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Top 350 Will Durant Quotes (2023 Update)
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Will Durant Quote: “So prominent was the Jewish role in the foreign commerce of Europe that those nations that received the Jews gained and the countries that excluded them lost in the volume of international trade.”
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: “The tragedy of life is that it gives us wisdom only when it has stolen youth. Si jeunesse savait, et vieillesse pouvait! – “If youth knew how, and old age could!”
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: “When Germany defeated Napoleon it was a disastrous to culture as when Luther defeated the Church.”
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: “Only in relation to our imagination can things be called beautiful or ugly, well-ordered or confused.”
Will Durant Quote: “Perhaps discipline will be restored in our civilization through the military training required by the challenges of war. The freedom of the part varies with the security of the whole; individualism will diminish in America and England as geographical protection ceases. Sexual license may cure itself through its own excess; our unmoored children may live to see order and modesty become fashionable; clothing will be more stimulating than nudity.”
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 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: “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: “We have defined civilization as “social order promoting cultural creation.”67 It is political order secured through custom, morals, and law, and economic order secured through a continuity of production and exchange; it is cultural creation through freedom and facilities for the origination, expression, testing, and fruition of ideas, letters, manners, and arts. It is an intricate and precarious web of human relationships, laboriously built and readily destroyed.”
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: “One proof of the excellence of this amiable woman’s character is that all who loved her loved each other, even jealousy and rivalry submitting to the more powerful sentiment with which she inspired them; and I never saw any of those who surrounded her entertain the least ill will among themselves. Let the reader pause a moment in this encomium, and if he can recollect any other woman who deserves it, let him attach himself to her if he would obtain happiness.”
Will Durant Quote: “They will learn and grow and love and struggle and create, and lift life up one little notch, perhaps, before they die. And when they pass they will cheat death with their children, with parental care that will make their children a little finer than themselves. Life wins.”
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: “He who wishes to revenge injuries by reciprocal hatred will live in misery.”
Will Durant Quote: “Those who desire immortality must pay for it with their lives.”
Will Durant Quote: “To hate is to acknowledge our inferiority and our fear; we do not hate a foe whom we are confident we can overcome.”
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: “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: “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: “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: “News, like men, traveled slowly; intelligence of Barbarossa’s death in Cilicia took four months to reach Germany.16 Medieval man could eat his breakfast without being disturbed by the industriously collected calamities of the world; or those that came to his ken were fortunately too old for remedy.”
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 fount and breeding-place of the Semites was Arabia.”
Will Durant Quote: “All those fascinating varieties of terrain – mountains and valleys, fiords and straits, gulfs and streams – that make Europe a panorama of diverse delight, have broken the population of a minor continent into a score of peoples cherishing their differences, and self-imprisoned in their heritage of hate.”
Will Durant Quote: “There is no cure for such antipathies except a broadened education.”
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: “Frederick agreed that the punishment of La Barre was extreme; for his part he would rather have condemned the youth to read the entire Summa theologica of Thomas Aquinas; this, he thought, would be a fate worse than death.”
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: “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.”
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: “Seek ye first the good things of the mind,” Bacon admonishes us, “and the rest will either be supplied or its loss will not be felt.”2 Truth will not make us rich, but it will make us free.”
Will Durant Quote: “In the third and following centuries of our era various Celtic, Teutonic, or Asiatic tribes laid Italy waste and destroyed the classic cultures. The South creates the civilizations, the North conquers them, ruins them, borrows from them, spreads them: this is one summary of history.”
Will Durant Quote: “Life is that which can hold a purpose for three thousand years and never yield. The individual fails, but life succeeds. The individual is foolish, but life holds in its blood and seed the wisdom of generations. The individual dies, but life, tireless and undiscourageable, goes on, wondering, longing, planning, trying, mounting, longing.”
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: “Economic development specializes functions, differentiates abilities, and makes men unequally valuable to their group.”
Will Durant Quote: “He had the philosopher’s disease of seeing so far ahead that all the little pleasant shapes and colors of existence passed under his nose unseen.”
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: “All strong characters and peoples are race conscious and are instinctively averse to marriage outside their own racial group.”
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: “The gods and myths of Babylon and Nineveh are in many cases modifications or developments of Sumerian theology;.”
Will Durant Quote: “The object of philosophy, therefore, is to perceive unity in diversity, mind in matter, and matter in mind; to find the synthesis in which opposites and contradictions meet and merge; to rise to that highest knowledge of universal unity which is the intellectual equivalent of the love of God.”
Will Durant Quote: “Not as adventitious therefore will the wise man regard the faith that is in him. The highest truth he sees he will fearlessly utter; knowing that, let what may come of it, he is thus playing his right part in the world – knowing that if he can effect the change he aims at – well; if not – well also; though not so well.”
Will Durant Quote: “Our individual separateness is in a sense illusory; we are parts of the great stream of law and cause, parts of God; we are the flitting forms of a being greater than ourselves, and endless while we die. Our bodies are cells in the body of the race, our race is an incident in the drama of life; our minds are the fitful flashes of eternal light.”
Will Durant Quote: “Social evolution is an interplay of custom with origination.”
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: “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.”
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