Philosophical Quotes

I thought I’d take the opportunity to offer some of my favorite philosophical quotes. I’ve found these helpful in the classroom to just toss in a hat that students draw from, then discuss in small groups.

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. (Bertrand Russell)

“It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anything on insufficient evidence.” (William K. Clifford)

Truth does not become more true by virtue of the fact that the entire world agrees with it, nor less so even if the whole world disagrees with it. (Maimonides)

Let not authority be your truth, but truth be your authority.  (Francis Bacon)

Dare to think for oneself. (Immanuel Kant)

Toleration of difference in moral judgment is a duty which those most insistent upon duty find it hardest to learn. (John Dewey)

The unexamined life is not worth living. (Socrates)

He is richest who is content with the least. (Socrates)

Corruptio optimi pessima: fraudulent hope is one of the greatest malefactors…of the human race, concretely genuine hope its most dedicated benefactor. (Ernst Bloch)

I think therefore I am. (Rene Descartes)

You can’t step in the same river twice. (Attributed to Heraclitus)

You can’t step in the same river once. (Cratylus)

Without music, life would be a mistake. (Friedrich Nietzsche)

God is dead. (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Workers of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains. (Karl Marx)

Religion is the opium of the people. (Karl Marx)

It’s better to be a human dissatisfied than a pig satisfied, better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. (John Stuart Mill)

Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one. (Marcus Aurelius)

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. (George Santayana)

The best revenge is not to be like your enemy. (Marcus Aurelius)

First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you must do. (Epictetus)

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. (Viktor Frankl)

Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it. (Epictetus)

Don’t seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will, then your life will flow well. (Epictetus)

Be tolerant of others and strict with yourself. (Marcus Aurelius)

No man is free who does not master himself. (Epictetus)

Character is fate. (Heraclitus)

It isn’t the events that disturb people, but only their thoughts about them. (Epictetus)

A path is made by walking it. (Zhuangzi)

In the universe great acts are made of small deeds. (Laozi)

The weak can overcome the strong. The supple can overcome the stiff. (Laozi)

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. (Confucius)

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. (Protagoras)

What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others. (Confucius)

Know thyself! (Plato)

A man is nothing but the series of his actions. (Hegel)

Only what is living feels a lack. (Hegel)

One is not born but becomes woman. (Simone De Beauvoir)

Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains. (Jean Jacques Rousseau)

Man is condemned to be free. (Jean Paul Sartre)

Life is not a problem to solve but a reality to be lived.. (Kierkegaard)

From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs. (Karl Marx)

The ruling ideas in every era are the ideas of the ruling classes. (Karl Marx)

Not choosing is a choice. (Jean Paul Sartre)

Man is nothing else that what he did. (Jean Paul Sartre)

I am seen, therefore I am. (Jean Paul Sartre)

Humanity prefers reasons to live to life. (Simone De Beauvoir)

Man is born pure. It is society that corrupts him. (Jean Jacques Rousseau)

Love and do as you will. (St. Augustine)

I believe so that I may understand. (St. Augustine)

People have the government they deserve (Montesquieu)

The knowledge of man cannot extend beyond his own experience. (John Locke)

The ego is a fictional idea. (David Hume)

Man is a wolf to man. (Thomas Hobbes)

One must realize that war is common to all and strife is justice, and all things comes to pass in accordance with conflict. (Heraclitus)

Sea is the most pure and most polluted water. For fish it is drinkable and life-preserving; for people is undrinkable and deadly. (Heraclitus)

Men generally agree that the highest good attainable by action is happiness. (Aristotle)

Being happy is knowing how to be content with little. (Epicurus)

Craving does not look beyond the moment, but it is of the very nature of thought to look toward a remote end. (John Dewey)

We should integrate the office of the judge–of reflection–into the formation of our very desires and thus learn to take pleasure in the ends which reflection approves. (John Dewey)

If you know what sort of things a man finds enjoyable and disagreeable you have a sure clue to his nature. (John Dewey)

There are periods in history when a whole community or a group in a community finds itself in the presence of new issues which its old customs do not adequately meet. The habits and beliefs which were formed in the past do not fit into the opportunities and requirements of contemporary life. (John Dewey)

Standards which were regarded by the followers of tradition as the basis of duty and responsibility were denounced by prophet and philosopher as the source of moral corruption. (John Dewey)

So, in the interests of survival, they trained themselves to be agreeing machines instead of thinking machines. All their minds had to do was to discover what other people were thinking, and then they thought that, too. (Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions)

Those only are happy … who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness; on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit… (John Stuart Mill)

Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves. (Confucius)

We become what we think about all day long. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

The true function of reason is to show man that some things are beyond reason. (Blaise Pascal)

It is impossible to begin to learn that which one thinks one already knows. (Epictetus)

We are always in our own company. (Nietzsche)

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. (Buckminster Fuller)

No man was ever wise by chance. (Seneca)

The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off. (Gloria Steinem)

Be not hasty in your spirit to be angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools. (Ecclesiastes)

The real obstacles in life lie in the heart of man. (Bertrand Russell)

All happiness or unhappiness solely depends upon the quality of the object to which we are attached by love. (Spinoza)

The first thing to realize, if you wish to become a philosopher, is that most people go through life with a whole world of beliefs that have no sort of rational justification, and that one man’s world of beliefs is apt to be incompatible with another man’s, so that they cannot both be right. People’s opinions are mainly designed to make them feel comfortable; truth, for most people is a secondary consideration. (Bertrand Russell)


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