A life without adventure is likely to be unsatisfying, but a life
in which adventure is allowed to take whatever form it will is sure to be short.
Against my will, in the course of my
travels, the belief that everything worth knowing was known at Cambridge gradually wore
off. In this respect my travels were very useful to me.
All movements go too far.
Almost everything that distinguishes the
modern world from earlier centuries is attributable to science, which achieved its most
spectacular triumphs in the seventeenth century.
Aristotle maintained that women have
fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify
this statement by examining his wives' mouths.
Boredom is... a vital problem for the
moralist, since half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it.
Both in thought and in feeling, even
though time be real, to realise the unimportance of time is the gate of wisdom.
Conventional people are roused to fury by
departure from convention, largely because they regard such departure as a criticism of
Democracy is the process by which people
choose the man who'll get the blame.
Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion,
for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
Fear is the main source of superstition,
and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.
Freedom of opinion can only exist when
the government thinks itself secure.
God is a reality of spirit... He
cannot... be conceived as an object, not even as the very highest object. God is not to be
found in the world of objects.
I believe in using words, not fists. I
believe in my outrage knowing people are living in boxes on the street. I believe in
honesty. I believe in a good time. I believe in good food. I believe in sex.
I did not know I loved you until I heard
myself telling so, for one instance I thought, "Good God, what have I said?" and
then I knew it was true.
I like mathematics because it is not
human and has nothing particular to do with this planet or with the whole accidental
universe - because, like Spinoza's God, it won't love us in return.
I think we ought always to entertain our
opinions with some measure of doubt. I shouldn't wish people dogmatically to believe any
philosophy, not even mine.
I've made an odd discovery. Every time I
talk to a savant I feel quite sure that happiness is no longer a possibility. Yet when I
talk with my gardener, I'm convinced of the opposite.
If there were in the world today any
large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the
unhappiness of others, we could have a paradise in a few years.
In all affairs it's a healthy thing now
and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.
In America everybody is of the opinion
that he has no social superiors, since all men are equal, but he does not admit that he
has no social inferiors, for, from the time of Jefferson onward, the doctrine that all men
are equal applies only upwards, not downwards.
It has been said that man is a rational
animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.
It is preoccupation with possessions,
more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly.
It seems to be the fate of idealists to
obtain what they have struggled for in a form which destroys their ideals.
Italy, and the spring and first love all
together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy.
Love is something far more than desire
for sexual intercourse; it is the principal means of escape from the loneliness which
afflicts most men and women throughout the greater part of their lives.
Man is a credulous animal, and must
believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with
Man needs, for his happiness, not only
the enjoyment of this or that, but hope and enterprise and change.
Mathematics takes us into the region of
absolute necessity, to which not only the actual word, but every possible word, must
Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They
are made stupid by education.
Most people would sooner die than think;
in fact, they do so.
Much that passes as idealism is disguised
hatred or disguised love of power.
Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation
can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.
Next to enjoying ourselves, the next
greatest pleasure consists in preventing others from enjoying themselves, or, more
generally, in the acquisition of power.
No one gossips about other people's
No; we have been as usual asking the
wrong question. It does not matter a hoot what the mockingbird on the chimney is singing.
The real and proper question is: Why is it beautiful?
None but a coward dares to boast that he
has never known fear.
Obscenity is whatever happens to shock
some elderly and ignorant magistrate.
One of the symptoms of an approaching
nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important.
One should respect public opinion insofar
as is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond
this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.
Order, unity, and continuity are human
inventions, just as truly as catalogues and encyclopedias.
Patriots always talk of dying for their
country and never of killing for their country.
Religion is something left over from the
infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our
Religions that teach brotherly love have
been used as an excuse for persecution, and our profoundest scientific insight is made
into a means of mass destruction.
Right discipline consists, not in
external compulsion, but in the habits of mind which lead spontaneously to desirable
rather than undesirable activities.
Science is what you know, philosophy is
what you don't know.
Sin is geographical.
So far as I can remember, there is not
one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.
That which exists through itself is
called The Eternal. The Eternal has neither name nor shape. It is the one essence, the one
primal spirit. Essence and life cannot be seen. They are contained in the light of heaven.
The light of heaven cannot be seen. It is contained in the two eyes.
The coward wretch whose hand and heart
Can bear to torture aught below, Is ever first to quail and start From the slightest pain
or equal foe.
The degree of one's emotions varies
inversely with one's knowledge of the facts.
The fact that an opinion has been widely
held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd.
The fundamental defect of fathers, in our
competitive society, is that they want their children to be a credit to them.
The most savage controversies are those
about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Persecution is used in
theology, not in arithmetic.
The observer, when he seems to himself to
be observing a stone, is really, if physics is to be believed, observing the effects of
the stone upon himself.
The point of philosophy is to start with
something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical
that no one will believe it.
The secret of happiness is this: let your
interests be as wide as possible, and let your reactions to the things and persons that
interest you be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile.
The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted
The trouble with the world is that the
stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.
The true spirit of delight, the
exaltation, the sense of being more than Man, which is the touchstone of the highest
excellence, is to be found in mathematics as surely as poetry.
The universe may have a purpose, but
nothing we know suggests that, if so, this purpose has any similarity to ours.
The whole problem with the world is that
fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of
The world is full of magical things
patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
There is much pleasure to be gained from
Thought is subversive and revolutionary,
destructive and terrible, Thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and
comfortable habit. Thought is great and swift and free.
Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly
strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and
unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.
To be without some of the things you want
is an indispensable part of happiness.
To conquer fear is the beginning of
To fear love is to fear life, and those
who fear life are already three parts dead.
To teach how to live without certainty
and yet without being paralysed by hesitation is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy,
in our age, can do for those who study it.
War does not determine who is right -
only who is left.
We are faced with the paradoxical fact
that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of
What is wanted is not the will to
believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite.
Work is of two kinds: first, altering the
position of matter at or near the earth's surface relative to other matter; second,
telling other people to do so.