Aphorisms, pithy quotes, etc.

This page was prepared by Steven J. DeRose in April of 2003, and last updated 2005-10-08.

This is not a big collection; rather, this is my collection: quotations that I personally find wise, meaningful, or important (or occasionally funny). Reading this, you may learn more about me than about those quoted.

On beauty

Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them.

David Hume

There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.

Francis Bacon

Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.


Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears.

Edgar Allen Poe

The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper.


I don't think of all the misery, but of all the beauty that remains.

Anne Frank

Beauty is the adjustment of all parts proportionately so that one cannot add or subtract or change without impairing the harmony of the whole.

Leon B. Alberti

Order is the shape upon which beauty depends.

Pearl S. Buck

The mathematical sciences particularly exhibit order, symmetry, and limitation; and these are the greatest forms of the beautiful.

Aristotle Metaphysica

We ascribe beauty to that which is simple; which has no superfluous parts; which exactly answers its end; which stands related to all things; which is the mean of many extremes.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

On love and commitment

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.... And now these things remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8, 13

For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of our tasks; the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble and attempts what is above its strength.

Thomas A Kempis

A friend is one who knows us, but loves us anyway.

Fr. Jerome Cummings

Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love.

Charlie Brown

Love is not blind -- it simply enables one to see things others fail to see.


Love enables you to put your deepest feelings and fears in the palm of your partner's hand, knowing they will be handled with care.

Carl S. Avery

Man's best possession is a sympathetic wife.

Euripedes Antigone

The great question -- which I have not been able to answer -- is, "What does a woman want?"

Sigmund Freud

The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.

Theodore M. Hesburgh

One advantage of marriage, it seems to me, is that when you fall out of love with him or he falls out of love with you, it keeps you together until maybe you fall in again.

Judith Viorst

The only love worthy of a name is unconditional.

John Powell

The quality of love and the duration of a relationship are in direct proportion to the depth of the commitment by both people to making the relationship successful. Commit yourself wholeheartedly and unconditionally to the most important people in your life.

Brian Tracy

For true love is inexhaustible; the more you give, the more you have. And if you go to draw at the true fountainhead, the more water you draw, the more abundant is its flow.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

What we love to do we find time to do.

John L. Spalding

To tell you my thoughts is to locate myself in a category. To tell you about my feelings is to tell you about me."

John Powell

One makes mistakes; that is life. But it is never a mistake to have loved.

Romain Rollan

On forgiveness

The abbot Macarius said, "If we dwell upon the harms that have been wrought on us by humankind, we amputate from our mind the power of dwelling upon God."

Sayings of the Desert Fathers

Put aside your hatred and animosity. Take pains to refrain from sharp words. If they escape your lips, do not be ashamed to let your lips produce the remedy, since they have caused the wounds. Pardon one another so that later on you will not remember the injury. The recollection of an injury is itself wrong. It adds to our anger, nurtures our sin and hates what is good. It is a rusty arrow and poison for the soul. It puts all virtue to flight. It is like a worm in the mind: It confuses our speech and tears to shreds our petitions to God. It is foreign to charity: It remains planted in the soul like a nail. It is wickedness that never sleeps, sin that never fails. It is indeed a daily death.

Francis of Paola (15c)

May I tell you why it seems to me a good thing for us to remember wrong that has been done us? That we may forgive it.

Charles Dickens

Anger will never disappear so long as thoughts of resentment are cherished in the mind. Anger will disappear just as soon as thoughts of resentment are forgotten.


Give love and unconditional acceptance to those you encounter, and notice what happens.

Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness, and fears.

Glenn Clark

Never does the human soul appear so strong as when it foregoes revenge, and dares forgive an injury.

E. H. Chapin

Whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love.

Mahatma Gandhi

On living

My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition.

Indira Gandhi

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

Mahatma Gandhi

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.

Dwight Eisenhower 1953 speech

Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.

Mother Teresa

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.

Mother Teresa

Smile at each other; smile at your wife, smile at your husband, smile at your children, smile at each other -- it doesn't matter who it is -- and that will help you to grow up in greater love for each other.

Mother Teresa

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.
If you are successful you will win some false friends and true enemies; Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.

Mother Teresa

On the state of mankind

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."

- Martin Luther King Jr.

"Oh no. We're in the hands of engineers!"

Malcolm, Ian in 'Jurassic Park'

Life is pain, princess. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something.

The Princess Bride

Never get involved in a land war in Asia.

The Princess Bride

Suffering is the human struggle with and against pain.

Robard J. Schreiter

On design

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Antoine de Saint Exupery

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex.... It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction.

Albert Einstein

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

Albert Einstein

When the solution is simple, God is answering.

Albert Einstein

I believe in standardizing automobiles, not human beings.

Albert Einstein

On science, research, and academe

I want to know the thoughts of God. Everything else is just details.

Albert Einstein

"The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility."

Albert Einstein

It is the mark of an educated mind to rest satisfied with the degree of precision which the nature of the subject admits and not to seek exactness where only an approximation is possible.


Your theory is crazy, but it's not crazy enough to be true.

Bertolt Brecht

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing.

Werner von Braun

The most likely way for the world to be destroyed, most experts agree, is by accident. That's where we come in; we're computer professionals. We cause accidents.

Nathaniel Borenstein

According to the latest official figures, 43% of all statistics are totally worthless.

Ashleigh Brilliant: Brilliant Thoughts

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny....'"

Isaac Asimov


What greater delight is there than to behold the earth apparelled with plants as with a robe of embroidered works, set with Orient pearls and garnished with the great diversitie of rare and costly jewels. But these delights are in the outward senses. The principle delight is in the minde, singularly enriched with the knowledge of these visible things, setting forth to us the invisible wisdome and admirable workmanship of almighty God.

John Gerard, 1633, The Herbal

"Automatic" simply means that you can't repair it yourself.

Mary H. Waldrip

I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants.

A. Whitney Brown

Never ask the barber if you need a haircut.


Never deprive someone of hope -- it may be all they have.


We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty.

Douglas Adams

Daddy, daddy! I think I solved Xeno's Paradox!

Todd DeRose, age 5

A Balrog! And I am already weary!

Gandalf Grayhame

Why, they couldn't hit a barn at this dist


The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.

Albert Einstein

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Albert Einstein

The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained liberation from the self.

Albert Einstein

Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one sees rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Wind, Sand and Stars

When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.

Corrie Ten Boom

Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats.

Howard Aiken, IBM engineer

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

Mahatma Gandhi

Forgiveness is not an emotion, it's a decision.

Randall Worley

One thing you will probably remember well is anytime you forgive and forget.

Franklin P. Jones

Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.


When he reached the New World, Cortez burned his ships. As a result his crew was well motivated.

The Hunt For Red October


In marriage, each partner is to be an encourager rather than a critic, a forgiver rather than a collector of hurts, an enabler rather than a reformer.

H. Norman Wright and Gary J. Oliver

Surely it is much more generous to forgive and remember, than to forgive and forget.

Maria Edgeworth

I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process.

Vincent Van Gogh

When dealing with the insane, the best method is to pretend to be sane.

Hermann Hesse

Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, and half-shut afterwards.

Benjamin Franklin

By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you'll be happy. If you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.


To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.

George MacDonald

As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It is easier to pull down than to build up.

Latin Proverb

They condemn what they do not understand.


If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough.

Mario Andretti

Eccentricity is one of the hallmarks of strong characters and original minds.

Andrew Garve

I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

By three methods we may learn wisdom. First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.


Faith is the first factor in a life devoted to service. Without it, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible.

Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955)

The best portion of a good man's life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.

William Wordsworth

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company...a church...a home. The remarkable thing is you have a choice every day regarding the attitude you will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent how I react to it. And so it is with you. You are in charge of your attitude.

Charles R. Swindoll

We only do well the things we like doing.


We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Oscar Wilde

What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what sort of person you are.

C.S. Lewis

A man trusts his ears less than his eyes.


If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be as the angels give.

George MacDonald

A committee is twelve men doing the work of one.

John F. Kennedy

He who doesn't lose his wits over certain things has no wits to lose.

Gotthold Lessing

Activity back of a very small idea will produce more than inactivity and the planning of genius.

James A. Worsham

High ethical standards bring about efficient business methods.


He who has injured thee was either stronger or weaker than thee. If weaker, spare him; if stronger, spare thyself.


Your mind can only hold one thought at a time. Make it a positive and constructive one.

H. Jackson Brown Jr.

He who wants a rose must respect the thorn.

Persian Proverb

Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.

C.S. Lewis

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.


The creative person is both more primitive and more cultivated, more destructive, a lot madder and a lot saner, than the average person.

Frank Barron

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.

Oscar Wilde

Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.

Robert Frost

An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject and who manages to avoid them.

Werner Heisenberg

I doubt whether the world holds for any one a more soul-stirring surprise than the first adventure with ice-cream.

Heywood Broun

Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.


t is important to our friends that we are unreservedly frank with them, and important to our friendship that we are not.

Mignon McLaughlin

I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult the calendar.

Robert Brault


I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said - "two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert ... near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lips, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look on my Works ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

Percy Shelley (1792-1822)

Some online aphorism/quotation collections