Quotations about:
    human condition


Note not all quotations have been tagged, so Search may find additional quotes on this topic.


What if thou be saint or sinner,
Crooked gray-beard, straight beginner, —
Empty paunch, or jolly dinner,
When Death thee shall call.
All alike are rich and richer,
King with crown, and cross-legged stitcher,
When the grave hides all.

richard watson gilder
Richard Watson Gilder (1844-1909) American poet and editor
“Drinking Song,” st. 2, Lyrics, and Other Poems (1885)
    (Source)
 
Added on 8-Apr-24 | Last updated 8-Apr-24
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Gilder, R. W.

Man seems to be a rickety poor sort of a thing, any way you take him; a kind of British Museum of infirmities and inferiorities. He is always undergoing repairs. A machine that was as unreliable as he is would have no market.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Letters from the Earth, “The Damned Human Race,” sec. 5 “The Lowest Animal” (1962) [ed. DeVoto]
    (Source)
 
Added on 25-Mar-24 | Last updated 25-Mar-24
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Twain, Mark

The central task of education is to implant a will and facility for learning; it should produce not learned but learning people. The truly human society is a learning society, where grandparents, parents, and children are students together.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American writer, philosopher, longshoreman
Reflections on the Human Condition, ch. 1, # 32 (1973)
    (Source)
 
Added on 12-Mar-24 | Last updated 12-Mar-24
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Hoffer, Eric

In order to not find life unbearable, you must accept two things: the ravages of time, and the injustices of man.
 
[Il y a deux choses auxquelles il faut se faire, sous peine de trouver la vie insupportable. Ce sont les injures du tems et les injustices des hommes.]

Nicolas Chamfort
Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
Products of Perfected Civilization [Produits de la Civilisation Perfectionée], Part 1 “Maxims and Thoughts [Maximes et Pensées],” ch. 2, ¶ 115 (1795) [tr. Parmée (2003), ¶ 95]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

There are two things to which we must become inured on pain of finding life intolerable: the outrages of time and man's injustice.
[tr. Mathers (1926)]

There are two things that one must get used to or one will find life unendurable: the damages of time and the injustices of men.
[tr. Merwin (1969)]

There are two things that a man must reconcile himself to, or he will find life unbearable: they are the injuries of time and the injuries of men.
[tr. Siniscalchi (1994)]

 
Added on 29-Jan-24 | Last updated 29-Jan-24
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Chamfort, Nicolas

CAMILLO:My gracious lord,
I may be negligent, foolish, and fearful.
In every one of these no man is free,
But that his negligence, his folly, fear,
Among the infinite doings of the world,
Sometime puts forth. In your affairs, my lord,
If ever I were willful-negligent,
It was my folly; if industriously
I played the fool, it was my negligence,
Not weighing well the end; if ever fearful
To do a thing where I the issue doubted,
Whereof the execution did cry out
Against the non-performance, ’twas a fear
Which oft infects the wisest. These, my lord,
Are such allowed infirmities that honesty
Is never free of.

Shakespeare
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Winter’s Tale, Act 1, sc. 2, l. 310ff (1.2.310-325) (1611)
    (Source)
 
Added on 22-Jan-24 | Last updated 22-Jan-24
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Shakespeare, William

Life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what was going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, and then being unexpectedly called away before you find out how it ends.

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) American writer, professor of literature
(Attributed)

Widely attributed to Campbell, but I cannot find a source in Campbell's works. Citations, when given, are usually to to The Masks of God, vol. 4: Creative Mythology (1968), but repeated searches of the book do not find this text.
 
Added on 19-Jan-24 | Last updated 19-Jan-24
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Campbell, Joseph

No man lives without jostling and being jostled; in all ways he has to elbow himself through the world, giving and receiving offense.

Thomas Carlyle
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) Scottish essayist and historian
“Sir Walter Scott,” London and Westminster Review No. 12 and 55, Art. 2 (1838-01)
    (Source)

A review of Scott's Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet, Vols. 1-6 (1837). Reprinted in Carlyle, Critical and Miscellaneous Essays (1827-1855).
 
Added on 18-Jan-24 | Last updated 18-Jan-24
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Carlyle, Thomas

LEAR: When we are born, we cry that we are come
To this great stage of fools.

Shakespeare
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
King Lear, Act 4, sc. 6, l. 200ff (4.6.200-201) (1606)
    (Source)
 
Added on 18-Dec-23 | Last updated 29-Jan-24
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Shakespeare, William

And Man in portions can foresee
His own funereal destiny;
His wretchedness, and his resistance,
And his sad unallied existence:
To which his Spirit may oppose
Itself — and equal to all woes,
And a firm will, and a deep sense,
Which even in torture can decry
Its own concenter’d recompense,
Triumphant where it dares defy,
And making Death a Victory.

Lord Byron
George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) English poet
“Prometheus,” st. 3, ll. 49-59 (1816)
    (Source)
 
Added on 12-Dec-23 | Last updated 12-Dec-23
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Byron, George Gordon, Lord

Each generation must watch the next, throwing away its golden opportunities.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 5 (1963)
 
Added on 6-Apr-23 | Last updated 6-Apr-23
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by McLaughlin, Mignon

In life, as in restaurants, we swallow a lot of indigestible stuff just because it comes with the dinner.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 5 (1963)
    (Source)
 
Added on 30-Mar-23 | Last updated 30-Mar-23
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by McLaughlin, Mignon

O foolish creatures,
what great ignorance besets you!

[Oh creature sciocche,
quanta ignoranza è quella che v’offende!]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 7, l. 70ff (7.70-71) [Virgil] (1309) [tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]
    (Source)

Virgil lambasting humanity for not understanding the God-ordained role of Fortune. (Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

O Mortals without sense,
How great's the Ignorance that you possess!
[tr. Rogers (1782)]

O beings blind! what ignorance
Besets you?
[tr. Cary (1814)]

Ah! sottish creature-tribe!
What scandals doth your ignorance beteem!
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

O foolish creatures, how great is this ignorance that falls upon ye!
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

Oh! foolish creature! to be blind
What ignorance is that attacks your mind?
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

Oh, creatures weak and blind,
How ye are hinder'd by your ignorance!
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

O creatures imbecile,
What ignorance is this which doth beset you?
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

O foolish creatures, how great ignorance is that which makes you trip!
[tr. Butler (1885)]

O creatures dull to see,
What ignorance is this that here offends!
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

O creatures foolish, how great is that ignorance that harms you!
[tr. Norton (1892)]

Besotted race, how deep the ignorance that harasseth you!
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

O ye insipid creatures.
How great the ignorance which doth oppress
you. [tr. Griffith (1908)]

O foolish creatures, what ignorance is this that besets you!
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

How heavy the ignorance,
O foolish creatures, that on you is laid.
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

Ah, witless world! Behold the grand
Folly of ignorance!
[tr. Sayers (1949)]

O credulous mankind,
is there one error that has wooed and lost you?
[tr. Ciardi (1954)]

O foolish creatures, how great is the ignorance that besets you!
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

Oh foolish race of man,
how overwhelming is your ignorance!
[tr. Musa (1971)]

O unenlightened creatures,
how deep -- the ignorance that hampers you!
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

How foolish people are!
How great is the ignorance which strikes them down!
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

Foolish creatures,
How great an ignorance plagues you.
[tr. Pinsky (1994), ll. 62-63]

O foolish creatures, how great is the ignorance that injures you!
[tr. Durling (1996)]

O, blind creatures, how great is the ignorance that surrounds you!
[tr. Kline (2002)]

You idiotic creatures,
so greatly hurt by your own ignorance!
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

O men of foolish minds!
How limited you are, how ignorant!
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

Half-witted mortals, how is it you know
So little even of the ignorance
That starves you?
[tr. James (2013), ll. 66-68]

 
Added on 24-Feb-23 | Last updated 22-Mar-24
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Dante Alighieri

I hasten to laugh at everything, lest I should have to weep at everything.

[Je me presse de rire de tout, de peur d’être obligé d’en pleurer.]

Pierre Beaumarchais
Pierre Beaumarchais (1732-1799) French playwright, polymath [Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais]
The Barber of Seville [Le Barbier de Séville], Act 1, sc. 2 [Figaro] (1773) [tr. 1896]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

I make haste to laugh at everything for fear of being obliged to weep.
[Motto for the London Figaro (1871)]

I am eager to laugh at all for fear of being obliged to weep.
[Source (1887)]

I hasten to laugh at everything for fear that otherwise I might be forced to weep over it.
[tr. Taylor (1922)]

I force myself to laugh at everything for fear of being forced to weep at it.
[tr. Bermel (1960)]

I forced myself to laugh at everything for fear of having to weep.
[tr. Wood (1964)]

I always hasten to laugh at everything for fear that I may be obliged to weep.
[tr. Luciani (1964)]]

I make a point of laughing at everything, for fear of having to cry.
[tr. Anderson (1993)]

I make a point of laughing at life, because otherwise I'm afraid it would make me weep.
[tr. Coward (2003)]

I quickly laugh at everything, for fear of having to cry.
[Bartlett's]

And endless other variations ("I force myself to laugh at everything, for fear of having to cry") in one-off passages.

Sometimes given, in French, as "Je me hâte de me moquer de tout, de peur d'être obligé d'en pleurer."

Compare to Byron (1820).
 
Added on 23-Feb-23 | Last updated 23-Feb-23
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Beaumarchais, Pierre

In the end, I saw Superman not as a superhero or even a science fiction character, but as a story of Everyman. We’re all Superman in our own adventures. We have our own Fortresses of Solitude we retreat to, with our own special collections of valued stuff, our own super-pets, our own Bottle Cities that we feel guilty for neglecting. We have our own peers and rivals and bizarre emotional or moral tangles to deal with.

Grant Morrison
Grant Morrison (b. 1960) Scottish comic book writer and playwright
“All Star Memories: Grant Morrison on All Star Superman, Part 1,” Interview with Zack Smith, Newsarama.com (21 Oct 2008)
    (Source)
 
Added on 19-Aug-22 | Last updated 3-Sep-22
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Morrison, Grant

The problem of drugs, of divorce, of race prejudice, of unmarried pregnancy, and so on — as if evil were a problem, something that an be solved, that has an answer, like a problem in fifth grade arithmetic. If you want the answer, you just look in the back of the book. That is escapism, that posing evil as a “problem,” instead of what it is: all the pain and suffering and waste and loss and injustice we will meet our loves long, and must face and cope with over and over and over, and admit, and live with, in order to live human lives at all.

Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018) American writer
“The Child and the Shadow,” Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress (Apr 1975)
    (Source)

On the difficulty of "realistic fiction" for children to teach morality. First delivered as a speech; later reprinted in The Language of the Night (1979).
 
Added on 3-Jan-22 | Last updated 3-Jan-22
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Le Guin, Ursula K.

Whoever increases the sum of human joy, is a worshipper.

He who adds to the sum of human misery, is a blasphemer.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Speech to the Jury, Trial of C. B. Reynolds for Blasphemy, Morristown, New Jersey (May 1887)
    (Source)
 
Added on 20-Oct-21 | Last updated 20-Oct-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Ingersoll, Robert Green

Among other things I think humor is a shield, a weapon, a survival kit. Not only has this brief span of ours been threatened by such perils not of our making such as fire and flood, Tyrannosaurus Rex, the black death, and hurricanes named after chorus girls, but we have been most ingenious in devising means for destroying each other, a habit we haven’t yet learned how to kick.

So here we are several billion of us, crowded into our global concentration camp for the duration. How are we to survive? Solemnity is not the answer, any more than witless and irresponsible frivolity is. I think our best chance lies in humor, which in this case means a wry acceptance of our predicament. We don’t have to like it but we can at least recognize its ridiculous aspects, one of which is ourselves.

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) American poet
Commencement address at his daughter Linell’s boarding school
    (Source)

Quoted in Douglas M. Parker, Dana Giaoia, Ogden Nash: The Life and Work of America's Laureate of Light (2005).
 
Added on 4-Sep-20 | Last updated 4-Sep-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Nash, Ogden

There are three things which are real: God, human folly, and laughter. Since the first two pass our comprehension, we must do what we can with the third.

Aubrey Menen (1912-1989) British writer, novelist, satirist, theatre critic
Rama Retold, Book 3, ch. 7 [Valmiki] (1954)
    (Source)

This book is a modern retelling of part of the Ramayana.

A variant of this was inscribed on a silver beer mug given on a gift that President John F Kennedy gave to David Powers:

There are three things which are real:
God, human folly and laughter.
The first two are beyond our comprehension
So we must do what we can with the third.

 
Added on 2-Jul-20 | Last updated 31-Aug-23
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Menen, Aubrey

There is no such thing as inner peace. There is only nervousness or death.

Fran Lebowitz (b. 1950) American journalist
Metropolitan Life, “Manners” (1978)
    (Source)
 
Added on 15-May-17 | Last updated 15-May-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Lebowitz, Fran

Among other things, you’ll find that you’re not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You’re by no means alone on that score, you’ll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them — if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.

J. D. Salinger (1919-2010) American writer [Jerome David Salinger]
Catcher in the Rye, ch. 24 [Mr. Antolini] (1951)
 
Added on 10-Mar-16 | Last updated 10-Mar-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Salinger, J. D.

The real problem of our existence lies in the fact that we ought to love one another, but do not.

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) American theologian and clergyman
Christian Realism and Political Problems, ch. 8 (1953)
 
Added on 20-Apr-15 | Last updated 20-Apr-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Niebuhr, Reinhold

For at least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice, and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism, and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Knowledge and Understanding,” Vedanta and the West (May-Jun 1956)
    (Source)

Revision of a 1955 lecture given at the Vedanta Society of Southern California; this phrase, however, does not occur in it (the surrounding text is found around the 10:00 mark). Reprinted in Adonis and the Alphabet, and Other Essays (in the US Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, and Other Essays) (1956).
 
Added on 5-Nov-14 | Last updated 25-Jan-22
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Huxley, Aldous

It is in our faults and failings, not in our virtues, that we touch one another and find sympathy. We differ widely enough in our nobler qualities. It is in our follies that we are at one.

Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927) English writer, humorist [Jerome Klapka Jerome]
Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, “On Vanity and Vanities” (1886)
    (Source)
 
Added on 4-Oct-12 | Last updated 15-Apr-24
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Jerome, Jerome K.

You know, Percy, everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.

Will Rogers (1879-1935) American humorist
“Defending My Soup Plate Position,” “Weekly Article” column (1924-08-31)
    (Source)

A common catch phrase of Rogers'. Reprinted in The Illiterate Digest (1924).
 
Added on 23-May-08 | Last updated 5-Apr-23
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Rogers, Will

Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of Warre, where every man is Enemy to every man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall. In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) English philosopher
Leviathan, Part 1, ch. 13 (1651)
    (Source)
 
Added on 22-Oct-07 | Last updated 6-Nov-20
Link to this post | 1 comment
Topics: , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Hobbes, Thomas

“You’re fucked up, Mister. But you’re cool.”

“I believe that’s what they call the human condition,” said Shadow.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British author, screenwriter, fabulist
American Gods, Part 1, ch. 7 [Sam and Shadow] (2001)
    (Source)
 
Added on 17-Oct-07 | Last updated 5-Jan-23
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: ,
More quotes by Gaiman, Neil

It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world!

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) English social philosopher, feminist, writer
A Vindication of the Rights of Women, ch. 4 (1792)
    (Source)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 18-Jan-23
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Wollstonecraft, Mary

This world is a comedy to those that think; a tragedy to those that feel.

Horace Walpole (1717-1797) English novelist, letter writer
Letter to Anne, Countess of Upper Ossory (16 Aug 1776)
    (Source)

Walpole frequently used used this phrase or variants in letters (and in fact prefaces this quote with "I have often said ..."). Another example is an earlier letter to Horace Mann (31 Dec 1769):

I have often said, and oftener think, that this world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel -- a solution of why Democritus laughed and Heraclitus wept.

It may be derived from an (unsourced) similar quote attributed Jean de La Bruyère: "Life is a tragedy for those who feel, and a comedy for those who think".
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 19-Jan-23
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Walpole, Horace

There are also conflicts about important things or ideas. In such cases I am more impressed by the extreme importance of being on the right side, than I am disturbed by the revelation of the jungle of confused motives, private purposes, and individual actions (noble or base) in which the right and the wrong in actual human conflicts are commonly involved.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
Notes on W. H. Auden’s review of Return of the King (1956)
    (Source)

Auden's review: "At the End of the Quest, Victory," New York Times Book Review (1956-01-22).

Tolkien never sent or shared these notes. Reprinted in Humphrey Carpenter, ed., The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, #183 (1981).
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 21-Apr-23
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Tolkien, J.R.R.

DUKE SENIOR: Thou seest we are not all alone unhappy.
This wide and universal theater
Presents more woeful pageants than the scene
Wherein we play in.

Shakespeare
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
As You Like It, Act 2, sc. 7, l. 142ff (2.7.142-145) (1599)
    (Source)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Jan-24
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Shakespeare, William