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The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers

Will Durant

Top 10 Best Quotes

“Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.”

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

“How much more suffering is caused by the thought of death than by death itself.”

“And last are the few whose delight is in meditation and understanding; who yearn not for goods, nor for victory, but for knowledge; who leave both market and battlefield to lose themselves in the quiet clarity of secluded thought; whose will is a light rather than a fire, whose haven is not power but truth: these are the men of wisdom, who stand aside unused by the world.”

“A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within”

“In philosophy, as in politics, the longest distance between two points is a straight line.”

“Grow strong, my comrade … that you may stand Unshaken when I fall; that I may know The shattered fragments of my song will come At last to finer melody in you; That I may tell my heart that you begin Where passing I leave off, and fathom more.”

“Every form of government tends to perish by excess of its basic principle. Aristocracy ruins itself by limiting too narrowly the circle withing which power is confined; oligarchy ruins itself by the incautious for immediate wealth... But even democracy ruins itself by excess-of democracy. Its basic principle is the equal right of all to hold office and determine public policy. This is at first glance a delightful arrangement; it becomes disastrous because the people are not properly equipped by education to select the best rulers and the wisest courses... The upshot of such a democracy is tyranny or autocracy; the crowd so love flattery, it is so "hungry for honey," that at last the wiliest and most unscrupulous flatterer, calling himself the "protector of the people" rises to supreme power.”

“Ultimately there are but three systems of ethics, three conceptions of the ideal character and the moral life. One is that of Buddha and Jesus, which stresses the feminine virtues, considers all men to be equally precious, resists evil only by returning good, identifies virtue with love, and inclines in politics to unlimited democracy. Another is the ethic of Machiavelli and Nietzsche, which stresses the masculine virtues, accepts the inequality of men, relishes the risks of combat and conquest and rule, identifies virtue with power, and exalts an hereditary aristocracy. A third, the ethic of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, denies the universal applicability of either the feminine or the masculine virtues; considers that only the informed and mature mind can judge, according to diverse circumstance, when love should rule, and when power; identifies virtue, therefore, with intelligence; and advocates a varying mixture of aristocracy and democracy in government.”

“The constant steaming in of thoughts of others must suppress and confine our own and indeed in the long run paralyze the power of thought… The inclination of most scholars is a kind of fuga vacui ( latin for vacuum suction )from the poverty of their own mind , which forcibly draws in the thoughts of others… It is dangerous to read about a subject before we have thought about it ourselves… When we read, another person thinks for us; merely repeat his mental process. So it comes about that if anybody spends almost the whole day in reading, he gradually loses the capacity for thinking. Experience of the world may be looked upon as a kind of text, to which reflection and knowledge form the commentary. Where there is a great deal of reflection and intellectual knowledge and very little experience , the result is like those books which have on each page two lines of text to forty lines of commentary”

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