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Philosopher Scholar

Some have the false idea that philosophy is about short quotes and pithy sayings. Philosophy is so much more, but damn are some quotes inspiring, illuminating, and cool.


Bruce Lee

I said empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless. Like water. Now you put water into a cup; it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle; it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot; it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, or it can crash. Be water my friend.

Cease negative mental chattering. - If you think a thing is impossible, you’ll make it impossible.

A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.

Make at least one definite move daily toward your goal.

Don’t fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail.

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.

Research your own experience; absorb what is useful, reject what is useless and add what is essentially your own.

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.

It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.

Concentration is the root of all the higher abilities in man.

To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.

Ultimately the greatest help is self-help.

What is more important than what should be.

Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.

As you think, so shall you become.

Those who are unaware they are walking in darkness will never seek the light.

Do not pray for an easy life; pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.

If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.

A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.

The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.

Defeat is a state of mind; no one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.


“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” - Friedrich Nietzsche

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” - Ernest Hemingway

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” - Robert Frost

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” - Buddha Siddhartha Guatama Shakyamuni

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” - Bernard M. Baruch

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” - Albert Einstein

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” - Oscar Wilde

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” - Dr. Seuss

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” - Marcus Tullius Cicero

“The only constant in life is change” - Heraclitus

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” - Mae West

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” - Eleanor Roosevelt, This is My Story

“Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” - C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

“Don’t walk in front of me… I may not follow
Don’t walk behind me… I may not lead
Walk beside me… just be my friend” - Albert Camus

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” - Narcotics Anonymous

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” - Mark Twain

“I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.” - Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince and Other Stories

“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.” - Oscar Wilde

“It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.” - Maurice Switzer, Mrs. Goose, Her Book (Classic Reprint)

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” - Martin Luther King Jr.

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” - H. Jackson Brown Jr.

“Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michaelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children.” - Pablo Casals

“The greatest risk to man is not that he aims too high and misses, but that he aims too low and hits.” - Michaelangelo

“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” - Nicolas Chamfort

“Go to heaven for the climate and hell for the company.” - Benjamin Franklin Wade

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” - Anne Frank, Anne Frank’s Tales from the Secret Annex: A Collection of Her Short Stories, Fables, and Lesser-Known Writings, Revised Edition

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead

“May you live every day of your life.” - Jonathan Swift

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” - Dr. Seuss

“Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.” - Bertrand Russell

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” - Albert Einstein

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” - Plato

“A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what’s going on. “ - William S. Burroughs

“Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people we personally dislike.” - Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband

“A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the lies you can invent.” - William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” - Plato

“Let’s think the unthinkable, let’s do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.” - Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (Dirk Gently, #1)

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.” - Friedrich Nietzsche

“It is an ironic habit of human beings to run faster when they have lost their way.” - Rollo May

“Whether you live to be 50 or 100 makes no difference, if you made no difference in the world.” - Jarod Kintz, Great Listener Seeks Mute Women

“We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic ‘progress’ leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.” - J.R.R. Tolkien

“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” - Gabriel García Márquez

“I started my life with a single absolute: that the world was mine to shape in the image of my highest values and never to be given up to a lesser standard, no matter how long or hard the struggle.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” - Albert Einstein

“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think” - Socrates

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder ‘why, why, why?’
Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.” - Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle

“As for myself: I had come to the conclusion that there was nothing sacred about myself or about any human being, that we were all machines, doomed to collide and collide and collide.” - Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

“The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.” Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel

“No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” - George Lucas, The Star Wars Trilogy

“The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is at all comprehensible.” - Albert Einstein

“Those who educate children well are more to be honored than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well.” - Aristotle

“If you only had 48 hours left to live, would you spend it like you normally spend your weekends? If not, why spend 2/7th of your life wasting your free time? After all, free time isn’t free. Free time is the most expensive time you have, because nobody pays for it but you. But that also makes it the most valuable time you have, as you alone stand to reap the profits from spending it wisely.” - Jarod Kintz, I Should Have Renamed This

“Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?” - Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.” - Plato

“Man is a mystery. It needs to be unravelled, and if you spend your whole life unravelling it, don’t say that you’ve wasted time. I am studying that mystery because I want to be a human being.” - Fyodor Dostoevsky

“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

“Fault always lies in the same place: with him weak enough to lay blame.” - Stephen King

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” - Bruce Lee

“One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” - Plato

“On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.” - George Orwell, All Art is Propaganda: Critical Essays

“My desire and wish is that the things I start with should be so obvious that you wonder why I spend my time stating them. This is what I aim at because the point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.” - Bertrand Russell, The Philosophy of Logical Atomism

“The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments.” - Friedrich Nietzsche

“I never found beauty in longing for the impossible and never found the possible to be beyond my reach.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.

[These words are also inscribed upon his grave]” - Karl Marx, Eleven Theses on Feuerbach

“If you understand others you are smart.
If you understand yourself you are illuminated.
If you overcome others you are powerful.
If you overcome yourself you have strength.
If you know how to be satisfied you are rich.
If you can act with vigor, you have a will.
If you don’t lose your objectives you can be long-lasting.
If you die without loss, you are eternal.” - Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

“I am, therefore I’ll think.” - Ayn Rand

“I think I am, therefore, I am… I think.” - George Carlin

“I don’t know why we are here, but I’m pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves.” - Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” - Aristotle

“To teach how to live without certainty, and yet without being paralyzed by hesitation, is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can still do for those who study it.” - Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy

“One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.” - Stephen Hawking

“I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.” - Bertrand Russell

“Even a soul submerged in sleep
is hard at work and helps
make something of the world.” - Heraclitus, Fragments

“One must wait until the evening to see how splendid the day has been.” - Sophocles

“Words do not express thoughts very well; every thing immediately becomes a little different, a little distorted, a little foolish. And yet it also pleases me and seems right that what is of value and wisdom of one man seems nonsense to another.” - Siddhartha Gautama

“Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous.” - David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature

“…an optimistic mind-set finds dozens of possible solutions for every problem that the pessimist regards as incurable.” - Robert Anton Wilson, Cosmic Trigger: Die letzten Geheimnisse der Illuminaten oder An den Grenzen des erweiterten Bewusstseins

“Fas est ab hoste doceri.
One should learn even from one’s enemies.” - Ovid, Metamorphoses

“The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end.” - Leon Trotsky, Their Morals and Ours: The Class Foundations of Moral Practice

“A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.” - Ludwig Wittgenstein

“If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you but answer, “He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned these alone.” - Epictetus

“I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, torture it endures and knows how to turn to its advantage” - Fredrich Nietzsche

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” - Elbert Hubbard, Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great Vol. 3: American Statesmen

“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

“Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together,but do so with all your heart.” - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

“When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love …” - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

“If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance who is harmed.” - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

“The best revenge is not to be like your enemy.” - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” - Marcus Aurelius

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” - Plato

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” - Plato

“The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.” - Plato, The Republic

“Love is a serious mental disease.” - Plato, Phaedrus

“Never discourage anyone…who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.” - Plato

“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” - Plato, The Republic

“Ignorance, the root and stem of every evil.” - Plato

“If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things.” - Plato, The Republic

“There are two motives for reading a book; one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it.” - Bertrand Russell

“We spend the first year of a child’s life teaching it to walk and talk and the rest of its life to shut up and sit down. There’s something wrong there.” - Neil deGrasse Tyson

“The more I learn about the universe, the less convinced I am that there’s any sort of benevolent force that has anything to do with it, at all.” - Neil deGrasse Tyson

“There is so much noise on the Internet, with would-be prophets daily haranguing their audience and megalomaniacs trying to push bizarre ideas, that eventually people will cherish a new commodity: wisdom.” - Michio Kaku, Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100

“… there is no shame in not knowing. The problem arises when irrational thought and attendant behavior fill the vacuum left by ignorance.” - Neil deGrasse Tyson, The Sky Is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist

“It is not that I am mad, it is only that my head is different from yours.” - Diogenes of Sinope

“Alexander the Great found the philosopher looking attentively at a pile of human bones. Diogenes explained, “I am searching for the bones of your father but cannot distinguish them from those of a slave.” - Diogenes

“Blushing is the color of virtue.” - Diogenes

“Of what use is a philosopher who doesn’t hurt anybody’s feelings?” - Diogenes of Sinope

“It is the privilege of the gods to want nothing, and of godlike men to want little.” - Diogenes of Sinope

“The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.” - Diogenes

“When some one reminded him that the people of Sinope had sentenced him to exile, he said, “And I sentenced them to stay at home.” - Diogenes

“Dogs and philosophers do the greatest good and get the fewest rewards.” - Diogenes of Sinope

“To one who asked what was the proper time for lunch, he said, “If a rich man, when you will; if a poor man, when you can.” - Diogenes

“What I like to drink most is wine that belongs to others.” - Diogenes

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” - Leonardo da Vinci

“Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.” - Leonardo da Vinci

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” - Leonardo da Vinci

“I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.” - Leonardo da Vinci

“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.” - Leonardo da Vinci

“Nothing can be loved or hated unless it is first understood.” - Leonardo da Vinci

“One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.” - Leonardo da Vinci

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” - Leonardo da Vinci

“The knowledge of all things is possible” - Leonardo da Vinci

“The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.” - Leonardo da Vinci

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” - Leonardo da Vinci

“Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses- especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” - Leonardo da Vinci

“As you cannot do what you want,
Want what you can do” - Leonardo da Vinci

“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.” - Leonardo da Vinci

“I thought I was learning to live; I was only learning to die.” - Leonardo da Vinci

“The artist sees what others only catch a glimpse of.” - Leonardo Da Vinci

“You will never have a greater or lesser dominion than that over yourself…the height of a man’s success is gauged by his self-mastery; the depth of his failure by his self-abandonment. …And this law is the expression of eternal justice. He who cannot establish dominion over himself will have no dominion over others.” - Leonardo da Vinci

“No one has ever properly understood me, I have never fully understood anyone; and no one understands anyone else” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” - Frédéric Bastiat

“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” - Socrates

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” - Confucious

“He who knows all the answers has not been asked all the questions.” - Confucius

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” - Confucius

“If you make a mistake and do not correct it, this is called a mistake.” - Confucius

“The funniest people are the saddest ones” - Confucius

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” - Confucius, Confucius: The Analects

“Study the past if you would define the future.” - Confucius

“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” - Confucius

“To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.” - Confucius

“Respect yourself and others will respect you.” - Confucius, Sayings of Confucius

“Give a bowl of rice to a man and you will feed him for a day. Teach him how to grow his own rice and you will save his life.” - Confucius

“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.” - Confucius

“Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.” - Confucius

“The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” - Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life

“The world has a very serious problem, my friend’ Shiva went on. ‘Poor children still die by their millions. Westerners and the global rich – like me – live in post-scarcity society, while a billion people struggle to get enough to eat. And we’re pushing the planet towards a tipping point, where the corals die and the forests burn and life becomes much, much harder. We have the resources to solve those problems, even now, but politics and economics and nationalism all get in the way. If we could access all those minds, though…” - Ramez Naam, Crux (Nexus, #2)

“One-third to one-half of humanity are said to go to bed hungry every night. In the Old Stone Age the fraction must have been much smaller. This is the era of hunger unprecedented. Now, in the time of the greatest technical power, is starvation an institution. Reverse another venerable formula: the amount of hunger increases relatively and absolutely with the evolution of culture.” - Marshall Sahlins, Stone Age Economics

“I Keep Six Honest Serving Men …”

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.

But different folk have different views;
I know a person small—
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!

She sends’em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes—
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!” - Rudyard Kipling, The Elephant’s Child (Just So Stories)

“Jumping from failure to failure with undiminished enthusiasm is the big secret to success.” - Savas Dimopoulos

“It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not weakness; that is life.” - Jean Luc Picard