Quotations about:
    humanity


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ARIDÄUS: What is a hero without love for mankind?

[Was ist ein Held ohne Menschenliebe?]

Gotthold Lessing (1729-1781) German playwright, philosopher, dramaturg, writer
Philotas, Act 1, sc. 7 (1759) [tr. Heitner (1963)]
    (Source)

Often misattributed to Doris Lessing (as with so many other Gotthold Lessing quotes).

(Source (German)). Alternate translation:

What is a hero void of human love?
[tr. Bohn's (1878)]

 
Added on 20-Feb-24 | Last updated 20-Feb-24
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Whoso pretends that Love is no great god,
The lord and master of all deities,
Is either dull of soul, or, dead to beauty,
Knows not the greatest god that governs men.
 
[Ἔρωτα δ᾿ ὅστις μὴ θεὸν κρίνει μέγαν
καὶ τῶν ἁπάντων δαιμόνων ὑπέρτατον,
ἢ σκαιός ἐστιν ἢ καλῶν ἄπειρος ὢν
οὐκ οἶδε τὸν μέγιστον ἀνθρώποις θεόν.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Auge [Αὐγῃ], frag. 269 (c. 408 BC) [tr. Symonds (1880)]
    (Source)

The second line ("καὶ ... ὑπέρτατον" = "the highest of all deities") was apparently inserted by Stobaeus.

Nauck (TGF) frag. 269, Barnes frag. 15, Musgrave frag. 3. (Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

He who esteems not Love a mighty God,
And to all other Deities superior,
Devoid of reason, or to beauty blind,
Knows not the ruler of this nether world.
[tr. Wodhall (1809)]

Anyone who does not count Love a great god,
and the highest of all the divine powers,
is either obtuse or, lacking experience in his benefits,
is unacquainted with human beings’ greatest god.
[tr. Collard / Cropp (2008); Funke (2013)]

Whoever does not judge Love to be a great god, and highest of all the divine powers, is either a fool or, lacking experience of his good things, is not acquainted with mankind's greatest god.
[tr. Wright (2017)]

Whoever does not think Eros a great god
is either silly or ignorant of blessings.
[Source]

 
Added on 23-Jan-24 | Last updated 23-Jan-24
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More quotes by Euripides

I should like to say that you have, through your knowledge, powers which humans have never had before. You can use these powers well or you can use them ill. You will use them well if you realize that humankind is all one family and that we can all be happy or we can all be miserable.

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
Interview by Woodrow Wyatt, BBC TV (1959)

Collected in Bertrand Russell's BBC Interviews (1959) [UK] and Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind (1960) [US].
 
Added on 10-Jan-24 | Last updated 10-Jan-24
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O human beings, you’re born to fly straight up,
Why does a little gust of wind bring you down?
 
[O gente umana, per volar sù nata,
perché a poco vento così cadi?]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 2 “Purgatorio,” Canto 12, l. 95ff (12.95-96) (1314) [tr. Bang (2019)]
    (Source)

Some translators have this as a comment by Dante on how few takers there are to the Angel of Humility's invitation to ascend higher; others, including most modern translators, make it part of the Angel's speech.

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

Ye Souls for Heav'n design'd! ye Sons of Day!
Why should a random breeze o'erset your fail
When heav'n-ward bound?
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 18]

O ye race of men
Though born to soar, why suffer ye a wind
So slight to baffle ye?
[tr. Cary (1814)]

O human race! whose birthright is to soar,
How little wind will make your course give o'er!
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

O human creatures, born to soar aloft,
Why fall ye thus before a little wind?
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

O race of men, born to fly upward, why at a little wind fall ye so down?
[tr. Butler (1885)]

O human race, though born above to soar,
Why at the slightest breath dost thou thus fall ?
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

O human race, born to fly upward, why before a little wind dost thou so fall?
[tr. Norton (1892)]

O human folk, born to fly upward, why at a breath of wind thus fall ye down?
[tr. Okey (1901)]

O race of men, born to fly upward, why do you fall back so for a little wind?
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

O human spirits, upward born to spring,
Why fall ye down at a brief blast of air?
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

O human race, born to take flight and soar,
Why fall ye, for one breath of wind, to earth?
[tr. Sayers (1955)]

O sons of man, born to ascend on high,
how can so slight a wind-puff make you fall?
[tr. Ciardi (1961)]

O race of men, born to fly upward,
why do you fall so at a breath of wind?
[tr. Singleton (1973)]

O race of men, born to fly heavenward,
how can a breath of wind make you fall back?
[tr. Musa (1981)]

O human race, born to fly upwards,
Why do you fall at such a little breeze?
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

O humankind, born for the upward flight,
why are you driven back by wind so slight?
[tr. Mandelbaum (1982)]

O human race, born to fly upward, why do you fall at so little wind?
[tr. Durling (2003)]

O human race, born to soar, why do you fall so, at a breath of wind?
[tr. Kline (2002)]

O human nature! You are born to fly!
Why fail and fall at, merely, puffs of wind?
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2007)]

O race of man, born to fly on high,
why does a puff of wind cause you to fall?
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

O human race, born to fly on high,
How can the slightest breeze blow dust in your eyes?
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

 
Added on 22-Dec-23 | Last updated 22-Dec-23
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More quotes by Dante Alighieri

Yes, poor doggie, you are very stupid, very stupid indeed, compared with us clever men, who understand all about politics and philosophy, and who know everything in short, except what we are, and where we came from, and whither we are going, and what everything outside this tiny world and most things in it are.

Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927) English writer, humorist [Jerome Klapka Jerome]
“On Cats and Dogs,” The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow (1889)
    (Source)
 
Added on 18-Dec-23 | Last updated 18-Dec-23
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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
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The human comedy can keep amusing you, but only if you keep your distance.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 10 (1966)
    (Source)
 
Added on 7-Dec-23 | Last updated 7-Dec-23
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Alas, proud Christians, faint with misery,
So warped of vision in the inward sense
You trust in your backslidings! Don’t you see
That we are worms, whose insignificance
Lives but to form the angelic butterfly
That flits to judgement naked of defence?
Why do you let pretension soar so high,
Being as it were but larvae — grubs that lack
The finished form that shall be by and by?

[O superbi Cristian, miseri lassi!
Che, della vista della mente infermi,
Fidanza avete ne’ ritrosi passi;
Non v’ accorgete voi, che noi siam vermi
Nati a formar l’ angelica farfalla,
Che vola alla giustizia senza schermi?
Di che l’ animo vostro in alto galla,
Poi siete quasi entomata in difetto,
Sì come verme, in cui formazion falla?]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 2 “Purgatorio,” Canto 10, l. 121ff (10.121-129) (1314) [tr. Sayers (1955)]
    (Source)

Criticizing prideful Christians.

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

O, miserable Pride! of Blindness born!
Vile retrograde Ambition! theme of Scorn!
Can Reptiles in the dust, of dust be proud? --
Boast of their meanness, falsify their end;
From their immortal hopes at once descend.
And let a dowerless Vice their prospects cloud? --

As Reptiles, who their painted plumes display,
(Tho; crawling once in dust,) and wing their way
On Summer-buxom gales, and claim the Sky:
Thus were ye born, and thus you claim your flight
To the pure Precincts of celestial Light,
If on no fpurious Pride your hopes rely.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 23-24]

Christians and proud! O poor and wretched ones!
That feeble in the mind’s eye, lean your trust
Upon unstaid perverseness! Know ye not
That we are worms, yet made at last to form
The winged insect, imp’d with angel plumes
That to heaven’s justice unobstructed soars?
Why buoy ye up aloft your unfleg’d souls?
Abortive then and shapeless ye remain,
Like the untimely embryon of a worm!
[tr. Cary (1814)]

O haughty Christians! miserable, alas!
From mental sight to weakness that's allied,
Confiding in perverseness and in pride,
Perceive ye not we are but merely worms,
Born embryo of angelic butterfly,
Which, unrestrained, to justice flies on high,
Where is the object of your souring flight?
Insect, in whom defecta lone prevails,
And worm, in which the true formatiln fails.v [tr. Bannerman (1850)]

O ye proud Christians! wretched, weary ones!
Who, in the vision of the mind infirm
Confidence have in your backsliding steps,
Do ye not comprehend that we are worms,
Born to bring forth the angelic butterfly
That flieth unto judgment without screen?
Why floats aloft your spirit high in air?
Like are ye unto insects undeveloped,
Even as the worm in whom formation fails!
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

O proud Christians, wretched and weary, who, weak in the sight of the mind, have confidence in your backward paces, do ye not perceive that we are worms, born to form the angelic butterfly which flies without screen to the judgement? In respect of what does your mind float on high, since ye are as it were defective insects, like a worm in which formative power is in default?
[tr. Butler (1885)]

Proud Christians, wretched, weary, and undone!
Who of your mental sight are so bereaved
That ye have faith in backward paths alone;
That we are worms have ye not yet perceived,
Born but to form the Angelic butterfly
That soareth up to judgment unreprieved?
Of what your spirit doth it vaunt so high?
Since ye are unformed insects at the best,
Worms as it were unfinished utterly.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

O proud Christians, wretched weary ones, who, diseased in vision of the mind, have confidence in backward steps, are ye not aware that we are worms born to form the angelic butterfly which flies unto judgment without defence? Why doth your mind float up aloft, since ye are as it were defective insects, even as a worm in which formation fails?
[tr. Norton (1892)]

O ye proud Christians, wretched and weary, who, sick in mental vision, put trust in backward steps,
perceive ye not that we are worms, born to form the angelic butterfly that flieth to judgment without defence?
Why doth your mind soar on high, since ye are as 'twere imperfect insects, even as the grub in which full form is wanting?
[tr. Okey (1901)]

O vainglorious Christians, weary wretches who are sick in the mind's vision and put your trust in backward steps, do you not perceive that we are worms born to form the angelic butterfly that soars to judgement without defence? Why does your mind float so high, since you are as it were imperfect insects, like the worm that is undeveloped?
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

O ye proud Christians, weary and sad of brow,
Who, tainted in the vision of the mind,
In backward steps your confidence avow,
Preceive ye not that we are worms, designed
To form the angelic butterfly, that goes
To judgment, leaving all defence behind?
Why doth your mind take such exalted pose,
Since ye, disabled, are as insects, mean
As worm which never transformation knows?
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

O you proud Christians, wretched souls and small,
who by the dim lights of your twisted minds
believe you prosper even as you fall --
can you not see that we awer works, each one
born to become the Angelic butterfly
that flies defenseless to the Judgment Throne?
what have your souls to boast of and be proud?
You are no more than insects, incomplete
as any grub until it burst the shroud.
[tr. Ciardi (1961)]

O proud Christians, wretched and weary, who, sick in mental vision, put trust in backward steps: are you not aware that we are worms, born to form the angelic butterfly that flies until judgment without defenses? Why does your mind soar up aloft, since you are as it wer imperfect insects, even as the worm in which full form is wanting?
[tr. Singleton (1973)]

O haughty Christians, wretched, sluggish souls,
all you whose inner vision is diseased,
putting your trust in things that pull you back,
do you not understand that we are worms,
each born to form the angelic butterfly,
that flies defenseless to the Final Judge?
Why do your souls’ pretensions rise so high,
since you are but defective insects still,
worms as yet imperfectly evolved?
[tr. Musa (1981)]

O proud Christians, wretched and exhausted,
Who, sick in mind, and not seeing aright,
Go confidently in the wrong direction;
Do you not perceive that we are grubs,
Born to turn into the angelic butterfly
Which flies towards justice without defence?
Why does your mind float aloft
Since you are no more than defective insects,
Like the grub which has not reached its full development?
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

O Christians, arrogant, exhausted, wretched,
Whose intellects are sick and cannot see,
Who place your confidence in backward steps,
Do you not know that we are worms and born
To form the angelic butterfly that soars,
Without defenses, to confront His judgment?
Why does your mind presume to flight when you
Are still like the imperfect grub, the worm
Before it has attained its final form?
[tr. Mandelbaum (1982)]

O proud Christians, weary wretches, who, weak in mental vision, put your faith in backward steps,
do you not perceive that we are worms born to form the angelic butterfly that flies to justice without a shield?
Why is it that your spirit floats on high, since you are like defective insects, like worms in whom formation is lacking?
[tr. Durling (2003)]

O proud Christians, weary and wretched, who, infirm in the mind’s vision, put your trust in downward steps: do you not see that we are caterpillars, born to form the angelic butterfly, that flies to judgement without defence? Why does your mind soar to the heights, since you are defective insects, even as the caterpillar is, in which the form is lacking?
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Proud Christians, wretched and — alas! — so tired,
who, feeble in your powers of mental sight,
place so much faith in your own backward tread,
do you not recognize that you are worms
born to become angelic butterflies
that fly to justice with no veil between?
Why is it that your thoughts float up so high?
You, with your faults, are little more than grubs,
chrysalides (no more!) that lack full form.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2007)]

O vainglorious Christians, miserable wretches!
Sick in the visions engendered in your minds,
you put your trust in backward steps.
Do you not see that we are born as worms,
though able to transform into angelic butterflies
that unimpeded soar to justice?
What makes your mind rear up so high?
You are, as it were, defective creatures,
like the unformed worm, shaped from the mud.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

O haughty Christians, miserable and weary,
Driven by sickness rioting in your mind,
Placing eternal trust in what walks backward,
Unable to see that human beings are worms,
Born to create angelic butterflies
That fly to God's judgment, needing no other protection.
Why do you let your mind soar into Heaven,
Since what you truly are is imperfect insects,
Just as the worm must wait to come into being?
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

 
Added on 17-Nov-23 | Last updated 17-Nov-23
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More quotes by Dante Alighieri

GLOUCESTER: As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods;
They kill us for their sport.

Shakespeare
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
King Lear, Act 4, sc. 1, l. 41ff (4.1.41-42) (1606)
    (Source)
 
Added on 13-Nov-23 | Last updated 29-Jan-24
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Thy Godlike crime was to be kind,
To render with thy precepts less
The sum of human wretchedness,
And strengthen Man with his own mind.

Lord Byron
George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) English poet
“Prometheus,” st. 3, ll. 35-38 (1816)
    (Source)
 
Added on 9-Nov-23 | Last updated 9-Nov-23
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Everything beautiful and noble is the result of reason and calculation. Crime, of which the human animal has learned the taste in his mother’s womb, is natural by origin. Virtue, on the other hand, is artificial, supernatural, since at all times and in all places gods and prophets have been needed to teach it to animalized humanity, man being powerless to discover it by himself. Evil happens without effort, naturally, fatally; Good is always the product of some art.

[Tout ce qui est beau et noble est le résultat de la raison et du calcul. Le crime, dont l’animal humain a puisé le goût dans le ventre de sa mère, est originellement naturel. La vertu, au contraire, est artificielle, surnaturelle, puisqu’il a fallu, dans tous les temps et chez toutes les nations, des dieux et des prophètes pour l’enseigner à l’humanité animalisée, et que l’homme, seul, eût été impuissant à la découvrir. Le mal se fait sans effort, naturellement, par fatalité ; le bien est toujours le produit d’un art.]

Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) French poet, essayist, art critic
“Le Peintre de la Vie Moderne [The Painter of Modern Life],” sec. 11 (1863) [tr. Mayne (1964)]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). Alternate translation:

Everything beautiful and noble is the result of reason and calculation. Crime, for which the human creature has acquired a taste in its mother’s womb, is natural in origin. Virtue, on the contrary, is artificial, unnatural since, at all times and among all nations, gods and prophets were necessary to teach virtue to animalistic humanity, which humanity alone was unable to discover. Evil occurs without effort, naturally, through fatality; good is always the product of artifice.
[tr. Kline (2020)]

 
Added on 30-Oct-23 | Last updated 30-Oct-23
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Physical scourges and the calamities of human nature rendered society necessary. Society has added to natural misfortunes. The drawbacks of society have made government necessary, and government adds to society’s misfortunes. There is the history of human nature in a nutshell.

[Les fléaux physiques, et les calamités de la nature humaine ont rendu la Société nécessaire. La Société a ajouté aux malheurs de la Nature. Les inconvéniens de la Société ont amené la nécessité du gouvernement, et le gouvernement ajoute aux malheurs de la Société. Voilà l’histoire de la nature humaine.]

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. 1, ¶ 67 (1795) [tr. Hutchinson (1902)]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

The physical plagues and misfortunes of human nature have made Society necessary. Society has added to the ills of Nature. The difficulties of Society have created the necessity for Government, and Government now adds to the evils of Society. There you have the history of man.
[tr. Mathers (1926)]

Physical disasters and the calamities of human nature have rendered society necessary. To the miseries of nature, society has added its own. The difficulties of society have evolved the necessity for government, and government has added to the miseries of society. This is the history of human nature.
[tr. Merwin (1969)]

Physical disasters and the calamities of human nature made society necessary. Society's ordeals were then added to those of nature. The drawbacks of society led to the need for government, whereupon the evils of government were added to those of society. Such is the history of human nature.
[tr. Dusinberre (1992)]

Physical plagues and the calamities of nature made society necessary. Society added to the misfortunes of nature. The inconveniences of society brought the necessity of government, and the government added to the misfortunes of society. This is the history of human nature.
[tr. Sinicalchi]

 
Added on 30-Oct-23 | Last updated 30-Oct-23
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Perhaps no other animal is so torn between alternatives. Man might be described fairly adequately, if simply, as a two-legged paradox. He has never become accustomed to the tragic miracle of consciousness. Perhaps, as has been suggested, his species is not set, has not jelled, but is still in a state of becoming, bound by his physical memories to a past of struggle and survival, limited in his futures by the uneasiness of thought and consciousness.

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) American writer
The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1941, 1951)
    (Source)
 
Added on 25-Oct-23 | Last updated 25-Oct-23
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We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.

Richard Dawkins (b. 1941) English ethologist, evolutionary biologist, author
Unweaving The Rainbow, ch. 1 “The Anaesthetic of Familiarity” (1998)
    (Source)

Dawkins has said this passage will be read at his funeral.
 
Added on 10-Oct-23 | Last updated 10-Oct-23
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Perhaps I know best why man alone laughs: he alone suffers so deeply that he had to invent laughter.

[Vielleicht weiss ich am besten, warum der Mensch allein lacht: er allein leidet so tief, dass er das Lachen erfinden musste.]

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher and poet
The Will to Power [Der Wille zur Macht], Book 1, Part 2, ch. 2/b, § 91 (1901) [ed. Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche] [tr. Kaufmann/Hollingdale (1967)]
    (Source)

(Source (German)). Alternate translations:

Perhaps I know best why man is the only animal that laughs : he alone suffers so excruciatingly that he was compelled to invent laughter.
[tr. Ludovici (1910)]

Perhaps I know best why it is man alone who laughs; he alone suffers so deeply that he had to invent laughter.
[Common, e.g.]

Perhaps I know best why man alone laughs: only he suffers so profoundly that he was bound to invent laughter.
[tr. Hill/Scarpitti (2017)]

 
Added on 5-Oct-23 | Last updated 5-Oct-23
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More quotes by Nietzsche, Friedrich

Thus every Creature, and of every Kind,
The secret Joys of sweet Coition find:
Not only Man’s Imperial Race; but they
That wing the liquid Air; or swim the Sea,
Or haunt the Desert, rush into the flame:
For Love is Lord of all; and is in all the same.

[Omne adeo genus in terris hominumque ferarumque,
Et genus aequoreum, pecudes, pictaeque volucres,
In furias ignemque ruunt. Amor omnibus idem.]

Virgil the Poet
Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
Georgics [Georgica], Book 3, l. 242ff (3.242-244) (29 BC) [tr. Dryden (1709), l. 375ff]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

All men on earth, and beasts, both wilde and tame,
Sea-monsters, gaudy fowle, rush to this flame:
The same love works in all; with love ingag'd.
[tr. Ogilby (1649)]

Nor they alone: but beasts that haunt the woods,
The painted birds, the people of the floods,
Cattle, and men, to frenzy and to flame
Start wild: Love's empire is in all the same.
[tr. Nevile (1767), l. 289ff]

Thus all that wings the air and cleaves the flood,
Herds that or graze the plain or haunt the wood,
Rush to like flames, when kindred passions move,
And man and brute obey the power of love.
[tr. Sotheby (1800)]

Indeed every kind on earth, both of men and wild beasts, the fish, the cattle, and painted birds, rush into maddening fires; love is in all the same.
[tr. Davidson (1854)]

So then all kinds on earth of men and herds,
The ocean tribes, the beasts, the painted birds,
Rush all alike to frenzy and to flame;
Love rules them all, and love is still the same.
[tr. Blackmore (1871), l. 293ff]

Nay, every race on earth, whether of men or beasts, the watery tribes, the herds, the painted birds, rush headlong into this fiery phrenzy; love sways all alike.
[tr. Wilkins (1873)]

Nay, every race on earth of men, and beasts,
And ocean-folk, and flocks, and painted birds,
Rush to the raging fire: love sways them all.
[tr. Rhoades (1881)]

Thus all alike the slaves of love remain,
That haunt the woodland, or that graze the plain.
[tr. King (1882)]

In truth, every kind on the earth, both of men and wild beasts, the fish, the cattle, and plumaged birds, rush to the frenzy and the fire of love: in all there is the same love.
[tr. Bryce (1897)]

Yes all on earth, the race of man and beast, the tribes of the sea, cattle and coloured birds break into fury and fire; in all love is the same.
[tr. Mackail (1899)]

Yea, all -- all tribes of earth, all men, all cattle-herds,
Wild beasts of the forest, the brood of the sea, plume-painted birds,
Into flames of passion rush' all hearts are in one net taken.
[tr. Way (1912)]

For all terrestrial kinds, or beast or man,
All Ocean's brood and flocks of bright-hued birds
Haste to the same fierce fire. One power of love
Possesses all.
[tr. Williams (1915)]

Every single race on earth, man and beast, the tribes of the sea, cattle and birds brilliant of hue, rush into fires of passion: all feel the same Love.
[tr. Fairclough (Loeb) (1916)]

All manner of life on earth -- men, fauna of land and sea,
Cattle and coloured birds --
Run to this fiery madness: love is alike for all.
[tr. Day-Lewis (1940)]

Thus, every living creature, man and beast,
The ocean’s tribes, the herds, the colorful birds,
Rush toward the furious flames: love levels all.
[tr. Bovie (1956)]

Or, better, make it fire, the tongues of flame
burning like waves in a sunset, while all of life,
birds, fish, beasts of the fields, and men,
maddened, leap like lemmings into the sea,
that searing sea, that terrible tide of lust
to be like -- to become --
each, the fabulolus phoenix,
and rise renewed.
[tr. Slavitt (1971)]

Indeed all species in the world, of men,
Wild beasts and fish, cattle and coloured birds
Rush madly into the furnace: love is common
To all.
[tr. Wilkinson (1982)]

Every species on earth, man and creature, and the species
of the sea, and cattle and bright-feathered birds,
rush about in fire and frenzy: love’s the same for all.
[tr. Kline (2001)]

Every last species on earth, man and beast alike,
the vast schools of the sea, the cattle and bright-colored birds
fall helpless into passion’s fire: love is the same for all.
[tr. Lembke (2004)]

Indeed, all species on the earth, both man and beast,
the kingdom undersea, cattle and painted birds
into this hot lunacy rush: love strikes all the same.
[tr. Johnson (2009)]

All living creatures on earth, no matter whether
It's human beings or other kinds -- fish, cattle,
Beautiful birds -- they all rush into the fire:
Love is the same for all.
[tr. Ferry (2015)]

 
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A democracy is a means whereby we channel our contempt for our fellow man into a lively scorn for those elected to represent him.

Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry (b. 1957) British actor, writer, comedian
“Trefusis on Any Questions,” Loose Ends, BBC Radio 4 (c. 1987)
    (Source)

Reprinted in Paperweight (1992)
 
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There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.

Jane Austen
Jane Austen (1775-1817) English novelist
Pride and Prejudice, ch. 24 [Elizabeth] (1813)
    (Source)
 
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I luv mi phailings. It iz theze that make me pheel that i have that tutch ov natur in me that makes me brother tew every man living.

[I love my failings. It is these that make me feel that I have that touch of nature in me that makes me brother to every man living.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist, aphorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, ch. 131 “Affurisms: Plum Pits (1)” (1874)
    (Source)
 
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We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others.

Will Rogers (1879-1935) American humorist
“Weekly Article” column (1923-11-28)
    (Source)
 
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Prejudice in favour of one’s own country, combined with national pride, makes us forget that reason is found in every land, and sound thoughts wherever there are men. We should not like to be thus treated by those whom we call barbarians; and if we ourselves display a certain barbarism, this consists in being panic-stricken at seeing men of another nation reason as we do ourselves.

[La prévention du pays, jointe à l’orgueil de la nation, nous fait oublier que la raison est de tous les climats, et que l’on pense juste partout où il y a des hommes. Nous n’aimerions pas à être traités ainsi de ceux que nous appelons barbares; et s’il y a en nous quelque barbarie, elle consiste à être épouvantés de voir d’autres peuples raisonner comme nous.]

Jean de La Bruyere
Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
The Characters [Les Caractères], ch. 12 “Of Opinions [Des Jugements],” § 22 (12.22) (1688) [tr. Stewart (1970)]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Our prepossession in favour of our Country, join'd to the pride of our Nation, makes us forget that Reason belongs to all Climates, and just Thoughts to all places where there are Men. We should not like to be so treated by those we call Barbarians; if amongst us there is any barbarity, it is in being amaz'd at the hearing other People reason like our selves.
[Curll ed. (1713)]

Our Prepossession in the Favour of our Country, joined to a national Pride, makes us forget that Reason is the Growth of all Climates, and that a Justness of Sentiment is not limited to a Part of Europe: It would enrage us to be so treated by those whom we are pleased to call Barbarians; if amongst us there is any Barbarism, 'tis in being amazed at hearing other People reason like ourselves.
[Browne ed. (1752)]

Our prepossession in favour of our native country and our national pride makes us forget that common sense is found in all climates, and correctness of thought wherever there are men. We should not like to be so treated by those we call barbarians; and if some barbarity still exists amongst us, it is in being amazed on hearing natives of other countries reason like ourselves.
[tr. Van Laun (1885)]

 
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In pushing other species to extinction, humanity is busy sawing off the limb on which it perches.

Paul Ehrlich
Paul Ehrlich (b. 1932) American conservation biologist and ecologist
(Attributed)

All citations for this I found are from a reference in Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, ch. 13 (2014), to a sign in the American Museum of Natural History's Hall of Biodiversity which "offers a quote from the Stanford ecologist Paul Ehrlich," giving the above text.

I was unable to find the phrase in Ehrlich's written work, though it could be from a speech, media comment, etc.

In Ehrlich's One with Ninevah: Politics, Consumption, and the Human Future (2005), the epigraph for chapter 2 is a quotation from William R. Catton, Jr., Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change, ch. 2 (1980), regarding Earth's finite non-renewable resources:

This fact puts mankind out on a limb which the activities of modern life are busily sawing off.

This might be the source of a misattribution to Ehrlich, though the context is not quite the same, and the metaphor of sawing off the branch one is sitting on is not unique to Ehrlich or Cotton. More research is needed.

 
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When you live with a joyful sense of purpose, when you infuse your life with a greater purpose beyond your individual self, every aspect of your karma can become a brilliant facet of your mission. You can transform sorrow and adversity of any sort into joy, stability, health, and prosperity. By changing poison into medicine and accomplishing your inner revolution, you can use every experience of karma to encourage others who suffer from the same problems that you overcame.

You can become an ambassador of hope, an essential and radiant treasure of humanity, in which you recognize that all who have ever lived are members of your extended family.

As you continue to spread light in this way, actively doing good in the world, that energy will come back to you in abundant positivity. When you refuse to perpetuate any bad that has been done to you, you can free yourself from the chains of negativity.

Tina Turner
Tina Turner (1939-2023) American singer, songwriter, actress [b. Anna Mae Bullock]
Happiness Becomes You, ch. 8 (2020)
    (Source)
 
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Consider what you came from: you are Greeks!
You were not born to live like mindless brutes
but to follow paths of excellence and knowledge.

[Considerate la vostra semenza:
fatti non foste a viver come bruti,
ma per seguir virtute e canoscenza.]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 26, l. 118ff (26.118-120) [Ulysses] (1320) [tr. Musa (1971)]
    (Source)

Speaking to his sailors on their final voyage, urging them to explore the unknown.

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

On your original reflect, nor think
That you were, made, like Brutes, to only live,
But knowledge and to virtuous acts pursue.
[tr. Rogers (1782)]

Recall your glorious toils, your lofty birth.
Nor like the grov'ling herds, ally'd to earth.
No base despondence quit your lofty claim.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 19]

Call to mind from whence we sprang:
Ye were not form’d to live the life of brutes
But virtue to pursue and knowledge high.
[tr. Cary (1814)]

Bethink you of your birth-rank and its dues:
Ye were not thus for brutish life endued.
But Virtue's path and Learning's born to chuse.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

Consider your origin: ye were not formed to live like brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge.
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

Consider, then, the birth from whence you sprung:
You were not made, like brutes, to live and die:
The path of virtue and of knowledge try.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

Consider well the seed from whence you sprung;
You were not made to live as live the beasts,
But to seek virtue and true knowledge grasp.
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

Consider ye the seed from which ye sprang;
Ye were not made to live like unto brutes,
But for pursuit of virtue and of knowledge.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

Consider your begetting; ye were not made to live as brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

Over your noble birthright ye should muse;
To live like senseless brutes ye were not made,
But knowledge to pursue and virtue use.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

Consider ye your origin; ye were not made to live as brutes, but for pursuit of virtue and of knowledge.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

Bethink you of your birth: ye were not made to live the life of brutes, but to obey the call of valour and of knowledge.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

Consider ye the seed that ye are sprung from:
Ye were not made to live as the brute creatures,
But that ye virtue might pursue and knowledge.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

Take thought of the seed from which you spring. You were not born to live as brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

Think on the seed ye spring from! Ye were made
Not to live life of brute beasts of the field
But follow virtue and knowledge unafraid.
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

Think of your breed; for brutish ignorance
Your mettle was not made; you were made men.
To follow after knowledge and excellence.
[tr. Sayers (1949)]

Greeks! You were not born to live like brutes,
but to press on toward manhood and recognition!
[tr. Ciardi (1954), l. 110]

Consider your origin: you were not made to live as brutes, but to pursue virtue and knowledge.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

Consider well the seed that gave you birth:
you were not made to live your lives as brutes,
but to be followers of worth and knowledge.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

Consider then the race from which you have sprung:
You were not made to live like animals,
But to pursue virtue and know the world.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

Consider well your seed:
You were not born to live as a mere brute does,
But for the pursuit of knowledge and the good.
[tr. Pinsky (1994)]

Consider your sowing: you were not made to live like brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge.
[tr. Durling (1996)]

Consider your origin: you were not made to live like brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Hold clear in thought your seed and origin.
You were not made to live as mindless brutes,
but go in search of virtue and true knowledge.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

Consider how your souls were sown:
you were not made to live like brutes or beasts,
but to pursue virtue and knowledge.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

Think of your origins, the people you come from:
You were not made to live like wild-toothed beasts,
But for the pursuit of virtue and honest knowledge.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

Remember now your pedigree.
You were not born to live as brutes. Virtue
And knowledge are your guiding lights.
[tr. James (2013)]

 
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Though it might be nice to imagine there once was a time when man lived in harmony with nature, it’s not clear that he ever really did.

Elizabeth Kolbert (b. 1961) American journalist and author
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, ch. 11 (2014)
    (Source)
 
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To laugh sturdily and often, and to wear a long belt, are not incongruous with sanctity. God’s image is in every man, high or low — a road puddle holds the moon as well as the sea.

Austin O'Malley
Austin O'Malley (1858-1932) American ophthalmologist, professor of literature, aphorist
Keystones of Thought (1914)
    (Source)
 
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From my point of view, no label, no slogan, no party, no skin color, and indeed no religion is more important than the human being.

James Baldwin (1924-1987) American novelist, playwright, activist
Comment (1963)
    (Source)

Included in Karen Thorsen, et al., James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket, film (1989), a film biography of Baldwin using extensive archival film of the author (the project was started before Baldwin's death, and Baldwin intended to direct it).

I have found, without good citation, two broader contexts for the quotation. First:

The very dangerous effort one has got to make, according to me, is to deal with other people as though they were simply human beings. To remember that no matter what the details of their lives may be like, or how different they may seem to you superficially, or what the social pressures outside of what the psychological pressures are within, to deal with this other human being precisely as though he or she was here for the first and only time. To deal with them in some way that you’d like them to deal with you, no matter the price. From my point of view, no label, no slogan, no party, no skin color, and indeed no religion, is more important than the human being. The human core in everybody, which liberates you and me, because when the chips are down this is all there is -- there isn’t anything else.

The second looks to be a paraphrase of the above:

We must all make the effort to deal with all people simply as human beings. From my point of view, no label, no slogan, no party, no skin color, and indeed no religion is more important than the human being. When the chips are down, this is all that matters.

Without better documentation, I cannot confirm either version.
 
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I’d rather be a rising ape than a falling angel.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
(Frequent Phrase)

Pratchett used this phrase and variations on it on numerous occasions. Here are a few:

Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.
-- Hogfather (1996)

Who would not rather be a rising ape than a falling angel.
-- "I create gods all the time," Daily Mail (2008-06-21)

"I'd much rather be a rising ape than a fallen angel"
-- Guardian Book Club Q&A video, 7:19 Guardian (2009-12-19)

See also F. H. Knelman's essay, "Probing Man's True Nature" in 1984 And All That, Sec. 3 (1971):

In the last few years science has been racked by vexing questions concerning the nature of man. The fallen angel has departed and the rising ape appeared.

 
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That man’s best works should be such bungling imitations of Nature’s infinite perfection, matters not much; but that he should make himself an imitation, this is the fact which Nature moans over, and deprecates beseechingly. Be spontaneous, be truthful, be free, and thus be individuals! is the song she sings through warbling birds, and whispering pines, and roaring waves, and screeching winds.

Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880) American abolitionist, activist, journalist, suffragist
Letters from New-York, # 38, 1843-03-17 (1843)
    (Source)
 
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Race hatred is one of the most cruel and least civilised emotions to which men in the mass are liable, and it is of the utmost importance for human progress that every possible method of diminishing it should be adopted.

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“On Race Hatred,” New York American (1933-05-24)
    (Source)
 
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There was a time when all these things would have passed me by, like the flitting figures of a theatre, sufficient for the amusement of an hour. But now, I have lost the power of looking merely on the surface. Everything seems to me to come from the Infinite, to be filled with the Infinite, to be tending toward the Infinite. Do I see crowds of men hastening to extinguish a fire? I see not merely uncouth garbs, and fantastic, flickering lights, of lurid hue, like a trampling troop of gnomes — but straightway my mind is filled with thoughts about mutual helpfulness, human sympathy, the common bond of brotherhood, and the mysteriously deep foundations on which society rests; or rather, on which it now reels and totters.

Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880) American abolitionist, activist, journalist, suffragist
Letters from New-York, # 1, 1841-08-19 (1843)
    (Source)
 
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We must not allow Negroes to be men, lest we ourselves should be suspected of not being Christians.

Charles-Lewis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755) French political philosopher
The Spirit of Laws [De l’esprit des lois], Vol. 1, Book 15, ch. 5 (1748)

In a satirical set of justifications for slavery of Africans (an institution Montesquieu generally condemned).

This form of the phrase was commonly used by American abolitionists, e.g., used as an epigram in Lydia Maria Child, An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans, ch. 6 (1836).

French original text:

Il est impossible que nous supposions que ces gens-là soient des hommes, parce que, si nous les supposions des hommes, on commencerait à croire que nous ne sommes pas nous-mêmes chrétiens.

Alternate translations:

It is impossible for us to suppose these creatures to be men, because allowing them to be men, a suspicion would follow, that we ourselves are not Christians.
[tr. Nugent (1758 ed.)]

It is impossible for us to assume that these people are men because if we assumed they were men one would begin to believe that we ourselves were not Christians.
[tr. Cohler/Miller/Stone (1989)]

 
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There is no such thing as a unique scientific vision, any more than there is a unique poetic vision. Science is a mosaic of partial and conflicting visions. But there is one common element in these visions. The common element is rebellion against the restrictions imposed by the locally prevailing culture, Western or Eastern as the case may be. It is no more Western than it is Arab or Indian or Japanese or Chinese. Arabs and Indians and Japanese and Chinese had a big share in the development of modern science. And two thousand years earlier, the beginnings of science were as much Babylonian and Egyptian as Greek. One of the central facts about science is that it pays no attention to East and West and North and South and black and yellow and white. It belongs to everybody who is willing to make the effort to learn it. And what is true of science is true of poetry. Poetry was not invented by Westerners. India has poetry older than Homer. Poetry runs as deep in Arab and Japanese culture as it does in Russian and English. Just because I quote poems in English, it does not follow that the vision of poetry has to be Western. Poetry and science are gifts given to all of humanity.

Freeman Dyson
Freeman Dyson (1923-2020) English-American theoretical physicist, mathematician, futurist
The Scientist as Rebel, Part 1, ch. 1 “The Scientist as Rebel” (2006)
    (Source)

Originally given as a lecture in Cambridge, England (1992-11). Published as "The Scientist as Rebel," in John Cornwell, ed., Nature's Imagination, Introduction (1995), and "The Scientist as Rebel," New York Review of Books (1995-05-25).
 
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There is no impersonal reason for regarding the interests of human beings as more important than those of animals. We can destroy animals more easily than they can destroy us; that is the only solid basis of our claim to superiority. We value art and science and literature, because these are things in which we excel. But whales might value spouting, and donkeys might maintain that a good bray is more exquisite than the music of Bach. We cannot prove them wrong except by the exercise of arbitrary power. All ethical systems, in the last analysis, depend upon weapons of war.

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“If animals could talk,” New York American (1932-09-14)
    (Source)
 
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Therefore Father, you who have given visible light as the first fruits of creation and, at the summit of your works, have breathed intellectual light into the face of man, protect and govern this work, which began in your goodness and and returns to your glory.

[Itaque Tu Pater, qui lucem visibilem primitias creaturae dedisti, et lucem intellectualem ad fastigium operum tuorum in faciem hominis inspirasti; opus hoc, quod a tua bonitate profectum tuam gloriam repetit, tuere et rege.]

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
Instauratio Magna [The Great Instauration], “Distributo Operis [Plan of the Work]” (1620) [tr. Silverthorne (2000)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

May thou, therefore, O Father, who gavest the light of vision as the first-fruits of creation, and hast inspired the countenance of man with the light of the understanding as the completion of thy works, guard and direct this work, which, proceeding from thy bounty, seeks in return thy glory.
[tr. Wood (1831)]

May thou, therefore, O Father, who gavest the light of vision as the first fruit of creation, and who hast spread over the fall of man the light of thy understanding as the accomplishment of thy works, guard and direct this work, which, issuing from thy goodness, seeks in return thy glory!
[tr. Wood/Devey (1844)]

Therefore do thou, O Father, who gavest the visible light as the first fruits of creation, and didst breathe into the face of man the intellectual light as the crown and consummation thereof, guard and protect this work, which coming from thy goodness returneth to thy glory.
[tr. Spedding (1858)]

 
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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] (1320) [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]

 
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Miserable mortals! Can we contribute to the honour and glory of God? I could wish that expression were struck out of our prayer books.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) English writer and churchman
“Thoughts on Religion” (1726)
    (Source)
 
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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)
    (Source)
 
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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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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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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)]

 
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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
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“On Being Insulting,” New York American (1934-12-21)
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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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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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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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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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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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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.
 
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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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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.
 
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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).
 
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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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