Quotations about:
    thinking


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A thought is often original, though you have uttered it a hundred times. It has come to you over a new route, by a new and express train of associations.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894) American poet, essayist, scholar
“The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table,” Atlantic Monthly (1857-11)
    (Source)

Collected in The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, ch. 1 (1858).
 
Added on 29-Feb-24 | Last updated 29-Feb-24
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Only if a child feels right can he think right.

Haim Ginott
Haim Ginott (1922-1973) Israeli-American school teacher, child psychologist, psychotherapist [b. Haim Ginzburg]
Teacher and Child, ch. 4 “Congruent Communication” (1972)
    (Source)
 
Added on 22-Feb-24 | Last updated 22-Feb-24
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And now I understand
something so frightening, and wonderful —
how the mind clings to the road it knows, rushing
through crossroads, sticking
like lint to the familiar.

Mary Oliver (1935-2019) American poet
“Robert Schumann,” ll. 7-11, Dream Work (1986)
    (Source)
 
Added on 6-Dec-23 | Last updated 6-Dec-23
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Learning without thought ends in a blur. Thought without learning will soon totter.
 
[學而不思則罔、思而不學則殆。]

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [論語, 论语, Lúnyǔ], Book 2, verse 15 (2.15) (6th C. BC – AD 3rd C.) [tr. Ware (1950)]
    (Source)

Many (but not all) translators suggest that learning/study here is not general academics, but examining and maintaining the ancient traditions.

(Source (Chinese)). Alternate translations:

Learning without thought is labour lost; thought without learning is perilous.
[tr. Legge (1861)]

Learning with [sic] thought is a snare; thought without learning is a danger.
[tr. Jennings (1895)]

Study without thinking is labour lost. Thinking without study is perilous.
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898)]

Learning without thought is useless. Thought without learning is dangerous.
[tr. Soothill (1910)]

Education without meditation is useless. Meditation without education is risky.
[tr. Soothill (1910), alternate]

Research without thought is a mere net and entanglement: thought without gathering data, a peril.
[tr. Pound (1933)]

He who learns but does not think, is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.
[tr. Waley (1938)]

If one learns from others but does not think, one will be bewildered. If, on the other hand, one thinks but does not learn from others, one will be in peril.
[tr. Lau (1979)]

If one studies but does not think, one is caught in a trap. If one thinks but does not study, one is in peril.
[tr. Dawson (1993)]

To study without thinking is futile. To think without studying is dangerous.
[tr. Leys (1997)]

Learning without thinking is fruitless; thinking without learning is perplexing.
[tr. Huang (1997); additional translations.]

Studying but not thinking, it is confused; Thinking but not studying, it is dangerous.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998)]

Learning without due reflection leads to perplexity; reflection without learning leads to perilous circumstances.
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998)]

If he studies and does not reflect, he will be rigid. If he reflects but does not study, he will be shaky.
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998)]

To learn and never think -- that's delusion. But to think and never learn -- that is perilous indeed!
[tr. Hinton (1998)]

If you learn without thinking about what you have learned, you will be lost. If you think without learning, however, you will fall into danger.
[tr. Slingerland (2003)]

Learning without thought is pointless. Thought without learning is dangerous.
[tr. Watson (2007)]

If you learn but do not think, you will be dazed. If you think but do not learn, you will be in danger.
[tr. Chin (2014)]

Learning from books without critical thinking results in confusion. Thinking vacuously without learning from books is perilous.
[tr. Li (2020)]

 
Added on 7-Nov-23 | Last updated 7-Nov-23
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For always the man in whom thought springs up over thought sets his mark farther off, for the one thought saps the force of the other.

[Ché sempre l’omo in cui pensier rampolla
sovra pensier, da sé dilunga il segno,
perché la foga l’un de l’altro insolla]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 2 “Purgatorio,” Canto 5, l. 16ff (5.16-18) (1314) [tr. Sinclair (1939)]
    (Source)

Virgil telling Dante he's overthinking things, letting himself be distracted.

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

He, that permits his Fancy thus to stray.
With every lure, will rarely find his way
To that great end, to which his soul is bent:
For gath'ring fancies warp the steady light
Of Reason's beam, and leave her whelm'd in night,
For ever baffled of her first intent.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 3]

He, in whose bosom thought on thought shoots out,
Still of his aim is wide, in that the one
Sicklies and wastes to nought the other’s strength.
[tr. Cary (1814)]

He in whose bosom thought springs up to thought,
Destroys himself the figures of his loom --
The birth of one prepares the others's tomb.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

For evermore the man in whom is springing
Thought upon thought, removes from him the mark,
Because the force of one the other weakens.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

For ever the man, in whom thought wells up over thought, removes far from himself his mark, because the rush of the second slackens the first.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

Always the man in whom new thought doth grow
On previous thought, from his true course doth roam,
Because the one doth flag the other's glow.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

For always the man in whom thought on thought wells up removes from himself his aim, for the force of one weakens the other.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

For ever the man in whom thought wells up on thought, sets back his mark, because the one saps the force of the other.
[tr. Okey (1901)]

For always he in whom thought overtakes
The former thought, his goal less clearly sees.
Because the one the other must relax.
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

He aims beside the mark whose fancies bubble
One on another, driving back and drumming
Each other out, so that his eye sees double.
[tr. Sayers (1955)]

For when a man lets his attention range
toward every wisp, he loses true direction,
sapping his mind's force with continual change.
[tr. Ciardi (1961)]

For always the man in whom thought wells
up on thought sets back his mark,
for one thought weakens the force of the other.
[tr. Singleton (1973)]

The man who lets his thoughts be turned aside
by one thing or another, will lose sight
of his true goal, his mind sapped of its strength.
[tr. Musa (1981)]

Because the man in whom thoughts bubble up
One after the other, goes wide of the mark,
Because one thought weakens the force of another.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

The man in whom thought thrusts ahead of thought
allows the goal he’s set to move far off --
the force of one thought saps the other’s force.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1982)]

For always the man in whom one care sprouts above the other makes his target more distant, because the impulse of the one weakens the other.
[tr. Durling (2003)]

Since the man, in whom thought rises on thought, sets himself back, because the force of the one weakens the other.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

When thought is bred too rampantly from thought,
then, of himself, a man will miss the mark.
Each mental thrust debilitates the first.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2007)]

For any man who lets one thought --
and then another -- take him over
will soon lose track of his first goal.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

A man whose mind is distracted lets thought after thought
Keep him from getting where he wants to go:
They hammer each other down; nothing can grow.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

 
Added on 3-Nov-23 | Last updated 3-Nov-23
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More quotes by Dante Alighieri

Truth that has been merely learned is like an artificial limb, a false tooth, a waxen nose; at best, like a nose made out of another’s flesh; it adheres to us only because it is put on. But truth acquired by thinking of our own is like a natural limb; it alone really belongs to us. This is the fundamental difference between the thinker and the mere man of learning.
 
[Hingegen klebt die bloß erlernte Wahrheit uns nur an, wie ein angeseßtes Glied, ein falscher Zahn, eine wächserne Nase, oder höchstens wie eine rhinoplastische aus fremdem Fleische. Die durch eigenes Denken erworbene Wahrheit aber gleicht dem natürlichen Gliede: fie allein gehört uns wirklich an. Darauf beruht der Unterschied zwischen dem Denker und dem bloßen Gelehrten.]

Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Parerga and Paralipomena, Vol. 2, ch. 22 “On Thinking for Oneself [Selbstdenken],” § 260 (1851) [tr. Saunders (1890)]
    (Source)

Source (German). Alternate translations:

Truth that has been merely learned adheres to us like an artificial limb, a false tooth, a waxen nose, or at best like one made out of another's flesh; truth which is acquired by thinking for oneself is like a natural member: it alone really belongs to us. Here we touch upon the difference between the thinking man and the mere man of learning.
[tr. Dircks (1897)]

Truth that has merely been learnt adheres to us only as an artificial limb, a false tooth, a was nose does, or at most like transplanted skin; but a truth won by thinking for ourself is like a natural limb: it alone really belongs to us. This is what determines the difference between a thinker and a mere scholar.
[tr. Hollingdale (1970)]

... other hand, the truth acquired through our own thinking is like the natural limb; it alone really belongs to us. On this rests the distinction between the thinker and the mere scholar.
[tr. Payne (1974)]

 
Added on 24-Oct-23 | Last updated 24-Oct-23
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Stuff yourself with food all day, never give your mind anything to do, and you’re a problem! There’s chess, isn’t there? There’s weiqi, isn’t there? — wiser at least to busy yourself with these.

[飽食終日、無所用心、難矣哉、不有博弈者乎、爲之猶賢乎已]
[饱食终日无所用心难矣哉不有博弈者乎为之犹贤乎已]

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [論語, 论语, Lúnyǔ], Book 17, verse 22 (17.22) (6th C. BC – AD 3rd C.) [tr. Watson (2007)]
    (Source)

There is varied discussion in footnotes as to the specific identity and nature of the game(s) Confucius references. The phrase bo yi or po yi (博弈) can be translated either as "to play chess" or "the game of bo and the game of yi." The game of bo was similar to weiqi (wei-ch'i) (or, in Japan, go; the game of yi was a game like chess, or a board game played with dice (shuanglu), the rules of which have been forgotten. There are also translators who assert it's the other way around, that bo or liubo is the game of chance, and yi was weiqi (go).

(Source (Chinese) 1, 2). Alternate translations:

Hard is it to deal with him, who will stuff himself with food the whole day, without applying his mind to anything good! Are there not gamesters and chess players? To be one of these would still be better than doing nothing at all.
[tr. Legge (1861)]

Ah, it is difficult to know what to make of those who are all day long cramming themselves with food and are without anything to apply their minds to! Are there no dice and chess players? Better, perhaps, join in that pursuit than do nothing at all!
[tr. Jennings (1895)]

It is a really bad case when a man simply eats his full meals without applying his mind to anything at all during the whole day. Are there not such things as gambling and games of skill? To do one of those things even is better than to do nothing at all.
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898)]

How hard is the case of the man who stuffs himself with food the livelong day, never applying his mind to anything! Are there no checker or chess players? Even to do that is surely better than nothing at all.
[tr. Soothill (1910)]

Stuffing in food all day, nothing that he puts his mind on, a hard case! Don't chess players at least do something and have solid merit by comparison?
[tr. Pound (1933)]

Those who do nothing all day but cram themselves with food and never use their minds are difficult. Are there not games such as draughts? To play them would surely be better than doing nothing at all.
[tr. Waley (1938)]

I really admire a fellow who goes about the whole day with a well-fed stomach and a vacuous mind. How can one ever do it? I would rather that he play chess, which would seem to me to be better.
[tr. Lin Yutang (1938)]

To eat one’s full all day long without directing the mind to anything is, indeed, to be in difficulties! Even those who spend all their time at intricate games are to be reckoned of higher caliber.
[tr. Ware (1950), 17.20]

It is no easy matter for a man who always has a full stomach to put his mind to some use. Are there not such things as po and yi? Even playing these games is better than being idle.
[tr. Lau (1979)]

It is surely difficult to spend the whole day stuffing oneself with food and having nothing to use one's mind on. Are there not people who play bo and yi? Even such activity is definitely superior, is it not?
[tr. Dawson (1993), 17.20]

I cannot abide these people who fill their bellies all day long, without ever using their minds! Why can't they play chess? At least it would be better than nothing.
[tr. Leys (1997)]

Those who are stated with food all day without applying their minds to anything at all are difficult indeed! Are there no people who play double six and siege? Even doing those would be beter than to stop thinking altogether.
[tr. Huang (1997), 17.21]

Eating all day without thinking about anything, such persons are hard to be trained. Are not there some games? Even if playing some games, it is also better than having nothing to do.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998), No. 462]

There are troubles ahead for those who spend their whole day filling their stomachs without ever exercising their heart-and-mind (xin). Are there not diversions such as the board games of bo and weiqi? Even playing those games would be better than nothing.
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998)]

One who eats his fill all day long, and never uses his mind on anything, is a difficult case. Are there not such things as gammon and chess? Would it not be better to play them?
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998), 17.20]

All day eating and never thinking: such people are serious trouble. Aren't there games to play, like go and chess? Even that is better than nothing. [tr. Hinton (1998), 17.21]

Spending the entire day filling himself with food, never once exercising his mind -- someone like this is a hard case indeed! Do we not have the games Bo and Yi? Even playing these games would be better than doing nothing.
[tr. Slingerland (2003)]

To spend the whole day stuffing yourself and not to put your mind to use at all -- this is hopeless behavior. Are there not such games as bo and yi? It would be better to play these games [than to do nothing at all].
[tr. Annping Chin (2014)]

If a person is well fed the whole day and does not use his brain on anything, it will be difficult for him to be of value in life. Are there poker games and chess? Playing these games is still more beneficial than doing nothing.
[tr. Li (2020)]

 
Added on 19-Sep-22 | Last updated 8-May-23
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Composition is a discipline; it forces us to think. If you want to “get in touch with your feelings,” fine — talk to yourself, we all do. But if you want to communicate with another thinking human being, get in touch with your thoughts. Put them in order; give them a purpose; use them to persuade, to instruct, to discover, to seduce.

William Safire (1929-2009) American author, columnist, journalist, speechwriter
Commencement Address, Syracuse University (13 May 1978)
    (Source)

Reprinted in On Language, "Commencement Address" (1980).
 
Added on 5-Sep-22 | Last updated 5-Sep-22
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Thinking is difficult, therefore let the herd pronounce judgment!

Carl Jung (1875-1961) Swiss psychologist
Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies, ch. 2 (1959) [tr. Hull]
    (Source)

The motto of the "relatively unconscious man" who "clings to the commonplace, the obvious, the probable, the collectively valid." Reprinted in the The Collected Works of C.G. Jung - Civilization in Transition, vol. 10, ¶ 653.

Probable source of the frequently-attributed (but unfound) "Thinking is difficult. That's why most people judge."
 
Added on 26-Apr-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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If we establish a standard of safe thinking, we will end up with no thinking at all. That is the only “safe” way, and that is, needless to say, the most precarious, dangerous, of all ways.

Henry Steele Commager (1902-1998) American historian, writer, activist
“What Ideas Are Safe?” Saturday Review (5 Nov 1949)
    (Source)

Reprinted in Freedom and Order (1966).
 
Added on 30-Mar-22 | Last updated 30-Mar-22
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Truth gains more even by the errors of one who, with due study and preparation, thinks for himself, than by the true opinions of those who only hold them because they do not suffer themselves to think.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher and economist
On Liberty, ch. 2 “Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion” (1859)
    (Source)
 
Added on 28-Mar-22 | Last updated 19-Oct-23
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But feeling is so different from knowing. My common sense tells me all you can say, but there are times when common sense has no power over me. Common nonsense takes possession of my soul.

Lucy Maud Montgomery
Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942) Canadian author
Anne of the Island, ch. 2 (1915)
    (Source)
 
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There are but few thinkers in the world but a great many people who think they think.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“Table-Talk”
    (Source)
 
Added on 30-Apr-21 | Last updated 30-Apr-21
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Clichés, stock phrases, adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality, that is, against the claim on our thinking attention that all events and facts make by virtue of their existence.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
“Thinking and Moral Considerations: A Lecture,” Social Research (Fall 1971)
    (Source)

Referring to Adolf Eichmann's use of "cliché-ridden language" as a sign of his "thoughtlessness." Reprinted in The Life of the Mind, Part 1 "Thinking," Introduction (1974).
 
Added on 18-Mar-21 | Last updated 18-Mar-21
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Let us admit the case of the conservative. If we once start thinking, no one can guarantee what will be the outcome, except that many objects, ends, and institutions will be surely doomed. Every thinker puts some portion of an apparently stable world in peril, and no one can wholly predict what will emerge in its place.

John Dewey (1859-1952) American teacher and philosopher
Experience and Nature, ch. 6 “Nature, Mind and the Subject” (1929)
    (Source)

Book form of the inaugural Paul Carus lectures, given by Dewey in 1925.
 
Added on 30-Dec-20 | Last updated 30-Dec-20
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If, as I suggested before, the ability to tell right from wrong should turn out to have anything to do with the ability to think, then we must be able to “demand” its exercise from every sane person, no matter how erudite or ignorant, intelligent or stupid, he may happen to be.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
The Life of the Mind, Vol. 1 “Thinking,” Introduction (1977)
    (Source)
 
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The dividing line between those who want to think and therefore have to judge by themselves, and those who do not, strikes across all social and cultural or educational differences. In this respect, the total moral collapse of respectable society during the Hitler regime may teach us that under such circumstances those who cherish values and hold fast to moral norms and standards are not reliable: we now know that moral norms and standards can be changed overnight, and that all that then will be left is the mere habit of holding fast to something. Much more reliable will be the doubters and skeptics, not because skepticism is good or doubting wholesome, but because they are used to examine things and to make up their own minds. Best of all will be those who know only one thing for certain: that whatever else happens, as long as we live we shall have to live together with ourselves.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
“Personal Responsibility Under Dictatorship” (1964)
    (Source)
 
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Whenever government assumes to deliver us from the trouble of thinking for ourselves, the only consequences it produces are those of torpor and imbecility.

William Godwin (1756-1836) English journalist, political philosopher, novelist
Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, Vol. 2, bk. 6, ch. 1 (1793)
    (Source)
 
Added on 23-Oct-17 | Last updated 23-Oct-17
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A bookstore is one of the only pieces of physical evidence we have that people are still thinking.

Jerry Seinfeld (b. 1954) American comedian
SeinLanguage (1993)
 
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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)
    (Source)
 
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Then I went back to my hotel to think long thoughts. As is usual when I’m thinking long thoughts, I lay on the bed with my eyes closed. Susan says I often snore when thinking long thoughts.

Robert B. Parker (1932-2010) American writer
Hugger Mugger, ch. 3 (2000)
    (Source)
 
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A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.

George Orwell (1903-1950) English writer [pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair]
“Politics and the English Language,” Horizon (Apr 1946)
    (Source)
 
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Clarity in language depends on clarity in thought.

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917-2007) American historian, author, social critic
Interview with Brian Lamb, C-SPAN (10 May 1998)
 
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I’m thinking on the fly, here. (Although now that I’m in middle management I think I’m supposed to call it “refactoring the strategic value proposition in real time with agile implementation,” or, if I’m being honest, “making it up as I go along.”)

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Apocalypse Codex (2012)
 
Added on 28-Mar-17 | Last updated 28-Mar-17
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Thinking is the activity I love best, and writing to me is simply thinking through my fingers. I can write up to 18 hours a day. Typing 90 words a minute, I’ve done better than 50 pages a day. Nothing interferes with my concentration. You could put an orgy in my office and I wouldn’t look up — well, maybe once or twice.

asimov-thinking-through-my-fingers-wist_info-quote

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
(Attributed)
 
Added on 11-Oct-16 | Last updated 11-Oct-16
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I collected my thoughts. Someday I hope to have them all.

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
Orca [Vlad] (1996)
 
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It is infinitely difficult to know when and where one should stop, and for all but one in thousands the goal of their thinking is the point at which they have become tired of thinking.

[Es ist unendlich schwer, zu wissen, wenn und wo man bleiben soll, und Tausenden für einen ist das Ziel ihres Nachdenkens die Stelle, wo sie des Nachdenkens müde geworden.]

Gotthold Lessing (1729-1781) German playwright, philosopher, dramaturg, writer
Letter to Moses Mendelssohn (9 Jan 1771)
 
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There is a fire-fly in the southern clime
Which shineth only when upon the wing;
So it is with the mind: when once we rest,
We darken.

Phillip James Bailey
Philip James Bailey (1816-1902) English poet, lawyer
Festus, Sc. “A Village Feast – Evening” [Festus] (1839)
    (Source)

Usually paraphrased (earliest source (1872)):

The firefly only shines when on the wing.
So is it with the mind -- when once we rest
We darken.

 
Added on 30-Mar-15 | Last updated 2-Oct-23
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‘Tis the hardest thing in the world to be a good Thinker, without being a strong Self-Examiner.

Anthony Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713) English politician and philosopher
Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, Vol. 1, “Soliloquy: or Advice to an Author” (1711)
 
Added on 26-Dec-14 | Last updated 26-Dec-14
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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.
 
Added on 9-May-14 | Last updated 12-Apr-17
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A person who does not read cannot think. He may have good mental processes, but he has nothing to think about. You can feel for people or natural phenomena and react to them, but they are not ideas. You cannot think about them.

Rex Stout (1886-1975) American writer
In “Author Rex Stout vs. the FBI,” Interview with Sandra Schmidt, Life (10 Dec 1965)
 
Added on 16-Jan-14 | Last updated 16-Jan-14
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Think before you speak. Read before you think. This will give you something to think about that you didn’t make up yourself — a wise move at any age, but most especially at seventeen, when you are in the greatest danger of coming to annoying conclusions.

Fran Lebowitz (b. 1950) American journalist
“Tips for Teens,” Social Studies (1981)
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Added on 11-Dec-13 | Last updated 29-Jun-23
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Writing is closer to thinking than to speaking.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist, philosopher, essayist, poet
Pensées [Thoughts], 1791 entry [tr. Auster (1983)]
    (Source)

I could not find an analog in other translations of the Pensées.
 
Added on 6-May-13 | Last updated 9-Jan-24
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The question is: Bad as I am, have I the right to think? And I think I have for two reasons: First, I cannot help it. And secondly, I like it.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“What Must We Do To Be Saved?” Sec. 1 (1880)
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Added on 12-Oct-11 | Last updated 21-Aug-14
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Govern thy Life and Thoughts, as if the whole World were to see the one, and read the other.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English physician, preacher, aphorist, writer
Introductio ad Prudentiam, # 417 (1725)
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Added on 20-Jul-11 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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Life does not consist mainly — or even largely — of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever blowing through one’s head.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Autobiography, Part 1, sec. 28 “New York, January 10, 1906” (2003)

Full text.
 
Added on 30-Jun-11 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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The secret thoughts of a man run over all things holy, prophane, clean, obscene, grave, and light, without shame, or blame.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) English philosopher
Leviathan, Part 1, ch. 8 (1651)
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Added on 23-Sep-10 | Last updated 6-Nov-20
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Standing in the presence of the Unknown, all have the same right to think, and all are equally interested in the great question of origin and destiny. All I claim, all I plead for, is liberty of thought and expression. That is all.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“The Liberty of Man, Woman, and Child” (1877)
 
Added on 11-Sep-08 | Last updated 4-Feb-16
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The first of the four cardinal virtues of the Roman Catholic Church is “prudentia,” which basically means damn good thinking. Christ came to take away our sins, not our minds.

William Sloane Coffin, Jr. (1924-2006) American minister, social activist
Credo, “Faith, Hope, Love” (2004)
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Added on 18-Feb-08 | Last updated 11-Mar-24
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The man who does not do his own thinking is a slave, and is a traitor to himself and to his fellow-men.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“The Liberty of Man, Woman, and Child” (1877)
    (Source)
 
Added on 12-Feb-08 | Last updated 4-Feb-16
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Now we have come to the conclusion that every man has a right to think. Would God give a bird wings and make it a crime to fly? Would he give me brains and make it a crime to think? Any God that would damn one of his children for the expression of his honest thought wouldn’t make a decent thief. When I read a book and don’t believe it, I ought to say so. I will do so and take the consequences like a man.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Speech on Religious Intolerance, Pittsburgh Opera House (14 Oct 1879)
 
Added on 16-Jan-08 | Last updated 5-Feb-16
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In the practice of art, as well as in morals, it is necessary to keep a watchful and jealous eye over ourselves; idleness, assuming the specious disguise of industry, will lull to sleep all suspicion of our want of an active exertion of strength. A provision of endless apparatus, a bustle of infinite enquiry and research, or even the mere mechanical labour of copying, may be employed, to evade and shuffle off real labour, — the real labour of thinking.

Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) British painter, critic
Speech to the Royal Academy, London (10 Dec 1784)
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Paraphrased over a long period of time (and still attributed to Reynolds) as: "There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking."

The lecture was later described as the Twelfth Discourse in a 1797 collection of Reynolds' works.

Often attributed to Thomas Edison. More information here.

 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 23-May-14
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Thoughts, like fleas, jump from man to man. But they don’t bite everybody.

Stanislaw Lec (1909-1966) Polish aphorist, poet, satirist
Unkempt Thoughts [Myśli nieuczesane] (1957) [tr. Gałązka (1962)]
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 8-Mar-22
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what eeyore is doing there - e h shepard “Eeyore, what are you doing there?” said Rabbit.
“I’ll give you three guesses, Rabbit. Digging holes in the ground? Wrong. Leaping from branch to branch of a young oak-tree? Wrong. Waiting for somebody to help me out of the river? Right. Give Rabbit time, and he’ll always get the answer.”

A. A. Milne (1882-1956) English poet and playwright [Alan Alexander Milne]
House at Pooh Corner, ch. 6 “Eeyore Joins the Game” (1928)
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If two men agree on everything, you may be sure that one of them is doing the thinking.

Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) American politician, educator, US President (1963-69)
(Attributed (c. 1964))
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 28-Apr-23
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A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-American physicist
“Atomic Education Urged by Einstein,” New York Times (25 May 1946)

This may be the source of some otherwise unsourced Einstein quotes:

  • "The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them"
  • "The world we have created today as a result of our thinking thus far has problems which cannot be solved by thinking the way we thought when we created them."
  • "The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking."
  • "This problem will not be solved by the same minds that created it."
  • "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."
Einstein revisited this theme in "The Real Problem Is in the Hearts of Men," New York Times Magazine (23 Jun 1946): "Many persons have inquired concerning a recent message of mine that 'a new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.' [...] Past thinking and methods did not prevent world wars. Future thinking must prevent wars."
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 19-Feb-21
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The fatal tendency of mankind to leave off thinking about a thing when it is no longer doubtful is the cause of half their errors.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher and economist
On Liberty, ch. 2 “Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion” (1859)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 19-Oct-23
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Thought is the labor of the intellect, reverie is its pleasure.

[La pensée est le labeur de l’intelligence, la rêverie en est la volupté.]

Victor Hugo (1802-1885) French writer
Les Misérables, Vol. 4 “St. Denis,” Book 2 “Eponine,” ch. 1 “The Field of the Lark” (1862) [tr. Wilbour]

Alt trans. [Denny (1980)]: "Thought is the work of the intellect, reveries its self-indulgence." Cited as Part IV, ch. 2 "Eponine."
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Jun-16
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I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-American physicist
(Attributed)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 21-Feb-21
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The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations, Book 3, #9 [tr. Collier (1701)]
    (Source)

Alternate translations:

  • "Use thine opinative faculty with all honour and respect, for in her indeed is all: that thy opinion do not beget in thy understanding anything contrary to either nature, or the proper constitution of a rational creature." [tr. Casaubon (1634), #10]
  • "Reverence the faculty which produces opinion. On this faculty it entirely depends whether there shall exist in thy ruling part any opinion inconsistent with nature and the constitution of the rational animal." [tr. Long (1862)]
  • "Hold in honor your opinionative faculty, for this alone is able to prevent any opinion from originating in your guiding principle that is contrary to Nature or the proper constitution of a rational creature." [tr. Zimmern (1887)]
  • "Reverence your faculty of judgement. On this it entirely rests that your governing self no longer has a judgement disobedient to Nature and to the estate of a reasonable being." [tr. Farquharson (1944)]
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Mar-21
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