Quotations by Boorstin, Daniel J.


Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) American historian, professor, attorney, writer
“A Case of Hypochondria,” Newsweek (6 Jul 1970)
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We easily forget that smog is the price of freedom of our streets from manure, and from the flies and diseases it brought.

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) American historian, professor, attorney, writer
(Attributed)
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Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) American historian, professor, attorney, writer
(Attributed)
Added on 15-Apr-13 | Last updated 15-Apr-13
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The hero is known for achievements; the celebrity for well-knownness. The hero reveals the possibilities of human nature. The celebrity reveals the possibilities of the press and media. Celebrities are people who make news, but heroes are people who make history. Time makes heroes but dissolves celebrities.

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) American historian, professor, attorney, writer
Parade Magazine, “Who Are Our Heroes?” (by Ponchitta Pierce) (6 Aug. 1995)
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A sign of a celebrity is often that his name is worth more than his services.

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) American historian, professor, attorney, writer
The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (1961)
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The image is made to order, tailored to us. An ideal, on the other hand, has a claim on us. It does not serve us; we serve it. If we have trouble striving toward it, we assume the matter is with us, and not with the ideal.

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) American historian, professor, attorney, writer
The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, 5.2 (1961)
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A hero is made by folklore, sacred texts, and history books, but the celebrity is the creature of gossip, of public opinion, of magazines, newspapers, and the ephemeral images of movie and television screen. The passage of time, which creates and establishes the hero, destroys the celebrity. One is made, the other unmade, by repetition. The celebrity is born in the daily papers and never loses the mark of his fleeting origin.

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) American historian, professor, attorney, writer
The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, 5.4 (1961)
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Our discontent begins by finding false villains whom we can accuse of deceiving us. Next we find false heroes whom we expect to liberate us. The hardest, most discomfiting discovery is that each of us must emancipate himself.

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) American historian, professor, attorney, writer
The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, 6.5 (1961)
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We need not be theologians to see that we have shifted responsibility for making the world interesting from God to the newspaperman.

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) American historian, professor, attorney, writer
The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, ch. 1 (1961)
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The celebrity is a person who is known for his well-knownness.

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) American historian, professor, attorney, writer
The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, ch. 2 “From Hero to Celebrity: The Human Pseudo-event” (1961)
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Celebrity-worship and hero-worship should not be confused. Yet we confuse them every day, and by doing so we come dangerously close to depriving ourselves of all real models. We lose sight of the men and women who do not simply seem great because they are famous but are famous because they are great. We come closer and closer to degrading all fame into notoriety.

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) American historian, professor, attorney, writer
The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, ch. 2, “From Hero to Celebrity: The Human Pseudo-event” (1961)
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The modern American tourist now fills his experience with pseudo-events. He has come to expect both more strangeness and more familiarity than the world naturally offers. He has come to believe that he can have a lifetime of adventure in two weeks and all the thrills of risking his life without any real risk at all.

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) American historian, professor, attorney, writer
The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, ch. 3 (1961)
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What preoccupies us, then, is not God as a fact of nature, but as a fabrication useful for a God-fearing society. God himself becomes not a power but an image.

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) American historian, professor, attorney, writer
The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, ch. 5 (1961)
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We suffer primarily not from our vices or our weaknesses, but from our illusions.

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) American historian, professor, attorney, writer
The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, Preface (1961)
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While the Jeffersonian did not flatly deny the Creator’s power to perform miracles, he admired His refusal to do so.

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) American historian, professor, attorney, writer
The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson, ch. 1, part 2 “The Economy of Nature” (1948)
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While the easiest way in metaphysics is to condemn all metaphysics as nonsense, the easiest way in morals is to elevate the common practice of the community into a moral absolute.

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) American historian, professor, attorney, writer
The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson, ch. 3 “The Physiology of Thought and Morals” (1948)
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The Creator, who designed the human brain for activity, had insured the restlessness of all minds by enabling no single one to envisage all the qualities of the creation. Since no one by himself could aspire to a serene knowledge of the whole truth, all men had been drawn into an active, exploratory and cooperative attitude.

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) American historian, professor, attorney, writer
The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson, ch. 3, part 2 “The Happy Variety of Minds” (1948)
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Since the Creator had made the facts of the after-life inaccessible to man, He must not have required that man understand death in order to live fruitfully.

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) American historian, professor, attorney, writer
The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson, Notes (1948)
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I write to discover what I think. After all, the bars aren’t open that early.

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) American historian, professor, attorney, writer
In Wall Street Journal (31 Dec 1985)

On why he usually wrote from 6:30 to 8:30 AM.
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The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance — it is the illusion of knowledge.

Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004) American historian, professor, attorney, writer
In Carol Krucoff, “The 6 O’Clock Scholar,” Washington Post (29 Jan 1984)

Full text. In his book, Cleopatra's Nose (1995), Boorstin wrote: "The history of Western science confirms the aphorism that the great menace to progress is not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge."
Added on 2-Nov-09 | Last updated 14-Jan-13
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