Quotations about   circumstance

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Now and then it occurs to one to reflect upon what slender threads of accident depend the most important circumstances of his life; to look back and shudder, realizing how close to the edge of nothingness his being has come.

Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) American writer, journalist, activist, politician
100%: the Story of a Patriot, Sec. 1 (1920)
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Added on 17-Sep-20 | Last updated 17-Sep-20
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If life becomes hard to bear we think of a change in our circumstances. But the most important and effective change, a change in our own attitude, hardly even occurs to us, and the resolution to take such a step is very difficult for us.

Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) Austrian-English philosopher
Culture and Value, 1946 (1977) [tr. Winch (1980)]
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Added on 25-Feb-20 | Last updated 25-Feb-20
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For the man who is truly good and wise, we think, bears all the chances life becomingly and always makes the best of circumstances, as a good general makes the best military use of the army at his command and a good shoemaker makes the best shoes out of the hides that are given him; and so with all other craftsmen.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics, Book 1, ch. 10, sec. 13 [1101a] (350 BC) [tr. Ross (1908)]
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Alt. trans.:
  • "For we hold that the man who is truly good and wise will bear with dignity whatever fortune sends, and will always make the best of his circumstances, as a good general will turn the forces at his command to the best account, and a good shoemaker will make the best shoe that can be made out of a given piece of leather, and so on with all other crafts." [tr. Peters (1893)]
  • "For our conception of the truly good and sensible man is that he bears all the chances of life with decorum and always does what is noblest in the circumstances, as a good general uses the forces at his command to the best advantage in war, a good cobbler makes the best shoe with the leather that is given him, and so on through the whole series of the arts." [tr. Weldon (1892)]
  • "We hold that the truly good and wise man will bear all kinds of fortune in a seemly way, and will always act in the noblest manner that the circumstances allow; even as a good general makes the most effective use of the forces at his disposal, and a good shoemaker makes the finest shoe possible out of the leather supplied him, and so on with all the other crafts and professions." [tr. Rackham (1926)]
Added on 18-Feb-20 | Last updated 18-Feb-20
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The poverty of goods is easily cured; the poverty of the soul is irreparable.

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) French essayist
Essays, Book 3, ch. 10 “Of Managing the Will” (1588) [tr. Cotton (1877)]
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Alt. trans.: "Poverty of possessions may easily be cured, but poverty of soul never."
Added on 1-Aug-17 | Last updated 1-Aug-17
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Convinced that character is all and circumstances nothing, [the Puritan] sees in the poverty of those who fall by the way, not a misfortune to be pitied and relieved, but a moral failing to be condemned, and in riches, not an object of suspicion but the blessing which rewards the triumph of energy and will.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, ch. 4 (1926)
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Added on 15-Dec-16 | Last updated 17-Apr-20
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It is circumstance and proper measure that give an action its character, and make it either good or bad.

Plutarch (AD 46-127) Greek historian, biographer, essayist [Mestrius Plutarchos]
Parallel Lives, “Agisilaus” [tr. Dryden (1693)]
Added on 8-Mar-16 | Last updated 8-Mar-16
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MALVOLIO: Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.

Shakespeare - greatness thrust - wist_info

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Twelfth Night, Act 2, Sc. 5, l. 156 (1599)
Added on 11-Nov-15 | Last updated 13-Nov-15
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It was involuntary. They sank my boat.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
(Attributed)

When asked how he became a war hero. In A. Schlesinger, Jr., A Thousand Days, 4.9 (1965)
Added on 2-Oct-15 | Last updated 2-Oct-15
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In foreign policy one must make do with what one has.

Henry Kissinger (b. 1923) German-American diplomat
Years of Upheaval, ch. 12 (1982)
Added on 1-Sep-15 | Last updated 1-Sep-15
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The convictions that leaders have formed before reaching high office are the intellectual capital they will consume as long as they continue in office. There is little time for leaders to reflect. They are locked in an endless battle in which the urgent constantly gains on the important. The public life of every political figure is a continual struggle to rescue an element of choice from the pressure of circumstance.

Henry Kissinger (b. 1923) German-American diplomat
The White House Years, ch. 3 (1979)
Added on 3-Aug-15 | Last updated 3-Aug-15
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It is a bad plan that admits of no modification.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 469
Added on 26-Jun-08 | Last updated 20-Feb-17
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