Will Durant was a 'Quote Machine'

Some Of The Best Quotes From Will Durant

A couple years ago I was stuck for a few of weeks in the middle of Sweden… 20k’s from a gas station, a further 40 from a grocery store. I was looking after a kennel of 15 work huskies and given the isolation I was without familiar distraction… and as such I quickly ran out of stuff to watch and things to listen to.

On a frigid and perfectly blue, silent day I had this task to measure and cut a bunch of timber, this meant a few of hours out in the cold with nothing to listen to expect the screech of the power saw.

With low expectations… I turned to Audible’s free selections of the month. Will Durant was in! ‘Fallen Leaves’ is what caught my eye. They are his unfinished memoirs and were found amongst his notes after his death.

Fallen Leaves is quotable passage after quotable passage. Very clearly of another time (lot’s of questionable stuff about woman and love in here) but below is just a selection some great Will Durant quotes.

My Top 3

  • “We are choked with News and starved of History”

  • “Let us not ask for possessions, but for things to do, happiness is in making things rather than consuming them”

  • “Ultimately there are but three systems of ethics, three conceptions of the ideal character and the moral life.
    1. One is that of Buddha and Jesus, which stresses the feminine virtues, considers all men to be equally precious, resists evil only by returning good, identifies virtue with love, and inclines in politics to unlimited democracy.
    2. Another is the ethic of Machiavelli and Nietzsche, which stresses the masculine virtues, accepts the inequality of men, relishes the risks of combat and conquest and rule, identifies virtue with power, and exalts an hereditary aristocracy.
    3. A third, the ethic of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, denies the universal applicability of either the feminine or the masculine virtues; considers that only the informed and mature mind can judge, according to diverse circumstance, when love should rule, and when power; identifies virtue, therefore, with intelligence; and advocates a varying mixture of aristocracy and democracy in government”

The Rest

  • “The tragedy of life is that it gives us wisdom only when it has stolen youth”

  • “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit”

  • “Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance”

  • “Sixty years ago I knew everything; now I know nothing; education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance” …and similarly… “Our knowledge is a receding mirage in an expanding desert of ignorance”

  • “You can’t fool all the people all the time, but you can fool enough of them to rule a large country”

  • “There have been only 268 of the past 3,421 years free of war”

  • “Most history is guessing, and the rest is prejudice”

  • “One of the lessons of history is that the gods can be silent in many languages”

  • “The strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must”

  • “Most men of forty are but a reminiscence, the burned out ashes of what was once a flame”

  • “A man is as young as the risks he takes”

  • “A man is as old as his arteries, and as young as his ideas”

  • “You cannot make men equal by passing laws”

  • “Psychology is largely a theory of human behavior. Philosophy is too often an ideal of human behavior. History is occasionally a record of human behavior”

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