Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.


"It is indifference which is the cause of most of our unhappiness. Indifference to religion, to the happiness of others, and to the precious gift of freedom, and the wide liberty that is the inheritance of all in a free land. Are we our "Brother's Keeper"? We certainly are! If we had no regard for others' feelings or fortune, we would grow cold and indifferent to life itself. Bound up with selfishness, we could not hope for the success that could easily be ours." - George Matthew Adams

"Moral indifference is the malady of the cultivated classes." -

"Be simple and modest in your deportment, and treat with indifference whatever lies between virtue and vice." - Marcus Aurelius, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus

"The spirit of the world has four kinds of spirits diametrically opposed to charity - resentment, aversion, jealousy, and indifference." -

"At rest everywhere... Indifference... Equality." -

"Moderation, which consists in an indifference about little things, and in a prudent and well-proportioned zeal about things of importance, can proceed from nothing but true knowledge, which has its foundation in self-acquaintance." - William Pitt, Lord Chatham or Lord William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, aka The Elder Pitt and The Great Commander

"Indifference is a militant thing. It batters down the walls of cities and murders the women and children amid the flames and the purloining of altar vessels." - Stephen Crane

"One situation only of the married state is excluded from pleasure: and that is, a state of indifference." - Henry Fielding

"A simple heart will love all that is most precious on earth, husband or wife, parent or child, brother or friend, without marring its singleness; external things will have no attraction save inasmuch as they lead souls to Him; all exaggeration or unreality, affection and falsehood must pass away from such a one, as the dews dry up before the sunshine. The single motive is to please God, and hence arises total indifference as to what others say and think, so that words and actions are perfectly simple and natural, as in his sight." - N. Grou

"The most destructive criticism is indifference." - E. W. Howe, fully Edgar Watson Howe

"All ills spring from some vice, either in ourselves or others; and even many of our diseases proceed from the same origin. Remove the vices, and the ills follow. You must only take care to remove all the vices. If you remove part, you may render the matter worse. By banishing vicious luxury, without curing sloth and an indifference to others, you only diminish industry in the state, and add nothing to men’s charity or their generosity." - David Hume

"We have lost the power even of imagining what the ancient realization of poverty could have meant; the liberation from material attachments, the unbribed soul, the manlier indifference, the paving our way by what we are and not by what we have, the right to fling away our life at any moment irresponsibly, - the more athletic trim, in short, the fighting shape." - William James

"Tolerance is not acceptance, and indifference is not assimilation." - Carey McWilliams

"There is nothing harder than the softness of indifference." - Juan Montalvo, fully Juan María Montalvo

"Freedom is placed in jeopardy more by those who will not exercise it than by those who will not permit it. Indifference opens more gates to the enemy than does tyranny." - Edwin McNeill Poteat

"The greatest tragedy is indifference." -

"Sacredness of human life! The world has never believed it! It has been with life that we settled our quarrels, won wives, gold and land, defended ideas, imposed religions. We have held that a death toll was a necessary part of every human achievement, whether sport, war, or industry. A moment’s rage over the horror of it, and we have sunk into indifference." - Ida Tarbell, fully Ida Minerva Tarbell

"Peace comes to us through love, understanding of our fellow men, faith. Peace does not include selfishness nor indifference. Peace is never wrapped at a counter for a price. It is earned by giving of ourselves." - Annette A Victorin

"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference." -

"Men do very little from love, a great deal from hate, most of all from indifference." - Max Brod

"Enter into the life which is eternal, pass through the gate of indifference into the palace of mastery, through the door of love out into the great open of deliverance." - Edward Carpenter

"For the poor of this world, two major ways of expiring are available: either by the absolute indifference of your fellow-men in peace-time, or by the homicidal passion of these same when war breaks out." - Louis-Ferdinand Céline, pen name Louis-Ferdinand Destouches

"Motorists have exhibited the one worse attitude than defiance of law - indifference to it." -

"The true opposite of love is not hate but indifference. Hate, bad as it is, at least treats a neighbor as a thou, whereas indifference turns the neighbor into an it, a thing. That is why we may say there is actually one thing worse than evil itself and that is indifference to evil. In human relations the nadir of morality, the lowest point as far as Christian ethics is concerned, is manifest in the phrase, 'I could care less.'" -

"I prefer the errors of enthusiasm to the indifference of wisdom." - Anatole France, pen name of Jacques Anatole Francois Thibault

"The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment." - Robert Hutchins, fully Robert Maynard Hutchins

"Violence attempts to constrain the other's freedom, to force him to act in the way we desire, but with ultimate lack of concern, with indifference to the other's own existence or destiny." - R. D. Laing, fully Ronald David Laing

"No one ever regarded the first of January with indifference. It is that from which all date their time, and count upon what is left. It is the nativity of our common Adam. Of all sound of bells (bells the music highest bordering upon heaven), most solemn and touching is the peal which rings out the old year. I never heard it without a gathering-up of my mind to a concentration of all the images that have been diffused over the past twelve-month. All I have done or suffered, performed or neglected - in that regretted time. I begin to know its worth as when a person dies. It takes a personal color; nor was it a poetical flight of a contemporary, when he exclaimed: “I saw the skirts of the departing year.” It is no more than what is sober sadness, every one of us seems to be conscious of in that awful leave-taking." - Charles Lamb

"Nature is not benevolent; with ruthless indifference she makes all things serve their purposes." -

"Indifference and apathy have one name - betrayal." - Salvatore Quasimodo

"All politics are based on indifference of the majority." - James Reston, fully James Barrett Reston

"High theory and mere mind-stimulation are secondary; living itself - in the real world, among people - is the essence... I hereby promise to attempt to be a mensh, a decent, caring human being. Neutrality, noncommitment, indifference have no place in life. To be fully human, we are committed to being caring, sensitive, aggressively compassionate people. Our lives are defined by how we act. We are alive because we perform just and righteous deeds, deeds of gentle loving kindness." - Danny Siegel

"Every death even the cruelest death drowns in the total indifference of Nature. Nature herself would watch unmoved if we destroyed the entire human race." - Peter Weiss, fully Peter Ulrich Weiss

"“Why are we here?” is surely the most important question human beings must face, whatever their origin, whatever their belief. Our obligation is to confer meaning to life and, in doing so, overcome temptations of passivity and indifference. A person who chooses indifference is dead without knowing it. In his or her case, life has no meaning, nor does death. And yet for those who believe in sharing experiences, life does have meaning in spite of the meaningless death some of us may have witnessed. Those who share teach us that one must make every minute rich and enriching, not for oneself but for someone else, thereby creating living links between the individuals and groups. Ultimately, life is a gift and meaning is its reward. So is the art and ability of asking questions. The meaning of life is to be found in the question that becomes encounter. Then every moment becomes a moment of grace." -

"Perhaps there is no property in which men are more distinguished from each other, than in the various degrees in which they possess the faculty of observation. The great herd of mankind pass their lives in listless inattention and indifference as to what is going on around them, being perfectly content to satisfy the mere cravings of nature, while those who are destined to distinction have lynx-eyed vigilance that nothing can escape." - William Wirt

"If ignorance and passions are foes of popular morality, it must be confessed that moral indifference is the malady of the cultivated classes." - Henri Frédéric Amiel

"Political indifference, the mainstay of the modern state." - Crane Brinton, fully Clarence Crane Brinton

"Modern secularity has offered another way of dealing with religious pluralism. As religious traditions lose their importance as means of self-understanding and community identification, their differences and mutual exclusiveness diminish in importance. Alienation from any particular religious faith tends to move the question of religious particularity into the realm of indifference, as life is determined by nonreligious values and institutions. Yet secularity has been no more successful in establishing human community than has the religious vision. The competing claims of nationalism, economic imperialism, and ideological triumphalism are also demonic forms of particularity that have not been able to establish a new universality in human community." - Donald G. Dawe

"Indifference to evil is worse than evil itself." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"There was an idea started that woke up men out of their stupid indifference but its originator was spoken of as a crank." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

"What opinions the masses hold, or do not hold, is looked on as a matter of indifference. They can be granted intellectual liberty because they have no intellect. In a Party member, on the other hand, not even the smallest deviation of opinion on the most unimportant subject can be tolerated." -

"Undisturbed calmness of mind is attained by cultivating friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and indifference toward the wicked." - Patañjali NULL

"[Motto] The greatest tragedy is indifference." - Red Cross NULL

"Temporality and uninterruptedness express the relation of existence to time, a passive relation. What distinguishes organic from inorganic existence is the fact that the plant or the animal stands in an active and defensive relation to temporality… Life, we know from biology, is not a passive state of indifference, and inertia. The essence of life is intense care and concern." - Fritz A. Rothschild

"Throughout history it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph." - Haile Selassie

"The future is given shape by our faith, or condemned to drift and disaster by our indifference." - Page Smith, fully Charles Page Smith

"The opposite of death is not life, it’s indifference." - Elie Wiesel, fully Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel

"Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil. The opposite of love is not hate, its indifference." - Elie Wiesel, fully Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel

"Violence attempts to constrain the other's freedom, to force him to act in the way we desire, but with ultimate lack of concern, with indifference to the other's own existence or destiny." -