- The tradesman scarcely ever gives an ideal worth to his work, but is ridden by the routine of his craft, and the soul is subject to dollars.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The American Scholar,” Addresses and Lectures, Complete Works (1883), vol. 1, p. 85
- Let the will embrace the highest ideals freely and with infinite strength, but let action first take hold of what lies closest.
- Franz Grillparzer, “Rule of Life” (1815)
- There are as many gods as there are ideals. And further, the relation of the true artist and the true human being to his ideals is absolutely religious. The man for whom this inner divine service is the end and occupation of all his life is a priest, and this is how everyone can and should become a priest.
- Friedrich Schlegel, Philosophical Fragments, P. Firchow, trans. (1991) § 406
- A great affliction of all Philistines is that idealities afford them no entertainment, but to escape from boredom they are always in need of realities.
- Arthur Schopenhauer, “Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life,” Parerga und Paralipomena, E. Payne, trans. (1974) Vol. 1, p. 345
- When men of the better class form a society for promoting some noble or ideal aim, the result almost always is that the innumerable mob of humanity comes crowding in too. ... Some of them will slip into that society, or push themselves in, and then either soon destroy it altogether, or alter it so much that in the end it comes to have a purpose the exact opposite of that which it had at first.
- Arthur Schopenhauer, Counsels and Maxims, T. B. Saunders, trans., § 9
- As soon as the higher ideal is put before us, all false ideals will fade away as the stars fade away when they meet the sun.
- Leo Tolstoy, A Calendar of Wisdom, P. Sekirin, trans. (1997)
- The further you progress, the higher the ideal of perfection toward which you strive rises.
- Leo Tolstoy, A Calendar of Wisdom, P. Sekirin, trans. (1997), September 4
- “Nothing but ambition, nothing but the desire to get on, that's all there is in his soul,” she thought; “as for these lofty ideals, love of culture, religion, they are only so many tools for getting on.”
- Leo Tolstoy, Anna watching her husband in Anna Karenina, C. Garnett, trans. (New York: 2003), Part 2, Chapter 28, p. 192