Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"Men do not always take their great thinkers seriously, even when they profess most to admire them." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"We create the situations and then we give away our power by blaming the other person for our frustration. 'We" are the only thinkers in our mind." - Louise L. Hay

"Thinkers are scarce as gold; but he whose thoughts embrace all his subject, and who pursues it uninterruptedly and fearless of consequences, is a diamond of enormous size." - Johann Kaspar Lavater

"Most thinkers write badly, because they communicate not only their thoughts, but also the thinking of them." -

"Brisk talkers are usually slow thinkers. There is, indeed, no wild beast more to be dreaded than a communicative man having nothing to communicate. If you are civil to the voluble they will abuse your patience; if brusque, your character." - Jonathan Swift, pen names, M.B. Drapier, Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff

"Thinkers prepare the revolution; bandits carry it out." - Mariano Azuela, fully Mariano Azuela González

"Honest thinkers are always stealing from each other." -

"Some people do not become thinkers simply because their memories are too good." - Friedrich Nietzsche, fully Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

"I’m not afraid of facts, I welcome facts but a congeries of facts is not equivalent to an idea. This is the essential fallacy of the so-called “scientific” mind. People who mistake facts for ideas are incomplete thinkers, they are gossips." - Cynthia Ozick

"Great innovators and original thinkers attract the wrath of mediocrities as lightning rods draw flashes..." - Theodor Reik

"Free thinkers are generally those who never think at all." - Lawrence Sterne, alternatively Laurence Sterne

"There are very few original thinkers in the world; the greatest part of those who are called philosophers have adopted the opinions of some who went before them." - Dugald Stewart

"A little knowledge leads the mind from God. Unripe thinkers use their learning to authenticate their doubts. While unbelief has its own dogma, more peremptory than the inquisitor's, patient meditation brings the scholar back to humbleness. He learns that the grandest truths appear slowly." - Robert Aris Willmott

"Beware of thinkers whose minds function only when they are fueled by a quotation." - Emil M. Cioran

"We may divide thinkers into those who think for themselves, and those who think through others. The latter are the rule, and the former the exception. The first are original thinkers in a double sense, and egotists in the noblest meaning of the world. It is from them only that the world learns wisdom. For only the light which we have kindled in ourselves can illuminate others." - Arthur Schopenhauer

"Thinkers help other people to think, for they formulate what others are thinking. No person writes or thinks alone; thought is in the air but its expression is necessary to create a tangible spirit of the times." - Elbert Green Hubbard

"Doubt is part of all religions. All the religious thinkers were doubters." - Isaac Bashevis Singer

"In a million people there are a thousand thinkers, and in a thousand thinkers there is one self-thinker." -

"Great thinkers have always been motivated by the enjoyment of thinking rather than by the material rewards that could be gained by it." - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, native form is Csíkszentmihályi Mihály

"If persons are going to be independent thinkers, they are probably going to pay a cost. One has to begin with the way the world works: the world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It's a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power." - Noam Chomsky, fully Avram Noam Chomsky

"Positive thinkers get positive results because they appreciate the inestimable value of a day, this day, not the next day, but this day, and every day. Today offers at least sixteen hours that may be crammed full of opportunity, joy, excitement, achievement." - Norman Vincent Peale

"There is always room for a man of force, and he makes room for many. Society is a troop of thinkers, and the best heads among them take the best places." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Valuable or good is all that which contributes to the greater unfolding of man's specific faculties and furthers life. Negative or bad is everything that strangles life and paralyzes man's activeness. All norms of the great humanist religions like Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, or Islam or the great humanist philosophers from the pre-Socratics to contemporary thinkers are the specific elaboration of this general principle of values." - Erich Fromm, fully Erich Seligmann Fromm

"Most thinkers write badly, because they communicate not only their thoughts, but also the thinking of them. " - Friedrich Nietzsche, fully Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

"Contemporary thinkers would say that man is continuously transcending himself. " - Garbriel Honoré Marcel

"Readers are plentiful: thinkers are rare. " - Harriet Martineau

"To know the history of philosophy is to know that the highest thinkers of the ages, the seers of the tribes and the nations, have been optimists. The growth of philosophy is the story of man's spiritual life." - Helen Keller. aka Helen Adams Keller

"The idea of brotherhood redawns upon the world with a broader significance than the narrow association of members in a sect or creed; and thinkers of great soul like Lessing challenge the world to say which is more godlike, the hatred and tooth-and-nail grapple of conflicting religions, or sweet accord and mutual helpfulness. Ancient prejudice of man against his brother-man wavers and retreats before the radiance of a more generous sentiment, which will not sacrifice men to forms, or rob them of the comfort and strength they find in their own beliefs. The heresy of one age becomes the orthodoxy of the next. Mere tolerance has given place to a sentiment of brotherhood between sincere men of all denominations." - Helen Keller. aka Helen Adams Keller

"People are an organization's only appreciable asset, but creative people are an organization's most needed asset. Be willing to absorb some risk and failures to allow people freedom to express themselves. Creative leaders inherently know when rules need to be challenged, and they can see when a more flexible approach should be taken. Handle the ideas of your people carefully: If an idea is half-developed but has potential, pass it to the people in your organization who are proven process thinkers and implementers. Sometimes giving your people permission to be creative is not enough; inspire them by modeling creativity. The word 'reactive' and the word 'creative' are made up of exactly the same letters; the only difference between the two is that you 'c' (see) differently." - John C. Maxwell

"It is doubtful whether our present system of popular education does not retard independent or self thinking as much as it promotes it. All genuine education is self-education. It will incite the individual to think for himself, by rethinking what the race's great thinkers have already thought for him, thus enabling him to go ahead under his own mental steam." - Joseph Alexander Leighton

"In a million people there are a thousand thinkers, and in a thousand thinkers there is one self-thinker. " - Ludwig Börne, fully Karl Ludwig Börne

"There can never be any real opposition between religion and science; for the one is the complement of the other. Every serious and reflective person realizes, I think, that the religious element in his nature must be recognized and cultivated if all the powers of the human soul are to act together in perfect balance and harmony. And indeed it was not by accident that the greatest thinkers of all ages were deeply religious souls." - Max Planck, fully Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck

"It was the United States of America, with its system of limited, constitutional government, that implemented the principle of capitalism-free trade on a free market-to the greatest extent. In America, during the nineteenth century, people’s productive activities were for the most part left free of governmental regulations, controls, and restrictions; most thinkers considered themselves thoroughly emancipated from the discredited economic policies of medievalism, mercantilism, and precapitalist statism." - Nathaniel Branden

"Why is the relational view difficult for many educators? The relational view is hard for some American thinkers to accept because the Western tradition puts such great emphasis on individualism. In that tradition, it is almost instinctive to regard virtues as personal possessions, hard-won through a grueling process of character building. John Dewey rejected this view and urged us to consider virtues as “working adaptations of personal capacities with environing forces”. Care theorists expand this Deweyan insight and emphasize the role of our partners in interaction as a central factor in “environing forces.” We recognize moral interdependence. How good (or bad) I can be depends in substantial part on how you treat me. Acknowledging our moral interdependence means rejecting Kant’s claim that it is contradictory to make our ourselves responsible for another’s moral perfection. Care theorists insist that we must, indeed, accept such responsibility. Without imposing my values on an other, I must realize that my treatment of him may deeply affect the way he behaves in the world. Although no individual can escape responsibility for his own actions, neither can the community that produced him escape its part in making him what he has become." - Nel Noddings

"For a parallel to the lesson of atomic theory regarding the limited applicability of such customary idealizations, we must in fact turn to quite other branches of science, such as psychology, or even to that kind of epistemological problems with which already thinkers like Buddha and Lao Tzu have been confronted, when trying to harmonize our position as spectators and actors in the great drama of existence." - Niels Bohr, fully Neils Henrik David Bohr

"Ere many generations pass, our machinery will be driven by a power obtainable at any point of the universe. This idea is not novel. Men have been led to it long ago by instinct or reason; it has been expressed in many ways, and in many places, in the history of old and new. We find it in the delightful myth of Antheus, who derives power from the earth; we find it among the subtle speculations of one of your splendid mathematicians and in many hints and statements of thinkers of the present time. Throughout space there is energy. Is this energy static or kinetic! If static our hopes are in vain; if kinetic — and this we know it is, for certain — then it is a mere question of time when men will succeed in attaching their machinery to the very wheelwork of nature." - Nikola Tesla

"The scientists from Franklin to Morse were clear thinkers and did not produce erroneous theories. The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane." - Nikola Tesla

"Early Chinese thinkers had taken variety at face value. They had favored diversification and collected anomalies instead of trying to explain them away." - Paul Feyerabend, fully Paul Karl Feyerabend

"Even bold and revolutionary thinkers bow to the judgment of science. Kropotkin wants to break up all existing institutions, but he does not touch science. Ibsen goes very far in his critique of bourgeois society, but he retains science as a measure of truth. Levi Strauss has made us realize that Western thought is not the lonely peak of human achievement it was once thought to be, but he and his followers exclude science from their relativization of ideologies. Marx and Engels were convinced that science would aid the workers in their quest for mental and social liberation." - Paul Feyerabend, fully Paul Karl Feyerabend

"A different conception of society, very different from that which now prevails, is in process of formation. Under the name of Anarchy, a new interpretation of the past and present life of society arises, giving at the same time a forecast as regards its future, both conceived in the same spirit as the above-mentioned interpretation in natural sciences. Anarchy, therefore, appears as a constituent part of the new philosophy, and that is why Anarchists come in contact, on so many points, with the greatest thinkers and poets of the present day." - Peter Kropotkin, fully Prince Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin

"For Posidonius, ouranos, heaven, offers the paradigm for man. The stars teach ethics. The individual who pursues his duties without emotional involvement in them and without the correlative expectation of results, who recognizes honesty as the good and the hallmark of the wise man, and who seeks to honour the higher daimon in himself discovers a fidelity within the soul which is both its overarching oikeiosis and its link to the World-Soul. He sees that the principles of physics can be translated into the laws of psychology from which are derived ethics and the rules of right conduct. Without wavering in his loyalty to the deepest insights of the Stoic tradition, Posidonius exemplified in his own life and thought the ability of the philosopher to penetrate afresh and more precisely the mystery of the kosmos and the less ordered realm in which human beings dwell. His fearlessness of method and the marriage of observation and abstract thought influenced the generations which came immediately after him, and inspired a number of thinkers in the dawn of the European Enlightenment. [paraphrased]" - Posidonius, aka Posidonius of Rhodes or Posidonius of Apameia (meaning "of Poseidon") NULL

"This is the way things go in philosophy. There are traditions and winds of doctrine and many seem shut into the tradition in which they have been brought up. There is vital need of communication. I may remark here, incidentally, that I have found European philosophers more shut into their traditions than Americans. This is not a matter of virtue of American thinkers but of historical circumstances. They have had to learn and assimilate until it came about that they could strike out on the paths which appealed to them. Such independence was not always welcomed abroad when it occurred. This, I think, happened in the case of pragmatism and, in some measure, with realism. And, then, curiously enough, when what was regarded as a stalemate in the realistic movement occurred—how justifiable remains to be seen—a new kind of colonialism manifested itself in the United States. One soon heard only of analysis a la Moore, of Wittgenstein, and of logical positivism. This to be followed by existentialism. I do not say this attitude was universal. There remained many Deweyites and the study of Peirce increased. But I had to work rather alone. I continued to circle around perceiving, evolutionary levels, double knowledge of the mind-brain functioning and humanism. That is the way things go and one must have what has been called intestinal fortitude. I think the situation is somewhat altering and more of an international equilibrium is getting established. But what I call journalistic philosophy still echoes the period of neo-colonialism. Literary critics, whose philosophy is second-hand, mouth the accepted terms. And I find that many young philosophers in the United States seem to have little knowledge of past developments. In their eyes, one must be analytic, or a logical positivist or a defender of ordinary language." - R. W. Sellars, fully Roy Wood Sellars

"Darwinism is a remarkably simple theory, childlishly so, in comparison with almost all of physics and mathematics. But we have good reason for believing that this simplicity is deceptive. Simple as the theory may seem, nobody thought of it until Darwin and Wallace in the mid-19th century. How could such a simple idea go so long undiscovered by thinkers of the calibre of Newton, Galileo, Descartes, Hume and Aristotle? What was wrong with philosophers and mathematicians that they overlooked it?" - Richard Dawkins

"I distinctly remember when a little more than a dozen years ago the immigration question was first finding occasional expression in the labor organizations that I heard a member, who had left the Emerald Isle scarcely three years, denounce the evils the toilers suffer from immigration. From that time the thought occurred to me that there is something more in this world than philosophy and philanthropy which prompts the people to advocate measures of reformatory character." - Samuel Gompers

"Guessing right for the wrong reason does not merit scientific immortality." - Stephan Jay Gould

"The legends of fieldwork locate all important sites deep in inaccessible jungles inhabited by fierce beasts and restless natives, and surrounded by miasmas of putrefaction and swarms of tsetse flies. (Alternative models include the hundredth dune after the death of all camels, or the thousandth crevasse following the demise of all sled dogs.)" - Stephan Jay Gould

"We pass through this world but once. Few tragedies can be more extensive than the stunting of life, few injustices deeper than the denial of an opportunity to strive or even to hope, by a limit imposed from without, but falsely identified as lying within." - Stephan Jay Gould

"Man the individual is a deeper being than man in the mass." - Victor Hugo

"By making charity one can attain a very respectable and adorable position in the society." - Rig Veda, or The Rigveda

"In the common sense of the word, Judaism is not a religion, it is not a system of dogmas, of sacramental grace; it is not a bundle of rites and ceremonies; it is not a road to happiness in the hereafter; it is not a scheme of salvation from original sin; it does neither stand nor fall with our views as to the character of those books we call sacred, and as to their authorship. But it is a message to the world that righteousness must be its own reward, and is of that force which builds the world and shapes the courses of men." - Emil G. Hirsch, fully Emil Gustav Hirsch