Quotations about   cause and effect

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Historians can sometimes explain, or at any rate discuss the immediate causes of some great event. Beyond that they can do little more than arrive at the platitude that every generation is, to some extent, responsible for what happened afterwards. In this way, we can finally reach the preposterous conclusion that the ancient Romans were responsible for the First World War, when they failed to civilize the Germans. This is sometimes called learning from history.

A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) British historian, journalist, broadcaster [Alan John Percivale Taylor]
“What Else Indeed?” New York Review of Books (5 Aug 1965)
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Added on 27-Sep-21 | Last updated 27-Sep-21
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Ignorance of remote causes disposeth men to attribute all events to the causes immediate and instrumental: for these are all the causes they perceive.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) English philosopher
Leviathan, Part 1, ch. 11 (1651)
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Added on 6-Nov-20 | Last updated 6-Nov-20
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It was later that the story of Windle Poons really came to an end, if “story” means all that he did and caused and set in motion. In the Ramtop village where they dance the real Morris dance, for example, they believe that no one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away — until the clock he wound up winds down, until the wine she made has finished its ferment, until the crop they planted is harvested. The span of someone’s life, they say, is only the core of their actual existence.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Reaper Man (1991)
Added on 29-May-17 | Last updated 29-May-17
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There are few mortals so insensible that their affections cannot be gained by mildness; their confidence by sincerity; their hatred by scorn or neglect.

Johann Georg Zimmermann (1728-1795) Swiss philosophical writer, naturalist, physician
Aphorisms and Reflections on Men, Morals and Things (1800)
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Added on 17-Aug-16 | Last updated 17-Aug-16
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A great flame follows a little spark.

[Poca favilla gran fiamma seconda.]

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy, “Paradiso,” Canto 1, l. 34 (1321)
Added on 1-Jun-16 | Last updated 1-Jun-16
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You never can tell when you do an act
Just what the result will be;
But with every deed you are sowing a seed,
Though the harvest you may not see.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) American author and poet.
“You Never Can Tell,” Custer And Other Poems (1896)
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Added on 21-Sep-15 | Last updated 21-Sep-15
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Nature is but a name for an effect,
Whose cause is God.

William Cowper (1731-1800) English poet
The Task, 6.123 (1785)
Added on 11-Sep-15 | Last updated 11-Sep-15
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A hen is only an egg’s way of making another egg.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Life and Habit, ch. 8 (1877)

Full text.

Added on 10-Apr-09 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
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