Quotations about   disturbance

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Wretchedness is caused by emotional disturbances, and the happy life by calmness, and disturbance takes two forms — anxiety and fear in expecting evils, ecstatic joy and lustful thoughts in misunderstanding good things, all of which are at variance with with wisdom and reason. Accordingly, if a man possesses self-control and consistency, and is without fear, distress, excitability, or lust, is he not happy? But this is the nature of the wise man always, so he is happy always.

[Atque cum perturbationes animi miseriam, sedationes autem vitam efficiant beatam, duplexque ratio perturbationis sit, quod aegritudo et metus in malis opinatis, in bonorum autem errore laetitia gestiens libidoque versetur, quae omnia cum consilio et ratione pugnent, his tu tam gravibus concitationibus tamque ipsis inter se dissentientibus atque distractis quem vacuum solutum liberum videris, hunc dubitabis beatum dicere? atqui sapiens semper ita adfectus est; semper igitur sapiens beatus est.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 5, ch. 15 / sec. 43 (45 BC) [tr. Davie (2017)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Now since the Disturbances of the Soul render the Life miserable, but the composure of them happy; and there is a double rank of Passions; in that, Discontent and Fear are terminated on Evils conceiv'd; but excessive Mirth and Lust arise from the misapprehension of good things, since all are inconsistent with Advice and Reason, if you shall see any one clear, emancipated, free from these emotions so vehement, so discordant one with the other, and so distracting, can you make any question of calling him Happy? But the Wise man is always so dispos'd, therefore the Wise man is always Happy.
[tr. Wase (1643)]

But as the perturbations of the mind make life miserable, and tranquility renders it happy: and as these perturbations are of two sorts; grief and fear, proceeding from imagined evils, immoderate joy and lust, from the mistake of what is good; and all these are in opposition to reason and counsel; when you see a man at ease, quite free and disengaged from such troublesome commotions, which are so much at variance with one another, can you hesitate to pronounce such a one a happy man? Now the wise man is always in such a disposition: therefore the wise man is always happy.
[tr. Main (1824)]

But when the perturbations render life unhappy, while their repose makes it happy -- and since the mode of perturbation is twofold -- sorrow and fear having birth from reputed evils -- the delirium of joy and desire, from the delusion of good, -- when all these are repugnant to counsel and reason, and you see a man void, exempt, free from these excitements, so vehement, so discordant, so distracted by mutual conflicts, -- will you hesitate to pronounce him happy? But the wise man is always thus, and therefore always happy.
[tr. Otis (1839)]

But as the perturbations of the mind make life miserable, and tranquillity renders it happy; and as these perturbations are of two sorts, grief and fear, proceeding from imagined evils, and as immoderate joy and lust arise from a mistake about what is good, and as all these feelings are in opposition to reason and counsel; when you see a man at ease, quite free and disengaged from such troublesome commotions, which are so much at variance with one another can you hesitate to pronounce such an one a happy man? Now the wise man is always in such a disposition, therefore the wise man is always happy.
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

Now since perturbations of mind create misery, while quietness of mind makes life happy, and since there are two kinds of perturbations, grief and fear having their scope in imagined evils, inordinate joy and desire in mistaken notions of the good, all being repugnant to wise counsel and reason, will you hesitate to call him happy whom you see relieved, released, free from these excitements so oppressive, and so at variance and divided among themselves? Indeed one thus disposed is always happy. Therefore the wise man is always happy.
[tr. Peabody (1886)]

Added on 18-Nov-21 | Last updated 18-Nov-21
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O ay, you’re like the fisher-folk, the men who hunt for eels,
Who when the mere is still and clear catch nothing for their creels,
But when they rout the mud about and stir it up and down,
‘Tis then they do; and so do you when you perturb the town.

[ὅπερ γὰρ οἱ τὰς ἐγχέλεις θηρώμενοι πέπονθας.
ὅταν μὲν ἡ λίμνη καταστῇ, λαμβάνουσιν οὐδέν·
ἐὰν δ᾽ ἄνω τε καὶ κάτω τὸν βόρβορον κυκῶσιν,
αἱροῦσι· καὶ σὺ λαμβάνεις, ἢν τὴν πόλιν ταράττῃς.]

Aristophanes (c. 450-c. 388 BC) Athenian comedic playwright
The Knights [Ἱππεῖς], ll. 864-67 [Sausage Seller] (424 BC) [tr. Rogers (1924)]
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Speaking of demagogues like Paphlagonian (Cleon).

Alt. trans.:
  • "You are like the fishers for eels; in still waters they catch nothing, but if they thoroughly stir up the slime, their fishing is good; in the same way it's only in troublous times that you line your pockets." [tr. O'Neill (1938)]
  • "For you are circumstanced like those who fish for eels. When the lake is still, they catch nothing; but if they stir the mud up and down, they take. And you catch, if you disturb the city." [tr. Hickie (1853)]
Added on 10-Jun-20 | Last updated 10-Jun-20
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Economic privation proceeds by easy stages, and so long as men suffer it patiently the outside world cares little.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
The Economic Consequences of the Peace, ch. 6 (1919)
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Added on 17-Jan-17 | Last updated 17-Jan-17
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Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
New Statesman and Nation (15 Jul 1933)
Added on 13-Dec-16 | Last updated 13-Dec-16
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Most people today don’t want honest answers insofar as honest means unpleasant or disturbing. They want a soft answer that turneth away anxiety. They want answers that are, in effect, escapes.

Louis Kronenberger (1904-1980) American critic, novelist, biographer
“Unbrave New World,” The Cart and the Horse (1964)

An allusion to Proverbs 15:1 "A soft answer turneth away wrath."
Added on 21-Nov-12 | Last updated 17-Nov-17
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It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
Added on 24-Mar-09 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things.

Epictetus (c.55-c.135) Greek (Phrygian) Stoic philosopher
The Enchiridion (c. 135)

Alt. trans.: "We suffer not from the events in our lives, but from our judgment about them."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 5-Jul-17
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True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Stride Toward Freedom, ch. 2 (1958)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Jan-20
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If you are pained by external things, it is not they that disturb you, but your own judgment of them. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgment now.

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations, Book 8, #47 [tr. Long (1862)]
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Modernized version (see below for original). Alternate translations:

  • "If therefore it be a thing external that causes thy grief, know, that it is not that properly that doth cause it, but thine own conceit and opinion concerning the thing: which thou mayest rid thyself of, when thou wilt." [tr. Casaubon (1634), #45]
  • "If externals put you into the spleen, take notice 'tis not the thing which disturbs you, but your notion about it: which notion you may dismiss if you please." [tr. Collier (1701)]
  • "If thou art pained by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs thee, but thy own judgment about it. And it is in thy power to wipe out this judgment now." [tr. Long (1862), original]
  • "If anything external vexes you, take notice that it is not the thing which disturbs you, but your notion about it, which notion you may dismiss at once if you please." [tr. Zimmern (1887)]
  • "If you suffer pain because of some external cause, what troubles you is not the thing but your decision about it, and this it is in your power to wipe out at once." [tr. Farquharson (1944)]
  • "If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing yourself but to your estaimte of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment." [tr. Staniforth (1964)]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-Mar-21
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