Quotes Archive

The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those who have not got it.

        — George Bernard Shaw

It’s possible that I understand better what’s going on, or it’s equally possible that I just think I do.

        — Russ Cox

A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions–as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all.

        — Friedrich Nietzsche

Only the mediocre are always at their best.

        — Jean Giraudoux

Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

        — Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

        — Friedrich Nietzsche

Inspiration does exist, but it must find you working.

        — Pablo Picasso

There’s nothing I like less than bad arguments for a view that I hold dear.

        — Daniel Dennett

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words [and] a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.

        — Elements of Style, William Strunk, Jr. - 1918

Information is not knowledge
Knowledge is not wisdom
Wisdom is not truth
Truth is not beauty
Beauty is not love
Love is not music
Music is the best.

        — Frank Zappa

If you wind up with a boring, miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on TV telling you how to do your shit, then YOU DESERVE IT.

        — Frank Zappa

Night time is really the best time to work. All the ideas are there to be yours because everyone else is asleep.

        — Catherine O'Hara

Reality is what refuses to go away when I stop believing in it.

        — Philip K. Dick

Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what’s right.

        — Isaac Asimov

Alles Grosse und Gescheite existiert in der Minoritaet. Es ist nie daran zu denken, dass die Vernunft populaer werde. Leidenschaft und Gefuehle moegen populaer werden, aber die Vernunft wird immer nur im Besitze einzelner Vorzueglicher sein.

[“Every big and clever exists in the minority. You will never think of getting it majority. Passion and feelings can get popular, but sanity will only be the proper of some people.]

        — Johnann Wolfgang von Goethe [Quoted by 20h in reference to Utah2000]

The Great Man … is colder, harder, less hesitating, and without respect and without the fear of “opinion”; he lacks the virtues that accompany respect and “respectability”, and altogether everything that is the “virtue of the herd”. If he cannot lead, he goes alone. … He knows he is incommunicable: he finds it tasteless to be familiar. … When not speaking to himself, he wears a mask. There is a solitude within him that is inaccessible to praise or blame.

        — Friedrich Nietzche, The Will to Power

Man is condemned to be free. Condemned, because he did not create himself, yet, [he] is free; because, once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.

        — Jean Paul Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism

The existentialist does not believe in the power of passion. He will never agree that a sweeping passion is a ravaging torrent which fatally leads a man to certain acts and is therefor an excuse. He thinks that man is responsible for his passion.

        — Jean Paul Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism

If you don’t know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.

        — Henry Kissinger

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it.

        — Alan Perlis, http://www.cs.yale.edu/homes/perlis-alan/quotes.html

Him that I love, I wish to be free – even from me.

        — Anne Morrow Lindbergh

We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.

        — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Distrust those in whom the desire to punish is strong

        — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Similar statements have been made by Nietzsche, and attributed to Dostoevsky)

There is nothing worse than imagination without taste.

        — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It is an old observation that the best writers sometimes disregard the rules of rhetoric. When they do so, however, the reader will usually find in the sentence some compensating merit, attained at the cost of the violation. Unless he is certain of doing as well, he will probably do best to follow the rules. After he has learned, by their guidance, to write plain English adequate for everyday uses, let him look, for the secrets of style, to the study of the masters of literature.

        — Elements of Style, William Strunk, Jr. - 1918

Committees do harm merely by existing.

        — Freeman Dyson

Il semble que la perfection soit atteinte non quand il n'y a plus rien à ajouter, mais quand il n'y a plus rien à retrancher.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

        — Antoine-Marie-Roger de Saint-Exupery, Wind, Sand and Stars

There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them.

        — George Orwell

To keep out evil doctrine by licensing is like the exploit of that gallant man who sought to keep out crows by shutting his park gate.

        — John Milton

Some people have very sensitive corns, and the only way to live with them is to step on those corns until they are used to it.

        — Wolfgang Pauli

It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.

        — Thomas Sowell

If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.

        — Thomas Jefferson

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. All progress, therefore, depends upon the unreasonable man.

        — George Bernard Shaw

I try not to think with my gut. If I’m serious about understanding the world, thinking with anything besides my brain, as tempting as that might be, is likely to get me into trouble.

        — Carl Sagan [When asked a question to which he didn’t know the answer and after he firmly said so and the questioner persisted: ‘But what is your gut feeling?’]

The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.

        — Horace Walpope

How do you have a just society when genetics is unjust?

        — James Watson

The chief cause of problems is solutions.

        — Eric Sevareid

To be empty of a fixed identity allows one to enter fully into the shifting, poignant, beautiful and tragic contingencies of the world.

        — Stephen Batchelor, “Verses from the Center”

Above all, don’t fear difficult moments. The best comes from them.

        — Nobel Laureate Rita Levi Montalcini, on the occasion of her 100th birthday

Sufficiently advanced political correctness is indistinguishable from sarcasm.

        — Erik Naggum

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent full of doubt.

        — Bertrand Russell

No monumental evil act in the history of mankind has been committed by anyone who thought of themselves as “evil” — on the contrary, the worse the (objective) evil, the more the perpetrator was completely convinced of the goodness of himself and of his “purification”.

        — Eric Naggum

… there is a special place of torment reserved for those have been neutral in life. Their sin is regarded so grave that they are not even allowed into hell, only its vestibule, separated from hell by the river Archeron. For their sin of indecision and vacillation, Dante devised an appropriate and awful torment: they were condemned to rush for ever behind a banner “which whirls with aimless speed as though it would never take a stand, while also being stung by swarms of persuing hornets”.

        — Deliver Us From Evil, William Shawcross, pp. 32-33. ISBN 0-7475-4844-7 (quoted in 9fans by Boyd Roberts)

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

        — Hanlon’s razor

I divide my officers into four classes; the clever, the lazy, the industrious, and the stupid. Each officer possesses at least two of these qualities. Those who are clever and industrious are fitted for the highest staff appointments. Use can be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy however is for the very highest command; he has the temperament and nerves to deal with all situations. But whoever is stupid and industrious is a menace and must be removed immediately!

        — German General Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord in Truppenführung

Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.

        — Santayana

Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.

        — Albert Einstein

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.

        — George Bernard Shaw

We only acknowledge small faults in order to make it appear that we are free from great ones.

        — La Rochefoucauld

When you start off by telling those who disagree with you that they are not merely in error but in sin, how much of a dialogue do you expect?

        — Thomas Sowell

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.

        — Andy Warhol

The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it’s conformity.

        — John Perry Barlow

For every 10 people who are clipping at the branches of evil, you’re lucky to find 1 who’s hacking at the roots.

        — Thoreau

Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.

        — Marcus Aurelius

The noblest way of taking revenge on others is by refusing to become like them.

        — Marcus Aurelius

The ultimate result of shielding men from the results of folly is to fill the world with fools.

        — Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), ”State Tampering with Money and Banks“ (1891)

You must deffend people you disagree with, it is how you find out what your principles really are.

        — Penn Jillette

I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to Heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.

        — Thomas Jefferson

The man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears.

        — Michel de Montaigne

Wickedness is a myth invented by good people to account for the curious attractiveness of others.

        — Oscar Wilde

Security is mostly a superstition. […] Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

        — Helen Keller

If you obey all the rules, you will miss all the fun.

        — Katharine Hepburn

If you can’t get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you’d best teach it to dance.

        — George Bernard Shaw

If you’re the smartest person in the room, go look for a room with smarter people in it.

        — kevinpet in hackernews

Fashion is what you adopt when you don’t know who you are.

        — Quentin Crisp

Curiosity is insubordination in its purest form.

        — Vladimir Nabokov

A good leader is someone whose troops will follow him, if only out of curiosity.

        — Gen. Colin Powell

Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.

        — Somerset Maugham

Doctor No said, in the same soft resonant voice, “You are right. Mister Bond. That is just what I am, a maniac. All the greatest men are maniacs. They are possessed by a mania which drives them forward towards their goal. The great scientists, the philosophers, the religious leaders - all maniacs. What else but a blind singleness of purpose could have given focus to their genius, would have kept them in the groove of their purpose? Mania, my dear Mister Bond, is as priceless as genius. Dissipation of energy, fragmentation of vision, loss of momentum, the lack of follow-through - these are the vices of the herd.” Doctor No sat slightly back in his chair. “I do not possess these vices. I am, as you correctly say, a maniac”

        — Dr. No

A superior pilot uses his superior judgment to avoid having to exercise his superior skill.

        — Frank Borman [found in http://jwz.livejournal.com/1096593.html]

Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.

        — Dalai Lama

Eventually, I decided that thinking was not getting me very far and it was time to try building.

        — Rob Pike, “The Text Editor sam”

Any view of things that is not strange is false.

        — Neil Gaiman, Sandman

“It’s better to be lucky than smart, but it’s easier to be smart twice than lucky twice.”

        — Seen by Henry Spencer on a button at the World Science Fiction Convention [http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=HL2t45.F7v%40spsystems.net&oe=UTF-8&output=gplain]

One must still have chaos in one to give birth to a dancing star.

        — Nietzsche

Religion is an insult to human dignity. Without it you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, it takes religion.

        — Stephen Weinberg

Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.

-– John F. Kennedy

A witty saying proves nothing.

        — Voltaire

The Future

The future is always scary to those who cling to the past.

        — Tim O'Reilly

The future is here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.

        — William Gibson

The future has a way of arriving unannounced.

        — George F. Will


The greatest thing about a city is the unexpected encounter.

        — Eric Kuhne

A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.

        — Lao Tzu

There’s nothing I’m afraid of like scared people.

        — Robert Frost

I said to my soul, be still, wait without hope For hope would be hope for the wrong thing.

        — T.S. Eliot

Humor is the only divine quality to be found in humanity.

        — Schopenhauer

The shortest path to exceeding expectations doesn’t generally pass through meeting expectations.

        — Ward Cunningham

Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.

        — Anne Morrow Lindbergh

When you’re a connoiseur you look for interesting rather than good.

        — Bram Cohen(?)

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

        — Thomas Paine

One is never so dangerous as when he’s utterly convinced he is right.

        — John Perry Barlow

There are no whole truths: all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays to the devil."

        — Alfred North Whitehead

Give me six lines written by the most honorable of men, and I will find an excuse in them to hang him.

-— Cardinal Richelieu

Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.

-— Daniel Kahneman

Offending people is a necessary and healthy act. Every time you say something that’s offensive to another person you just caused a discussion. You just forced them to have to think.

-—    Louis C.K

When you’re young, you look at television and think, There’s a conspiracy. The networks have conspired to dumb us down. But when you get a little older, you realize that’s not true. The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That’s a far more depressing thought. Conspiracy is optimistic! You can shoot the bastards! We can have a revolution! But the networks are really in business to give people what they want. It’s the truth.

        — Steve Jobs

Some people never go crazy, What truly horrible lives they must live.

        — Charles Bukowski

Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.

-— Ian MacLaren

Sometimes the appropriate response to reality is to go insane.

-— Philip K. Dick

Your mind is credulous enough to believe any narrative you feed it. Choose wisely.

-— Stephen Sadowski

I like offending people because I think people who get offended should be offended.

        — Linus Torvalds

Morality is doing what’s right regardless of what you’re told. Obedience is doing what you’re told regardless of what is right.

        — Unknown

Why do I always parody? Neither in life nor in writing can I achieve complete sincerity.

        — William S. Burroughs

It’s possible for good people in badly designed systems to perpetrate acts of great evil completely unthinkingly.

        — Ben Goldacre