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The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) English modernist writer [b. Adeline Virginia Stephen]
“An Unwritten Novel” (1920)
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Added on 22-Apr-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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While then the worst man is he who displays vice both in his own affairs and in his dealings with his friends, the best man is not he who displays virtue in his own affairs merely, but he who displays virtue towards others; for this is the hard thing to do.

[κάκιστος μὲν οὖν ὁ καὶ πρὸς αὑτὸν καὶ πρὸς τοὺς φίλους χρώμενος τῇ μοχθηρίᾳ, ἄριστος δ᾽ οὐχ ὁ πρὸς αὑτὸν τῇ ἀρετῇ ἀλλὰ πρὸς ἕτερον: τοῦτο γὰρ ἔργον χαλεπόν.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics [Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια], Book 5, ch. 1 (5.1.18) / 1130a.5-8 (c. 325 BC) [tr. Peters (1893)]
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(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Now he is the basest of men who practises vice not only in his own person, but towards his friends also; but he the best who practises virtue not merely in his own person but towards his neighbour, for this is a matter of some difficulty.
tr. Chase (1847), ch. 2]

Worst of men is he whose wickedness affects not himself alone but his fellow with him; best of men is he whose virtue affects not himself alone but his fellow with him; for such a one has in all sooth a hard task.
[tr. Williams (1869)]

As then the worst of men is he who exhibits his depravity both in his own life and in relation to his friends, the best of men is he who exhibits his virtue not in his own life only but in relation to others; for this is a difficult task.
[tr. Welldon (1892)]

Now the worst man is he who exercises his wickedness both towards himself and towards his friends, and the best man is not he who exercises his virtue towards himself but he who exercises it towards another; for this is a difficult task.
[tr. Ross (1908)]

As then the worst man is he who practises vice towards his friends as well as in regard to himself, so the best is not he who practises virtue in regard to himself but he who practises it towards others; for that is a difficult task.
[tr. Rackham (1934)]

The worst sort of person, then, is the one who uses his depravity both in relation to himself and in relation to his friends, whereas the best sort is not the one who uses his virtue in relationship to himself but the one who uses it in relation to another person, since that is difficult work.
[tr. Reeve (1948)]

The worst man, then, is the one whose evil habit affects both himself and his friends, while the best man is one whose virtue is directed not to himself, but to others, for this is a difficult task.
[tr. Apostle (1975)]

So the worst person is the one who exercises his wickedness towards both himself and his friends, and the best is not the one who exercises his virtue towards himself but the one who exercises it towards another; because this is a difficult task.
[tr. Thomson/Tredennick (1976)]

So the worst person is the one who exercises wickedness in relation to himself and in relation to his friends, and the best is not he who exercises his virtue in relation to himself but the one who exercises it in relation to others, since this is a difficult thing to do.
[tr. Crisp (2000)]

Worst, then, is he who treats both himself and his friends in a corrupt way, but best is he who makes use of virtue not in relation to himself but in relation to another. For this is a difficult task.
[tr. Bartlett/Collins (2011)]

Added on 22-Feb-22 | Last updated 22-Feb-22
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Nobody really listens to anyone else, and if you try it for a while you’ll see why.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 3 (1966)
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Added on 20-Jan-22 | Last updated 10-Mar-22
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Truth is like the flu. I fight it off, but it changes in other bodies and returns in a form to which I am not immune.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
“Vectors: 56 Aphorisms and Ten-second Essays,” Michigan Quarterly Review, #49 (Spring 1999)
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Added on 9-Nov-21 | Last updated 9-Nov-21
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It is never until one realizes that one means something to others that one feels there is any point or purpose in one’s own existence.

Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist, biographer
Beware of Pity (1939)
Added on 16-Sep-21 | Last updated 16-Sep-21
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All things are tolerable which others have borne and are bearing.

[Sed significat tolerabilia esse, quae et tulerint et ferant ceteri.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 3, ch. 23 (3.23) / sec. 57 (45 BC) [tr. Yonge (1853)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

  • "Those things are in themselves tolerable, which others have born, and do bear." [tr. Wase (1643)]
  • "All things are tolerable which others have borne and can bear." [tr. Main (1824)]
  • "What others have endured and endure must be tolerable." [tr. Otis (1839)]
  • "Things are tolerable which others have borne and are bearing." [tr. Peabody (1886)]
  • "The circumstances at hand are indeed tolerable, since others have tolerated them and continue to do so." [tr. Graver (2002)]
Added on 13-Sep-21 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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Why would we worry what others think of us if their opinions did not change us?

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, #387 (2001)
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The worst days of darkness through which I have ever passed have been greatly alleviated by throwing myself with all my energy into some work relating to others.

James A. Garfield (1831-1881) US President (1881), lawyer, lay preacher, educator
Letter to B. A. Hinsdale (30 Apr 1874)
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Added on 10-Jul-20 | Last updated 10-Jul-20
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Gossip isn’t scandal and it’s not merely malicious. It’s chatter about the human race by lovers of the same. Gossip is the tool of the poet, the shop-talk of the scientist, and the consolation of the housewife, wit, tycoon and intellectual. It begins in the nursery and ends when speech is past.

Phyllis McGinley (1905-1978) American author, poet
“A New Year and No Resolutions,” Woman’s Home Companion (Jan 1957)
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Added on 29-Jan-20 | Last updated 29-Jan-20
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The reward for conformity was that everyone liked you but yourself.

Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944) American author, playwright
Venus Envy, ch. 15 (1993)
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Often paraphrased in the present tense: "The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you but yourself."
Added on 2-Apr-18 | Last updated 2-Apr-18
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A golden rule: We must judge men, not by their opinions, but by what those opinions make of them.

Georg C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799) German physicist, writer
Aphorisms, Notebook J, #201, p. 966 (1789-93) [tr. Hollingdale (1990)]
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Alternate translations:
  • "A golden rule: we must judge people, not by their opinions, but by what these opinions make of them." [tr. Tester (2012)]
  • It is a golden rule that one should not judge people according to their opinions, but according to what these opinions make of them.
  • "It is a golden rule not to judge men by their opinions but rather by what their opinions make of them."
  • "One must judge men not by their opinions, but by what their opinions have made of them."
  • "Don't judge a man by his opinions, but what his opinions have made of him."
Added on 30-May-17 | Last updated 7-Jul-21
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Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing;
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice; then darkness again and a silence.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
Tales of a Wayside Inn, Part 3 “The Theologian’s Tale: Elizabeth” part 4 (1874)
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Added on 10-Apr-17 | Last updated 10-Apr-17
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Every boddy in this world wants watching, but none more than ourselves.

[Everybody in this world wants watching, but none more than ourselves.]

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, “Fus Impressions” (1874)
Added on 2-Nov-16 | Last updated 5-May-19
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Be charitable and indulgent to every one but yourself.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
(Attributed)

Quoted in Maturin M. Ballou, Treasury of Thought (1884 ed.).
Added on 19-Aug-16 | Last updated 19-Aug-16
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We have a marvelous gift, and you see it develop in children, this ability to become aware that other people have minds just like your own and feelings that are just as important as your own, and this gift of empathy seems to me to be the building block of our moral system.

Ian McEwan (b. 1948) English novelist and screenwriter
The Root of All Evil? documentary, Channel 4, United Kingdom (Jan 2006)
Added on 12-Jul-16 | Last updated 12-Jul-16
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The first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his weight; that he shall not be a mere passenger, but shall do his share in the work that each generation of us finds ready to hand; and, furthermore, that in doing his work he shall show, not only the capacity for sturdy self-help, but also self-respecting regard for the rights of others.

Roosevelt - pull his weight - wist_info quote

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
Speech, New York (11 Nov 1902)
Added on 16-Jun-16 | Last updated 16-Jun-16
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So perish all whose breast ne’er learned to glow
For others’ good, or melt at others’ woe!

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) English poet
“Elegy to an Unfortunate Lady”, l. 45 (1717)
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MRS. HARDCASTLE: See me, how calm I am.

MISS NEVILLE: Ay, people are generally calm at the misfortunes of others.

Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774) Irish poet, playwright, novelist
She Stoops to Conquer, Act 3, sc. 1 (1773)
Added on 19-Apr-16 | Last updated 19-Apr-16
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The only kind of dignity which is genuine is that which is not diminished by the indifference of others.

Hammarskjold - dignity which is genuine - wist_info quote

Dag Hammarskjöld (1905-1961) Swedish diplomat, author, UN Secretary-General (1953-61)
Markings (1964)
Added on 14-Apr-16 | Last updated 14-Apr-16
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Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.

Twain - other peoples habits - wist_info quote

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, ch. 15, epigraph (1894)
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As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December’s bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same.

Donald E. Westlake (1933-2008) American writer
(Attributed)
Added on 24-Dec-15 | Last updated 24-Dec-15
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People glorify all sorts of bravery except the bravery they might show on behalf of their nearest neighbors.

George Eliot (1819-1880) English novelist [pseud. of Mary Ann Evans]
Middlemarch, Book 8, ch. 72 (1871-72)
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Myron reflected that there are so many people in the world who are eager to do for you things that you do not wish done, provided only that you will do for them things that you don’t wish to do.

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) American novelist, playwright
Work of Art, ch. 21 (1934)
Added on 1-Sep-15 | Last updated 1-Sep-15
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It is only when you truly don’t care what people think that you truly don’t need to care what people think.

Abdal Hakim Murad (b. 1960) British Muslim shaykh, researcher, writer, academic [b. Timothy John Winter]
“Contentions 2,” # 5
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But the truth is, that no man is much regarded by the rest of the world, except where the interest of others is involved in his fortune. The common employments or pleasures of life, love or opposition, loss or gain, keep almost every mind in perpetual agitation. If any man would consider how little he dwells upon the condition of others, he would learn how little the attention of others is attracted by himself.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #159 (24 Sep 1751)
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The bonds that unite another person to ourself exist only in our mind. Memory as it grows fainter relaxes them, and notwithstanding the illusion by which we would fain be cheated and with which, out of love, friendship, politeness, deference, duty, we cheat other people and we exist alone. Man is the only creature that cannot emerge from himself, that knows his fellows only in himself; when he asserts the contrary he is lying.

Marcel Proust (1871-1922) French author
Remembrance of Things Past “The Sweet Cheat Gone” (1913-27)
Added on 9-Dec-13 | Last updated 9-Dec-13
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The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity.

Clara Lucas Balfour (1808-1878) English novelist, lecturer, temperance campaigner
Sunbeams for All Seasons: Counsels, Cautions, and Precepts (1861 ed.)
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Do not think of knocking out another person’s brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.

Horace Mann (1796-1859) American educator
Thoughts (1867)
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Our credulity is greatest concerning the things we know least about. And since we know least about ourselves, we are ready to believe all that is said about us. Hence the mysterious power of both flattery and calumny.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American writer, philosopher, longshoreman
The Passionate State of Mind, Aphorism 128 (1955)
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Added on 30-Jan-12 | Last updated 23-Jun-22
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Happiness is the only good.
The place to be happy is here.
The time to be happy is now.
The way to be happy is to make others so.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Note to a fan (26 Mar 1897)
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The faults of others console us in our own.

Paul Eldridge (1888-1982) American educator, novelist, poet
Maxims for a Modern Man, #2178 (1965)
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Added on 30-Jun-10 | Last updated 28-Jan-22
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We are interested in others when they are interested in us.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 16 [tr. Lyman (1862)]
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You will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Self-Reliance,” Essays: First Series (1841)
Added on 21-Oct-09 | Last updated 27-Feb-17
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Charity begins at home but should not end there.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #1085 (1732)
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As it is better to give than to receive, so it is better to share the fruit of one’s contemplation than merely to contemplate.

[Sicut enim maius est illuminare quam lucere solum, ita maius est contemplata aliis tradere quam solum contemplari.]

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) Italian friar, philosopher, theologian
Summa Theologica, 2a-2ae, “Treatise on the States of Life,” Q.188 “Of the Different Kinds of Religious Life” (1265-1274)
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Alt. trans.:
  • "Just as it is better to illuminate than merely to shine, so to pass on what one has contemplated is better than merely to contemplate."
  • "Better to illuminate than merely to shine; to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate."
  • "Better to light up than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate." [Source]
  • "For even as it is better to enlighten than merely to shine, so it is better to give to others the fruits of one's contemplation than merely to contemplate." [Source]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-Jun-20
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Thou seest we are not all alone unhappy.
This wide and universal theater
Presents more woeful pageants than the scene
Wherein we play in.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
As You Like It, Act 2, sc. 7, l. 142ff [Duke Senior] (1599)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 27-Jun-22
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“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) English writer and social critic
A Christmas Carol (1843)
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Let us treat men and women well; treat them as if they were real; perhaps they are.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Experience,” Essays: Second Series (1844)
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Human beings are like parts of a body,
created from the same essence.
When one part is hurt and in pain,
the others cannot remain in peace and be quiet.
If the misery of others leaves you indifferent
and with no feelings of sorrow,
You cannot be called a human being.

Sa'adi (1184-1283/1291?) Persian poet [a.k.a. Sa'di, Moslih Eddin Sa'adi, Mushrif-ud-Din Abdullah, Muslih-ud-Din Mushrif ibn Abdullah, Mosleh al-Din Saadi Shirazi, Shaikh Mosslehedin Saadi Shirazi]
Poem on Humanity

Alternate translations:

Posted in the entrance to the Hall of Nations of the UN building, New York:

Of one Essence is the human race,
Thusly has Creation put the Base;
One Limb impacted is sufficient,
For all Others to feel the Mace.

Alt trans (M. Aryanpour):

Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain.

Alternate:

The sons of Adam are limbs of each other,
Having been created of one essence.
When the calamity of time affects one limb
The other limbs cannot remain at rest.
If thou hast no sympathy for the troubles of others
Thou art unworthy to be called by the name of a human.

Alternate:

All human beings are in truth akin;
All in creation share one origin.
When fate allots a member pangs and pains,
No ease for other members then remains.
If, unperturbed, another's grief canst scan,
Thou are not worthy of the name of man.

Alternate:

All Adam's race are members of one frame,
Since all, at first, from the same essence came.
When by hard fortune one limb is oppressed,
The other members lose their wonted rest:
If thou feel'st not for others' misery,
A son of Adam is no name for thee.

Persian original can be seen here. Transliterated (here) as:

Bani aadam aazaye yek digarand
ke dar aafarinesh ze yek gooharand
cho ozvi be dard aavarad roozegaar
degar ozvhaa raa namaanad gharaar
to kaz mehnate digaraan bi ghami
nashaayad ke naamat nahand aadami

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Mar-16
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