Quotations about   pleasure

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The essence of all art is to have pleasure in giving pleasure.

Mikhail Baryshnikov (b. 1948) Latvian-American dancer, choreographer, actor
“Baryshnikov: Gotta Dance,” Time (19 May 1975)
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Added on 23-Jun-21 | Last updated 23-Jun-21
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Illusion is the first of all pleasures.

[L’illusion est le premier plaisir.]

Voltaire (1694-1778) French writer [pseud. of Francois-Marie Arouet]
The Maid of Orleans [La Pucelle d’Orléans] (1756 ed.)
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Sometimes misattributed to Oscar Wilde. This is part of a canto added from another Voltaire piece, probably by a publisher, to the end of the 1756 edition of Voltaire's poem, as noted in the "Additional Notes" included with 19th Century editions of the work. It reads in part:

O gift from heaven! tender love! sweet desire!
We are still happy with your image:
Illusion is the first of all pleasures.

[O don du ciel! tendre amour! doux désir!
On est encore heureux par votre image;
L'illusion est le premier plaisir.]

The canto was not included the Voltaire-authorized 1762 edition. The English translation of the quoted line goes back at least to 1881.

More information: Illusion.
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The kitten has a luxurious, Bohemian, unpuritanical nature. It eats six meals a day, plays furiously with a toy mouse and a piece of rope, and suddenly falls into a deep sleep whenever the fit takes it. It never feels the necessity to do anything to justify its existence; it does not want to be a Good Citizen; it has never heard of Service. It knows that it is beautiful and delightful, and it considers that a sufficient contribution to the general good. And in return for its beauty and charm it expects fish, meat, and vegetables, a comfortable bed, a chair by the grate fire, and endless petting.

Robertson Davies (1913-1995) Canadian author, editor, publisher
The Diary of Samuel Marchbanks, ch. 20 (1947)
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Perhaps God made cats so that man might have the pleasure of fondling the tiger ….

Robertson Davies (1913-1995) Canadian author, editor, publisher
The Diary of Samuel Marchbanks, ch. 20 (1947)
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Added on 18-May-21 | Last updated 18-May-21
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In my opinion we learn nothing from history except the infinite variety of men’s behaviour. We study it, as we listen to music or read poetry, for pleasure, not for instruction.

A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) British historian, journalist, broadcaster [Alan John Percivale Taylor]
“The Radical Tradition: Fox, Paine, and Cobbett,” The Trouble Makers: Dissent over Foreign Policy, 1792–1939 (1969)
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But indeed we need no further argument in favor of taking pleasure as a standard when we consider the only alternative that faces us. If we do not live for pleasure we shall soon find ourselves living for pain. If we do not regard as sacred our own joys and the joys of others, we open the door and let into life the ugliest attribute of the human race, which is cruelty.

Rebecca West (1892-1983) British author, journalist, literary critic, travel writer [pseud. for Cicily Isabel Fairfield]
“Pleasure Be Your Guide,” The Nation, “Living Philosophies” series #10 (25 Feb 1939)
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Adapted into Clifton Fadiman, I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Certain Eminent Men and Women of Our Time (1952).
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The belief that all higher life is governed by the idea of renunciation poisons our moral life by engendering vanity and egotism. But if we take gratification as our ideal we thereby impose on ourselves a program of self-restraint; for if we claim that we are under the necessity of learning all that we can about reality, and that we learn most through pleasure, we must also admit that we are under the necessity of hearing what our fellow-creatures learn about it and of working out a system by which we will curb our pleasures so that they do not interfere with those of others. If, however, we claim that it is by renunciation that we achieve wisdom, we have no logical reason for feeling any disapproval of conditions that thrust pain and deprivation on others.

Rebecca West (1892-1983) British author, journalist, literary critic, travel writer [pseud. for Cicily Isabel Fairfield]
“Pleasure Be Your Guide,” The Nation, “Living Philosophies” series #10 (25 Feb 1939)
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Adapted into Clifton Fadiman, I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Certain Eminent Men and Women of Our Time (1952).
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For life without life’s joys
Is living death; and such a life is his.
Riches and rank and show of majesty
And state, where no joy is, are empty, vain
And unsubstantial shadows, of no weight
To be compared with happiness of heart.

[τὰς γὰρ ἡδονὰς
ὅταν προδῶσιν ἄνδρες, οὐ τίθημ᾽ ἐγὼ
ζῆν τοῦτον, ἀλλ᾽ ἔμψυχον ἡγοῦμαι νεκρόν.
πλούτει τε γὰρ κατ᾽ οἶκον, εἰ βούλει, μέγα
καὶ ζῆ τύραννον σχῆμ᾽ ἔχων: ἐὰν δ᾽ ἀπῇ
τούτων τὸ χαίρειν, τἄλλ᾽ ἐγὼ καπνοῦ σκιᾶς
οὐκ ἂν πριαίμην ἀνδρὶ πρὸς τὴν ἡδονήν]

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 1165ff [Messenger] (441 BC) [tr. Watling (1947), Epilogos, l. 977ff]
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Original Greek. Alternate translations:

For him I reckon but
An animate corpse, and not a living man,
Whose life's delights are cast away. Thy house,
I grant thee, may be richly stored with wealth;
And thou may'st live in royal pomp: but if
Joy is not there the while, and I must lose
All happiness thereby, I would not give
Smoke's shadow as the price of all the rest.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

For a life
Without life's joys I count a living death.
You'll tell me he has ample store of wealth,
The pomp and circumstance of kings; but if
These give no pleasure, all the rest I count
The shadow of a shade, nor would I weigh
His wealth and power 'gainst a dram of joy.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

For when a man is lost to joy,
I count him not to live, but reckon him
A living corse. Riches belike are his,
Great riches and the appearance of a King;
But if no gladness come to him, all else
Is shadow of a vapour, weighed with joy.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

When a man has forfeited his pleasures, I do not reckon his existence as life, but consider him just a breathing corpse. Heap up riches in your house, if you wish! Live with a tyrant's pomp! But if there is no joy along with all of that, I would not pay even the shadow of smoke for all the rest, compared with joy.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

For when a man hath forfeited his pleasures, I count him not as living, -- I hold him but a breathing corpse. Heap up riches in thy house, if thou wilt; live in kingly state; yet, if there be no gladness therewith, I would not give the shadow of a vapour for all the rest, compared with joy.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

Who can say
That a man is still alive when his life’s joy fails?
He is a walking dead man. Grant him rich,
Let him live like a king in his great house:
If his pleasure is gone, I would not give
So much as the shadow of smoke for all he owns.
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939), l. 910ff]

Yes, when a man has lost all happiness,
he's not alive. Call him a breathing corpse.
Be very rich at home. Live as a king.
But once your joy has gone, though these are left
they are smoke's shadow to lost happiness.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

He who forfeits joy
Forfeits his life; he is a breathing corpse.
Heap treasures in your palace, if you will,
And wear the pomp of royalty; but if
You have no happiness, I would not give
A straw for all of it, compared with joy.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

Believe me,
when a man has squandered his true joys,
he's good as dead, I tell you, a living corpse.
Pile up riches in your house, as much as you like --
live like a king with a huge show of pomp,
but if real delight is missing from the lot,
I wouldn't give you a wisp of smoke for it,
not compared to joy. [tr. Fagles (1982), l. 1284ff]

When every source of joy deserts a man,
I don't call him alive: he's an animated corpse.
For my money, you can get rich as you want,
You can wear the face of a tyrant,
But if you have no joy in this,
Your life's not worth the shadow of a puff of smoke.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

Whenever men forfeit their pleasures, I do not regard
such a man as alive, but I consider him a living corpse.
Be very wealthy in your household, if you wish, and live
the style of absolute rulers, but should the enjoyment of these
depart, what is left, compared to pleasure,
I would not buy from a man for a shadow of smoke.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

When a man’s body has lost all sense of joy, you can say he’s not alive any more. He is a living corpse. You can have as much wealth in your house as you like and you can live like a king but when joy is missing then all those other things I wouldn’t exchange for the price of the shadow of smoke -- not against the sweetness of joy!
[tr. Theodoridis (2004), "Herald"]

For when a man has lost
what gives him pleasure, I don’t include him
among the living -- he’s a breathing corpse.
Pile up a massive fortune in your home,
if that’s what you want -- live like a king.
If there’s no pleasure in it, I’d not give
to any man a vapour’s shadow for it,
not compared to human joy.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 1296ff]

But when people lose their pleasures, I do not consider this life -- rather, it is just a corpse with a soul.
[tr. @sentantiq (2018)]
Added on 25-Mar-21 | Last updated 25-Mar-21
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Truth and goodness are the same for all people. But pleasure varies from one to another.

Ἀνθρώποις πᾶσι τωὐτὸν ἀγαθὸν καὶ ἀληθές· ἡδὺ δὲ ἄλλωι ἄλλο.

Democritus (c. 460 BC - c. 370 BC) Greek philosopher
Frag. 69 (Diels) [tr. @sententiq (2018), fr. 68]
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Diels citation "69. (6 N.) DEMOKRATES. 34.". 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:
  • "For all men, good and true are the same; but pleasant differs for different men." [tr. Freeman (1948)]
  • "The same thing is good and true for all men. But what is pleasant differs from one to another." [Warren (2008)]
  • "Goodness and truth are the same for all men: but pleasure differs from man to man." [Source]
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On the other hand, we denounce with righteous indignation and dislike men who are so beguiled and demoralized by the charms of pleasure of the moment, so blinded by desire, that they cannot foresee the pain and trouble that are bound to ensue; and equal blame belongs to those who fail in their duty through weakness of will, which is the same as saying through shrinking from toil and pain. These cases are perfectly simple and easy to distinguish. In a free hour, when our power of choice is untrammeled and when nothing prevents our being able to do what we like best, every pleasure is to be welcomed and every pain avoided. But in certain circumstances and owing to the claims of duty or the obligations of business it will frequently occur that pleasures have to be repudiated and annoyances accepted. The wise man therefore always holds in these matters to this principle of selection: he rejects pleasures to secure other greater pleasures, or else he endures pains to avoid worse pains.

[At vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus, qui blanditiis praesentium voluptatum deleniti atque corrupti, quos dolores et quas molestias excepturi sint, obcaecati cupiditate non provident, similique sunt in culpa, qui officia deserunt mollitia animi, id est laborum et dolorum fuga. et harum quidem rerum facilis est et expedita distinctio. nam libero tempore, cum soluta nobis est eligendi optio, cumque nihil impedit, quo minus id, quod maxime placeat, facere possimus, omnis voluptas assumenda est, omnis dolor repellendus. temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet, ut et voluptates repudiandae sint et molestiae non recusandae. itaque earum rerum hic tenetur a sapiente delectus, ut aut reiciendis voluptatibus maiores alias consequatur aut perferendis doloribus asperiores repellat.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum [On the Ends of Good and Evil], Book 1, sec. 33 (ch. 10) (44 BC) [tr. Rackham (1914)]
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Alt. trans.:

  • "Then again we criticize and consider wholly deserving of our odium those who are so seduced and corrupted by the blandishments of immediate pleasure that they fail to foresee in their blind passion the pain and harm to come. Equally blameworthy are those who abandon their duties through mental weakness -- that is, through the avoidance of effort and pain. It is quite simple and straightforward to distinguish such cases. In our free time, when our choice is unconstrained and there is nothing to prevent us doing what most pleases us, every pleasure is to be tasted, every pain shunned. But in certain circumstances it will often happen that either the call of duty or some sort of crisis dictates that pleasures are to be repudiated and inconveniences accepted. And so the wise person will uphold the following method of selecting pleasures and pains: pleasures are rejected when this results in other greater pleasures; pains are selected when this avoids worse pains." [On Moral Ends, tr. Woolf (2001)]

  • "But in truth we do blame and deem most deserving of righteous hatred the men who, enervated and depraved by the fascination of momentary pleasures, do not foresee the pains and troubles which are sure to befall them, because they are blinded by desire, and in the same error are involved those who prove traitors to their duties through effeminacy of spirit, I mean because they shun exertions and trouble. Now it is easy and and simple to mark the difference between these cases. For at our seasons of ease, when we have untrammelled freedom of choice, and when nothing debars us from the power of following the course that pleases us best, then pleasure is wholly a matter for our selection and pain for our rejection. On certain occasions however either through the inevitable call of duty or through stress of circumstances, it will often come to pass that we must put pleasures from us and must make no protest against annoyance. So in such cases the principle of selection adopted by the wise man is that he should either by refusing cerftain pleasures attain to other and greater pleasures or by enduring pains should ward off pains still more severe." [tr. Reid (1883)]

  • "But we do accuse those men, and think them entirely worthy of the greatest hatred, who, being made effeminate and corrupted by the allurements of present pleasure, are so blinded by passion that they do not foresee what pains and annoyances they will hereafter be subject to; and who are equally guilty with those who, through weakness of mind, that is to say, from eagerness to avoid labour and pain, desert their duty. And the distinction between these things is quick and easy. For at a time when we are free, when the option of choice is in our own power, and when there is nothing to prevent our being able to do whatsoever we choose, then every pleasure may be enjoyed, and every pain repelled. But on particular occasions it will often happen, owing whether to the obligations of duty or the necessities of business, that pleasures must be declined and annoyances must not be shirked. Therefore the wise man holds to this principle of choice in those matters, that he rejects some pleasures, so as, by the rejection to obtain others which are greater, and encounters some pains, so as by that means to escape others which are more formidable." [On the Chief Good and Evil, tr. Yongue (1853)]
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If pleasures are greatest in anticipation, just remember that this is also true of trouble.

Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) American writer, businessman, philosopher
The Philosophy of Elbert Hubbard (1916)
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I never saw an author in my life — saving perhaps one — that did not purr as audibly as a full-grown domestic cat on having his fur smoothed the right way by a skillful hand.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894) American poet, essayist, scholar
The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, ch. 3 (1858)
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To give people pleasure in the things they must perforce use, that is one great office of decoration; to give people pleasure in the things they must perforce make, that is the other use of it.

William Morris (1834-1896) British textile designer, writer, socialist activist
“The Decorative Arts: Their Relation to Modern Life and Progress,” Lecture (4 Dec 1877)
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Morris' first public lecture. Later published as "The Lesser Arts" in Hopes and Fears for Art (1882).
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Choose your pleasures for yourself, and do not let them be imposed upon you. Follow nature, and not fashion; weigh the present enjoyment of your pleasures against the necessary consequences of them, and then let your own common-sense determine your choice.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son, #119 (27 Mar 1747)
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There is something about a Martini,
A tingle remarkably pleasant;
A yellow, a mellow Martini;
I wish I had one at present.
There is something about a Martini,
Ere the dining and dancing begin,
And to tell you the truth,
It is not the vermouth —
I think that perhaps it’s the gin.

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) American poet
“A Drink with Something In It,” The Primrose Path (1935)
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Happiness ain’t a thing in itself, it’s only a contrast with something that ain’t pleasant. That’s all it is. There ain’t a thing you can mention that is happiness in its own self — it’s only so by contrast with the other thing. And so, as soon as the novelty is over and the force of the contrast dulled, it ain’t happiness any longer, and you have to get something fresh.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven,” Harper’s Monthly Magazine (Dec 1907)
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The pleasantest of all diversions is to sit alone under the lamp, a book spread out before you, and to make friends with people of a distant past you have never known.

Yoshida Kenkō (1284-1350) Japanese author and Buddhist monk [吉田 兼好]
Essays in Idleness [Tsurezuregusa] (c. 1330)
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Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.

kierkegaard-most-men-pursue-pleasure-hurry-past-wist_info-quote

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) Danish philosopher, theologian
Either/Or, Vol. 1 “Diapsalmata” (1843) [tr. Swenson (1959)]
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Observe a man’s actions; scrutinize his motives; take note of the things that give him pleasure. How, then, can he hide from you what he really is?

confucius-what-he-really-is-wist_info-quote

Confucius (551-479 BC) Chinese philosopher [Ku'ng Ch'iu / King Qiu, Ku'ng Fu-tzu / Kong Fuzi]
The Analects [Lun Yü], 2.10 (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse] [tr. Giles (1907)]
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Alt. trans.:
  • "See what a man does. Mark his motives. Examine in what things he rests. How can a man conceal his character?" [tr. Legge (1930)]
  • "Observe [shi] what a man does. Look into [guan] what he has done [you]. Consider [cha] where he feels at home. How then can he hide his character?" [tr. Chin (2014)]
  • "See what a man does; contemplate the path he has traversed; examine what he is at ease with. How, then, can he conceal himself?" [tr. Huang (1997)]
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The Christian attitude does not mean that there is anything wrong about sexual pleasure, any more than about the pleasure of eating. It means that you must not isolate that pleasure and try to get it by itself, any more than you ought to try to get the pleasures of taste without swallowing and digesting, by chewing things and spitting them out again.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Mere Christianity, ch. 6 “Christian Marriage” (1952)
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But if at the Church they would give us some ale,
And a pleasant fire, our souls to regale,
We’d sing and we’d pray all the live-long day,
Nor ever once wish from the Church to stray.
… And God like a father rejoicing to see
His children as pleasant and happy as he,
Would have no more quarrel with the Devil or the barrel,
But kiss him and give him both drink and apparel.

William Blake (1757-1827) English poet, mystic, artist
“The Little Vagabond,” Songs of Experience (1794)
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To tax and to please, no more than to love and be wise, is not given to men.

burke-tax-please-love-wise-wist_info-quote

Edmund Burke (1729-1797) Anglo-Irish statesman, orator, philosopher
“American Taxation,” speech, House of Commons (19 Apr 1774)
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Every age has its pleasures, its style of wit, and its own ways.

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) French poet and critic
The Art of Poetry [L’Art Poétique], Canto 3 (1674)
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Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
“The Weight of Glory,” sermon, Oxford University Church of St Mary the Virgin (8 Jun 1941)
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Pleasure’s a sin, and sometimes sin’s a pleasure.

Byron - pleasures a sin - wist_info quote

George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) English poet
Don Juan, Canto 1, st. 133 (1818)
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He shrugged his shoulders. “I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom’s realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer’s Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.”

Robert E. Howard (1906-1936) American author
“Queen of the Black Coast” (1934)
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Do not bite at the bait of pleasure till you know there is no hook beneath it.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Maria Cosway (12 Oct 1786)
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The pleasure arising from an extraordinary agitation of the mind is frequently so great as to stifle humanity; hence arises the entertainment of the common people at executions, and of the better sort at tragedies.

Jean-Antoine Dubois (1765-1848) French Catholic missionary in India [Abbe J. A. Dubois]
(Attributed)
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The high sentiments always win in the end, the leaders who offer blood, toil, tears, and sweat always get more out of their followers than those who offer safety and a good time. When it comes to the pinch, human beings are heroic.

George Orwell (1903-1950) English writer [pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair]
“The Art of Donald McGill” (Sep 1941)
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He makes people pleased with him by making them first pleased with themselves.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (18 Jan 1750)
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He is the true conqueror of pleasure, who can make use of it without being carried away by it, not he who abstains from it altogether.

Aristippus of Cyrene (c. 435 – c. 356 BC) Cyrenaic philosopher, Hedonist
Fragment 53
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Alt. trans.:

  • "The one to master pleasure is not he who abstains but he who employs it without being carried away by it -- just as being a master of a ship or of a horse is not abstaining from using them, but directing them where one wishes." (Fragment 55 Mannebach) (Stob. Ecl. 3.17 17
  • "The master of pleasure is not he who abstains from it, but he who uses it without being carried away by it."
Added on 22-May-15 | Last updated 22-May-15
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Business and pleasure, rightly understood, mutually assist each other, instead of being enemies, as silly or dull people often think them. No man tastes pleasures truly who does not earn them by previous business; and few people do business well who do nothing else.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (7 Aug 1749)
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They that seldom take pleasure seldom give pleasure.

Fulke Greville (1554-1628) 1st Baron Brooke; Elizabethan poet, dramatist, and statesman
Maxims, Characters, and Reflections (1756)
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The last pleasure in life is the sense of discharging our duty.

William Hazlitt (1778-1830) English writer
Table Talk, “On Novelty and Familiarity” (1822)
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There is a certain dignity to be kept up in pleasures, as well as in business.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (5 Feb 1750)
Added on 30-Mar-15 | Last updated 30-Mar-15
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Anything I like is either illegal or immoral or fattening.

Alexander Woollcott (1887-1943) American critic, commentator, journalist, wit
(Attributed)

Apparently a gag attributed by Woollcott to a Frank Rand of St. Louis on his radio show in Sep. 1933; it was then directly attributed to Woollcott in Reader's Digest in Dec. 1933. It is sometimes cited to Woollcott's essay "The Knock at the Stage Door," The North American Review (Sep 1922), but not found there. See here for more information. Variants:
  • "All the things I like to do are either immoral, illegal, or fattening."
  • "All the things I really like to do are either immoral, illegal or fattening."
  • "Everything I want to do is either illegal, immoral or fattening."
Added on 20-Mar-15 | Last updated 20-Mar-15
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Why do men delight in work? Fundamentally, I suppose, because there is a sense of relief and pleasure in getting something done — a kind of satisfaction not unlike that which a hen enjoys on laying an egg.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
Minority Report: H.L. Mencken’s Notebooks, #34 (1956)
    (Source)
Added on 10-Mar-15 | Last updated 2-May-16
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We will be held accountable for all the permitted pleasures we failed to enjoy.

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
(Unreferenced)
Added on 24-Oct-14 | Last updated 24-Oct-14
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Next to enjoying ourselves, the next greatest pleasure consists in preventing others from enjoying themselves, or, more generally, in the acquisition of power. Consequently those who live under the dominion of Puritanism become exceedingly desirous of power.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
Sceptical Essays, ch. 10 (1928)
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Yet many men, being slaves to appetite and sleep, have passed through life untaught and untrained, like mere wayfarers. In these men we see, contrary to Nature’s intent, the body a source of pleasure, the soul a burden.

[Sed multi mortales dediti ventri atque somno, indocti incultique vitam sicuti peregrinantes transegere.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Bellum Catilinae [The War of Catiline; The Conspiracy of Catiline], ch. 2, sent. 8 [tr. Rolfe (1931)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alt. trans.:

"Yet we see in the mass of life numbers addicted to sloth and the gratifications of appetite; men uneducated and uninformed, who have passed their time like incurious travellers, of whom it may be said, the organs of bodily sensation were their delight, and their minds were no better than a burden." [tr. Murphy (1807)]

"Yet many there are in the world who, abandoned to sloth and sensuality, without learning or politeness, pass their lives much like travellers; and who, in opposition to the design of nature, place their whole happiness in animal pleasure, looking on their minds as a heavy burden." [tr. Rose (1831)]

"But many men abandoned to their belly and sleep, untaught and uneducated, have spent their days like strangers, whose body in truth, contrary to nature, has been their happiness, their soul a burden." [Source (1841)]

"Yet many human beings, resigned to sensuality and indolence, uninstructed and unimproved, have passed through life like travelers in a strange country; to whom, certainly, contrary to the intention of nature, the body was a gratification, and the mind a burden." [tr. Watson (1867)]

"Many, however, the slaves of gluttony and sloth, without learning or cultivation, have passed through life as though it were a journey in a foreign land, and thus, in defiance of nature, have actually found their body a pleasure and their real vital powers a burden." [tr. Pollard (1882)]

"But many mortals, devoted to their stomachs and to sleep, have passed through life untaught and uncouth, like foreign travellers; and of course, contracy to nature, their bodies were a source of pleasure to them, their minds a burden." [tr. Woodman (2007)]
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In every kind of debauch there enters much coldness of soul. It is a conscious and voluntary abuse of pleasure.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
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What will you think of pleasures when you no longer enjoy them?

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
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And perhaps there is no advice to give a writer more important than this: Never write anything that does not give you great pleasure.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
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Who loves not wine, women, and song
Remains a fool his whole life long.

[Wer nicht liebt Weib, Wein und Gesang,
A Der bleibt ein Narr sein Leben lang.]

Martin Luther (1483-1546) German religious reformer
(Attributed)

Attributed in Matthias Claudius, Der Wandsbecker Bothe (1775). Inscription in the Luther Room, Wartburg, Germany.
Added on 24-May-13 | Last updated 1-May-17
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The first thing men do when they have renounced pleasure, through decency, lassitude, or for the sake of health, is to condemn it in others. Such conduct denotes a kind of latent affection for the very things they left off; they would like no one to enjoy a pleasure they can no longer indulge in; and thus they show their feelings of jealousy.

Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
“Of Mankind,” The Characters [Les Caractères] (1688)
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God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed it is the purest of human pleasures.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
“Of Gardens,” Essays, No. 46 (1625)
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Choose the best life; for habit will make it pleasant.

Epictetus (c.55-c.135) Greek (Phrygian) Stoic philosopher
Fragment 144

Sometimes attributed to Francis Bacon.
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Morality turns on whether the pleasure precedes or follows the pain. Thus it is immoral to get drunk because the headache comes after the drinking. But if the headache came first and the drunkenness afterwards, it would be moral to get drunk.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler, “Morality” (1912)

Full text.

Added on 19-Feb-09 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
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We are constantly railing against the passions; we ascribe to them all of man’s afflictions, and we forget that they are also the source of all his pleasures.

Denis Diderot (1713-1784) French editor, philosopher
Pensées Philosophiques [Philosophical Thoughts] (1746)

Alt. trans.: "One declaims endlessly against the passions; one imputes all of man's suffering to them. One forgets that they are also the source of all his pleasures."
Added on 9-Oct-08 | Last updated 2-Aug-16
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Discretion is the salt, and fancy the sugar of life; the one preserves, the other sweetens it.

Christian Nestell Bovee (1820-1904) American epigrammist
Intuitions and Summaries of Thought, Vol. 1, “Discretion” (1862)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Jan-20
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Simple pleasures are the last refuge of the complex.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
(Attributed)

After Johnson.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 21-Jun-16
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The Puritan hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.

Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859) English writer and politician
History of England, vol. 1, ch. 3 (1849)
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