[When I was taught history], most of the time was spent on the study of political leaders and wars—Caesars, Napoleons, and Hitlers. I think this is totally wrong. The important people and events of history are the thinkers and innovators, the Darwins, Newtons, Beethovens whose work continues to grow in influence in a positive fashion.
Claude Shannon, Kyoto Prize acceptance speech, 1985
There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.
The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.
Those who knew Benjamin Franklin will recollect, that his mind was ever young; his temper ever serene; science, that never grows grey, was always his mistress. He was never without an object; for when we cease to have an object we become like an invalid in an hospital waiting for death.
From the rim I saw a trail, pale as chalk, winding down a huge slope beneath a cliff. There’s something about a trail seen from far away. That thread snaking over the landscape — where does it go, who uses it, why does it seem so intimate with the land? And why does it arouse such an intense longing to follow it? An unknown path seems almost necessarily a metaphor.
Henry Shukman, The New York Times, "Walking Into the Earth’s Heart: The Grand Canyon", November 29, 2009
O best of men! Seeing you are an Athenian, of a city the most powerful and most renowned for wisdom and strength, are you not ashamed of being careful for riches, how you may acquire them in greatest abundance, and for glory, and honor, but care not nor take any thought for wisdom and truth, and for your soul, how it maybe made most perfect?
Socrates, Apology, Sec. 29
There is nothing better than a trusty friend, neither wealth nor power; a crowd of people is of no account in exchange for a noble friend.
Euripides, Orestes, lines 1156-1158
'How do you know so much about everything?' was asked of a very wise and intelligent man; and the answer was 'By never being afraid or ashamed to ask questions as to anything of which I was ignorant.'
Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.
J. M. Barrie
If you truly want to understand something, try to change it.
I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar.
Let it be your chief object in life to acquire a sincere friend: friendly sympathy heightens every joy and softens every pain.
It is not what we possess that makes us happy, but what we enjoy; it is not what we have not that gives us pain, but what we desire. In desiring nothing, one is just as happy as he who hath all conveniences.
Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies.
There are some oddities in the perspective with which we see the world. The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.
A man ninety years old was asked to what he attributed his longevity. 'I reckon,' he said, with a twinkle in his eye, 'It's because most nights I went to bed and slept when I should have sat up and worried.'
Perhaps the greatest crisis for education does not concern the young but arises from the necessity of adults to respond intelligently to the new challenges of a rapidly changing world.
Paul Kurtz, The Transcendental Temptation, page 67
Our chief want in life is somebody who shall make us do what we can. This is the service of a friend.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Conduct of Life, "Considerations by the Way" (page 213)
An aim in life is the only fortune worth...finding.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Man alone consumes and engulfs more flesh than all other animals put together. He is, then, the greatest destroyer, and he is so more by abuse than by necessity. Instead of enjoying with moderation the resources offered him, in place of dispensing them with equity, in place of repairing in proportion as he destroys, of renewing in proportion as he annihilates, the rich man makes all his boast and glory in consuming, all his splendour in destroying, in one day, at his table, more material than would be necessary for the support of several families. He abuses equally other animals and his own species, the rest of whom live in famine, languish in misery, and work only to satisfy the immoderate appetite and the still more insatiable vanity of this human being who, destroying others by want, destroys himself by excess.
Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, L'Histoire naturelle, Tome 4, page 440
Being a scientist and staring immensity and eternity in the face every day is about as meaningful…and grand and awe inspiring as it gets. We, especially the astronomers, confront the big questions of wonder every day, and the answers to these questions in the aggregate have produced – and this is with absolutely no hype – the greatest story that’s ever been told. There isn't a religion…that can offer anything better. As Jules Verne said, 'reality provides us with facts so romantic that imagination itself could add nothing to them.' And I say amen to that.
True wisdom is less presuming than folly. The wise man doubteth often, and changeth his mind; the fool is obstinate, and doubteth not; he knoweth all things but his own ignorance.
An Ancient Bramin, The Œconomy of Human Life: Translated from an Indian Manuscript, page 78
Strange is our situation here on Earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other men - above all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness depends.
If you knew how much work went into it, you would not call it genius.
Michelangelo, (Attributed, but no confirmed source)
When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.
I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Throughout history prophets and philosophers have argued that if humans stopped believing in a great cosmic plan, all law and order would vanish. Yet today, those who pose the greatest threat to global law and order are precisely those people who continue to believe in God and His all-encompassing plans. God-fearing Syria is a far more violent place than the atheist Netherlands.
Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus
I perceived that I was on a little round grain of rock and metal, filmed with water and with air, whirling in sunlight and darkness. And on the skin of that little grain all the swarms of men, generation by generation, had lived in labor and blindness, with intermittent joy and intermittent lucidity of spirit. And all their history, with its folk-wanderings, its empires, its philosophies, its proud sciences, its social revolutions, its increasing hunger for community, was but a flicker in one day of the lives of stars.
Olaf Stapledon, Star Maker
'I wish it need not have happened in my time,' said Frodo.
'So do I,' said Gandalf, 'and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'
J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Sex came along 385 million years ago. Homo sapiens came along 200,000 years ago. Sex is older, smarter, and more powerful than we are. It predates us by 384,800,000 years, and it will outlast us. It made us, and it can unmake us. One of the lies we're told as children—one of many—is that one day we will grow up and have sex. Not true. One day we grow up and sex has us.
Dan Savage, "Scottish Fish Invented Sex"
Be systematically ascetic or heroic in little unnecessary points, do every day or two something for no other reason than that you would rather not do it, so that when the hour of dire need draws nigh, it may find you not unnerved.
William James, Principles of Psychology, Chapter IV, "Habit"
Those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter.
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.
W. C. Fields
Jesus's moral teaching is not outstanding... His words are dead to many people. The world has changed. The words don't make sense any more... Why do we need a 'revolutionary' voice from two millennia ago to guide us? We have fabulous ideas of our own, that are constantly weakened by having to tie them back to Jesus and scripture.
The unexamined life is not worth living
Socrates, Apology, Sec. 38
I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.
The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.
Marriage is a wonderful institution – but who wants to live in an institution?
Physics is like sex. Sure, it may give some practical results, but that's not why we do it.
Half the work that is done in the world is to make things appear what they are not.
Elias R. Beadle
It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.
If I have seen farther than other men, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants.
The man with a toothache thinks everyone happy whose teeth are sound. The poverty-stricken man makes the same mistake about the rich man.
George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, in the appendix, "The Revolutionist's Handbook and Pocket Companion"
I'm very pleased with each advancing year. It stems back to when I was forty. I was a bit upset about reaching that milestone, but an older friend consoled me. 'Don't complain about growing old - many, many people do not have that privilege.'
The hardest of all is learning to be a well of affection, and not a fountain, to show them that we love them, not when we feel like it, but when they do.
A true friend is someone who is there for you when he'd rather be anywhere else.
It's the friends you can call up at four a.m. that matter.
Do not make friends who are comfortable to be with. Make friends who will force you to lever yourself up.
Thomas J. Watson, Sr.
The friendship that can cease has never been real.
The difficulty is not so great to die for a friend, as to find a friend worth dying for.
Henry Home, Introduction to the Art of Thinking, "Friendship"
So fond of liberty is man that to restrain him from any thing, however indifferent, is sufficient to make that thing an object of desire.
Henry Home, Introduction to the Art of Thinking, Chapter 1
A man sometimes loses more by defending his vineyard, than by giving it up.
We content ourselves with appearing to be what we are not, instead of endeavouring to be what we appear
Allow others to discover your merit: they will value it the more for being their own discovery.
In giving advice seek to help, not to please, your friend.
Solon of Athens
Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.
John Kenneth Galbraith
The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said.
A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.
Arnold H. Glasow
The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.
William G. McAdoo
Oh, the comfort — the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person — having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life, page 32
There are times when silence has the loudest voice.
Well-timed silence hath more eloquence than speech.
Martin Farquhar Tupper, Proverbial Philosophy, "Of Discretion", page 76
There are two freedoms: the false where a man is free to do what he likes; and the true where a man is free to do what he ought.
The ‘Pro Life’ or ‘Right to Life’ movement is misnamed. Far from having concern for all life...those who protest against abortion but dine regularly on the bodies of chickens, pigs and calves, show only a biased concern for the lives of members of our own species. For on any fair comparison of morally relevant characteristics, like rationality, self-consciousness, awareness, autonomy, pleasure and pain, and so on, the calf, the pig and the much derided chicken come out well ahead of the fetus at any stage of pregnancy.
Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, pages 150-151
It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, 'Always do what you are afraid to do.'
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays: First Series, "Heroism" (page 137)
I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.
Learn to say no. It will be of more use to you than to be able to read Latin.
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.
The time to relax is when you don't have time for it.
Sydney J. Harris
It's hard for me to see a more profound cosmic connection than the astonishing findings of modern nuclear astrophysics: Except for hydrogen, all the atoms that make each of us up - the iron in our blood, the calcium in our bones, the carbon in our brains - were manufactured in red giant stars thousands of light-years away in space and billions of years ago in time. We are, as I like to say, starstuff.
Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World, page 14, footnote
The essence of humanity’s spiritual dilemma is that we evolved genetically to accept one truth and discovered another.
E. O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, page 264
A friend is one before whom I may think aloud.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays: First Series, "Friendship" (page 185)
Want a thing long enough, and you don't.
Traditional moralists claim to be the defenders of morality in general, but they are really defending a particular moral code. They have been allow to pre-empt the field to such an extent that when a newspaper headline reads BISHOP ATTACKS DECLINING MORAL STANDARDS, we expect to read yet again about promiscuity, homosexuality, pornography, and so on, and not about the puny amounts we give as overseas aid to poorer nations, or our reckless indifference to the natural environment of our planet.
Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, pages 1-2
The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.
In many parts of Europe, Asia, and Latin America, evolutionary science is a staple of science education, and has no more currency as a source of sociocultural angst and spitting than might Copernican ideas about heliocentricity. Nevertheless, in America, home to many of the greatest research universities in the world and to more Nobel laureates of science than any other nation, the battle against evolution madly, militantly, proptosically, soldiers on. It may be wearing a math-eaten uniform and carrying a musket, and its side may have lost the evidentiary war more than a century ago, but drat it all to hell, the gun still shoots: a guerrilla war against the monkey huggers!
Natalie Angier, The Canon, page 151
[Science] is a combination of mental operations that has increasingly become the habit of educated peoples, a culture of illuminations hit upon by a fortunate turn of history that yielded the most effective way of learning about the real world ever conceived.
E. O. Wilson
Bad company corrupts good morals.
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.
Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, Introduction
Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain - and most fools do.
I have now gone through the Bible, as a man would go through a wood with an axe on his shoulder, and fell trees. Here they lie; and the priests, if they can, may replant them. They may, perhaps, stick them in the ground, but they will never make them grow.
We should not be upset that others hide the truth from us, when we hide it so often from ourselves.
François de La Rochefoucauld, Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales, Maxim 11
The desire to appear clever often prevents one from being so.
François de La Rochefoucauld, Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales, Maxim 199
Nothing prevents us being natural so much as the desire to appear so.
François de La Rochefoucauld, Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales, Maxim 431
It is easier to be wise for others than for oneself.
François de La Rochefoucauld, Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales, Maxim 132
There are many predicaments in life that one must be a bit crazy to escape from.
François de La Rochefoucauld, Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales, Maxim 310
Funny how science gets it all RIGHT when you want a computer, medical science to eliminate smallpox or treat your 'erectile disfunction,' anti-lock brakes to save your life - but all evolutionists - using the scientific method you take advantage of all day long - are wrong.
I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
Alfred Tennyson, In Memoriam A.H.H., Canto 27
Certainly I see the scientific view of the world as incompatible with religion, but that is not what is interesting about it. It is also incompatible with magic, but that also is not worth stressing. What is interesting about the scientific world view is that it is true, inspiring, remarkable and that it unites a whole lot of phenomena under a single heading.
To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as ridiculous as a claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin.
It is a telling fact that, the world over, the vast majority of children follow the religion of their parents rather than any of the other available religions.
We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.
I expect death to be nothingness and, for removing me from all possible fears of death, I am thankful to atheism.
There is not one verse in the Bible inhibiting slavery, but many regulating it. It is not then, we conclude, immoral.
If a man would follow, today, the teachings of the Old Testament, he would be a criminal. If he would follow strictly the teachings of the New, he would be insane.
Robert G. Ingersoll
There once was a time when all people believed in God and the church ruled. This time was called the Dark Ages.
History aside, the almost universal opinion that one’s own religious convictions are the reasoned outcome of a dispassionate evaluation of all the major alternatives is almost demonstrably false for humanity in general. If that really were the genesis of most people's convictions, then one would expect the major faiths to be distributed more or less randomly or evenly over the globe. But in fact they show a very strong tendency to cluster...which illustrates what we all suspected anyway: that social forces are the primary determinants of religious belief for people in general. To decide scientific questions by appeal to religious orthodoxy would therefore be to put social forces in place of empirical evidence.
If there is a God, atheism must seem to Him as less of an insult than religion.
Edmond de Goncourt
Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.
Truth, in the matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived.
Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist, Pt. I
Speak when you are angry - and you will make the best speech you'll ever regret.
I've never understood how God could expect his creatures to pick the one true religion by faith - it strikes me as a sloppy way to run a universe.
Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land, page 123
Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of 10 things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these 10 things he has a special place full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry for ever and ever until the end of time...but he loves you.
If I owe a person money, and cannot pay him, and he threatens to put me in prison, another person can take the debt upon himself, and pay it for me. But if I have committed a crime, every circumstance of the case is changed. Moral justice cannot take the innocent for the guilty even if the innocent would offer itself. To suppose justice to do this, is to destroy the principle of its existence, which is the thing itself. It is then no longer justice. It is indiscriminate revenge.
Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, Ch. VIII
The whole image is that eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God's infinite love. That's the message we're brought up with, isn't it? Believe or die! Thank you, forgiving Lord, for all those options.
Bill Hicks, Love All the People: Letters, Lyrics, Routines, page 207
When you want something really bad and you close your eyes and wish for it, God's the guy who ignores you.
Politics has slain its thousands, but religion has slain its tens of thousands.
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.
The very concept of sin comes from the bible. Christianity offers to solve a problem of its own making! Would you be thankful to a person who cut you with a knife in order to sell you a bandage?
A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.
G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, Ch. 6
Truth never damages a cause that is just.
To try to explain truth to him who loves it not is but to give him more plentiful material for misinterpretation.
George MacDonald, The Curate's Awakening, page 161
As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand.
The question is not whether a doctrine is beautiful but whether it is true. When we want to go to a place, we do not ask whether the road leads through a pretty country, but whether it is the right road.
Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare
Character is much easier kept than recovered.
Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.
You are not a fool just because you have done something foolish - only if the folly of it escapes you.
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...'
The world belongs to the energetic.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Our language has wisely sensed the two sides of being alone. It has created the word 'loneliness' to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word 'solitude' to express the glory of being alone.
Paul Tillich, The Eternal Now, Page 11
People seem to get nostalgic about a lot of things they weren't so crazy about the first time around.
After all is said and done, more has usually been said than done.
Michael W. Hamrick
People are always making rules for themselves and always finding loop-holes.
The quickest way to become an old dog is to stop learning new tricks.
Trouble shared is trouble halved.
There are only two people who can tell you the truth about yourself - an enemy who has lost his temper and a friend who loves you dearly.
If two friends ask you to judge a dispute, don't accept, because you will lose one friend; on the other hand, if two strangers come with the same request, accept because you will gain one friend.
Augustine of Hippo
We shall never have friends if we expect to find them without fault.
Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.
The one function TV news performs very well is that when there is no news we give it to you with the same emphasis as if there were.
How you spend your time is more important than how you spend your money. Money mistakes can be corrected, but time is gone forever.
David B. Norris
The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.
A happy man is too satisfied with the present to dwell too much on the future
I think that I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.
Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Law, Ch. 6
Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.
Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it.
No really great man ever thought himself so.
For myself I am an optimist - it does not seem to be much use being anything else.
Temptation usually comes in through a door that has deliberately been left open.
A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
The society that scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.
John W. Gardner, Excellence: Can We Be Equal and Excellent Too?, page 86
There is nothing that God hath established in the constant course of Nature, and which therefore is done everyday, but would seem a miracle, and exercise our admiration, if it were done but once.
It's easy to make a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a difference.
I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.
Harry S. Truman
To teach is to learn twice.
Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn; my God do you learn.
C. S. Lewis
Be wiser than other people, if you can; but do not tell them so.
Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield
I have always observed that to succeed in the world one should seem a fool, but be wise.
Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu
The height of cleverness is to be able to conceal it.
François de La Rochefoucauld, Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales, Maxim 245
I sometimes give myself admirable advice, but I am incapable of taking it.
Mary Wortley Montagu
It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can do only a little.
If I were forced to sum up in one sentence what the Copenhagen interpretation says to me, it would be 'Shut up and calculate!'
N. David Mermin, Physics Today, April 1989, page 9
Always behave like a duck - keep calm and unruffled on the surface but paddle like the devil underneath.
Jacob M. Braude
Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Hope, Despair and Memory, "Self Reliance"
Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.
G. K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News, April 19, 1930
Many highly intelligent people are poor thinkers. Many people of average intelligence are skilled thinkers. The power of a car is separate from the way the car is driven.
Edward de Bono
People are always blaming circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them.
George Bernard Shaw, Mrs. Warren's Profession, Act II
Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile, I caught hell for.
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
The true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against some higher nature that will show you what the real smallness of your greatness is.
An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field.
An amateur tries something until he gets it right; a professional practices until he can't get it wrong.
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute talk with the average voter.
Our society has replaced heroes with celebrities, the quest for a well-informed character with the search for a flat stomach, substance and depth with image and personality.
J. P. Moreland
The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.
A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.
There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays: First Series, "Self Reliance"
I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate.
It is better to be defeated on principle than to win on lies.
There are some defeats more triumphant than victories.
Michel de Montaigne, Essais (Essays), Ch. XXX "Of Cannibals"
A pedestal is as much a prison as any small space.
Unknown, Moving Beyond Words, part 4
Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it.
Men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all the other alternatives.
Going to church doesn't make you a Christian, any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.
Never try to make anyone like yourself - you know, and God knows, that one of you is enough.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is nobody so irritating as somebody with less intelligence and more sense than we have.
When I hear somebody sigh, 'Life is hard,' I am always tempted to ask, 'Compared to what?'
Sydney J. Harris
For every person who climbs the ladder of success, there are a dozen waiting for the elevator.
Success is a matter of luck. Ask any failure.
There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.
Think where man's glory most begins and ends,
And say my glory was I had such friends
William Butler Yeats, The Municipal Gallery Revisited, lines 54-55
When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends.
The only way to have a friend is to be one.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.
Do not protect yourself by a fence, but rather by your friends.
Show me the man you honor, and I will know what kind of man you are.
Thomas Carlyle, Latter-Day Pamphlets, "Hudson's Statue"
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.
General George S. Patton, Jr.
An honest answer is the sign of true friendship.
Unknown, Proverbs, 24:26
A mind stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimension.
It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.
To the world you are just one person, but to one person you could mean the world.
Everyone hears what you say. Those who know you listen to what you say. Your friends listen to what you don't say.
A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.
The fear of not saying enough to persuade, makes us say too much to be believed.
Apply yourself more to acquire knowledge, than to show it. Men commonly take great pains to put off the little stock they have; but they take little pains to acquire more.
To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.
G. K. Chesterton, A Short History of England, page 120
They are able because they think they are able
The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible - and achieve it, generation after generation.
Pearl S. Buck
A whole page of learned polysyllables may not convey as much as the statement that a certain woman is a bitch, or that a certain man is a jerk.
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavours to establish.
David Hume, An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, "Of Miracles"
No matter what you can afford, save great wine for special occasions. No matter what you can afford, make that perfectly cut, elegantly styled, silk blouse a special treat. This may seem like an exercise in self-denial, but I don't think it is. On the contrary, it's a way to make sure that you can continue to experience pleasure. What's the point of great meals, great wines, and great blouses if they don't make you feel great?
Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice, page 187
In general, human beings are remarkably bad at predicting how various experiences will make them feel. Chances are that if lottery winners knew in advance just how little winning the lottery would improve their subjective well-being, they wouldn't be buying lottery tickets.
Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice, page 173
Powerful evidence has recently appeared that "wanting" and "liking" are served by fundamentally different brain systems - systems that often do, but certainly need not, work together. Drug addicts desperately "want" their drugs (such is the nature of addiction), even after they reach a point in their addiction where ingesting the drugs provides very little pleasure.
Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice, page 115
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Sex raises no unique moral issues at all. Decisions about sex may involve considerations of honesty, concern for others, prudence, and so on, but there is nothing special about sex in this respect, for the same could be said of decisions about driving a car. (In fact, the moral issues raised by driving a car, both from an environmental and from a safety point of view, are much more serious than those raised by sex.)
Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, page 2
Some birds aren't meant to be caged; their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up, does rejoice. I guess I just miss my friend.
God did not create man in his own image. Evidently, it was the other way about, which is the painless explanation for the profusion of gods and religions, and the fratricide both between and among faiths, that we see all about us and that has so retarded the development of civilization.
Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great, page 8
Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.
There is no need for us to gather every day, or every seven says, or on any high and auspicious day, to proclaim our rectitude or to grovel and wallow in our unworthiness.
Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great, page 6
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
'I must do something' will always solve more problems than 'Something must be done.'
If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.
Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.
Benjamin Disraeli, Contarini Fleming, pt. 1, ch. 13
Many a secret that cannot be pried out by curiosity can be drawn out by indifference.
Sydney J. Harris
Kites rise highest against the wind - not with it.
Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no bird sang there except those that sang best.
Henry van Dyke
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.
He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.
Virtually all contemporary scientists and philosophers expert on the subject agree that the mind, which comprises consciousness and rational process, is the brain at work. They have rejected the mind-brain dualism of René Descartes, who in Meditationes (1642) concluded that 'by the divine power the mind can exist without the body, and the body without the mind.'
E. O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, page 98
The brain is a helmet-shaped mass of gray and white tissue about the size of a grapefruit, one to two quarts in volume, and on average weighing three pounds (Einstein's brain, for example, was 2.75 pounds). Its surface is wrinkled like that of a cleaning sponge, and its consistency is custardlike, firm enough to keep from puddling on the floor of the brain case, soft enough to be scooped out with a spoon.
E. O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, page 97