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Top 350 Will Durant Quotes (2024 Update)
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Will Durant Quote: “Liberty and equality are enemies: the more freedom men enjoy, the freer they are to reap the results of their natural or environmental superiorities; hence inequality multiplies under governments favoring freedom of enterprise and support of property rights. Equality is an unstable equilibrium, which any difference in heredity, health, intelligence, or character will soon end. Most revolutions find that they can check inequality only by limiting liberty, as in authoritarian lands.”
Will Durant Quote: “All science is a charted ignorance and belongs to Maya.”
Will Durant Quote: “Centuries of barbarism, insecurity and war had to intervene before man could defile his God with attributes of undying vengeance and inexhaustible cruelty.”
Will Durant Quote: “Crafty men condemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them; for they teach not their own use; but that is a wisdom without them, and above them, won by observation.”
Will Durant Quote: “By 1911 I found it impossible to continue my pretenses to orthodoxy;.”
Will Durant Quote: “The second biological lesson of history is that life is selection. In the competition for food or mates or power some organisms succeed and some fail. In the struggle for existence some individuals are better equipped than others to meet the tests of survival.”
Will Durant Quote: “When those who must do the fighting have the right to decide between war and peace, history will no longer be written in blood.”
Will Durant Quote: “The Englishman does not so much make English civilization as it makes him; if he carries it wherever he goes, and dresses for dinner in Timbuktu, it is not that he is creating his civilization there anew, but that he acknowledges even there its mastery over his soul.”
Will Durant Quote: “These steeples, everywhere pointing upward, ignoring despair and lifting hope – these lofty city spires or simple chapels in the hills – they rise at every step from the earth to the sky; in every village of every nation on the globe they challenge doubt and invite weary hearts to consolation. Is it all a vain delusion? Is there nothing beyond life but death, and nothing beyond death but decay? We cannot know, but as long as men suffer, those steeples will remain.”
Will Durant Quote: “When a man is interested in the past he writes history; when he is interested in the future he makes it.”
Will Durant Quote: “All strong characters and peoples are race conscious and are instinctively averse to marriage outside their own racial group.”
Will Durant Quote: “The historian always oversimplifies, and hastily selects a manageable minority of facts and faces out of a crowd of souls and events whose multitudinous complexity he can never quite embrace or comprehend.”
Will Durant Quote: “Having first determined the question according to his will, man then resorts to experience; and bending her into conformity with his placets, leads her about like a captive in a procession.”
Will Durant Quote: “What I am not,” he says, most truthfully, “that for me is God.”
Will Durant Quote: “The advances of agricultural and contraceptive technology in the nineteenth century apparently refuted Malthus: in England, the United States, Germany, and France the food supply kept pace with births, and the rising standard of living deferred the age of marriage and lowered the size of the family.”
Will Durant Quote: “Which is now a more hopeful statement than Swift intended it to be.”
Will Durant Quote: “It was a great moral improvement when men ceased to kill or eat their fellowmen, and merely made them slaves. A similar development on a larger scale may be seen today, when a nation victorious in war no longer exterminates the enemy, but enslaves it with indemnities.”
Will Durant Quote: “There his chief enterprises are reading and doing nothing.”
Will Durant Quote: “The class war had turned democracy into a contest in legislative looting.”
Will Durant Quote: “Water is the usual drink, but everyone has wine, for no civilization has found life tolerable without narcotics or stimulants.”
Will Durant Quote: “I was only 44, which is childhood philosophy.”
Will Durant Quote: “For what is philosophy but an art – one more attempt to give “significant form” to the chaos of experience?”
Will Durant Quote: “A little philosophy inclineth a man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion. For while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them, confederate and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity.”
Will Durant Quote: “And then, again, the more distinctly a man knows – the more intelligent he is – the more pain he has; the man who is gifted with genius suffers most of all.”
Will Durant Quote: “His wife does not dress for him, only when he has gone away and is no longer in her mind; he sees her in a disheveled negligee, while all through the day he meets women powdered and primped and curled, whose charming knees and inviting frocks and encouraging smiles and aphrodisiac perfumes leave him hovering hourly over the abysses of disloyalty.”
Will Durant Quote: “All that remained was the scientific specialist, who knew “more and more about less and less,” and the philosophical speculator, who knew less and less about more and more. The specialist put on blinders in order to shut out from his vision all the world but one little spot, to which he glued his nose. Perspective was lost. “Facts” replaced understanding; and knowledge, split into a thousand isolated fragments, no longer generated wisdom. Every science, and every branch of philosophy, developed.”
Will Durant Quote: “Only in relation to our imagination can things be called beautiful or ugly, well-ordered or confused.”
Will Durant Quote: “It is only charlatans who are certain. We know nothing of first principles. It is truly extravagant to define God, angels, and minds, and to know precisely why God formed the world, when we do not know why we move our arms at will. Doubt is not a very agreeable state, but certainty is a ridiculous one.”
Will Durant Quote: “Civilization is always older than we think; and under whatever sod we tread are the bones of men and women who also worked and loved, wrote songs and made beautiful things, but whose names and very being have been lost in the careless flow of time.”
Will Durant Quote: “The man who does not wish to be merely one of the mass only needs to cease to be easy on himself.” To have a purpose for which one can be hard upon others, but above all upon one’s self; to have a purpose for which one will do almost anything except betray a friend, – that is the final patent of nobility, the last formula of the superman.”
Will Durant Quote: “And, after speech, it provided a readier instrument for the dissemination of nonsense than the world has ever known until our time.”
Will Durant Quote: “The moment man begins to take thought of the morrow he passes out of the Garden of Eden into the vale of anxiety; the pale cast of worry settles down upon him, greed is sharpened, property begins, and the good cheer of the “thoughtless” native disappears.”
Will Durant Quote: “The division of members into Tories or Whigs had by 1761 lost nearly all significance; the real division was between supporters and opponents of the current “government,” or ministry, or of the king. By and large the Tories protected the landed interest; the Whigs were willing now and then to consider the desires of the business class; otherwise both Tories and Whigs were equally conservative. Neither party legislated for the benefit of the masses.”
Will Durant Quote: “In philosophy all truth is old and only error is original.”
Will Durant Quote: “I feel for all faiths the warm sympathy of one who has come to learn that even the trust in reason is a precarious faith, and that we are all fragments of darkness groping for the sun. I know no more about the ultimates than the simplest urchin in the streets.”
Will Durant Quote: “The world is not “my idea,” as Schopenhauer called it; it is a stern reality of which you and I are passing spawns.”
Will Durant Quote: “The total picture of life is almost too painful for contemplation; life depends on our not knowing it too well.”
Will Durant Quote: “Racial” antipathies have some roots in ethnic origin, but they are also generated, perhaps predominantly, by differences of acquired culture – of language, dress, habits, morals, or religion. There is no cure for such antipathies except a broadened education.”
Will Durant Quote: “This direct perception, this simple and steady looking-upon a thing, is intuition; not any mystic process, but the most direct examination possible to the human mind.”
Will Durant Quote: “He who wishes to revenge injuries by reciprocal hatred will live in misery.”
Will Durant Quote: “If the human brood is too numerous for the food supply, Nature has three agents for restoring the balance: famine, pestilence, and war.”
Will Durant Quote: “When I introspect I perceive not merely sensations and ideas but desire, will, ambition, and pride as vital phases of me. Spinoza was right: “desiderium ipsa essentia hominis” – desire is the very essence of man. We are living flames of desire until we admit final defeat. Will is desire expressed in ideas that become actions unless impeded by contrary or substitute desires and ideas. Character is the sum of our desires, fears, propensities, habits, abilities, and ideas.”
Will Durant Quote: “Those who desire immortality must pay for it with their lives.”
Will Durant Quote: “To be great is not to be placed above humanity, ruling others; but to stand above the partialities and futilities of uninformed desire, and to rule one’s self.”
Will Durant Quote: “Christianity must be divine,” he says, in one of his most unmeasured sallies, “since it has lasted 1,700 years despite the fact that it is so full of villainy and nonsense.”79 He shows how almost all ancient peoples had similar myths, and hastily concludes that the myths are thereby proved to have been the inventions of priests: “the first divine was the first rogue who met the first fool.”
Will Durant Quote: “This ridiculous foible is perhaps one of our most fatal characteristics; for is there anything more absurd than to wish to carry continually a burden which one can always throw down?”
Will Durant Quote: “Being also a poet, he put Francis Bacon into doggerel: You glorify Nature and meditate on her; Why not domesticate her and regulate her? You obey Nature and sing her praise; Why not control her course and use it?”
Will Durant Quote: “Great gaps occur in the history of the art, because most of the early work was ruined by the climate, and much of the remainder was destroyed by Moslem “idol-breakers” from Mahmud to Aurangzeb.”
Will Durant Quote: “In some way the god had to be appeased and satisfied; for his worshipers had made him in the image and dream of themselves, and he had no great regard for human life, or womanly tears.”
Will Durant Quote: “In place of the Absolute as determining history through the Zeitgeist, Marx offered mass movements and economic forces as the basic causes of every fundamental change, whether in the world of things or in the life of thought. Hegel, the imperial professor, had hatched the socialistic eggs.”
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