Many / One

A database of 11,000+ illuminated guiding quotations in 40 categories from 600+ inspired books by our most brilliant and influential authors.
Compiled by JoAnn Kite

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The Great Thoughts
George Seldes, compiler
From Abelard to Zola, from ancient Greece to contemporary America, the ideas that have shaped the history of the world.

1 "Religion is the root of human existence." Wilhelm Schlegel (1767-1845), German poet, 'Lectures, 1807-1808'

2 "All men know in their very earliest years that beside the good of their animal personality, there is another, a better, a good in life, which is not only independent of the gratification of the appetites of the animal personality, but on the contrary, the greater the renunciation of the welfare of the animal personality the greater the good becomes…This feeling…is known to all. This feeling is love." Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Russian author, 'On Life and Essays on Religion'

3 "We must discover a new respect for what transcends us: for the universe, for the earth, for nature, for life, and for reality. Our respect for other people, for other nations, and for other cultures, can only grow from a humble respect for the cosmic order and from an awareness that we are a part of it, that we share in it and that nothing of what we do is lost, but rather becomes part of the eternal memory of Being." Vaclav Havel (b. 1936), Czech playwright, President of the Czech Republic, commencement address, Harvard University, June 8, 1995

4 "The forms of Virtue are: justice, courage, magnificence, magnanimity, liberality, gentleness, prudence, wisdom." Aristotle, (384-322 bce), Greek philosopher, 'Rhetoric', Bk. II

5 "Almighty God hath created the mind free." Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), 3rd American President, 'The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom', 1779

6 "Love indeed (I may not deny) first united provinces, built cities, and by a perpetual generation makes and preserves mankind." Robert Burton (1577-1640), English clergyman, 'The Anatomy of Melancholy'

7 "I believe in God, whom I understand as Spirit, as Love, as the Source of all." Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Russian author, 'Reply to Synod's Edict of Excommunication'

8 "Africans believe in something that is difficult to render in English. We call it 'ubuntu, botho'. It means the essence of being human. You know when it is there and when it is absent. It speaks about humaneness, gentleness, hospitality, putting yourself out on behalf of others, being vulnerable. It embraces compassion and toughness. It recognizes that my humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together." Desmond Tutu (b. 1931), South African cleric, 'The Words of Desmond Tutu'

9 "My prayer is that my life be meaningful in the enhancement of His Kingdom on earth, enhancement of the lives of my fellow human beings." James Earl Carter (b.1924), 39th American President, interview with religious leaders, Indianapolis, December 1976

10 "It is a world cooperative commonwealth at which we ought to aim, built on freedom. A single country – or a group of countries – with this peaceful cooperative aim can make its impact on the whole world." David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973), Polish-born Israeli prime minister, New York Times Magazine, September 24, 1961

11 "I worship Christ, I worship Jehovah, I worship Pan, I worship Aphrodite…I want them all, all the gods. They are all God." D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930), British writer, 'The Letters of D. H. Lawrence'

12 "Consciousness of God is self-consciousness. Knowledge of God is self-knowledge." Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872), German philosopher, 'The Essence of Christianity'

13 "For a conscious being, to exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly." Henri Bergson (1859-1941), French philosopher, Nobel Prize winner, 1927, 'Creative Evolution'

14 "Full wise is he that can himself know!" Geoffrey Chaucer (1340?-1400), English poet, 'The Monk's Tale' [modernized]

15 "In endowing us with memory, nature has revealed to us a truth utterly unimaginable to the unreflective creation, the truth of immortality." George Santayana (1863-1952), Spanish-born American philosopher, 'Reason in Common Sense'

16 "God is a verb, not a noun." R. Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983), American architect, writer, 'No More Secondhand God'

17 "Religious feeling is as much a verity as any other part of human consciousness." John Tyndall (1820-1893), Irish physicist, 'Fragments of Science'

18 "As to the word 'God',…it is a floating literary symbol, with a value which, if we define it scientifically, becomes quite algebraic." George Santayana (1863-1952), Spanish-born American philosopher, 'Reason in Society'

19 "The pursuit of perfection is the pursuit of sweetness and light….He who works for sweetness and light, works to make reason and the will of God prevail….Culture has a great passion, the passion for sweetness and light. It has one yet even greater! – the passion for making them prevail." Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), English poet, essayist, 'Culture and Anarchy'

20 "Nothing under the sun is accidental." Gotthold E. Lessing (1729-1781), German dramatist, 'Emilia Galotti'

21 "As faintness is a disease of the body, so is vice a sickness of the mind. Wherefore, since we judge those who have corporal infirmities to be rather worthy of compassion than hatred, much more are they to be pitied, and not abhorred, whose minds are oppressed." Boethius (ca. 480-524), Roman philosopher, 'The Consolation of Philosophy'

22 "Dust as we are, the immortal spirit grows like harmony in music; there is a dark inscrutable workmanship that reconciles discordant elements." William Wordsworth (1770-1850), English poet, 'The Prelude'

23 "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." Henry Brooks Adams (1838-1918), American historian

24 "Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. Without books, the development of civilization would have been impossible. They are engines of change, windows on the world, 'lighthouses' (as a poet said) 'erected in the sea of time.' They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind. Books are humanity in print." 'Authors League Bulletin', November-December 1979

25 "Morality is the observance of the rights of others." Dagobert D. Runes (1902-1982), American philosopher, 'Treasury of World Literature'

This body of quotes compiled by JoAnn Kite