evil? Neither, for he is by nature not a moral being; he only becomes such when his reason is raised to the concepts of duty and law) On Pedagogy
Paine, Thomas 1737-1809 English-American radical and political theorist.
It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving, it consists in professing to believe what one does not believe. The Age of Reason
The sublime and the ridiculous are often so nearly related that it is difficult to class them separately. One step above the sublime makes the ridiculous; and one step above the ridiculous makes the sublime again. The Age of Reason
It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving, it consists in professing to believe what one does not believe. The Age of Reason
Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence. Common Sense
As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of government to protect all conscientious professors thereof, and I know of no other business which government hath to do therewith. Common Sense
Man is not the enemy of Man, but through the medium of a false system of government. The Rights of Man
My country is the world, and my religion is to do good The Rights of Man
Marquis deSade, Donatien Alphonse Francois, 1740-1814 French philosopher of extreme eroticism.
All universal moral principles are idle fancies. The 120 Days of Sodom
La tolérance est la vertu du faible. (Tolerance is the virtue of the weak) Justine
Il n'y a d'autre enfer pour l'homme que la bêtise ou la méchanceté de ses semblables. (There is no other hell for man than the stupidity and wickedness of his own kind) Juliette
Bentham, Jeremy 1748-1832 English lawyer, logician and utilitarian political theorist.
...this sacred truth - that the greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation Quoting Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746) in The Commonplace Book
All punishment is mischief: all punishment in itself is evil. Principles of Morals and Legislation
Lawyers are the only persons in whom ignorance of the law is not punished. Attributed.
Stretching out his hand to catch the stars, he forgets the flowers at his feet. Deontology
Wollstonecraft, Mary 1759-1797 British pioneer feminist, essayist and teacher.
No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes if for happiness, the good he seeks. A Vindication of the Rights of Men
The divine right of husbands, like the divine right of kings, may, it is hoped, in this enlightened age, be contested without danger. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
I do not wish them women to have power over men; but over themselves. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich 1770-1831 German who looked on the mind as consisting of concepts and spirit
Was vernünftig ist; das ist wirklich: und was wirklich ist, das ist vernünftig. (What is rational is real; and what is real is rational) Basis of Legal Philosophy
Was die Erfahrung aber und die Geschichte lehren, ist dieses das Völker und Regierungen niemals etwas aus der Geschichte gelernt (But what experience and history teach is this, that peoples and governments have never learned anything from history) Philosophy of History
Only one man ever understood me....And he didn't understand me. Attributed, dying words
Schlegel, Friedrich von 1772-1829 German diplomat, writer, and publisher of the journal Das Athenaeum
Der Historiker ist ein rückwärts gekehrter Prophet. (A historian is a prophet in reverse.) Das Athenaeum
Schelling, Friedrich 1775-1854 German academic philosopher, founder of Transcendental Idealism
Die Architektur ...gleichsam die erstarrte Musik. (Architecture in general is frozen music.) Philosophie der Kunst
Hamilton, Sir William 1788-1856 Scottish metaphysician and logician.
Truth, like a torch, the more it's shook it shines. Discussions on Philosophy
On earth there is nothing great but man; in man there is nothing great but mind. Lectures on Metaphysics
Schopenhauer, Arthur 1788-1860 German pessimist philosopher.
Der Reichtum gleicht dem Seewasser: je mehr man davon trinkt, desto durstiger wird man. (Wealth is like sea-water; the more we drink, the thirstier we become; and the same is true of fame.) Parerga and Paralipomena
Einsamkeit ist das Los aller hervorragenden Geister: sie werden solche bisweilen beseufzen; aber stets sie als das kleinere von zwei Übeln erwählen (To be alone is the fate of all great minds - a fate deplored at times, but still always chosen as the less grievous of two evils.) Aphorismen for Wisdom
Intellect is invisible to the man who has none. Aphorismen for Wisdom
Jede Trennung gibt einen Vorschmack des Todes, - und jedes Wiedersehen einen Vorschmack der Auferstehung. (Every parting gives a foretaste of death; every coming together again a foretaste of the resurrection.) Gedanken ueber vielerlei Gegenstaende
The fundamental fault of the female character is that it has no sense of justice. Gedanken ueber vielerlei Gegenstaende
Der Eille in uns ist allerdings Ding an sich, für scich bestehand ...Dennoch ist er keiner Selbsterkenntnis fähig; weil er an und für sich ein bloss Wollended, kein Erkennendes, ist. (The will in us is certainly a thing in itself, existing for itself ... It is nontheless not capable of self-knowledge, because it is actually something that merely wills, not something that knows) Parerga and Paralipomena
The thing-in-itself, the will-to-live, exists whole and undivided in every being, even in the tiniest; it is present as completely as in all that ever were, are, and will be, taken together. Parerga and Paralipomena
To expect a man to retain everything that he has ever read is like expecting him to carry about in his body everything that he has ever eaten. Parerga and Paralipomena
After your death you will be what you were before your birth. Parerga and Paralipomena
Cousin, Victor 1792-1867 French academic philosopher, director of the Ecole Normale and minister of public instruction.
Il faut de la religion pour la religion, de la morale pour la morale, comme de l'arte pour l'arte ... le beau ne peut être la voie ni de l'utile, ni du bien, ni du saint; il ne conduit qu'à lui même. (There must be religion for the sake of religion, morality for the sake of morality and art for art's sake ... the beautiful cannot be the way to what is useful, nor to what is good, nor to what is holy; it leads only to itself.) Lecture, Sorbonne, 1818
Heine, Heinrich 1797-1856 German essayist, historian and poet.
Es ist eine alte Geschichte,
Doch bleibt sie immer neu. (It is an old story, and it remains forever new) Book of Songs
Hört ihr das Glöckchen klingeln? Kniet niedr - Man bringt die Sakramente einem sterbenden Gotte. (Do you hear the little bell ringing? Kneel down - The sacraments are being brought to a dying God) On the History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany
Dieu me pardonnera, c'est son métier (God will forgive me. It is his profession) Last words
Feuerbach, Ludwig Andreas 1804-72 German materialist who held that religions come from human qualities.
Der Mensch ist, was er isst. (Man is what he eats) Attributed.
Mill, John Stuart 1806-73 English utilitarian politician, social reformer founder of modern Liberalism.
Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so. Autobiography
Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also
against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them On Liberty
The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection Ib.
Another grand determining principle of the rules of conduct, both in act and forbearance which have been enforced by law or opinion, has been the servility of mankind towards the supposed preferences or aversions of their temporal masters, or of their gods. Ib.
That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. Ib.
If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Ib.
He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that Ib.
We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavouring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still. Ib.
In politics, again, it is almost a commonplace, that a party of order or stability, and a party of progress or reform, are both necessary elements of a healthy state of political life Ib.
Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called, and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men. Ib.
Meanwhile, recollecting that nothing was ever yet done which some one was not the first to do, and that all good things which exist are the fruits of originality, let them be modest enough to believe that there is something still left for it to accomplish Ib.
I am not aware that any community has a right to force another to be civilised. So long as the sufferers by the bad law do not invoke assistance from other communities, I cannot admit that persons entirely unconnected with them ought to step in and require that a condition of things with which all who are directly interested appear to be satisfied, should be put an end Ib.
That the principle which regulates the existing social relations between the two sexes--the legal subordination of one sex to the other--is wrong itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement; and that it ought to be replaced by a principle of perfect equality, admitting no power or privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other. The Subjugation of Women
When society requires to be rebuilt, there is no use in attempting to rebuild it on the old plan. Dissertations and Discussions
The most important thing women have to do is to stir up the zeal of women themselves. Letter to Alexander Bain
Proudhon, Pierre Joseph 1809-65 French socialist, anarchist and radical journalist.
If I were asked to answer the following question: 'What is slavery?' and I should answer in one word 'Murder!' my meaning would be understood at once. No further argument would be required to show that the power to take from a man his thought, his will, his personality, is a power of life and death, and that to enslave a man is to kill him. Why, then, to this other question: 'What is property?' may I not likewise answer 'Theft'? Qu'est-ce que la Propriete?
Kierkegaard, Sören 1813-55 Danish pioneer existentialist
Job endured everything - until his friends came to comfort him, then he grew impatient. Journal
That is the road we all have to take - over the Bridge of Sighs into eternity. Kierkegaard Anthology (Auden)
Lewes, George Henry 1817-78 British writer and historian of philosophy.
Murder, like talent, seems occasionally to run in families. The Physiology of Common Life
We must never assume that which is incapable of proof Ib.
Thoreau, Henry David 1817-62 American who advocated 'return to nature' and refused to pay tax.
Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. Civil Disobedience
The most attractive sentences are not perhaps the wisest, but the surest and soundest. Journal, 1842
Whatever sentence will bear to be read twice, we may be sure was thought twice. Journal, 1842
Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk. Journal, 1850
What men call social virtues, good fellowship, is commonly but the virtue of pigs in a litter, which lie close together to keep each other warm. It brings men together in crowds and mobs in bar-rooms and elsewhere, but it does not deserve the name of virtue. Journal, 1852
As if you could kill time without injuring eternity. Walden
I have lived some thirty years on this planet, and I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors. Walden
There are now-a-days professors of philosophy but not philosophers. Walden
As for doing good, that is one of the professions which are full. Walden
Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes. Walden
I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. Walden
The three-o'-clock in the morning courage, which Bonaparte thought was the rarest. Walden
Our life is frittered away by detail...Simplicity, simplicity. Walden
Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. Walden
I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn. Walden
It takes two to speak the truth - one to speak, and another to hear. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
One world at a time. On being asked his opinion of the hereafter Attributed.
I did not know that we had ever quarrelled. (On being urged to make his peace with God) Attributed.
Yes - around Concord. (On being asked whether he had travelled much ) Attributed.
Marx, Karl 1818-83 German revolutionary political theorist.
The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. The Communist Manifesto
Die Proletarier haben nichts in ihr zu verlieren als ihre Ketten. Sie haben eine Welt zu gewinnen. Proletarier aller Länder, vereinigt euch! (The workers have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to gain. Workers of the world, unite.) The Communist Manifesto
Jeder nach seinen Fähigkeiten, jedem nach seinen Bedürfnissen (From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs) Critique of the Gotha Programme
Die Religion... ist das Opium des Volkes (Religion... is the opium of the people) Criticism of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right
Capitalist production begets, with the inexorability of a law of nature, its own negation. Das Kapital
Hegel says somewhere that all great events and personalities in world history reappear in one fashion or another. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce. The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon
Engels, Friedrich 1820-95 German socialist collaborator of Karl Marx
The state is not 'abolished', it withers away. Anti-Duehring
Spencer, Herbert 1820-1903 English engineer, teacher, metaphysician and supporter of Charles Darwin.
The Republican form of Government is the highest form of government; but because of this it requires the highest type of human nature - a type nowhere at present existing. Essays - 'The Americans'
Survival of the fittest. Principles of Biology
Huxley, T(homas) H(enry) 1825-95 British biologist, ethicist and supporter of Darwin's theory
The great tragedy of Science - the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact. Collected Essays - Biogenesis and Abiogenesis
Science is nothing but trained and organized common sense, differing from the latter only as a veteran may differ from a raw recruit: and its methods differ from those of common sense only as far as the guardsman's cut and thrust differ from the manner in which a savage wields his club. Collected Essays - The Method of Zadig
It is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions. The Coming of Age of the Origin of Species
One of the unpardonable sins, in the eyes of most people, is for a man to go about unlabelled. The world regards such a person as the police do an unmuzzled dog, not under proper control. Evolution and Ethics
I doubt if the philosopher lives, or ever has lived, who could know himself to be heartily despised by a street boy without some irritation. Evolution and Ethics
The chess-board is the world; the pieces are the phenomena of the universe; the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature. The player on the other side is hidden from us. We know that his play is always fair, just, and patient. But also we know, to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance. Lay Sermons, A Liberal Education
Some experience of popular lecturing had convinced me that the necessity of making things plain to uninstructed people was one of the very best means of clearing up the obscure corners in one's own mind. Man's Place in Nature, Preface
If a little knowledge is dangerous, where is the man who has so much as to be out of danger? On Elementary Instruction in Physiology
Logical consequences are the scarecrows of fools and the beacons of wise men. Science and Culture - On the Hypothesis that Animals are Automata
I am too much of a sceptic to deny the possibility of anything. Letter to Herbert Spencer
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. Attributed - during debate with Bishop Wiberforce
Bagehot, Walter 1826-77 British economist, journalist and political theorist.
The best reason why Monarchy is a strong government is that it is an intelligible government. The mass of mankind understand it, and they hardly anywhere in the world understand any other. The English Constitution
But of all nations in the world the English are perhaps the least a nation of pure philosophers. The English Constitution
No man has come so near our definition of a constitutional statesman - the powers of a first-rate man and the creed of a second-rate man. Historical Essays - The Character of Sir Robert Peel
He believes, with all his heart and soul and strength, that there is such a thing as truth; he has the soul of a martyr with the intellect of an advocate. Historical Essays - Mr Gladstone
Poverty is an anomaly to rich people. It is very difficult to make out why people who want dinner do not ring the bell. Literary Studies
Taine, Hippolyte Adolphe 1828-93 French historian and leading figure of positivism.
On peut considérer l'homme comme un animal d'espèce supérieure qui produit des philosophies et des poèmes à peu près comme les vers à soie font leurs cocons et comme les abeilles font leurs ruches. (Man can be considered as a superior animal who produces philosophies and poetry much as silkworms construct their cocoons and bees their hives) La Fontaine and his Fables
Vice and virtues are products like sulphuric acid and sugar. History of English Literature
Acton, John Emerich Edward Dalberg, 1st Baron 1834-1902 English historian, politician and moralist.
The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern. Letter to Mary Gladstone
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men...There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it. Letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton
Peirce, Charles Sanders 1839-1914 US physicist and logician. Founder of pragmatism.
The universe ought to be presumed too vast to have any character. Collected Papers
Nietzsche, Friedrich 1844-1900 German linguist and philosopher.
The philosopher believes that the value of his philosophy lies in the whole, in the building: posterity discovers it in the bricks with which he built and which are then often used again for better building. Assorted Opinions and Maxims
Was eigentlich gegen das Leiden empört, ist nicht das Leiden an sich, sondern das Sinnlose des Leidens. (What really fills one with indignation as regards suffering is not the suffering itself, but the pointlessness of suffering) On the Genealogy of Morals
Ich lehre euch den Übermenschen. Der Mensch ist etwas, das überwinden werden soll. Was habt ihr getan, ihn zu überwinden? (Mine is the doctrine of the superman. Man is something to be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?) Thus Spake Zarathustra
Wer mit Ungeheurn kämpft, mag zusehn, dass er nicht dabei zum Ungeheuer wird. Und wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich heinein. (Whoever struggles with monsters might watch that he does not thereby become a monster. When you stare into an abyss for a long time, the abyss also stares into you.) Beyond Good and Evil
The thought of suicide is a great source of comfort: with it a calm passage is to be made across many a bad night. Beyond Good and Evil
Morality in Europe today is herd-morality. Beyond Good and Evil
Is not life a hundred times too short for us to bore ourselves? Beyond Good and Evil
In the philosopher there is nothing whatever impersonal; and, above all, his morality bears decided and decisive testimony to who he is - that is to say, to the order of rank in which the innermost drives of his nature stand in relation to one another. Beyond Good and Evil
When a man is in love he endures more than at other times; he submits to everything. The Antichrist
God created woman. And boredom did indeed cease from that moment - but many other things ceased as well! Woman was God's second mistake. The Antichrist
I call Christianity the one great curse, the one enormous and innermost perversion, the one great instinct of revenge, for which no means are too venomous, too underhand, too underground and too petty - I call it the one immortal blemish of mankind. The Antichrist
God is dead: but considering the state the species Man is in, there will perhaps be caves, for ages yet, in which his shadow will be shown. The gay Science
Believe me! The secret of reaping the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment from life is to live dangerously ! The Gay Science
As an artist, a man has no home in Europe save in Paris. Ecce Homo
My time has not yet come either; some are born posthumously. Ecce Homo
My doctrine is: Live that thou mayest desire to live again - that is thy duty - for in any case thou wilt live again! Eternal Recurrence
Do you really believe that the sciences would ever have originated and grown if the way had not been prepared by magicians, alchemists, astrologers and witches whose promises and pretensions first had to create a thirst, a hunger, a taste for hidden and forbidden powers? Indeed, infinitely more had to be promised than could ever be fulfilled in order that anything at all might be fulfilled in the realms of knowledge. The Gay Science
Insects sting, not from malice, but because they want to live. It is the same with critics - they desire our blood, not our pain. Miscellaneous Maxims and Reflections
He who does not need to lie is proud of not being a liar. Nachgelassene Fragmente
To show pity is felt as a sign of contempt because one has clearly ceased to be an object of fear as soon as one is pitied. The Wanderer and His Shadow
Bradley, Francis Herbert 1846-1924 English idealist.
The hunter for aphorisms on human nature has to fish in muddy water, and he is even condemned to find much of his own mind. Aphorisms
This is the temple of Providence where disciples still hourly mark its ways and note the system of its mysteries. Here is the one God whose worshippers prove their faith by their works and in their destruction still trust in Him. (Referring to Monte Carlo ) Aphorisms
It is good to know what a man is, and also what the world takes him for. But you do not understand him until you have learnt how he understands himself. Aphorisms
The propriety of some persons seems to consist in having improper thoughts about their neighbours. Aphorisms
Metaphysics is the finding of bad reasons for what we believe upon instinct; but to find these reasons is no less an instinct. Appearance and Reality
His mind is open; yes, it is so open that nothing is retained; ideas simply pass through him. Attributed.
Bergson, Henri 1859-1941 French academic 'process' philosopher.
To perceive means to immobilise. . . we seize, in the act of perception, something which outruns perception itself. Matter and Memory
Spirit borrows from matter the perceptions on which it feeds and restores them to matter in the form of movements which it has stamped with its own freedom. Matter and Memory
Intelligence is the faculty of making artificial objects, especially tools to make tools. Creative Evolution
The only cure for vanity is laughter, and the only fault that's laughable is vanity. Attributed.
Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought. Attributed.
The mind sees only what the mind is willing to comprehend Attributed.
Dewey, John 1859-1952 USA educationalist and academic philosopher.
It is strange that the one thing that every person looks forward to, namely old age, is the one thing for which no preparation is made. Attributed.
Whitehead, A(lfred) N(orth) 1861-1947 Cambridge mathematician and academic philosopher.
Where are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil. Dialogues
Intelligence is quickness to apprehend as distinct from ability, which is capacity to act wisely on the thing apprehended. Dialogues
Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern. Dialogues
Intelligence is quickness to apprehend as distinct from ability, which is capacity to act wisely on the thing apprehended. Dialogues
Art is the imposing of pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern. Dialogues
It is more important that a proposition be interesting than that it be true. Adventures of Ideas
Philosophy is the product of wonder. Nature and Life
There are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil. Nature and Life
A science which hesitates to forget its founders is lost. Attributed.
The safest general characterisation of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato
Santayana, George 1863-1952 Sceptical Spanish-American academic philosopher.
The working of great institutions is mainly the result of a vast mass of routine, petty malice, self interest, carelessness, and sheer mistake. Only a residual fraction is thought. The Crime of Galileo
The young man who has not wept is a savage, and the old man who will not laugh is a fool. Dialogues in Limbo
The Bible is literature, not dogma. Introduction to the Ethics of Spinoza
Happiness is the only sanction of life; where happiness fails, existence remains a mad and lamentable experiment. The Life of Reason
Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. The Life of Reason
(When asked why he always travelled third class)
Because there's no fourth class. Living Biographies of the Great Philosophers
Life is not a spectacle or a feast; it is a predicament. The Perpetual Pessimist (Sagittarius and George)
England is the paradise of individuality, eccentricity, heresy, anomalies, hobbies, and humours. Soliloquies in England
Trust the man who hesitates in his speech and is quick and steady in action, but beware of long arguments and long beards. Soliloquies in England
There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval. Soliloquies in England
It is a great advantage for a system of philosophy to be substantially true. The Unknowable
For an idea ever to be fashionable is ominous, since it must afterwards be always old-fashioned. Winds of Doctrine
If all the arts aspire to the condition of music, all the sciences aspire to the condition of mathematics. The Observer, 4 Mar 1928
Unamuno y Jugo, Miguel de 1864-1936 Spanish mystical poet, essayist and existentialist.
No, no quiero ese mundo. Me aturde, me marea y me confunde. Sus hombres y sus cosas revoltean zumbando en torno de mi espíritu y me impiden sõnar; son como nube de langosta que me vela mis luceros. (No, I do not love this world. It perplexes me, makes me feel sick and confuses me. Its men and its things flutter and buzz around my spirit and prevent me from dreaming; they are like a cloud of locusts blocking off my stars) After a Conversation
No suelen ser nuestras ideas las que nos hacen optimistas o pesimistas, sino que es nuestro optimisimo, de origen fisiológico o patalógico quizás ... el que hace nuestras ideas. (It is not normally our ideas which make us optimists or pessimists, but it is our optimism or pessimism, which is perhaps of physiological or pathological origin ... which makes our ideas) The Tragic Sense of Life
El hombre, por ser hombre, por tener conciencia, es ya, respecto al burro o a un cangrejo, un animal enfrmo. La conciencia es una enfermedad (Man, by the very fact of being man, by possessing consciousness, is, in comparison with the ass or the crab, a diseased animal. Consciousness is a disease.) The Tragic Sense of Life
Pues bien, mi señor don Miguel, tambíen usted se morirá tambíen usted, y se volverá a la nada de que salió ... ¡Dios dejará de soñarle! (All right, my lord creator, Don Miguel, you too will die and return to the nothing whence you came. God will cease to dream you!) Mist
Una fe que no duda es una fe muerta. (A faith which does not doubt is a dead faith) The Agony of Christianity
May God deny you peace but give you glory! The Tragic Sense of Life
Vencer no es convencer. (They will conquer, but they will not convince.) Referring to the Franco rebels, Attributed.
Croce, Benedetto 1866-1952 Anti-fascist Italian statesman, critic and thinker.
Art is ruled uniquely by the imagination. Esthetic
Samuel, Herbert Louis, 1st Viscount 1870-1963 British Liberal statesman and thinker.
It takes two to make a marriage a success and only one a failure. A Book of Quotations
A truism is on that account none the less true. A Book of Quotations
A library is thought in cold storage. A Book of Quotations
Without doubt the greatest injury...was done by basing morals on myth, for sooner or later myth is recognised for what it is, and disappears. Then morality loses the foundation on which it has been built. Romanes Lecture, 1947
A difficulty for every solution. Of the Civil Service - Attributed.
Russell, Bertrand Arthur William, 3rd Earl 1872-1970 English academic philosopher, logician and ardent pacifist.
This method is, to define as the number of a class the class of all classes similar to the given class. Principia Mathematica
I have a certain hesitation in starting my biography too soon for fear of something important having not yet happened. Suppose I should end my days as President of Mexico; the biography would seem incomplete if it did not mention this fact. Letter to Stanley Unwin
Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. Autobiography
I was told that the Chinese said they would bury me by the Western Lake and build a shrine to my memory. I have some slight regret that this did not happen, as I might have become a god, which would have been very chic for an atheist. Autobiography
One of the symptoms of approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important. If I were a medical man, I should prescribe a holiday to any patient who considered his work important. Autobiography
...the nuns who never take a bath without wearing a bathrobe all the time. When asked why, since no man can see them, they reply 'Oh, but you forget the good God.' The Basic Writings
The megalomaniac differs from the narcissist by the fact that he wishes to be powerful rather than charming, and seeks to be feared rather than loved. To this type belong many lunatics and most of the great men of history. The Conquest of Happiness
There are two motives for reading a book: one, that you enjoy it, the other that you can boast about it. The Conquest of Happiness
Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness. The Conquest of Happiness
Man is not a solitary animal, and so long as social life survives, self-realisation cannot be the supreme principle of ethics. History of Western Philosophy
The more you are talked about, the more you will wish to be talked about. The condemned murderer who is allowed to see the account of his trial in the Press is indignant if he finds a newspaper which has reported it inadequately.... Politicians and literary men are in the same case. Human Society in Ethics and Politics
Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true. Mysticism and Logic
Pure mathematics consists entirely of assertions to the effect that, if such and such a proposition is true of anything, then such and such another proposition is true of that thing. It is essential not to discuss whether the first proposition is really true, and not to mention what the anything is, of which it is supposed to be true. Mysticism and Logic
Organic life, we are told, has developed gradually from the protozoon to the philosopher, and this development, we are assured, is indubitably an advance. Unfortunately it is the philosopher, not the protozoon, who gives us this assurance. Mysticism and Logic
Brief and powerless is Man's life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark. Mysticism and Logic
No one gossips about other people's secret virtues. On Education
Mathematics rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty - a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture. Philosophical Essays
It is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. Sceptical Essays
Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day. Sceptical Essays
Machines are worshipped because they are beautiful, and valued because they confer power; they are hated because they are hideous, and loathed because they impose slavery. Sceptical Essays
We have, in fact, two kinds of morality side by side; one which we preach but do not practise, and another which we practise but seldom preach. Sceptical Essays
In America everybody is of the opinion that he has no social superiors, since all men are equal, but he does not admit that he has no social inferiors. Unpopular Essays
People don't seem to realise that it takes time and effort and preparation to think. Statesmen are far too busy making speeches to think. 'Bertrand Russell' (Kenneth Harris)
There's a Bible on that shelf there. But I keep it next to Voltaire - poison and antidote. 'Bertrand Russell' (Kenneth Harris)
Obscenity is what happens to shock some elderly and ignorant magistrate. 'Look' magazine
The collection of prejudices which is called political philosophy is useful provided that it is not called philosophy. The Observer, 1962
Many people would sooner die than think. In fact they do. Thinking About Thinking (A. Flew)
You may reasonably expect a man to walk a tightrope safely for ten minutes; it would be unreasonable to do so without accident for two hundred years. (Of nuclear war) The Tightrope Men (D. Bagley)
Few people can be happy unless they hate some other person, nation or creed. Attributed.
Patriots always talk of dying for their country, and never of killing for their country. Attributed.
Of course not. After all, I may be wrong. (On being asked whether he would be prepared to die for his beliefs) Attributed.
Every time I talk to a savant I feel quite sure that happiness is no longer a possibility. Yet when I talk with my gardener, I'm convinced of the opposite. Attributed.
Schweitzer, Albert 1875-1965 French Protestant theologian, thinker, physician, and musician.
The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others. The Schweitzer Album
'You're lucky', I replied. 'I too had thoughts once of being an intellectual, but I found it too difficult.' (To a man who refused to carry wood, claiming he was an intellectual) More from the Primeval Forest
Here, at whatever hour you come, you will find light and help and human kindness. Inscribed on the lamp outside his jungle hospital at Lambarene
Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre 1881-1955 French Jesuit and palaeontologist whose books were suppressed by the church
Vous m'avez dit, mon Dieu, de croire à l'enfer. Mais vous m'avez interdit de penser, avec absolue certitude, d'un seul homme, qu'il était damné. (You have told me, O God, to believe in hell. But you have forbidden me to think, with absolute certainty, of any man as damned.) Le Milieu Divin
Rien ne vaut le paine d'être trouvé que ce qui n'a jamais existé. (Nothing is worth discovering except that which has not yet existed) La Vision du Passé
From an evolutionary point of view, man has stopped moving, if he ever did move. The Phenomenon of Man
Ortega y Gasset, Jose 1883-1955 Spanish political thinker, historian of philosophy and writer.
El placer sexual parece consistir en una súbita descarga de energía nerviosa. La fruicíon estética es una súbita descarga de emociones alusivas. Análogamente es la filosofía como una súbita descarga de intelección. (Sexual pleasure seems to consist of a sudden discharge of nervous energy. Aesthetic enjoyment is a sudden discharge of allusive emotions. Likewise, philosophy is like a sudden discharge of intellectual activity) Meditations on Quijote
Yo soy yo mi circumstancia, y si no la salvo a ella no me salvo yo. (I am myself and my circumstance, and if I cannot save it I cannot save myself) Meditations on Quijote
Poca cosa es la vida si no piafa en ella un afán formidable de ampliar sus fronteras. Si vive en la proporción en que se ansía vivir más. (Life is a petty thing unless there is a pounding within it an enormous desire to extend its boundaries. We live in proportion to the extent to which we yearn to live more) The Dehumanisation of Art
Pensar es el afán de captur mediante ideas la realidad. (Thinking is the desire to gain reality by means of ideas) The Dehumanisation of Art
Necesitamos de la historia íntegra para ver si logramos escapar de ella, no recaer en ella. (We have need of the whole of history in order to see if we can escape from it, not fall back into it) The Rebellion of the Masses
Estos añ asistimos al gigantesco espectáculo de innumerables vidas humanas que marchan perdidas en el laberinto de sí mismas por no tener a que entregarse. (These days we are witnessing the giant spectacle of innumerable human lives wandering lost in the labyrinth of their own selves because they have nothing to which they may devote themselves.) The Rebellion of the Masses
Collingwood, Robin George 1889-1943 English historian, metaphysician and academic philosopher.
Perfect freedom is reserved for the man who lives by his own work and in that work does what he wants to do. Speculum Mentis
So, perhaps, I may escape otherwise than by death the last humiliation of an aged scholar, when his juniors conspire to print a volume of essays and offer it to him as a sign that they now consider him senile. Autobiography
Wittgenstein, LudwigWittgenstein, Ludwig 1889-1951 Austrian engineer, pupil of Bertrand Russell and G. E. Moore. Most of these aphorisms have been collected from his fragmentary notes and from his only book Tractaus Logico-Philosophicus.
The world is all that is the case. The world is the totality of facts, not things Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
A new possibility cannot be discovered later.
A philosophical problem has the form: I don't know my way about.
A picture is a fact.
A proposition is a picture of reality.
A proposition shows its sense.
A state of affairs is thinkable.
A thought is a proposition with a sense.
All propositions are of equal value.
Death is not an event in life.
In order to draw a limit to thinking, we should have to be able to think both sides of this limit.
It is clear that ethics cannot be put into words.
It is not how things are in the world that is mystical, but that it exists.
Logic is transcendental.
Logic must take care of itself.
Objects contain the possibility of all situations.
Objects make up the substance of the world.
Philosophy aims at the logical clarification of facts.
Philosophy is not a theory but an activity.
Philosophy is not one of the natural sciences.
Philosophy leaves everything as it is.
Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it.
Philosophy simply puts everything before us, and neither explains nor deduces anything.
Philosophy, as we use the word, is a fight against the fascination which forms of expression exert upon us.
Propositions can express nothing that is higher.
Reality is compared with propositions.
The answer cannot be put into words, neither can the question be put into words.
The facts in logical space are the world.
The riddle does not exist.
The sense of the world must lie outside the world.
The sum-total of reality is the world.
The totality of propositions is language.
The world divides into facts.
Whereof one cannot speak, thereon one must remain silent.
Your questions refer to words; so I have to talk about words.
Marcuse, Herbert 1898-1979 German-American radical anti-authoritarian.
Not every problem someone has with his girlfriend is necessarily due to the capitalist mode of production. The Listener
Ryle, Gilbert 1900-76 English academic, editor of the influential philosophy journal Mind
Philosophy is the replacement of category-habits by category-disciplines. The Concept of Mind
A myth is, of course, not a fairy story. It is the presentation of facts belonging to one category in the idioms appropriate to another. To explode a myth is accordingly not to deny the facts but to re-allocate them. The Concept of Mind, Introduction
The dogma of the Ghost in the Machine. The Concept of Mind
Popper, Sir Karl 1902-94 Austrian-born British academic philosopher of science and logic.
Our knowledge can only be finite, while our ignorance must necessarily be infinite. Conjectures and Refutations
Our civilisation... has not yet fully recovered from the shock of its birth - the transition from the tribal or 'closed society', with its submission to magical forces, to the 'open society' which sets free the critical powers of man. The Open Society and Its Enemies
There is no history of mankind, there are only many histories of all kinds of aspects of human life. And one of these is the history of political power. This is elevated into the history of the world. The Open Society and Its Enemies
We must plan for freedom, and not only for security, if for no other reason than that only freedom can make security secure. The Open Society and Its Enemies
We may become the makers of our fate when we have ceased to pose as its prophets. The Open Society and Its Enemies
Science may be described as the art of systematic oversimplification Attributed.
Science must begin with myths, and with the criticism of myths. British Philosophy in the Mid-Century
Sartre, Jean-Paul 1905-80 French dramatist, thinker and leading existentialist.
I hate victims who respect their executioners. Altona
An American is either a Jew, or an anti-Semite, unless he is both at the same time. Altona
Man is condemned to be free. Existentialism is a Humanism
Three o'clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do. Nausea
Les choses sont tount entières ce qu'elles paraissent - et derrière elles ... il n'y a rien. (Things are entirely what they appear to be and behind them ...there is nothing.) Nausea
Ma pensée, c'est moi: voilà pourquoi je ne peux pas m'arrêter. J'existe par ce que je pense ... et je ne peux pas m'empêcher de penser (My thought is me: that is why I can't stop. I exist by what I think...and I can't prevent myself from thinking.) Nausea
Je sais très bien que je ne vaux rien faire: faire quelque chose, c'est créer de l'existance - et il y a bien assez d'existance comme ça. (I know perfectly well that I don't want to do anything; to do something is to create existence - and there's quite enough existence as it is.)Nausea
I don't think the profession of historian fits a man for psychological analysis. In our work we have to deal only with simple feelings to which we give generic names such as Ambition and Interest. Nausea
I think they do that to pass the time, nothing more. But time is too large, it refuses to let itself be filled up. Nausea
You get the impression that their normal condition is silence and that speech is a slight fever which attacks them now and then. Nausea
The poor don't know that their function in life is to exercise our generosity. Words
A kiss without a moustache, they said then, is like an egg without salt; I will add to it: and it is like Good without Evil. Words
She believed in nothing; only her scepticism kept her from being an atheist. Words
There is no such thing as psychological. Let us say that one can improve the biography of the person. The Divided Self (R. D. Laing)
In the first days of the revolt you must kill: to shoot down a European is to kill two birds with one stone, to destroy an oppressor and the man he oppresses at the same time: there remain a dead man, and a free man. The Wretched of the Earth (F. Fanon)
On ne peut vaincre le mal que par un autre mal. (One can only overcome evil by means of another evil.) The Flies
Quand une fois liberté a explosé dans une âme d'homme, les Dieux ne peuvent plus rien contre lui. (Once freedom has exploded in the soul of man, the gods have no more power over him) The Flies
Il est toujours facile d'obéir, si l'on rêve de commander. (It is always easy to obey, if one dreams of being in command) Situations
Le monde peut fort bien se passer de la littérature. Mais il peut se passer de l'homme encore mieux. (The world can survive very well without literature. But it can survive even more easily without man) Situations
Arendt, Hannah 1906-75 German-American historian.
The defiance of established authority, religious and secular, social and political, as a world-wide phenomenon may well one day be accounted the outstanding event of the last decade. Crises of The Republic
It is quite gratifying to feel guilty if you haven't done anything wrong: how noble! Whereas it is rather hard and certainly depressing to admit guilt and to repent. Eichmann in Jerusalem
Beauvoir, Simone de 1908-86 French existentialist novelist and academic philosopher.
Qu'est-ce qu'un adulte? Un enfant gonflé d'âge (What is an adult? A child blown up by age.) The Woman Destroyed
A man would never get the notion of writing a book on the peculiar situation of the human male. The Second Sex
On ne naît pas femme: on le devient. (One is not born a woman, one becomes one.) The Second Sex
Si l'on vit assez longtemps, on voit que toute victoire se change un jour en défaite. (If you live long enough, you'll see that every victory turns into a defeat.) All Men are Mortal
Weil, Simone 1909-43 French religious mystic.
Culture is an instrument wielded by professors to manufacture professors, who when their turn comes will manufacture professors. The Need for Roots
The word 'revolution' is a word for which you kill, for which you die, for which you send the labouring masses to their death, but which does not possess any content. Oppression and Liberty
But not even Marx is more precious to us than the truth. Oppression and Liberty
The future is made of the same stuff as the present. On Science, Necessity, and the Love of God
Ayer, Sir Alfred (Jules) 1910-89 English logician.
No morality can be founded on authority, even if the authority were divine. Essay on Humanism
The principles of logic and mathematics are true simply because we never allow them to be anything else. Language, Truth and Logic
Turing, Alan Mathison 1912-1954 English Logician and computer pioneer.
The popular view that scientists proceed from inexorably from well-established fact to well-established fact, never being influenced by any improved conjecture, is quite mistaken. Provided it is made clear which are proved facts and which are conjectures, no harm can result. Computing Machinery and Intelligence
The learning process may be regarded as a search for a form of behaviour which will satisfy the teacher. Computing Machinery and Intelligence
Murdoch, Dame (Jean) Iris 1919-2000 Irish novelist and academic philosopher.
All art deals with the absurd and aims at the simple. Good art speaks truth, indeed is truth, perhaps the only truth. The Black Prince
He led a double life. Did that make him a liar? He did not feel a liar. He was a man of two truths. The Sacred and Profane Love Machine
Only lies and evil come from letting people off. A Severed Head
Illich, Ivan 1926- Austrian priest turned sociologist, critical of the consumer society.
Any attempt to reform the university without attending to the system of which it is an integral part is like trying to do urban renewal in New York City from the twelfth storey up. Deschooling Society
Man must choose whether to be rich in things or in the freedom to use them. Deschooling Society
We must rediscover the distinction between hope and expectation. Deschooling Society
In a consumer society there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy. Tools for Conviviality
A just society would be one in which liberty for one person is constrained only by the demands created by equal liberty for another. Tools for Conviviality
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THE COMPLETE TEXTS ● THE ABRIDGED TEXTS ● Aristotle - Ethics ● Aristotle - Politics ● Augustine - Confessions ● Ayer - Language, Truth and Logic ● Bacon - Advancement of Learning ● Bentham - Morals and Legislation ● Berkeley - Principles of Human Knowledge ● Boethius - Consolations of Philosophy ● Burke - Revolution in France ● Cicero - Friendship and Old Age ● Clausewitz - On War ● Comte - Positive Philosophy ● Confucius - The Analects ● Copernicus - The Revolutions ● Darwin - The Origin of Species ● Descartes - Discourse on Method ● Descartes - Meditations ● Einstein's Relativity ● Emerson - Nature ● Epicurus - Sovran Maxims ● Erasmus - Praise of Folly ● Euclid - Elements ● Freud - Psychoanalysis ● Galileo - Two World Systems ● Hayek - The Road to Serfdom ● Hegel - Philosophy of History ● Hegel - Philosophy of Religion ● Hobbes - Leviathan ● Hume - Human Understanding ● James - Varieties of Religious Experience ● Kant - Critiques of Reason ● Kant - Metaphysics of Morals ● Kierkegaard - Either Or ● Leibniz - Monadology ● Locke - Human Understanding ● Machiavelli - The Prince ● Marcus Aurelius - Meditations ● Marx - The Communist Manifesto ● Marx and Engels - German Ideology ● Mill - On Liberty ● Mill - System of Logic ● More - Utopia ● Newton - Principia ● Nietzsche - Beyond Good and Evil ● Nietzsche - Genealogy of Morals ● Paine - Rights of Man ● Pascal - Thoughts ● Plato - The Apology ● Plato - The Republic ● Plato - The Symposium ● Popper - Scientific Discovery ● Rand - Selfishness ● Rousseau - Confessions ● Rousseau - Social Contract ● Sade - Philosophy in the Boudoir ● Sartre - Existentialism is a Humanism ● Schopenhauer - World as Will and Idea ● Smith - Wealth of Nations ● Spinoza - Ethics ● The Ancient Greeks ● The Aphorisms of the Philosophers ● Thoreau - Walden ● Tocqueville - America ● Turing - Computing Machinery ● Wittgenstein - Tractatus ● Wollstonecraft - Rights of Woman ●
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