Last modified on 29 October 2014, at 22:40

Thought

In every epoch of the world, the great event, parent of all others, is it not the arrival of a Thinker in the world? ~ Thomas Carlyle

Thought can refer to the ideas or arrangements of ideas that result from thinking, the act of producing thoughts, or the process of producing thoughts. Despite the fact that thought is a fundamental human activity familiar to everyone, there is no generally accepted agreement as to what thought is or how it is created. Thoughts are the result or product of spontaneous acts of thinking..

Alphabetized by author or source:
A · B · C · D · E · F · G · H · I · J · K · L · M · N · O · P · Q · R · S · T · U · V · W · X · Y · Z · Anon · See also · External links

AEdit

The fact that a thought occurs at a given moment does not entail that any other thought has occurred at any other moment, still less that there has occurred a series of thoughts sufficient to constitute a single self. ~ Alfred Jules Ayer
  • We cannot keep thieves from looking in at our windows, but we need not give them entertainment with open doors.
    • Thomas Adam, as quoted in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, p. 582
  • Upon the cunning loom of thought
    We weave our fancies, so and so.
    • Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Cloth of Gold, Prelude; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Sempre il miglior non è il parer primiero.
    • First thoughts are not always the best.
      • Vittorio Alfieri, Don Garzia, III, 1; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • The kings of modern thought are dumb.
    • Matthew Arnold, Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • "I exist" does not follow from "there is a thought now." The fact that a thought occurs at a given moment does not entail that any other thought has occurred at any other moment, still less that there has occurred a series of thoughts sufficient to constitute a single self. As Hume conclusively showed, no one event intrinsically points to any other. We infer the existence of events which we are not actually observing, with the help of general principle. But these principles must be obtained inductively. By mere deduction from what is immediately given we cannot advance a single step beyond. And, consequently, any attempt to base a deductive system on propositions which describe what is immediately given is bound to be a failure.

BEdit

  • Great thoughts, like great deeds, need
    No trumpet.
  • Qui sait si l'on ne verra pas que le phosphore et l'esprit vont ensemble?
    • Who knows whether it is not true that phosphorus and mind are not the same thing?
      • Henri Beyle (Stendhal), Histoire de la Peinture en Italie, Chapter XCI, p. 209. (Ed. 1854); Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Sow a thought and reap an act.
    • Quoted by G. D. Boardman, as reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Thought is valuable in proportion as it is generative.
    • Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Caxtoniana, Essay XIV; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • The first thought is often the best.
    • Bishop Butler, Sermon on the Character of Balaam, Seventh Sermon; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • What exile from himself can flee?
    To zones, though more and more remote,
    Still, still pursues, where'er I be,
    The blight of life—the demon Thought.
  • The power of Thought,—the magic of the Mind!
    • Lord Byron, The Corsair (1814), Canto I, Stanza 8

CEdit

If you are not a thinking man, to what purpose are you a man at all? In like manner, there is one knowledge, which it is every man's interest and duty to acquire, namely, self-knowledge: or to what end was man alone, of all animals, endued by the Creator with the faculty of self-consciousness? ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge
If one learns from others but does not think, one is still at a loss. If, on the other hand, one thinks but does not learn from others, one is in peril. ~ Confucius
  • Nay, in every epoch of the world, the great event, parent of all others, is it not the arrival of a Thinker in the world?
  • Thought once awakened does not again slumber.
  • Secret thoughts are only half free: they fly undisturbed in the skies of the iinner freedom, but they can never leave them.
    • Fausto Cercignani in: Brian Morris, Simply Transcribed. Quotations from Fausto Cercignani, 2013, p. 19
  • My thoughts ran a wool-gathering.
  • With curious art the brain, too finely wrought,
    Preys on herself, and is destroyed by thought.
    • Charles Churchill, Epistle to William Hogarth, line 645; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Cujusvis hominis est errare; nullius, nisi insipientis, in errore perseverare. Posteriores enim cogitationes (ut aiunt) sapientiores solent esse.
    • Any man may make a mistake; none but a fool will stick to it. Second thoughts are best as the proverb says.
      • Cicero, Philippicæ, XII. 2; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Old things need not be therefore true,
    O brother men, nor yet the new;
    Ah! still awhile the old thought retain,
    And yet consider it again!
    • Arthur Hugh Clough, Ah, yet Consider it Again; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90.
  • Perhaps 'tis pretty to force together
    Thoughts so all unlike each other;
    To mutter and mock a broken charm,
    To dally with wrong that does no harm.
  • Reader! — You have been bred in a land abounding with men, able in arts, learning, and knowledges manifold, this man in one, this in another, few in many, none in all. But there is one art, of which every man should be'master, the art of reflection. If you are not a thinking man, to what purpose are you a man at all? In like manner, there is one knowledge, which it is every man's interest and duty to acquire, namely, self-knowledge: or to what end was man alone, of all animals, endued by the Creator with the faculty of self-consciousness?
  • The Master [Confucius] said, "If one learns from others but does not think, one is still at a loss. If, on the other hand, one thinks but does not learn from others, one is in peril."
    • Confucius, The Analects (475 BC – 221BC), II, 15
  • Chi Wen Tzu always thought three times before taking action. When the Master was told of this, he commented, "Twice is quite enough."
    • Confucius, The Analects (475 BC – 221 BC), V, 20
  • The Master said, "I once spent all day thinking without taking food and all night thinking without going to bed, but I found that I gained nothing from it. It would have been better for me to have spent the time in learning."
    • Confucius, The Analects (475 BC – 221 BC), XV, 31
  • In indolent vacuity of thought.
    • William Cowper, The Task (1785), Book IV. The Winter Evening, line 297

DEdit

  • Je pense, donc je suis.
    • Cogito ergo sum.
    • I think, therefore I am.
    • Rene Descartes, Principes de la Philosophie, I, Section VII; Cogito, ergo sum (Latin of same); Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Second thoughts, they say, are best.
    • John Dryden, The Spanish Friar, Act II, scene 2. Euripides, Hippolytus, 438; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • He trudg'd along, unknowing what he sought,
    And whistled as he went, for want of thought.

EEdit

  • For thoughts are so great—aren't they, sir?
    They seem to lie upon us like a deep flood.
    • George Eliot, Adam Bede, Chapter VIII; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Our growing thought
    Makes growing revelation.
    • George Eliot, Spanish Gypsy (1868), Book II; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • The revelation of thought takes men out of servitude into freedom.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Conduct of Life, Fate; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Every thought which genius and piety throw into the world, alters the world.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays, Of Politics; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force, that thoughts rule the world.
  • Thought is the seed of action; but action is as much its second form as thought is its first.

FEdit

  • Be not troubled by the wanderings of your imagination which you cannot restrain. How often do we wander through the fear of wandering and the regret that we have done so. What would you say of a traveler who, instead of constantly advancing in his journey, should employ his time in anticipating the falls he might suffer, or in weeping over the place where one had happened?
    • François Fénelon; reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 582
  • I'll put that in my considering cap.
    • John Fletcher, The Loyal Subject, (licensed 16 November 1618; revised c. 1633; published 1647), Act II, scene 1
  • Thinking is a momentary dismissal of irrelevancies.
  • People should think things out fresh and not just accept conventional terms and the conventional way of doing things.
    • Buckminster Fuller, as quoted in The Peter Plan: A Proposal for Survival (1977) by Laurence J. Peter
  • We are powerfully imprisoned in these Dark Ages simply by the terms in which we have been conditioned to think.

GEdit

  • Every thought willingly contemplated, ever word meaningly spoken, every action freely done, consolidates itself in the character, and will project itself onward in a permanent continuity.
    • Henry Giles; reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 582
  • Wer kann was Dummes, wer was Kluges denken,
    Das nicht die Vorwelt schon gedacht.
    • Who can think wise or stupid things at all that were not thought already in the past.
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, II, 2, 1; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Those who think must govern those that toil.
    • Oliver Goldsmith, The Traveller (1764), line 372; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Thoughts that breathe and words that burn.
    • Thomas Gray, Progress of Poesy, III. 3, line 4; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90

HEdit

  • Their own second and sober thoughts.
    • Matthew Henry, Exposition. Job VI. 29; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • I say that conceit is just as natural a thing to human minds as a centre is to a circle. But little-minded people's thoughts move in such small circles that five minutes' conversation gives you an arc long enough to determine their whole curve. An arc in the movement of a large intellect does not sensibly differ from a straight line. Even if it have the third vowel ['I', the first-person pronoun] as its centre, it does not soon betray it. The highest thought, that is, is the most seemingly impersonal; it does not obviously imply any individual centre.
  • A thought is often original, though you have uttered it a hundred times.
  • Why can't somebody give us a list of things that everybody thinks and nobody says, and another list of things that everybody says and nobody thinks?
  • Every man who speaks out loud and clear is tinting the "Zeitgeist." Every man who expresses what he honestly thinks is true is changing the Spirit of the Times. Thinkers help other people to think, for they formulate what others are thinking. No person writes or thinks alone—thought is in the air, but its expression is necessary to create a tangible Spirit of the Times.
    • Elbert Hubbard, Pig-Pen Pete, The Bee; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Thought must be divided against itself before it can come to any knowledge of itself.
    • Aldous Huxley, in "Wordsworth in the Tropics", in Do What You Will (1929)

IEdit

JEdit

  • Today's banalities apparently gain in profundity if one states that the wisdom of the past, for all its virtues, belongs to the past. The arrogance of those who come later preens itself with the notion that the past is dead and gone. ... The modern mind can no longer think thought, only can locate it in time and space. The activity of thinking decays to the passivity of classifying.
    • Russell Jacoby, Social Amnesia (1975), p. 1
  • My thoughts and I were of another world.
    • Ben Jonson, Every Man Out of His Humour, Act III, scene 3; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • That fellow seems to me to possess but one idea, and that is a wrong one.

KEdit

  • Sudden a thought came like a full-blown rose,
    Flushing his brow.
    • John Keats, The Eve of St. Agnes, Stanza 16; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • The history of human thought recalls the swinging of a pendulum which takes centuries to swing. After a long period of slumber comes a moment of awakening. Then thought frees herself from the chains with which those interested — rulers, lawyers, clerics — have carefully enwound her.
    She shatters the chains. She subjects to severe criticism all that has been taught her, and lays bare the emptiness of the religious political, legal, and social prejudices amid which she has vegetated. She starts research in new paths, enriches our knowledge with new discoveries, creates new sciences.

LEdit

  • The thoughts that come often unsought, and, as it were, drop into the mind, are commonly the most valuable of any we have, and therefore should be secured, because they seldom return again.
    • John Locke, letter to Mr. Samuel Bold, May 16, 1699; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • A thought often makes us hotter than a fire.
  • The surest pledge of a deathless name
    Is the silent homage of thoughts unspoken.
    • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Herons of Elmwood, Stanza 9; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • My own thoughts
    Are my companions.
    • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Masque of Pandora, Part III, Tower of Prometheus on Mount Caucasus; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Thoughts so sudden, that they seem
    The revelations of a dream.
    • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Prelude to Tales of a Wayside Inn, Part I, line 233; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • All thoughts that mould the age begin
    Deep down within the primitive soul.
    • James Russell Lowell, An Incident in a Railroad Car; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • A penny for your thought.
    • John Lyly, Euphues. Swift, Polite Conversation, Introduction; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90

MEdit

  • Annihilating all that's made
    To a green thought in a green shade.
    • Andrew Marvell, The Garden. Translated; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • No brain is stronger than its weakest think.
  • Grand Thoughts that never can be wearied out,
    Showing the unreality of Time.
    • Richard Monckton Milnes (Lord Houghton), Sonnet To Charles Lamb; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • What is the difference between merely knowing (or remembering, or memorizing) and understanding? We all agree that to understand something, we must know what it means... A thing or idea seems meaningful only when we have several different ways to represent it–different perspectives and different associations. Then we can turn it around in our minds, so to speak: however it seems at the moment, we can see it another way and we never come to a full stop. In other words, we can 'think' about it. If there were only one way to represent this thing or idea, we would not call this representation thinking.
  • Ohne Phosphor kein Gedanke.
    • No thought without phosphorus.
    • Jacob Moleschott, Lehre der Nahrungsmittel, II. 1. 4; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • His thoughts have a high aim, though their dwelling be in the vale of a humble heart.
    • Montaigne; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90

NEdit

  • It is often said that second thoughts are best. So they are in matters of judgment, but not in matters of conscience. In matters of duty, first thoughts are commonly best. They have more in them of the voice of God.

OEdit

PEdit

  • Man is but a reed, the weakest in nature, but he is a thinking reed.
    • Blaise Pascal, Thoughts, Chapter II. 10; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Thought can wing its way
    Swifter than lightning-flashes or the beam
    That hastens on the pinions of the morn.
  • As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.
    • Proverbs, XXIII. 7; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90

QEdit

REdit

  • Gaily I lived as ease and nature taught,
    And spent my little life without a thought,
    And am amazed that Death, that tyrant grim,
    Should think of me, who never thought of him.
    • Abbé Regnier; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • We all have a tendency to think that the world must conform to our prejudices. The opposite view involves some effort of thought, and most people would die sooner than think — in fact they do so.

SEdit

Learning to see the structures within which we operate begins a process of freeing ourselves from previously unseen forces and ultimately mastering the ability to work with them and change them. ~ Peter Senge
  • Sweetest mother, I can weave no more to-day,
    For thoughts of him come thronging,
    Him for whom my heart is longing—
    For I know not where my weary fingers stray.
    • Sappho, Fragment. J. S. Easby-Smith's translation; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • At Learning's fountain it is sweet to drink,
    But 'tis a nobler privilege to think.
    • John Godfrey Saxe, The Library; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Es lebt ein anders denkendes Geschlecht!
    • There lives a race which otherwise does think.
    • Friedrich Schiller, Wilhelm Tell, II. 1. 206; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Still are the thoughts to memory dear.
    • Walter Scott, Rokeby, Canto I, Stanza 33.; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Learning to see the structures within which we operate begins a process of freeing ourselves from previously unseen forces and ultimately mastering the ability to work with them and change them.
  • We never think entirely alone; we think in company, in a vast collaboration; we work with the workers of the past and of the present.
    • Antonin Sertillanges, The Intellectual Life (1920), translated by Mary Ryan. Cork: The Mercier Press, 1948, p. 106
  • Thinking is conceiving what is.
    • Antonin Sertillanges, The Intellectual Life (1920), translated by Mary Ryan. Cork: The Mercier Press, 1948, p. 146
  • Ah! comme vous dites, il faut glisser sur bien des pensées, et ne faire pas semblant de les voir.
  • Men's first thoughts in this matter are generally better than their second; their natural notions better than those refin'd by study, or consultation with casuists.
    • Earl of Shaftesbury, Characteristics, Essay on The Freedom of Wit and Humour, Sect. I; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • But now behold,
    In the quick forge and working-house of thought,
    How London doth pour out her citizens!
  • A thought by thought is piled, till some great truth
    Is loosened, and the nations echo round,
    Shaken to their roots, as do the mountains now.
  • Come near me! I do weave
    A chain I cannot break—I am possest
    With thoughts too swift and strong for one lone human breast.
    • Percy Bysshe Shelley, Revolt of Islam, Canto IX, Stanza 33; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Second thoughts oftentimes are the very worst of all thoughts.
    • William Shenstone, Detached Thoughts on Men and Manners; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • They are never alone that are accompanied with noble thoughts.
    • Sir Philip Sidney, The Arcadia, Book I; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • If I could think how these my thoughts to leave,
    Or thinking still, my thoughts might have good end:
    If rebel sense would reason's law receive;
    Or reason foil'd would not in vain contend:
    Then might I think what thoughts were best to think:
    Then might I wisely swim, or gladly sink.
    • Sir Philip Sidney, Sonnet; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Oh, the fetterless mind! how it wandereth free
    Through the wildering maze of Eternity!
    • Henry Smith, Thought; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Thinking is but an idle waste of thought,
    And naught is everything, and everything is naught.
    • Horace and James Smith, Rejected Addresses, Cui Bono? (Imitation of Byron); Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Thought can never be compared with action, but when it awakens in us the image of truth.
  • Every man has some peculiar train of thought which he falls back upon when he is alone. This, to a great degree, moulds the man.
    • Dugald Stewart; reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 581
  • Time to me this truth has taught,
    ('Tis a treasure worth revealing)
    More offend from want of thought
    Than from any want of feeling.
    • Charles Swain, Want of Thought; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • What a man thinks in his spirit in the world, that he does after his departure from the world when he becomes a spirit.
    • Emanuel Swedenborg, Divine Providence, 101; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90

TEdit

  • Though man a thinking being is defined,
    Few use the grand prerogative of mind.
    How few think justly of the thinking few!
    How many never think, who think they do.
    • Jane Taylor, Essays in Rhyme, On Morals and Manners, Prejudice, Essay I, Stanza 45; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • In matters of conscience that is the best sense which every wise man takes in before he hath sullied his understanding with the designs of sophisters and interested persons.
    • Jeremy Taylor, Ductor Dubitantium (Rule of Conscience) (1660), Book I, Chapter I. Rule VI
  • Large elements in order brought,
    And tracts of calm from tempest made,
    And world-wide fluctuation sway'd,
    In vassal tides that follow'd thought.
  • Yet I doubt not thro' the ages one increasing purpose runs,
    And the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns.
  • To him whose elastic and vigorous thought keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning.

UEdit

VEdit

  • And yet, as angels in some brighter dreams
    Call to the soul when man doth sleep,
    So some strange thoughts transcend our wonted themes,
    And into glory peep.
    • Henry Vaughan, They are all gone into the World of Light, Stanza 7; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Lorsqu'une pensée est trop faible pour porter une expression simple, c'est la marque pour la rejeter.
    • When a thought is too weak to be expressed simply, it is a proof that it should be rejected.
    • Luc de Clapiers, Marquis de Vauvenargues, Reflexions, III; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Les grandés pensées viennent du cœur.

WEdit

  • His high-erected thoughts look'd down upon
    The smiling valley of his fruitful heart.
    • Daniel Webster, A Monumental Column; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • But hushed be every thought that springs
    From out the bitterness of things.
    • William Wordsworth, Elegiac Stanzas. Addressed to Sir G. H. B; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Yet, sometimes, when the secret cup
    Of still and serious thought went round,
    It seemed as if he drank it up,
    He felt with spirit so profound.
    • William Wordsworth, Matthew; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
  • Like thoughts whose very sweetness yieldeth proof
    That they wore born for immortality.
    • William Wordsworth, Sonnet, On King's College Chapel, Cambridge; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90

XEdit

YEdit

  • Knocks at our hearts, and finds our thoughts at home.

ZEdit

External linksEdit

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