Quotations about:
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The greatest of sages can commit one mistake, but not two; he may fall into error, but he doesn’t lie down and make his home there.

[En un descuido puede caer el mayor sabio, pero en dos no; y de paso, que no de asiento.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 214 (1647) [tr. Maurer (1992)]
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(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translations:

A wise man may make one slip but never two, and that only in running, not while standing still.
[tr. Jacobs (1892)]

The wisest of men may slip once, but not twice, and that only by chance, and not by design.
[tr. Fischer (1937)]

 
Added on 19-Sep-22 | Last updated 19-Sep-22
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There’s a reason narcissists don’t learn from mistakes and that’s because they never get past the first step, which is admitting that they made one.

Robert Hogan
Robert Hogan (b. 1937) American psychologist
In Jeffrey Kluger, The Narcissist Next Door, ch. 6 (2014)
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Added on 16-Sep-22 | Last updated 16-Sep-22
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Well, that’s Philosophy I’ve read,
And Law and Medicine, and I fear
Theology, too, from A to Zed;
Hard studies all, that have cost me dear.
And so I sit, poor silly man
No wiser now than when I began.

[Habe nun, ach! Philosophie,
Juristerei und Medizin,
Und leider auch Theologie
Durchaus studiert, mit heißem Bemühn.
Da steh ich nun, ich armer Tor!
Und bin so klug als wie zuvor.]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Faust: a Tragedy [eine Tragödie], Part 1, sc. 4 “Night,” ll. 354ff (1808-1829) [tr. Luke (1987)]
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Some translations (and this site) include the Declaration, Prelude on the Stage, and Prologue in Heaven as individual scenes; others do not, leading to their Part 1 scenes being numbered three lower.

(Source (German)). Alternate translations:

I've studied now Philosophy
And Jurisprudence, Medicine,
And even, alas! Theology
All through and through with ardour keen!
Here now I stand, poor fool, and see
I'm just as wise as formerly.
[tr. Priest (1808)]

Now I have toil'd thro' all; philosophy,
Law, physic, and theology: alas!
All, all I have explor'd; and here I am
A weak blind fool at last: in wisdom risen
No higher than before.
[tr. Coleridge (1821)]

I have now, alas, by zealous exertion, thoroughly mastered philosophy, the jurist's craft, and medicine -- and to my sorrow, theology too. Here I stand, poor fool that I am, just as wise as before.
[tr. Hayward (1831)]

I have, alas! Philosophy,
Medicine, Jurisprudence too,
And to my cost Theology,
With ardent labour, studied through.
And here I stand, with all my lore,
Poor fool, no wiser than before.
[tr. Swanwick (1850)]

Have now, alas! quite studied through
Philosophy and Medicine,
And Law, and ah! Theology, too,
With hot desire the truth to win!
And here, at last, I stand, poor fool!
As wise as when I entered school
[tr. Brooks (1868)]

I've studied now Philosophy
And Jurisprudence, Medicine, --
And even, alas! Theology, --
From end to end, with labor keen;
And here, poor fool! with all my lore
I stand, no wiser than before:
[tr. Taylor (1870)]

There now, I’ve toiled my way quite through
Law, Medicine, and Philosophy,
And, to my sorrow, also thee,
Theology, with much ado;
And here I stand, poor human fool,
As wise as when I went to school.
[tr. Blackie (1880)]

I have studied, alas! Philosophy,
And Jurisprudence, and Medicine, too,
And saddest of all, Theology,
With arden labor, through and through!
And here I stick, as wise, poor fool,
As when my steps first turned to school.
[tr. Latham (1908)]

I have, alas, studied philosophy,
Jurisprudence and medicine, too,
And, worst of all, theology
With keen endeavor, through and through --
And here I am, for all my lore,
The wretched fool I was before.
[tr. Kaufmann (1961)]

Alas, I have studied philosophy,
the law as well as medicine,
and to my sorrow, theology;
studied them well with ardent zeal,
yet here I am, a wretched fool
no wiser than I was before.
[tr. Salm (1962)]

I have pursued, alas, philosophy,
Jurisprudence, and medicine, And, help me God, theology,
With fervent zeal through thick and thin.
And here, poor fool, I stand once more,
No wiser than I was before.
[tr. Arndt (1976)]

I've studied, alas, philosophy,
Law and medicine, recto and verso,
And how I regret it, theology also,
Oh God, how hard I've slaved away,
With what result? Poor foolish old man,
I'm not whit wiser than when I began!
[tr. Greenberg (1992)]

Medicine, and Law, and Philosophy --
You've worked your way through every school,
Even, God help you, Theology,
And sweated at it like a fool.
Why labour at it any more?
You're no wiser now than you were before.
[tr. Williams (1999)]

Ah! Now I’ve done Philosophy,
I’ve finished Law and Medicine,
And sadly even Theology:
Taken fierce pains, from end to end.
Now here I am, a fool for sure!
No wiser than I was before.
[tr. Kline (2003)]

 
Added on 29-Aug-22 | Last updated 5-Sep-22
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Even when it comes to learning, the good student contradicts his teacher and makes him more eager to explain and defend the truth. Challenge someone discreetly and his teaching will be more perfect.

[Y aun para el aprender es treta del discípulo contradecir al maestro, que se empeña con más conato en la declaración y fundamento de la verdad; de suerte que la impugnación moderada da ocasión a la enseñanza cumplida.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 213 (1647) [tr. Maurer (1992)]
    (Source)


(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translations:

Also in learning it is a subtle plan of the pupil to contradict the master, who thereupon takes pains to explain the truth more thoroughly and with more force, so that a moderate contradiction produces complete instruction.
[tr. Jacobs (1892)]

A good trick on the party of the pupil is to bait his teacher, who thereby excites himself to greater effort in the declaration, and the foundations of this beliefs, whence it comes that well-moderated debate makes for most effective teaching.
[tr. Fischer (1937)]

 
Added on 22-Aug-22 | Last updated 22-Aug-22
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We’re stronger because we’re democracies. We’re not afraid of free and fair elections, because true legitimacy can only come from one source — and that is the people. We’re not afraid of an independent judiciary, because no one is above the law. We’re not afraid of a free press or vibrant debate or a strong civil society, because leaders must be held accountable. We’re not afraid to let our young people go online to learn and discover and organize , because we know that countries are more successful when citizens are free to think for themselves.

Barack Obama (b. 1961) American politician, US President (2009-2017)
Speech, Nordea Concert Hall, Tallinn, Estonia (3 Sep 2014)
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Added on 26-Apr-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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You choose, you live the consequences. Every yes, no, maybe, creates the school you call your personal experience.

Richard Bach (b. 1936) American writer
Running From Safety, ch. 15 (1994)
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Added on 14-Apr-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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Progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Mere Christianity, Book 1, ch. 5 “We Have Cause to be Uneasy” (1952)
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Originally broadcast on BBC Radio (27 Aug 1941) under the title "What Can We Do About It?" Reprinted first in Broadcast Talks (1943) (US title The Case for Christianity (1944)).
 
Added on 17-Mar-22 | Last updated 17-Mar-22
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It’s impossible for men and women who love each other not to hurt each other now and then, but most women would settle happily for a man who tried not to cause the same hurt twice.

Merle Shain (1935-1989) Canadian journalist and author
Some Men Are More Perfect than Others (1973)
 
Added on 28-Jan-22 | Last updated 28-Jan-22
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I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neil Gaiman’s Journal, “My New Year Wish” (31 Dec 2011)
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Added on 28-Dec-21 | Last updated 28-Dec-21
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I do not approve the maxim which desires a man to know a little of everything. Superficial knowledge, knowledge without principles, is almost always useless and sometimes harmful knowledge.

Luc de Clapiers, Marquis de Vauvenargues (1715-1747) French moralist, essayist, soldier
Reflections and Maxims [Réflexions et maximes] (1746) [tr. Lee (1903)]
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Added on 14-Dec-21 | Last updated 14-Dec-21
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“Darkness” is shorthand for anything that scares me — that I want no part of — either because I am sure that I do not have the resources to survive it or because I do not want to find out. The absence of God is in there, along with the fear of dementia and the loss of those nearest and dearest to me. So is the melting of polar ice caps, the suffering of children, and the nagging question of what it will feel like to die. If I had my way, I would eliminate everything from chronic back pain to the fear of the devil from my life and the lives of those I love — if I could just find the right night-lights to leave on.

At least I think I would. The problem is this: when, despite all my best efforts, the lights have gone off in my life (literally or figuratively, take your pick), plunging me into the kind of darkness that turns my knees to water, nonetheless I have not died. The monsters have not dragged me out of bed and taken me back to their lair. The witches have not turned me into a bat. Instead, I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.

Barbara Brown Taylor (b. 1951) American minister, academic, author
Learning to Walk in the Dark, Introduction (2014)
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Added on 12-Nov-21 | Last updated 12-Nov-21
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I believe that every human being with a physically normal brain can learn a great deal and can be surprisingly intellectual. I believe that what we badly need is social approval of learning and social rewards for learning. We can all be members of the intellectual elite and then, and only then, will a phrase like “America’s right to know” and, indeed, any true concept of democracy, have any meaning.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
“A Cult of Ignorance,” Newsweek (21 Jan 1980)
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Added on 26-Oct-21 | Last updated 26-Oct-21
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All other knowledge is hurtful to him who has not the science of goodness.

[Toute autre science, est dommageable à celuy qui n’a la science de la bonté.]

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) French essayist
Essays, Book 1, ch. 24 “Of Pedantry” (1580) [tr. Cotton (1686), rev Hazlitt (1877)]
    (Source)


(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

  • "Each other science is prejudciall unto him that hath not the science of goodnesse." [tr. Florio (1603)]
  • "All other knowledge is detrimental to him who has not the science of becoming a good man." [tr. Friswell (1868)]
  • "All other learning is hurtful to him who has not the knowledge of honesty and goodness." [tr. Rector (1899)]
 
Added on 15-Sep-21 | Last updated 15-Sep-21
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Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is. The only function of a school is to make self-education easier; failing that, it does nothing.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
Science Past, Science Future (1975)
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Added on 9-Sep-21 | Last updated 9-Sep-21
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We can all learn from our failures. What I’ve learned is how much it hurts to fail.

Ashleigh Brilliant (b. 1933) Anglo-American writer, epigramist, cartoonist
Pot-Shots, #3959
 
Added on 7-May-21 | Last updated 7-May-21
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Learning and living. But they are really the same thing, aren’t they? There is no experience from which you can’t learn something. … And the purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
You Learn By Living, Introduction (1960)
 
Added on 30-Apr-21 | Last updated 30-Apr-21
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He [Napoleon III] was what I often think is a dangerous thing for a statesman to be — a student of history, and like most of those who study history, he learned from the mistakes of the past how to make new ones.

A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) British historian, journalist, broadcaster [Alan John Percivale Taylor]
“Mistaken Lessons from the Past,” The Listener (6 Jun 1963)
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Added on 19-Apr-21 | Last updated 19-Apr-21
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Like any of life’s refining fires, cancer is a potentially profound learning experience. So what did I learn? I learned that profound learning experiences are vastly overrated.

Joni Rodgers (b. 1962) American author
Bald in the Land of Big Hair (2001)
 
Added on 2-Mar-21 | Last updated 2-Mar-21
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No,
it’s no disgrace for a man, even a wise man,
to learn many things and not to be too rigid.
You’ve seen trees by a raging winter torrent,
how many sway with the flood and salvage every twig,
but not the stubborn — they’re ripped out, roots and all.

[ἀλλ᾽ ἄνδρα, κεἴ τις ᾖ σοφός, τὸ μανθάνειν
πόλλ᾽, αἰσχρὸν οὐδὲν καὶ τὸ μὴ τείνειν ἄγαν.
ὁρᾷς παρὰ ῥείθροισι χειμάρροις ὅσα
δένδρων ὑπείκει, κλῶνας ὡς ἐκσῴζεται,
τὰ δ᾽ ἀντιτείνοντ᾽ αὐτόπρεμν᾽ ἀπόλλυται.]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 710ff [Haemon] (441 BC) [tr. Fagles (1982), l. 794ff]
    (Source)


Ancient Greek. Alternate translations:

But that a man, how wise soe'er, should learn
In many things and slack his stubborn will,
This is no derogation. When the streams
Are swollen by mountain-torrents, thou hast seen
That all the trees wich bend them to the flood
Preserve their branches from the angry current,
While those which stem it perish root and branch.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

The wisest man will let himself be swayed
By others' wisdom and relax in time.
See how the trees beside a stream in flood
Save, if they yield to force, each spray unharmed,
But by resisting perish root and branch.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

'Tis no disgrace even to the wise to learn
And lend an ear to reason. You may see
The plant that yields where torrent waters flow
Saves every little twig, when the stout tree
Is torn away and dies.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

No, even when a man is wise, it brings him no shame to learn many things, and not to be too rigid. You see how the trees that stand beside the torrential streams created by a winter storm yield to it and save their branches, while the stiff and rigid perish root and all?
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

True wisdom will be ever glad to learn,
And not too fond of power. Observe the trees,
That bend to wintry torrents, how their boughs
Unhurt remain; while those that brave the storm,
Uprooted torn, shall wither and decay.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

No, though a man be wise, 'tis no shame for him to learn many things, and to bend in season. Seest thou, beside the wintry torrent's course, how the trees that yield to it save every twig, while the stiff-necked perish root and branch?
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

It is not reason never to yield to reason!
In flood time you can see how some trees bend,
And because they bend, even their twigs are safe,
While stubborn trees are torn up, roots and all
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 570ff]

It is no weakness for the wisest man
To learn when he is wrong, know when to yield.
So, on the margin of a flooded river
Trees bending to the torrent live unbroken,
While those that strain against it are snapped off.
[tr. Watling (1947), l. 608ff]

A man, though wise, should never be ashamed
of learning more, and must unbend his mind.
Have you not seen the trees beside the torrent,
the ones that bend them saving every leaf,
while the resistant perish root and branch?
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

There's no disgrace, even if one is wise,
In learning more, and knowing when to yield.
See how the trees that grow beside a torrent
Preserve their branches, if they bend; the others,
Those that resist, are torn out, root and branch.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

But a wise man can learn a lot and never be ashamed;
He knows he does not have to be rigid and close-hauled.
You've seen trees tossed by a torrent in a flash flood:
If they bend, they're saved, and every twig survives,
But if they stiffen up, they're washed out from the roots.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

But for a man, even if he is wise, to go on learning
many things and not to be drawn too taut is no shame.
You see how along streams swollen from winter floods
some trees yield and save their twigs,
but others resist and perish, root and branch.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

On the contrary, it is no shame for even a wise man to continue learning. Nor should a man be obstinate. One can see the trees on the heavy river-banks. Those that bend with the rushing current, survive, whereas those bent against it are torn, roots and all.
[tr. Theodoridis (2004)]

For any man,
even if he’s wise, there’s nothing shameful
in learning many things, staying flexible.
You notice how in winter floods the trees
which bend before the storm preserve their twigs.
The ones who stand against it are destroyed,
root and branch.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 804ff]

No, it's no disgrace for a man, even a wise man, to learn many things and not to be too rigid. You see how, in the winter storms, the trees yield that save even their twigs, but those who oppose it are destroyed root and branch.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]
 
Added on 21-Jan-21 | Last updated 9-May-21
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Many much-learned men have no intelligence.

[Πολλοὶ πολυμαθέες νοῦν οὐκ ἔχουσιν.]

Democritus (c. 460 BC - c. 370 BC) Greek philosopher
Frag. 64 (Diels) [tr. Freeman (1948)]
    (Source)


Diels citation "64. (190 N.) DEMOKRATES. 29."; collected in Joannes Stobaeus (Stobaios) Anthologium III, 4, 81. Freeman notes this as one of the Gnômae, from a collection called "Maxims of Democratês," but because Stobaeus quotes many of these as "Maxims of Democritus," they are generally attributed to the latter.

Alternate translations:

  • "There are many who know many things, yet are lacking in wisdom." [tr. Bakewell (1907)]
  • "Many who have learned much possess no sense." [tr. Barnes (1987)]
  • "Many who have learned a lot do not have a mind." [tr. @sentantiq (2018)]
  • "Many, though widely read, possess no sense." [Source]
 
Added on 5-Jan-21 | Last updated 23-Feb-21
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Many who have not learned wisdom live wisely.

[Πολλοὶ λόγον μὴ μαθόντες ζῶσι κατὰ λόγον. ]

Democritus (c. 460 BC - c. 370 BC) Greek philosopher
Frag. 53 (Diels) [tr. Bakewell, 1907)]
    (Source)


Diels citation "53. (122a N.) DEMOKRATES. 19.1."; collected in Joannes Stobaeus (Stobaios) Anthologium II, 15, 33. Often combined with fragment 53a. Bakewell lists this under "The Golden Sayings of Democritus." Freeman notes this as one of the Gnômae, from a collection called "Maxims of Democratês," but because Stobaeus quotes many of these as "Maxims of Democritus," they are generally attributed to the latter.

Alternate translations:

  • "Many who have not learnt Reason, nevertheless live according to reason." [tr. Freeman (1948)].
  • "Many live according to reason even if they have not learned it." [tr. @sentantiq (2020)]
  • "Many do not learn reason but live in accordance with reason." [tr. Barnes (1987)]
 
Added on 29-Dec-20 | Last updated 23-Feb-21
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They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it’s not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Equal Rites (1987)


See Pope.
 
Added on 6-Oct-20 | Last updated 6-Oct-20
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The lesson of History is rarely learned by the actors themselves.

James A. Garfield (1831-1881) US President (1881), lawyer, lay preacher, educator
Letter to Professor Demmon (16 Dec 1871)
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Added on 18-Sep-20 | Last updated 18-Sep-20
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He says, You have to study and learn so that you can make up your own mind about history and everything else but you can’t make up an empty mind. Stock your mind, stock your mind. It is your house of treasure and no one in the world can interfere with it. If you won the Irish Sweepstakes and bought a house that needed furniture would you fill it with bits and pieces of rubbish? Your mind is your house and if you fill it with rubbish from the cinemas it will rot in your head. You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.

Frank McCourt (1930-2009) Irish-American teacher and writer
Angela’s Ashes, ch. 8 (1996)
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Added on 27-Aug-20 | Last updated 27-Aug-20
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The essence of success is that it is never necessary to think of a new idea oneself. It is far better to wait until somebody else does it, and then to copy him in every detail, except his mistakes.

Aubrey Menen (1912-1989) English writer
The Abode of Love, Part 3, “The Random Wooings” (1956)
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Added on 29-Jul-20 | Last updated 29-Jul-20
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Enter to grow in wisdom. / Depart to serve better thy country and thy kind.

Charles William Eliot (1834-1926) American academic
Lines inscribed on the 1890 (Dexter) Gate to Harvard Yard, Cambridge, Massachusetts
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On the front ("Enter") and back ("Depart") of the gate, which was erected in 1901 as a gift of the Harvard Class of 1890. Eliot also considered "Enter daily to grow in wisdom" and "Depart to serve better they country and mankind."

Paraphrases:
  • "Enter to learn; go forth to serve."
  • "Enter to learn; go forth to earn."
 
Added on 27-Jul-20 | Last updated 27-Jul-20
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Each day grew older, and learnt something new.

Solon (c. 638 BC - 558 BC) Athenian statesman, lawmaker, poet
Quoted in Plutarch, “Solon,” Parallel Lives [tr. Dryden (1693); ed. Clough (1859)]
    (Source)


Alt. trans.:
 
Added on 6-Jul-20 | Last updated 6-Jul-20
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Knowledge fills a large brain; it merely inflates a small one.

Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) Anglo-American columnist, journalist, author
“Strictly Personal” column (7 Jan 1982)
 
Added on 26-Jun-20 | Last updated 26-Jun-20
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A learned fool is more foolish than an ignorant one.

[Un sot savant est sot plus qu’un sot ignorant.]

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
The Learned Ladies [Les Femmes Savantes], Act 4, sc. 3, l. 1296 [Clitandre] (1672)
    (Source)


Alt. trans.:
  • "The learned fool is a far greater fool than the fool of ignorance." [tr. Wormeley (1895), The Female Pedants]
  • "A learned fool is more foolish than an ignorant one." [tr. Van Laun, The Learned Ladies]
  • "A learned fool is more of a fool than an ignorant one." [tr. Wall (1879), The Learned Women]
 
Added on 19-Jun-20 | Last updated 19-Jun-20
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More quotes by Moliere

A man may hear a thousand lectures, and read a thousand volumes, and be at the end of the process very much where he was, as regards knowledge. Something more than merely admitting it in a negative way into the mind is necessary, if it is to remain there. It must not be passively received, but actually and actively entered into, embraced, mastered. The mind must go half-way to meet what comes to it from without.

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) English prelate, Catholic Cardinal, theologian
The Idea of a University, Lecture 9 “Discipline of Mind,” sec. 4 (1852)
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Ah, it’s a lovely thing to know a thing or two.

[Ah, la belle chose que de savoir quelque chose.]

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
The Bourgeois Gentleman [Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme], Act 2, sc. 4 [M. Jourdain] (1670)


Title also translated as The Middle-Class Gentleman, The Tradesman turned Gentleman, The Middle-Class Aristocrat or The Would-Be Noble.

It is unclear where this highly common translation is from. Most identifiable sources are much more prosaic.
  • "Ah! What a fine thing it is to know something!" [tr. Woolerey, Act 2, sc. 6; Jones; Page]
  • "Ah, how wonderful it is to know something!" [tr. Applebaum (1998)]
  • "How fine a thing it is but to know something!" [Source]
  • "It's so reassuring to know something." [tr. Bermel (1987)]
  • "Oh, what a beautiful thing it is to know something!" [tr. Pergolizzi (1999)]
  • "It's wonderful to know so many things!" [tr. Rippon (2001), Act 1, sc. 3]
  • Original French
 
Added on 12-Jun-20 | Last updated 12-Jun-20
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You learn more from getting your butt kicked than from getting it kissed.

Tom Hanks (b. 1956) American actor and filmmaker [Thomas Jeffrey Hanks]
Interview with Larry King, CNN (30 Jun 1995)
 
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EPOPS: You’re mistaken: men of sense often learn from their enemies. Prudence is the best safeguard. This principle cannot be learned from a friend, but an enemy extorts it immediately. It is from their foes, not their friends, that cities learn the lesson of building high walls and ships of war. And this lesson saves their children, their homes, and their properties.

CHORUS [LEADER]: It appears then that it will be better for us to hear what they have to say first; for one may learn something at times even from one’s enemies.

Aristophanes (c. 450-c. 388 BC) Athenian comedic playwright
The Birds, l. 375ff (414 BC) [tr. Anon. (1812), Ramage (1864)]
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Alt. trans. [Hickie (1853)]:
EPOPS: Yet, certainly, the wise learn many things from their enemies; for caution preserves all things. From a friend you could not learn this, but your foe immediately obliges you to learn it. For example, the states have learned from enemies, and not from friends, to build lofty walls, and to possess ships of war. And this lesson preserves children, house, and possessions.
CHORUS [LEADER]: It is useful, as it appears to me, to hear their arguments first; for one might learn some wisdom even from one's foes.

Alt. trans. [O'Neill (1938)]:
EPOPS: The wise can often profit by the lessons of a foe, for caution is the mother of safety. It is just such a thing as one will not learn from a friend and which an enemy compels you to know. To begin with, it's the foe and not the friend that taught cities to build high walls, to equip long vessels of war; and it's this knowledge that protects our children, our slaves and our wealth.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS: Well then, I agree, let us first hear them, for that is best; one can even learn something in an enemy's school.
 
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The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those that cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

Alvin Toffler (1928-2016) American writer and futurist
(Paraphrase)
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Sometimes given as "The illiterate of the future ..." This ubiquitous (mis)quotation of Toffler is a conflation of two sentences in ch. 18 of Toffler's Future Shock (1970).

  1. On p. 414, Toffler writes, "By instructing students how to learn, unlearn and relearn, a powerful new dimension can be added to education."
  2. In the next paragraph, he quotes psychologist Herbert Gerjuoy: "Tomorrow's illiterate will not be the man who can't read; he will be the man who has not learned how to learn."
 
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Success don’t konsist in never making blunders, but in never making the same one the seckond time.

[Success doesn’t consist in never making blunders, but in never making the same one the second time.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, “Molassis Kandy” (1874)
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More discussion of this quotation here.
 
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A real writer learns from earlier writers the way a boy learns from an apple orchard — by stealing what he has a taste for and can carry off.

Archibald MacLeish (1892–1982) American poet, writer, statesman
In Charles Poore, “Mr. MacLeish and the Disenchantmentarians,” The New York Times (25 Jan 1968)
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Just as birds sometimes go in search of grain, carrying it in their beaks without tasting it to stuff it down the beaks of their young, so too do our schoolmasters go foraging for learning in their books and merely lodge it on the tip of their lips, only to spew it out and scatter it on the wind.

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) French essayist
The Complete Essays, I:25 “On Schoolmasters [Du pédantisme]”
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We readily inquire, “Does he know Greek or Latin?” “Can he write poetry and prose?” But what matters most is what we put last: “Has he become better and wiser?” We ought to find out not who understands most but who understands best.

[Nous nous enquerons volontiers: “Sçait-il du Gre ou du Latin? Estriil en vers ou en prose?” Mais sìl est devenu ou plus advisé, c’estoit le principal, et c’est ce qui demeure derrier. Il falloit sènquerir qui est mieux sçavant, non qui est plus sçavant.]

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) French essayist
The Complete Essays, I:25 “On Schoolmasters [Du pédantisme]”
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As the true object of education is not to render the pupil the mere copy of his preceptor, it is rather to be rejoiced in, than lamented, that various reading should lead him into new trains of thinking.

William Godwin (1756-1836) English journalist, political philosopher, novelist
The Enquirer, Essay 15 “Of Choice in Reading” (1797)
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I gladly come back to the theme of the absurdity of our education: its end has not been to make us good and wise but learned. And it has succeeded. It has not taught us to seek virtue and to embrace wisdom: it has impressed upon us their derivation and their etymology. We know how to decline the Latin word for virtue: we do not know how to love virtue. Though we do not know what wisdom is in practice or from experience we do know the jargon off by heart.

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) French essayist
The Complete Essays, II:17 “On Presumption” [tr. Screech (1987)]
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Books have led some to learning and others to madness, when they swallow more than they can digest.

Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374) Italian scholar and poet [a.k.a. Petrarch]
Remedies for Fortune Fair and Foul [De Remediis Utriusque Fortunae] [tr. Elton (1893)]


Alt. trans.: "Books have brought some men to knowledge, and some to madness. whilst they drew out of them more than they could digest." [tr. Dobson (1791)]

Alt. trans.: "Books have led some to knowledge and some to madness, who drew from them more than they could hold." [tr. Rawski (1991)]
 
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It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.

Chuck Palahniuk (b. 1962) American novelist and freelance journalist
Diary (2003)
 
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Civilization is not inherited; it has to be learned and earned by each generation anew; if the transmission should be interrupted for one century, civilization would die, and we should be savages again.

William James (Will) Durant (1885-1981) American historian, teacher, philosopher
The Lessons of History (1968)
 
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If a nation expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was & never will be. The functionaries of every government have propensities to command at will the liberty & property of their constituents. there is no safe deposit for these but with the people themselves; nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Charles Yancey (6 Jan 1816)
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I am always for getting a boy forward in his learning; for that is a sure good. I would let him at first read any English book which happens to engage his attention; because you have done a great deal when you have brought him to have entertainment from a book. He’ll get better books afterwards.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson “16 April 1779” (1791)
 
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From your parents you learn love and laughter and how to put one foot before the other. But when books are opened you discover you have wings.

Helen Hayes (1900-1993) American actress
On Reflection (2014)
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Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797) Anglo-Irish statesman, orator, philosopher
Letters on a Regicide Peace, Vol. 5, Letter 1 (1796)
 
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We cannot blame the schools alone for that dismal decline in SAT verbal scores. […] What happens at home really matters. And when our kids come home from school, do they pick up a book, or do they sit glued to the tube watching music videos? Parents: don’t make the mistake of thinking your kids only learn from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. You are and always will be their first teachers.

George H. W. Bush (1924-2018) American politician, diplomat, US President (1989-93)
Speech, Lewiston Comprehensive High School, Maine (3 Sep 1991)
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Often misattributed to his son, George W. Bush.
 
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If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit.

William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton (b. 1946) American politician, US President (1993-2001)
Speech to students during the 1992 US Presidential campaign
 
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“Men, Pencroft, however learned they may be, can never change anything of the cosmographical order established by God Himself.”

“And yet,” added Pencroft, “the world is very learned. What a big book, captain, might be made with all that is known!”

“And what a much bigger book still with all that is not known!” answered Harding.

[Les hommes, Pencroff, si savants qu’ils puissent être, ne pourront jamais changer quoi que ce soit à l’ordre cosmographique établi par Dieu même.
— Et pourtant, ajouta Pencroff, qui montra une certaine difficulté à se résigner, le monde est bien savant! Quel gros livre, monsieur Cyrus, on ferait avec tout ce qu’on sait!
— Et quel plus gros livre encore avec tout ce qu’on ne sait pas, répondit Cyrus Smith.]

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
The Mysterious Island, Part 3, ch. 14 (1874)
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But, on the other hand, Uncle Abner said that the person that had took a bull by the tail once had learnt sixty or seventy times as much as a person that hadn’t, and said a person that started in to carry a cat home by the tail was gitting knowledge that was always going to be useful to him, and warn’t ever going to grow dim or doubtful.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Tom Sawyer Abroad, ch. 10 (1894)
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Frequently misquoted as "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way."
 
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What we have learned from others becomes our own by reflection.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Blotting Book 1,” (1826-1827)
 
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Never learn anything until you find you have been made uncomfortable for a good long while by not knowing it; when you find that you have occasion for this or that knowledge, or foresee that you will have occasion for it shortly, the sooner you learn it the better, but till then spend your time in growing bone and muscle; these will be much more useful to you than Latin and Greek, nor will you ever be able to make them if you do not do so now, whereas Latin and Greek can be acquired at any time by those who want them.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Way of All Flesh (1903)
 
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The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr.

Muhammad (570-632) Arabian merchant, prophet, founder of Islam [Mohammed]
Hadith
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In Syed Ameer Ali, A Critical Examination of the Life and Teachings of Mohammed (1873), cited to The Kitâb-ul-Mustarif, ch. 2, and The Mishkât, Bk 22, ch. 18, pt. 3 (from Abu Hurairah)
 
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