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Quotations about Humankind

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For my part, I am not so sure at bottom that man is, as he says, the king of nature; he is far more its devastating tyrant. I believe he has many things to learn from animal societies, older than his own and of infinite variety. ~Romain Rolland

In each generation the human mind in every man reverts to its starting-point; each new man is a primitive man. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. ~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

I am not a human being; I am a human becoming. ~Author Unknown

Man's goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished. ~Nelson Mandela

In this century we have made remarkable material progress, but basically we are the same as we were thousands of years ago. Our spiritual needs are still very great. ~Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am. ~Joseph Baretti, quoted by James Boswell, 1766, commonly misattributed to Samuel Johnson [] (Thanks, Frank Lynch!)

The reason why the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is, because man is disunited with himself. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

If I see one dilemma with Western man, it's that he can't accept how beautiful he is. He can't accept that he is pure light, that he's pure love, that he's pure consciousness, that he's divine. ~Ram Dass

The next evolutionary step for humankind is to move from human to kind. ~Author Unknown

Every human being is a repeated question asked to the spirit of the Universe. ~Mihai Eminescu, translated by Oana Platon

The human species is made up of seven billion subspecies each consisting of one specimen. ~Robert Brault,

Man is harder than rock and more fragile than an egg. ~Yugoslav Proverb

That in man which cannot be domesticated is not his evil but his goodness. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is. ~Albert Camus

A human being: an ingenious assembly of portable plumbing. ~Christopher Morley, Human Being

The true man walks the earth as the stars walk the heavens, grandly obedient to those laws which are implanted in his nature. ~Lemuel K. Washburn, Is The Bible Worth Reading And Other Essays, 1911

The universe may have a purpose, but nothing we know suggests that, if so, this purpose has any similarity to ours. ~Bertrand Russell

Man is rated the highest animal, at least among all animals who returned the questionnaire. ~Robert Brault,

Ocean: A body of water occupying two-thirds of a world made for man — who has no gills. ~Ambrose Bierce

Man is harder than iron, stronger than stone and more fragile than a rose. ~Turkish Proverb

Man is the only kind of varmint sets his own trap, baits it, then steps in it. ~John Steinbeck, Sweet Thursday

In nature a repulsive caterpillar turns into a lovely butterfly. But with humans it is the other way around: a lovely butterfly turns into a repulsive caterpillar. ~Anton Chekhov

Man is an intelligence in servitude to his organs. ~Aldous Huxley

We are perverse creatures and never satisfied. ~Nan Fairbrother

Modern man is the missing link between apes and human beings. ~Author Unknown

Human consciousness arose but a minute before midnight on the geological clock. Yet we mayflies try to bend an ancient world to our purposes, ignorant perhaps of the messages buried in its long history. Let us hope that we are still in the early morning of our April day. ~Stephen Jay Gould, "Our Allotted Lifetimes," The Panda's Thumb, 1980

Such is the human race, often it seems a pity that Noah... didn't miss the boat. ~Mark Twain

There are too many people, and too few human beings. ~Robert Zend

It would indeed be a tragedy if the history of the human race proved to be nothing more than the story of an ape playing with a box of matches on a petrol dump. ~David Ormsby Gore

Only on paper has humanity yet achieved glory, beauty, truth, knowledge, virtue, and abiding love. ~George Bernard Shaw

      One of the deepest unspoken prayers of our age is to be delivered from the bondage to fragments. We earnestly search for wholeness, for unity, for a sense of universality. Our intense individualism, in contrast with the sense of "one world" which gave even brutish existence in the Middle Ages a quality of security we lack, has left us with a profound sense of alienation and frustration. It is essential for us, at times, to recall and contemplate the unity of mankind throughout the ages, under one God.
      In the words of John Donne, "All mankind is of one Author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice, but God's hand is in every translation, and His hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another."
      ~Rose Terlin (1908–1979), "The Better Part" (July 25th — "Wholeness"), in Meditations for Women, 1947, edited by Jean Beaven Abernethy

The disastrous history of our species indicates the futility of all attempts at a diagnosis which do not take into account the possibility that homo sapiens is a victim of one of evolution's countless mistakes. ~Arthur Koestler, Janus: A Summing Up

Men! The only animal in the world to fear. ~D.H. Lawrence

The chief obstacle to the progress of the human race is the human race. ~Don Marquis

Men are cruel, but Man is kind. ~Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds, 1916

[T]ake time to see the humor in it all. The world is a funny place, and funniest of all are the creatures who walk about upright on two legs, believing that they run the place. ~Richard E. Turner (1937–2011), "An Open Letter to My Grandson"

Man embraces in his makeup all the natural orders; he's a squid, a mollusk, a sucker and a buzzard; sometimes he's a cerebrate. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

Humanity is on the march, earth itself is left behind. ~David Ehrenfeld, The Arrogance of Humanism, 1978

Human nature, if healthy, demands excitement; and if it does not obtain its thrilling excitement in the right way, it will seek it in the wrong. God never makes bloodless stoics; He makes no passionless saints. ~Oswald Chambers

Cabbage: a familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man's head. ~Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

Monkeys are superior to men in this: When a monkey looks into a mirror, he sees a monkey. ~Malcolm de Chazal

It is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing. ~Mariane Moore, "A Grave," Collected Poems, 1951

If man were relieved of all superstition, and all prejudice, and had replaced these with a keen sensitivity to his real environment, and moreover had achieved a level of communication so simplified that one syllable could express his every thought, then he would have achieved the level of intelligence already achieved by his dog. ~Robert Brault,

Every man is in his own person the whole human race, with not a detail lacking. I am the whole human race without a detail lacking; I have studied the human race with diligence and strong interest all these years in my own person; in myself I find in big or little proportion every quality and every defect that is findable in the mass of the race. I knew I should not find in any philosophy a single thought which had not passed through my own head, nor a single thought which had not passed through the heads of millions and millions of men before I was born; I knew I should not find a single original thought in any philosophy, and I knew I could not furnish one to the world myself, if I had five centuries to invent it in. Nietzsche published his book, and was at once pronounced crazy by the world—by a world which included tens of thousands of bright, sane men who believed exactly as Nietzsche believed but concealed the fact and scoffed at Nietzsche. What a coward every man is! and how surely he will find it out if he will just let other people alone and sit down and examine himself. The human race is a race of cowards; and I am not only marching in that procession but carrying a banner. ~Mark Twain

Adam ate the apple, and our teeth still ache. ~Hungarian Proverb

Why was man created on the last day? So that he can be told, when pride possesses him: God created the gnat before thee. ~The Talmud

Man — a creature made at the end of the week's work when God was tired. ~Mark Twain

I sometimes think that God in creating man somewhat overestimated His ability. ~Oscar Wilde

O poor mortals, how ye make this earth bitter for each other. ~Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution

God pulled an all-nighter on the sixth day. ~Author Unknown

Zoo: An excellent place to study the habits of human beings. ~Evan Esar

Man — a being in search of meaning. ~Plato

Ultimately, aren't we all just talking monkeys with an attitude problem? ~"Uncle" Ben, as seen on quotes‑r‑ [defunct]

The more humanity advances, the more it is degraded. ~Gustave Flaubert

Nothing feebler does earth nurture than man,
Of all things breathing and moving.
~Homer, Odyssey

Everyone is as God made him, and often a good deal worse. ~Miguel de Cervantes

Man is a strange animal, he doesn't like to read the handwriting on the wall until his back is up against it. ~Adlai Stevenson

It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil spirit of man. ~Albert Einstein

God doesn't measure His bounty, but oh how we do! ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness. ~Joseph Conrad, Under Western Eyes, 1911

The human race is governed by its imagination. ~Napoleon

Man uses his intelligence less in the care of his own species than he does in his care of anything else he owns or governs. ~Abraham Meyerson

Human beings cling to their delicious tyrannies and to their exquisite nonsense, till death stares them in the face. ~Sydney Smith

Why should man expect his prayer for mercy to be heard by What is above him when he shows no mercy to what is under him? ~Pierre Troubetzkoy

The small percentage of dogs that bite people is monumental proof that the dog is the most benign, forgiving creature on earth. ~W.R. Koehler, The Koehler Method of Dog Training

Man was created a little lower than the angels, and has been getting lower ever since. ~Josh Billings

We have no choice but to be guilty.
God is unthinkable if we are innocent.
~Archibald MacLeish, JB, 1958

Human beings invent just as many ways to sabotage their lives as to improve them. ~Mark Goulston, Get Out of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior, 1996

On the Sixth Day, God created man, the sort of result you often get when you go in to work on a Saturday. ~Robert Brault,

As I know more of mankind I expect less of them, and am ready now to call a man a good man upon easier terms than I was formerly. ~Samuel Johnson

What is man's greatest bane? His brother man alone. ~Bias of Priene, Maxims

Acedia is not in every dictionary; just in every heart. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

The study of crime begins with the knowledge of oneself. ~Henry Miller, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, 1945

Is man a savage at heart, skinned o'er with fragile Manners? Or is savagery but a faint taint in the natural man's gentility, which erupts now and again like pimples on an angel's arse? ~John Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor, 1960

God has given a great deal to man, but man would like something from man. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

Man is the only trained animal who expects his reward before he does his trick. ~Robert Brault,

I was surprised just now at seeing a cobweb around a knocker; for it was not on the door of heaven. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

Man is a rope stretched between the animal and the Superman—a rope over an abyss. What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal. ~Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900), Thus Spake Zarathustra, translated by M.A. Mügge, 1908

I sometimes think of what future historians will say of us. A single sentence will suffice for modern man: He fornicated and read the papers. ~Albert Camus

Man, when he is merely what he seems to be, is almost nothing. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

Give a man secure possession of a bleak rock, and he will turn it into a garden; give him nine years' lease of a garden, and he will convert it into a desert. ~Arthur Young, Travels in France, 1792

Perhaps this is an age when men think bravely of the human spirit; for surely they have a strange lust to lay it bare. ~Christopher Morley

That's it! When you come to know men, that's how they are: too sensitive in the wrong place. ~D.H. Lawrence

Occident: The part of the world lying west (or east) of the Orient. It is largely inhabited by Christians, a powerful subtribe of the Hypocrites, whose principal industries are murder and cheating, which they are pleased to call "war" and "commerce." These, also, are the principal industries of the Orient. ~Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be. ~William Hazlitt, The English Comic Writers, 1819

It is curious to note the old sea-margins of human thought! Each subsiding century reveals some new mystery; we build where monsters used to hide themselves. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Kavanagh, 1849

Nature is neutral. Man has wrested from nature the power to make the world a desert or to make the deserts bloom. There is no evil in the atom; only in men's souls. ~Adlai Stevenson

We are each of us born into the arms of mortality, the Lord recognizing our need to be held. ~Robert Brault,

It is the fancy of every mortal that being cradled in the arms of mortality is a safe place for the time being. ~Robert Brault,

Men prefer to believe that they are degenerated angels, rather than elevated apes. ~William Winwood Reade

Man talks about everything, and he talks about everything as though the understanding of everything were all inside him. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. ~Stephen Hawking

We may be the intelligent species, but we are certainly not the smartest! ~Kyle Short

The doctors tell us of a physical disease called fatty degeneration of the heart... there is a moral malady—fatty degeneration of the soul; sooner or later it attacks every man, however noble his career, who puts self forward in his aims; who values fame because a personal possession. ~Frank Lee Benedict, The Price She Paid, 1882

My dog is usually pleased with what I do, because she is not infected with the concept of what I "should" be doing. ~Lonzo Idolswine

Man will do many things to get himself loved; he will do all things to get himself envied. ~Mark Twain, Following the Equator, 1897

We humans are the greatest of the earth's parasites. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

Often what we take for a kindness is just someone acting in their capacity as a human being. ~Robert Brault,

I have often had the impression that, to penguins, man is just another penguin — different, less predictable, occasionally violent, but tolerable company when he sits still and minds his own business. ~Bernard Stonehouse

Suppose some mathematical creature from the moon were to reckon up the human body; he would at once see that the essential thing about it was that it was duplicate. A man is two men, he on the right exactly resembling him on the left. Having noted that there was an arm on the right and one on the left, a leg on the right and one on the left, he might go further and still find on each side the same number of fingers, the same number of toes, twin eyes, twin ears, twin nostrils, and even twin lobes of the brain. At last he would take it as a law; and then, where he found a heart on one side, would deduce that there was another heart on the other. And just then, where he most felt he was right, he would be wrong. ~G.K. Chesterton, "The Paradoxes of Christianity," Orthodoxy

Every man is a volume, if you know how to read him. ~William Ellery Channing, "Charge for the Ordination of Rev. Robert C. Waterston"

Every human being is a volume, worthy to be studied. ~William Ellery Channing, Lecture II on the Elevation of the Labouring Portion of the Community, 1840

It is the nature of mortals to kick a fallen man. ~Aeschylus, Agamemnon

God is less careful than General Motors, for He floods the world with factory rejects. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

Man's greed for power and for money
Has strangled, within his own soul,
The richness and beauty of Truth
That would help him to reach his goal!
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "God's Gifts to Man" (1940s)

Man's highest merit always is, as much as possible, to rule external circumstances and as little as possible to let himself be ruled by them. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

So there he is at last. Man on the moon. The poor magnificent bungler! He can't even get to the office without undergoing the agonies of the damned, but give him a little metal, a few chemicals, some wire and twenty or thirty billion dollars and vroom! there he is, up on a rock a quarter of a million miles up in the sky. ~Russell Baker, New York Times, 1969 July 21st

Every human being is a problem in search of a solution. ~Ashley Montagu

Man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem which he has to solve. ~Erich Fromm, Man for Himself, 1947

When freedom from want and freedom from fear are achieved, man's remains will be in rigor mortis. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

Man is nature's sole mistake. ~W.S. Gilbert

Society has always seemed to demand a little more from human beings than it will get in practice. ~George Orwell

The average man's judgment is so poor, he runs a risk every time he uses it. ~E.W. Howe

Man — a reasoning rather than a reasonable animal. ~Alexander Hamilton

First God created time; then God created man that man might, in the course of time, perfect himself; then God decided that He'd better create eternity. ~Robert Brault,

We're animals. We're born like every other mammal and we live our whole lives around disguised animal thoughts. ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

Man may be excused for feeling some pride at having risen, though not through his own exertions, to the very summit of the organic scale; and the fact of his having thus risen, instead of having been aboriginally placed there, may give him hopes for a still higher destiny in the distant future. But we are not here concerned with hopes or fears, only with the truth as far as our reason allows us to discover it. I have given the evidence to the best of my ability; and we must acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man, with all his noble qualities, with sympathy which feels for the most debased, with benevolence which extends not only to other men but to the humblest living creature, with his god-like intellect which has penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar system—with all these exalted powers—Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin. ~Charles Darwin (1809–1882), final paragraph of The Descent of Man, 1871

Grant fretted and irritated him.... He had no right to exist. He should have been extinct for ages.... That, two thousand years after Alexander the Great and Julius Cæsar, a man like Grant should be called—and should actually and truly be—the highest product of the most advanced evolution, made evolution ludicrous.... The progress of evolution from President Washington to President Grant, was alone evidence enough to upset Darwin. ~Henry Adams (1838–1918), The Education of Henry Adams, Chapter XVII  [Adams wrote this third-person autobiography in 1905. It was first publicly published in 1918 from the 1907 private printing. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Nature is trying very hard to make us succeed, but nature does not depend on us. We are not the only experiment. ~R. Buckminster Fuller

Human nature is just about the only nature some people experience. ~Terri Guillemets

Be a good animal, true to your animal instincts. ~David Herbert Lawrence, White Peacock, 1911

The question is this: Is man an ape or an angel? I am on the side of the angels. ~Benjamin Disraeli

I viewed my fellow man not as a fallen angel, but as a risen ape. ~Desmond Morris, The Naked Ape

Evolution: that last step was a doozy! ~Terri Guillemets

Man desired concord; but nature knows better what is good for his species; she desires discord. Man wants to live easy and content; but nature compels him to leave ease... and throw himself into roils and labors. ~Immanuel Kant, Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose, 1787

Perchance God will pity a race that sought the better angels of its nature and found only its lesser demons. ~Robert Brault,

The thief and the murderer follow nature just as much as the philanthropist. ~T.H. Huxley, "Evolution and Ethics," 1893

Many people believe that they are attracted by God, or by Nature, when they are only repelled by man. ~William Ralph Inge

People are like birds: on the wing, all beautiful; up close, all beady little eyes. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966

Evolution is individual — devolution is collective. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

A strong, brave man is born each month,
     each year God gives a sage to men,
A poet each ten years, perhaps,
     but an unselfish person,—when?
~Frederic Ridgely Torrence, The House of a Hundred Lights: A Psalm of Experience After Reading a Couplet of Bidpai, 1899

I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain'd. I stand and look at them long and long. They do not sweat and whine about their condition.... Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things, not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago, not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth. ~Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities. ~Voltaire

I demand of you, and of the whole world, that you show me a generic character... by which to distinguish between Man and Ape. I myself most assuredly know of none. ~Carl Linnaeus, 1788

In creating the human brain, evolution has wildly overshot the mark. ~Arthur Koestler

We have a world for each one, but we do not have a world for all. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

We are survival machines — robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. ~Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene

I do not value any view of the universe into which man and the institutions of man enter very largely and absorb much of the attention. Man is but the place where I stand, and the prospect hence is infinite. ~Henry David Thoreau, journal, 1852 April 2nd

Nature does not deceive us; it is we who deceive ourselves. ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, 1762

It is not titles that honor men, but men that honor titles. ~Niccolò Machiavelli

Evolution: one small step for man, one giant leap backward for mankind. ~Terri Guillemets

Are we marionettes, or are we creatures of free will who just happen to have a lot of jerky reflexes? ~Robert Brault,

Nobody knows the age of the human race, but everybody agrees that it is old enough to know better. ~Author Unknown

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Last modified 2016 May 21 Sat 12:51 PDT

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