Philosophical Dictionary: Quotations M



 Maarten Maartensz:    Philosophical Dictionary | Filosofisch Woordenboek                      

 Q - Quotations - M



"Most men are within a finger's breadth of being mad."

"There is no genius free from some tincture of madness."

"Great wits are to madness near allied
 And thin partitions do their bounds divide."

"The madman who knows that he is mad is close to sanity."

"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness."


"Hain't we got all the fools in town on our side? And hain't that a big enough majority in any town?"
   (Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn)

"It is proof of a low and base mind for one to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people."
   (Giordano Bruno)

"There is nothing more odious than the majority. It consists of a few powerful men who lead the way; of accommodating rascals and submissive weaklings; and of a mass of men who trot after them without in the least knowing their own minds."

"The vast majority of human beings dislike and even actually dread all notions with which they are not familiar... Hence it comes about that at their first appearance innovators have generally been persecuted, and always derided as fools and madmen.
   (Aldous Huxley, Proper Studies)

"For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are."
   (Niccolò Machiavelli, Discourses)

"The fickle disposition of the multitude almost reduces those who have experience of it to despair; for it is governed solely by emotions, and not by reason."
   (Benedict Spinoza, Theologico-Political Treatise)

"The minority is sometimes right; the majority always wrong."


"Malice is pleasure derived from another's evil which brings no advantage to oneself.
   (Marcus Tullius Cicero)

"[W]e commonly pervert our adversary’s conduct, by imputing malice or injustice to him, in order to give vent to those passions, which arise from self-love and private interest."
   (David Hume)

"We never hurt each other but by error or by malice." 
   (Sir Robert Chambers, possibly inspired by Dr. Johnson)


"Men are so perverse that the mere hope, and indeed even the desire to correct them and see them become reasonable and honest, is an absurdity, a romantic notion which is excusable only in the simplicity of extreme youth.

"If mankind had wished for what is right, they might have had it long ago".

"Man only plays when in the full meaning of the word he is a man, and he is only completely a man when he plays."

"Man is a make-believe animal - he is never so truly himself as when he is acting a part."

"Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck by the difference between what things are and what they might have been."

"The best lesson we can learn from witnessing the folly of mankind is not to irritate ourselves against it."
   (Hazlitt, Characteristics)

"It is only by the help of reason and logical inference, according to Hobbes, that "man becomes excellently wise, or excellently foolish"."
   (Hazlitt, Characteristics)

"It is well that there is no one without a fault; for he would have no friend in the world. He would seem to belong to a different species."
   (Hazlitt, Characteristics)

"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

"L'honnête homme, détrompé des toutes les illusions, est l'homme par excellence."

"Most men who inhabit the world do it so vacantly, think so little, that they are quite ignorant of the world that is before their eyes."

"Not to be worked by anyone's hand, to be no one's man, to draw one's principles, one's feelings, from no one else, this is the rarest thing I have seen."

"The condition of man ... is a condition of war of everyone against everyone.'"

"My opinion of mankind is founded upon the mournful fact that, so far as I can see, they find within themselves the means of believing in a thousand times as much as there is to believe in, judging by experience."
   (De Morgan)

"Man is a political animal."
   (Aristotle, Politics)

"Either a beast or a god."
   (Aristotle, Politics)

"We must not hate men but teach them better."
   (Hegesias, quoted in Edwards, lemma Cyrenaics)

"One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other."
   (Jane Austen)

"And what are you reading, Miss ---? Oh! it is only a novel... or, in short, only some work in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language.
   (Jane Austen)

"It is unfortunate, considering that enthusiasm moves the world, that so few enthusiasts can be trusted to speak the truth."

"Elles doivent avoir les défauts de leurs qualités."

"There's a sucker born every minute."

"Man appears on earth for a little while, but we know nothing of what went  on before this life, and what follows."
   (Bede, 7th C)

"Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward."
   (Bible - Job)

"Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble."
   (Bible - Job)

"Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels."
   (Bible - Psalms)


"It can be shown that a mathematical web of some kind can be woven about any universe containing several objects."

"The most important existence theorem in mathematics is the existence of people."
   (quoted without attribution in Griffiths & Hilton)


Pity, a human face:
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.


And all must love the human form,
In heathen, turk or jew.
Where Mercy, Love & Pity dwell,
There God is dwelling too.


"Preoccupation with money is the great test of small natures, but only a small test of great ones."

"Money is like muck, not good except it be spread."


"There are two classifications of moralists and statesmen: those who have seen human nature only from its odious and ridiculous side, and they are the greater number: Lucian, Montaigne, La Bruyère, La Rochefoucauld, Swift, Mandeville, Helvétius, etc. Those who have seen it only from its admirable side; Shaftesbury and certain others. The first are ignorant of the palace, of which they have seen only latrines. The second are enthusiasts who turn away their eyes from what offends them but none the less exists. Est in medeo verum."

Enjoy and give pleasure, without doing harm to yourself or to anyone else - that, I think, is the whole of morality.

"A person has advanced far in the study of morals who has mastered the difference between pride and vanity."

"Si fueris Romae, Romano vivito more:
si fueris alibi, vivito sicut ibi."
   (St. Ambrose to St. Augustine, usually translated as "If in Rome, do as the Romans do".)

"A beast, but a just beast."
   (Anonymous, said of Dr. Temple, headmaster of Rugby.)

"Know thyself."
   (Anonymous Greek, written in the temple at Delphi.)

"Nothing to excess."
   (Anonymous Greek, written in the temple at Delphi.)

"Gaudeamus igitur."
   (Anonymous: "Let us live and be glad")

"Quidquid agas, prudenter agas, et respice."
   (Anonymous: "Whatever you do, do it careful and mind your end")

"Love, and do what you will."
   (St. Augustine)

"All good moral philosophy is but the handmaid to religion."

"The greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation."

"Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot."
   (Bible - Exodus)

"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
   (Bible - Leviticus)


"Mysteries are not necessarily miracles."

"Miracles do not happen."
   (Matthew Arnold)

 Original: Mar 26, 2005                                                Last edited: June 20 2016.   Top