WIST is my personal and ever-growing collection of quotations. Please feel free to browse and borrow. More info and contact information is available under "About WIST."
Quotes13855 quotes and counting ...
We know nothing of what will happen in future, but by the analogy of experience.
They that seldom take pleasure seldom give pleasure.
In our reasonings concerning matter of fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance, from the highest certainty to the lowest species of moral evidence. A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence. […] No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavors to establish.
The companion before the road, and the road before the destination. But without the destination there is no road, and without the road there is no companion.
“Contentions 2,” # 7
I need my sleep. I need about eight hours a day, and about ten at night.
What counts now is not just what we are against, but what we are for.
Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet ‘em on your way down.
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.
BOOK: Only one thing is gonna walk you though this, Mal: belief.
MAL: You know I always look to you for counsel, but sermons make me sleepy, Shepherd. I ain’t looking for help on high. That’s a long wait for a train don’t come.
BOOK: When I talk about belief, why do you always assume I’m talking about God?
The remedy for speech that is false is speech that is true. This is the ordinary course in a free society. The response to the unreasoned is the rational; to the uninformed, the enlightened; to the straight-out lie, the simple truth.
A man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.
To have great poets, there must be great audiences, too.
[Ambition] is so powerful a passion in the human breast, that however high we reach we are never satisfied.
Surely, in the light of history, it is more intelligent to hope rather than to fear, to try rather than not to try. For one thing we know beyond all doubt: Nothing has ever been achieved by the person who says, “It can’t be done.”
There are few situations in life that cannot be honourably settled, and without loss of time, either by suicide, a bag of gold, or by thrusting a despised antagonist over the edge of a precipice upon a dark night.
It is the business of the future to be dangerous.
It is certain that I cannot always distinguish my own thoughts from those I read, because what I read becomes the very substance and text of my mind.
I have never made but one prayer to God, and very short one: “O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.” And God granted it.
I don’t trust a man who talks about ethics when he’s picking my pockets.
The unrecorded past is none other than our old friend, the tree in the primeval forest which fell without being heard.
“Can History Be Served Up Hot?” New York Times (8 Mar 1964)
When friends and acquaintances are telling you you are a genius, before you accept their opinion, take a moment to remember what you always thought of their opinions in the past.
In “The Best Financial Advice I Ever Got (or Gave),” Wall Street Journal (6 Jan 2014)
Consider and act with reference to the true ends of existence. This world is but the vestibule of an immortal life. Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.
Quoted in Charles Northend, Memory Gems (1890).
The real problem of our existence lies in the fact that we ought to love one another, but do not.
In addition to all the weaknesses, dilemmas and temptations that impede every pilgrim’s progress, the Catholic who holds political office in a pluralistic democracy — who is elected to serve Jews and Muslims, atheists and Protestants, as well as Catholics — bears special responsibility. He or she undertakes to help create conditions under which all can live with a maximum of dignity and with a reasonable degree of freedom; where everyone who chooses may hold beliefs different from specifically Catholic ones — sometimes contradictory to them; where the laws protect people’s right to divorce, to use birth control and even to choose abortion. In fact, Catholic public officials take an oath to preserve the Constitution that guarantees this freedom. And they do so gladly. Not because they love what others do with their freedom, but because they realize that in guaranteeing freedom for all, they guarantee our right to be Catholics: our right to pray, to use the sacraments, to refuse birth control devices, to reject abortion, not to divorce and remarry if we believe it to be wrong.
“Religious Belief and Public Morality,” John A. O’Brien Lecture, U. of Notre Dame (13 Sep 1984)
Man is a complex being who makes deserts bloom and lakes die.
It needs inordinate self-confidence to face drastic change without inner trembling.
The last pleasure in life is the sense of discharging our duty.
More important than any belief a man holds is the way he holds it. Any fool or fanatic can embrace a doctrine. Even if true, it remains a dogma unless it is evaluated in the light of its alternatives, and the relevant evidence for them.
Religion that seeks to be no more than a time capsule is likely to be claustrophobic.
“Contentions 2,” # 8
That’s what I hate about the war on drugs. All day long we see those commercials: “Here’s your brain, here’s your brain on drugs”, “Just Say No”, “Why do you think they call it dope?” … And then the next commercial is “This Bud’s for yooouuuu.” C’mon, everybody, let’s be hypocritical bastards. It’s okay to drink your drug. We meant those other drugs. Those untaxed drugs. Those are the ones that are bad for you.
Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.
Back to Methuselah, Part 5 (1921)
Never kick a man when he’s down — he may get up.
Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It is not a day when you lounge around doing nothing: it’s when you’ve had everything to do, and you’ve done it.
JAYNE: I just don’t get it. How’s a man get so wrong? Cuttin’ on his own face, rapin’ and murdering. Hell, I’ll kill a man in a fair fight. Or if I think he’s gonna start a fair fight. Or if he bothers me. Or if there’s a woman. Or if I’m gettin’ paid. Mostly only when I’m gettin’ paid. But these Reavers — last ten years they show up like the bogeyman from stories. Eating people alive? Where’s that get fun?
Managers who don’t know how to measure what they want settle for wanting what they can measure. For example, those who want a high quality of work life but don’t know how to measure it, often settle for wanting a high standard of living because they can measure it.
I frankly admit to not knowing who I am. This is why I refuse to buy clothes that will tell people who I want them to think I am.
Sir, I admit your gen’ral Rule
That every Poet is a Fool;
But you yourself may serve to show it.
That ever Fool is not a Poet.
Most people would succeed in small things if they were not troubled with great ambitions.
One thing I believe profoundly: We make our own history. The course of history is directed by the choices we make and our choices grow out of the ideas, the beliefs, the values, the dreams of the people. It is not so much the powerful leaders that determine our destiny as the much more powerful influence of the combined voices of the people themselves.
When struck by a thunderbolt it is unnecessary to consult the Book of Dates as to the precise meaning of the omen.
The secret demerits of which we alone, perhaps, are conscious, are often more difficult to bear than those which have been publicly censured in us, and thus in some degree atoned for.
Kavanagh: A Tale, ch. 30 (1849)
Though old the thought and oft exprest,
‘Tis his at last who says it best.
When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.
We have borne patiently a great deal of wrong, on the consideration that if nations go to war for every degree of injury, there would never be peace on earth. But when patience has begotten false estimates of its motives, when wrongs are pressed because it is believed they will be borne, resistance becomes morality.
To search for meaning we must not forget that the gods (or God, for that matter) are a concept of the human mind; they are the creatures of man, not vice-versa. They are invented to give meaning and purpose to the puzzle that is life on earth, to explain strange and irregular phenomena of nature, haphazard events, and, above all, irrational human conduct. They exist to bear the burden of all the things that cannot be comprehended except by supernatural intervention or design.
The March of Folly: from Troy to Vietnam, ch. 2 (1984)
Silence is not always tact and it is tact that is golden, not silence.
Notebooks, “Silence and Tact” (1912)
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
James 2:15-16 [KJV]
- "If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,' and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?" [NRSV]
- "Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don't have enough to eat. What good is there in your saying to them, 'God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!'—if you don't give them the necessities of life?" [GNT]
The older I get, the more wisdom I find in the ancient rule of taking first things first — a process which often reduces the most complex human problems to manageable proportions.
Individuals sometimes forgive, but bodies and societies never do.
Both optimists and pessimists contribute to our society. The optimist invents the airplane and the pessimist the parachute.
No state can be more destitute than that of a him who, when the delites of sense forsake him, has no pleasures of the mind.
We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible. You cannot educate a man wholly out of the superstitious fears which were implanted in his imagination, no matter how utterly his reason may reject them.
It is only when you truly don’t care what people think that you truly don’t need to care what people think.
“Contentions 2,” # 5
“I believe that the Bible is the literal word of God.” And I say no, it’s not, Dad. “Well, I believe that it is.” Well, you know, some people believe they’re Napoleon. That’s fine. Beliefs are neat. Cherish them, but don’t share them like they’re the truth.