The Great Thoughts George Seldes, compiler From Abelard to Zola, from ancient Greece to contemporary America, the ideas that have shaped the history of the world.
"Religion is the root of human existence." Wilhelm Schlegel (1767-1845), German poet, 'Lectures, 1807-1808'
"No myth of miraculous creation is so marvelous as the fact of man's evolution." Robert Briffault (1876-1948), British surgeon and anthropoligist, 'Rational Evolution'
"He [God] is invisible, although seen; incomprehensible, although revealed in grace, unfathomable, although fathomed by the human senses." Tertullian (ca. 160-240 ad), Carthagenian-born Christian author, 'Apologeticus'
"Use love to motivate you and obligate you to serve the human family." Jesse Jackson (b. 1941), American minister, political leader, address to the Democratic National Convention, 1984
"As faintness is a disease of the body, so is vice a sickness of the mind. Wherefore, since we judge those who have corporal infirmities to be rather worthy of compassion than hatred, much more are they to be pitied, and not abhorred, whose minds are oppressed." Boethius (ca. 480-524), Roman philosopher, 'The Consolation of Philosophy'
"My prayer is that my life be meaningful in the enhancement of His Kingdom on earth, enhancement of the lives of my fellow human beings." James Earl Carter (b.1924), 39th American President, interview with religious leaders, Indianapolis, December 1976
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948),
"The precepts of the law are these: to live honestly, to injure no one, and to give every man his due." Justinian I (483-565 ad), Byzantine emperor, 'The Institutes of Justinian', Title I, bk. 1
"No government can stand which is not founded on justice." Aristotle (384-322 bce), Greek philosopher, 'Politics', Bk. VII
"Man is what he believes." Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), Russian writer, 'Notebooks'
"We must discover a new respect for what transcends us: for the universe, for the earth, for nature, for life, and for reality. Our respect for other people, for other nations, and for other cultures, can only grow from a humble respect for the cosmic order and from an awareness that we are a part of it, that we share in it and that nothing of what we do is lost, but rather becomes part of the eternal memory of Being." Vaclav Havel (b. 1936), Czech playwright, President of the Czech Republic, commencement address, Harvard University, June 8, 1995
"As to the word 'God',…it is a floating literary symbol, with a value which, if we define it scientifically, becomes quite algebraic." George Santayana (1863-1952), Spanish-born American philosopher, 'Reason in Society'
"United we stand, divided we fall." Aesop (620-560 bce), Greek author, 'The Four Oxen and the Lion'
"Dust as we are, the immortal spirit grows like harmony in music; there is a dark inscrutable workmanship that reconciles discordant elements." William Wordsworth (1770-1850), English poet, 'The Prelude'
"The pursuit of perfection is the pursuit of sweetness and light….He who works for sweetness and light, works to make reason and the will of God prevail….Culture has a great passion, the passion for sweetness and light. It has one yet even greater! – the passion for making them prevail." Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), English poet, essayist, 'Culture and Anarchy'
"To understand everything is to hate nothing." Romain Rolland (1866-1944), French novelist, 'Jean-Christophe'
"All men know in their very earliest years that beside the good of their animal personality, there is another, a better, a good in life, which is not only independent of the gratification of the appetites of the animal personality, but on the contrary, the greater the renunciation of the welfare of the animal personality the greater the good becomes…This feeling…is known to all. This feeling is love." Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Russian author, 'On Life and Essays on Religion'
"Nothing under the sun is accidental." Gotthold E. Lessing (1729-1781), German dramatist, 'Emilia Galotti'
"There is only one science, love; only one riches, love; only one policy, love….love is all the law, and the prophets." Anatole France (1844-1924), French author, 'Epigrams'
"A crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery of pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love." Francis Bacon (1561-1626), English philosopher, 'On Friendship'
"For a conscious being, to exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly." Henri Bergson (1859-1941), French philosopher, Nobel Prize winner, 1927, 'Creative Evolution'
"Free? Understand that well, it is the deep commandment, dimmer or clearer, of our whole being, to be free." Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), Scottish historian
"What's freedom for? To know eternity." Theodore Roethke (1908-1963), American poet, 'I Knew A Woman'
"He who loves according to the guidance of reason strives as much as possible to repay the hatred, anger, or contempt of others toward himself with love and generosity." Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), Dutch philosopher, 'Ethics'
"Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. Without books, the development of civilization would have been impossible. They are engines of change, windows on the world, 'lighthouses' (as a poet said) 'erected in the sea of time.' They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind. Books are humanity in print." 'Authors League Bulletin', November-December 1979