Quotations about   self-awareness

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Humility makes us charitable toward our neighbor. Nothing will make us so generous and merciful to the faults of others as seeing our own faults.

François Fénelon (1651-1715) French theologian, poet, writer [François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon]
Letter, Undated [tr. Edmonson / Helms]
    (Source)

In Robert J. Edmonson, Hal M. Helms (eds.), The Complete Fénelon, Part 2, ch. 8 (2008). Alternate translations:

Nothing will make us so charitable and tender to the faults of others as by self-examination thoroughly to know our own.
[Source (1895)]

Humility renders us charitable towards our neighbor; nothing will make us so tender and indulgent to the faults of others as a view of our own.
[tr. Metcalf (1853)]

Added on 20-May-22 | Last updated 20-May-22
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Failings of the intelligence are incorrigible since those who do not know do not know themselves and cannot therefore seek what they lack.

[Achaques de necedad son irremediables, que como los ignorantes no se conocen, tampoco buscan lo que les falta.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 176 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
    (Source)

(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translation:

Because the ignorant do not know themselves, they never look for what they are lacking.
[tr. Maurer (1992)]

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When, Miller wondered, does someone stop being human? There had to be a moment, some decision that you made and before it, you were one person, and after it, someone else …Emotionally, it had all been obvious at the time. It was only when he considered it from outside that it seemed dangerous. If he’d seen it in someone else — Muss, Havelock, Sematimba — he wouldn’t have taken more than a minute to realize they’d gone off the rails. Since it was him, he had taken longer to notice. But Holden was right. Somewhere along the line, he’d lost himself.

Daniel Abraham
Daniel Abraham (b. 1969) American writer [pseud. James S. A. Corey (with Ty Franck), M. L. N. Hanover]
Leviathan Wakes, ch. 28 (2011) [with Ty Franck]
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The first thing to do when you are upset is to notice that you are. You begin by mastering your emotions and determining not to go any further. With this superior sort of caution you can put a quick end to your anger.

[El primer paso del apasionarse es advertir que se apasiona, que es entrar con señorío del afecto, tanteando la necesidad hasta tal punto de enojo, y no más. Con esta superior refleja entre y salga en una ira.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 155 (1647) [tr. Maurer (1992)]
    (Source)

(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translation:

The first step towards getting into a passion is to announce that you are in a passion. By this means you begin the conflict with command over your temper, for one has to regulate one's passion to the exact point that is necessary and no further. This is the art of arts in falling into and getting out of a rage.
[tr. Jacobs (1892)]

Added on 11-Apr-22 | Last updated 11-Apr-22
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To know one’s own limitations is the hallmark of competence.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Thrones, Dominations, ch. 5 (1998) [with Jill Paton Walsh]
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Walsh completed the novel left unfinished at Sayers' death.
Added on 25-Mar-22 | Last updated 25-Mar-22
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We should only endeavor to think and speak correctly ourselves, without wishing to bring others over to our taste and opinions; this would be too great an undertaking.

[Il faut chercher seulement à penser et à parler juste, sans vouloir amener les autres à notre goût et à nos sentiments; c’est une trop grande entreprise.]

Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
Les Caractères, ch. 1 “Of Works of the Mind [Des ouvrages de l’esprit],” #2 (1688) [tr. Van Laun (1885)]
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(Source (French))
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It is useful to know something of the manners of different nations, that we may be enabled to form a more correct judgment regarding our own, and be prevented from thinking that everything contrary to our customs is ridiculous and irrational, — a conclusion usually come to by those whose experience has been limited to their own country.

[Il est bon de savoir quelque chose des moeurs de divers peuples, afin de juger des nôtres plus sainement, et que nous ne pensions pas que tout ce qui est contre nos modes soit ridicule et contre raison, ainsi qu’ont coutume de faire ceux qui n’ont rien vu.]

René Descartes (1596-1650) French philosopher, mathematician
Discourse on Method [Discours de la méthode], Part 1 (1637) [tr. Veitch (1850)]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

It's good to know something of the manners of severall Nations, that we may not think that all things against our Mode are ridiculous or unreasonable, as those are wont to do, who have seen Nothing.
[Newcombe ed. (1649)]

It is good to know something of the customs of different peoples in order to judge more sanely of our own, and not to think that everything of a fashion not ours is absurd and contrary to reason, as do those who have seen nothing.
[tr. Haldane & Ross (1911)]

It is good to know something of the customs of various peoples, so that we may judge our own more soundly and not think that everything contrary to our own ways is ridiculous and irrational, as those who have seen nothing of the world ordinarily do.
[tr. Cottingham, Stoothoff (1985)]

It is well to know something of the manner of various peoples, in order more sanely to judge our own, and that we do not think that everything against our modes is ridiculous, and against reason, as those who have seen nothing are accustomed to think.

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Our profession is dreadful, writing corrupts the soul. Every author is surrounded by an aura of adulation which he nurses so assiduously that he cannot begin to judge his own worth or see when it starts to decline.

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) Russian novelist and moral philosopher
Letter to Nikolay Strakhov (1876)
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Quoted in Henri Troyat, Tolstoy (1967).
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The man who don’t kno himself iz a poor judge ov the other phellow.

[The man who doesn’t know himself is a poor judge of the other fellow.]

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, “Plum Pits” (1874)
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Added on 21-Dec-21 | Last updated 21-Dec-21
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It is an error to suppose that no man understands his own character. Most persons know even their failings very well, only they persist in giving them names different from those usually assigned by the rest of the world; and they compensate for this mistake by naming, at first sight, with singular accuracy, those very same failings in others.

Arthur Helps (1813-1875) English writer and bureaucrat
Thoughts in the Cloister and the Crowd (1835)
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Added on 19-Nov-21 | Last updated 19-Nov-21
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if you don’t have much soul left and you know it, you still got soul.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
“A Dollar and Twenty Cents” (1967)
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Often misquoted as "If you're losing your soul and you know it, then you've still got a soul left to lose."
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Travelers learn not just foreign customs and curious cuisines and unfamiliar beliefs and novel forms of government. They learn, if they are lucky, humility. Experiencing on their senses a world different from their own, they realize their provincialism and recognize their ignorance.

Paul Fussell (1924-2012) American cultural and literary historian, author, academic
The Norton Book of Travel, Introduction (1987)
Added on 28-Oct-21 | Last updated 28-Oct-21
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Maybe happiness is this: not feeling like you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being someone else.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
(Attributed)
Added on 23-Sep-21 | Last updated 23-Sep-21
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Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
(Spurious)

Sometimes quoted without the initial "Those".

The citationless attribution of this quip to Asimov cannot be traced back further than 2001, several years after his death. The earliest version found is a filler item in The Saturday Evening Post (6 May 1961), attributed to humor columnist Harold Coffin: "The fellow who thinks he knows it all is especially annoying to those of us who do."

More discussion here: The Fellow Who Thinks He Knows It All Is Especially Annoying To Those of Us Who Do – Quote Investigator.
Added on 16-Sep-21 | Last updated 16-Sep-21
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The best way to know our faults is to notice which ones you accuse others of.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, #195 (2001)
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Added on 17-Aug-21 | Last updated 17-Aug-21
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Sport strips away personality, letting the white bone of character shine through. Sport gives players an opportunity to know and test themselves.

Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944) American author, playwright
Sudden Death (1983)
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Added on 6-Aug-21 | Last updated 6-Aug-21
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The mind is like a well-endowed museum, only a small fraction of its holdings on view at any one time.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, #407 (2001)
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Added on 27-Jul-21 | Last updated 27-Jul-21
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Since we all need reproving and rebuking, and since we all know that we need reproving and rebuking, we ought — if we were logical — to be extremely grateful to those who reprove and rebuke us. And I suppose that, sooner or later, we are; but almost invariably later.

Frank W. Boreham (1871-1959) Anglo-Australian preacher
The Fiery Crags (1929)
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A man can’t help his feelings sometime. He don’t even understand his damn self half the time and there the trouble starts.

Paule Marshall
Paule Marshall (1929-2019) American writer
The Chosen Place, The Timeless People (1969)
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There are crimes I don’t commit mainly because I don’t want to find out I could.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays #124 (2001)
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Added on 13-Jul-21 | Last updated 13-Jul-21
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Rules like these don’t honor your wife. They just presume that your marriage vows are so flimsy that you can’t be trusted to uphold them unless a babysitter monitors you. It’s rather like a thief sanctimoniously announcing that he brings a parole officer every time he goes to the bank to make sure he doesn’t rob it. Good for you, dude, for knowing your own limitations — but it doesn’t make you better than the rest of us, who manage to regularly not steal things even when we’re completely alone.

Monica Hesse
Monica Hesse (b. c. 1981) American author, journalist, columnist
“The ‘Billy Graham rule’ doesn’t honor your wife,” Washington Post (11 Jul 2019)
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What vitiates nearly all that is written about antisemitism is the assumption in the writer’s mind that he himself is immune to it. “Since I know that antisemitism is irrational,” he argues, “it follows that I do not share it.” He thus fails to start his investigation in the one place where he could get hold of some reliable evidence — that is, in his own mind.

George Orwell (1903-1950) English writer [pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair]
“Antisemitism in Britain,” Contemporary Jewish Record (Apr 1945)
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His progress through life was hampered by his tremendous sense of his own ignorance, a disability which affects all too few.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Maskerade (1995)
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I think one must engage in politics — using the word in a wide sense — and that one must have preferences: that is, one must recognise that some causes are objectively better than others, even if they are advanced by equally bad means. As for the nationalistic loves and hatreds that I have spoken of, they are part of the make-up of most of us, whether we like it or not. Whether it is possible to get rid of them I do not know, but I do believe that it is possible to struggle against them, and that this is essentially a moral effort. It is a question first of all of discovering what one really is, what one’s own feelings really are, and then of making allowance for the inevitable bias.

George Orwell (1903-1950) English writer [pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair]
“Notes on Nationalism” (May 1945)
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Traces of nobility, gentleness and courage persist in all people, do what we will to stamp out the trend. So, too, do those characteristics which are ugly. It is just unfortunate that in the clumsy hands of a cartoonist all traits become ridiculous, leading to a certain amount of self-conscious expostulation and the desire to join battle.

There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blast on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.

Forward!

Walt Kelly (1913-1973) American animator and cartoonist [Walter Crawford Kelly, Jr.]
The Pogo Papers, Introduction (1953)

This looks to be the origin of the famous Pogo phrase, "We have met the enemy and he is us," which Kelly introduced in that shorter form in 1970. Both are inspired by Oliver Perry's report on the Battle of Lake Erie (1813), "We have met the enemy and they are ours."
Added on 15-Feb-21 | Last updated 15-Feb-21
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It is better to correct your own faults than those of another.

[Κρέσσον τὰ οἰκήϊα ἐλέγχειν ἁμαρτήματα ἢ τὰ ὀθνεῖα.]

Democritus (c. 460 BC - c. 370 BC) Greek philosopher
Frag. 60 (Diels) [tr. Bakewell (1907)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Diels cites this as "Fragment 60, (114 N.) DEMOKRATES. 25"; collected in Joannes Stobaeus (Stobaios) Anthologium III, 13, 46. Bakewell lists this under "The Golden Sayings of Democritus." 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:

  • "It is better to examine one's own faults than those of others." [tr. Freeman (1948)]
  • "It is better to examine your own mistakes than those of others." [tr. Barnes (1987)]
  • "It is better to rebuke familiar faults than foreign ones." [tr. @sententiq (2018)]
  • "Rather examine your own faults than those of others." [Source]
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Someone who sees himself as a victim will almost never morally evaluate himself or put limits on his own actions. Why should he? He is the victim.

Thomas Friedman (b. 1953) American journalist, columnist, author
From Beirut to Jerusalem, ch. 6 (1989)
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Added on 30-Dec-20 | Last updated 30-Dec-20
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My code of life and conduct is simply this: work hard, play to the allowable limit, disregard equally the good and bad opinion of others, never do a friend a dirty trick, eat and drink what you feel like when you feel like, never grow indignant over anything, trust to tobacco for calm and serenity, bathe twice a day, modify the aesthetic philosophy of Croce but slightly with that of Santayana and achieve fro one’s self a pragmatic sufficiency in the beauty of the aesthetic surface of life, learn to play at least one musical instrument and then play it only in private, never allow one’s self even a passing thought of death, never contradict anyone or seek to prove anything to anyone unless one gets paid for it in cold, hard coin, live the moment to the utmost of its possibilities, treat one’s enemies with polite inconsideration, avoid persons who are chronically in need, and be satisfied with life always but never with one’s self. An infinite belief in the possibilities of one’s self with a coincidental critical assessment and derogation of one’s achievements, self-respect combined with a measure of self-surgery, aristocracy of mind combined with democracy of heart, forthrightness with modesty or at least good manners, dignity with a quiet laugh, honor and honesty and decency: these are the greatest qualities that men can hope to attain. And as one man, my hope is to attain them.

George Jean Nathan (1892-1958) American editor and critic
“Self-Revelation,” Testament of a Critic (1931)
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Added on 23-Nov-20 | Last updated 23-Nov-20
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But since it is no more in a Man’s Power to think than to look like another, methinks all that should be expected from me is to keep my Mind open to Conviction, to hear patiently and examine attentively whatever is offered me for that end; and if after all I continue in the same Errors, I believe your usual Charity will induce you rather to pity and excuse than blame me.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Letter to Josiah and Abiah Franklin (13 Apr 1738)
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Added on 24-Sep-20 | Last updated 24-Sep-20
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Men may be divided almost any way we please, but I have found the most useful distinction to be made between those who devote their lives to conjugating the verb “to be” and those who spend their lives conjugating the verb “to have.”

Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) Anglo-American columnist, journalist, author
For the Time Being, ch. 6, epigram (1972)
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We are too prone to judge ourselves by our ideals and other people by their acts. All of us are entitled to be judged by both. We must recognize the dignity of our neighbors and before we act must place ourselves in the place of our neighbor and judge our acts through his eyes.

Dwight Morrow (1873-1931) American businessman, diplomat, politician
Quoted in “Close Mexican Ties Urged by Morrow,” New York Times (17 May 1930)
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The first sentence of this comment by Morrow was popularized in a biography of him, Harold Nicolson, Dwight Morrow (1935). Nicolson is, in turn, often erroneously credited with the quote.

Nicolson noted it was frequently used by Morrow ("'Remember,' he would often repeat, 'that we are all inclined to judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their acts.'"). He also recounts a variant, "All nations are prone to judge themselves by the loftiness of their own purposes, and to judge others nations by their failure to attain their high purposes."

More discussion of this quotation (and its predecessors) can be found here. Compare also to a related sentiment by Longfellow.
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But he who knows what insanity is, is sane; whereas insanity can no more be sensible of its own existence, than blindness can see itself.

[Sanus est, qui scit quid sit insania, quippe insania scire se non potest, non magis quam caecitas se videre.]

Apuleius (c. 124 - c. 170 AD) Numidian writer, philosopher, rhetorician [Lucius Apuleius Madaurensis]
Apologia; or, A Discourse on Magic [Apologia; seu, Pro Se de Magia], ch. 80 [tr. Bohn’s (1853)]
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Alt. trans.: "He who knows what madness is, is ipso facto sane. For madness cannot know itself any more than blindness can see itself." [tr. Butler (1909)]
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All men have a reason, but not all men can give a reason.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
“Implicit Reason and Explicit Reason,” St. Peter’s Day sermon, sec. 9, Oxford University (29 Jun 1840)
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Everybody has something about which they are proud to be broad-minded but they also have other things about which you would be wasting your breath if you tried to convince them that they were a bigot.

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) American poet
“Seeing Eye to Eye is Believing,” Good Intentions (1942)
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I have no time to scold, and I learned thirty years ago it was foolish to scold. I have enough trouble overcoming my own limitations without fretting over the fact God has not seen fit to distribute evenly the gift of intelligence.

John Wanamaker (1838-1922) American merchant, marketer, philanthropist, Postmaster General
Quoted in Herbert Adams Gibbons, John Wanamaker, Vol. 2 (1926)
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Variant paraphrase: "It's foolish to scold people. I have enough trouble overcoming my own limitations without fretting over the fact that God didn't see fit to distribute brains equally."
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Natur iz a kind mother. She couldn’t well afford to make us perfekt, and so she made us blind to our failings.

[Nature is a kind mother. She couldn’t well afford to make us perfect, and so she made us blind to our failings.]

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, “Lobstir Sallad” (1874)
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Everyone is a bore to someone. That is unimportant. The thing to avoid is being a bore to oneself.

Gerald Brenan (1894-1987) British writer and Hispanist [Edward FitzGerald Brenan]
Thoughts in a Dry Season, “Life” (1978)
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One of the sure signs of maturity is the ability to rise to the point of self criticism.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“The Rising Tide of Racial Consciousness,” Speech, National Urban League, New York (6 Sep 1960)
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The dramatic art is particularly satisfying for any writer with a polemical bent; and I am at heart a propagandist, a tremendous hater, a tiresome nag, complacently positive that there is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.

Gore Vidal (1925-2012) American novelist, dramatist, critic
Visit to a Small Planet and Other Television Plays, Preface (1956)
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You have to look at yourself objectively. Analyze yourself like an instrument. You have to be absolutely frank with yourself. Face your handicaps, don’t try to hide them. Instead, develop something else.

Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993) Belgian-English actress
Quoted in Barry Paris, Audrey Hepburn, ch. 4 (2002)
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Added on 24-Jan-20 | Last updated 24-Jan-20
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We always require an outside point to stand on, in order to apply the lever of criticism. […] Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.

Carl Jung (1875-1961) Swiss psychologist
Memories, Dreams, Reflections, ch. 9 “Travels,” ii. “The Pueblo Indians” (1963)
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Maturity means understanding, as much as possible, the different characters and modules that are active inside your own head. The mature person is like a river guide who goes over rapids and says, “Yes, I have been over these spots before.”

David Brooks (b. 1961) Canadian-American political and cultural commentator, writer
The Social Animal, ch. 18 “Morality” (2011)
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Often paraphrased: "Maturity means understanding the different characters inside our own heads."
Added on 18-Sep-19 | Last updated 18-Sep-19
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It is by means of my vices that I understand yours.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (Spring-Summer 1844)
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He recorded this phrase multiple times, including in his lecture, "The Anglo-American" (7 Dec 1852), and Notebook S Salvage.
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I must intreat your patience — your gentle hearing. I am not going to question your opinions. I am not going to meddle with your belief. I am not going to dictate to you mine. All that I say is, examine; enquire. Look into the nature of things. Search out the ground of your opinions, the for and the against. Know why you believe, understand what you believe, and possess a reason for the faith that is in you.

Frances "Fanny" Wright (1795-1852) Scottish-American writer, lecturer, social reformer
A Course of Popular Lectures, Lecture 3 “Of the more Important Divisions and Essential Parts of Knowledge” (1829)
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Although men are accused for not knowing their own weakness, yet perhaps as few know their own strength. It is in men as in soils, where sometimes there is a vein of gold which the owner knows not of.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) English writer and churchman
Thoughts on Various Subjects (1706)
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Added on 20-Mar-18 | Last updated 20-Mar-18
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Man is so built that he cannot imagine his own death. This leads to endless invention of religions. While this conviction by no means proves immortality to be a fact, questions generated by it are overwhelmingly important. The nature of life, how ego hooks into the body, the problem of ego itself and why each ego seems to be the center of the universe, the purpose of life, the purpose of the universe — these are paramount questions, Ben; they can never be trivial. Science hasn’t solved them — and who am I to sneer at religions for trying, no matter how unconvincingly to me? Old Mumbo Jumbo may eat me yet; I can’t rule him out because he owns no fancy cathedrals. Nor can I rule out one godstruck boy leading a sex cult in an upholstered attic; he might be the Messiah. The only religious opinion I feel sure of is this: self-awareness is not just a bunch of amino acids bumping together!

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Stranger in a Strange Land, Part 4, ch. 33 [Jubal] (1961)
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In the "uncut" original version (1960): "Self-aware man is so built that he cannot believe in his own extinction ... and this automatically leads to endless invention of religions. While this involuntary conviction of immortality by no means proves immortality to be a fact, the questions generated by this conviction are overwhelmingly important ... whether we can answer them or not, or prove what answers we suspect. The nature of life, how the ego hooks into the physical body, the problem of the ego itself and why each ego seems to be the center of the universe, the purpose of life, the purpose of the universe -- these are paramount questions Ben; they can never be trivial. Science can't, or hasn't, coped with any of them -- and who am I to sneer at religions for trying to answer them, no matter how unconvincingly to me? Old Mumbo Jumbo may eat me yet; I can't rule Him out because He owns no fancy cathedrals. Nor can I rule out one godstruck boy leading a sex cult in an upholstered attic; he might be the Messiah. The only religious opinion that I feel sure of is this: self-awareness is not just a bunch of amino acids bumping together!"
Added on 11-Aug-17 | Last updated 11-Aug-17
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More quotes by Heinlein, Robert A.

In self-examination, take no account of yourself by your thoughts and resolutions in the days of religion and solemnity; examine how it is with you in the days of ordinary conversation and in the circumstances of secular employment.

Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667) English cleric and author
(Attributed)
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Quoted in The Friends' Intelligencer (24 Jun 1882).
Added on 18-Jul-17 | Last updated 18-Jul-17
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Every man has three characters — that which he exhibits, that which he has, and that which he thinks he has.

Alphonse Karr
Alphonse Karr (1808-1890) French journalist and novelist
A Tour Round My Garden [Voyage autour de mon jardin] (1851)
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Added on 25-Apr-17 | Last updated 2-May-17
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I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.

Burroughs - entirely of flaws - wist_info quote

Augusten Burroughs (b. 1965) American writer
Magical Thinking (2004)
Added on 12-Aug-16 | Last updated 12-Aug-16
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Some of you are really smart. You know who you are.

Some of you are really thick. Unfortunately, you don’t know who you are.

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Twitter (20 Jan 2013)
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Added on 21-Jul-16 | Last updated 21-Jul-16
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In youth, the years stretch before one so long that it is hard to realize that they will ever pass, and even in middle age, with the ordinary expectation of life in these days, it is easy to find excuses for delaying what one would like to do but does not want to; but at last a time comes when death must be considered.

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) English novelist and playwright [William Somerset Maugham]
The Summing Up, ch. 3 (1938)
Added on 22-Jun-16 | Last updated 22-Jun-16
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More quotes by Maugham, W. Somerset

It is a sad fate for a man to die
Too well known to everybody else,
And still unknown to himself.

[Illi mors gravis incubate
Qui notus nimis omnibus
Ignotus moritur sibi.]

Seneca - still unknown to himself - wist_info quote

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Thyestes, ll. 401-403 [tr. Bacon]

Lines from the Chorus translated by Francis Bacon, in "Of Great Place," Essays, Part 11. Sometimes incorrectly attributed to Bacon.
Added on 20-May-16 | Last updated 20-May-16
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More quotes by Seneca the Younger

The world is full of fools, and he who would not wish to see one must not only shut himself up alone, but also break his looking glass.

Boileau - break his looking glass - wist_info quote

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) French poet and critic
(Attributed)

A variant is also attributed to Charles le Petit (1640-1625), Discours satiriques (1686).
Added on 17-Mar-16 | Last updated 17-Mar-16
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How ridiculous is Caesar and Bonaparte wandering from one extreme of civilization to the other to conquer men — himself, the while, unconquered, unexplored, almost wholly unsuspected to himself?

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Trust Yourself,” Sermon 90 (1830)
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Sermon on Matthew 16:26.
Added on 10-Feb-16 | Last updated 22-Feb-22
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More quotes by Emerson, Ralph Waldo

If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.

Herman Hesse (1877-1962) German-born Swiss poet, novelist, painter
Demian, ch. 6 (1919)
Added on 1-Dec-15 | Last updated 1-Dec-15
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