Quotations about:
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So I am thinking that atoms and humans and God may have minds that differ in degree but not in kind. We stand, in a manner of speaking, midway between the unpredictability of atoms and the unpredictability of God. Atoms are small pieces of our mental apparatus, and we are small pieces of God’s mental apparatus. Our minds may receive inputs equally from atoms and from God. This view of our place in the cosmos may not be true, but it is compatible with the active nature of atoms as revealed in the experiments of modern physics. I don’t say that this personal theology is supported or proved by scientific evidence. I only say that it is consistent with scientific evidence.

Freeman Dyson
Freeman Dyson (1923-2020) English-American theoretical physicist, mathematician, futurist
“Progress in Religion,” Templeton Prize acceptance speech, Washington National Cathedral (9 May 2000)
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Added on 17-Jan-23 | Last updated 17-Jan-23
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All we hear is “What’s the matter with the country?” “What’s the matter with the world?” There ain’t but one thing wrong with every one of us in the world, and that’s selfishness.

Will Rogers (1879-1935) American humorist
“Daily Telegrams” column (10 Mar 1935)
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Added on 1-Dec-22 | Last updated 1-Dec-22
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All of our exalted technological progress, civilization for that matter, is comparable to an axe in the hand of a pathological criminal.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-American physicist
Letter to Heinrich Zangger (6 Dec 1917), in Collected Papers, Vol. 8, # 403 (1987) [tr. Hentschel]
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Added on 30-Nov-22 | Last updated 30-Nov-22
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One half of the world laughs at the other, and fools are they all.

[La mitad del mundo se está riendo de la otra mitad, con necedad de todos.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 101 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
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(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translations:

One part of the world laughs at the other, and both laugh at their common folly.
[Flescher ed. (1685)]

Half the world laughs at the other half, even though the lot are fools.
[tr. Fischer (1937)]

Half the world is laughing at the other half, and folly rules over all.
[tr. Maurer (1992)]

 
Added on 28-Nov-22 | Last updated 28-Nov-22
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Manners consist in pretending that we think as well of others as of ourselves. Manners are necessary because, as a rule, there is a pretence; when our good opinion of others is genuine, manners look after themselves. Perhaps instead of teaching manners, parents should teach the statistical probability that the person you are speaking to is just as good as you are. It is difficult to believe this; very few of us do, in our instincts, believe it. One’s own ego seems so incomparably more sensitive, more perceptive, wiser and more profound than other people’s. Yet there must be very few of whom this is true, and it is not likely that oneself is one of those few. There is nothing like viewing oneself statistically as a means both to good manners and to good morals.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“On Being Insulting,” New York American (21 Dec 1934)
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Added on 14-Nov-22 | Last updated 14-Nov-22
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Perhaps the meaning of all human activity lies in the artistic consciousness, in the pointless and selfless creative act? Perhaps our capacity to create is evidence that we ourselves were created in the image and likeness of God?

Andrei Tarkovsky
Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986) Russian film director, screenwriter, film theorist [Андрей Арсеньевич Тарковский]
Sculpting in Time (1986) [tr. Hunter-Blair]
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Added on 3-Nov-22 | Last updated 3-Nov-22
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Impatience and cutting corners: it’s the primate way. It got us down out of the trees and up to the top of the evolutionary heap as a species, which is a lot more like a slippery, mud-slick game of King of the Hill with stabbing encouraged than any kind of tidy Victorian great chain of being or ladder of creation.

Elizabeth Bear
Elizabeth Bear (b. 1971) American author [pseud. for Sarah Bear Elizabeth Wishnevsky]
Ancestral Night (2019)
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Added on 19-Oct-22 | Last updated 19-Oct-22
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You’re going to have to explain the logic of man to me, Mr. Grudge. For example, tell me how you come about your selective morality. This ease with which you strip off your conscience like an overcoat — and let your satisfied belch drown out the hunger cries that fill the air around you. How do you create the exact science whereby you disinvolve yourself from all the anguish of the world that doesn’t happen to be in your direct line of vision? That doesn’t take a special breed of man at all, Mr. Grudge. That is man in his normal condition.

Rod Serling (1924-1975) American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, narrator
A Carol for Another Christmas [Ghost of Christmas Present] (1964)
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Added on 18-Oct-22 | Last updated 18-Oct-22
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Hitherto I have been under the guidance of that portion of reason which He has thought proper to deal out to me. I have followed it faithfully in all important cases, to such a degree at least as leaves me without uneasiness; and if on minor occasions I have erred from its dictates, I have trust in Him who made us what we are, and knows it was not His plan to make us always unerring.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Miles King (26 Sep 1814)
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Added on 19-Sep-22 | Last updated 19-Sep-22
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THE LORD
And do you have no other news?
Do you come always only to accuse?
Does nothing please you ever on the earth?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, Lord! I find it still of precious little worth.
I feel for mankind in their wretchedness,
It almost makes me want to plague them less.

DER HERR
Hast du mir weiter nichts zu sagen?
Kommst du nur immer anzuklagen?
Ist auf der Erde ewig dir nichts recht?

MEPHISTOPHELES
Nein Herr! ich find es dort, wie immer, herzlich schlecht.
Die Menschen dauern mich in ihren Jammertagen,
Ich mag sogar die armen selbst nicht plagen.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Faust: a Tragedy [eine Tragödie], Part 1, sc. 3 “Prologue in Heaven,” l. 301ff (1808-1829) [tr. Arndt (1976)]
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(Source (German)). Alternate translations:

THE LORD
You've nothing more to say to me?
You come but to complain unendingly?
Is never aught right to your mind?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, Lord! All is still downright bad, I find.
Man in his wretched days makes me lament him;
I am myself reluctant to torment him.

[tr. Priest (1808)]

THE LORD
Have you no more to say. Do you come here
Always to scold, and cavil, and complain?
Seems nothing ever right to you on earth?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, Lord! I find all there, as ever, bad at best.
Even I am sorry for man's days of sorrow;
I could myself almost give up the pleasure
Of plaguing the poor things.

[tr. Shelley (1815)]

THE LORD: Have you nothing else to say to me? Are you always coming for no other purpose than to complain? Is nothing ever to your liking upon earth?
MEPHISTOPHELES: No, Lord! I find things there, as ever, miserably bad. Men, in their days of wretchedness, move my pity; even I myself have not the heart to torment the poor things.
[tr. Hayward (1831)]

THE LORD
Hast thou naught else to say? Is blame
In coming here, as ever, thy sole aim?
Does nothing on the earth to thee seem right?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, Lord! I find things there, as ever, in sad plight.
Men, in their evil days, move my compassion;
Such sorry things to plague is nothing worth.

[tr. Swanwick (1850)]

THE LORD
Hast nothing for our edification?
Still thy old work of accusation?
Will things on earth be never right for thee?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, Lord! I find them still as bad as bad can be.
Poor souls! their miseries seem so much to please 'em,
I scarce can find it in my heart to tease 'em.

[tr. Brooks (1868)]

THE LORD
Hast thou, then, nothing more to mention?
Com'st ever, thus, with ill intention?
Find'st nothing right on earth, eternally?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, Lord! I find things, there, still bad as they can be.
Man's misery even to pity moves my nature;
I've scarce the heart to plague the wretched creature.

[tr. Taylor (1870)]

THE LORD
Hast thou then nothing more to say?
And art thou here again to-day
To vent thy grudge in peevish spite
Against the earth, still finding nothing right?

MEPHISTOPHELES
True, Lord; I find things there no better than before;
I must confess I do deplore
Man’s hopeless case, and scarce have heart myself
To torture the poor miserable elf.

[tr. Blackie (1880)]

THE LORD
Is that the sum of thy narration?
Hast never aught but accusation?
Still upon Earth is nothing to thy mind?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, Lord! all things on Earth still downright bad I find.
Mortals their piteous fate upon the rack so stretches,
Myself have scarce the heart to plague the wretches.

[tr. Latham (1908)]

THE LORD
Can you not speak but to abuse?
Do you come only to accuse?
Does nothing on the earth seem to you right?

MEPHISTO:
No, Lord. I find it still a rather sorry sight.
Man moves me to compassion, so wretched is his plight.
I have no wish to cause him further woe.

[tr. Kaufmann (1961)]

THE LORD
Is this all you can report?
Must you come forever to accuse?
Is nothing ever right for you on earth?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, my Lord. I find it there, as always, thoroughly revolting.
I pity men in all their misery
and actually hate to plague the wretches.

[tr. Salm (1962)]

THE LORD
And that is all you have to say?
Must you complain each time you come my way?
Is nothing right in your terrestrial scene?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, sir! The earth's as bad as it has always been.
I really feel quite sorry for mankind;
Tormenting them myself's no fun, I find.

[tr. Luke (1987)]

THE LORD
Is that all you have got to say to me?
Is that all you can do, accuse eternally?
Is nothing ever right for you down there, sir?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, nothing, Lord -- all's just as bad as ever.
I really pity humanity's myriad miseries,
I swear I hate tormenting the poor ninnies.

[tr. Greenberg (1992)]

THE LORD
Why are you telling me all this again?
Do you always come here to complain?
Could there be something good on earth that you've forgotten?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, Lord! I'm pleased to say it's still completely rotten.
I feel quite sorry for their miserable plight;
When it's as bad as that, tormenting them's not right.

[tr. Williams (1999), l. 293ff]

GOD
Have you nothing else to name?
Do you always come here to complain?
Does nothing ever go right on the Earth?

MEPHISTOPHELES
No, Lord! I find, as always, it couldn’t be worse.
I’m so involved with Man’s wretched ways,
I’ve even stopped plaguing them, myself, these days.

[tr. Kline (2003)]

 
Added on 8-Aug-22 | Last updated 25-Oct-22
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We must realize that man’s nature will remain the same so long as he remains man; that civilization is but a slight coverlet beneath which the dominant beast sleeps lightly and ever ready to awake.

H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) American fabulist [Howard Phillips Lovecraft]
“At the Root,” The United Amateur (Jul 1918)
 
Added on 27-Jul-22 | Last updated 27-Jul-22
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No people are uninteresting.
Their fate is like the chronicle of planets.

Nothing in them is not particular,
and planet is dissimilar from planet.

Yevgeny Yevtushenko
Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1933-2017) Russian poet, writer, film director, academic [Евге́ний Евтуше́нко, Evgenij Evtušenko]
“People [Lyudi]” (1961), l. 1ff [tr. Milner-Gulland/Levi (1967)]
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Added on 18-Jul-22 | Last updated 18-Jul-22
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But the thing I must point out is that my despair is of the group itself, the group as it’s assembled. And I’ve never identified with the “local group,” no matter what it identifies itself as. But I do cherish, and love, and am thrilled by individuals. People, one by one as I meet them, I find are wondrous. When you have time to listen and watch them, when you look them in the eyes, you see all the potential of the whole thing, this whole species that has such a wonderful gift that was given by nature. The mind, the ability to objectify and to think abstractly. And we’ve wasted it by everyone wanting a fanny pack and to go to the mall and to be paying 18 percent interest on things that we don’t need, don’t want, don’t work, and can’t give back.

George Carlin (1937-2008) American comedian
Interview by Marc Cooper, The Progressive (Jul 2001)
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Added on 27-Jun-22 | Last updated 27-Jun-22
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It’s always sort of amused me that mankind has been able to come up with a lot of things, two of them being napalm — which is a jellied substance that burns the skin and kills — and Silly Putty, which is something that you can press onto a comic and see a backwards picture of Popeye. And somewhere between these two extremes lies our truth. And I don’t know how good we are at pursuing it.

George Carlin (1937-2008) American comedian
Interview by Marc Cooper, The Progressive (Jul 2001)
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Discussing the title of his new book, Napalm and Silly Putty.
 
Added on 20-Jun-22 | Last updated 20-Jun-22
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Half humanity was here in this lean dark girl beside him, and that half of humanity had its right to reason, determine and meddle, no less than the male half. After all, they were equally responsible for humankind continuing. There was not an archbishop or an abbot in the world who had not had a flesh and blood mother, and come of a passionate coupling.

Ellis Peters
Ellis Peters (1913-1995) English writer, translator [pseud. of Edith Mary Pargeter, who also wrote under the names John Redfern, Jolyon Carr, Peter Benedict]
The Holy Thief, ch. 11 (1992)
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Added on 13-Jun-22 | Last updated 13-Jun-22
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I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.

William Faulkner (1897-1962) American novelist
Speech, Nobel Banquet, Stockholm (10 Dec 1950)
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Faulkner received the 1949 Nobel Prize for Literature.
 
Added on 2-Jun-22 | Last updated 13-Jun-22
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That script taught me never to write about someone who doesn’t go to the bathroom.

Rod Serling (1924-1975) American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, narrator
Comment to Mark Olshaker
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Regarding his script for The Man (1972), from the novel by Irving Wallace, portraying James Earl Jones as the first Black US president. Serling felt the final product came out with Jones too much as a symbol, not a real human being.

In Anne Serling, As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling (2013).
 
Added on 31-May-22 | Last updated 13-Jun-22
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There are things in the breast of mankind which are best
In darkness and secrecy hid;
For you never can tell, when you’ve opened a hell,
How soon you can put back the lid.

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) English writer
“The Sons of the Suburbs” (1916)
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On bloodthirstiness in war by previously peaceful people.

Originally written for the Christmas 1916 issue of Blighty, a magazine for servicemen. It was rejected, eventually to be published in the Sunday Pictorial (19 Jan 1936). It was never included by Kipling in any of his collections.
 
Added on 30-May-22 | Last updated 13-Jun-22
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I sometimes think that God in creating man, somewhat over-estimated his ability.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
(Attributed)
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The quotation first appears, without much citation, in Francis Douglas, Oscar Wilde and the Black Douglas, ch. 2 (1940), four decades after Wilde's death. Further discussion of the quotation here: God In Creating Man, Somewhat Overestimated His Ability – Quote Investigator
 
Added on 6-May-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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It is the ability to choose which makes us human.

Madeleine L'Engle (1918-2007) American writer
Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, ch. 2 (1980)
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Added on 4-May-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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When, Miller wondered, does someone stop being human? There had to be a moment, some decision that you made and before it, you were one person, and after it, someone else …Emotionally, it had all been obvious at the time. It was only when he considered it from outside that it seemed dangerous. If he’d seen it in someone else — Muss, Havelock, Sematimba — he wouldn’t have taken more than a minute to realize they’d gone off the rails. Since it was him, he had taken longer to notice. But Holden was right. Somewhere along the line, he’d lost himself.

Daniel Abraham
Daniel Abraham (b. 1969) American writer [pseud. James S. A. Corey (with Ty Franck), M. L. N. Hanover]
Leviathan Wakes, ch. 28 (2011) [with Ty Franck]
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Added on 4-May-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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Humanity will ever seek but never attain perfection. Let us at least survive and go on trying.

Dora Russell
Dora, Countess Russell (1894-1986) British author, feminist, social activist [Dora Russell, née Black]
The Religion of the Machine Age (1983)
 
Added on 7-Apr-22 | Last updated 7-Apr-22
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That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) American writer [Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald]
Comment to Sheilah Graham (c. 1938)

Quoted in her book, Beloved Infidel: The Education of a Woman, ch. 22 (1958). Variant, in the 1959 film adaptation of the book:

The beauty of literature is that it’s ageless. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.

See also Baldwin.

More discussion of this quotation: That Is Part of the Beauty of All Literature. You Discover that Your Longings Are Universal Longings – Quote Investigator.
 
Added on 6-Apr-22 | Last updated 6-Apr-22
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I note in a letter forwarded to me by the Famous Writers School that I have “aided the Communist conspiracy.” If this is indeed true, and I mean this with sincerity and respect, I should turn myself in to any local F.B.I. office. It was not my intention to aid and conspire, when I wrote the TV script, “Carol for Another Christmas,” nor was I remotely interested in propagandizing for the United Nations or for any organization. I was deeply interested in conveying what is a deeply felt conviction of my own. This is simply to suggest that human beings must involve themselves in the anguish of other human beings. This, I submit to you, is not a political thesis at all. It is simply an expression of what I would hope might be ultimately a simple humanity for humanity’s sake.

Rod Serling (1924-1975) American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, narrator
Letter to viewer who complained about the TV movie “Carol for Another Christmas” (1964)
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Quoted in Anne Serling, As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling (2013).
 
Added on 29-Mar-22 | Last updated 29-Mar-22
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Others again who say that regard should be had for the rights of fellow-citizens, but not of foreigners, would destroy the universal brotherhood of mankind; and, when this is annihilated, kindness, generosity, goodness, and justice must utterly perish; and those who work all this destruction must be considered as wickedly rebelling against the immortal gods. For they uproot the fellowship which the gods have established between human beings.

[Qui autem civium rationem dicunt habendam, externorum negant, ii dirimunt communem humani generis societatem; qua sublata beneficentia, liberalitas, bonitas, iustitia funditus tollitur; quae qui tollunt, etiam adversus deos immortales impii iudicandi sunt. Ab iis enim constitutam inter homines societatem evertunt.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 3, ch. 6 (3.6) / sec. 28 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translation:

Others there are, who are ready to confess that they ought to bear such a regard to fellow-citizens, but by no means allow of it in relation to strangers: now these men destroy that universal society of all mankind, which, if once taken away, kindness, liberality, justice, and humanity must utterly perish; which excellent virtues whoever makes void, is chargeable with impiety towards the immortal gods; for he breaks that society which they have established and settled amongst men.
[tr. Cockman (1699)]

They, too, who hold that a regard ought to be paid to our fellow-citizens, but deny it to foreigners, break asunder the common society of mankind, by which beneficence, liberality, goodness, justice, are entirely abolished. They who destroy these virtues, are to be charged with impiety towards the immortal gods. For, by such principles, they subvert established intercourse among men.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

They, again, who say that a regard ought to be had with fellow citizens, but deny that it ought to foreigners, break up the common society of the human race, which being withdrawn, beneficence, liberality, goodness, justice are utterly abolished. But they who tear up these things should be judged impious, even towards the immortal gods; for they overturn the society established by them among men.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

Those, too, who say that account is to be taken of citizens, but not of foreigners, destroy the common sodality of the human race, which abrogated, beneficence, liberality, kindness, justice, are removed from their very foundations. And those who remove them are to be regarded as impious toward the immortal gods; for they overturn the fellowship established among men by the gods.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]

Others again who deny the rights of aliens while respecting those of their countrymen, destroy the universal brotherhood of mankind which involves in its ruin beneficence, liberality, goodness and justice. To destroy these virtues is to sin against the immortal gods. It is to subvert that society which the gods established among men.
[tr. Gardiner (1899)]

In the same way, those who say that one standard should be applied to fellow citizens but another to foreigners, destroy the common society of the human race. When that disappears, good deeds, generosity, kindness, and justice are also removed root and branch. We must draw the conclusion that people who do away with these qualities are disrespectful even against the immortal gods. They destroy the cooperation among men which the gods instituted.
[tr. Edinger (1974)]

 
Added on 17-Mar-22 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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More quotes by Cicero, Marcus Tullius

For men are sprung from the earth not as its inhabitants and denizens, but to be as it were the spectators of things supernal and heavenly, in the contemplation whereof no other species of animals participates.

[Sunt enim ex terra homines non ut incolae atque habitatores sed quasi spectatores superarum rerum atque caelestium, quarum spectaculum ad nullum aliud genus animantium pertinet.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Natura Deorum [On the Nature of the Gods], Book 2, ch. 56 / sec. 140 (2.140) (45 BC) [tr. Rackham (1933)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

For men are not simply to dwell here as inhabitants of the earth, but to be, as it were, spectators of the heavens and the stars, which is a privilege not granted to any other kind of animated beings.
[tr. Yonge (1877)]

For men are formed from the earth, not as its inhabitants and occupants, but as spectators of the things above them in the sky, the spectacle of which is afforded to no other race of animate beings.
[tr. Brooks (1896)]

 
Added on 27-Jan-22 | Last updated 27-Jan-22
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All is in the hands of man. Therefore you should wash them often.

[Wszystko jest w rękach człowieka. Dlatego należy je często myć.]

Stanislaw Lec (1909-1966) Polish aphorist, poet, satirist
Unkempt Thoughts [Myśli nieuczesane] (1957) [tr. Gałązka (1962)]
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Added on 11-Jan-22 | Last updated 11-Jan-22
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The trouble about man is twofold. He cannot learn truths which are too complicated; he forgets truths which are too simple.

Rebecca West (1892-1983) British author, journalist, literary critic, travel writer [pseud. for Cicily Isabel Fairfield]
The Meaning of Treason, Epilogue (1947)
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Added on 6-Jan-22 | Last updated 6-Jan-22
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“But humans do it” is maybe the worst excuse for any behavior I’ve ever heard.

Jeph Jacques
Jeffrey Paul "Jeph" Jacques (b. 1980) American cartoonist
Questionable Content #4679 “I Learned It from You” (Dec 2021)
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Added on 6-Jan-22 | Last updated 6-Jan-22
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I’m no preacher but I can tell you this — the lives that people lead are driving them crazy and their insanity comes out in the way they drive.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
Factotum, ch. 72 (1975)
 
Added on 5-Jan-22 | Last updated 5-Jan-22
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This is what the prophets discovered. History is a nightmare. There are more scandals, more acts of corruption, than are dreamed of in philosophy. It would be blasphemous to believe that what we witness is the end of God’s creation. It is an act of evil to accept the state of evil as either inevitable or final. Others may be satisfied with improvement, the prophets insist upon redemption. The way man acts is a disgrace, and it must not go on forever.

Abraham Joshua Heschel
Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) Polish-American rabbi, theologian, philosopher
The Prophets, Vol. 1 (1962)
 
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I have believed that we are neither angels nor devils, but humans, with clusters of potentials in both directions. I am neither an optimist nor pessimist, but a possibilist.

Maxwell "Max" Lerner (1902-1992) American journalist, columnist, educator
Who’s Who in America, “Max Lerner”

Summary of his beliefs recorded in his Who's Who entry. Quoted in "Max Lerner, Writer, 89, Is Dead; Humanist on Political Barricades," New York Times (6 Jun 1992).
 
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We were like a lot of clocks, he thought, all striking different hours, all convinced we were telling the right time.

Susan Ertz
Susan Ertz (1887-1985) Anglo-American writer
The Story of Julian (1931)
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Our country is the world, our countrymen are all mankind. We love the land of our nativity, only as we love all other lands. The interests, rights, and liberties of American citizens are no more dear to us than are those of the whole human race. Hence we can allow no appeal to patriotism, to revenge any national insult or injury.

William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) American abolitionist, journalist, suffragist, social reformer
Declaration of Sentiments, Boston Peace Conference ( 28 Sep 1838)
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You’ll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
O’Flaherty, V.C. (1917)
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We were born of risen apes, not fallen angels, and the apes were armed killers besides. And so what shall we wonder at? Our murders and massacres and missiles, and our irreconcilable regiments? Or our treaties whatever they may be worth; our symphonies however seldom they may be played; our peaceful acres, however frequently they may be converted to battlefields; our dreams however rarely they may be accomplished. The miracle of man is not how far he has sunk but how magnificently he has risen. We are known among the stars by our poems, not our corpses.

Robert Ardrey (1908-1980) American playwright, screenwriter and science writer
African Genesis: A Personal Investigation into the Animal Origins and Nature of Man (1961)
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When I was writing a column for Family Circle, I had planned one in praise of shabbiness. A house that does not have one worn, comfy chair in it is soulless. It all comes back to the fact that we are not asked to be perfect, only human.

May Sarton
May Sarton (1912-1995) Belgian-American poet, novelist, memoirist [pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton]
Journal of a Solitude (1973)
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If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?

[Puisque les tendances naturelles de l’humanité sont assez mauvaises pour qu’on doive lui ôter sa liberté, comment se fait-il que les tendances des organisateurs soient bonnes ? Les Législateurs et leurs agents ne font-ils pas partie du genre humain ? Se croient-ils pétris d’un autre limon que le reste des hommes?]

Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) French philosopher, economist, politician
The Law [La Loi] (1850) [tr. Russell]
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It is tempting to say that a Nazi murderer is beyond the pale of understanding. […] Yet to deny a human being his human character is to render ethics impossible. To yield to this temptation, to find other people inhuman, is to take a step toward, not away from, the Nazi position. To find other people incomprehensible is to abandon the search for understanding, and thus to abandon history.

Timothy Snyder (b. 1969) American historian, author
Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, “Conclusion” (2010)
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There is, in fact, no incompatibility between the principles of feminism and the possibility that men and women are not psychologically identical. To repeat: equality is not the empirical claim that all groups of humans are interchangeable; it is the moral principle that individuals should not be judged or constrained by the average properties of their group. In the case of gender, the barely defeated Equal Rights Amendment put it succinctly: “Equality of Rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.” If we recognize this principle, no one has to spin myths about the indistinguishability of the sexes to justify equality. Nor should anyone invoke sex differences to justify discriminatory policies or to hector women into doing what they don’t want to do.

Steven Pinker (b. 1954) Canadian-American cognitive psychologist, linguist, author
The Blank Slate, Part 5, ch. 18 (2002)
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But we are as other men, exactly. Of one blood, one species, one brain, one figure, one fundamental set of collective instincts, one solitary body of information, one everything. Superiority and inferiority are individual, not racial or national.

Philip Wylie (1902-1971) American author
Generation of Vipers (1942)
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Some people think that evolutionary psychology claims to have discovered that human nature is selfish and wicked. But they are flattering the researchers and anyone who would claim to have discovered the opposite. No one needs a scientist to measure whether humans are prone to knavery. The question has been answered in the history books, the newspapers, the ethnographic record, and the letters to Ann Landers. But people treat it like an open question, as if someday science might discover that it’s all a bad dream and we will wake up to find that it is human nature to love one another.

Steven Pinker (b. 1954) Canadian-American cognitive psychologist, linguist, author
How the Mind Works, ch. 7 (1997)
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Crowley had always known that he would be around when the world ended, because he was immortal and wouldn’t have any alternative. But he hoped it was a long way off.

Because he rather liked people.

It was major failing in a demon. Oh, he did his best to make their short lives miserable, because that was his job, but nothing he could think up was half as bad as the stuff they thought up themselves. They seemed to have a talent for it. It was built into the design, somehow. They were born into a world that was against them in a thousand little ways, and then devoted most of their energies to making it worse. Over the years Crowley had found it increasingly difficult to find anything demonic to do which showed up against the natural background of generalized nastiness. There had been times, over the past millennium, when he’d felt like sending a message back Below saying, Look we may as well give up right now, we might as well shut down Dis and Pandemonium and everywhere and move up here, there’s nothing we can do to them that they don’t do to themselves and they do things we’ve never even thought of, often involving electrodes. They’ve got what we lack. They’ve got imagination. And electricity, of course.

One of them had written it, hadn’t he … “Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.”

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Good Omens, “Eleven Years Ago” (1990) [with Neil Gaiman]
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It is just as foolish to complain that people are selfish and treacherous as it is to complain that the magnetic field does not increase unless the electric field has a curl. Both are laws of nature.

John von Neumann (1903-1957) Hungarian-American mathematician, physicist, inventor, polymath [János "Johann" Lajos Neumann]
(Attributed)
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More in Eugene Wigner, "John von Neumann (1903-1957)," Yearbook of the American Philosophical Society (1958); later collected in Wigner's Symmetries and Reflections.
 
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If the first blow hasn’t knocked all the wits out of the victim’s head, he may realize that turning the other cheek amounts to manipulation of the offender’s sense of guilt, not to speak of his karma. The moral victory itself may not be so moral after all, not only because suffering often has a narcissistic aspect to it, but also because it renders the victim superior, that is, better than his enemy. Yet no matter how evil your enemy is, the crucial thing is that he is human; and although incapable of loving another like ourselves, we nonetheless know that evil takes root when one man starts to think that he is better than another.

Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996) Russian-American poet, essayist, Nobel laureate, US Poet Laureate [Iosif Aleksandrovič Brodskij]
Commencement Address, Williams College (24 May 1984)
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In my opinion we learn nothing from history except the infinite variety of men’s behaviour. We study it, as we listen to music or read poetry, for pleasure, not for instruction.

A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) British historian, journalist, broadcaster [Alan John Percivale Taylor]
“The Radical Tradition: Fox, Paine, and Cobbett,” The Trouble Makers: Dissent over Foreign Policy, 1792–1939 (1969)
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Man the master, ingenious past all measure,
past all dreams the skills within his grasp —
   he forges on, now to destruction,
now again to greatness. When he weaves in
the laws of the land, and the justice of the gods
that bind his oaths together
   he and his city rise high —
      but the city casts out
that man who weds himself to inhumanity
thanks to reckless daring. Never share my hearth,
never think my thoughts, whoever does such things.

[σοφόν τι τὸ μηχανόεν τέχνας ὑπὲρ ἐλπίδ᾽ ἔχων
τοτὲ μὲν κακόν, ἄλλοτ᾽ ἐπ᾽ ἐσθλὸν ἕρπει,
νόμους γεραίρων χθονὸς θεῶν τ᾽ ἔνορκον δίκαν,
370ὑψίπολις: ἄπολις ὅτῳ τὸ μὴ καλὸν
ξύνεστι τόλμας χάριν. μήτ᾽ ἐμοὶ παρέστιος
γένοιτο μήτ᾽ ἴσον φρονῶν ὃς τάδ᾽ ἔρδει.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 365ff, Stasimon 1, Antistrophe 2 [Chorus] (441 BC) [tr. Fagles (1982)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Wise in his craft of art
Beyond the bounds of expectation,
The while to good he goes, the while to evil.
Honouring his country's laws and heaven's oathbound right,
High is he in the state!
But cityless is he with whom inherent baseness dwells;
When boldness dares so much,
No seat by me at festive hearth,
No seat by me in sect or party,
For him that sinneth!
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

Passing the wildest flight thought are the cunning and skill,
That guide man now to the light, but now to counsels of ill.
If he honors the laws of the land, and reveres the Gods of the State
Proudly his city shall stand; but a cityless outcast I rate
Whoso bold in his pride from the path of right doth depart;
Ne'er may I sit by his side, or share the thoughts of his heart.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

Inventive beyond wildest hope, endowed with boundless skill,
One while he moves toward evil, and one while toward good,
According as he loves his land and fears the Gods above.
Weaving the laws into his life and steadfast oath of Heaven,
High in the State he moves but outcast he,
Who hugs dishonour to his heart and follows paths of crime
Ne'er may he come beneath my roof, nor think like thoughts with me.v [tr. Campbell (1873)]

Possessing resourceful skill, a subtlety beyond expectation he moves now to evil, now to good. When he honors the laws of the land and the justice of the gods to which he is bound by oath, his city prospers. But banned from his city is he who, thanks to his rashness, couples with disgrace. Never may he share my home, never think my thoughts, who does these things!
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

Cunning beyond fancy's dream is the fertile skill which brings him, now to evil, now to good. When he honours the laws of the land, and that justice which he hath sworn by the gods to uphold, proudly stands his city: no city hath he who, for his rashness, dwells with sin. Never may he share my hearth, never think my thoughts, who doth these things!
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

O clear intelligence, force beyond all measure!
O fate of man, working both good and evil!
When the laws are kept, how proudly his city stands!
When the laws are broken, what of his city then?
Never may the anarchic man find rest at my hearth,
Never be it said that my thoughts are his thoughts.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 285ff]

O wondrous subtlety of man, that draws
To good or evil ways! Great honor is given
And power to him who upholdeth his country’s laws
And the justice of heaven.
But he that, too rashly daring, walks in sin
In solitary pride to his life’s end.
At door of mine shall never enter in
To call me friend.
[tr. Watling (1947)]

Clever beyond all dreams
the inventive crat that he has
which may drive him one time or another to well or ill.
When he honors the laws of the land and the gods' sworn right
high indeed is his city; but stateless is the man
who dares to dwell with dishonor. Not by my fire,
never to share my thoughts, who does these things.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

Surpassing belief, the device and
Cunning that Man has attained,
And it bringeth him now to evil, now to good.
If he observe Law, and tread
The righteous path God ordained,
Honored is he; dishonored, the man whose reckless heart
Shall make him join hands with sin:
May I not think like him,
Nor may such an impious man
Dwell in my house.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

He has cunning contrivance,
Skill surpassing hope,
And so he slithers into wickedness sometimes,
Other times into doing good.
If he honors the law of the land
And the oath-bound justice of the gods,
Then his city shall stand high.
But no city for him if he turns shameless out of daring.
He will be no guest of mine,
He will never share my thoughts,
If he goes wrong.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

Possessing a means of invention, a skillfulness beyond expectation,
now toward evil he moves, now toward good.
By integrating the laws of the earth
and justice under oath sworn to the gods,
he is lofty of city. Citiless is the man with whom ignobility
because of his daring dwells.
May he never reside at my hearth
or think like me,
whoever does such things.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

And though his wisdom is great in discovery -- wisdom beyond all imaginings!
Yet one minute it turns to ill the next again to good.
But whoever honours the laws of his land and his sworn oaths to the gods, he’ll bring glory to his city.
The arrogant man, on the other hand, the man who strays from the righteous path is lost to his city. Let that man never stay under the same roof as me or even be acquainted by me!
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

The qualities of his inventive skills
bring arts beyond his dreams and lead him on,
sometimes to evil and sometimes to good.
If he treats his country’s laws with due respect
and honours justice by swearing on the gods,
he wins high honours in his city.
But when he grows bold and turns to evil,
then he has no city. A man like that --
let him not share my home or know my mind.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 415ff]

With clever creativity beyond expectation, he moves now to evil, now to good. The one who observes the laws of the land and justice, our compat with the gods, is honored in the city, but there is no city for one who participates in what is wrong for the sake of daring. Let him not share my hearth, nor let me share his ideas who had done these things.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]

 
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I been readin’ ’bout how maybe they is planets peopled by folks with ad-vanced brains. On the other hand, maybe we got the most brains … maybe our intellects is the universe’s most ad-vanced. Either way, it’s a mighty soberin’ thought.

Walt Kelly (1913-1973) American animator and cartoonist [Walter Crawford Kelly, Jr.]
“Pogo” [Porky Pine] (20 Jun 1959)

Often paraphrased: "Thar’s only two possibilities: Thar is life out there in the universe which is smarter than we are, or we’re the most intelligent life in the universe. Either way, it’s a mighty sobering thought."

More information:
 
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Throughout our nervous history, we have constructed pyramidic towers of evil, ofttimes in the name of good. Our greed, fear and lasciviousness have enabled us to murder our poets, who are ourselves, to castigate our priests, who are ourselves. The lists of our subversions of the good stretch from before recorded history to this moment. We drop our eyes at the mention of the bloody, torturous Inquisition. Our shoulders sag at the thoughts of African slaves lying spoon-­fashion in the filthy hatches of slave-ships, and the subsequent auction blocks upon which were built great fortunes in our country. We turn our heads in bitter shame at the remembrance of Dachau and the other gas ovens, where millions of ourselves were murdered by millions of ourselves. As soon as we are reminded of our actions, more often than not we spend incredible energy trying to forget what we’ve just been reminded of.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) American poet, memoirist, activist [b. Marguerite Ann Johnson]
“Facing Evil,” Interview by Bill Moyers (1982)
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And speech he has learned, and thought
So swift, and the temper of mind
To dwell within cities, and not to lie bare
Amid the keen, biting frosts
Or cower beneath pelting rain;
Full of resource against all that comes to him
is Man. Against Death alone
He is left with no defence.

[καὶ φθέγμα καὶ ἀνεμόεν φρόνημα καὶ ἀστυνόμους
ὀργὰς ἐδιδάξατο καὶ δυσαύλων
πάγων ὑπαίθρεια καὶ δύσομβρα φεύγειν βέλη
παντοπόρος: ἄπορος ἐπ᾽ οὐδὲν ἔρχεται
τὸ μέλλον: Ἅιδα μόνον φεῦξιν οὐκ ἐπάξεται.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 354ff, Stasimon 1, Strophe 2 [Chorus] (441 BC) [tr. Kitto (1962)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Language and lofty thought,
And dispositions meet for order'd cities,
These he hath taught himself; -- and how to shun
The shafts of comfortless winter, --
Both those which smite when the sky is clear,
And those which fall in showers; --
with plans for all things,
Planless in nothing, meets he the future!
Of death alone the avoidance
No foreign aid will bring.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

Speech and the wind-swift speed of counsel and civic wit,
He hath learnt for himself all these; and the arrowy rain to fly
And the nipping airs that freeze, 'neath the open winter sky.
He hath provision for all: fell plague he hath learnt to endure;
Safe whate'er may befall: yet for death he hath found no cure.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

Wise utterance and wind-swift thought, and city-moulding mind,
And shelter from the clear-eyed power of biting frost,
He hath taught him, and to shun the sharp, roof-penetrating rain, --
Full of resource, without device he meets no coming time;
From Death alone he shall not find reprieve;
No league may gain him that relief.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

Speech and thought fast as the wind and the moods that give order to a city he has taught himself, and how to flee the arrows of the inhospitable frost under clear skies and the arrows of the storming rain. He has resource for everything. Lacking resource in nothing he strides towards what must come. From Death alone he shall procure no escape.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

And speech, and wind-swift thought, and all the moods that mould a state, hath he taught himself; and how to flee the arrows of the frost, when 'tis hard lodging under the clear sky, and the arrows of the rushing rain; yea, he hath resource for all; without resource he meets nothing that must come: only against Death shall he call for aid in vain.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

Words also, and thought as rapid as air,
He fashions to his good use; statecraft is his,
And his the skill that deflects the arrows of snow,
The spears of winter rain: from every wind
He has made himself secure -- from all but one:
In the late wind of death he cannot stand.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939)]

The use of language, the wind-swift motion of brain
He learnt; found out the laws of living together
In cities, building him shelter against the rain
And wintry weather.
There is nothing beyond his power. His subtlety
Meeteth all chance, all danger conquereth.
For every ill he hath found its remedy,
Save only death.
[tr. Watling (1947), l. 295ff]

Language, and thought like the wind
and the feelings that make the town,
he has taught himself, and shelter against the cold,
refuge from rain. He can always help himself.
He faces no future helpless. There's only death
that he cannot find an escape from.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

And speech and thought, quick as the wind
and the mood and mind for law that rules the city --
all these he has taught himself
and shelter from the arrows of the frost
when there's rough lodging under the cold clear sky
and the shafts of lashing rain --
ready, resourceful man!
Never without resources
never an impasse as he marches on the future --
only Death, from Death alone he will find no rescue.
[tr. Fagles (1982)]

Language and a mind swift as the wind
For making plans --
These he has taught himself --
And the character to live in cities under law.
He's learned to take cover from a frost
And escape sharp arrows of sleet.
He has the means to handle every need,
Never steps toward the future without the means.
Except for Death: He's got no relief from that.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

Both language and thought swift as wind
and impulses that govern cities,
he has taught himself, as well as how
to escape the shafts of rain
while encamped beneath open skies.
All resourceful, he approaches no future thing
to come without resource. From Hades alone
he will not contrive escape.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

And man has learnt speech and thought, swifter than the wind he mastered
And learnt to govern his cities well
And this omniscient being has learnt how to avoid the blasts of the wild open air: the arrows of the freezing night, the dreadful wind driven piercing gale!
He’s prepared for all events bar Death and from Death he can find no escape.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

He’s taught himself speech and wind-swift thought,
trained his feelings for communal civic life,
learning to escape the icy shafts of frost,
volleys of pelting rain in winter storms,
the harsh life lived under the open sky.
That’s man -- so resourceful in all he does.
There’s no event his skill cannot confront --
other than death -- that alone he cannot shun.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 405ff]

He taught himself language and wind-like thought and city-ruling urges, how to flee the slings of frost under winter's clear sky and the arrows of stormy rain, ever-resourceful. Against no possibility is he at a loss. For death alone he finds no aid.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]

 
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More quotes by Sophocles

Many wonders, many terrors,
But none more wonderful than the human race
Or more dangerous.
This creature travels on a winter gale
Across the silver sea,
Shadowed by high-surging waves,
While on Earth, grandest of the gods,
He grinds the deathless, tireless land away,
Turning and turning the plow
From year to year, behind driven horses.

[πολλὰ τὰ δεινὰ κοὐδὲν ἀνθρώπου δεινότερον πέλει.
τοῦτο καὶ πολιοῦ πέραν πόντου χειμερίῳ νότῳ
χωρεῖ, περιβρυχίοισιν
περῶν ὑπ᾽ οἴδμασιν.
θεῶν τε τὰν ὑπερτάταν, Γᾶν
ἄφθιτον, ἀκαμάταν, ἀποτρύεται
ἰλλομένων ἀρότρων ἔτος εἰς ἔτος
ἱππείῳ γένει πολεύων.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 332ff, Stasimon 1, Strophe 1 [Chorus] (441 BC) [tr. Woodruff (2001)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Many the things that mighty be,
And nought is more might than -- MAN.
For he can cross the foaming ocean,
What time the stormy South is blowing,
Steering amid the mantling waves that roar around him.
And for his uses he wearieth
Earth, the highest Deity,
The immortal, the untiring one,
As year by year the ploughs are drawn
Up and down the furrow'd field,
To and fro his harness'd teams --
The seed of horses -- driving.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

Many wonders there be, but naught more wondrous than man;
Over the surging sea, with a whitening south wind wan,
Through the foam of the firth, man makes his perilous way;
And the eldest of deities Earth that knows not toil nor decay
Ever he furrows and scores, as his team, year in year out,
With breed of the yoked horse, the ploughshare turneth about.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

Many a wonder lives and moves, but the wonder of all is man,
That courseth over the grey ocean, carried of Southern gale,
Faring amidst high-swelling seas that rudely surge around,
And Earth, supreme of mighty Gods, eldest, imperishable,
Eternal, he with patient furrow wears and wears away
As year by year the plough-shares turn and turn, --
Subduing her unwearied strength with children of the steed.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man. This power spans the sea, even when it surges white before the gales of the south-wind, and makes a path under swells that threaten to engulf him. Earth, too, the eldest of the gods, the immortal, the unwearied, he wears away to his own ends, turning the soil with the offspring of horses as the plows weave to and fro year after year.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man; the power that crosses the white sea, driven by the stormy south-wind, making a path under surges that threaten to engulf him; and Earth, the eldest of the gods, the immortal, the unwearied, doth he wear, turning the soil with the offspring of horses,as the ploughs go to and fro from year to year.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

Numberless are the world’s wonders, but none
More wonderful than man; the stormgray sea
Yields to his prows, the huge crests bear him high;
Earth, holy and inexhaustible, is graven
With shining furrows where his plows have gone
Year after year, the timeless labor of stallions.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939)]

Wonders are many on earth, and the greatest of these
Is man, who rides the ocean and takes his way
Through the deeps, though wide-swept valleys of perilous seas
That surge and sway.
He is master of ageless Earth, to his own will bending
The immortal mother of gods by the sweat of his brow,
As year succeeds to year, with toil unending
Of mule and plough.
[tr. Watling (1947), l. 279ff]

Many the wonders, but nothing walks stranger than man.
This thing crosses the sea in the winter's storm,
making his path through the roaring waves.
And she, the greatest of gods, the earth --
ageless she is, and unwearied -- he wars her away
as the ploughts go up and down from year to year
and his mules turn up the soil.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

Wonders are many, yet of all
Things is Man the most wonderful.
He can sail on the stormy sea
Through tempest rage, and the loud
Waves roar around, as he makes his
Path amid the towering surge.
Earth inexhaustible, ageless, he wearies, as
Backwards and forwards, from season to season, his
Ox-team drives along the ploughshare.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

Numberless wonders
terrible wonders walk the world but none the match for man --
that great wonder crossing the heaving gray sea,
driven on by the blasts of winter
on through breakers crashing left and right,
holds his steady course
and the oldest of the gods he wears away --
the Earth, the immortal, the inexhaustible --
as his plows go back and forth, year in, year out
with the breed of stallions turning up the furrows.
[tr. Fagles (1982), l. 376ff]

Many things cause terror and wonder, yet nothing
is more terrifying and wonderful than man.
This thing goes across the gray
sea on the blasts of winter
storms, passing beneath
waters towering ’round him. The Earth,
eldest of the gods,
unwithering and untiring, this thing wears down
as his plows go back and forth year after year
furrowing her with the issue of horses.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

Wonders abound in this world yet no wonder is greater than man. None!
Through the wild white of a frenzied sea and through the screaming northerlies beneath him and through all the furious storms around him, through all this, man can pass!
And Gods’ most glorious Earth, the imperishable, untiring Earth, this man works with his horses and ploughs, year in, year out.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

There are many strange and wonderful things,
but nothing more strangely wonderful than man.
He moves across the white-capped ocean seas
blasted by winter storms, carving his way
under the surging waves engulfing him.
With his teams of horses he wears down
the unwearied and immortal earth,
the oldest of the gods, harassing her,
as year by year his ploughs move back and forth.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 388ff]

This world has many wonders, but nothing is more wondrous than humanity. It crosses even the grey sea with a stormy south wind, passing under churning waves in open water; and the oldest of the gods, immortal, inexhaustible Earth, it wears away. With ploughs it winds back and forth, year after year, turning up the soil with the offspring of horses.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]

There are many wonders and none
is more surprising than humanity.
This thing that crosses the sea
as it whorls under a stormy wind
finding a path on enveloping waves.
It wears down imperishable Earth, too,
the oldest of the gods, a tireless deity,
as the plows trace lives from year to year
drawn by the race of horses.
[tr. @sentantiq (2019)]

 
Added on 22-Apr-21 | Last updated 9-May-21
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We must not suppose that, because a man is a rational animal, he will, therefore, always act rationally; or, because he has such or such a predominant passion, that he will act invariably and consequentially in the pursuit of it. No, we are complicated machines; and though we have one main spring that gives motion to the whole, we have an infinity of little wheels, which, in their turns, retard, precipitate, and sometimes stop that motion.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son, #209 (19 Dec 1749)
    (Source)
 
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As citizens, we must prevent wrongdoing because the world in which we all live, wrong-doer, wrong sufferer and spectator, is at stake.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
The Life of the Mind (1977)
 
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The human race exaggerates everything: its heroes, its enemies, its importance.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
The Captain is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship (1998)
 
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But since, as Plato has admirably expressed it, we are not born for ourselves alone, but our country claims a share of our being, and our friends a share; and since, as the Stoics hold, everything that the earth produces is created for man’s use; and as men, too, are born for the sake of men, that they may be able mutually to help one another; in this direction we ought to follow Nature as our guide, to contribute to the general good by an interchange of acts of kindness, by giving and receiving, and thus by our skill, our industry, and our talents to cement human society more closely together, man to man.

[Sed quoniam, ut praeclare scriptum est a Platone, non nobis solum nati sumus ortusque nostri partem patria vindicat, partem amici, atque, ut placet Stoicis, quae in terris gignantur, ad usum hominum omnia creari, homines autem hominum causa esse generatos, ut ipsi inter se aliis alii prodesse possent, in hoc naturam debemus ducem sequi, communes utilitates in medium afferre mutatione officiorum, dando accipiendo, tum artibus, tum opera, tum facultatibus devincire hominum inter homines societatem.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 7 (1.7) / sec. 22 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]
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Original Latin. Referring to Plato, Epistle 9, to Archytas: "No one of us exists for himself alone, but one share of our existence belongs to our country, another to our parents, a third to the rest of our friends, while a great part is given over to those needs of the hour with which our life is beset." [tr. Bury (1966)]

Alternate translations:

"But seeing (as is excellently said by Plato) we are not born for ourselves alone; but that our native country, our friends and relations, have a just claim and title to some part of us;" and seeing whatsoever is created on earth was merely designed (as the Stoics will have it) for the service of men; and men themselves for the service, good, and assistance of one another; we certainly in this should be followers of Nature, and second her intentions; and by producing all that lies within the reach of our power for the general interest, by mutually giving and receiving good turns, by our knowledge, industry, riches, or other means, should endeavour to keep up that love and society, that should be amongst men.
[tr. Cockman (1699)]

But, according to the excellent observation of Plato, "since we were not born for ourselves alone, our country and our friends have separate claims upon us." The produce of the earth, according to the Stoics, is intended wholly for the use of man; but men were designed for the service of men, by being made able to communicate reciprocal benefits to each other. In this view we ought to follow nature as our guide; and, by the exchange of services, by giving and receiving, to bring forward general advantages for the common good. We ought, by knowledge, industry, and wealth, to bind closer the society of men with men.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

But (as has been strikingly said by Plato) we are not born for ourselves alone, and our country claims her share, and our friends their share of us; and, as the Stoics hold, all the earth produces is created for the used of man, so men are created for the sake of men, that they may mutually do good to one another; in this we ought to take nature for our guide, to throw into the public stock the offices of general utility by a reciprocation of duties; sometimes by receiving, sometimes by giving, and sometimes to cement human society by arts, by industry, and byh our resources.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

But since, as it has been well said by Plato, we are not born for ourselves alone; since our country claims a part in us, our parents a part, our friends a part; and since, according to the Stoics, whatever the earth bears is created for the use of men, while men were brought into being for the sake of men, that they might do good to one another, -- in this matter we ought to follow nature as a guide, to contribute our part to the common good, and by the interchange of kind offices, both in giving and receiving, alike by skill, by labor, and by the resources at our command, to strengthen the social union of men among men.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]

But since our life, to quote the noble words of Plato, has not been given to us for ourselves alone (for our country claims a share, our friends another), and since, as the Stoics hold, all the products of the earth are destined for our use and we are born to help one another, we should here take nature for our guide and contribute to the public good by the interchange of acts of kindness, now giving, now receiving, and ever eager to employ our talents, industry and resources in strengthening the bonds of human society.
[tr. Gardiner (1899)]

Plato wrote brilliantly on this point: "We have not been born for ourselves alon; our native land claims a portion of our origin, our friends claim a portion." The Stoics like to repeat that everything that comes into being in the world is created for the benefit of man, that even men themselves are born for mankind's sake, that people can be helpful among themselves, one to another. The Stoics say that we should follow nature's lead in this and that we should contribute to the public benefit by the mutual interchange of obligations, by both giving and receiving. By our skills, by our efforts, by our capacities we should thus link men together into a human society.
[tr. Edinger (1974)]

 
Added on 22-Feb-21 | Last updated 8-Sep-22
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