Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"A small minority are enabled... to find happiness along the path of love; but far-reaching mental transformations of the erotic function are necessary before this is possible. These people make themselves independent of their object’s acquiescence by transferring the main value from the fact of being loved to their own act of loving; they protect themselves against loss of it by attaching their love not to individual objects but to all men equally, and they avoid the uncertainties and disappointments of genital love by turning away from its sexual aim and modifying the instinct which they induce in themselves by this process - an unchangeable, undeviating, tender attitude - has little superficial likeness to the stormy vicissitudes of genital love, from which it is nevertheless derived." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"Those who have arrived at any very eminent degree of excellence in the practice of an art or profession have commonly been actuated by a species of enthusiasm in their pursuit of it. They have kept one object in view amidst all the vicissitudes of time and fortune." - John Knox

"Surely no man can reflect, without wonder, upon the vicissitudes of human life arising from causes in the highest degree accidental and trifling. If you trace the necessary concatenation of human events a very little way back, you may perhaps discover that a person’s very going in or out of a door has been the means of coloring with misery or happiness the remaining current of his life." -

"Only when we feel through all our vicissitudes some unfathomable purpose runs, and that by meeting life nobly and courageously we can co-operate in the fulfillment of that purpose, do we find peace." - Alice Hegan Rice, also known as Alice Caldwell Hegan

"In life, each person can take one of two attitudes: to build or to plant. The builders might take years over their tasks, but one day, they finish what they’re doing. Then they find they’re hemmed in by their own walls. Life losses its meaning when the building stops... Then there are those who plant. They endure storms and many vicissitudes of the seasons, and they rarely rest. But unlike a building, a garden never stops growing. And while it requires the gardener’s constant attention, it also allows life for the gardener to be a great adventure." - Paulo Coelho

"The study of history is in the truest sense an education and a training for political life... The most instructive, or rather the only, method of learning to bear with dignity the vicissitudes of fortune is to recall the catastrophes of others." - Polybius NULL

"Surely no man can reflect, without wonder, upon the vicissitudes of human life arising from causes in the highest degree accidental and trifling: if you trace the necessary concatenation of human events a very little way back, you may perhaps discover that a person's very going in, or out of a door, has been the means of coloring with misery or happiness the remaining current of his life." -

"Old age is not a disease - it is strength and survivorship, triumph over all kinds of vicissitudes and disappointments, trials and illnesses." - Maggie Kuhn

"Positive self-esteem operates as, in effect, the immune system of the consciousness, providing resistance, strength, and a capacity for regeneration. When self-esteem is low, our resilience in the face of life's adversities is diminished. We crumble before vicissitudes that a healthier sense of self could vanquish. We tend to be more influenced by the desire to avoid pain than to experience joy. Negatives have more power over us than positives." - Nathaniel Branden

"It may be observed that provinces, among the vicissitudes to which they are accustomed, pass from order to confusion, and afterwards pass again into a state of order. The way of the world doesn’t allow things to continue on an even course; as soon as they arrive at their greatest perfection, they again start to decline. Likewise, having sunk to their utmost state of depression, unable to descend lower, they necessarily reascend. And so from good, they naturally decline to evil. Valor produces peace, and peace repose; repose, disorder; disorder, ruin. From ruin order again springs, and from order virtue, and from this glory, and good fortune" - Niccolò Machiavelli, formally Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli

"Continued work and application form my soul's nourishment. So soon as I commenced to rest and relax I should cease to live. I know my own powers. I am not fitted for other kinds of work, but my reading and writing, which you would have me discontinue, are easy tasks, nay, they are a delightful rest, and relieve the burden of heavier anxieties. There is no lighter burden, nor more agreeable, than a pen. Other pleasures fail us or wound us while they charm, but the pen we take up rejoicing and lay down with satisfaction, for it has the power to advantage not only its lord and master, but many others as well, even though they be far away — sometimes, indeed, though they be not born for thousands of years to come. I believe I speak but the strict truth when I claim that as there is none among earthly delights more noble than literature, so there is none so lasting, none gentler, or more faithful; there is none which accompanies its possessor through the vicissitudes of life at so small a cost of effort or anxiety." - Petrarch, anglicized from Italian name Francesco Petrarca NULL

"There is not a more prudent maxim, than to live with one's enemies as if they may one day become one's friends; as it commonly happens, sooner or later, in the vicissitudes of political affairs." - Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield

"The human soul is such a world. The truths of to-day, of yesterday, of the whole past are settling down upon it a golden rain from the hand of God, making the glorious wrappings of time and of the great futurity. Thus the dark facts of earth, its slavery, its suffering, its sickness, its calamities, its burned up cities, its solemn cemeteries of the dead, all may be trans formed into human spirit and make the soul come to heaven at last rich in its tenderness and love. The earthly knowledge is made into never dying power. Bulwer says, " Oh how much greater is the soul of one man than the vicissitudes of the whole globe !" And elsewhere he says, " Not in the knowledge of tnings without, but in the perfection of the soul within, lies the true empire of man." " - David Swing, aka Professor Swing

"I read your categories of humanism with interest. They seem to me to be excellent and will be useful to me. As for myself, I do not know exactly where I fit. I do not know the realities of the cosmos. I only know that man with his hopes and aspirations, his capacity to sacrifice for an ideal is part of it. He uses the abilities with which he is endowed not only to maintain life but to find some meaning for it. His efforts to discover meaning ends in mystery. His attempt through the use of reason to add to his knowledge of the cosmos has brought a vast increase in that knowledge beyond the frontiers of which, however, lies mystery. To push out this frontier, to penetrate the mystery is his greatest challenge. I find that contemplation of the mystery brings that humility which is one of the virtues taught by religion. For me the aspirations (part of the cosmos) of men suggest an essence or being greater than man, worship of whom gives added strength for dealing with the vicissitudes of life." - Ralph Henry Gabriel

"I shall drink with joy the cup of sorrow because my Beloved is the cup-bearer." - Sa'di (or Saadi), pen name of Abū-Muḥammad Muṣliḥ al-Dīn bin Abdallāh Shīrāzī, born Muslih-uddin NULL

"A man who both spends and saves money is the happiest man, because he has both enjoyments." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"Such is our desire of abstraction from ourselves, that very few are satisfied with the quantity of stupefaction which the needs of the body force upon the mind. Alexander himself added intemperance to sleep, and solaced with the fumes of wine the sovereignty of the world. And almost every man has some art, by which he steals his thought away from his present state." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"There is no private house in which people can enjoy themselves so well as at a capital tavern... No, Sir; there is nothing which has yet been contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"If the truth of religious doctrines is dependent on an inner experience that bears witness to the truth, what is one to make of the many people who do not have that experience?" - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"Carrie felt this as a personal reproof. She read Dora Thorne, or had a great deal in the past. It seemed only fair to her, but she supposed that people thought it very fine. Now this clear- eyed, fine-headed youth, who looked something like a student to her, made fun of it. It was poor to him, not worth reading. She looked down, and for the first time felt the pain of not understanding." - Theodore Dreiser, fully Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser

"The ideal religion is to establish the proper balance between mind and emotion." - Waldemar Argow, fully Wendelin Waldemar Wieland Argow

"Sobriety diminishes, discriminates, and says no; drunkenness expands, unites, and says yes. Not through mere perversity do men run after it." - William James

"The war-party is assuredly right in affirming and reaffirming that the martial virtues, although originally gained by the race through war, are absolute and permanent human goods. Patriotic pride and ambition in their military form are, after all, only specifications of a more general competitive passion. They are its first form, but that is no reason for supposing them to be its last form. Men are now proud of belonging to a conquering nation, and without a murmur they lay down their persons and their wealth, if by so doing they may fend off subjection. But who can be sure that other aspects of one's country may not, with time and education and suggestion enough, come to be regarded with similarly effective feelings of pride and shame? Why should men not someday feel that is it worth a blood-tax to belong to a collectivity superior in any respect? Why should they not blush with indignant shame if the community that owns them is vile in any way whatsoever? Individuals, daily more numerous, now feel this civic passion. It is only a question of blowing on the spark until the whole population gets incandescent, and on the ruins of the old morals of military honor, a stable system of morals of civic honor builds itself up. What the whole community comes to believe in grasps the individual as in a vise. The war-function has grasped us so far; but the constructive interests may someday seem no less imperative, and impose on the individual a hardly lighter burden." - William James

"The Jesuits had learned that a Christian mission to China could never succeed if it were not in a position to show and convince the Chinese intelligentsia of the superiority of the European culture." - Hu Shih, or Hú Shì