15 May 2008

My Worldview in Quotations

I like to collect quotations and will often jot down inspiring thoughts as I read through book. Recently, as in the case of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations and Kurt Vonnegut's A Man Without a Country, I have shared those quotations here. Recently, I encountered the quotations blog Think Humanist and remembered that for some time I have thought about posting my collection of particularly inspiring quotations here. Seeing that blog as prompted me to do so.

These come from a variety of sources. I can personally vouch for many, having copied them from direct sources myself. Others were gleaned from other sources. If I know the authenticity of a quotation is in question, I have made a note of it after the quotation. A number of these are recent additions from Think Humanist's collection.

This list is by no means complete. There are many quotations that I have not yet inserted in here. I continually draw inspiration from humanity.

Asimov, Isaac:
"Miracles don't happen. Sweat happens."

Aurelius, Marcus:
"A man should be upright, not kept upright."

"Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones."

"Men exist for the sake of one another. "

"To live happily is an inward power of the soul. "

"Very little is needed to make a happy life."

"When thou art above measure angry, bethink thee how momentary is man's life. "

"When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. "

"Death hangs over thee: whilst yet thou livest, whilst thou mayest, be good."

Ba Jin:
" Loving truth and living honestly is my attitude to life. Be true to yourself and be true to others, thus you can be the judge of your behavior."

Barker, Dan:
"You are an intelligent human being. Your life is valuable for its own sake. You are not second-class in the universe, deriving meaning and purpose from some other mind. You are not inherently evil - you are inherently human, possessing the positive rational potential to help make this a world of morality, peace, and joy. Trust yourself."

Buddha, Gautama:
"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason."

"Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love. This is the eternal rule."

"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."

"There is no way to Happiness. Happiness is the way."

"There is no wealth like knowledge, and no poverty like ignorance."

"No one saves us but ourselves, no one can and no one may."

Carson, Rachel:
"Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life."

"Let your desires be governed by reason." / "Reason should direct and appetite obey." (Probably two different translations of the same Latin.)

"We are obliged to respect, defend and maintain the common bonds of union and fellowship that exist among all members of the human race."

"The wise are instructed by reason; ordinary minds by experience; the stupid, by necessity; and brutes by instinct."

"The first duty of a man is the seeking after and the investigation of truth."

"Until you have learned to serve men, how can you serve spirits?"

Darrow, Clarence:
"You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free."

"The purpose of life is living. Men and women should get the most they can out of their lives."

Darwin, Charles:
"A republic cannot succeed till it contains a certain body of men imbued with the principles of justice and honour."

"There is a grandeur in this view of life, in which endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."

Dawkins, Richard:
"There's real poetry in the real world. Science is the poetry of reality."

"We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here."

"The world and the universe is an extremely beautiful place, and the more we understand about it the more beautiful does it appear. It is an immensely exciting experience to be born in the world, born in the universe, and look around you and realise that before you die you have the opportunity of understanding an immense amount about that world and about that universe and about life and about why we're here. We have the opportunity of understanding far, far more than any of our predecessors ever. That is such an exciting possibility, it would be such a shame to blow it and end your life not having understood what there is to understand."

"You could give Aristotle a tutorial. And you could thrill him to the core of his being. Aristotle was an encyclopedic polymath, an all time intellect. Yet not only can you know more than him about the world. You also can have a deeper understanding of how everything works. Such is the privilege of living after Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Planck, Watson, Crick and their colleagues."

Einstein, Albert:
"A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."

"The good or ill of man lies within his own will."

"Only the educated are free."

"Shall I show you the sinews of a philosopher? 'What sinews are those?' - A will undisappointed; evils avoided; powers daily exercised, careful resolutions; unerring decisions."

"What is the first business of one who practices philosophy? To get rid of self-conceit. For it is impossible for anyone to begin to learn that which he thinks he already knows."

"Try to enjoy the great festival of life with other men."

"There is nothing to fear from the gods; there is no pain in death. Good can be attained, evil can be endured."

"It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and honorably and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely and honorably and justly without living pleasantly"

Emerson, Ralph Waldo:
"Life is not so short but that there is always time enough for courtesy."

Ford, Gerald R:
"You must realize that on the road of life, there will be disappointments, and that the best way to avoid another is to plan better and work harder."

Frank, Anne:
"Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy."

"I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. I simply can't build my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery, and death...and yet...I think...this cruelty will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again."

"I've found that there is always some beauty left —in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can help you. Look at these things, then find yourself again, [...] and then you regain your balance."

"We need to be the change we wish to see in the world."

"Man's nature is not essentially evil. Brute nature has been known to yield to the influence of love. You must never despair of human nature."

"Speak only if it improves upon the silence."

"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty."

Gibran, Khalil:
"Safeguarding the rights of others is the most noble and beautiful end of a human being."

"I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers."

"Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children."

"Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgement wage war against your passion and your appetite. Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody. But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers all of your elements?"

"Your reason and your passion are the rudder and sails of your seafaring soul. If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas. For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction. Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing. And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily ressurection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes."

von Goethe, Johann Wolfgang:
"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words."

Heinlein, Robert:
"Sin lies only in hurting other people unnecessarily. All other 'sins' are invented nonsense."

Hubbard, Elbert Green:
"Do you say that religion is still needed? Then I answer that Work, Study, Health and Love constitute religion. . . . Most formal religions have pronounced the love of man for woman and woman for man an evil thing. . . . They have said that sickness was sent from God. . . . Now we deny it all, and again proclaim that these will bring you all the good there is: Health, Work, Study – Love!"

Hume, David:
"A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence."

Ingersoll, Robert:
"I do not believe in forgiveness as it is preached by the church. We do not need the forgiveness of God, but of each other and of ourselves."

"While I am opposed to all orthodox creeds, I have a creed myself. And my creed is this. Happiness is the only good. The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so. "

"Humanity is the grand religion, and no God can put a man in hell in another world, who has made a little heaven in this. God cannot make a man miserable if that man has made somebody else happy. God cannot hate anybody who is capable of loving anybody. Humanity — that word embraces all there is."

"How long, O how long will [hu]mankind worship a book? How long will they grovel in the dust before the ignorant legends of the barbaric past? How long, O how long will they pursue phantoms in a darkness deeper than death?"

"For thousands of years people have been trying to force other people to think their way. Did they succeed? No. Will they succeed? No. Why? Because brute force is not an argument."

"The closer I'm bound in love to you, the closer I am to free."

"Intelligence, guided by kindness, is the highest wisdom."

"Nothing discloses character like the use of power."

" Above all creeds, above all religions, after all, is that divine thing, — Humanity."

"Love is the only bow on Life's dark cloud. It is the morning and the evening star. It shines upon the babe, and sheds its radiance on the quiet tomb. It is the mother of art, inspirer of poet, patriot and philosopher. It is the air and light of every heart — builder of every home, kindler of every fire on every hearth. It was the first to dream of immortality. It fills the world with melody — for music is the voice of love. Love is the magician, the enchanter, that changes worthless things to Joy, and makes royal kings and queens of common clay. It is the perfume of that wondrous flower, the heart, and without that sacred passion, that divine swoon, we are less than beasts; but with it, earth is heaven, and we are gods."

"If abuses are destroyed, man must destroy them. If slaves are freed, man must free them. If new truths are discovered, man must discover them. If the naked are clothed; if the hungry are fed; if justice is done; if labor is rewarded; if superstition is driven from the mind; if the defenseless are protected and if the right finally triumphs, all must be the work of man. The grand victories of the future must be won by man, and by man alone."

"As people become more intelligent they care less for preachers and more for teachers."

Ignorance being darkness, what we need is intellectual light. The most important things to teach, as the basis of all progress, are that the universe is natural; that man must be the providence of man;

Out on the intellectual sea there is room enough for every sail. In the intellectual air there is space enough for every wing. The man who does not do his own thinking is a slave, and is a traitor to himself and to his fellow men.

King, Martin Luther (Jr.):
"Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated."

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

"I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind's problems. And I'm going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn't popular to talk about it in some circles today. I'm not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love, I'm talking about a strong, demanding love. [...] I have seen too much hate."

Kurtz, Paul:
"The beginning of wisdom is the awareness that there is insufficient evidence that a god or gods have created us and the recognition that we are responsible in part for our own destiny. Human beings can achieve this good life, but it is by the cultivation of the virtues of intelligence and courage, not faith and obedience, that we will most likely be able to do so."

Letterman, David:
"As I understand it - and my understanding of this is vague, at best - another smaller group of people stole some airplanes and crashed them into buildings. And we're told that they were zealots fueled by religious fervor, religious fervor. And if you live to be a thousand years old, will that make any sense to you? Will that make any goddamned sense?"

de Montaigne, Michel:
"Nothing is so firmly believed as that which is least known."

"There is no passion so contagious as that of fear."

"He who establishes his argument by noise and command shows that his reason is weak."

"Of all our infirmities, the most savage is to despise our being."

"The value of life lies not in its length, but in the use we make of it."

"Strive not thou to become a god; the things of mortals best befit mortality."

"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."

Rayner, Claire:
"I believe in living, the enjoyment of being, the fulfilment of our powers, the wonders of nature, the marvels of the cosmos. We don’t have to bother ourselves too much about what lies behind it all. It’s there. We are here. What is is. Our job is to get on with things, trying to make life better as we go."

Roosevelt, Franklin Delano:
"These dark days, my friends, will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto, but to minister to ourselves, to our fellow men."

Russell, Bertrand:
"To save the world requires faith and courage: faith in reason, and courage to proclaim what reason shows to be true."

"The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge."

"A good world needs knowledge, kindliness, and courage; it does not need a regretful hankering after the past or a fettering of the free intelligence by the words uttered long ago by ignorant men."

"The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt."

"If all our happiness is bound up entirely in our personal circumstances it is difficult not to demand of life more than it has to give."

"As soon as we abandon our own reason, and are content to rely upon authority, there is no end to our troubles."

"There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. "

"Those who forget good and evil and seek only to know the facts are more likely to achieve good than those who view the world through the distorting medium of their own desires."

Sagan, Carl:
"Every one of us is precious in the cosmic perspective. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another."

"Science is more than a body of knowledge. It's a way of thinking. It is a way of skeptically interogating the universe with an eye for human fallibility."

"Human history can be viewed as a slowly dawning awareness that we are members of a larger group. [...] If we are to survive, our loyalties must be broadened further, to include the whole human community, the entire planet Earth."

Sinatra, Frank:
"What I do with my life is of my own doing. I live it the best way I can."

"I'm for decency — period. I'm for anything and everything that bodes love and consideration for my fellow man."

"I would like to be remembered as a man who had a wonderful time living his life, and who had good friends, a fine family. I don't think I could ask for anything more than that, actually."

"Fear is the enemy of logic."

"You gotta love livin', baby, 'cause dyin's a pain in the ass!"

Socrates, attributed to him by others:
"I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world." (Plutarch)

"The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being." (Plato)

Shakespeare, William:
"Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings." (Cassius, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar)

Steinbeck, John:
"And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for it is the one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost."

"It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure on the world."

"Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision."

Thoreau, Henry David:
"An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day."

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost. There is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.”

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler."

"Only when people love one another as much as they love their gods will we have peace."

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that 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!" (This is often attributed to Mark Twain, but I have not been able to find a source. In any case, it doesn't sound cynical enough to be Twain's, so I doubt it.)

Vonnegut, Kurt:
"I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is."

"Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of — 'God damn it, you've got to be kind.'"

"I still believe that peace and plenty and happiness can be worked out some way. I am a fool."

"About belief or lack of belief in an afterlife: Some of you may know that I am neither Christian nor Jewish nor Buddist, nor a conventionally religious person of any sort. I am a humanist, which mean, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without any expectation of rewards or punishments after I'm dead. " -

Wilson, Woodrow:
"There is no higher religion than human service. To work for the common good is the greatest creed."

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