This page displays quotes from books I’ve found insightful over the years. My intention is to pass on highlights from the text as an overview – maybe I’ll inspire you to read the whole book one day. Scroll down and see what catches your eye…


The Theory of Moral Sentiments (Adam Smith)

> No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far great part of the members are poor and miserable

> To feel much for others and little for ourselves; to restrain our selfishness and exercise our benevolent affections, constitute the perfection of human nature

 > Labour was the first price, the original purchase– money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased

> The real tragedy of the poor is the poverty of their aspirations

> As soon as the land of any country has all become private property, the landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed, and demand a rent even for its natural produce

> Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition

> The propensity to truck, barter and exchange one things for another is common to all men, and to be found in no other race of animals

> On the road from the city of skepticism, I had to pass through the Valley of Ambiguity

> No complaint… is more common than that of a scarcity of money

> With the greater part of rich people, the chief enjoyment of riches consists in the parade of riches

> Happiness never lays its finger on its pulse

> Resentment seems to have been given us by nature for a defense, and for a defense only! It is the safeguard of justice and the security of innocence

> Adventure upon all the tickets in the lottery, and you lose for certain; and the greater the number of your tickets the nearer your approach to this certainty

> The difference between the most dissimilar characters, between a philosopher and a common street porter, for example, seems to arise not so much from nature, as from habit, custom, and education.

> Virtue is more to be feared that vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience

> What can be added to the happiness of a man who is in health, out of debt, and has a clear conscience?

> The theory that can absorb the greatest number of facts, and persist in doing so, generation after generation, through all changes of opinion and detail, is the one that must rule all observation

> Defense is superior to opulence

> It is reason, principle, conscience, the inhabitant of the breast, the man within, the great judge and arbiter of our conduct.

> In ease of body and peace of mind, all the different ranks of life are nearly upon a level, and the beggar, who suns himself by the side of the highway, possesses that security which kings are fighting for

> Every man, as the Stoics used to say, is first and principally recommended to his own care; and every man is certainly, in every respect, fitter and abler to take care of himself than of any other person. Every man feels his own pleasures and his own pains more sensibly than those of other people. The former are the original sensations; the latter the reflected or sympathetic images of those sensations. The former may be said to be the substance; the latter the shadow.

> Humanity is the virtue of a women, generosity that of a man

Essays (Montaigne)

> Nothing is so firmly believed as what we least know

> The way of the world is to make laws but follow custom

> Lend yourself to others, but give yourself to yourself

> A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears

> I do myself a greater injury in lying than I do him of whom I tell a lie

> My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened

> I study myself more than any other subject. That is my metaphysics, that is my physics

> Once conform, once do what others do because they do it, and a kind of lethargy steals over all the finer senses of the soul

> Confidence in the goodness of another is good proof of one’s own goodness

> A straight oar looks bent in the water. What matters is not merely that we see things, but how we see them

> The soul which has no fixed purpose in life is lost; to be everywhere, is to be nowhere

> No wind serves him who addresses his voyage to no certain port

> There is no passion so contagious as that of fear

> One maybe humble out of pride

> Everyone rushes elsewhere and into the future, because no one wants to face one’s own inner self

> It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others

> A wise man sees as much as he ought, not as much as he can

> No pleasure has any savor for me without communication

> I know well what I am fleeing from but not what I am in search of

> I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy

> Ignorance is the softest pillow on which a man can rest his head

> Let us not be ashamed to speak what we shame not to think

> There are some defeats more triumphant than victories

> How many things we held yesterday as articles of faith which today we tell as fables


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