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The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice. ~ George Eliot
Be they wynners or loosers,…beggers should be no choosers. ~ John Heywood's Proverbs and Epigrams
He is no wise man that will quit a certainty for an uncertainty. ~ Samuel Johnson
Preferment goes by letter and affection. ~ William Shakespeare
Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay. ~ Alfred Tennyson

Choice consists of the mental process of judging the merits of multiple options and selecting one of them. While a choice can be made between imagined options ("what would I do if ...?"), often a choice is made between real options, and followed by the corresponding action.


  • He that will not when he may,
    When he will he shall have nay.
    • Robert Burton, Anatomy of a Melancholy (1621), Part III. Sect. 2. Mem. 5. Subs. 5. Quoted.
  • Better to sink beneath the shock
    Than moulder piecemeal on the rock!
  • The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.
  • Betwixt the devil and the deep sea.
    • Erasmus, Adagia, Chapter III. Cent, IV. 94. Quoted from the Greek. Proverb in Hazlitt, English Proverbs. Clarke, Parœmiologia (1639). Said by Col. Monroe, Expedition and Observations, Part III, p. 55. (Ed. 1637).
  • Be they wynners or loosers,…beggers should be no choosers.
    • John Heywood's Proverbs and Epigrams (1562 ed.)
  • He is no wise man that will quit a certainty for an uncertainty.
    • Samuel Johnson, The Idler, No. 57. in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 93-96.
  • Imagine a captain of a ship the moment a shift of direction must be made; then he may be able to say: I can do either this or that. But if he is not a mediocre captain he will also be aware that during all this the ship is ploughing ahead with its ordinary velocity, and thus there is but a single moment when it is inconsequential whether he does this or does that. So also with a person-if he forgets to take into account the velocity-there eventually comes a moment where it is no longer a matter of an Either/Or, not because he has chosen, but because he has refrained from it, which also can be expressed by saying: Because others have chosen for him-or because he has lost himself.
  • Every person, if he so wills, can become a paradigmatic human being, not by brushing of his accidental qualities, but by remaining in them and ennobling them. He ennobles them by choosing them.
  • So much to win, so much to lose,
    No marvel that I fear to choose.
  • Who would not, finding way, break loose from hell,
    * * * * * *
    And boldly venture to whatever place
    Farthest from pain?
  • When presented with options it's interesting to see what choices the people make.
    • Roger Willis Mitchell, Sr., Trooper Tales: Plus Other Bizarre, Odd and Funny Stories (2003), p. 30
  • We must now take precautions to prevent you from being embarrassed by something in which the ignorant majority is at fault for lack of proper consideration, and so from supposing with them, that man has not been created truly good simply because he is able to do evil. ... If you reconsider this matter carefully and force your mind to apply a more acute understanding to it, it will be revealed to you that man's status is better and higher for the very reason for which it is thought to be inferior: it is on this choice between two ways, on this freedom to choose either alternative, that the glory of the rational mind is based, it is in this that the whole honor of our nature consists, it is from this that its dignity is derived.
    • Letter to Demetrias by Pelagius as translated by B. Rees, in Readings in World Christian History (2013), pp. 206-210
  • Which of them shall I take?
    Both? one? or neither? Neither can be enjoy'd,
    If both remain alive.
  • I will not choose what many men desire,
    Because I will not jump with common spirits,
    And rank me with the barbarous multitudes.
  • [W]e now face a demand to make choices that is unparalleled in human history.
  • When conflicted between two choices, take neither.
    • Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms (2010) Robustness and Fragility, p. 71.
  • It is misleading to say that somebody "chose" a dysfunctional relationship or any other negative situation in his or her life. Choice implies consciousness - a high degree of consciousness. Without it, you have no choice. Choice begins the moment you disidentify from the mind and its conditioned patterns, the moment you become present. Until you reach that point, you are unconscious, spiritually speaking. This means that you are compelled to think, feel, and act in certain ways according to the conditioning of your mind. That is why Jesus said: "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." This is not related to intelligence in the conventional sense of the word. I have met many highly intelligent and educated people who were also completely unconscious, which is to say completely identified with their mind. In fact, if mental development and increased knowledge are not counterbalanced by a corresponding growth in consciousness, the potential for unhappiness and disaster is very great. p. 142
  • A strange alternative * * *
    Must women have a doctor or a dance?

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 113-114.
  • If I were not Alexander, I should wish to be Diogenes.
  • Of harmes two the less is for to chose.
  • What voice did on my spirit fall,
    Peschiera, when thy bridge I crost?
    'Tis better to have fought and lost
    Than never to have fought at all!
  • Life often presents us with a choice of evils, rather than of goods.
  • Devine, si tu peux, et choisis, si tu l'oses.
    • Guess, if you can, and choose, if you dare.
    • Pierre Corneille, Héraclius, IV. 4.
  • God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose.
  • Inter sacrum et sazim.
    • Between the victim and the stone knife.
    • Erasmus, letter to Pirkheimer. Plautus, Captivi, 3. 4. 84. Also said by Appuleius.
  • Se soumettre ou se démettre.
  • Where passion leads or prudence points the way.
  • But one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.
    • Luke. X. 42.
  • For many are called, but few are chosen.
    • Matthew, XXII. 14.
  • The difficulty in life is the choice.
  • Or fight or fly,
    This choice is left ye, to resist or die.
  • S'asseoir entre deux selles le cul a terre.
    • Between two stools one sits on the ground.
    • François Rabelais, Gargantua, Book I, Chapter II. Entre deux arcouns chet cul a terre. In Les Proverbes del Vilain. Manuscript, Bodleian. (About 1303).
  • "Thy royal will be done—'tis just,"
    Replied the wretch, and kissed the dust;
    "Since, my last moments to assuage,
    Your Majesty's humane decree
    Has deigned to leave the choice to me,
    I'll die, so please you, of old age."
  • When to elect there is but one,
    'Tis Hobson's Choice; take that or none.
    • Thomas Ward, England's Reformation, Canto IV, line 896. ("Hobson's Choice" explained in Spectator. No. 509).
  • Great God! I'd rather be
    A Pagan, suckled in a creed outworn;
    So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
    Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
    Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea,
    Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

See also

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