Quotations about   profundity

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It is characteristic of all deep human problems that they are not to be approached without some humor and some bewilderment.

Freeman Dyson
Freeman Dyson (1923-2020) English-American theoretical physicist, mathematician, futurist
Disturbing the Universe, ch. 1 (1979)
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Added on 19-Sep-22 | Last updated 19-Sep-22
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Every great idea is really just a spectacular disagreement with some other great idea.

Bret Stephens (b. 1973) American journalist, editor, columnist
“The Dying Art of Disagreement,” Lecture, Lowy Institute Media Award dinner, Sydney (23 Sep 2017)
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Reprinted in the New York Times (24 Sep 2017).
 
Added on 2-Jun-21 | Last updated 2-Jun-21
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Such closet politicians never fail to assign the deepest motives for the most trifling actions; instead of often ascribing the greatest actions to the most trifling causes, in which they would be much seldomer mistaken. They read and write of kings, heroes, and statesmen, as never do anything but upon the deepest principles of sound policy. But those who see and observe kings, heroes, and statesmen, discover that they have headaches, indigestions, humors, and passions, just like other people; every one of which, in their turns, determine their wills, in defiance of their reason.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (5 Dec 1749)
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Added on 25-Mar-21 | Last updated 25-Mar-21
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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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Added on 15-Feb-18 | Last updated 15-Feb-18
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The noisiest streams are the shallowest.

(Other Authors and Sources)
English proverb
 
Added on 19-Apr-17 | Last updated 19-Apr-17
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Those who know they are profound strive for clarity. Those who would like to seem profound strive for obscurity. For the crowd believes that if it cannot see to the bottom of something it must be profound. It is timid and dislikes going into the water.

[Tief sein und tief scheinen. — Wer sich tief weiss, bemüht sich um Klarheit; wer der Menge tief scheinen möchte, bemüht sich um Dunkelheit. Denn die Menge hält Alles für tief, dessen Grund sie nicht sehen kann: sie ist so furchtsam und geht so ungern in’s Wasser.]

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher and poet
The Gay Science [Die fröhliche Wissenschaft], Book 3, §173 (1882) [tr. Kaufmann (1974)]


Also known as The Joyful Wisdom or The Joyous Science. (Source (German)). Alternate translations:

To Be Profound and to Appear Profound. -- He who knows that he is profound strives for clearness; he who would like to appear profound to the multitude strives for obscurity. The multitude thinks everything profound of which it cannot see the bottom; it is so timid and goes so unwillingly into the water.
[tr. Common (1911)]

Being Deep and Seeming Deep. -- Those who know they are deep strive for clarity. Those who would like to seem deep to the crowd strive for obscurity. For the crowd takes everything whose ground it cannot see to be deep; it is so timid and so reluctant to go into the water.
[tr. Nauckhoff (2001)]

Being Profound and Being Thought Profound -- Whoever knows that he is profound strives for clarity; whoever would like the crowd to think he is profound strives for obscurity. The reason for this is that the crowd thinks something is profound whenever it cannot see to the bottom of it; it is afraid of the water and hates to get its feet wet.
[tr. Hill (2018)]

Being Deep and Appearing Deep -- Whoever knows he is deep, strives for clarity; whoever would like to appear deep to the crowd, strives for obscurity. For the crowd considers anything deep if only it cannot see to the bottom: the crowd is so timid and afraid of going into the water.
[Source]

Whoever knows himself to be deep strives for clarity; whoever wants to appear deep to the masses strives for obscurity. For the masses consider anything to be deep that they cannot see the bottom of.
[Source]

 
Added on 15-Apr-17 | Last updated 18-Nov-21
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The more profound the thought, the more burdensome. What is in will out.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1836)
 
Added on 27-Apr-16 | Last updated 27-Apr-16
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The men leaned back on their heels, put their hands in their trouser-pockets, and proclaimed their views with the booming profundity of a prosperous male repeating a thoroughly hackneyed statement about a matter of which he knows nothing whatever.

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) American novelist, playwright
Babbitt, ch. 8 (1922)
 
Added on 20-Oct-15 | Last updated 20-Oct-15
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I have one word to say upon the subject of profound writers, who are grown very numerous of late; and I know very well the judicious world is resolved to list me in that number. I conceive therefore, as to the business of being profound, that it is with writers as with wells — a person with good eyes may see to the bottom of the deepest, provided any water be there: and often when there is nothing in the world at the bottom besides dryness and dirt, though it be but a yard and a-half under-ground, it shall pass, however, for wondrous deep upon no wiser reason than because it is wondrous dark.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) English writer and churchman
A Tale of a Tub (1704)
 
Added on 1-Oct-15 | Last updated 1-Oct-15
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The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery — even if mixed with fear — that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-American physicist
The World As I See It, Title Essay (1931) (1949)
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The essay is also known as "Mein Weltbild" or "My Worldview." Alternate translation: "The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. It was the experience of mystery -- even if mixed with fear -- that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms -- it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man."
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 23-Mar-20
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