Will Durant (Quotes)


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All in all, in life and history, we have found so many good men and women that we have quite lost faith in the wickedness of mankind.

Rome died in giving birth to the Church; the Church matured by inheriting and accepting the responsibilities of Rome.

Life's final tragedy is unwilling continuance—to outlive one's self and be forbidden to die.

No nation is ever defeated in its textbooks.

Men being by nature unequal in intelligence and scruple, democracy must at best be relative.

Nothing is lost in history: sooner or later every creative idea finds opportunity and development, and adds its color to the flame of life.

All cultures are eclectic in their youth, as education begins with imitation; but when the soul or nation comes of age it stamps its character, if it has any, upon all its works and words.

Next to bread and woman, in the hierarchy of desire, comes eternal salvation; when the stomach is satisfied, and lust is spent, man spares a little time for God.

The older the civilization, the longer the lawsuits.

A philosopher is a dead poet and a dying theologian.

Only lunatics can be completely original.

Institutions and beliefs are the offspring of human needs, and understanding must be in terms of these necessities.

Every romantic becomes a pessimist when reality impinges upon romance.

Epicurus won the Greeks, Zeno won the aristocracy of Rome; and to the end of pagan history the Stoics ruled the Epicureans, as they always will.

Men in their migrations carry along their gods.

The most important weapon for an army is food, and the skill of a commander lies as much in finding supplies as in organizing victory.

Christian astronomers in the thirteenth century pictured the planets as revolving about the earth... the center and summit of the universe was that same man whom the theologians described as a miserable worm tainted with sin and mostly doomed to hell.

Since the organization of a religious group presumes a common and stable creed, every religion sooner or later comes into opposition with that fluent and changeful current of secular thought that we confidently call the progress of knowledge.

...for some centuries yet he will continue to enjoy the lifeless immortality of those writers whom all men praise and no one reads.

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It is refreshing to find a philosopher who is wise enough to be happy.

Doubt, however honest, cannot take the place of belief.

Revolution, like death and style, is the removal of rubbish, the surgery of the superfluous; it comes when many things are ready to die.

Art is significance rendered with feeling through form; but the feeling must accept discipline, and the form must have structure and meaning, even if the meaning outreach the realm of words.

The world honors form as well as substance, art as well as knowledge and power.

The lives of great men all remind us how brief is immortality.

Any historian who strains his pen to prove a thesis may be trusted to distort the truth.

All religions are superstitions to other faiths.

Laws are vain when hearts are unchanged.

We cannot judge past beauty by present ruins.

A shallow sophistication prides itself upon its pessimism and cynicism.

Civilization is rural in base but urban in form; men must gather in cities to provide for one another audiences and stimuli.

The same variety and freedom of exchange that enables the clever to make money allows the simple to lose it faster than before.

Honesty is the best policy, but it must be practiced with discrimination.

The first lesson of philosophy is that we cannot be wise about everything. We are fragments in infinity and moments in eternity; for such forked atoms to describe the universe, or the Supreme Being, must make the planets tremble with mirth.