Quotations about   necessity

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Necessity is the only successful adviser.

Charles Reade (1814-1884) English novelist and dramatist
(Attributed)
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In M. Ballou, Edge-Tools of Speech (1886).
Added on 8-Jul-20 | Last updated 8-Jul-20
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That the beauty of life is a thing of no moment, I suppose few people would venture to assert, and yet most civilized people act as if it were of none, and in so doing are wronging themselves and those that are to come after them; for that beauty, which is what is meant by art, using the word in its widest sense, is, I contend, no mere accident to human life, which people can take or leave as they choose, but a positive necessity of life, if we are to live as nature meant us to; that is, unless we are content to be less than men.

William Morris (1834-1896) British textile designer, writer, socialist activist
“The Beauty of Life,” lecture, Birmingham Society of Arts and School of Design (19 Feb 1880)
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Added on 5-Feb-20 | Last updated 5-Feb-20
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The human animal needs a freedom seldom mentioned, freedom from intrusion. He needs a little privacy quite as much as he wants understanding or vitamins or exercise or praise.

Phyllis McGinley (1905-1978) American author, poet
The Province of the Heart (1959)
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Added on 17-Jan-20 | Last updated 17-Jan-20
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In the affluent society no sharp distinction can be made between luxuries and necessaries.

John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) Canadian-American economist, diplomat, author
The Affluent Society, ch. 21, sec. 4 (1998, 4th ed.)
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On sales taxes. Sometimes quoted (from other editions?) as "useful distinction."
Added on 14-Jan-20 | Last updated 14-Jan-20
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I was often humiliated to see men disputing for a piece of bread, just as animals might have done. My feelings on this subject have very much altered since I have been personally exposed to the tortures of hunger. I have discovered, in fact, that a man, whatever may have been his origin, his education, and his habits, is governed, under certain circumstances, much more by his stomach than by his intelligence and his heart.

François Arago (1786-1853) French Catalan mathematician, physicist, astronomer, politician.
Biographies of Distinguished Scientific Men, “The History of My Youth” (1859) [tr. Smyth, Powell, Grant]
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Added on 10-Oct-19 | Last updated 10-Oct-19
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Reason allows us to determine when our wishes are in irrevocable conflict with reality, and then bids us to submit ourselves willingly, rather than angrily or bitterly, to necessities. We may be powerless to alter certain events, but we remain free to choose our attitude towards them, and it is in our spontaneous acceptance of necessity that we find our distinctive freedom.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 3 “Consolation for Frustration”(2000)
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Added on 10-Oct-19 | Last updated 10-Oct-19
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While we are poor, the necessarys ov life are the luxurys; after we git ritch, the luxurys are the necessarys.

[While we are poor, the necessaries of life are the luxuries; after we get rich, the luxuries are the necessaries.]

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, “Mollassis Kandy” (1874)
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Added on 9-Jun-19 | Last updated 9-Jun-19
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We do what we must, and call it by the best names we can, and would fain have the praise of having intended the result which ensues.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Experience,” Essays: Second Series (1844)
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Added on 2-Feb-19 | Last updated 2-Feb-19
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The essence of good manners consists in making it clear that one has no wish to hurt. When it is clearly necessary to hurt, it must be done in such a way as to make it evident that the necessity is felt to be regrettable.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“Good Manners and Hypocrisy,” New York American (14 Dec 1934)
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Added on 3-Jan-19 | Last updated 3-Jan-19
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Before all masters, necessity is the one most listened to, and who teaches the best.

[La nécessité est, d’ailleurs, de tous les maîtres, celui qu’on écoute le plus et qui enseigne le mieux.]

Verne - masters necesity - wist_info quote

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
The Mysterious Island, Part 1, ch. 17 (1874)
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Added on 29-Apr-16 | Last updated 29-Apr-16
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Capitalism is about turning luxuries into necessities.

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) American industrialist and philanthropist
(Attributed)
Added on 30-Mar-16 | Last updated 30-Mar-16
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Despair says, I cannot lift that weight. Happiness says, I do not have to.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, # 4 (2001)
Added on 28-Aug-15 | Last updated 28-Aug-15
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These are times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or in the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues.

Abigail Adams (1744-1818) American correspondent, First Lady (1797-1801)
Letter to John Quincy Adams (19 Jan 1780)

Probable source of the similar "Great necessities call forth great leaders," usually cited (but not found) as a letter to Thomas Jefferson.
Added on 7-Aug-15 | Last updated 7-Aug-15
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Necessity makes even the timid brave.

[Necessitas etiam timidos fortes facit.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Catiline’s War [Bellum Catilinae], pt. 58 (42 BC) [tr. Loeb (1921)]
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Added on 15-May-14 | Last updated 15-May-14
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Necessity can make a doubtful action innocent, but it cannot make it commendable.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
Added on 21-Oct-13 | Last updated 13-May-16
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Necessity can make a doubtful action innocent, but it cannot make it commendable.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
Added on 15-Jul-13 | Last updated 13-May-16
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So spake the Fiend, and with necessity,
The Tyrant’s plea, excus’d his devilish deeds.

John Milton (1608-1674) English poet
Paradise Lost, 4.383 (1667)
Added on 14-Dec-11 | Last updated 27-Jan-20
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Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive. With them, we can make a joint effort to solve the problems of the whole humankind.

The Dalai Lama (b. 1935) Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader [The 14th Dalai Lama; a/k/a Lhama Thondup / Lhama Dhondrub; b. Tenzin Gyatso]
(Attributed)
Added on 9-Sep-11 | Last updated 18-Oct-17
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Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
Common Sense, “On the Origin and Design of Government in General” (14 Feb 1776)
Added on 26-Jan-11 | Last updated 14-Jan-20
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I am here to represent humanity: it is by no means necessary that I should live, but it is by all means necessary that I should act rightly.

Incorporated into “Essential Principles of Religion,” Lecture, Congregational Society, Boston (16 Mar 1862).

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (May 1854)
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Added on 26-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Mar-20
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A room without books is like a body without a soul.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 15-Aug-16
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It is true, the bill is said to be founded on necessity; but what is this? Is it not necessity, which has always been the plea of every illegal exertion of power, or exercise of oppression? Is not necessity the pretence of every usurpation? Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt (1759-1806) British Prime Minister (1804-06) [William Pitt the Younger]
Speech to House of Commons (18 Nov 1793)
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Speech on a bill changing the process of governing India. Cf. Milton.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 27-Jan-20
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