Will Durant

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Science without philosophy, facts without perspective and valuation, cannot save us from havoc and despair. Science gives us knowledge, but only philosophy can give us wisdom.

William James Durant (5 November 18857 November 1981) was an American historian, philosopher and writer, best remembered for his works The Story of Philosophy, and The Story of Civilization.

See also The Story of Civilization


In all things I saw the passion of life for growth and greatness, the drama of everlasting creation. I came to think of myself, not as a dance and chaos of molecules, but as a brief and minute portion of that majestic process...
In a measure the Great Sadness was lifted from me, and, where I had seen omnipresent death, I saw now everywhere the pageant and triumph of life.
Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.
The only real revolution is in the enlightenment of the mind and the improvement of character, the only real emancipation is individual, and the only real revolutionaries are philosophers and saints.
Love one another. My final lesson of history is the same as that of Jesus.
You may think that's a lot of lollipop but just try it. Love is the most practical thing in the world. If you take an attitude of love toward everybody you meet, you'll eventually get along.
It is a mistake to think that the past is dead. Nothing that has ever happened is quite without influence at this moment.
  • I felt more keenly than before the need of a philosophy that would do justice to the infinite vitality of nature. In the inexhaustible activity of the atom, in the endless resourcefulness of plants, in the teeming fertility of animals, in the hunger and movement of infants, in the laughter and play of children, in the love and devotion of youth, in the restless ambition of fathers and the lifelong sacrifice of mothers, in the undiscourageable researches of scientists and the sufferings of genius, in the crucifixion of prophets and the martyrdom of saints — in all things I saw the passion of life for growth and greatness, the drama of everlasting creation. I came to think of myself, not as a dance and chaos of molecules, but as a brief and minute portion of that majestic process... I became almost reconciled to mortality, knowing that my spirit would survive me enshrined in a fairer mold... and that my little worth would somehow be preserved in the heritage of men. In a measure the Great Sadness was lifted from me, and, where I had seen omnipresent death, I saw now everywhere the pageant and triumph of life.
    • Transition (1927)
  • Surely, the time has come for the intellectuals, the liberals, and the radicals of the world to speak out about this new slavery, to call it clearly and bluntly what it is. For it can no longer be doubted that in this dictatorship of the politicians is to be found every abuse which liberals and radicals have denounced in their own society for generations. . . . the Soviet has allowed it people to starve by the thousands. . . . It has choked all competition, and made itself a monopoly of monopolies; it has restored serfdom, conscription of labor, and indentured servitude among a people that has recently liberated itself by revolution and civil war, from these feudal chains; . . . it has kept wages low and labor intense, it has made democracy in the factory only a sham; it has herded and regimented its people like cattle. It has pitilessly industrialized its women under the pretense of emancipating them; it has crowded the population into dingy quarters, and offered every discouragement to the creation of homes. . . . . It is stifled the growth of democracy, and has centralized power into dictatorship of fanatics and machines; it has waged a class war against the peasants, tradesmen, and mental workers; . . . there is no opportunity for the expression of the public will; . . . it has oppressed with unsurpassed barbarity men and women guilty of no other crime than the prosperity attendant upon enterprise, industry, intelligence, and thrift; it has refused to the rights of habeas corpus, of trial by jury, of equality before the law; it has sent it secret police into millions of homes; . . . it has terrorized the public with marching armies, secret police, merciless penalties, and a million spies. It has deported or shot hundreds of thousands of men and women solely for political heresy and non-conformance. It has subjected to censorship every drama and every book, even every opera; it has prostituted the press, the radio and the stage . . . It has suppressed all freedom of speech or assembly, and in effect has raised a thousand obstacles against the freedom of worship and belief. . . Slavery, barbarism and desolation—these fundamentally, despite a thousand minor virtues, is what Russia is today.
    • The Tragedy of Russia: Impressions from a brief visit , New York, NY, Simon and Schuster (1933) pp. 150-54
  • Most of our literature and social philosophy after 1850 was the voice of freedom against authority, of the child against the parent, of the pupil against the teacher. Through many years I shared in that individualistic revolt. I do not regret it; it is the function of youth to defend liberty and innovation, of the old to defend order and tradition, and of middle age to find a middle way. But now that I too am old, I wonder whether the battle I fought was not too completely won. Let us say humbly but publicly that we resent corruption in politics, dishonesty in business, faithlessness in marriage, pornography in literature, coarseness in language, chaos in music, meaninglessness in art.
  • Love one another. My final lesson of history is the same as that of Jesus.
    You may think that's a lot of lollipop but just try it. Love is the most practical thing in the world. If you take an attitude of love toward everybody you meet, you'll eventually get along.
    • When asked, at the age of 92, if he could summarize the lessons of history into a single sentence. As quoted in "Durants on History from the Ages, with Love," by Pam Proctor, Parade (6 August 1978) p. 12. Durant is quoting Jesus (from John 13:34) here, and might also be quoting Jiddu Krishnamurti: "Love is the most practical thing in the world. To love, to be kind, not to be greedy, not to be ambitious, not to be influenced by people but to think for yourself — these are all very practical things, and they will bring about a practical, happy society."
  • Perhaps the cause of our contemporary pessimism is our tendency to view history as a turbulent stream of conflicts — between individuals in economic life, between groups in politics, between creeds in religion, between states in war. This is the more dramatic side of history; it captures the eye of the historian and the interest of the reader. But if we turn from that Mississippi of strife, hot with hate and dark with blood, to look upon the banks of the stream, we find quieter but more inspiring scenes: women rearing children, men building homes, peasants drawing food from the soil, artisans making the conveniences of life, statesmen sometimes organizing peace instead of war, teachers forming savages into citizens, musicians taming our hearts with harmony and rhythm, scientists patiently accumulating knowledge, philosophers groping for truth, saints suggesting the wisdom of love. History has been too often a picture of the bloody stream. The history of civilization is a record of what happened on the banks.
    • As quoted in "The Gentle Philosopher" (2006) by John Little at Will Durant Foundation
  • To speak ill of others is a dishonest way of praising ourselves; let us be above such transparent egotism. If you can't say good and encouraging things, say nothing. Nothing is often a good thing to do, and always a clever thing to say.
  • Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.
    • "What is Civilization?" Ladies' Home Journal, LXIII (January, 1946)
  • The invention and spread of contraceptives is the proximate cause of our changing morals. The old moral code restricted sexual experience to marriage, because copulation could not be effectively separated from parentage, and parentage could be made responsible only through marriage. But to-day the dissociation of sex from reproduction has created a situation unforeseen by our fathers. All the relations of men and women are being changed by this one factor; and the moral code of the future will have to take account of these new facilities which invention has placed at the service of ancient desires.
    • Our Changing Morals, in The Mansions of Philosophy: A Survey of Human Life and Destiny (1929), Ch. 5. p. 119
  • I know how unfashionable it is now to acknowledge in life or history any genius loftier than ourselves. Our democratic dogma has leveled not only all voters but all leaders; we delight to show that living geniuses are only mediocrities, and that dead ones are myths. … Since it is contrary to good manners to exalt ourselves, we achieve the same result by slyly indicating how inferior are the great men of the earth. In some of us, perhaps, it is a noble and merciless asceticism, which would root out of our hearts the last vestige of worship and adoration, lest the old gods should return and terrify us again. For my part, I cling to this final religion, and discover in it a content and stimulus more lasting than came from the devotional ecstasies of youth.
    • The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time (2002) edited by John Little, Ch. 1 : The Shameless Worship of Heroes
  • History is a process of rebarbarization. A people made vigorous by arduous physical conditions of life, and driven by the increasing exigencies of survival, leaves its native habitat, moves down upon a less vigorous people, conquers, displaces, or absorbs it. Habits of resolution and activity developed in a less merciful environment now rapidly produce an economic surplus; and part of the resources so accumulated serve as capital in a campaign of imperialist conquest. The growing surplus generates a leisure class, scornful of physical activity and adept in the arts of luxury. Leisure begets speculation; speculation dissolves dogma and corrodes custom, develops sensitivity of perception and destroys decision of action. Thought, adventuring in a labyrinth of analysis, discovers behind society the individual; divested of its normal social function it turns inward and discovers the self. The sense of common interest, of commonwealth, wanes; there are no citizens now, there are only individuals. From afar another people, struggling against the forces of an obdurate environment, sees here the cleared forests, the liberating roads, the harvest of plenty, the luxury of leisure. It dreams, aspires, dares, unites, invades. The rest is as before. Rebarbarization is rejuvenation. The great problem of any civilization is how to rejuvenate itself without rebarbarization.
  • The rise of philosophy, then, often heralds the decay of a civilization. Speculation begins with nature and begets naturalism; it passes to man—first as a psychological mystery and then as a member of society—and begets individualism. Philosophers do not always desire these results; but they achieve them. They feel themselves the unwilling enemies of the state: they think of men in terms of personality while the state thinks of men in terms of social mechanism. Some philosophers would gladly hold their peace, but there is that in them which will out; and when philosophers speak, gods and dynasties fall. Most states have had their roots in heaven, and have paid the penalty for it: the twilight of the gods is the afternoon of states. Every civilization comes at last to the point where the individual, made by speculation conscious of himself as an end per se, demands of the state, as the price of its continuance, that it shall henceforth enhance rather than exploit his capacities. Philosophers sympathize with this demand, the state almost always rejects it: therefore civilizations come and civilizations go. The history of philosophy is essentially an account of the efforts great men have made to avert social disintegration by building up natural moral sanctions to take the place of the supernatural sanctions which they themselves have destroyed. To find—without resorting to celestial machinery—some way of winning for their people social coherence and permanence without sacrificing plasticity and individual uniqueness to regimentation,—that has been the task of philosophers, that is the task of philosophers.
Every science begins as philosophy and ends as art; it arises in hypothesis and flows into achievement.
  • Science tells us how to heal and how to kill; it reduces the death rate in retail and then kills us wholesale in war; but only wisdomdesire coordinated in the light of all experience — can tell us when to heal and when to kill. To observe processes and to construct means is science; to criticize and coordinate ends is philosophy: and because in these days our means and instruments have multiplied beyond our interpretation and synthesis of ideals and ends, our life is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. For a fact is nothing except in relation to desire; it is not complete except in relation to a purpose and a whole. Science without philosophy, facts without perspective and valuation, cannot save us from havoc and despair. Science gives us knowledge, but only philosophy can give us wisdom.
    • Introduction : On the Uses of Philosophy
  • Excellence is an art won by training and habituation: we do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have these because we have acted rightly; 'these virtues are formed in man by his doing the actions'; we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit: 'the good of man is a working of the soul in the way of excellence in a complete life... for as it is not one swallow or one fine day that makes a spring, so it is not one day or a short time that makes a man blessed and happy'.
    • p. 87; the quoted phrases within the quotation are from the Nicomachean Ethics, Book II, 4; Book I, 7
  • Philosophy accepts the hard and hazardous task of dealing with problems not yet open to the methods of science — problems like good and evil, beauty and ugliness, order and freedom, life and death; so soon as a field of inquiry yields knowledge susceptible of exact formulation it is called science. Every science begins as philosophy and ends as art; it arises in hypothesis and flows into achievement.
  • Philosophy is a hypothetical interpretation of the unknown (as in metaphysics), or of the inexactly known (as in ethics or political philosophy); it is the front trench in the siege of truth.
  • Great organizers, as much as inevitable slaves, tend to stoic moods: it is difficult to be either master or servant if one is sensitive.
  • The death of Alexander (323 BC) quickened this process of decay. The boy-emperor, barbarian though he remained after all of Aristotle’s tutoring, had yet learned to revere the rich culture of Greece, and had dreamed of spreading that culture through the Orient in the wake of his victorious armies.... But he had underrated the inertia and resistance of the Oriental mind, and the mass and depth of Oriental culture. It was only a youthful fancy, after all, to suppose that so immature and unstable a civilization as that of Greece could be imposed upon a civilization immeasurably more widespread, and rooted in the most venerable traditions. The quantity of Asia proved too much for the quality of Greece.
  • [on Epicurus] His starting point is a conviction that apathy is impossible, and that pleasure — though not necessarily sensual pleasure — is the only conceivable, and quite legitimate, end of life and action. “Nature leads every organism to prefer its own good to every other good” — even the stoic finds a subtle pleasure in renunciation. “We must not avoid pleasures, but we must select them”. Epicurus, then, is no epicurean, he exalts the joys of intellect rather than those of sense; he warns against pleasures that excite and disturb the soul which they should rather quite and appease. In the end he proposes to seek not pleasure in its usual sense, but ataraxia — tranquility, equaninimity, repose of mind; all of which trembles on the verge of Zeno’s “Apathy”
  • ...Lucretius talked epicureanism stoically (like Heine’s Englishman taking his pleasures sadly), and concluded on his stren gospel of pleasure by committing suicide. His noble epic “on the Nature of Things", follows Epicurus in damning pleasure with faint praise. Almost contemporary with Caesar and Pompey, he lived in the midst of turmoil and alarms; his nervous pen is forever inditing prayers to tranquility and peace. One pictures him as a timid soul whose youth had been darkened with religious fears; for he never tires of telling his readers that there's no hell, except here, and there are no gods except gentlemanly ones who live in a garden of Epicurus in the clouds, and never intrude in the affairs of men.
  • [after quoting from Lucretius] In the face of warfare and inevitable death, there is no wisdom but in ataraxia, “to look on all things with a mind at peace"." Here, clearly, the old pagan joy of life is gone, and an almost exotic spirit touches a broken lyre. History, which is nothing if not humorous, was never so facetious as when she gave to this abstemious and epic pessimist the name of Epicurean.
  • Nothing in all literature is so depressing as the “Dissertations” of the slave [Epictetus], unless it be the “Meditations” of the Emperor [Marcus Aurelius] ...[after some excerpts from the two books]..... In such passages we feel the proximity of Christianity and its dauntless martyrs; indeed were not the Christian ethic of self-denial, the Christian political ideal of an almost communistic brotherhood of man, and the Christian eschatology of the final conflagration of all the world, fragments of Stoic doctrine floating on the stream of thought? In Epictetus the Greco-Roman soul has lost its paganism, and is ready for a new faith".
  • Both Stoicism and Epicureanism — the apathetic acceptance of defeat, and the effort to forget defeat in the arms of pleasure — were theories as to how one might yet be happy though subjugated or enslaved; precisely as the stoicism of Schopenhauer and the despondent epicureanism of Renan were in the nineteenth century the symbols of a shattered revolution and a broken France.

The Case for India (1931)

India will teach us the tolerance and gentleness of mature mind, understanding spirit and a unifying, pacifying love for all human beings.
  • India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe's languages: she was the mother of our philosophy; mother, through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics; mother, through the Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity; mother, through the village community, of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all.
  • It is true that even across the Himalayan barrier India has sent to the west, such gifts as grammar and logic, philosophy and fables, hypnotism and chess, and above all numerals and the decimal system.
  • It might have been supposed that the building of 30,000 miles of railways would have brought a measure of prosperity to India. But these railways were built not for India but for England; not for the benefit of the Hindu, but for the purposes of the British army and British trade... The railroads are entirely in European hands, and the Government refuse to appoint even one Hindu to the Railway Board. The railways lose money year after year, and are helped by the Government out of the revenues of the people. All the loses are borne by the people, all the gains are gathered by the trader.
  • British rule in India is the most sordid and criminal exploitation of one nation by another in all recorded history. I propose to show that England has year by year been bleeding India to the point of death, and that self-government of India by the Hindus could not within any reasonable probability, have worse results than the present form of alien domination.
  • This, evidently was not a minor civilization, produced by inferior people. It ranks with the highest civilizations of history, and some, like Keyserling, would place it at the head and summit of all. The British conquest of India was the invasion and destruction of a high civilization by a trading company utterly without scruple or principle, careless of art, greedy of gain, overrunning with fire and sword a country temporarily disordered and helpless, bribing and murdering, annexing and stealing, and beginning that career of illegal and "legal" plunder which has now gone on ruthlessly for one hundred and seventy-three years, and goes on at this moment while in our secure comfort we write and read. Those who have seen the unspeakable poverty and physiological weakness of the Hindus today will hardly believe that it was the wealth of eighteenth century India which attracted the commercial pirates of England and France.
  • Never had a colony or a possession made so a great sacrifice for the master country. Every Hindu conscious of India looked forward hopefully now, as a reward for this bloody loyalty, to the admission of his country into the fellowship of free dominions under the English flag. After the war, Lloyd George, then Premier, declared with unstatesmanlike, clarity that Britain intended always to rule India, that there must always, remain in India "a steel frame" of British power and British dominance. This was the best traditions of imperialistic hypocrisy. The Montagu-Chelmsform reform fell short of promises. Dr. Rutherford, a Member of Parliament, wrote: "Never in the history of the world was such a hoax perpetrated upon a great people as England perpetrated upon India, when in return for India's invaluable service during the War, we gave to the Indian nation such a discreditable, disgraceful, undemocratic, tyrannical constitution. (source: The Case for India - By Will Durant Simon and Schuster, New York. 1930 p. 123-128).
  • Sir William Hunter, estimated that 40,000,000 of the people of India were seldom or never able to satisfy their hunger. In 1901, 272,000 died of plague introduced from abroad, in 1902, 500,000 died of plague; in 1903, 800,000; in 1904, 1,000,000. We can now understand why there are famines in India. Their cause, in plain terms, is not the absence of food, but the inability of the people to pay for it. It was hoped the railways would solve the problem...the fact that the worst famines have come since the building of the railways...behind all these, as the fundamental source of the terrible famines in India, lies such merciless exploitation, such unbalanced exploitation of goods, and such brutal collection of high taxes in the very midst of famine.... (source: The Case for India - By Will Durant Simon and Schuster, New York. 1930 p.50-53).
  • The news of this barbaric orgy of military sadism was kept from the world for half a year. A belated commission of inquiry was appointed by the Government. A committee appointed by the Indian National Congress made a more through investigation and reported 1,200 killed, and 3,600 wounded. Gen. Dyer was censured by the House of Commons, exonerated by the House of Lords, and was retired on a pension. Thinking this was insufficient the militarists of the Empire raised a fund of $150,000 for him and presented him with a jeweled sword of honor. (source: The Case for India - By Will Durant Simon and Schuster, New York. 1930 p. This book was banned by the British Government. Durant held the view that no part of the world suffered so much poverty andoppression as India did and that this was largely due to British imperialism).
  • When the British came there was, throughout India, a system of communal schools, managed by the village communities. The agents of the East India Company destroyed these village communities, and took steps to replace the schools; even today, after a century of effort to restore them, they stand at only 66% of their number a hundred years ago. Hence, the 93 % illiteracy of India. (source: The Case for India - By Will Durant Simon and Schuster, New York. 1930 p.44).
Rooted in freedom, bonded in the fellowship of danger, sharing everywhere a common human blood, we declare again that all men are brothers, and that mutual tolerance is the price of liberty.
Introduced into the US Congressional Record on October 1, 1945 (PDF Document)
  • Human progress having reached a high level through respect for the liberty and dignity of men, it has become desirable to re-affirm these evident truths:
    • That differences of race, color, and creed are natural, and that diverse groups, institutions, and ideas are stimulating factors in the development of man;
    • That to promote harmony in diversity is a responsible task of religion and statesmanship;
    • That since no individual can express the whole truth, it is essential to treat with understanding and good will those whose views differ from our own;
    • That by the testimony of history intolerance is the door to violence, brutality and dictatorship; and
    • That the realization of human interdependence and solidarity is the best guard of civilization.
  • Rooted in freedom, bonded in the fellowship of danger, sharing everywhere a common human blood, we declare again that all men are brothers, and that mutual tolerance is the price of liberty.

I - Our Oriental Heritage (1935)

Our Oriental Heritage online at the Internet Archive
  • Nothing should more deeply shame the modern student than the recency and inadequacy of his acquaintance with India. Here is a vast peninsula of nearly two million square miles; two-thirds as large as the United States, and twenty times the size of its master, Great Britain; 320,000,000 souls, more than in all North and South America combined, or one-fifth of the population of the earth; an impressive continuity of development and civilization from Mohenjo-daro, 2900 B.C. or earlier, to Gandhi, Raman and Tagore; faiths compassing every stage from barbarous idolatry to the most subtle and spiritual pantheism; philosophers playing a thousand variations on one monistic theme from the Upanishads eight centuries before Christ to Shankara eight centuries after him; scientists developing astronomy three thousand years ago, and winning Nobel prizes in our own time; a democratic constitution of untraceable antiquity in the villages, and wise and beneficent rulers like Ashoka and Akbar in the capitals; minstrels singing great epics almost as old as Homer, and poets holding world audiences today; artists raising gigantic temples for Hindu gods from Tibet to Ceylon and from Cambodia to Java, or carving perfect palaces by the score for Mogul kings and queens — this is the India that patient scholarship is now opening up, like a new intellectual continent, to that Western mind which only yesterday thought civilization an exclusively European thing.
    • Ch. XIV : The Foundations of India § I : Scene of the Drama

II - Life of Greece (1939)

Full text online at the Internet Archive
  • All the problems that disturb us today—the cutting down of forests and the erosion of the soil; the emancipation of woman and the limitation of the family; the conservatism of the established, and the experimentalism of the unplaced, in morals, music, and government; the corruptions of politics and the perversions of conduct; the conflict of religion and science, and the weakening of the supernatural supports of morality; the war of the classes, the nations, and the continents; the revolutions of the poor against the economically powerful rich, and of the rich against the politically powerful poor; the struggle between democracy and dictatorship, between individualism and communism, between the East and the West—all these agitated, as if for our instruction, the brilliant and turbulent life of ancient Hellas. There is nothing in Greek civilization that does not illuminate our own.
    • Preface, P.18

III - Caesar and Christ (1944)

Caesar and Christ had met in the arena, and Christ had won.
  • There is no greater drama in human record than the sight of a few Christians, scorned or oppressed by a succession of emperors, bearing all trials with a fierce tenacity, multiplying quietly, building order while their enemies generated chaos, fighting the sword with the word, brutality with hope, and at last defeating the strongest state that history has known. Caesar and Christ had met in the arena, and Christ had won.
    • Chapter 30, part 1, p. 652

VI - The Reformation (1957)

  • To all Christian governments Christianity was not a rule of means but a means of rule; Christ was for the people, Machiavelli was preferred by the kings. The state in some measure had civilized man, but who would civilize the state?
    • Chapter 6, p. 229

XI - The Age of Napoleon (1975)

Co-written with Ariel Durant
  • Power dements even more than it corrupts, lowering the guard of foresight and raising the haste of action.
    • Ch. IV : The Convention: September 21, 1792 - October 26, 1795, Part V : The Reign of Terror: September 17, 1793 - July 28, 1794, § 4 : The Revolution Eats Its Children

Fallen Leaves (2014)

Fallen Leaves : Last Words on Life, Love, War and God (2014)
  • Children and fools speak the truth; and somehow they find happiness in their sincerity.
    • Ch. 1 : Our life begins
  • See him, the newborn, dirty but marvelous, ridiculous in actuality, infinite in possibility, capable of that ultimate miracle, growth.
    • Ch. 1 : Our life begins
  • Life is that which is discontent, which struggles and seeks, which suffers and creates.
    • Ch. 1 : Our life begins
  • Childhood may be defined as the age of play; therefore some children are never young, and some adults are never old.
    • Ch. 1 : Our life begins
  • Man is as young as the risks he takes.
    • Ch. 2 : On Youth
  • Happiness is the free play of the instincts, and so is youth.
    • Ch. 2 : On Youth
  • Let us ask the Gods not for possessions, but for things to do; happiness is in making things rather than consuming them.
    • Ch. 2 : On Youth
  • Youth is learning to read (which is all that one learns in school), and is learning where and how to find what he may later need to know (which is the best of the arts that he acquires in college). 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.
  • It is life that educates, and perhaps love more than anything else in life.
    • Ch. 2 : On Youth
  • The principle of the family was mutual aid; but the principle of society is competition, the struggle for existence, the elimination of the weak and the survival of the strong.
    • Ch. 2 : On Youth
  • Here is a fulfillment of long centuries of civilization and culture; here, in romantic love, more than the triumph of thought or the victories of power is the topmost reach of human beings.
    • Ch. 2 : On Youth
  • Wisdom, if it were young, would cherish love, nursing it with devotion, deepening it with sacrifice, vitalizing with parentage, making all things subordinate to it till the end. Even though it consumes us in its service and overwhelms us with tragedy, even though it breaks us down with separations, let it be first. How can it matter what price we pay for love?
    • Ch. 2 : On Youth
  • Middle age begins with marriage; for then work and responsibility replace carefree play, passion surrenders to the limitations of social order, and poetry yields to prose.
    • Ch. 3 : On Middle Age
  • As we find a place in the economic world the rebellion of youth subsides; we disapprove of earthquakes when our feet are on the earth. We forget then the radicalism then in a gentle liberalism — which is radicalism softened with the consciousness of a bank account.
    • Ch. 3 : On Middle Age
  • She is a woman now, and not an idle girl, not a domestic ornament or a sexual convenience anymore.
    • On the maturation of women, Ch. 4 : On Old Age
  • A man is as old as his arteries, and as young as his ideas.
    • Ch. 4 : On Old Age
  • Here and everywhere is the struggle for existence, life inextricably enmeshed with war. All life living at the expense of life, every organism eating other organisms forever.
    • Ch. 4 : On Old Age
  • Life is that which can hold a purpose for three thousand years and never yield. The individual fails, but life succeeds. The individual is foolish, but life holds in its blood and seed the wisdom of generations. The individual dies, but life, tireless and undiscourageble, goes on, wondering, longing, planning, trying, mounting, longing.
    • Ch. 5 : On Death
  • Space, subjectively, is the coexistence of perceptions — perceiving two objects at once.
    • Ch. 6 : Our Souls
  • Time, subjectively, is the conscious sequence of perceptions.
    • Ch. 6 : Our Souls
  • By mind I mean the totality of perceptions, memories and ideas in an organism.
    • Ch. 6 : Our Souls
  • A sensation is the feeling of an external stimulus or an internal condition.
    • Ch. 6 : Our Souls
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