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Philosophical Quotations


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The warm sun
      Beams through the clear air
      Upon glistening leaves.
And the birds
      Sweep in long arcs
      Over the green grass.
They seem to say,
      "This might last forever!"
      But it doesn't.
~Fred Will, 1933


A man with one watch knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never quite sure. ~Author unknown


One epitaph is sufficiently comprehensive for most persons:—Here lies A MORTAL. In that word is comprised a brief space of trivial joys, and trivial sorrows. The rest is a phantom. ~William Benton Clulow, Horæ Otiosæ, 1833


Begin at the beginning... and go on till you come to the end: then stop. ~Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland


Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it. ~André Gide


There's more to the truth than just the facts. ~Author unknown


Gazing at the stars will not save you from the abyss at your feet. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer, lumpenbangenpiano.com


Even a clock that does not work is right twice a day. ~Polish proverb


Just as the old, looking back, idealize the past, so the young, looking forward, idealize the future. Illusion is the stuff of memory — and is at the heart of hope. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer, lumpenbangenpiano.com


When the student is ready, the master appears. ~Buddhist proverb


Before enlightenment — chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment — chop wood, carry water. ~Zen Buddhist proverb


When they go fishing, it is not really fish they are after. It is a philosophic meditation. ~E.T. Brown (Thanks, Walden Woods Project, walden.org)


Wars and elections are both too big and too small to matter in the long run. The daily work — that goes on, it adds up. ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams


Edith. Is there no rest?
Lyulph. Harmonious motion is divine repose. ~Henry James Slack (1818–1896), The Ministry of the Beautiful, "Conversation I: The Cavern," 1850


I cling to the mortal, and yet long for immortality. ~Henry James Slack (1818–1896), The Ministry of the Beautiful, "Conversation I: The Cavern," 1850  [Edith speaking —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


What you see, yet can not see over, is as good as infinite. ~Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus


Symbols have a trick of stealing the show away from the thing they stand for. ~Henry Stanley Haskins, "Symbols," Meditations in Wall Street, 1940


You can't wake a person who is pretending to be asleep. ~Navajo proverb


On the one hand, don't take everything seriously. On the other hand, don't expect anything to change until you do. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


Whatever I take, I take too much or too little; I do not take the exact amount. The exact amount is no use to me. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


Language was invented to ask questions. Answers may be given by grunts and gestures, but questions must be spoken. Humanness came of age when man asked the first question. Social stagnation results not from a lack of answers but from the absence of the impulse to ask questions. ~Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition, 1973


Would there be this eternal seeking if the found existed? ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


I was once a skeptic but was converted by the two missionaries on either side of my nose. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one. ~Russian proverb


The obstacle is the path. ~Zen proverb


Hell, life itself can be absurd. But you have to embrace that. If you can't smile now, how can you possibly laugh in the face of death? ~R. Scott Gemmill, NCIS: Los Angeles, "Imposters" [S2, E23, 2011, Hetty Lange]


You cannot step into the same river twice. ~Heraclitus, in Diogenes Laertius, Lives


While ladies draw their stockings on
The ladies they were are up and gone.
I pen my lines, I finish, I scan them,
I'm not the poet who began them.
Each moment Time, the lord of changers,
Stuffs our skins with ephemeral strangers.
Good heavens, how remote from me
The billion people I used to be!...
~Ogden Nash (1902–1971), "Time Marches On"


You are fastened to them and cannot understand how, because they are not fastened to you. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


[M]an can accept pleasure only to the extent that he is willing to accept pain... the rejection of either eliminates both. ~Thea Alexander, 2150 A.D., 1976


Echo.— The shadow of a sound. ~"Specimens of a Patent Pocket Dictionary, For the use of those who wish to understand the meaning of things as well as words," The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, 1824


Only in the early morning light of day, and of life, can we see the world without its shadows. Truth requires new beginnings. ~Jeb Dickerson, @JebDickerson


It would be a very big book that contained all the maybes uttered in a day. ~French proverb


Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice...
No day copies yesterday,
no two nights will teach what bliss is
in precisely the same way,
with exactly the same kisses.
~Wisława Szymborska (1923–2012), "Nothing Twice," Calling Out to Yeti (1957), translated from the Polish by Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh


Among creatures born into chaos, a majority will imagine an order, a minority will question the order, and the rest will be pronounced insane. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


Extreme remedies are very appropriate for extreme diseases. ~Hippocrates, Aphorisms


Seeking is not always the way to find. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827


When you get there, there isn't any there there. ~Zen proverb


"Well, in our country," said Alice, still panting a little, "you'd generally get somewhere else—if you ran very fast for a long time, as we've been doing." "A slow sort of country!" said the Queen. "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place..." ~Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, And What Alice Found There


We waste a lot of time running after people we could have caught by just standing still. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


There is no tomorrow. There is only a planet turning on its axis, and a creature given to optimistic fancies. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


...Reasoning will never make a Man correct an ill Opinion, which by Reasoning he never acquired... ~Jonathan Swift, 1721  ["I have heard it remarked, that men are not to be reasoned out of an opinion that they have not reasoned themselves into." ~Fisher Ames, 1786 | Thanks, Garson O'Toole! quoteinvestigator.com/2015/07/10/reason-out —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Tomorrow always comes, and today is never yesterday. ~S. A. Sachs


Reason and faith are both banks of the same river. ~Doménico Cieri Estrada


Man is the only animal who enjoys the consolation of believing in a next life; all other animals enjoy the consolation of not worrying about it. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


The winds of earth are old and sane
But tell me, tell me when you know —
What happens to a hurricane
That hasn't any place to go?
~David Hertz (screenplay) from 1947 movie Daisy Kenyon, based on 1945 novel by Elizabeth Janeway [The quote is a poem written by character Peter Lapham (verse form and punctuation are my interpretation). Screenplay was also contributed to by Margaret Buell Wilder, Ted Sills, and Ring Lardner, Jr. –tg]


There was never a wise saying that couldn't be made wiser by adding the words, "and vice-versa." ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


It’s a perfect day to slip into something more comfortable. Like the abyss. ~Keith Wynn, @moon_descending, tweet, 2020


We all have private ails. The troublemakers are they who need public cures for their private ales. ~Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition, 1973


The tighter you squeeze, the less you have. ~Zen saying


When the pain is great enough, we will let anyone be doctor. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


A thousand men can't undress a naked man. ~Greek proverb


Yes, if I could believe in the immortality business, the world would indeed be too good to be true; but we were put here to do what service we can, for honour and not for hire; the sods cover us, and the worm that never dies, the conscience, sleeps well at last; these are the wages, besides what we receive so lavishly day by day; and they are enough for a man who knows his own frailty and sees all things in the proportion of reality. The soul of piety was killed long ago by that idea of reward.... [M]an's cherished belief is that he loves that happiness which he continually spurns and passes by; and this belief in some ulterior happiness exactly fits him. He does not require to stop and taste it; he can be about the rugged and bitter business where his heart lies; and yet he can tell himself this fairy tale of an eternal tea-party, and enjoy the notion that he is both himself and something else; and that his friends will yet meet him, all ironed out and emasculate, and still be lovable—as if love did not live in the faults of the beloved only, and draw its breath in an unbroken round of forgiveness! ~Robert Louis Stevenson, letter to Edmund Gosse, 1886 January 2nd


I know this much about racing in the rain. I know it is about balance. It is about anticipation and patience. I know all of the driving skills that are necessary for one to be successful in the rain. But racing in the rain is also about the mind! It is about owning one's own body. About believing that one's car is merely an extension of one's body. About believing that the track is an extension of the car, and the rain is an extension of the track, and the sky is an extension of the rain. It is about believing that you are not you; you are everything. And everything is you. ~Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain, 2008


May your passion be the kernel of corn stuck between your molars, always reminding you there's something to tend to. ~Jeb Dickerson, @JebDickerson


I stop wanting what I am looking for, looking for it. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


There's no fun in playing safe or by the rules, but it's not fun being hit by a semi-truck either. ~Daniel, @Blindedpoet


When I die, I will not see myself die, for the first time. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


The throat thinks of more than just thirst. ~Terri Guillemets


It's very strange when the life you never had flashes before your eyes. ~Terri Minsky, Sex and the City, "The Baby Shower"


We come to this work because the alternative, being consumed by the effort to ignore the mystery of being, is no longer acceptable. ~Ken McLeod, Wake Up To Your Life: Discovering the Buddhist Path of Attention


We become aware of the void as we fill it. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


If you understand compound interest, you basically understand the universe. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


How often one sees people looking far and wide for what they are holding in their hands? Why! I am doing it myself at this very moment. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827


Sometimes an answer not yet blowin' in the wind is stirring in the breeze. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


The silkworm spins out his life, and, wrapping himself in his labor, dies. ~Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802-1866), "Religion in Disease," 1865


Yearning for sun and starlight, roses and winter, together. ~Dr. SunWolf, professorsunwolf.com


You have to do it by yourself,
And you can't do it alone.
~Martin Rutte


Because they know the name of what I am looking for, they think they know what I am looking for! ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


There are things I have wanted so long that I would only consent to have them if I could keep wanting them. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


The only victories that have ever stuck were spiritual. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)


Our sweetest hopes rise blooming.
      And then again are gone,
      They bloom and fade alternate,
      And so it goes rolling on.
I know it, and it troubles
      My life, my love, my rest,
      My heart is wise and witty,
      And it bleeds within my breast.
~Heinrich Heine, "A New Spring," 1826, Pictures of Travel, translated from German by Charles Godfrey Leland  [Interestingly, if you are indeed interested in such things, the translator C.G. Leland was the chief introducer of Heine to the English-speaking audience, especially America. Heine has had many other translators, including Christopher Pearse Cranch, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Snodgrass, and Edgar Alfred Bowring. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Eggs cannot be unscrambled. ~American proverb


A thing, until it is everything, is noise, and once it is everything it is silence. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


I am not certain of the hereafter. Frankly, I'm not all that certain of the here. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


Ask not the grass to give you green, and later walk all over it. ~Anthony Liccione


To know the height of a mountain, one must climb it. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827


I am changed forever by the realization of never. ~Terri Guillemets


No snowflake ever falls in the wrong place. ~Zen proverb


No, it is too sad. A cry in the night from a man buried alive.... No poet ever had such a lucky change before... to survive his own death, though many a one has survived his own immortality.... The wrecks in the Morgue, what tales they could tell! But dead men tell no tales. While there's life there's hope; and so the worst cynicisms have never been spoken. But I—I alone—have dodged the Fates. I am the dead-alive, the living dead. I hover over my racked body like a ghost, and exist in an interregnum. And so I am the first mortal in a position to demand an explanation. Don't tell me I have sinned, and am in hell. Most sins are sins of classification by bigots and poor thinkers. Who can live without sinning, or sin without living? All very well for Kant to say: "Act so that your conduct may be a law for all men under similar conditions." But Kant overlooked that you are part of the conditions.... It is easy enough to be virtuous when you are a professor of pure reason, a regular, punctual mechanism, a thing for the citizens of Königsberg to set their watches by. But if you happen to be one of those fellows to whom all the roses nod and all the stars wink... ~Israel Zangwill, Dreamers of the Ghetto, "From a Mattress Grave," 1897  [spoken by the character Heinrich Heine —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


We have the ability to survive anything except ourselves. ~Mike Dolan, @HawaiianLife, tweet, 2015


We are each a dozen people who were all the same child. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


I've observed that there are more lines formed than things worth waiting for. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


When I break any of the chains that bind me I feel that I make myself smaller. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


We are spirits clad in veils. ~Christopher P. Cranch


In the circle of life there is no top, no corner, and no straight lines. ~Mike Dolan, @HawaiianLife, tweet, 2015


Before I travelled my road I was my road. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin


When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. ~John Muir, 1869, My First Summer in the Sierra


In this, the late afternoon of my life, I wonder: am I casting a longer shadow or is my shadow casting a shorter me? ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


You can't fall off the floor. ~Author unknown


A wise man can see more from the bottom of a well than a fool can from a mountain top. ~Author unknown


In a mist the heights can for the most part see each other; but the valleys cannot. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827


In general people experience their present naively, as it were, without being able to form an estimate of its contents; they have first to put themselves at a distance from it — the present, that is to say, must have become the past — before it can yield points of vantage from which to judge the future. ~Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion


A stumble may prevent a fall. ~English proverb


What you discover in a democracy is that it is difficult to build a house when each nail has an opinion. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com




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