Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Will Durant

1885 – 1981 CE

Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons

Apostle for philosophy, Catholic priest vocation drop-out, socialist reporter, librarian, professor who quit so he could marry his much younger 15 year-old student who became his 68-year married wife; Durant became not just an ivory-tower intellectual and academic but someone who put the lessons of history into practical lessons useful for average people. He worked for women’s right to vote, equal wages, better working conditions for American labor, and wrote a "Declaration of Interdependence,” that was read into the Congressional Record and started a movement against racial intolerance 10 years before the Civil Rights Movement. Writing “the most successful historiographical series in history,” and awarded a Pulitzer Prize for literature as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he critiqued the West’s “fatal error of perspective:” Eurocentrism, intolerance and provincialism.

Eras

Sources

Age of Faith

Caesar and Christ

Fallen Leaves

Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

Heroes of History

Life of Greece

Our Oriental Heritage

Pleasures of Philosophy

Reformation

Renaissance

Transition

Unlisted Sources

Fallen Leaves

Fallen Leaves (2014)

Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

Heroes of History, 2001

Heroes of History, 2002

Mansions of Philosophy (1929)

The Story of Philosophy

The Story of Philosophy, 1926

The Works of Schopenhauer

Quotes by Will Durant (270 quotes)

“There is hardly an absurdity of the past that cannot be found flourishing somewhere in the present.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“The success of Confucius was posthumous, but complete… after death had removed the possibility of his insisting upon its realization… and for 2000 years, the doctrine of Confucius moved and dominated the Chinese mind.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

Themes: Confucianism

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“Confucianism checked too thoroughly the natural and vigorous impulse of mankind…kept women in supine debasement… froze the nation into a conservatism hostile to progress... no room was left for pleasure and adventure, little for friendship and love”

Themes: Confucianism

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“Only in Christianity and in Buddhism can we find again so heroic an effort to transmute into decency the natural brutality of men.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“I came to think of myself, not as a dance and chaos of molecules, but as a brief and minute portion of that majestic process”

from Transition

Themes: True Self

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“I became almost reconciled to mortality, knowing that my spirit would survive me enshrined in a fairer mold ... my little worth somehow preserved in the heritage of men.”

from Transition

Themes: Egolessness

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“Where I had seen omnipresent death, I saw now everywhere the pageant and triumph of life.”

from Transition

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“The old agricultural view of the world in terms of seed and growth did far more justice to the complexity and irrepressible expansiveness of things.”

from Transition

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“In all things I saw the passion of life for growth and greatness, the drama of everlasting creation.”

from Transition

Themes: Sacred World

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“the need of a philosophy that would do justice to the infinite vitality of nature [to ] the inexhaustible activity of the atom, the endless resourcefulness of plants, the teeming fertility of animals, the hunger and movement of infants, the laughter and play of children, the love and devotion of youth, the restless ambition of fathers and the lifelong sacrifice of mothers, the undiscourageable researches of scientists and the sufferings of genius, the crucifixion of prophets and the martyrdom of saints”

from Transition

Themes: Philosophy

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“The first real person in known history is not a conqueror or a king but an artist and a scientist — Imhotep, physician, architect and chief adviser of King Zoser”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“Ancient civilizations were little isles in a sea of barbarism, prosperous settlements surrounded by hungry, envious and warlike hunters and herders”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“the majestic monotheism of the founder [Zarathustra] became - as in the case of Christianity - the polytheism of the people”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“legend, which loves personalities more than ideas, attributes to a few individuals the laborious advances of many generations.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“In a society where government, law, and morality are bound up with a religious creed, any attack upon that creed is viewed as menacing the foundation of social order itself.”

from Age of Faith

Themes: Belief Religion

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“Religious sectarianism... turned Western Asia from world leadership to destitution... into the poverty, disease, and stagnation of modern times.”

from Age of Faith

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“For five centuries, from 700 to 1200, Islam led the world in power, order, and extent of government, in refinement of manners, in standards of living, in humane legislation and religious toleration, in literature, scholarship, science, medicine, and philosophy.”

from Age of Faith

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“In spite of earthquakes, epidemics, famines, eruptive migrations and catastrophic wars; the continuity of history reasserts itself and the essential processes of civilization are not lost – snatching them from the conflagration, some younger culture takes them up”

from Age of Faith

Themes: Continuity

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“Civilization is polygenetic – as generations are moments in a family line, civilizations are units in a larger whole whose name is history.”

from Age of Faith

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“No one who studies history (the co-operative product of many peoples, ranks, and faiths) can be a bigot of race or creed and so naturally feels themself to be a Citizen of the World, a member of that Mind Country that knows no frontiers, no political prejudices, racial discriminations, or religious animosities.”

from Age of Faith

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“Civilization is always older than we think; and under whatever sod we tread are the bones of men and women who also worked and loved, wrote songs and made beautiful things, but whose names and very being have been lost in the careless flow of time.”

from Life of Greece

Themes: Time Impermanence

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“Christianity, itself a mystery religion of atonement and hope, of mystic union and release keeps the basic ideas and ritual of the Orphic cults alive and flourishing today.”

from Life of Greece

Themes: Christianity

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“What did it matter which religion we professed or which philosophy we believed, any more than which language we spoke or what clothes we wore?”

from Transition

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“We can always trust the tongue to conceal the heart.”

from Transition

Themes: Deception

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“What can one weak individual do when the species announces to him that his time has come?”

from Transition

Themes: Free Will

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“After all, what does it matter what price we pay for love?”

from Transition

Themes: Love

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“We would go off to bill and coo, to thrill and woo, and all the dogs in Christendom might howl their moralistic protest unhonored and unheard.”

from Transition

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

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“Love is a cannibal of friendships.”

from Transition

Themes: Friendship

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“I said nothing. I had learned that this is usually the best thing to say.”

from Transition

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“Our philosophy is a function of our age of life. We pass through utopias and idealism to knowledge and limitation”

from Transition

Themes: Old Age

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“The true City of God: that fair and pleasant Country of the Mind where all the great dead are still alive, and wisdom makes with beauty an eternal music.”

from Transition

Themes: Shambhala Music

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“In every generation, civilization is the laborious product and precarious obligating privilege of an engulfed minority.”

from Age of Faith

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“The Inquisition left its evil mark on European society, made torture a recognized part of legal procedure, and drove men back from the adventure of reason into a fearful and stagnant conformity.”

from Age of Faith

Themes: Evil Conformity

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“Civilization doesn’t die, it migrates.”

Themes: Continuity

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“No language has ever had a word for a virgin man.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“Underneath all civilization, ancient or modern, moved and still moves a sea of magic, superstition and sorcery. Perhaps they will remain when the works of our reason have passed away.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

Themes: Magic

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“This is the tragedy of almost every civilization—that its soul is in its faith, and seldom survives philosophy.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“The first stage in the evolution of law is personal revenge... It appears in Roman and Mosaic Law, the Code of Hammurabi... and lurks behind most legal punishments even in our day. The second step was the substitution of damages for revenge.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

Themes: Law and Order

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“the essential government of mankind remains in that most deep-rooted of all historic institutions, the family.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

Themes: Family Government

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“In some existing tribes and probably in the earliest human groups, the physiological role of the male in reproduction appears to have escaped notice quite as completely as among animals who rut and mate and breed with happy unconsciousness of cause and effect.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“Most economic advances in early society were made by the woman rather than the man… she developed agriculture, made cotton cloth, developed sewing, weaving, basketry, pottery, woodworking, building, primitive trade, and slowly added man to her list of domesticated animals training him in those social dispositions which are the psychological basis and cement of civilization.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“Marriage began as a form of the law of property, as a part of the institution of slavery.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

Themes: Marriage

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“The advance from the hoe to the plough put a premium upon physical strength and enabled the man to assert his supremacy leading to the sexual subordination of woman… mother-right yielded to father-right… The gods, who had been mostly feminine, became great bearded patriarchs… the man was lord, the woman was servant.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“The position of women in early societies was one of subjection verging upon slavery. Her periodic disability, her unfamiliarity with weapons, the biological absorption of her strength in carrying, nurturing, and rearing children, handicapped her in the war of the sexes and doomed her to a subordinate status”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“Powerful economic motives must have favored the evolution of marriage. In all probability... connected with the rising institution of property.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“Agriculture, while generating civilization, led not only to private property but to slavery. In purely hunting communities, slavery had been unknown”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“He remained vain to the end, merely pluming himself on his achievements instead of his appearance; but this is a fault that only the greatest saints can shun.”

from Renaissance

Themes: Humility

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“They botch every natural process with theory; their ability to make speeches and multiply ideas is precisely the sign of their incapacity for action.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“The artist's most important work lies in conception rather than in execution 'men of genius do most when they work least.' (Vasari)”

from Renaissance

Themes: Less is More

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“The last word must be one of humility... We need not be ashamed to worship heroes, if our sense of discrimination is not left outside their shrines.”

from Renaissance

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“in the presence of a mother tending her child, or of a genius giving order to chaos, meaning to matter, nobility to form or thought, we feel as close as we shall ever be to the life and mind and law that constitute the unintelligible intelligence of the world.”

from Renaissance

Themes: Sacred World

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“Usually a supreme artist is the culmination of a tradition [and] his very superiority fulfills and exhausts development so that after him must come a period of helpless imitation and decline. Then slowly a new tradition grows...”

from Renaissance

Themes: Creativity

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“It is almost a law of history that the same wealth that generates a civilization announces its decay. For wealth produces ease as well as art; it softens a people to the ways of luxury and peace, invites invasion from stronger arms and hungrier mouths.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“In the end nothing is lost; for good or evil, every event has effects forever.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“Barbarism is always around civilization, amidst it and beneath it, ready to engulf it by arms, or mass migrations, or unchecked fertility. Barbarism is like the jungle; it never admits its defeat”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“A nation, like an individual, can be too sensible, too prosaically sane and unbearably right... an intellectual bureaucracy irksome and hostile to every free and creatively erring soul.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“The Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious good, whose delicate complex of order and freedom, culture and peace, can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe's languages: she was the mother of our philosophy; mother, through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics; mother, through the Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity; mother, through the village community, of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

Themes: Hinduism

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“Hinduism will teach us the tolerance and gentleness of mature mind, understanding spirit, and a unifying, pacifying love for all human beings.”

Themes: Hinduism

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“His narratives are swift and vivid, his simple morality is sincere, and the splendor of his language lifts to a passing grandeur even the humblest themes.”

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“Kangxi gave China the most prosperous, peaceful, and enlightened reign in the nation's history.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“Abélard—not merely a philosopher nor as a flame that set the mind of Latin Europe afire in the twelfth-century; but as, with Héloïse, part and personification of the morals and literature and highest fascination of their time.”

from Age of Faith

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“The Copernicus and Darwin of his age”

from Life of Greece

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“What we like in Schopenhauer is his honesty. How refreshing it is to turn to him from philosophers who dig their heals into the sand at the sight or the mention of evil... Schopenhauer opens both eyes without pity and without fear. Let the truth be spoken mercilessly!”

from The Works of Schopenhauer

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“Philosophers tend to look upon themselves as apologists for the cosmos, press-agents for the Deity; the smell of theology is still strong upon them, and they are never quite content until they have justified all the ways of God to man.”

from The Works of Schopenhauer

Themes: Philosophy

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“Civilization begins with order, grows with liberty, and dies with chaos.”

from The Story of Philosophy

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“Every science begins as philosophy and ends as art... Philosophy accepts the hard and hazardous task of dealing with problems not yet open to the methods of science—good and evil, beauty and ugliness, order and freedom, life and death. When the inquiry yields knowledge susceptible of exact formulation, it is called science.”

from The Story of Philosophy

Themes: Science

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“Moral reform is the most difficult and delicate branch of statemenship; few rulers have dared to attempt it, most have left it to hypocrites and saints.”

from Caesar and Christ

Themes: Leadership

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“a masterly storyteller, but a middling philosopher, an amateur in everything but war... Xenophon began, like Philip, with a vision of conquest; he ends, like Alexander, captivated by the people he thought to conquer.”

from Life of Greece

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“[When asked, 'Of all the characters populating The Story of Civilization, whom wold you have most like to have known,' he answered] Madame De Pompadour... she was beautiful, she was charming, she was luscious—what else do you want?”

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“a moral philosopher rather than a preacher of religious faith [Confucius] far more resembles Socrates than Jesus… His followers foresaw the timeless influence he was to have in molding the courtesy and poise and placid wisdom of the Chinese.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“I see men standing on the edge of knowledge, and holding the light a little farther ahead... history not as a dreary scene of politics and carnage, but as the struggle of man to understand, control, and remake himself and the world.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

Themes: History Progress

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“Our democratic dogma has leveled not only all voters but all leaders; we delight to show that living geniuses are only mediocrities, and that dead ones are myths... Since it is contrary to good manners to exalt ourselves, we achieve the same result by slyly indicating how inferior are the great”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“The influence of Darwin is still greater than the influence of Marx... The basic phenomenon of our time is not Communism; it's the decline of religious belief, which has all sorts of effects on morals and even on politics because religion has been a tool of politics.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“Humor is akin to philosophy for they are both viewpoints born of a large perspective of life.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“Why do we love Plato? Because he himself was a lover... because of his high passion for social reconstruction... because he worshiped beauty as well as truth... because he was alive every minute of his life... because he conceived philosophy as an instrument not merely for the interpretation but for the remolding of the world... because of his wild nomadic play of fancy, the joy he found in life... and because he retained throughout his 80 years that zeal for human improvement which is for most of us the passing luxury of youth.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

Themes: Carpe diem

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“Though surely the greatest martyr of philosophy, Socrates is half a myth, and only half a man. He owes his fame as a philosopher to the creative imagination of Plato who used him as the mouthpiece of his views. How much of Platos's Socrates was Socrates, and how much of it was Plato, we shall probably never know.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

Themes: Fame

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“Francis Bacon... who mapped out the unconquered fields of research, pointed a hundred sciences to their tasks, foretold their unbelievable victories, proclaimed the mission of thought as the resolute extension of the mastery of man over the conditions of his life, and turned the gaze of science to the self-revealing face of nature, who sent out a challenge to all the lovers and servants of truth everywhere.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“Sure that all truth must be good and beautiful and would make men free, Copernicus—with the magic of his mathematics—transformed a geocentric and anthropocentric universe into a kaleidoscope of planets and stars... No book in history created a greater revolution... With him modernity begins, With him secularism begins. With him reason makes its French Revolution against an immemorially enthroned faith, a revolution that compelled man to become of age.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

Themes: Revolution

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“Only supreme artists like Virgil or Horace can produce good verse to governmental specifications; greater men would refuse, lesser men are unable to comply.”

from Caesar and Christ

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“Ovid, the great romanticist of a classic age, used a simple vocabulary that made him a pleasure to read. He developed scenes vividly realized with insight and imagery, characters brought to life by touches of psychological subtlety, and phrases compact with experience or thought—all with an unfailing grace of speech and flowing ease of line... here is the treasury from which 100,000 poems, paintings, and statues have taken their themes.”

from Caesar and Christ

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“Matter as known to us, is but a form of mind [and] the supreme figure in this idealistic development was Immanuel Kant, perfect archetype of the abstract philosopher who brought back to life, magician-wise, the dear beliefs of the ancient faith. Even Schopenhauer and Nietzsche accepted his reduction of the world to mere appearance as the indispensable preliminary to every possible philosophy. And then Darwin came…”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

Themes: Mind

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“Darwin offered a world-picture totally different from that which had contented the mind of man before. His name will stand as a turning point in the intellectual development of our Western civilization. If he was right, men will have to date from 1859 the beginning of modern thought.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

Themes: Evolution

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“If you are you interested in the puzzles of the mind, read the Parmenides. If you are you interested in anything, read the Republic. Here you will find metaphysics, theology, ethics, psychology, theory of education, theory of statemanship, theory of art; here you will find feminism, communism and socialism with all their virtues and difficulties, eugenics and libertarian education, aristocracy and democracy, vitalism and psychoanalysis—what shall you not find here?”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“What Dante achieves at last is sublimity. And because he loved order as well as liberty, and bound his passion and vision into form, he achieved a poem of such sculptured power that no man since has equaled it. The secret of his character was a flaming intensity and all Europe was inspired by his battle and his art, by his story of a proud exile who had gone to hell, and had returned, and had never smiled again.”

from Age of Faith

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“[Shakespeare] became William the Conqueror to all the dramatists of his time, and has ruled the English-speaking world ever since. His rich and riotous energy was the source of his genius and his faults; it brought him the depth and passion of his plays, and it brought him twins and an early death.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“A man should never read his reviewers, nor be too curious about the verdict of posterity.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

Themes: Curiosity Fame

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“Another Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas—a man who took the universe for his specialty, and flung a frail bridge of reason across the chasms between knowledge and belief—unified knowledge interpreting it, and focusing it all upon the great problems of life and death. Even today, his thought is reverenced as still sounder than science, and his philosophy is the official systems of the most power church in Christendom.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“Who were the great thinkers of Rome? Lucretius first and finest of all. Yet, because his philosophy was not his own, but with modest candor ascribed to Epicurus, and because his influence upon his own people and upon posterity was esoteric and sporadic, touching only the topmost minds, we shall have to let him stand outside our circle [of the 10 greatest minds of all time].”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“Called by the Middle Ages, The Philosopher, Confucius alone has had as great an influence. But it is not that we love him; his texts expound so monotonously a passionless moderation that—after feeling the radiance of Plato—freeze at the touch of his tempered mind. But, an intellect of almost unbelievable depth and range, we shall not find again another name that so long inspired and enthralled the minds of men.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

Themes: Confucianism

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“The "gentle philosopher," Spinoza, polisher of lenses and God-intoxicated man; silent devotee of lonely speculation, and formulator of the metaphysics of modern science; lover of mechanics and geometry, martyr to philosophy... He belongs to the islanded aristocracy of thought, and the world has not mounted to him yet.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“In Descartes the new struggles in the arms of the new, and never quite liberates itself.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“In the great unifying soul of Leibnitz, the medieval tradition is still powerful enough to turn a mathematician into a precarious theologian.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“In Immanuel Kant, the voice of ancestral faith speaks amid the skepticism of the Enlightenment.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“Voltaire began the great age of the Enlightenment. Things came to him dull and he made them radiant. Never did one man teach so many, or with such irresistible artistry. As all Europe bowed to the scepter of his pen, so the great leaders of the mind in later centuries honored him as the fountainhead of the intellectual enlightenment. If we forget to honor Voltaire, we become unworthy of freedom.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“Newton's Principia marked the quiet assumption by science of its now unchallenged mastery over modern thought... Even in his lifetime, the world understood that Newton belonged to its heroes.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“The embodiment of all that poetry means, no one was ever more completely or exclusively a poet. No one would have thought, seeing this delicate lad, never quite adult, that he had set all England fuming with his heresies.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“Demosthenes strikes us as a little less than great. He laid the secret of oratory in acting... We are amused by his histrionics, amazed by his self-esteem, confused by his digressions, and appalled by his ungracious scurrility. There is little wit in him, little philosophy. Only his patriotism redeems him, and the apparent sincerity of his despairing cry for freedom.”

from Life of Greece

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“Of Antoninus there is no history, for he had almost no faults and committed no crimes... He gave the Empire the most equitable—and not the least efficient—government it would ever have.”

from Caesar and Christ

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“Here the greatest historian of all time tells the story not of dying Rome alone, but of that infancy of northern Europe we know as the Middle Ages, the rise of the Papacy, the conversion of Constantine and the coronation of Charlemagne, the bloody tale of Muhammed and his generals... life is not so important that we may not spare the unhurried calm needed to drink in the wisdom of his comments and the music of his periods.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“Are we to be fed on predigested food, in the fashion of an American breakfast? Worse still, The Outline of History—bugbear of all proper historians—is unforgivable.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“Avicenna achieved as well as any man the ever-sought reconciliation between the faith of the people and the reasoning of the philosophers marking the apex of medieval thought and constituting one of of the major syntheses in the history of the mind.”

from Age of Faith

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“Muhammad was an unscrupulous warrior, and a just judge... He perfumed his body, painted his eyes, dyed his hair. His senses were painfully keen; he could not bear evil odors, jangling bells, or loud talk. He was nervous and restless, subject to melancholy, then suddenly talkative and gay. If we judge greatness by influence, he was one of the giants of history. Seldom has any man so fully realized his dream. When he began, Arabia was a desert flotsam of idolatrous tribes; when he died it was a nation.”

from Age of Faith

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“Upon Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and his native creed, Muhammad built a religion simple and clear and strong, and a morality of ruthless courage and racial price, which in a generation marched to 100 victories, in a century to empire, and remains to this day a virile force throughout half the world.”

from Age of Faith

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“Even America, so crass and young, can produce a poet unique and among the best… It was a great revolution in the history of literature when a man appeared who saw the elements of poetry, the scene of the human drama, in the very life about him; who found a way to put into song the spirit of the pioneer, and who saw that there was more poetry out under the stars than in all the salons of an unnatural life… And so truly did he see and sing that at last he became not only the poet of democracy and America, but, by the greatness of his soul and the universality of his vision, the poet of the modern world.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“In Homer’s day life was action, and Homer was action’s prophet. Through his turbulent hexameters, the story runs like some broad and power stream, his verse and style, dictated by action… We give his name to all the poets who compound these tales because we are at ease with unity, and dislike the fragmentariness of truth”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“David was a fascinating brigand who made himself rich with robbery, usurped the throne of Saul, stole other men's wives, broke every commandment, and is honored by posterity as the pious author of the Psalms. But these were composed by many hands, and any hand but David's”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“The finest songs ever written, and immeasurably the most influential... never was religious feeling so powerfully or so beautifully expressed... No matter who wrote them, or when; there they are, the profoundest lyrics in literature, so vivid with ecstasy that even those who doubt all dogmas feel in the blood a strange response to their music.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“With all the power of Shakespeare, this reckless dramatist—strong enough to speak out, brave enough in the very fever of war to show its futile bestiality and brave enough to show the Greeks to the Greeks as barbarians in victory, and their enemies as heroes in defeat—became a denouncer of slavery, critic and understanding defender of women, doubter of all certainties, and lover of all men.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

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“It is in Dostoevsky that we find our secret hearts revealed, and our secret longings understood”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

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“The greatest poet as well as the greatest philosopher of Rome, Lucretius was a strange man, nervous and unstable—a man born for peace but forced to live in the midst of Caesar's alarms; a man with the make-up of a mystic and a saint, hardening himself into a materialist and a skeptic.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

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“Hadrian reorganized the government and kept watch over every branch. Favoring the poor against the rich, the weak against the strong, under his care the Empire was better governed than ever before or afterward.”

from Heroes of History, 2002

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“History is a part of philosophy, an attempt to achieve a large perspective on life and reality, an attempt to achieve philosophical perspective by a study of events in time—a large perspective that determines our attitudes toward all parts of reality and life.”

from Heroes of History, 2001

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“Greatest of all dialogues, of course, is the Republic, being the fullest exposition of Plato's philosophy, and in its earlier parts a dramatic conflict of personalities and idea... Their form entitles them to as high a place in the annals of literature as their content has given them in the history of thought.”

from Life of Greece

Themes: Conflict

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“Popular theologians took the misty doctrine of Lao Tzu and gradually transformed it into a religion. People flocked to it, built temples, supported its priesthood and poured into the new faith their inexhaustible superstitious lore. Lao Tzu was made a god... For a thousand years the Taoist faith had millions of adherents, converted many emperors, and fought long battle of intrigue to wrest from the Confucians the divine right to tax and spend.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

Themes: Taoism

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“When Cambridge dismissed him for his pacifism, this new Pythagoras made the world his university, and became a traveling Sophist (in the original sense of that once noble word)... All in all, a very lovable man: capable of the profoundest metaphysics and the subtlest mathematics, and yet speaking always simply, with the clarity which comes only to those who are sincere

from The Story of Philosophy, 1926

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“Our schools are the open sesame to Utopia... There is nothing that man might not do if our splendid organization of schools and universities were properly developed and properly manned, and directed intelligently to the reconstruction of human character.”

from The Story of Philosophy, 1926

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“It's delightful to contemplate a society where art is more respected than wealth; but, art can only be the flower that grows out of wealth. It cannot be wealth's substitute. The Medici came before Michelangelo”

from The Story of Philosophy, 1926

Themes: Wealth Art

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“The end is happiness, and philosophy is only a means; if we take it as an end, we become like the Hindu mystic whose life-purpose is to concentrate upon his navel.”

from The Story of Philosophy, 1926

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“Perhaps the butterflies—if they could speak—would remind us that a museum (like a materialist philosophy) is only a showcase of lifeless things; the the reality of the world eludes these tragic preservations, and resides again in the pangs of passion, in the ever-changing and never-ending flow of life.”

from The Story of Philosophy, 1926

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“The middle classes, as well as the rich, began to distrust democracy as empowered envy, and the poor began to distrust it as a sham equality of votes stultified by a gaping inequality of wealth.”

from Heroes of History

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“Everyone loved Li Tai-po—the Keats of China—for he spoke with the same pride and friendliness to both paupers and kings. However, starvation is the natural reward of poetry and his last years were bitter because he never stopped to make money. His old age was filled with imprisonment, condemnation to death, pardon, and every experiment in suffering.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“Our human life is always a hell, says the poet (Dante) until wisdom (Virgil) purges us of evil desire, and love (Beatrice) lifts us to happiness and peace.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

Themes: Peace Desire

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“Faustina whose pretty face has come down to us in many a sculptured portrait, may not have relished sharing bed and board with incarnate philosophy; she was a level creature, who longed for a gayer life than his [Marcus Aurelius’] sober nature could give her.”

from Caesar and Christ

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“Marcus was too good to be great enough to discipline him or renounce him [his son Commodus]; he kept on hoping that education and responsibility would sober him and make him grow into a king.”

from Caesar and Christ

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“A mature and subtle, though too sombre, soul has written itself down quietly, in statuesque and classic prose. And though we may not like its minor key, its undertone of sweet regret for a vanished world, we see it it the finished expression of this dying and nascent age, in which men cannot be altogether wise and free, because they have abandoned their old ideas and have not yet found the new ones that shall lure them nearer to perfection.”

from The Story of Philosophy, 1926

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“Go, then, to William James… Until you have surrounded James, you need not bother with such transitory psychological fashions as psychoanalysis and behaviorism, and when you have absorbed James, you will be immune to these epidemics.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

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“When will philosophy learn to leave to religion these perplexing problems of another life and give itself with all its strength to the illumination of human purposes and the coordination and elevation of human life?... Philosophy, like everything else, must secularize itself; it must stay on the earth and earn its keep by illuminating life.”

from The Story of Philosophy, 1926

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“Dewey wrote the philosophy—as Whitman wrote the poetry—not of one English state, but of the continent... he rejects metaphysics as the echo and disguise of theology [and] what distinguishes him is the undisguised completeness with which he accepts the evolution theory... All progressive teachers acknowledge his leadership; and there is hardly a school in America that has not felt his influence.”

from The Story of Philosophy, 1926

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“We must unlearn our ideas about an unchangeable human nature and an omnipotent environment. There is no knowable limit to change or growth; and perhaps there is nothing impossible but thinking makes it so.”

from The Story of Philosophy, 1926

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“Sophocles—a ‘classic’ artist clinging to a broken faith—fashioned the art with measured music and placid wisdom. This combination of philosophy with poetry, action, music, song and dance made Greek drama not only a new form in the history of literature, but one that achieved a grandeur never equaled again.”

from Life of Greece

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“Europe knows Persian poetry chiefly through Omar Khayyam, an advanced freethinker, constrained by prudence to bridle his tongue. He rejected theology with patient scorn, boasted of stealing prayer rugs from a mosque, and raised intoxication almost to a world philosophy. Picture him as an old savant quietly content with cubic equations, a few constellations, astronomic charts, and sharing an occasional cup with fellow scholars.”

from Age of Faith

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“Greece did not begin civilization—it inherited far more civilization than it began; it was the spoiled heir of three millenniums of arts and sciences brought to its cities from the Near East... the real founders of European and American civilization.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“Despite much research, we cannot tell of what race the Sumerians were, nor by what route they entered Sumeria... a synthesis of rough beginnings and occasional but brilliant mastery... Here within the limits of our present understanding [we find] the first states and empires, the first irrigation, the first use of gold and silver, the first business contracts, the first credit system, the first code of law, the first extensive development of writing, the first libraries and schools, the first literature and poetry, the first cosmetics and jewelry, the first sculpture, the first palaces and temples... the first large scale sins of civilization: slavery, despotism, ecclesiasticism, and imperialistic war.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“Through the Phoenicians, the Syrians and the Jews, through the Cretans, the Greeks and the Romans, what the civilization of Egypt accomplished at the very dawn of history has influence in every nation and every age... agriculture, metallurgy, industry and engineering; the apparent invention of glass and linen, of paper and ink, of the calendar and the clock, of geometry and the alphabet... of census and post... the first cry fro social justice, the first widespread monogamy, the first monotheism, the first essays in moral philosophy”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“The civilization of Babylonia was not as fruitful for humanity as Egypt’s, not as varied and profound as India’s not as subtle and mature as China’s. And yet is was from Babylonia, rather than from Egypt, that the roving Greeks brought to their city-states—and from there to Rome and ourselves—the foundations of mathematics, astronomy, medicine, grammar, lexicography, archeology, history, and philosophy… the civilization of the Land between the Rivers passed down into the cultural endowment of our race.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“Procleus approached philosophy through mathematics… gave it a superficially scientific form but he felt the mystic mood of Neoplatonism too; by fasting and purification, he thought, one might enter into into communion with supernatural beings.”

from Age of Faith

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“Not that the form of the Iliad is perfect; the structure is loose, the narrative is sometimes contradictory or obscure, the conclusion does not conclude; nevertheless the perfection of the parts atones for the disorder of the whole, and with all its minor faults the story becomes one of the great dramas of literature, perhaps of history.”

from Life of Greece

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“In France, we have wavered between Voltaire defending reason with wit and Rousseau pleading with tears for the rights of feeling.”

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“No other soul has ever been so influential... let us take the date of Buddha as the beginning of a civilization that has known every vicissitude, every injustice, every slavery, and yet in the midst of it has produced geniuses and saints from Buddha and Ashoka to Gandhi and Tagore.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

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“Buddhism does not follow Buddha, but is a mass of legends and superstitions that have no more right to use his name than the ferocious Christianity of Calvin or Torquemada or Tennessee has to use the name of Christ.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

Themes: Buddhism

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“The humanists captivated the mind of Italy, turned it from religion to philosophy, from heaven to earth, and revealed to an astonished generation the riches of pagan thought and art.”

from Renaissance

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“These multiplying inventions are the new organs with which we control our environment... menial labor that degraded both master and man is lifted from human shoulders... man will be freed for the tasks of the mind.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

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“We think there is more violence in the world than before, but in truth there are only more newspapers; vast and powerful organizations scour the planet for crimes and scandals that will console their readers for stenography and monogamy.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

Themes: Aggression

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“Our prevailing mode of marriage—chaotic and deliquescent as it is—represents a pleasant refinement on marriage by capture or purchase... there is less brutality between men and women... The emancipation of woman and her ascendancy over man indicate an unprecedented gentility in the once murderous male.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

Themes: Marriage

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“Love—unknown to primitive men, or only as a hunger of the flesh—has flowered into a magnificent garden of song and sentiment, in which the passion of a man for a maid, though vigorously rooted in physical need, rises like incense into the realm of living poetry.”

from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

Themes: Poetry Sex

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“a man is as old as his arteries and as young as his ideas.”

from Mansions of Philosophy (1929)

Themes: Old Age

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“Plotinus—the culmination of this mystic theosophy—restored the repute of philosophy by living like a saint amid the luxuries of Rome... an idealist who graciously recognized the existence of matter... Plotinus is the last of the great pagan philosophers; and like Epictetus and Aurelius, he is a Christian without Christ.”

from Caesar and Christ

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“Picture Democritus, the Laughing Philosopher; would he not be perilous company for the desiccated scholastics who have made the disputes about the reality of the external world take the place of medieval discourses on the number of angels that could sit on the point of a pin?”

from Pleasures of Philosophy

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“We are being destroyed by knowledge, which has made us drunk with our power. And we shall not be saved without wisdom.”

from Pleasures of Philosophy

Themes: Wisdom

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“Picture Thales who met the challenge that philosophers were numbskulls by 'cornering the market' and making a fortune in a year.”

from Pleasures of Philosophy

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“PIcture Anaxagoras, who did the work of Darwin for the Greeks, and turned Pericles from a wine-pulling politician into a thinker and a statesman.”

from Pleasures of Philosophy

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“The field of philosophy is not some petty puzzle hiding in the clouds and destitute of interest or influence in the affairs of mankind, but the vast and total problem of the meaning and value and possibilities of man in this boundless and fluent world.”

from Pleasures of Philosophy

Themes: Philosophy

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“Can we again conceive philosophy as unified knowledge unifying life? Can we outline a kind of philosophy that might make its lovers capable of ruling first themselves and then a state, men worthy to be philosopher-kings?”

from Pleasures of Philosophy

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“The basic reality in life is not politics, nor industry, but human relationships—the associations of a man with a woman... the family is greater than the State, devotion and despair sink deeper into the heart than economic strife, in the end our happiness lies not in possessions, place, or power, but in the gift and return of love.”

from Pleasures of Philosophy

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“Magic is the father of science... Many of the most famous and trusted cures in history were magical... It was to the advantage of the magicial to study causes and effects, to find natural means of accomplishing the desired end... our scientists in every filed of research are the direct descendants of those ancient magicians.”

from Pleasures of Philosophy

Themes: Magic

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“Divorce is like travel: it is useless if we cannot change ourselves... all wives and husbands are substantially alike”

from Pleasures of Philosophy

Themes: Travel

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“Man is secretly and ravenously polygamous... and yet the earlier the love, the fresher and deeper it must be; no man can love after 30 with the ardor and self-abandonment of youth... if we could find a way to restore marriage to its natural age, we should at one stroke reduce by half the prostitution, the venereal disease, the fruitless celibacy, the morbid chastity, and the experimental perversions that stigmatize our contemporary life.”

from Pleasures of Philosophy

Themes: Marriage

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“Let us ask the Gods not for possessions, but for things to do; happiness is in making things rather than consuming them.”

from Fallen Leaves (2014)

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“Life is that which can hold a purpose for three thousand years and never yield. The individual fails, but life succeeds. The individual is foolish, but life holds in its blood and seed the wisdom of generations. The individual dies, but life, tireless and undiscourageble, goes on, wondering, longing, planning, trying, mounting, longing.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“Childhood may be defined as the age of play; therefore some children are never young, and some adults are never old.”

from Fallen Leaves (2014)

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“The lady butterfly is 15 times as long, and 10 times as heavy, as the male. Among insects, the female is almost always larger and stronger than the male.”

from Pleasures of Philosophy

Themes: Butterfly

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“The legend of Faust came to bitter life in Henry Cornelius Agrippa... he learned that no magic or alchemy could feed his family or keep him out of jail for debt. He wrote at the age of 39 the most skeptical book of the the 16th century before Montaigne and probably had a share in forming Montaigne's skepticism.”

from Reformation

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“The Renaissance was enamored of literature and style, politely interested in philosophy, almost indifferent to science... the development of the Inquisition in Italy, and the dogmatic decrees of the Council of Trent made scientific studies increasingly difficult and dangerous after 1555.”

from Reformation

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“In 1300 Russia did not exist... united only in common subjection to the Golden Horde, the chief results from this long subjection were social: the autocracy of the Moscow dukes, the servile loyalty of the people to their princes, the low status of woman, the military, financial, and judicial organization of the government on Tartar lines... The Russian people faced the most arduous conditions with silent stoicism”

from Reformation

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“No other contemporary writer equaled his fame... One Oxford bookseller reported in 1520 that a third of all his sales were of works by Erasmus... In the field of literature, he was the Renaissance and humanism embodied”

from Reformation

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“the most famous philosopher of the 14th century, William of Ockham... did not wait till death to burn; his whole life was one of hot controversy, cooled only by occasional imprisonment... His life, adventures, and aims prefigure Voltaire's and perhaps his effect was a great.”

from Reformation

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“Just as Shankara in 8th century India brought the scattered insights of the Upanishads into an intellectual system; and just as Aquinas in 13th century Europe wove Aristotle and St. Paul into the Scholastic philosophy; so Zhu Xi took the loose apothegms of Confucius and built upon them a system of philosophy strong enough to preserve for 7 centuries the Confucian leadership in Chinese political and intellectual life.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“[Islam's] greatest theologian, the Augustine and the Kant of Islam, Al-Ghazali... returned through mysticism to all orthodox views... even Christian theologians were glad to find such a defense of religion. After him, philosophy hid itself in the remote corners of the Moslem world; the pursuit of science waned; and the mind of Islam more and more buried itself... the victorious mysticism of al-Ghazali put a cloture on speculative thought”

from Age of Faith

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“Mohammedanism, like Christianity, was a developing and adjustable religion which would have startled a reborn Mohammed or Christ... Sufi devotees abandoned family life, lived in religious fraternities under a master, and called themselves dervish (mendicants). Some by prayer and meditation, some by ascetic self-denial, others in the exhaustion that followed wild dancing, sought to transcend the self and rise to a wonder-working unity with God.”

from Age of Faith

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“No man would believe them; and the people of Venice gave to the youngest and most garrulous of them the nickname 'Marco Millions,' because his tale was full of numbers so large and marvelous. Marco accepted this fate with good cheer, for they had brought back with them many precious stones that gave them such wealth”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“I voted for Roosevelt as long as he lived. I rank him among our greatest presidents. He rescued democracy abroad by coming to the aid of France and England in 1941; he rescued democracy at home by making government the instrument of the common weal instead of the servant of capital.”

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“In 1957, Congress sanctioned 'the Eisenhower Doctrine' which pledged the US to aid any Middle East nation threatened by 'International Communism'... Whenever an impoverished people rises in protest against economic exploitation or political tyranny, we are pledged, on request from an endangered government to suppress the revolt.”

from Fallen Leaves (2014)

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“There is nothing in socialism that a little age or a little money will not cure.”

Themes: Socialism

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“The Locrians required any man who wished to propose a new law to speak with a rope around his neck, so that, if his motion failed, he might be hanged with a minimum of public inconvenience.”

from Life of Greece

Themes: Law and Order

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“The mythopoetic, theopoetic proess is natural, and goes on today as always; there is a birth rate as well as a death rate of the gods; deity is like energy, and its quantiy remains, through all vicissitudes of form, approximately unchanged from generation to generation.”

from Life of Greece

Themes: God

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“This god was identified by Xenophanes with the universe... all change in history, and all separateness in things, are superficial phenomena; beneath the flux and variety of forms is an unchanging unity, which is the innermost reality of God. From this starting point, Xenophanes's disciple, Parmenides, proceeded to that idealistic philosophy what was in turn to mold the thought of Plato and Platonists throughout antiquity, and of Europe even to our day.”

from Life of Greece

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“All in all, the philosophy of Heraclitus is among the major products of the Greek mind... he illuminates all life and conduct... the unity of opposites revived vigorously in Hegel, the idea of change came back into its own with Bergson, the conception of strife and struggle as determining all things reappears in Darwin, Spencer, and Nietzsche”

from Life of Greece

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“So prominent was the Jewish role in the foreign commerce of Europe that those nations that received the Jews gained and the countries that excluded them lost in the volume of international trade.”

from Reformation

Themes: Judaism

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“Emperor Fu Xi—with the help of his enlightened Queen—taught his people marriage, music, writing, painting, fishing with nets, the domestication of animals, and the feeding of silkworms for the secretion of silk.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“Dying, [Fu Xi] appointed as his successor [Shen Nung] who introduced agriculture, invented the wooden plow, established markets and trade, and developed the science of medicine from the curative value of plants.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“A vigorous soldier-emperor, Huangdi, in a reign of a mere century, gave China the magnet and the wheel, appointed official historians, built the first brick structures in China, erected an observatory for the study of the stars, corrected the calendar, and redistributed the land.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“Stoicism— which had begun y preaching strength—was ending by preaching resignation. For 400 years Stoicism had been to the upper classes a substitute for religion; now the substitute was put aside... It had conquered philosophy; but already its temple precincts heard reverently the names of invading deities... the incredible victory of Christ.”

from Caesar and Christ

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“Civilization, like life, destroys what it has perfected... alternation between centralized and decentralized power is one of the cyclical rhythms of history”

from Our Oriental Heritage

Themes: Middle Way

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“The laws of Hammurabi became for all ancient societies a legacy comparable to Rome's gift of order and government to the modern world.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“the natural inequality of men was producing a new degree of comfort and luxury for the strong, and a new routine of hard and disciplined labor for the rest. The theme was struck on which history would strum its myriad variations.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“It is no discredit to our species that in all ages its curiosity has outrun its wisdom, and its ideals have set an impossible pace for its behavior.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“'Nature' is a term that may lend itself to any ethic and any theology; it fits the science of Darwin and the unmorality of Nietzsche more snugly than the sweet reasonableness of Lao Tzu and Christ.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“As India is par excellence the land of metaphysics and religion, China is by like preeminence the home of humanistic, or non-theological philosophy.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“Almost the only important work of metaphysics in its literature is the strange document with which the recorded history of Chinese thought begins—the I Ching, or 'Book of Changes.' All science and history were contained in the changeful interplay of the combinations; all wisdom lay hidden in the 64 hsiangs... all reality could be reduced to the opposition and union of these two basic factors—the male and female principles, the yang and the yin.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“it is one of the most culpable oversights of nature that virtue and beauty so often come in separate packages”

from Our Oriental Heritage

Themes: Virtue

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“Like Voltaire, Mencius preferred monarchy to democracy, on the ground that in democracy it is necessary to educate all if the government is to succeed, while under monarchy it is only required that the philosopher should bring one man—the king—to wisdom in order to produce the perfect state.”

from Our Oriental Heritage

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“I would make health a required course in every year of schooling... have our physicians [teach] preventative health in the classroom... form follows function, functin follows desire, and desire is the essence of life.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“Since morality is rooted biologically in the family—those principles of mutual aid which the family plants in the soil— I should base moral instruction upon a deliberate exaltation of family life... The gift of children should be our payment to the race for the heritage of civilization.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Family

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“And though we acknowledge that poverty is a spur to crime, we perceive that the root of crime, in all classes, nations, and ages, is the basically lawless nature of man, formed by a million years of hunting, fighting, killing, and greed.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Crime

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“It is usual to ascribe the fall of the Western Roman Empire to barbarian invasion from without; could it have been due in part to barbarian multiplication within?”

from Fallen Leaves

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“Our grasp is greater than our reach; but therefore our reach is made greater than that grasp.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Carpe diem

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“We are choked with news, and starved of history... we give too much time to news about the transient present too little to the living past.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“I should like every religious institution to preach morality rather than theology, and welcome into its fellowship every person who accepts the Golden Rule”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Golden Rule

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“Prisons should be replaced by well-enclosed state farms, each designed for a separate grade of offender, and all designed for an orderly and open-air life to teach useful occupations and to restore the inmate to the behavior of a responsible citizen.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Punishment

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“The unemployed should be used by federal and state governments in works of social utility and environmental improvement.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Livelihood

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“Our industrial leaders should welcome and help to implement the welfare state as a humane mitigation of the painful inequality of human fortune, and a saving substitute from social turmoil and dictatorial repression.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“We elders must find it in our souls to be patient with our children, to hear them fondly even when they rant to recognize that their wild intransigence has spurred some remedial action in legislative chambers, and in administrative halls.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Patience

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“I judged Russia foolishly in 1932. Despite my addiction to history I failed to interpret those awful condition in the light of the past... When Ariel and I traveled through Siberia and European Russia; there we saw not Utopia but chaos, regimentation, brutality, and starvation”

from Fallen Leaves

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“Socialism inserted itself into capitalism without destroying it... The architects of the welfare state recognized the virtues of capitalism: they perceived the creative stimulus that had been given to invention, enterprise, production, and commerce by the freedom in the laissez-faire governments”

from Fallen Leaves

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“Man is secretly and ravenously polygamous... and yet the earlier the love, the fresher and deeper it must be; no man can love after 30 with the ardor and self-abandonment of youth... if we could find a way to restore marriage to its natural age, we should at one stroke reduce by half the prostitution, the venereal disease, the fruitless celibacy, the morbid chastity, and the experimental perversions that stigmatize our contemporary life.”

from Pleasures of Philosophy

Themes: Prostitution

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“What is old age? It is a hardening of the arteries and categories, an arresting of thought and blood; a man is as old as his arteries, and as young as his ideas.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Longevity

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“We must give courage to our leaders to lead us, to re-create for us a Christianity that would be intelligible to Christ.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“We are temporary organs of the race, cells in the body of life... In truth we are not individuals and it is because we think ourselves such that death seems unforgivable.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Egolessness

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“Death, like style, is the removal of rubbish, the circumcision of the superfluous... We are temporary organs of the race, cells in the body of life; we die and drop away that life may remain young and strong.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Death and Dying

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“They looked at each other silently; but in his heart the young man said, 'There but for the lack of time , go I.' and in his eyes the old man said, 'I, too, was once young like you; hungry for knowledge, hopeful of achievment, eager for change.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: One Taste

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“Life is that which can hold a purpose for 3000 years and never yield. The individual fails, but life succeeds. The individual is foolish, but life holds in its blood nd seed the wisdom of generations.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Meaningfulness

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“Thirty generations passed, and Leonardo da Vinci—spirit made flesh—scratched across his drawings (drawings so beautiful that one catches one's breath with pain on seeing them)... Leonardo failed and died, but life carried on the dream.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“I know that life is in its basis a mystery; a river flowing from an unknown source and in its development an infinite subtlety, 'a dome of many-colored glass,' too complex for thought, much less for utterance.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“Let me, before I die, sing a hymn in praise of women... if anywhere there is divinity it is here... Catholics have been right in praying chiefly to the mother of God... The grace of her movement is poetry become flesh”

from Fallen Leaves

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“in the world of life, the male is a tributary incident, usually subordinate, sometimes superfluous... No biologist could think of God except in feminine terms”

from Fallen Leaves

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“I am not sure that I would want our sexual sensitivity to be reduced, for it is half the zest of life. Probably our sense of beauty is an offshoot of that sensibility; all other forms of beauty seem to be derived from the beauty of woman as the object of male desire and female envy”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Beauty

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“But our exciting capitalism is showing dangerous defects. It is poisoning our air, our waters, perhaps even our food. It has been killing the fish in our streams and seas and the birds in the sky. It has been using at a reckless rate the mineral resources of our soil.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Capitalism

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“Above all, [capitalism] seems by its very nature to stimulate repeated concentrations of wealth, leading to contractions of purchasing power and to depressions... Repeatedly in history, this natural concentration of wealth has led to a pathological, almost cancerous condition.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Greed Capitalism

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“Perhaps our national vitality depends upon a continuing tension between youth and age, whereby innovation meets tradition, and the ardor of experiment fuses with the coolness of experience.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Paradox

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“If anything is clear in the experience of mankind, it is that successful revolutionists soon behave like the men they have overthrown.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Warriors

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“we give too much time to news about the transient present, too little to the living past. We are choked with news, and starved of history.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Illusion

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“History sees the newborn child as the product of millions of years, during most of which he was a hunter fighting for his food and his life against beasts stronger than himself except for his use of weapons and tools. Those years formed the basic nature of our species: acquisitiveness, greed, competition, and pugnacity tending to violence.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“I mourn when brilliant writers... tell us that we should yield to every impulse and desire, and 'be ourselves'! What jejune nonsense! Civilization... is at almost every moment dependent upon the repression of instincts, and intelligence itself involves discrimination between desire that may be pursued and those that should be subdued.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: True Self

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“We preach Christ to them and then cheat so much in business that the government has to intervene to protect the consumer against deceptive labels, dangerous cars, poisonous drugs, chemicalized food, and shoddy goods, while the government itself competes in corruption and mendacity.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Business

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“There is an anarchist in all of us that inclines us to sympathize with a felon who is desperately and cleverly eluding the police; nobody loves a policeman until he needs one.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Crime Crime

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“It is a mistake to think that the past is dead. Nothing that has ever happened is quite without influence at the moment. The preset is merely the past rolled up and concentrated in this second of time.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“you are what you are because of what you have been; because of your heredity stretching back into forgotten generations; because of every element of environment that has affected you, every man or woman that has met you, every book that you have read, every experience that you have had... And so it is with a city, a country, a race... It is only the past that lives.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Time Karma

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“A wise man can learn from other men's experience; a fool cannot learn even from his own.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Skillful Means

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“Augustus was so unpretentious that a Gaul who came to kill him thought this could not be the Imperial ruler he sought... This man whose word had become law lived all the while a life of unassuming simplicity, shunning the luxuries of wealth and the emoluments of office, wearing the simple garments woven by the women in his home, and sleeping in a small room”

from Heroes of History

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“in those thousand times a thousand years, man had to be pugnacious, always ready to fight—for his food, for his mate, for his life. If he could, he took more mates than one, for hunting and fighting were mortally dangerous and left a surplus of women over men; so the male is still polygamous [or polygamous] by nature.”

from Heroes of History

Themes: Warriors

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“Women had domesticated the sheep, the dog, the ass, and the pig; now she domesticated man. Man is woman's last domestic animal, only partially and reluctantly civilized... if pugnacity was not checked, it would lead to brawls at every corner... If sex were not controlled, it would make not only every park, but every street, unsafe for any woman... if acquisitiveness were not checked, it would lead to retail theft, wholesale robbery, political corruption, and to such concentration of wealth as would invite revolution.”

from Heroes of History

Themes: Control

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“How revealing it is to find Confucius—some 500 years before Christ—writing about 'the wise men of antiquity'; the Chinese apparently, had philosophers 1000 years before Confucius, before Buddha, Isaiah, Democritus, and Socrates.”

from Heroes of History

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“The vision that drew Gandhi was of a people content with the simplicity of ancient ways. Like most visions this was not realistic... After Gandhi's assassination, his movement against industrialization was rapidly eroded by the natural acquisitiveness and competitive spirit of men.”

from Heroes of History

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“agriculture itself became an industry, wedded to chemistry and costly machines. Even so, population grew faster then the food supply; ancient customs and taboos defeated modern ways and views; and the people cancelled their prosperity with their fertility.”

from Heroes of History

Themes: Agriculture

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“Here is history, a futile circle of infinite repetition: these youths with eager eyes will make the same errors as we, they will be misled by the same dreams; they will suffer, and wonder, and surrender, and grow old... All life living at the expense of life, every organism eating other organisms forever.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Impermanence

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“New material no longer seems to find room, and recent impressions fade as rapidly as a politician's promises, or the public's memory of them... The ability to learn decreases with each decade of our lives, as if the association fibers of the brain were accumulated and overlaid in inflexible patterns.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Forget Memory

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“But what if the play is never better, always revolving about suffering and death, telling endlessly the same idiotic tale? There's the rub, and there's the doubt that gnaws at the heart of wisdom and poisons age.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Doubt

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“Nothing learned from a book is worth anything until it is used and verified in life; only then does it begin to affect behavior and desire. It is Life that educates, and perhaps love more than anything else in life.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Books

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“Health lies in action, and so it graces youth. To be busy is the secret of grace, and half the secret of content... Let us play is as good as Let us pray, and the results are more assured.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Medicine Pleasure

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“A man is as young as the risks he takes.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“What do they care about death? They will learn and grow and love and struggle and create, and lift life up one little notch, perhaps, before they die. And when they pass they will cheat death with their children, with parental care that will make their children a little finer then themselves. Life wins.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“We are living flames of desire until we admit final defeat. Will is desire expressed in ideas that become actions unless impeded by contrary or substitute desires and ideas. Character is the sum of our desires, fears, propensities, habits, abilities, and ideas.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“In evolutionary theory, those organisms that felt the strongest urge to mingle their seed bred most abundantly, so that, in the course of the generations, the sexual instinct grew to an intensity surpassed only in the quest for food... Nature is mad about reproduction and makes the individual a tool and moment in the continuance of the species.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Prostitution

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“I would rather have America lose her empire than have her forfeit all the inspiration that she has meant to mankind... I believe it would have been cheaper, as well as more humane, to export food and technical aid to impoverished areas to advise threatened governments to become welfare states, to prod the great landowners in those countries to allow a wider distribution of land, to persuade industrial magnates that higher wages make for expanding markets, rising profits, economic stability, and political peace.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“If the founding Fathers could come back, they would be amazed at the degree to which we have reduced poverty, drudgery, illiteracy, and governmental tyranny. a large part of the utopias described by Thomas More, Samuel Butler, Edward Bellamy, and H. G. Wells has been materially realized, along with the universal education, adult suffrage, freedom of speech, press, assembly, and religion which were among the hopes and dreams of 18th century philosophers.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“the horror of lynching, the humiliating rejection from hotels and restaurants, the hopeless poverty... the South, so far as its need of annual laborers would permit, encouraged the black man to go north. He went, dreaming of justice and plenty. For a time he found work where muscle was needed and servility was required; or he lived for a while on public aid, and alarmed the whites with his fertility... Meanwhile the progress of technology deprived most black men of a place in industry; they became dependent upon charity or their wives—who cleaned white homes to maintain black hovels... Do we not owe it to conscience and justice that every person—irrespective of their race—has full and equal opportunity to enter into the promise of American life?”

from Fallen Leaves

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“I laughed at Freud's dream theories as soon as I read them. His resort to symbolism in interpreting dreams seemed to me merely the bizarre and unconvincing feat of a diseased imagination. I felt that he had exaggerated sex, and had underrated economic troubles in generating neuroses”

from Fallen Leaves

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“I would ask our doctors to devote as much time to preventive as to curative procedures, and to put less curative reliance upon drugs and more upon natural cures by diet and physiotherapy”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Health

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“In my Utopia, every family, including philosophers, would apply half of its working hours to growing its essential vegetables on a plot of land around or near its house”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Gardening

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“Every solution bares a new problem. The progress of science has brought new evils with new boons, and its latest victory has given frail minds the power to destroy Western civilization... I morn when I see so much scientific genius dedicated to the art of massacre, so little to the organization of peace... Meanwhile I breathe air and drink water and eat food polluted by the products of science: by the burning of fuels in factories and cars by industrial waste poured into our rivers and seas, by dangerous chemicals used in growing or processing foods or disguising their decay.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“Art without science is poverty, and science without art is barbarism. Let every science strive to fulfill itself in beauty or wisdom, and let us rejoice when a science becomes an art.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Poverty

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“Perhaps the basic skill that we should ask a teacher to impart to his pupil is the ability to discipline himself; for in this stormy age every individual, like every people, has in the long run only two choices—effective self-government, or practical subjection”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Perseverance

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“the same Goethe who held that, in the end, personality is everything, warned us that limits are everywhere.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“There is much pleasure in the simple work of the hands, and, as the old rabbis taught, even the scholar will find that the possession of a trade may save him from selling his conclusions for an income.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“As for the girl, it will avail her nothing to know a foreign language, archaeology, and trigonometry, if she cannot manage a home, a husband, and a child: fidelity is nourished through the stomach, and good pies do more for monogamy than all the languages that have ever died. One tongue is enough for any woman, and a good mother is worth a thousand PhDs.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“let the student realize how old our current problems are, and for how many centuries the nature of men has played havoc with the ideals of philosophers and saints.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“Nationalism overrides morality, defers social reform, and becomes a religion stronger than any church.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Nationalism

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“increasingly familiar with the historical and geographical diversity of moral codes and their human origin, the inherited code had been weakened, and much doubt has been cast upon its allegedly divine sanctions and source”

from Fallen Leaves

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“Industrial competition among corporations and individuals has strengthened the profit motive and other individualistic instincts, and has broken down moral restraints in the conduct of business.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Competition

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“Which of us, if really alive, was not a rebel in his youth? But extremes often cancel themselves into moderation, and the chaos may compel new forms of discipline... the radicals of today will become the liberals of tomorrow and the frightened conservatives of declining years”

from Fallen Leaves

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“Psychology has seemed to condemn every inhibition, and to justify every desire.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“Ovid wrote beautifully about the gods but lasciviously about love.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“I breathe air, and drink water, and eat food polluted by the products of scien used in growing or processing foods or disguising their decay.ce : by the burning of fuels in factories and cars, by industrial waste poured into our rivers and seas, by dangerous chemicals.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“I distrust the astronomers when they calculate the distance of the fixed stars, and the geologists when they tell us the age of the Earth or its strata. I am a bit dubious of the changing pictures by which the physicists represent the inside of the atom... I think that biology has been misled by applying too widely the notion of mechanism and hesitating to credit living things with inherent, guiding will.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“I mourn when I see so much scientific genius dedicated to the art of massacre, so little to the organization of peace.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“Civilization is a fragile bungalow precariously poised on a live volcano of barbarism.”

from Fallen Leaves

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“it is harder to produce food that to beget children; so in nearly all ages the growth of population has outrun the production of food... But how long can we defer the explosive confrontation between the limited productivity of arable soil and the uncontrolled reproductive ecstasy of men?”

from Fallen Leaves

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“It is quite possible to admire a hundred women or men while remaining resolutely faithful to one. In that way we may get the best of both—the transient ardor of sexual emotion and the quiet content of lasting love.”

from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Strategy

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“I am not sure that I would want our sexual sensitivity to be reduced, for it is half the zest of life... To condemn sexual sensitivity would be to outlaw esthetic feeling and response, and so to cut the richest roots of art.”

from Fallen Leaves

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Quotes about Will Durant (6 quotes)

“I have just finished Caesar and Christ. What a book! It is not only the best thing you have ever done yourself; it is the best piece of historical synthesis ever done by an American. I can imagine no improvement in it. It is clearly and beautifully written, and it shows a hard common sense in every line. I have never read any book which left me better contented”

Henry Louis Mencken 1880 – 1956 CE
alt.right founding father

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“The greatest historians of our time—who have lived their own fascinating true-life 'love story' (since she was his 15-year old student)— and recipients of the Pulitzer Prize; they have produced 11 best-selling masterworks of history in 40 years… and recently completed (at ages 90 and 77) their final classic, The Age of Napoleon. They were married in City Hall, he carrying a briefcase swollen with books on philosophy and she holding her roller skates. Their marriage became a working literary partnership. In the early years she was secretary, researcher, assistant and editor. That led eventually to co-authorship. They have produced a total of 7 books together, and Mr. Durant alone has written 17. His The Story of Philosophy has been continuously in print since it was first published in 1928 and has sold more than 3 million copies in 19 languages [by 1975]”

Anonymous -800 to present
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history
from New York Times​ article

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“I was telling you about my going with Charlie Chaplin to hear a debate between Will Durant, who wrote the wonderful book, The Story of Philosophy. He is just one of the finest fellows you ever met. He was debating an Englishman named Starchey. This Starchey was a Bolshevik, but he was very fair in his talk, and it was a brilliant thing to hear.”

Will Rogers 1879 – 1935 CE

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“I was the adventure in your life and I brought you this life, and what did you do for me? You educated me; you quieted my wild blood. You brought unity and meaning to our lives so that now, after 59 years of marriage you have toned me down so that I may be a helpmate to you
our names united before the whole world as representative of the unity that a man and woman can achieve and must achieve... I have to thank you not only all the attractions of a husband and a lover, but the deep companionship that has developed between us so that we almost have one breath, one life, one interest.”

Ariel Durant 1898 – 1981 CE
(Chaya Kaufman)

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“Will Durant has taken trouble in this book [The Case For India], trouble to know. The miserable conditions of the country he has seen with his own eyes, but, what is rare with most tourists, he has explored the history of our misfortune. Will Durant treated us with the respect due to human beings. I noticed in his book a poignant note of pain at the suffering and indignity of the people who are not his kindred, an indignant desire to be just to the defeated race. I know that the author will have small chance to reward in popularity from his readers but he, I am sure, has his noble compensation in upholding the best tradition of the West in its championship of freedom and fair play.”

Rabindranath Tagore 1861 – 1941 CE

Themes: Hinduism

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“Durant was a remarkable specimen of that nearly extinct species, a civilized liberal of wide learning and even wider sympathy for the fundamentals of human aspiration.”

Anonymous -800 to present
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history
from Wall Street Journal

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