Quotations of Wisdom

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Clarence Darrow

I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment to be called an agnostic. I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure - that is all that agnosticism means [Q1098]

Richard Feynman
 

I don't believe I can really do without teaching. The reason is, I have to have something so that when I don't have any ideas and I'm not getting anywhere I can say to myself, "At least I'm living; at least I'm doing something; I am making some contribution" — it's just psychological.

When I was at Princeton in the 1940s I could see what happened to those great minds at the Institute for Advanced Study, who had been specially selected for their tremendous brains and were now given this opportunity to sit in this lovely house by the woods there, with no classes to teach, with no obligations whatsoever. These poor bastards could now sit and think clearly all by themselves, OK? So they don't get any ideas for a while: They have every opportunity to do something, and they are not getting any ideas. I believe that in a situation like this a kind of guilt or depression worms inside of you, and you begin to worry about not getting any ideas. And nothing happens. Still no ideas come.

Nothing happens because there's not enough real activity and challenge: You're not in contact with the experimental guys. You don't have to think how to answer questions from the students. Nothing! In any thinking process there are moments when everything is going good and you've got wonderful ideas. Teaching is an interruption, and so it's the greatest pain in the neck in the world. And then there are the longer period of time when not much is coming to you. You're not getting any ideas, and if you're doing nothing at all, it drives you nuts! You can't even say "I'm teaching my class."

If you're teaching a class, you can think about the elementary things that you know very well. These things are kind of fun and delightful. It doesn't do any harm to think them over again. Is there a better way to present them? The elementary things are easy to think about; if you can't think of a new thought, no harm done; what you thought about it before is good enough for the class. If you do think of something new, you're rather pleased that you have a new way of looking at it.

The questions of the students are often the source of new research. They often ask profound questions that I've thought about at times and then given up on, so to speak, for a while. It wouldn't do me any harm to think about them again and see if I can go any further now. The students may not be able to see the thing I want to answer, or the subtleties I want to think about, but they remind me of a problem by asking questions in the neighborhood of that problem. It's not so easy to remind yourself of these things.

So I find that teaching and the students keep life going, and I would never accept any position in which somebody has invented a happy situation for me where I don't have to teach. Never.

[Q1910]

Democritus

Men should strive to think much and know little. [Q768]

Kurt Gödel

Analysis, clarity and precision all are of great value, especially in philosophy. Just because a misapplied clarity is current or the wrong sort of precision is stressed, that is no reason to give up clarity of precision. Without precision, one cannot do anything in philosophy. [Q1966]

Václav Havel

The history of the human race has generated several papers articulating basic moral imperatives, or fundamental principles, of human coexistence that — maybe in association with concurring historical events — substantially influenced the fate of humanity on this planet. Among these historic documents, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — adopted fifty years ago today — holds a very special, indeed, unique position. It is the first code of ethical conduct that was not a product of one culture, or one sphere of civilization only, but a universal creation, shaped and subscribed to by representatives of all humankind. Since its very inception, the Declaration has thus represented a planetary, or global commitment, a global intention, a global guideline. For this reason alone, this exceptional document — conceived as a result of a profound human self-reflection in the wake of the horrors of World War II, and retaining its relevance ever since — deserves to be remembered today. [Q1769]

Charles Lindbergh

Living in dreams of yesterday, we find ourselves still dreaming of impossible future conquests. [Q1935]

Thomas Jefferson

We are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it. [Q196]

Coretta Scott King

Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated. [Q38]

Thomas Jefferson

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. [Q1242]

Marshall McLuhan

Appetite is essentially insatiable, and where it operates as a criterion of both action and enjoyment (that is, everywhere in the Western world since the sixteenth century) it will infallibly discover congenial agencies (mechanical and political) of expression. [Q1452]

Margaret Mead

As long as any adult thinks that he, like the parents and teachers of old, can become introspective, invoking his own youth to understand the youth before him, he is lost. [Q1417]

John F. Kennedy

With such a peace, there will still be quarrels and conflicting interests, as there are with families and nations. World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor - it requires only that they live together in mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement. And history teaches us that enmities between nations, as between individuals, do not last forever. [Q1277]

George Mitchell

Why do they believe as they do? Why do they act as they do? Is there something to their position that I don't understand or that I've been wrong about? The most disturbing thing now is the rigidity of some - you know, 'We are right, we are 100 percent right, and if you disagree with us, you're not just wrong, you're not an American.' [Q2013]

Plato

A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers. [Q871]

Scott Nesler

The world is not flat nor is an argument. [Q129]

Mario Cuomo

Poll watching politicians respond with Pavlovian sureness. The touch every button, satisfy every rabid carving with swift passage of draconian and regressive measures. They serve up a binge of new death penalty statutes as though there had suddenly been discovered proof that the death penalty can save lives. [Q1822]

Bill Clinton

We can't afford to double down on trickle down. [Q2014]

Voltaire

Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do. [Q63]

Meister Eckhart

To be full of things is to be empty of God. To be empty of things is to be full of God. [Q1633]

Scott Nesler

The fault nor the solution is with the two party system. The solution resides in the pragmatic and generous spirit of a populace armed with the tools and the media to express their point of view in a respectful and intelligent light. [Q125]

Edward de Bono

The false dichotomies we constructed in order to operate the logic principles of contradiction have been so especially disastrous. (from the book, I am right, you are wrong. page 37) [Q2007]

Noam Chomsky

The concept of “democratizing the media” has no real meaning within the terms of political discourse in the United States. In fact, the phrase has a paradoxical or even vaguely subversive ring to it. Citizen participation would be considered an infringement on freedom of the press, a blow struck against the independence of the media that would distort the mission they have undertaken to inform the public without fear or favor... this is because the general public must be reduced to its traditional apathy and obedience, and driven from the arena of political debate and action, if democracy is to survive. — Chapter 1: Democracy and the Media," Necessary Illusions [Q173]

Alan Greenspan

The true measure of a career is to be able to be content, even proud, that you succeeded through your own endeavors without leaving a trail of casualties in your wake. I cannot speak for others whose psyches I may not be able to comprehend, but, in my working life, I have found no greater satisfaction than achieving success through honest dealings and strict adherence to the view that for you to gain, those you deal with should gain as well. Human relations-be they personal or professional-should not be zero sum games . . . And beyond the personal sense of satisfaction, having a reputation for fair dealing is a profoundly practical virtue. We call it "good will" in business and add it to our balance sheets. . . Trust is at the root of any economic system based on mutually beneficial exchange. In virtually all transactions, we rely on the word of those with whom we do business. Were this not the case, exchange of goods and services could not take place on any reasonable scale. Our commercial codes and contract law presume that only a tiny fraction of contracts, at most, need be adjudicated. If a significant number of business people violated the trust upon which our interactions are based, our court system and our economy would be swamped into immobility. . . — June 1999 — Harvard University Commencement Address [Q1068]

G. K. Chesterton

He who strikes the first blow confesses that he has run out of ideas. The mere proposal to set the politician to watch the capitalist has been disturbed by the rather disconcerting discovery that they are both the same man. We are past the point where being a capitalist is the only way of coming a politician, and we are dangerously newer the point where being a politician is much the quickest way of becoming a capitalist. [Q1848]

Thor Heyerdahl

We must wake up to the insane reality of our time. We are all irresponsible, unless we demand from the responsible decision makers that modern armaments must no longer be made available to people whose former battle axes and swords our ancestors condemned. [Q1543]

Thomas Jefferson

An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which has never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry. [Q1372]

Richard P. Feynman

We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on. [Q737]

Epictetus

If you desire to be good, begin by believing that you are wicked. [Q814]

René Descartes

Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it. [Q1128]

Edward de Bono

We almost need a new term — 'provolution' — to imply change that is more radical than evolution but more gradual than revolution. It is change of this sort that I intended in my book Positive Revolution for Brazil. The weapons are not bullets but perceptions and values. The steps are small but cumulative. There is a steady working towards making something better, not towards destruction of an enemy. It is based on water logic not rock logic. (From the book, I am Right, you are wrong, page 21) [Q1998]

Steven Spielberg

We have to realize that people are not born with hatred. They acquire it. We have the responsibility to listen to the voices of history so that future generations never forget what so few lived to tell! [Q1221]

Saint Francis of Assisi

Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible [Q1400]

Galileo Galilei

The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do. [Q942]

Scott Nesler

In the world of discourse objectivity is little more than subjective consensus. [Q655]

George Washington

If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. [Q286]

Albert Einstein

Any fool can know. The point is to understand. [Q396]

Aristotle

The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet. [Q863]

Al Hirschfeld

Artists are just children who refuse to put down their crayons. [Q1305]

Thomas Jefferson

Nothing gives a person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances. [Q202]

T.S. Elliot

There is not a more repulsive spectacle than on old man who will not forsake the world, which has already forsaken him. [Q341]

Buckminster Fuller

While my contemporaries were looking how to make a living, I decided to focus on what needed to be done for society. [Q130]

Plato

I have hardly ever known a mathematician who was capable of reasoning. [Q884]

Thurgood Marshall

In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute. [Q753]

Saul Alinsky

Change means movement. Movement means friction. Only in the frictionless vacuum of a nonexistent abstract world can movement or change occur without that abrasive friction of conflict. [Q990]

Václav Havel

The idea of human rights and freedoms must be an integral part of any meaningful world order. Yet, I think it must be anchored in a different place, and in a different way, than has been the case so far. If it is to be more than just a slogan mocked by half the world, it cannot be expressed in the language of a departing era, and it must not be mere froth floating on the subsiding waters of faith in a purely scientific relationship to the world. [Q1806]

Voltaire

What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly - that is the first law of nature. [Q1505]

John Boyd Orr

Some wars have been due to the lust of rulers for power and glory, or to revenge to wipe out the humiliation of a former defeat. [Q1153]

Marie Curie

After all, science is essentially international, and it is only through lack of the historical sense that national qualities have been attributed to it. [Q325]

Virginia Nygard

Someone I know wrote that when he attended Harvard, his business school professor said success in business demanded an entrepreneur to start a business, a manager to develop the business, and a manager to run the day-to-day business; and that very rarely was one person capable of performing his best in all three areas. I think that's true of writing, too. I love the writing, the creating, and hate the business of selling. Sure, I'd love to have my 'fifteen minutes of fame'...but for now, a minute at a time is okay by me. [Q1044]

David S Allen

The structure of public life seems so entirely natural to most Americans that few question the fundamental assumptions of modern corporate ideology, including the idea that media content should be driven solely by questions of popularity, that larger corporations will provide better and more efficient service than smaller corporations, that technology can solve society's problems, and that an ideological individualism that values confrontation, winning, and capitalism is prefereable to an ideological community that values discourse and understanding. — Democracy, Inc. - Introduction - Page 7 [Q237]

Adlai III Stevenson

The small daughter of a famous divine was busy with her crayon and pencil, and her mother asked her whose picture she was drawing. "God's," she replied. "But, dear, nobody knows how He looks," her mother admonished. "They will when I'm finished," said the child. [Q1841]

James Bovard

With attention deficit democracy, I am trying to wake up people to how the combination of mass ignorance, fear mongering by the government, and lying politicians is putting our entire system of government to a death spiral. [Q721]

Unattributed

Don't take life too seriously. Noone gets out alive. [Q1066]

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss. [Q405]

Epictetus

Not every difficult and dangerous thing is suitable for training, but only that which is conducive to success in achieving the object of our effort. [Q819]

Thomas Jefferson

The object [of my education bill was] to bring into action that mass of talents which lies buried in poverty in every country for want of the means of development, and thus give activity to a mass of mind which in proportion to our population shall be the double or treble of what it is in most countries. [Q530]

Wendell Berry

The logic of governmental efficiency, unchecked, runs straight on, not only to dictatorship, but also to torture, assassination, and other abominations. [Q1334]

Robert J. Gula

We all have emotional needs: the need to love, to be loved, to be accepted, to feel a sense of accomplishment, to feel a sense of self-worth, to feel important, to feel needed, to protect ourselves, to attain status in our own eyes and in the eyes of others, to be secure. These needs, in turn, conceal other emotions: love, hate, fear, jealousy, anger, guilt, greed, hope, loyalty. The emotions are fragile and sensitive. They are easily tampered with and they are easily manipulated. A person who knows how to appeal to our emotions can deceive us, manipulate us, and get us to accept as true that which is untrue. — Nonsense Red Herrings, Staw Men and Sacred Cows: HOw We Abuse Logic in Our Everyday Language. [Q1185]

Oliver Wendell Holmes

The world's great men have not commonly been great scholars, nor its great scholars great men. [Q1087]

Plato

At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet. [Q1617]

Jim Lehrer

Best I can do for them is to give them every piece of information I can find and let them make the judgments. That's just my basic view of my function as a journalist. [Q475]

Mohandas Gandhi

Live simply so that others may simply live. [Q1311]

Mohandas Gandhi

You've got to be the change you want to see in the world. [Q593]

Virgil

Perhaps the day may come when we shall remember these sufferings with joy. [Q1586]

Scott Nesler

Truth is found in the journey. Facts are often road blocks. When the answer is traversed it is discovered the question was never asked in the first place. [Q2023]

Senator Paul Simon

I have long favoured one year of compulsory service for everyone at the age of eighteen or after graduation from high school. If the person chooses the military, fine. If you want to work for a park district, or a homeless shelter, or in another capacity, fine. In the process of screening people for this year of service, if basic skills have not been acquired because of learning disabilities or a poor education situation, this could be part of the year of service. It would lift the nation. And it would provide many people with a broader opportunity to know others as my Army basic training did, to make this more "one nation, under God, indivisible." [Q1720]

Kevin Eubanks

If you do the right thing for the right reasons and you keep a cool head while doing it ... it will all work out. — Interview on NPR Talk of the Nation. [Q550]

T.S. Elliot

Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? [Q343]

Scott Nesler

We must guard against the tenacity of arguments with hidden agendas. [Q50]

James Q Wilson

At root in almost every area of important concern, we are seeking to induce persons to act virtuously, whether as schoolchildren, applicants for public assistance, would-be lawbreakers or voters and public officials [Q1907]

Edward Kennedy

Some men see things as they are and say ‘why?’. I dream things that never were and say ‘why not? — In eulogy to his brother Robert Kennedy. [Q205]

Virgil

If ye despise the human race, and mortal arms, yet remember that there is a God who is mindful of right and wrong. [Q1581]

Bill Withers

I feel that it is healthier to look out at the world through a window than through a mirror. Otherwise, all you see is yourself and whatever is behind you. [Q1948]

John Charles Polanyi

It is this, at its most basic, that makes science a humane pursuit; it acknowledges the commonality of people's experience. [Q380]

Richard P. Feynman

I'll never make that mistake again, reading the experts' opinions. Of course, you only live one life, and you make all your mistakes, and learn what not to do, and that's the end of you. [Q978]

Kurt Gödel

There would be no danger of an atomic war if advances in history, the science of right and of state, philosophy, psychology, literature, art, etc. were as great as in physics. But instead of such progress, one is struck by significant regresses in many of the spiritual sciences. [Q1962]

Democritus

Raising children is an uncertain thing; success is reached only after a life of battle and worry. [Q771]

Alexis de Tocqueville

As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in? [Q957]

Václav Havel

Politicians do not actually talk to each other but only to one another's shadows as they appear in the media. [Q1797]

Thomas Paine

The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion. [Q275]

Senator Paul Simon

The position of Paul Nyholm and my brother is that the Bible is inspired and an accurate guide on Christ's life and mission and on issues of faith and morals, but does not require that a person accept creation in six days or that Methuselah lived to be 969 years old. [Q1690]

Jean-Luc Picard

Those who clothe themselves in good deeds are well camouflaged. [Q170]

Václav Havel

The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less. [Q1756]

Caine

We must face the truth, however great the cost. — "Kung Fu" The Passion of Chen Yi — 1974 Episode 34 [Q632]

Randi Weingarten

This is not a Nike commercial. Just do it. That doesn't work in teaching. — American RadioWorks — Testing Teachers [Q657]

Dr. Zaius

I have always known about man. From the evidence, I believe his wisdom must walk hand and hand with his idiocy. His emotions must rule his brain. He must be a warlike creature who gives battle to everything around him, even himself. [Q1602]

Michel de Montaigne

I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly. [Q1168]

Thomas Jefferson

A man is not qualified for a professor, knowing nothing but merely his own profession. He should be otherwise well-educated as to the sciences generally; able to converse understandingly with the scientific men with whom he is associated, and to assist in the councils of the faculty on any subject of science on which they may have occasion to deliberate. Without this, he will incur their contempt, and bring disreputation on the institution. [Q536]

Marshall McLuhan

We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us. [Q1486]

Edward Sapir

A common allegiance to form of expression that is identified with no single national unit is likely to prove one of the most potent symbols of the freedom of the human spirit that the world has yet known. [Q2065]

Henry David Thoreau

I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, to life itself than this incessant business. [Q147]

Robert W McChesney

The number one lobby that opposes campaign finance reform in the United States is the National Association of Broadcasters. [Q167]

Jeanne DuPrau

The trouble with anger is, it gets hold of you. And then you aren't the master of yourself anymore. Anger is. And when anger is the boss, you get unintended consequences. — The City of Ember [Q1038]

René Descartes

You just keep pushing. You just keep pushing. I made every mistake that could be made. But I just kept pushing. [Q1129]

Theodore Roosevelt

A man who is good enough to shed his blood for the country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards. [Q1279]

Bill Gates

The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow. [Q1292]

Robert Nozick

I think philosophers can do things akin to theoretical scientists, in that, having read about empirical data, they too can think of what hypotheses and theories might account for that data. So there's a continuity between philosophy and science in that way. [Q1269]

Mitch Smith

I point to popular dichotomies as falsifications – the true vectors lie elsewhere. So you can’t say “Republican Vs Democrat” that’s a false dichotomy based on mistaken perception of the underlying structure of policy. When you strip that away, the true dichotomy is revealed – Empathy vs Apathy – and it exists all the way across the false map. Similar is Capital Vs Labour – there would be no labour as we know it without currency(capital) – just as there is no such thing as cold – there is only heat. [Q1983]

Edward de Bono

In many problems we cannot find the cause. Or, we can find it but cannot remove it — for example human greed. Or, there may be a multiplicity of causes. What do we do then? We analyze it further and analyze the analysis of others (scholarship). More and more analysis is not going to help, because what is needed is design. We need to design a way out of the problem or way of living with it.

We are much better at analysis than at design because we have never put enough emphasis on design. In education we have felt that design was necessary in architecture, engineering, graphics, theatre and fashion but not in other areas because analysis would reveal the truth, and if you have the truth action is easy. For design we need constructive and creative thinking and to be conscious of perceptions, of values and of people. It is this traditional emphasis (part of our thinking heritage) on analysis rather than design which makes some problems (like drug abuse) so difficult to tackle.

... There is a desperate need for the sort of 'idea work' or conceptual effort that Einstein provided in his field and Keynes in his. We know this is important, but we are content to let it happen by chance or genius because our traditions of thinking hold that analysis is enough.

(from the book, I am Right, you are Wrong. page 23) [Q2003]

Václav Havel

Human beings are compelled to live within a lie, but they can be compelled to do so only because they are in fact capable of living in this way. Therefore not only does the system alienate humanity, but at the same time alienated humanity supports this system as its own involuntary masterplan, as a degenerate image of its own degeneration, as a record of people's own failure as individuals. [Q1780]

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