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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

We are more often treacherous through weakness than through calculation. ~François VI de la Rochefoucault

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

Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow. ~Aesop

Only that in you which is me can hear what I'm saying. ~Baba Ram Dass

I am a part of all that I have met. ~Alfred Lord Tennyson

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

The obscure we see eventually. The completely obvious, it seems, takes longer. ~Edward R. Murrow

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

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,

Losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding a truth. ~Ludwig Börne

If a man who cannot count finds a four-leaf clover, is he lucky? ~Stanislaw J. Lec

We are all but recent leaves on the same old tree of life and if this life has adapted itself to new functions and conditions, it uses the same old basic principles over and over again. There is no real difference between the grass and the man who mows it. ~Albert Szent-Györgyi

Sometimes it's necessary to go a long distance out of the way in order to come back a short distance correctly. ~Edward Albee

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,

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

I tell you everything that is really nothing, and nothing of what is everything, do not be fooled by what I am saying. Please listen carefully and try to hear what I am not saying. ~Charles C. Finn

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

Knock on the sky and listen to the sound. ~Zen saying

The fish trap exists because of the fish. Once you've gotten the fish you can forget the trap. The rabbit snare exists because of the rabbit. Once you've gotten the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words exist because of meaning. Once you've gotten the meaning, you can forget the words. Where can I find a man who has forgotten words so I can talk with him? ~Chuang Tzu

By daily dying I have come to be. ~Theodore Roethke

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]

You never know what is enough, until you know what is more than enough. ~William Blake, Proverbs of Hell

It requires a great deal of faith for a man to be cured by his own placebos. ~John L. McClenahan

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

Philosophy is life's dry-nurse, who can take care of us — but not suckle us. ~Søren Kierkegaard

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

Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought. ~Henri Louis Bergson

If you think you're free, there's no escape possible. ~Ram Dass

The fly that doesn't want to be swatted is most secure when it lights on the fly-swatter. ~G.C. Lichtenberg

Don't miss the donut by looking through the hole. ~Author unknown

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

Life has the name of life, but in reality it is death. ~Heraclitus, Eustathius ad Iliad

To learn something new, take the path that you took yesterday. ~John Burroughs

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

Each forward step we take we leave some phantom of ourselves behind. ~John Lancaster Spalding

We must remember that nothing in this world really belongs to us. At best, we are merely borrowers. ~Christopher Isherwood

The map is not the territory. ~Alfred Korzybski

No matter where you go or what you do, you live your entire life within the confines of your head. ~Terry Josephson

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,

He who has seen present things has seen all, both everything which has taken place from all eternity and everything which will be for time without end; for all things are of one kin and of one form. ~Marcus Aurelius

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

The observer, when he seems to himself to be observing a stone, is really, if physics is to be believed, observing the effects of the stone upon himself. ~Bertrand Russell

The obstacle is the path. ~Zen proverb

It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers. ~James Thurber

It is easy to stand a pain, but difficult to stand an itch. ~Chang Ch'ao

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

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

One day, someone showed me a glass of water that was half full. And he said, "Is it half full or half empty?" So I drank the water. No more problem. ~Alexander Jodorowsky

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,

What deep wounds ever closed without a scar? ~Lord Byron, Child Harold's Pilgrimage

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

You are the sky. Everything else — it's just the weather. ~Pema Chödrön

You exist in time, but you belong to eternity. ~Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

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,

...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! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

I slept with faith and found a corpse in my arms on awakening; I drank and danced all night with doubt and found her a virgin in the morning. ~Aleister Crowley, Book of Lies

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

Weak eyes are fondest of glittering objects. ~Thomas Carlyle

Proverbs often contradict one another, as any reader soon discovers. The sagacity that advises us to look before we leap promptly warns us that if we hesitate we are lost; that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but out of sight, out of mind. ~Leo Rosten

The unreal is more powerful than the real.... Because it's only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. ~Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

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,

See without looking,
hear without listening,
breathe without asking.
~W.H. Auden

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]

Who depends on another man's table often dines late. ~John Ray's Proverbs

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

[T]hings are entirely what they appear to be and behind them... there is nothing. ~Jean Paul Sartre, Nausea

"People have forgotten this truth," the fox said. "But you mustn't forget it. You become responsible forever for what you've tamed." ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 1943, translated from French by Richard Howard

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

We often repent the good we have done as well as the ill. ~William Hazlitt, Characteristics, 1823

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 human mind is inspired enough when it comes to inventing horrors; it is when it tries to invent a Heaven that it shows itself cloddish. ~Evelyn Waugh

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

You are in the perfect position to get there from here. ~Abraham–Hicks

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

It's always Now. ~Eckhart Tolle

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

When you're climbing the ladder, don't forget the rungs. ~Author unknown

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

If I make the lashes dark
And the eyes more bright
And the lips more scarlet,
Or ask if all be right
From mirror after mirror,
No vanity's displayed:
I'm looking for the face I had
Before the world was made.
~W.B. Yeats

Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it. ~George Santayana, Essays

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. ~Niels Bohr

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,

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

Our greatest pretenses are built up not to hide the evil and the ugly in us, but our emptiness. The hardest thing to hide is something that is not there. ~Eric Hoffer, Passionate State of Mind, 1955

Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark or the man afraid of the light? ~Maurice Freehill

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

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,

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

Just as there is no loss of basic energy in the universe, so no thought or action is without its effects, present or ultimate, seen or unseen, felt or unfelt. ~Norman Cousins

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

The road was new to me, as roads always are going back. ~Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country Road of Pointed Firs, 1896

Admiration and familiarity are strangers. ~George Sand

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

We used to think that if we knew one, we knew two, because one and one are two. We are finding that we must learn a great deal more about "and." ~Arthur Stanley Eddington

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

People are divided into two parts: some of them look for and cannot find anything, others find but are not satisfied. ~Mihai Eminescu, translated by Oana Platon

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

The moment a little boy is concerned with which is a jay and which is a sparrow, he can no longer see the birds or hear them sing. ~Eric Berne

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

The charm of history and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age, nothing changes and yet everything is completely different. ~Aldous Huxley

Will localizes us; thought universalizes us. ~Henri-Frédéric Amiel

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

Genuine tragedies in the world are not conflicts between right and wrong. They are conflicts between two rights. ~Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831)

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

If I am not pleased with myself, but should wish to be other than I am, why should I think highly of the influences which have made me what I am? ~John Lancaster Spalding

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

If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts, but if he will content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties. ~Francis Bacon

To believe with certainty we must begin with doubting. ~Stanisław I, King of Poland

The world always makes the assumption that the exposure of an error is identical with the discovery of truth — that the error and truth are simply opposite. They are nothing of the sort. What the world turns to, when it is cured on one error, is usually simply another error, and maybe one worse than the first one. ~H.L. Mencken

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

One does what one is; one becomes what one does. ~Robert von Musil, Kleine Prosa

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,

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

The only Zen you can find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there. ~Robert M. Pirsig

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,

Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought. ~Matsuo Bashō

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