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Top 350 Will Durant Quotes (2023 Update)
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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: “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: “Spinoza is not to be read, he is to be studied; you must approach him as you would approach Euclid, recognizing that in these brief two hundred pages a man has written down his lifetime’s thought with stoic sculptury of everything superfluous.”
Will Durant Quote: “Evolution in man during recorded time has been social rather than biological: it has proceeded not by heritable variations in the species, but mostly by economic, political, intellectual, and moral innovation transmitted to individuals and generations by imitation, custom, or education.”
Will Durant Quote: “The third biological lesson of history is that life must breed. Nature has no use for organisms, variations, or groups that cannot reproduce abundantly.”
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: “To be happy, one must be as ignorant as youth. Youth thinks that willing and striving are joys; it has not yet discovered the weary insatiableness of desire, and the fruitlessness of fulfilment; it does not yet see the inevitableness of defeat.”
Will Durant Quote: “We are tossed about by external causes in many ways, and like waves driven by contrary winds, we waver and are unconscious of the issue and our fate.′ We think we are most ourselves when we are most passionate, whereas it is then we are most passive, caught in some ancestral torrent of impulse or feeling, and swept on to a precipitate reaction which meets only part of the situation because without thought only part of a situation can be perceived.”
Will Durant Quote: “In philosophy all truth is old and only error is original.”
Will Durant Quote: “He does not admire the merely contemplative life; like Goethe he scorns knowledge that does not lead to action: “men ought to know that in the theatre of human life it is only for Gods and angels to be spectators.”
Will Durant Quote: “We have always goodly stock in us of that which we condemn: as only similars can be profitably contrasted, so only similar people quarrel, and the bitterest wars are over the slightest variations of purpose or belief.”
Will Durant Quote: “The first lesson that the sages of the Upanishads teach their selected pupils is the inadequacy of the intellect. How can this feeble brain, that aches at a little calculus, ever hope to understand the complex immensity of which it is so transitory a fragment?”
Will Durant Quote: “How could this sense of right survive if it were not that in our hearts we feel this life to be only a part of life, this earthly dream only an embryonic prelude to a new birth, a new awakening;.”
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: “Since there was no Heaven in ancient Jewish theology,231 virtue had to be rewarded here or never.”
Will Durant Quote: “The timid weakness of individuals, the insecurity of groups, and the delusion of superiority generated perpetual fear, suspicion, dislike, and contempt of the different, the alien, and the strange.”
Will Durant Quote: “We are unhappy when alone, and unhappy in society: we are like hedge-hogs clustering together for warmth, uncomfortable when too closely packed, and yet miserable when kept apart.”
Will Durant Quote: “As the contrast between the militant and the industrial types is indicated by inversion of the belief that individuals exist for the benefit of the state into the belief that the state exists for the benefit of individuals; so the contrast between the industrial type and the type likely to be evolved from it is indicated by inversion of the belief that life is for work into the belief that work is for life.”
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: “Intellectualism – the conception of man as above all a thinking animal, consciously adapting means to rationally chosen ends – fell sick with Rousseau, took to its bed with Kant, and died with Schopenhauer.”
Will Durant Quote: “No civilization has found life tolerable without narcotics.”
Will Durant Quote: “Yet he was not all unhappy: the peace and quiet which he had never had when sane were his now; Nature had had mercy on him when she made him mad. He caught his sister once weeping as she looked at him, and he could not understand her tears: “Lisbeth,” he asked, “why do you cry? Are we not happy?” On one occasion he heard talk of books; his pale face lit up; “Ah!” he said, brightening, “I too have written.”
Will Durant Quote: “Sensation is unorganized stimulus, perception is organized sensation, conception is organized perception, science is organized knowledge, wisdom is organized life: each is a greater degree of order, and sequence, and unity.”
Will Durant Quote: “As want is the constant scourge of the people, so ennui is the scourge of the fashionable world. In middle class the ennui is represented by the Sundays and want by the weekdays.”
Will Durant Quote: “To bear all naked truths, And to envisage circumstance, all calm: That is the top of sovereignty.”
Will Durant Quote: “The first principle of his policy was that the various peoples of his empire should be left free in their religious worship and beliefs, for he fully understood the first principle of statesmanship – that religion is stronger than the state.”
Will Durant Quote: “From whatever angle we approach our eternal political problem we monotonously reach the same conclusion: that the community should determine the ends to be pursued, but that only experts should select and apply the means; that choice should be democratically spread, but that office should be rigidly reserved for the equipped and winnowed best.”
Will Durant Quote: “Herodotus has preserved for us an inscription that he found on one pyramid, recording the quantity of radishes, garlic and onions consumed by the workmen who built it;.”
Will Durant Quote: “By imagination and reason we turn experience into foresight; we become the creators of our future, and cease to be the slaves of our past.”
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: “So the first biological lesson of history is that life is competition.”
Will Durant Quote: “Man’s duty, says the Avesta, is three-fold: “To make him who is an enemy a friend; to make him who is wicked righteous; and to make him who is ignorant learned.”76.”
Will Durant Quote: “For one and the same thing can at the same time be good, bad, and indifferent. For example, music is good to the melancholy, bad to mourners, and indifferent to the dead.”
Will Durant Quote: “The Egyptians enjoyed a great variety of diseases, though they had to die of them without knowing their Greek names.”
Will Durant Quote: “Read the book not all at once, but in small portions at many sittings. And having finished it, consider that you have but begun to understand it. Read then some commentary, like Pollock’s Spinoza, or Martineau’s Study of Spinoza; or, better, both. Finally, read the Ethics again; it will be a new book to you. When you have finished it a second time you will remain forever a lover of philosophy.”
Will Durant Quote: “The experience of the past leaves little doubt that every economic system must sooner or later rely upon some form of the profit motive to stir individuals and groups to productivity. Substitutes like slavery, police supervision, or ideological enthusiasm prove too unproductive, too expensive, or too transient. Normally and generally men are judged by their ability to produce – except in war, when they are ranked according to their ability to destroy.”
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: “MAN is not willingly a political animal. The human male associates with his fellows less by desire than by habit, imitation, and the compulsion of circumstance; he does not love society so much as he fears solitude.”
Will Durant Quote: “When the Duke of Wei offered him the prime ministry he dismissed the royal messengers with a curtness indicative of a writer’s dreams: “Go away quickly, and do not soil me with your presence. I had rather amuse and enjoy myself in a filthy ditch than be subject to the rules and restrictions in the court of a sovereign.”
Will Durant Quote: “Reason is “man’s imitation of divinity.”
Will Durant Quote: “The idea of hell disappeared from educated thought, even from pulpit homilies. Presbyterians became ashamed of the Westminster Confession, which had pledged them to belief in a God who had created billions of men and women despite his foreknowledge that, regardless of their virtues and crimes, they were predestined to everlasting hell.”
Will Durant Quote: “To be a philosopher,” said Thoreau, “is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live, according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust.”
Will Durant Quote: “Nothing learned from a book is worth anything until it is used and verified in life; only then does it begin to affect behavior and desire. It is Life that educates, and perhaps love more than anything else in life.”
Will Durant Quote: “Instead of sacking cities and wrecking temples he showed a courteous respect for the deities of the conquered, and contributed to maintain their shrines; even the Babylonians, who had resisted him so long, warmed towards him when they found him preserving their sanctuaries and honoring.”
Will Durant Quote: “The great achievement of Kant is to have shown, once for all, that the external world is known to us only as sensation; and that the mind is no mere helpless tabula rasa, the inactive victim of sensation, but a positive agent, selecting and reconstructing experience as experience arrives.”
Will Durant Quote: “Death, like style, is the removal of rubbish, the circumcision of the superfluous.”
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: “To his alert mind and ears, every experience was education.”
Will Durant Quote: “Death is the origin of all religions, and perhaps if there had been no death there would have been no gods.”
Will Durant Quote: “Our actions, once we initiate them, seem to follow fixed and invariable laws, but only because we perceive their results through sense, which clothes all that it transmits in the dress of that causal law which our minds themselves have made.”
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