Quotes to remember, quotes symbols
Institute of World Culture
Quotable Passages from Notable Human Beings


Alexander Graham Bell
March 3, 1847 – August 2, 1922
"Leave the beaten track occasionally and dive into the woods. Every time you do so you will be certain to find something that you have never seen before. Follow it up, explore all around it, and before you know it, you will have something worth thinking about to occupy your mind. All really big discoveries are the results of thought."

George Boole
November 2, 1815 – December 8, 1864
British mathematician and philosopher
Inventor of Boolean algebra, the basis of all modern computer arithmetic

". . . no general method for the solution of questions in the theory of probabilities can be established which does not explicitly recognise ...those universal laws of thought which are the basis of all reasoning . . ."

Louis Braille
January 4, 1809 – January 6, 1852 French teacher of the blind, invented a system of raised dots ("braille") so the blind could read

Speaking to a friend shortly before he died: “Yesterday was one of the greatest and most beautiful days of my life… I tasted the greatest joys. God was pleased to hold before my eyes the dazzling splendors of eternal hope. After that, doesn’t it seem that nothing more could keep me bound to the earth?

Edmund Burke
January 12, 1729 – July 9, 1797
Irish statesman, author, philosoher, political theorist, orator

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

George Washington Carver
1864 – January 5, 1943
African American scientist, inventor, botanist, educator

Mary Bellis says of him: "Carver did not patent or profit from most of his products. He freely gave his discoveries to mankind. Most important was the fact that he changed the South from being a one-crop land of cotton, to being multi-crop farmlands, with farmers having hundreds of profitable uses for their new crops."

About his ideas Carver would say: "God gave them to me. How can I sell them to someone else?

Charles Darwin
February 12, 1809 – April 19, 1882
English naturalist

"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change."

Fyodor Dostoyevsky
November 11, 1821 – February 9, 1881
Russian novelist, journalist, essayist

"You are told a lot about your education, but some beautiful, sacred memory, preserved since childhood, is perhaps the best education of all. If a man carries many such memories into life with him, he is saved for the rest of his days. And even if only one good memory is left in our hearts, it may also be the instrument of our salvation one day."

René Daumal
March 16, 1908 – May 21,1944
French writer, philosopher, poet

"I am dead because I lack desire,
I lack desire because I think I possess,
I think I possess because I do not try to give.
In trying to give, you see that you have nothing;
Seeing that you have nothing, you try to give of yourself;
Trying to give of yourself, you see that you are nothing;
Seeing that you are nothing, you desire to become;
In desiring to become, you begin to live.

Paul Gauguin
June 7, 1848 – May 8, 1903
"In art, all who have done something other than their predecessors have merited the epithet of revolutionary; and it is they alone who are masters."

"Where do we come from?  What are we?  Where are we going?"

Daj Hammarskjöld
July 29, 1905 – September 18, 1961
Swedish diplomat
of the United Nations 1951-1953
Nobel Peace Prize 1961

In a brief piece written for a radio program in 1953, Dag Hammarskjöld spoke of the influence of his parents:

"From generations of soldiers and government officials on my father's side I inherited a belief that no life was more satisfactory than one of selfless service to your country - or humanity. This service required a sacrifice of all personal interests, but likewise the courage to stand up unflinchingly for your convictions. From scholars and clergymen on my mother's side, I inherited a belief that, in the very radical sense of the Gospels, all men were equals as children of God, and should be met and treated by us as our masters in God."

Robert E. Lee
January 19, 1807 – October 12, 1870
American soldier, general in the army of the Confederate states

"So far from engaging in a war to perpetuate slavery, I am rejoiced that Slavery is abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interest of the South. So fully am I satisfied of this that I would have cheerfully lost all that I have lost by the war, and have suffered all that I have suffered to have this object attained."

Herman Melville
August 1, 1819 – September 28, 1891
American novelilst, short story writer, essayist and poet

"We cannot live only for ourselves.
A thousand fibers connect us
with our fellow men;
and among those fibers,
as sympathetic threads,
our actions run as causes,
and they come back
to us as effects.”

Baron de Montesquieu, Charles-Louis de Secondat
January 18, 1689 – February 10, 1755
French political philosopher of the Englightenment 1689

Sir Isaiah Berlin writes of Montesquieu in "Againsts the Current", "Montesquieu advocated constitutionalism, the preservation of civil liberties, the abolition of slavery, gradualism, moderation, peace, internationalism, social and economic justice with due respect to national and local tradition. He believed in justice and the rule of law; detested all forms of extremism and fanaticism; put his faith in the balance of power and the division of authority as a weapon against despotic rule by individuals or groups or majorities; and approved of social equality, but not the point which it threatened individual liberty; and out of liberty, but not to the point where it threatened to disrupt orderly government."

Quotes take from Montesquieu from "The Spirit of Laws":
"In republican governments, men are all equal; equal they are also in despotic governments: in the former, because they are everything; in the latter, because they are nothing."  Bk. VI, Ch. 2

"Luxury is therefore absolutely necessary in monarchies; as it is also in despotic states, In the former, it is the use of liberty, in the latter, it is the abuse of servitude..." Bk. VII, Ch. 4
"Hence arrives a very natural reflection. Republics end with luxury; monarchies with poverty." Bk. VII, Ch. 4

"As distant as heaven is from the earth, so is the true spirit of equality from that of extreme equality..." Bk. VIII, Ch. 3
"In a true state of nature, indeed, all men are born equal, but they cannot continue in this equality. Society makes them lose it, and they recover it only by the protection of laws." Bk. VIII, Ch. 3

Isaac Newton
January 4, 1643 – March 31, 1727 (Gregorian calendar)
December 25, 1642 – March 20, 1726 (Julian calendar)
British mathematician, physicist, natural philosopher, theologian, alchemist, astronomer

"I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother peeble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."

"If I have been able to see further, it is only because I stood on the shoulders of giants."

Thomas Paine
January 29, 1737 – June 8, 1809
English author, revolutionary, inventor, intellectual known for his role in the American Revolution and as the author of "Common Sense", a widely-read pamphlet advocating Colonial America's independnece from Great Britian

From Paine's essay, "The Society for Political Inquiries" in "Life and Writings of Thomas Paine" come the comment: "The moral character and happiness of mankind are so interwoven with the operations of government, and the progress of the arts and sciences is so dependent on the nature of our political institutions, that it is essential to the advancement of civilized society to give ample discussion to these topics."

Rainer Maria Rilke
December 4, 1874 – December 29, 1926

"Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart. Do not now seek the answers. Live the questions."

"All emotions are pure which gather you and lift you up; that emotion is impure which seizes only one side of your being and so distorts you."

Will Rogers
November 4, 1879 – August 15, 1935
American-Cherokee cowboy, comedian, humorist, social commentator and actor

From Saturday Evening Post, November 6, 1926 speaking of Leon Trotsky:
"I bet you if I had met him and had a chat with him, I would have found him a very interesting and human fellow, for I never yet met a man that I didn't like.

"We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others."

"I have a scheme for stopping war. It's this - no nation is allowed to enter a war till they have paid for the last one."