Monday, March 26, 2012

A Word or Two

I see it’s been a little while since I recorded here some of the quotations I’m always semi-obsessively collecting from all over the internet. Time to redress that oversight:

    Public opinion rarely considers the needs of the next generation or the history of the last. It is frequently hampered by myths and misinformation, by stereotypes and shibboleths, and by an inate resistance to innovation. —Theodore C. Sorensen, presidential advisor, lawyer, and writer (1928-2010)

    In a library we are surrounded by many hundreds of dear friends imprisoned by an enchanter in paper and leathern boxes. —Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

    To read fast is as bad as to eat in a hurry. —Vilhelm Ekelund, poet (1880-1949)

    In the case of good books, the point is not how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you. —Mortimer J. Adler, philosopher, educator and author (1902-2001)

    Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day. —A. A. Milne author (1882-1956)

    An individual human existence should be like a river: small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being. —Bertrand Russell, philosopher, mathematician, author, Nobel laureate (1872-1970)

    I react pragmatically. Where the market works, I’m for that. Where the government is necessary, I’m for that. I’m deeply suspicious of somebody who says, “I’m in favor of privatization,” or, “I’m deeply in favor of public ownership.” I’m in favor of whatever works in the particular case. —John Kenneth Galbraith, economist (1908-2006)

    I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I’ll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be. —Isaac Asimov, scientist and writer (1920-1992)

    If there is a God, I don’t think He would demand that anyone bow down or stand up to Him. —Rebecca West, author and journalist (1892-1983)

    Habit with him was all the test of truth, / It must be right: I’ve done it from my youth. —George Crabbe, poet and naturalist (1754-1832)

    Pedantry and mastery are opposite attitudes toward rules. To apply a rule to the letter, rigidly, unquestioningly, in cases where it fits and in cases where it does not fit, is pedantry... To apply a rule with natural ease, with judgment, noticing the cases where it fits, and without ever letting the words of the rule obscure the purpose of the action or the opportunities of the situation, is mastery. —George Polya, professor of mathematics (1887-1985)

    I live in the world rather as a spectator of mankind than as one of the species. —Joseph Addison, essayist and poet (1672-1719)

    Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the human heart can hold. —Zelda Fitzgerald, novelist (1900-1948)

    There is as much difference between us and ourselves as between us and others. —Michel de Montaigne, essayist (1533-1592)

    The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it. —Jean-Paul Sartre, writer and philosopher (1905-1980)

    The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another, and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it. —J.M. Barrie, novelist and playwright (1860-1937)

    All men — whether they go by the name of Americans or Russians or Chinese or British or Malayans or Indians or Africans — have obligations to one another that transcend their obligations to their sovereign societies. —Norman Cousins, author, editor, journalist and professor (1915-1990)

    Before we set our hearts too much on anything, let us examine how happy are those who already possess it. —Francois, duc de La Rochefoucauld, moralist (1613-1680)

    Men are not against you; they are merely for themselves. —Gene Fowler, journalist and author (1890-1960)

    Nationalist pride, like other variants of pride, can be a substitute for self-respect. —Eric Hoffer, philosopher and author (1902-1983)

    In an earlier stage of our development most human groups held to a tribal ethic. Members of the tribe were protected, but people of other tribes could be robbed or killed as one pleased. Gradually the circle of protection expanded, but as recently as 150 years ago we did not include blacks. So African human beings could be captured, shipped to America, and sold. In Australia white settlers regarded Aborigines as a pest and hunted them down, much as kangaroos are hunted down today. Just as we have progressed beyond the blatantly racist ethic of the era of slavery and colonialism, so we must now progress beyond the speciesist ethic of the era of factory farming, of the use of animals as mere research tools, of whaling, seal hunting, kangaroo slaughter, and the destruction of wilderness. We must take the final step in expanding the circle of ethics. —Peter Singer, philosopher, professor of bioethics (b. 1946)