Quotations about   philosophy

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Truths are first clouds, then rain, then harvests and food. The philosophy of one century is the common sense of the next. Men are called fools, in one age, for not knowing what they were called fools for averring in the age before.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
Life Thoughts (1858)
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Added on 24-Jan-22 | Last updated 24-Jan-22
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But in my college days I discovered that nothing can be imagined which is too strange or incredible to have been said by some philosopher.

[Mais ayant appris dès le collège qu’on ne sauroit rien imaginer de si étrange et si peu croyable, qu’il n’ait été dit par quelqu’un des philosophes.]

René Descartes (1596-1650) French philosopher, mathematician
Discourse on Method [Discours de la méthode], Part 2 (1637) [tr. Cottingham, Stoothoff (1985)]
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See Cicero. (Source (French)). Alternate translations:

But I had become aware, even so early as during my college life, that no opinion, however absurd and incredible, can be imagined, which has not been maintained by some on of the philosophers.
[tr. Veitch (1901)]

But I had been taught, even in my College days, that there is nothing imaginable so strange or so little credible that it has not been maintained by one philosopher or another.
[tr. Haldane, Ross (1911)]

One cannot conceive anything so strange and so implausible that it has not already been said by one philosopher or another.

Added on 30-Dec-21 | Last updated 30-Dec-21
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A Dialogue between two Infants in the womb concerning the state of this world, might handsomely illustrate our ignorance of the next, whereof methinks we yet discourse in Platoes denne, and are but Embryon Philosophers.

Thomas Browne (1605-1682) English physician and author
Hydriotaphia, or Urne-Buriall, ch. 4 (1658)
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Added on 20-Oct-21 | Last updated 20-Oct-21
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For whoever reflects on the nature of things, the various turns of life, and the weakness of human nature, grieves, indeed, at that reflection; but while so grieving he is, above all other times, behaving as a wise man: for he gains these two things by it; one, that while he is considering the state of human nature he is performing the especial duties of philosophy, and is provided with a triple medicine against adversity: in the first place, because he has long reflected that such things might befall him, and this reflection by itself contributes much towards lessening and weakening all misfortunes; and, secondly, because he is persuaded that we should bear all the accidents which can happen to a man, with the feelings and spirit of a man; and lastly, because he considers that what is blameable is the only evil; but it is not your fault that something has happened to you which it was impossible for man to avoid.

[Neque enim qui rerum naturam, qui vitae varietatem, qui imbecillitatem generis humani cogitat, maeret, cum haec cogitat, sed tum vel maxime sapientiae fungitur munere. Utrumque enim consequitur, ut et considerandis rebus humanis proprio philosophiae fruatur officio et adversis casibus triplici consolatione sanetur: primum quod posse accidere diu cogitavit, quae cogitatio una maxime molestias omnes extenuat et diluit; deinde quod humana humane ferenda intelligit; postremo quod videt malum nullum esse nisi culpam, culpam autem nullam esse, cum id, quod ab homine non potuerit praestari, evenerit.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 3, ch. 16 / sec. 34 (45 BC) [tr. Yonge (1853)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

For he that considers the order of Nature, and the Vicissitudes of Life, and the Frailty of Mankind is not melancholly when he considers these things, but is then most principally imploy'd in the exercise of Wisdom, for he reaps a double advantage; both that in the consideration of man's circumstances, he enjoyeth the proper Office of Philosophy; and in case of Adversity, he is supported by a threefold Consolation. First, that he hath long consider'd that such accidents might come; which consideration alone doth most weaken and allay all Afflictions. Then he cometh to learn, that all Tryals common to men, should be born, as such, patiently. Lastly, that he perceiveth there is no Evil, but where is blame; but there is no blame, when that falls out, the Prevention of which, was not in man to warrant.
[tr. Wase (1643)]

For whoever reflects on the nature of things, the various turns of life, the weakness of human nature, grieves indeed at that reflection; but that grief becomes him as a wise man, for he gains these two points by it; when he is considering the state of human nature he is enjoying all the advantage of philosophy, and is provided with a triple medicine against adversity. The first is, that he has long reflected that such things might befall him, which reflection alone contributes much towards lessening all misfortunes: the next is, that he is persuaded, that we should submit to the condition of human nature: the last is, that he discovers what is blameable to be the only evil. But it is not your fault that something lights on you, which it was impossible for man to avoid.
[tr. Main (1824)]

For neither does he who contemplates the nature of things, the mutations of life, the fragility of man, grieve when he thinks of these matters, but then most especially exercises the office of wisdom. For, by the study of human affairs, he at once pursues the proper aim of philosophy, and provides himself with a triple consolation for adverse events: -- first, that he has long deemed them possible to arrive; which one consideration has the greatest efficacy for the extenuation and mitigation of all misfortune: and, next, he perceives that human accidents are to be borne like a man: and, finally, because he sees there is no evil but fault, and that there is no fault where that has happened which man could not have prevented.
[tr. Otis (1839)]

Indeed, he who thinks of the nature of things, of the varying fortune of life, of the weakness of the human race, does not sorrow when these things are on his mind, but he then most truly performs the office of wisdom; for from such thought there are two consequences, -- the one, that he discharges the peculiar function of philosophy; the other, that in adversity he has the curative aid of a threefold consolation: first, because, as he has long thought what may happen, this sole thought is of the greatest power in attenuating and diluting every trouble; next, because he understands that human fortunes are to be borne in a way befitting human nature; -- lastly, because he sees that there is no evil but guilt, while there is no guilt in the happening of what man could not have prevented.
[tr. Peabody (1886)]

For the person who reflects on the nature of things, on the variety of life, and the precarity of human existence is not sad in considering these things but is carrying out the duty of wisdom in the fullest way. For they pursue both in enjoying the particular harvest of philosophy by considering what happens in human life and in suffering adverse outcomes by cleansing with a three-part solace. First, by previously accepting the possibility of misfortune—which is the most way of weakening and managing any annoyance and second, by learning that human events must be endured humanely; and third, by recognizing that there is nothing evil except for blame and there is no blame when the event is something against which no human can endure.
[tr. @sentantiq (2021)]

Added on 18-Oct-21 | Last updated 18-Oct-21
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Act as the wisest have acted before you, and do not commence your exercises in philosophy in those regions where an error can deliver you over to the executioner.

Georg C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799) German physicist, writer
Aphorisms, Notebook C, #16 [142] (1772-73) [tr. Hollingdale (1960)]
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Alternate translation: "Act as the wisest before you have acted, and do not begin your philosophical exercises where an error can deliver you into the hands of the executioner." [tr. Tester (2012)]
Added on 6-Jul-21 | Last updated 6-Jul-21
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I do not deny that pain is painful — otherwise, why would bravery be desired? But I do say that it is suppressed through patience, if we possess any amount at all. If we have none, then why do we raise philosophy on high and robe ourselves in its glory?

[Non ego dolorem dolorem esse nego — cur enim fortitudo desideraretur? — sed eum opprimi dico patientia, si modo est aliqua patientia: si nulla est, quid exornamus philosophiam aut quid eius nomine gloriosi sumus?]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 2, ch. 14 / sec. 33 (45 BC) [tr. @sentantiq (2020)]
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Original Latin. Alternate translations:

I do not deny Pain to be Pain, for what need else were there of Fortitude? but I say it may be suppress'd by Patience, if there be any such Virtue as Patience; if there be none, why do we magnifie Philosophy? or why do we value our selves in being denominated from her?
[tr. Wase (1643)]

I do not deny pain to be pain, for were that the case, in what would courage consist? but I say it should be assuaged by patience, if there be such a thing as patience: if there be no such thing, then why do we speak so in praise of philosophy? or why do we glory in its name?
[tr. Main (1824)]

That pain is pain, I do not deny; for why should fortitude be desired? but I say it is kept under by patience: -- if, at least, there be any patience. If there be no such thing, why do we extol philosophy? or why do we glory in her name?
[tr. Otis (1839)]

I do not deny pain to be pain; for were that the case, in what would courage consist? but I say it should be assuaged by patience, if there be such a thing as patience: if there be no such thing, why do we speak so in praise of philosophy? or why do we glory in its name?
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

I do not deny that pain is pain; else where were the need of fortitude? But I do say that pain is subdued by patience, if patience be a real quality; and if it be not, why do we lavish praises on philosophy? Or what is there to boast of in its name?
[tr. Peabody (1886)]

I don't deny that pain is pain -- otherwise why should there be felt a need for courage? But I say that it is overcome by endurance if only there is such a thing as endurance: if there isn't, why do we sing the praises of philosophy, or why are we boastful on its behalf?
[tr. Douglas (1990)]

Added on 6-Jul-21 | Last updated 6-Jul-21
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For such is the work of philosophy. It cures souls, draws off vain anxieties, confers freedom from desires, drives away fears.

[Nam efficit hoc philosophia: medetur animis, inanes sollicitudines detrahit, cupiditatibus liberat, pellit timores.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 2, ch. 4 / sec. 11 [Marcus] (45 BC) [tr. Peabody (1886)]
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Original Latin. Alternate translations:

This is the proper work of Philosophy, it healeth the Distempers of the mind, removeth vain Disquiets, sets free from impetuous Desires, banisheth Fears
[tr. Wase (1643)]

For it is the effect of philosophy, which is the medicine of our souls; it discharges all groundless apprehensions, frees us from desires, drives away fears.
[tr. Main (1824)]

For such is the effect of philosophy. She heals the mind, banishes its vain solicitudes, delivers it from the chains of cupidity, expels its fearful apprehensions.
[tr. Otis (1839)]

It is the effect of philosophy, which is the medicine of our souls; it banishes all groundless apprehensions, frees us from desires, and drives away fears.
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

It is the effect of philosophy. It provides medicine for teh soul, takes away futile worries, frees us from desires, banishes fears.
[tr. Davie (2017)]

Added on 24-May-21 | Last updated 24-May-21
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The problem is that the philosopher of today has lost his wonder, because wonder, in modern philosophy, is something you must not have; it is like enthusiasm in eighteenth-century England — it is very bad form.

Alan Watts (1915-1973) Anglo-American philosopher, writer
“The Relevance of Oriental Philosophy” (c. 1964)
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Collected in Eastern Wisdom, Modern Life, ch. 6 (2006).
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You see, a philosopher is a sort of intellectual yokel who gawks at things that sensible people take for granted.

Alan Watts (1915-1973) Anglo-American philosopher, writer
“The Relevance of Oriental Philosophy” (c. 1964)
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Collected in Eastern Wisdom, Modern Life, ch. 6 (2006). Variant: "A philosopher is a sort of intellectual yokel who gawks at things, like existence, that ordinary people take for granted."
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To ridicule philosophy, that is really to act the philosopher.

[Se moquer de la philosophie c’est vraiment philosophe.]

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) French scientist and philosopher
Thoughts [Pensées], Article 7, #35 (1670)

Pascal's works are sorted and classified by translators in a variety of ways, so numbering is inconsistent. Alternate translations:
  • "To have no time for philosophy is to be a true philosopher." [tr. Krailsheimer (2003); Series 22, #513]
  • "To make light of philosophy is to be a true philosopher." [tr. Paul (1885), "Various Thoughts"; also Trotter (1958), Sec. 1, #4]
  • "To ridicule philosophy is really to philosophize." [#430]
  • "To ridicule philosophy is truly philosophical."
  • "To mock philosophy is to philosophize truly"
  • "To mock philosophy is to be a true philosopher."
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After any disturbance (such as two world wars coinciding with a period of growing economic and monetary incomprehensibility) we find our old concepts inadequate and look for new ones. But it unfortunately happens that the troubled times which produce an appetite for new ideas are the least propitious for clear thinking.

Rebecca West (1892-1983) British author, journalist, literary critic, travel writer [pseud. for Cicily Isabel Fairfield]
In The Sunday Telegraph, London (1981)
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Added on 8-Mar-21 | Last updated 8-Mar-21
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His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools — the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans — and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, “You can’t trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there’s nothing you can do about it, so let’s have a drink.”

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Small Gods (1992)
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To become a popular religion, it is only necessary for a superstition to enslave a philosophy.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
“The Idea of Progress”, Romanes Lecture, Oxford (27 May 1920)
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To have a reason to get up in the morning, it is necessary to possess a guiding principle. A belief of some kind. A bumper sticker, if you will.

Judith Guest (b. 1936) American novelist and screenwriter.
Ordinary People, ch. 1, opening lines (1980)
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It happens sometimes that two opposite tendencies flourish together, deriving strength from a sense of the danger with which each is threatened by the popularity of the other. Where the antagonism is not absolute, each may gain by being compelled to recognise the strong points in the rival position. In a serious controversy the right is seldom or never all on one side; and in the normal course of events both theories undergo some modification through the influence of their opponents, until a compromise, not always logically defensible, brings to an end the acute stage of the controversy.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
“Institutionalism and Mysticism” (1914), Outspoken Essays: First Series (1914)
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The name philosopher, which meant originally “lover of wisdom,” has come in some strange way to mean a man who thinks it is his business to explain everything in a certain number of large books. It will be found, I think, that in proportion to his colossal ignorance is the perfection and symmetry of the system which he sets up; because it is so much easier to put an empty room tidy than a full one.

William Kingdon Clifford (1845-1879) English mathematician and philosopher
Quoted in A. D’Abro, The Evolution of Scientific Thought from Newton to Einstein, Part 4, ch. 37 (1927)
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D'Abro says it comes from one of Clifford's essays, but the source does not appear online.
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It was always my hope in writing novels and stories which asked the question, “what is reality?”, to someday get an answer. This was the hope of most of my readers, too. Years passed. I wrote over thirty novels and over a hundred stories and I still couldn’t figure out what was real. One day a girl college student in Canada asked me to define reality for her, for a paper she was writing for her philosophy class. She wanted a one-sentence answer. I thought about it and finally said, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” That’s all I could come up with. That was back in 1972. Since then I haven’t been able to define reality any more lucidly.

Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) American writer
“How To Build A Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later” (1978)
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Phryne was feeling most displeased with a species to which, she reminded herself, she belonged. She took an egg sandwich and a gulp of tea and strove to adjust her philosophy.

Kerry Greenwood (b. 1954) Australian author and lawyer
Urn Burial (1996)
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It is striking how much more seriously we are likely to be taken after we have been dead a few centuries.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 4 “Consolation for Inadequacy” (2000)
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It is the trifles of life that are its bores, after all. Most men can meet ruin calmly, for instance, or laugh when they lie in a ditch with their own knee-joint and their hunter’s spine broken over the double post and rails: it is the mud that has choked up your horn just when you wanted to rally the pack; it’s the whip who carries you off to a division just when you’ve sat down to your turbot; it’s the ten seconds by which you miss the train; it’s the dust that gets in your eyes as you go down to Epsom; it’s the pretty little rose note that went by accident to your house instead of your club, and raised a storm from madame; it’s the dog that always will run wild into the birds; it’s the cook who always will season the white soup wrong — it is these that are the bores of life, and that try the temper of your philosophy.

Ouida (1839-1908) English novelist [pseud. of Maria Louise Ramé]
Under Two Flags, ch. 1 (1867)
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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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The proper method for hastening the decay of error is not by brute force, or by regulation which is one of the classes of force, to endeavor to reduce men to intellectual uniformity, but on the contrary by teaching every man to think for himself.

William Godwin (1756-1836) English journalist, political philosopher, novelist
Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, Vol. 2, bk. 8, ch. 6 “Of the Enjoyment of Liberty” (1793)
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Philosophy had supplied Socrates with convictions in which he had been able to have rational, as opposed to hysterical, confidence when faced with disapproval.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 1 “Consolations for Unpopularity” (2000)
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Truth is compar’d in Scripture to a streaming fountain; if her waters flow not in a perpetuall progression, they sick’n into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition.

[Truth is compared in Scripture to a streaming fountain; if her waters flow not in a perpetual progression, they sicken into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition.]

John Milton (1608-1674) English poet
Areopagitica (1644)
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A wise man weaves a philosophy out of each acceptance life forces upon him.

Elizabeth Bibesco (1897-1945) Romanian-English writer
Haven (1951)
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I have a simple philosophy. Fill what’s empty, empty what’s full, and scratch where it itches.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth (1884-1980) American writer and socialite
(Attributed)

Quoted in Peter Passell & Leonard Ross, The Best (1974). When asked her opinion of the sexual revolution. Also attributed to Wallis Simpson.
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We do not need more intellectual power, we need more moral power. We do not need more knowledge, we need more character. We do not need more government, we need more culture. We do not need more law, we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen. If the foundation be firm, the foundation will stand.

Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) American lawyer, politician, US President (1925-29)
Commencement Address, Wheaton College, Norton, Mass. (17 Jun 1921)
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The test of a religion or philosophy is the number of things it can explain: so true it is. But the religion of our churches explains neither art not society nor history, but itself needs explanation.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1838)
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There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
(Misattributed)

Actually American writer and historian James Truslow Adams (1878-1949). Variants:
  • "There are two types of education. One should teach us how to make a living, and the other how to live."
  • "There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
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To act with common sense according to the moment, is the best wisdom I know; and the best philosophy, to do one’s duties, take the world as it comes, submit respectfully to one’s lot; bless the Goodness that has given so much happiness with it, whatever it is; and despise affectation.

Horace Walpole (1717-1797) English novelist, letter writer
Letter to Horace Mann (27 May 1776)
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In a higher world it is otherwise, but here below to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) English prelate, Catholic Cardinal, theologian
An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, ch. 1, sec. 7 (1845)
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There are more truths in twenty-four hours of a man’s life than in all the philosophies.

Raoul Vaneigem (b. 1934) Belgian writer
The Revolution of Everyday Life, 1.1 (1967)
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The convictions that leaders have formed before reaching high office are the intellectual capital they will consume as long as they continue in office. There is little time for leaders to reflect. They are locked in an endless battle in which the urgent constantly gains on the important. The public life of every political figure is a continual struggle to rescue an element of choice from the pressure of circumstance.

Henry Kissinger (b. 1923) German-American diplomat
The White House Years, ch. 3 (1979)
Added on 3-Aug-15 | Last updated 3-Aug-15
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Philosophy easily triumphs over past ills and ills to come, but present ills triumph over philosophy.

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], # 22 (1665-1678) [tr. Tancock (1959)]
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Governments make of philosophy a means of serving their state interests, and scholars make of it a trade.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
(Attributed)

Speaking of Hegel acting as an agent of the Prussian government.
Added on 23-Jul-15 | Last updated 23-Jul-15
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It is easier to write ten volumes of philosophy than to put one principle into practice.

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) Russian novelist and moral philosopher
Diary (17 Mar 1847)
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From his earliest diary entry, when he was 18. Variants:
  • "It is easier to produce ten volumes of philosophical writing than to put one principle into practice."
  • "It is easier to write ten volumes on theoretical principles than to put one principle into practice."
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Philosophy directs us first to seek the goods of the mind, and the rest will either be supplied, or are not much wanted.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
Advancement of Learning, 8.2 (1605)
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There are some philosophers who exist to uphold the status quo, and others who exist to upset it. … For my part, I should reject both those as not being the true business of a philosopher, and I should say the business of a philosopher is not to change the world but to understand it, which is the exact opposite to what Marx said.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
Interview with Woodrow Wyatt, BBC television (1959)
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The man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the co-operation or consent of his deliberate reason.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
The Problems of Philosophy, ch. 15 “The Value of Philosophy” (1912)
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Those who are destitute of philosophy may be compared to prisoners in a cave, who are only able to look in one direction because they are bound, and who have a fire behind them and a wall in front. Between them and the wall there is nothing; all that they see are shadows of themselves, and of objects behind them, cast on the wall by the light of the fire. Inevitably they regard these shadows as real, and have no notion of the objects to which they are due. At last, some man succeeds in escaping from the cave to the light of the sun; for the first time he sees real things, and becomes aware that he had hitherto been deceived by shadows. If he is the sort of philosopher who is fit to become a guardian, he will feel it is his duty to those who were formerly his fellow prisoners to go down again into the cave, instruct them as to the truth, and show them the way up. But he will have difficulty in persuading them, because, coming out of the sunlight, he will see shadows less clearly than they do, and will seem to them stupider than before his escape.

Plato (c.428-347 BC) Greek philosopher
The Republic, 7.514

Summ. Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy, ch. 15 (1946)
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When philosophers try to be politicians, they generally cease to be philosophers.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
A Preface to Politics, ch. 3 (1914)
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Now I realize that on any particular decision a very great amount of heat can be generated. But I do say this: life is not made up of just one decision here, or another one there. It is the total of the decisions that you make in your daily lives with respect to politics, to your family, to your environment, to the people about you. Government has to do that same thing. It is only in the mass that finally philosophy really emerges.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Speech, Republican National Committee Luncheon (17 Feb 1955)
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‘Tis not Wit merely, but a Temper which must form the Well-Bred Man. In the same manner, ’tis not a Head merely, but a Heart and Resolution which must compleat the real Philosopher.

Anthony Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713) English politician and philosopher
Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, Vol. 2 “Miscellany III” (1711)
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Reason is incompetent to answer any fundamental questions about God, or morality, or the meaning of life.

Carl L. Becker (1873-1945) American historian
The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers (1932)
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If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture, let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophies.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-American physicist
(Attributed)

Attributed to Einstein, but no definitive citation found. See here for more discussion.
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Leisure is the mother of Philosophy; and Common-wealth, the mother of Peace, and Leisure: Where first were great and flourishing Cities, there was first the study of Philosophy.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) English philosopher
Leviathan, Part 4, ch. 46 (1651)
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It will presumably be thought better, indeed one’s duty, to do away with even what is close to one’s heart in order to preserve the truth, especially when one is a philosopher. For one might love both, but it is nevertheless a sacred duty to prefer the truth to one’s friends.

[ἀληθείας καὶ τὰ οἰκεῖα ἀναιρεῖν, ἄλλως τε καὶ φιλοσόφους ὄντας: ἀμφοῖν γὰρ ὄντοιν φίλοιν ὅσιον προτιμᾶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics [Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια], Book 1, ch. 6 (1.6, 1096a.15) (c. 325 BC) [tr. Crisp (2000)]
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This is actually not given as a general guideline for living life, but specifically about offering a philosophical argument in opposition that offered by friends. (Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Still perhaps it may appear better, nay to be our duty where the safety of the truth is concerned, to upset if need be even our own theories, specially as we are lovers of wisdom: for since both are dear to us, we are bound to prefer the truth.
[tr. Chase (1847), ch. 3]

And yet, where the interests of truth are at actual stake, we ought, perhaps, to sacrifice even that which is our own -- if, at least, we are to lay any claim to a philosophic spirit. Both are dear to us alike, but truth must be religiously preserved.
[tr. Williams (1869)]

Yet it will perhaps seem the best, and indeed the right course, at least when the truth is at stake, to go so far as to sacrifice what is near and dear to us, especially as we are philosophers. For friends and truth are both dear to us, but it is a sacred duty to prefer the truth.
[tr. Welldon (1892)]

In the interests of truth we ought to sacrifice even what is nearest to us, especially as we call ourselves philosophers. Both are dear to us, but it is a sacred duty to give the preference to truth.
[tr. Peters (1893)]

Yet it would perhaps be thought to be better, indeed to be our duty, for the sake of maintaining the truth even to destroy what touches us closely, especially as we are philosophers or lovers of wisdom; for, while both are dear, piety requires us to honour truth above our friends.
[tr. Ross (1908)]

Still perhaps it would appear desirable, and indeed it would seem to be obligatory, especially for a philosopher, to sacrifice even one's closest personal ties in defense of the truth. Both are dear to us, yet 'tis our duty to prefer the truth.
[tr. Rackham (1934)]

Yet it would seem better, perhaps, and something we should do, at any rate when the preservation of the truth is at stake, to confute even what is properly our own, most of all because we are philosophers. For while we love both our friends and the truth, it is a pious thing to accord greater honor to the truth.
[tr. Reeve (1948)]

Yet it would perhaps be thought better, and also our duty, to forsake even what is close to us in order to preserve the truth, especially as we are philosophers; for while both are dear, it is sacred to honor truth above friendship.
[tr. Apostle (1975), ch. 4]

Yet surely it would be thought better, or rather necessary (above all for philosophers), to refute, in defence of truth , even views to which one is attached; since both are dear, it is right to give preference to the truth.
[tr. Thomson/Tredennick (1976)]

Still, it presumably seems better, indeed only right, to destroy even what is close to us if that is the way to preserve truth. And we must especially do this when we are philosophers, lovers of wisdom; for though we love both the truth and our friends, piety requires us to honor the truth first.
[tr. Irwin/Fine (1995)]

But perhaps it might be held to be better, in fact to be obligatory, at least for the sake of preserving the truth, to do away with even one's own things, especially for those who are philosophers. For although both are clear, it is a pious thing to honor the truth first.
[tr. Bartlett/Collins (2011)]

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All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusion is called a philosopher.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, Vol. 8, “Epigrams” (1911)
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LEONATO: For there was never a philosopher
That could endure the toothache patiently.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Much Ado About Nothing, Act 5, sc. 1, l. 35 (1598)
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What is the first business of one who studies philosophy? To part with self-conceit. For it is impossible for any one to begin to learn what he thinks that he already knows.

Epictetus (c.55-c.135) Greek (Phrygian) Stoic philosopher
The Discourses, ch. 17, “How To Apply General Principles to Particular Cases” (c. AD 101-108)

Alt. trans.: "It is impossible for a man to begin to learn what he thinks he knows." [tr. Long (1890)]
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Keep me from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh, and the greatness which does not bow before children.

Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) Lebanese-American poet, writer, painter [Gibran Khalil Gibran]
Mirrors of the Soul (1965)
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Somehow or other no statement is too absurd for some philosophers to make.

[Sed nescio quo modo nihil tam absurde dici potest quod non dicatur ab aliquo philosophorum.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Divinatione [On Divination], Book 2, ch. 58 / sec. 119 (45 BC) [tr. Falconer (1923)]
    (Source)

See also Descartes and Russell. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:
  • "In short, somehow or other, I know nothing is so absurd as not to have found an advocate in one of the philosophers." [tr. Yonge (1853)]
  • "There is nothing so absurd but some philosopher has said it." [Most common English translation, e.g.]
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