Quotations about   growth

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Democracy is based on a profound insight into human nature, the realization that all men are sinful, all are imperfect, all are prejudiced, and none knows the whole truth. That is why we need liberty and why we have an obligation to hear all men. Liberty gives us a chance to learn from other people, to become aware of our own limitations, and to correct our bias. Even when we disagree with other people we like to think that they speak from good motives, and while we realize that all men are limited, we do not let ourselves imagine that any man is bad. Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure that they are right.

E E Schattschneider
E. E. Schattschneider (1892-1971) American political scientist [Elmer Eric Schattschneider]
Two Hundred Million Americans in Search of a Government (1969)
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Added on 9-Aug-22 | Last updated 9-Aug-22
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When you are through changing, you are through.

Bruce Barton
Bruce Barton (1886-1967) American author, advertising executive, politician
Article Title, The American Magazine (1929?)
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Barton was a regular contributor to The American Magazine. Both the cited source (from 1929) and this suggest this was an article he contributed no later than 1929.

The saying has been misattributed to a number of more recent consultants, motivational speakers, etc.
Added on 5-Aug-22 | Last updated 5-Aug-22
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Living things tend to change unrecognizably as they grow. Who would deduce the dragonfly from the larva, the iris from the bud, the lawyer from the infant? Flora or fauna, we are all shape-shifters and magic reinventors. Life is really a plural noun, a caravan of selves.

Diane Ackerman (b. 1948) American poet, author, naturalist
Cultivating Delight; A Natural History of My Garden, ch. 6 (2001)
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Added on 1-Jul-22 | Last updated 1-Jul-22
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Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition, such as lifting weights, we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.

Stephen R Covey
Stephen R. Covey (1932-2012) American consultant, author
First Things First, ch. 15 (1994) [with Merrill & Merrill]
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Added on 25-Jan-22 | Last updated 25-Jan-22
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The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1963) German poet
“The Beholder [Der Schauende]”, The Book of Images [Buch der Bilder], Second Book, Part 2 (1902) (paraphrase)

This looks to be a paraphrase from a couplet in the poem (also known as "The Man Watching"):

Sein Wachstum ist: der Teifbesiegte
von immer Größerem zu sein.

[Source]

Which translates variously as:

His growth is: to be the deeply defeated
by ever greater things.
[tr. Snow (1991)]

This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,
by constantly greater beings.
[tr. Bly]

His growth is this: to be defeated
by ever greater forces.
[tr. Barrows and Macy]

Added on 19-Jan-22 | Last updated 19-Jan-22
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I am certainly not an advocate for frequent & untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. but I know also that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. as that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. we might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilised society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to “Henry Tompkinson” (Samuel Kercheval) (12 Jul 1816)
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Inscribed (elided) on southeast side of the Jefferson Memorial:

I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as a civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.
Added on 2-Sep-21 | Last updated 4-Jul-22
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Without darkness, nothing comes to birth,
As without light, nothing flowers.

May Sarton
May Sarton (1912-1995) Belgian-American poet, novelist, memoirist [pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton]
“The Invocation to Kali,” Part 5, Poetry (Feb 1971)
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Added on 24-Aug-21 | Last updated 24-Aug-21
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What you have become is the price you paid to get what you used to want.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 5 (1963)
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Added on 29-Jul-21 | Last updated 10-Mar-22
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These are times in which a Genious would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. Would Cicero have shone so distinguished an orater, if he had not been roused, kindled and enflamed by the Tyranny of Catiline, Millo, Verres and Mark Anthony. The Habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. All History will convince you of this, and that wisdom and penetration are the fruits of experience, not the Lessons of retirement and leisure. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised, and animated by scenes that engage the Heart, then those qualities which would otherways lay dormant, wake into Life, and form the Character of the Hero and the Statesman.

Abigail Adams (1744-1818) American correspondent, First Lady (1797-1801)
Letter to John Quincy Adams (19 Jan 1780)
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Written when John Quincy was twelve, in Paris with his father for the peace negotiations with Britain.
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Yet, when all is said and done, birthdays are mere records of time, not registers of distance. They are chronometers, not speedometers. They tell us how long we have been upon the road, not how far we have travelled.

Frank W. Boreham (1871-1959) Anglo-Australian preacher
“So It’s Your Birthday!” The Tide Comes In (1958)
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Learning and living. But they are really the same thing, aren’t they? There is no experience from which you can’t learn something. … And the purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
You Learn By Living, Introduction (1960)
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The religion of endless growth — like any religion based on blind faith rather than reason — is a kind of mania, a form of lunacy, indeed a disease. And the one disease to which the growth mania bears an exact analogical resemblance is cancer. Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. Cancer has no purpose but growth; but it does have another result — the death of the host.

Edward Abbey (1927-1989) American anarchist, writer, environmentalist
“Arizona: How Big is Enough?”One Life at a Time, Please (1988)
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Life does not accommodate you, it shatters you. It is meant to, and it couldn’t do it better. Every seed destroys its container or else there would be no fruition.

Florida Scott-Maxwell (1883-1979) American-British playwright, author, psychologist
The Measure of My Days (1968)
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Added on 9-Nov-20 | Last updated 9-Nov-20
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More businesses die of indigestion than starvation.

David Packard (1912-1996) American electrical engineer, businessman, government official
(Misattributed)

The quote is frequently attributed to Packard, but actually he (anonymously) quoted in his book, The HP Way: How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company (1995): "Wells Fargo sent a retired engineer to visit us. I spent a full afternoon with him and I have remembered ever since some advice he gave me. He said that more businesses die of indigestion than starvation. I have observed the truth of that advice many times since then."

Variants of the saying include "entrepreneurs," "companies," and "start-ups" in place of "businesses." See here for more information.
Added on 30-Oct-20 | Last updated 30-Oct-20
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How often in life we complete a task that was beyond the capability of the person we were when we started it.

Robert Brault (b. c. 1945) American aphorist, programmer
(Attributed)
Added on 27-Oct-20 | Last updated 27-Oct-20
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Only in growth, reform, and change, paradoxically enough, is true security to be found.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001) American writer, pilot
The Wave of the Future (1940)
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Added on 12-Oct-20 | Last updated 12-Oct-20
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Growth is the only evidence of life.

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) English prelate, Catholic Cardinal, theologian
Apologia Pro Vita Sua, ch. 1 (1879)
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A favorite phrase of his, which he felt was drawn directly from the work of Thomas Scott.
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No matter what the belief, if it had modestly said, “This is our best thought, go on, think farther!” then we could have smoothly outgrown our early errors and long since have developed a religion such as would have kept pace with an advancing world. But we were made to believe and not allowed to think. We were told to obey, rather than to experiment and investigate.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) American sociologist, writer, reformer, feminist
His Religion and Hers, ch. 10 (1923)
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Each day grew older, and learnt something new.

Solon (c. 638 BC - 558 BC) Athenian statesman, lawmaker, poet
Quoted in Plutarch, “Solon,” Parallel Lives [tr. Dryden (1693); ed. Clough (1859)]
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Alt. trans.:
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Be fit for more than the thing you are now doing. Let everyone know that you have a reserve in yourself, — that you have more power than you are now using. If you are not too large for the place you occupy, you are too small for it.

James A. Garfield (1831-1881) US President (1881), lawyer, lay preacher, educator
“Elements of Success,” speech at Spencerian Business College, Washington, DC (29 Jun 1869)
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Reprinted in in B. A. Hinsdale, ed., President Garfield and Education: Hiram College Memorial, ch. 8 (1882).
Added on 3-Jul-20 | Last updated 3-Jul-20
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You learn more from getting your butt kicked than from getting it kissed.

Tom Hanks (b. 1956) American actor and filmmaker [Thomas Jeffrey Hanks]
Interview with Larry King, CNN (30 Jun 1995)
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One does not become fully human painlessly.

Rollo May (1909-1994) American psychotherapist
Foreword to Ronald S. Valle and Mark King, Existential-Phenomenological Alternatives for Psychology (1978)
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There is no “trick” in being young: it happens to you. But the process of maturing is an art to be learned, an effort to be sustained. By the age of fifty you have made yourself what you are, and if is good, it is better than your youth. If it is bad, it is not because you are older, but because you have not grown.

Marya Mannes (1904-1990) American author and critic [pen name "Sec"]
More in Anger: Some Opinions, Uncensored and Unteleprompted (1958)
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Added on 24-Feb-20 | Last updated 24-Feb-20
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For a conscious being, to exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.

Henri-Louis Bergson (1859-1941) French philosopher
Creative Evolution, ch. 1 (1907) [tr. Mitchell (1911)]
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Added on 26-Nov-18 | Last updated 26-Nov-18
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Sorrow is how we learn to love. Your heart isn’t breaking. It hurts because it’s getting larger. The larger it gets, the more love it holds.

Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944) American author, playwright
Riding Shotgun, ch. 17 (1996)
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Added on 26-Feb-18 | Last updated 26-Feb-18
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Schoolmasters and parents exist to be grown out of.

John Wolfenden (1906-1985) British educator, author
In Sunday Times (London) (13 Jul 1958)
Added on 26-Aug-17 | Last updated 5-Sep-17
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It kills you to see them grow up. But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn’t.

Barbara Kingsolver (b. 1955) American novelist, essayist, poet
Animal Dreams (1990)
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In general, every evil to which we do not succumb is a benefactor. As the Sandwich Islander believes that the strength and valor of the enemy he kills passes into himself, so we gain the strength of the temptation we resist.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Compensation,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers, “Grow, grow.”

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
Midrash Rabba, Bereshit 10:6

Usually attributed to the Talmud, but actually from a Midrash. Alt. trans.:
  • "R. Shimon said: There is not a single herb but has a mazal [constellation] in the heavens which strikes it and says, 'Grow!'" [tr. Rabbi Ruth Adar]
  • "Said Rabbi Simon: 'Every single blade of grass has a corresponding 'mazal' in the sky which hits it and tells it to grow." [Source]
Added on 20-Apr-17 | Last updated 20-Apr-17
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It’s no good trying to keep up old friendships. It’s painful for both sides. The fact is, one grows out of people, and the only thing is to face it.

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) English novelist and playwright [William Somerset Maugham]
Cakes and Ale (1930)
Added on 1-Dec-16 | Last updated 1-Dec-16
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Value of a Journal. A sentence now; a sentence last year; a sentence yesterday. Tomorrow a question comes that for the first time brings together these three and shows them to be the three fractions of Unit.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal, “Notebook Delta” (1837-1862)
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The beginnings of all things are small.

[Omnium rerum principia parva sunt.]

Cicero - beginnings of all things - wist_info quote

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum, Book 5, ch. 58

Alt. trans.: "Everything has a small beginning."
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Be very circumspect in the choice of thy company. In the society of thine equals thou shalt enjoy more pleasure; in the society of thy superiors thou shalt find more profit. To be the best in the company is the way to grow worse. The best means to grow better is to be the worst there.

Francis Quarles (1592-1644) English poet
Enchyridion, Book 2, ch. 24 (1641)
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Small are the seeds fate does unheeded sow
Of slight beginnings to important ends.

William Davenant (1606-1668) English poet and playwright [a.k.a. William D'Avenant]
Gondibert, Canto 2 (1650)
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Times of general calamity and confusion have ever been productive of the greatest minds. The purest ore is produced from the hottest furnace, and the brightest thunderbolt is elicited from the darkest storm.

Colton - brightest thunderbolt - wist_info quote

Charles Caleb "C. C." Colton (1780-1832) English cleric, writer
Lacon: or, Many Things in Few Words, # 28 (1821 ed.)
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Pain makes man think. Thought makes man wise. Wisdom makes life endurable.

Patrick - pain makes man think - wist_info quote

John Patrick (1905-1995) American playwright and screenwriter
The Teahouse of the August Moon, Act 1, sc. 1 (1957)
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Happiness is beneficial for the body but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.

Marcel Proust (1871-1922) French author
Remembrance of Things Past (1913-27)
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“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Prince Caspian (1951)
Added on 25-Nov-15 | Last updated 25-Nov-15
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We are very near to greatness: one step and we are safe: can we not take the leap?
Emerson - greatness - wist_info

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (28 Oct 1841)
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Let us never be betrayed into saying we have finished our education; because that would mean we had stopped growing.

No picture available
Julia H. Gulliver (1856-1940) American philosopher, educator, academician
(Attributed)
Added on 20-Jul-15 | Last updated 20-Jul-15
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A little fire is quickly trodden out,
Which, being suffered, rivers cannot quench.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Henry VI, Part 3, Act 4, sc. 8, l. 7ff [Clarence] (1590)
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Come, clear the way, then, clear the way:
Blind creeds and kings have had their day.
Break the dead branches from the path;
Our hope is in the aftermath —
Our hope is in heroic men,
Star-led to build the world again.
To this Event the ages ran:
Make way for Brotherhood — make way for Man.

Edwin Markham (1852-1940) American poet
“Brotherhood,” The Man with the Hoe and Other Poems (1899)
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If you realize you aren’t so wise today as you thought you were yesterday, you’re wiser today.

No picture available
Olin Miller (fl. early 20th C) American humorist
(Attributed)
Added on 5-Mar-15 | Last updated 5-Mar-15
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The real sadness of fifty is not that you change so much but that you change so little.

Maxwell "Max" Lerner (1902-1992) American journalist, columnist, educator
“Fifty,” New York Post (18 Dec 1952)
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We acquire the strength we have overcome.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Considerations by the Way,” The Conduct of Life, ch. 7 (1860)
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When you’re a kid, a rural, agriculturally-based colony town is a lot of fun to grow up in. It’s life on a farm, with goats and chickens and fields of wheat and sorghum, harvest celebrations and winter festivals. There’s not an eight- or nine-year-old kid who’s been invented who doesn’t find all of that unspeakably fun. But then you become a teenager and you start thinking about everything you might possibly want to do with your life, and you look at the options available to you. And then all farms, goats and chickens — and all the same people you’ve known all your life and will know all your life — begin to look a little less than optimal for a total life experience. It’s all the same, of course. That’s the point. It’s you who’s changed.

John Scalzi (b. 1969) American writer
Zoe’s Tale, ch. 1 (2008)
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Nothing, I am sure, calls forth the faculties so much as the being obliged to struggle with the world.

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) English social philosopher, feminist, writer
Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, “Matrimony” (1787)
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Soon ripe, soon rotten.

John Clarke (d. 1658) British educator
Proverbs: English and Latine [Paroemiologia Anglo-Latina] (1639)
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Presume not that I am the thing I was;
For God doth know — so shall the world perceive —
That I have turn’d away my former self.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Henry IV, Part 2, Act 5, sc. 5, l. 60ff [Hal] (c. 1598)
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One grows or dies. There is no third possibility.

Oswald Spengler
Oswald Spengler (1880–1936), German author
Aphorisms, #147 [tr. O’Brien (1967)]
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He not busy being born
Is busy dying.

Bob Dylan (b. 1941) American singer, songwriter
“It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” (1965)
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Self-knowledge is the beginning of self-improvement.

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 69 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
Added on 4-Dec-13 | Last updated 4-Apr-22
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He knows not his own strength that hath not met adversity.

Ben Jonson (1572-1637) English playwright and poet
Timber: Or, Discoveries, “Explorata” (1640)
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To become different from what we are, we must have some awareness of what we are.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American writer, philosopher, longshoreman
The Passionate State of Mind, Aphorism 151 (1955)
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Goethe says that, if you plant an oak in a flower-vase, either the oak must wither or the vase crack; some men go for saving the vase. Too many nowadays have that anxiety; the Puritans would have let it crack. So say I. If there is anything that cannot bear free thought, let it crack.

Wendell Phillips (1811-1884) American abolitionist, orator
Speech, Pilgrim Society, Plymouth (21 Dec 1855)
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