Quotes

On Education

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” –Albert Einstein

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” –Albert Einstein

“The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.” –Albert Einstein

“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” –Albert Einstein

“Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge.” –Mark Twain

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” –Mark Twain

“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” –Isaac Asimov

“Literature has no practical function, but every day people die for lack of what is found there.” –William Carlos Williams

“The art of not reading is a very important one. It consists in not taking an interest in whatever may be engaging the attention of the general public at any particular time. When some political or ecclesiastical pamphlet, or novel, or poem is making a great commotion, you should remember that he who writes for fools always finds a large public. A precondition for reading good books is not reading bad ones: for life is short.” –Arthur Schopenhauer

“Just as one spoils the stomach by overfeeding and thereby impairs the whole body, so can one overload and choke the mind by giving it too much nourishment. For the more one reads the fewer are the traces left of what one has read; the mind is like a tablet that has been written over and over. Hence it is impossible to reflect; and it is only by reflection that one can assimilate what one has read. If one reads straight ahead without pondering over it later, what has been read does not take root, but is for the most part lost.” –Arthur Schopenhauer 

 

On Leadership

“Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility.” –Peter Drucker

“So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work.” –Peter Drucker

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” –Peter Drucker

On Life

“Consider yourself lightly; consider the world deeply.” –Miyomato Musashi

“In matters of taste there is no dispute.”
–Roman Proverb

“It’s not enough simply to live. People need something to live for.” –Bill Adama

“If you’re going to try, go all the way.”
–Charles Bukowski

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.” –Thoreau, Walden

“A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.”
–Alexander Pope

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” –Rumi

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” –Joseph Campbell

“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” –Joseph Campbell

“We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.” –Joseph Campbell

“Some people strengthen society just by being the people who they are.” –John W. Gardner

On Thinking

“Assumptions held long enough become beliefs.” –Jeddah Mali

“Whereof we cannot speak, we must remain silent.”
–Ludwig Wittgenstein

“…many of us who walk to and fro upon our usual tasks are prisoners drawing mental maps of escape.” –Loren Eiseley

“The creative individual has the capacity to free himself from the web of social pressures in which the rest of us are caught…He is capable of questioning the assumptions that the rest of us accept.” –John W. Gardner

“The value of philosophy is, in fact, to be sought largely in its very uncertainty. The man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the co-operation or consent of his deliberate reason. To such a man the world tends to become definite, finite, obvious; common objects rouse no questions, and unfamiliar possibilities are contemptuously rejected. As soon as we begin to philosophize, on the contrary, we find… that even the most everyday things lead to problems to which only very incomplete answers can be given. Philosophy, though unable to tell us with certainty what is the true answer to the doubts it raises, is able to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from the tyranny of custom. Thus, while diminishing our feeling of certainty as to what things are, it greatly increases our knowledge as to what they may be; it removes the somewhat arrogant dogmatism of those who have never traveled into the region of liberating doubt, and it keeps alive our sense of wonder by showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect.” –Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy, Chapter XV

“If I had the control of education, I should invite speakers on opposite sides on controversial questions (to be) broadcast to all the schools, and I should hope that, by being exposed to the utmost possible eloquence on opposite sides, pupils would in time learn to see through eloquence and to retain the power of thought even during the most terrific rodomontade. They would then be capable of growing up into responsible citizens.” –Bertrand Russell, The Spirit of Inquiry

“The philosopher’s task differs from the others’, then, in detail; but in no such drastic way as those suppose who imagine for the philosopher a vantage point outside the conceptual scheme that he takes in charge. There is no such cosmic exile. He cannot study and revise the fundamental conceptual scheme of science and common sense without having some conceptual scheme, whether the same or another no less in need of philosophical scrutiny, in which to work. He can scrutinize and improve the system from within, appealing to coherence and simplicity; but this is the theoretician’s method generally. He has recourse to semantic assent, but so has the scientist. And if the theoretical scientist in his remote way is bound to save the eventual connections with non-verbal stimulation, the philosopher in his remoter way is bound to save them too. True, no experiment may be expected to settle an ontological issue; but this is only because such issues are connected with surface irritations in such multifarious ways, through such a maze of intervening theory.” –W.V. Quine, From Word and Object

“Be a philosopher; but, amidst all your philosophy, be still a man.” –David Hume, An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding

“If in this book harsh words are spoken about some of the greatest among the intellectual leaders of mankind, my motive is not, I hope, the wish to belittle them. It springs rather from my conviction that, if our civilization is to survive, we must break with the habit of deference to great men. Great men may make great mistakes; and as the book tries to show, some of the greatest leaders of the past supported the perennial attack on freedom and reason. Their influence, too rarely challenged, continues to mislead those on whose defence civilization depends, and to divide them. The responsibility of this tragic and possibly fatal division becomes ours if we hesitate to be outspoken in our criticism of what admittedly is a part of our intellectual heritage. By reluctance to criticize some of it, we may help to destroy it all.” –Karl Popper

“We can gain the freedom to control ourselves–to meet destiny rather than fate–only if we can conceptualize the forces that act upon us. We must realize the situation we are in if we are to master it instead of having it control us.”
–Joseph de Rivera, from his book, “The Psychological Dimension of Foreign Policy”

“Anyone who wants to know the human psyche will learn next to nothing from experimental psychology. He would be better advised to abandon exact science, put away his scholar’s gown, bid farewell to his study, and wander with human heart through the world. There, in the horrors of prisons, lunatic asylums and hospitals, in drab suburban pubs, in brothels and gambling-hells, in the salons of the elegant, the Stock Exchanges, socialist meetings, churches, revivalist gatherings and ecstatic sects, through love and hate, through the experience of passion in every form in his own body, he would reap richer stores of knowledge than text-books a foot thick could give him, and he will know how to doctor the sick with a real knowledge of the human soul.” –Carl Jung

On Religion

“The Ethiops say that their gods are flat-nosed and black, while the Thracians say that theirs have blue eyes and red hair. Yet if cattle or horses or lions had hands and could draw, and could sculpture like men, then the horses would draw their gods like horses, and cattle like cattle; and each they would shape bodies of gods in the likeness, each kind, of their own.” –Xenophanes

“We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, ‘”NOW, I AM BECOME DEATH, THE DESTROYER OF WORLDS.”‘ I suppose we all thought that one way or another.” –Robert Oppenheimer, reflecting on his new invention, the atomic bomb.

“It seems to me that more people are killed out of righteous stupidity than by wickedness.”
“We all remember how many religious wars were fought for a religion of love and gentleness; how many bodies were burned alive with the genuinely kind intention of saving souls from the eternal fire of hell. Only if we give up our authoritarian attitude in the realm of opinion, only if we establish the attitude of give and take, of readiness to learn from other people, can we hope to control acts of violence inspired by piety and duty.” –Karl Popper

“God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought.”
–Joseph Campbell

“Evil is not to be traced back to the individual but to the collective behavior of humanity.”
–Reinhold Niebuhr

“The tendency to claim God as an ally for our partisan value and ends is the source of all religious fanaticism.”
–Reinhold Niebuhr

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference
–Reinhold Niebuhr

“There are some people, I suspect, who would be outraged if, when they finally arrived in heaven, they found everybody else there as well. Heaven would not be heaven unless you could peer over the celestial parapets… and watch the unfortunates roasting below.”
–Karen Armstrong

On Courage

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. ”
–Nelson Mandela

“Sometimes in life you’ve gotta roll the hard six.” –Bill Adama

“All man are the same except for their belief in their own selves, regardless of what others may think of them.” –Miyamoto Musashi,

On Culture

“Being positive is so uncool.” –The Offspring

“The tribe often thinks the visionary has turned his back on them. When, in fact, the visionary has simply turned his face to the future.” — Ray Davis

“The advantages of having decisions made by groups are often lost because of powerful psychological pressures that arise when the members work closely together, share the same set of values and, above all, face a crisis situation that puts everyone under intense stress.”
–Irving L. Janis, behavioral scientist, in Groupthink: The Desperate Drive for Consensus at Any Cost (1971)

“Americans no longer talk to each other, they entertain each other. They do not exchange ideas, they exchange images. They do not argue with propositions; they argue with good looks, celebrities and commercials.” –Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death

“We say we want a renewal of character in our day but don’t really know what we ask for. To have a renewal of character is to have a renewal of a creedal order that constrains, limits, binds, obligates, and compels. This price is too high for us to pay. We want character but without unyielding conviction; we want strong morality but without the emotional burden of guilt or shame; we want virtue but without particular moral justifications that invariably offend; we want good without having to name evil; we want decency without the authority to insist upon it; we want more community without any limitations to personal freedom. In short we want what we cannot possibly have on the terms that we want it.” –James Davison Hunter, from “The Death of Character”

“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” – Emerson

“And I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper. If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter, – we need never read of another. One is enough. If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications?” –Henry David Thoreau, Walden

On Nature

“But if the Icefall was strenuous and terrifying, it had a surprising allure as well. As dawn washed the darkness from the sky, the shattered glacier was revealed to be a three-dimensional landscape of phantasmal beauty. The temperature was six degrees Fahrenheit. My crampons crunched reassuringly into the glacier’s rind. Following the fixed line, I meandered through a vertical maze of crystalline blue stalagmites. Sheer rock buttresses seamed with ice pressed in from both edges of the glacier, rising like the shoulders of a malevolent god. Absorbed by my surroundings and the gravity of the labor, I lost myself in the unfettered pleasures of the ascent, and for an hour or two actually forgot to be afraid.” –Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air

“The first step to the knowledge of the wonder and mystery of life is the recognition of the monstrous nature of the earthly human realm as well as its glory, the realization that this is just how it is and that it cannot and will not be changed. Those who think they know how the universe could have been had they created it, without pain, without sorrow, without time, without death, are unfit for illumination.” –Joseph Campbell

On Politics

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” –Edward Bernays, Propaganda

“Rather than condemning the poor for having patterns of behavior in which we pat ourselves on the back for avoiding, but we only avoid because we’re not as stressed as they are; recognizing that there’s a kind of unity across the psychological condition of the human species and that environmental stresses are mainly responsible for the variation that we see across class and social location in self-limiting or pathological behaviors.” –Glenn Loury

“In the struggle for social justice, impatience is essential. But when it leads us to deny that any progress at all has been made, it deprives us of confidence to face the hard battles ahead. Past successes give people the courage to go on.” –John W. Gardner

“A tradition of vigorous criticism is essential to the renewal of a society. A nation is not helped much by citizens whose love for their country leads them to shield it from life-giving criticism. But neither is it helped much by critics without love, skilled in demolition but unskilled in the arts by which human institutions are nurtured and strengthened and made to flourish. Neither uncritical lovers nor unloving critics make for the renewal of societies.” –John W. Gardner

“Freedom is not only about majority rule, but ensuring that women, religious minorities and intellectual dissenters are able to flourish without fear.” –Ed Husain

“For every talent that poverty has stimulated it has blighted a hundred.” –John W. Gardner

“One is rightly suspicious of those who tell poor people that they should be content with poverty, or hungry people that hunger is ennobling. Every human being should have the chance to enjoy the comforts and pleasures of good living. All we are saying here is that they are not enough. If they were, the large number of Americans who have been able to indulge their whims on a scale unprecedented in history would be deliriously happy. They would be telling one another of their unparalleled serenity and bliss instead of trading tranquilizer prescriptions.

So we are coming to a conception of happiness that differs fundamentally from the storybook version. The storybook conception tells of desires fulfilled; the truer version involves striving toward meaningful goals—goals that relate the individual to a larger context of purposes. Storybook happiness involves a bland idleness; the truer conception involves seeking and purposeful effort. Storybook happiness involves every form of pleasant thumb-twiddling; true happiness involves the full use of one’s powers and talents. Both conceptions of happiness involve love, but the storybook version puts great emphasis on being loved, the truer version more emphasis on the capacity to give love.” – From Commitment and Meaning, John W. Gardner

On Worry

“There comes a time in your life when you have to let go of all the pointless drama and the people who create it and surround yourself with people who make you laugh so hard that you forget the bad and focus solely on the good. After all life is too short to be anything but happy.” –Karl Marx (the composer, not the philosopher)

On Self-Development

“Let him that would move the world first move himself.” –Socrates

“you must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame; how could you rise anew if you have not first become ashes?” –Nietzsche

On Love

“Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don’t know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them – we can love completely without complete understanding.” –Norman Maclean

“Maybe you will understand more about your own feelings once we’ve made love.” –Vicky Christina Barcelona

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