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Important Philosophical Quotations

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Important Citations Human Values 30A Vista Dr. Peter Krey

“True unity differentiates, it does not confound.”[1]

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“Socrates called down philosophy from the skies and implanted it in the cities and homes of people.”


“All western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato.”

Alfred North Whitehead

“Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Lord Acton

“The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing about.”

Blaise Pascal

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”


“Man is the measure of all things, of things that are, that they are, and of things that are not, that they are not.”


“The divine intellect is the measure of all things.”

Thomas Aquinas

“Hate traps us in the past, love opens the future.”

Nicholas Berdyaev

“We hang petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.”


“All generalizations are false, including this one.”

Blaise Pascal

“Faith and God belong together. Whatever your heart clings to and trusts in, I tell you, is really your God.”

Martin Luther

“Philosophers have all variously interpreted the world, the point, however, is to change it.”

Karl Marx

“A law is a measure and rule of human acts” and reason is the first principle of human acts…. “It follows therefore that law is something pertaining to reason.” “It is universally right for all humans that all their inclinations should be directed by reason.”

Thomas Aquinas

“…Take any action allow’d to be vicious: wilful murder, for instance. Examine it in all its lights, and see if you can find that matter of fact, or real existence, which you call vice. In whichever way you take it, you find only certain passions, motives, volitions, and thoughts. There is no other matter of fact in the case. The vice entirely escapes you, as long as you consider the object. You never find it, till you turn your reflexion into your own breast, and find a sentiment….”

David Hume

“It’s one thing to talk about a promise, it is quite another to make one.”

J.L. Austin:

(He discovered performatives in How to Do Things with Words.)

“You can have democracy or the unequal distribution of wealth, but you can’t have both.”

Chief Justice Brandeis

“You can’t step into the same river twice” and “Everything changes but change itself”


“I must again repeat, what the assailants of utilitarianism seldom have the justice to acknowledge, that the happiness which forms the utilitarian standard of what is right in conduct, is not the agent’s own happiness, but that of all concerned.”

John Stuart Mill

“Two things fill the soul with new and ever increasing wonder and awe, the more often and longer I contemplate them: the stars in the heavens over me, and the moral law within me.”

Immanuel Kant

In the state of nature, “there is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no culture on earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving, and removing, such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

Thomas Hobbes

“Justice is the good of others” and “the best is not the one who practices virtue in regard to him or herself, but who practices it toward others.”


“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately corrupt. Who can understand it?”


Asked by Napoleon, if he believed in God, La Place answered,

“I have no need of that hypothesis.”

The following are Martin Niemöller’s lines about moral failure in the face of the Holocaust:

“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist, so I said nothing. Then they came for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social Democrat, so I did nothing. Then came the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionist. And then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did little. Then when they came for me, there was no one left to stand up for me.”

“Poets are the midwives of reality.”


“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”


“Percepts without concepts are empty, concepts without percepts are blind.”


or “Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind.” (N.K. Smith translation)


“Optimism is a human attitude that everything is going to come out all right. Hope, however, is a deep human aspiration that stays alive in the darkest times. I am not an optimist, but I have hope.”

Vlaclav Havel – Czech poet and Statesman

“You see things and say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were and say ‘Why not?’”

George Bernard Shaw

“For the Word of God comes, whenever it comes, to change and renew the world”

Martin Luther

“The philosophers have all variously interpreted the world, the point, however, is to change it.”

Karl Marx

“No flag is large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

Howard Zinn

[1] More fully, translated from the French: Opposing the individual to the group is a false habit of mind:

The coming together of separate elements does nothing to eliminate their differences. On the contrary, it exalts them. In every practical sphere true union (that is to say, synthesis) does not confound; it differentiates. From The Future of Man., (New York: Harper Torch Books, 1964), page 55.


Written by peterkrey

August 4, 2008 at 5:54 pm

Posted in Philosophy

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