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.
- Upon the cunning loom of thought
We weave our fancies, so and so.
- Thomas Bailey Aldrich, "Cloth of Gold", line 3, in The Ballad of Babie Bell and Other Poems (New York: Rudd & Carleton, 1856), p. 19
- 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
- First thoughts are not always the best.
- Thought is something limitless and independent, and has been mixed with no thing but is alone by itself. ... What was mingled with it would have prevented it from having power over anything in the way in which it does. ... For it is the finest of all things and the purest.
- Anaxagoras, Fragment B12, in Jonathan Barnes, Early Greek Philosophy (1984), p. 190.
- There are no dangerous thoughts for the simple reason that thinking itself is such a dangerous enterprise.
- Hannah Arendt, interview with Roger Errera (October 1973), broadcast on Un Certain Regard (6 July 1974), ORTF TV, France. Published as "The Last Interview" in the Hannah Arendt Newsletter #2 (December 1999) and Hannah Arendt: The Last Interview and Other Conversations (Brooklyn: Melvin House, 2013).
- Widely paraphrased as "There are no dangerous thoughts; thinking itself is dangerous."
- 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.
- Think about the great thinkers of our time and those times before and in antiquity. Think about Aristotle, Plato and Socrates and Maimonides and Pythagoras, Heraclitus and Rodin and George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington and Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Edison and Oprah Winfrey and those liberation thinkers like Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth and Marcus Garvey and Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela. Think about it my brothers and sisters, Cesar Chavez and George Washington Carver and Booker T Washington, Adam Clayton Powell ectera. Think about them! They were [thinkers]. Pitful our generation and our people today. Here it is 2008, and we're worse off now than we've ever been because our young people do not have the ability to — Think about it! How pitiful we are, here they are on drugs, on heroin, on cocaine, alcoholics. Here they are at the disposal of these kingpins and ectera, because they can't. Here they are making gangs families because they can't.
- Archbishop LeRoy Bailey, Sr., in a sermon entitled "An Abundant Overflowing Thought" (24 Feburary 2008)
- Great thoughts, like great deeds, need
- Philip James Bailey, Festus (1813), scene Home
- The immense majority of individuals, not only among the ignorant masses but also among the civilized and privileged classes, think and want only what everybody else around them thinks and wants. They doubtlessly believe that they think for themselves, but they are only slavishly repeating by rote, with slight modifications, the thoughts and aims of the other conformists which they imperceptibly absorb. This servility, this routine, this perennial absence of the will to revolt and this lack of initiative and independence of thought are the principle causes for the slow, desolate historical development of humanity.
- Mikhail Bakunin, "Man, Society, and Freedom" (1871)
- And thus daily, and month by month, and year by year, he will work at his mind, training it in these consecutive habits of thought, and he will learn to choose that of which he thinks; he will no longer allow thoughts to come and go; he will no longer permit a thought to grip him and hold him; he will no longer let a thought come into the mind and fix itself there and decline to be evicted; he will be master within his own house... he will say: “No; no such anxiety shall remain within my mind; no such thought shall have shelter within my mind; within this mind nothing stays that is not there by my choice and my invitation, and that which comes uninvited shall be turned outside the limits of my mind.
- Annie Besant, in In the Outer Court (1895)
- 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
- Who knows whether it is not true that phosphorus and mind are not the same thing?
- 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
- All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage… If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.
- 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.
- I stood
Among them, but not of them: in a shroud
Of thoughts which were not their thoughts.
- Whatsoe'er thy birth,
Thou wert a beautiful thought and softly bodied forth.
- 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?
- Thomas Carlyle, Heroes and Hero Worship (1840), Lecture I
- Thought once awakened does not again slumber.
- Thomas Carlyle, Heroes and Hero Worship (1840), Lecture I
- My thoughts ran a wool-gathering.
- Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605-15), Part II, Chapter LVII
- There is a thought that stops thought. That is the only thought that ought to be stopped.
- 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
- Any man may make a mistake; none but a fool will stick to it. Second thoughts are best as the proverb says.
- 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.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Christabel (c. 1797-1801, published 1816). Conclusion to Part II
- 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?
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Aids to Reflection (1854), p. xlvii
- 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
- Today, large sections of mankind, for the first time in history, are beginning to think, truly to think for themselves; to actually use the energy of mind and make conscious choices and decisions. Up to now, mankind as a whole simply reacted. Thinking is something, as we know, which is entirely different. The masses of mankind are beginning to think - politically, economically - they are beginning to take decisions along these lines, and no longer simply respond emotionally to some teacher or some leader. This is new.
In Atlantean days mankind did not think at all. Only the most advanced Atlantean man, the disciple or initiate, thought.
- Modern science has been able to break down cellular structures and show that at the centre of every atom is a nucleus with electrons around it, vibrating at a specific rate, and that every atom in the universe is made in the same way. There is nothing but energy in all of the manifested universe. The difference between that totally scientific view and that which an esotericist would hold is that the esotericist goes further and says, indeed, all is energy, but energy follows thought, is acted upon by thought. Thought is the agency by which creation takes place. The Great Pyramid at Giza was created by thought. The blocks of stone were actually moved by thought. It is very simple when you understand how to do it.
- So, to me how precious your thoughts are! O God, how much does the grand sum of them amount to! Were I to try to count them, they are more than even the grains of sand. I have awaked, and yet I am still with you.
- Chi poco pensa, molto erra.
- 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
- The ground or basis for a belief is deliberately sought and its adequacy to support the belief examined. This process is called reflective thought: it alone is truly educative in value, and it forms accordingly the principal subject of this volume.
- John Dewey Introduction to "How We Think" 1910, Boston: D.C. Heath & Co. http://rci.rutgers.edu/~tripmcc/phil/dewey-hwt-pt1-selections.pdf
- 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.
- John Dryden, Cymon and Iphigenia (1700), line 84
- No matter how much you think, you won’t know.
Only when you stop thinking will you know.
But still, you have to depend on thinking so as to know.
- Ajaan Dune, Gifts He Left Behind, The Dhamma Legacy of Phra Ajaan Dune Atulo (Phra Rājavuḍḍhācariya), as compiled by Phra Rājavaraguṇa, as translated from the Thai by Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu
- However closely we may associate thought with the physical machinery of the brain, the connection is dropped as irrelevant as soon as we consider the fundamental property of thought—that it may be correct or incorrect. ...that involves recognising a domain of the other type of law—laws which ought to be kept, but may be broken.
- Arthur Eddington, Science and the Unseen World (1929)
- 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.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims (1876), Progress of Culture
- Thought is the seed of action; but action is as much its second form as thought is its first.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Art", in Society and Solitude (1870)
- 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
- So here is your definition of thinking. It is the manipulation of memories.
- Rudolf Flesch, The Art of Clear Thinking (1951), concluding sentences of ch. 1. New York: Collier Books, 1962, p. 23
- Our first principles, our basic ideas, are those most intimately tied up with our personality, with the emotional make-up we have inherited or acquired. Detached, impersonal thinking is almost impossible; it hardly ever happens.
- Rudolf Flesch, The Art of Clear Thinking (1951), ch. 21. New York: Collier Books, 1962, p. 224
- 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
- We must free ourselves from the sacralization of the social as the only reality and stop regarding as superfluous something so essential in human life and human relations as thought.
- Michel Foucault, “Practicing criticism, or, is it really important to think?”, interview by Didier Eribon, May 30-31, 1981, in Politics, Philosophy, Culture, ed. L. Kriztman (1988), p. 155
- Thinking is a momentary dismissal of irrelevancies.
- Buckminster Fuller, Utopia or Oblivion : The Prospects of Humanity (1969)
- 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.
- Buckminster Fuller, Cosmography (1992)
- 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
- [Steven Spielberg's films] are comforting, they always give you answers and I don't think they're very clever answers. … The success of most Hollywood films these days is down to fact that they're comforting. They tie things up in nice little bows and give you answers, even if the answers are stupid, you go home and you don't have to think about it. … The great filmmakers make you go home and think about it.
- Wer kann was Dummes, wer was Kluges denken,
Das nicht die Vorwelt schon gedacht.
- 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
- 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
- What do such machines really do? They increase the number of things we can do without thinking. Things we do without thinking — there's the real danger.
- 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.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table (1858), Chapter I
- A thought is often original, though you have uttered it a hundred times.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table (1858), Chapter I
- 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?
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Professor at the Breakfast Table (1859), Chapter VI
- 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
- Descartes was far more subtle about mind-and-body interactions than many crude commentators admit, but he was right that thoughts don't seem to take up any room, not even in one's head. What are they? No one knows. No one really knows what a thought is. It must involve the chemicals and the synapses, of course, but how do the words and pictures come into it?
- Siri Hustvedt, The Blazing World (2014), "Harriet Burden: Notebook T". London: Sceptre, 2014, p. 356
- 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)
- 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.
- Samuel Johnson, reported in Boswell's Life of Johnson (1770)
- Immaturity is the incapacity to use one's intelligence without the guidance of another. Such immaturity is self-caused if it is not caused by lack of intelligence, but by lack of determination and courage to use one's intelligence without being guided by another. Sapere Aude! Have the courage to use your own intelligence!
- Immanuel Kant, "What is Enlightenment" (1784)
- 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
- All of this may seem pretty obvious when you step back and think about it, but most people don’t step back and think about it.
- Jonah Keri, Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong (2007), p. 249
- All existential problems are passionate problems, for when existence is interpenetrated with reflection, it generates passion. To think about existential problems in such a way as to leave out the passion is tantamount to not thinking about them at all, since it is to forget the point, which is that the thinker himself is an existing individual.
- Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript, p. 313
- 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.
- It is amazing how much a thought expands and refines by being put into speech: I should think it could hardly know itself.
- [T]hought is so little incompatible with organized matter, that it seems to be one of its properties on a par with electricity, the faculty of motion, impenetrability, extentension, etc.
- Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.
- Walter Lippmann, The Stakes of Diplomacy (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1915), p. 51
- 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.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Drift-Wood, Table-Talk; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
- 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
- In class society, everyone lives as a member of a particular class, and every kind of thinking, without exception, is stamped with the brand of a class.
- Mao Zedong, Quotations from Chairman Mao, Chapter 2
- 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.
- Thomas L. Masson, Laughs (1926), p. 167
- 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
- Thoughts that voluntary move
- 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.
- Most of the time you're better off to think whatever you want to, bite your tongue and keep it to yourself. Other times, if you don't, it may cost you dearly to say it aloud.
- Roger Willis Mitchell, Sr., Trooper Tales: Plus Other Bizarre, Odd and Funny Stories (2003), p. 52
- 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
- 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.
- John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons: Volume IV (1838), Sermon 2
- For it is the same thing that can be thought and that can be.
- In human affairs, all that endures is what men think.
- Isabel Paterson, The God of the Machine (1943)
- 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
Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature, but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this.
All our dignity consists then in thought. By it we must elevate ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot fill. Let us endeavor to think well; this is the principle of morality.
- Blaise Pascal, Pensées, #347, W. F. Trotter, trans. (New York: 1958)
- Thought can wing its way
Swifter than lightning-flashes or the beam
That hastens on the pinions of the morn.
- James Gates Percival, "Sonnet", Clio, No. I (1822), p. 30
- "You damn sadist!" said mr. cummings,
"you try to make people think."
- 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
- 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.
- Bertrand Russell, The ABC of Relativity (1925), p. 166
- 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
- The greater part of humanity is too much harassed and fatigued by the struggle with want, to rally itself for a new and sterner struggle with error. Satisfied if they themselves can escape from the hard labour of thought, they willingly abandon to others the guardianship of their thoughts.
- Friedrich Schiller, The Aesthetic Education of Man, Eighth Letter
- 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
- It is what a man has thought out directly for himself that alone has true value. Thinkers may be classed as follows: those who, in the first place, think for themselves, and those who think directly for others. The former thinkers are the genuine, they think for themselves in both senses of the word; they are the true philosophers; they alone are in earnest. Moreover, the enjoyment and happiness of their existence consist in thinking. The others are the sophists; they wish to seem, and seek their happiness in what they hope to get from other people; their earnestness consists in this.
- Arthur Schopenhauer, “Thinking for Oneself,” H. Dirks, trans.
The characteristic sign of a mind of the highest standard is the directness of its judgment. Everything it utters is the result of thinking for itself; this is shown everywhere in the way it gives expression to its thoughts. Therefore it is, like a prince, an imperial director in the realm of intellect. All other minds are mere delegates, as may be seen by their style, which has no stamp of its own.
Hence every true thinker for himself is so far like a monarch; he is absolute, and recognises nobody above him. His judgments, like the decrees of a monarch, spring from his own sovereign power and proceed directly from himself. He takes as little notice of authority as a monarch does of a command; nothing is valid unless he has himself authorised it. On the other hand, those of vulgar minds, who are swayed by all kinds of current opinions, authorities, and prejudices, are like the people which in silence obey the law and commands.
- Arthur Schopenhauer, “Thinking for Oneself,” H. Dirks, trans.
- 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.
- Ah! as you say, we should slip over many thoughts and act as though we did not perceive them.
- Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, marquise de Sévigné, Lettres, 70; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
- 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.
- Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 3rd 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!
- My thoughts are whirled like a potter's wheel.
- A maiden hath no tongue but thought.
- 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.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, Prometheus Unbound (1820), Act II, scene 3
- 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
- Strange thoughts beget strange deeds.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Cenci (1819), Act IV, scene 4
- 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
- We think so because all other people think so;
Or because—or because—after all, we do think so;
Or because we were told so, and think we must think so;
Or because we once thought so, and think we still think so;
Or because, having thought so, we think we will think so.
- Henry Sidgwick (1838 – 1900) . Lines which came to him in his sleep. Referred to by Dr. William Osler, Harveian Oration, given in the South Place Magazine (Feb., 1907). Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
- 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
- I never could find any man who could think for two minutes together.
- Sydney Smith, Elementary Sketches of Moral Philosophy, delivered at the Royal Institute, 1804–1806, Lecture XIX: "On the Conduct of the Understanding — Part 2". London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans (1850), p. 280
- Thought can never be compared with action, but when it awakens in us the image of truth.
- Anne Louise Germaine de Staël, Germany, Part I, Chapter VIII; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
- Unreason and anti-intellectualism abominate thought. Thinking implies disagreement; and disagreement implies nonconformity; and nonconformity implies heresy; and heresy implies disloyalty—so, obviously, thinking must be stopped.
- Adlai Stevenson, A Call to Greatness (1954), p. 99
- 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
- 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
- And Thought leapt out to wed with Thought,
Ere Thought could wed itself with Speech.
- 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.
- I am credited with being one of the hardest workers and perhaps I am, if thought is the equivalent of labour, for I have devoted to it almost all of my waking hours. But if work is interpreted to be a definite performance in a specified time according to a rigid rule, then I may be the worst of idlers. Every effort under compulsion demands a sacrifice of life-energy. I never paid such a price. On the contrary, I have thrived on my thoughts.
- Nikola Tesla My Inventions 1919
- To him whose elastic and vigorous thought keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning.
- Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1966 ), chapter 2, p. 116–17
- “I cannot live with myself any longer.” This was the thought that kept repeating itself in my mind. Then suddenly I became aware of what a peculiar thought it was. “Am I one or two? If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the ‘I’ and the ‘self’ that ‘I’ cannot live with.” “Maybe,” I thought, “only one of them is real.”
- Thinking has become a disease. Disease happens when things get out of balance... The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive. To put it more accurately, it is not so much that you use your mind wrongly - you usually don't use it at all. It uses you. This is the disease. You believe that you are your mind. This is the delusion. The instrument has taken you over.
- Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now (1997) p. 16
- Just because you can solve a crossword puzzle or build an atom bomb doesn't mean that you use your mind. Just as dogs love to chew bones, the mind loves to get its teeth into problems. That's why it does crossword puzzles and builds atom bombs. You have no interest in either. Let me ask you this: can you be free of your mind whenever you want to? Have you found the "off" button?... You mean stop thinking altogether? No, I can't, except maybe for a moment or two... Then the mind is using you. You are unconsciously identified with it, so you don't even know that you are its slave. It's almost as if you were possessed without knowing it, and so you take the possessing entity to be yourself. The beginning of freedom is the realization that you are not the possessing entity - the thinker. Knowing this enables you to observe the entity.
- Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now (1997) p. 16
- The good news is that you can free yourself from your mind. This is the* only true liberation. You can take the first step right now. Start listening to the voice in your head as often as you can... When you listen to that voice, listen to it impartially. That is to say, do not judge. Do not judge or condemn what you hear, for doing so would mean that the same voice has come in again through the back door. You'll soon realize: there is the voice, and here I am listening to it, watching it. This I am realization, this sense of your own presence, is not a thought. It arises from beyond the mind...
When you listen to a thought, you are aware not only of the thought but also of yourself as the witness of the thought. A new dimension of consciousness has come in.
- Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now (1997) p. 17
- I am not my thoughts, emotions, sense perceptions, and experiences. I am not the content of my life. I am Life. I am the space in which all things happen. I am consciousness. When you look at a tree, you are aware of the tree. When you have a thought or feeling, you are aware of that thought or feeling. When you have a pleasurable or painful experience, you are aware of that experience. These seem to be true and obvious statements. Yet if you look at them very closely, you will find that in a subtle way their very structure contains a fundamental illusion, an illusion which is unavoidable when you use language. Thought and language create an apparent duality and a separate person where there is none. The truth is you are not somebody who is aware of the tree, the thought, feeling or experience. You are the awareness or consciousness in and by which those things appear. As you go about your life, can you be aware of yourself as the awareness in which the entire content of your life unfolds?
- Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks (2003)
- Many people live with a tormentor in their head that continuously attacks and punishes them and drains them of vital energy. It is the cause of untold misery and unhappiness, as well as of disease. The good news is that you can free yourself from your mind. This is the only true liberation. You can take the first step right now. Start listening to the voice in your head as often as you can. Pay particular attention to any repetitive thought patterns, those old gramophone records that have been playing in your head perhaps for many years. This is what I mean by "watching the thinker," which is another way of saying: listen to the voice in your head, be there as the witnessing presence. When you listen to that voice, listen to it impartially. That is to say, do not judge. Do not judge or condemn what you hear, for doing so would mean that the same voice has come in again through the back door. You'll soon realize: there is the voice, and here I am listening to it, watching it. This I am realization, this sense of your own presence, is not a thought. It arises from beyond the mind.
- Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, p. 17, (2005)
- The predominance of mind is no more than a stage in the evolution of consciousness. We need to go on to the next stage now as a matter of urgency; otherwise, we will be destroyed by the mind, which has grown into a monster. I will talk about this in more detail later. Thinking and consciousness are not synonymous. Thinking is only a small aspect of consciousness. Thought cannot exist without consciousness, but consciousness does not need thought. Enlightenment means rising above thought, not falling back to a level below thought, the level of an animal or a plant. In the enlightened state, you still use your thinking mind when needed, but in a much more focused and effective way than before.
- Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose,(Full text) p. 20, (2005)
- Philosophers have calculated the difference of velocity between sound and light: but who will attempt to calculate the difference between speech and thought!
- John Horne Tooke, Epea Pteroenta, or, The Diversions of Purley p. 15
- There is no God, no universe, no human race, no earthly life, no heaven, no hell. It is all a Dream, a grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but you. And You are but a Thought — a vagrant Thought, a useless Thought, a homeless Thought, wandering forlorn among the empty eternities.
- 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.
- Great thoughts come from the heart.
- Luc de Clapiers, Marquis de Vauvenargues, Reflexions, CXXVII; Reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 787-90
- 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
- Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking of them. Operations of thought are like cavalry charges in a battle—they are strictly limited in number, they require fresh horses, and must only be made at decisive moments.
- Alfred North Whitehead, An Introduction to Mathematics (1911), ch. 5
- We think in generalities, but we live in detail.
- Alfred North Whitehead, "The Education of an Englishman", in The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 138 (1926), p. 192
- It seems that thought itself has a power for which it has never been given credit.
- Colin Wilson in Frankenstein's Castle, p. 16 (1980)
- 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
- Knocks at our hearts, and finds our thoughts at home.
- Edward Young, Love of Fame (1725-28), Satire I, line 99