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Quotes regarding Philosophy and philosophers:


  • The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.
  • Philosophy is not the owl of Minerva that takes flight after history has been realized in order to celebrate its happy ending; rather, philosophy is subjective proposition, desire, and praxis that are applied to the event.
  • What characterizes philosophy is this "step back" from actuality into possibility—the attitude best rendered by Adorno's and Horkheimer's motto quoted by Fredric Jameson: "Not Italy itself is given here, but the proof that it exists."
  • "In order to live, man must act; in order to act, he must make choices; in order to make choices, he must define a code of values; in order to define a code of values, he must know what he is and where he is – i.e. he must know his own nature (including his means of knowledge) and the nature of the universe in which he acts – i.e. he needs metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, which means: philosophy. He cannot escape from this need; his only alternative is whether the philosophy guiding him is to be chosen by his mind or by chance." Ayn Rand, "Philosophy, who needs it?".
  • "'Philosophy' is a word which has been used in many ways, some wider, some narrower. I propose to use it in a very wide sense, which I will now try to explain."
  • Philosophy makes progress not by becoming more rigorous but by becoming more imaginative.
    • Richard Rorty, Introduction to Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers, Volume 3 (1998).
  • To philosophise is to learn to die – philosophising is a soaring up to the Godhead – the knowledge of Being as Being.
    • Karl Jaspers, Philosophy and Science, World Review Magazine, March 1950.
  • Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned.
    • Anonymous; quoted in Dennett, Daniel C. (2006). Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, 1st ed., p. 17, Viking Penguin. ISBN 0-670-03472-X.
  • "Too much philosophy makes men mad." ~ Alan Judd, The Noonday Devil (1987)
  • "'You only think you are you barnpots,' shouted angry farmers from the meadows. 'Shut that row up! You're frightening the chickens, you lot and your bloody philosophy. You can't eat philosophy can you? Where would you be if us farmers went round spouting statements like that, eh? Dead, that's where you'd be! Because there'd be naff all to eat!"
  • Physics and philosophy are at most a few thousand years old, but probably have lives of thousands of millions of years stretching away in front of them. They are only just beginning to get under way.
    • Physics and Philosophy, by James Jeans (1942), p.217.
  • "Shouldn’t I join the ranks of philosophers and merely make unsubstantiated claims about the wonders of human consciousness? Shouldn’t I stop trying to do some science and keep my head down? Indeed not". ... "I feel that we are all philosophers, and that those who describe themselves as a ‘philosopher’ simply do not have a day job to go to".


  • "Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest--whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories--comes afterward. These are games; one must first answer." ~ Albert Camus
  • People often say to me,
    I understand what you are talking about intellectually, but I don’t really feel it, I don’t realize it,
    and I am apt to reply,
    "I wonder whether you do understand it intellectually, because if you did, you would also feel it." ~ Alan Watts
  • "Philosophy studies the fundamental nature of existence, of man, and of man's relationship to existence. In the realm of cognition, the special sciences are the trees, but philosophy is the soil which makes the forest possible." ~ Ayn Rand
  • "Believe nothing, O monks, merely because you have been told it … or because it is traditional, or because you yourselves have imagined it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings—that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide. ~ Gautama Buddha (attributed)
  • "Science is what we know and philosophy is what we don't know." ~ Bertrand Russell
  • "What is your aim in philosophy? To show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle." ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
  • "Philosophy is to the real world as masturbation is to sex." ~ Karl Marx
  • "Philosophy is the peculiarly stubborn attempt to think clearly." ~ William James
  • "Philosophy, n. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing." ~ Ambrose Bierce
  • "True philosophy is that which renders us to ourselves, and all others who surround us, better, and at the same time more content, more patient, more calm and more ready for all decent and pure enjoyment." ~ Lavater
  • "Philosophy abounds more than philosophers, and learning more than learned men." ~ W.B. Clulow
  • "The road to true philosophy is precisely the same with that which leads to true religion; and from both the one and the other, unless we would enter in as little children, we must expect to be totally excluded." ~ Bacon
  • "Philosophy is the art and law of life, and it teaches us what to do in all cases, and, like good marksmen, to hit the white at any distance." ~ Seneca
  • "A little philosophy inclineth men's minds to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds to religion." ~ Bacon
  • "Whence? whither? why? how?—these questions cover all philosophy." ~ Joseph Joubert
  • "I have gained this by philosophy: that I do without being commanded what others do only from fear of the law." ~ Aristotle
  • "Philosophy is just like art, it's not supposed to be dumb, stupid and senseless but people make it that way." ~ Anonymous
  • “Philosophy has become the stuff of airport lounges instead of the Sorbonne.” ~ Kate Muir, Times columnist.
  • “Being a philosopher, I have aproblem for every solution.” ~ Robert Zend
  • “Ther philosophy of one century is the common sense of the next.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher
  • “Philosophy: unintelligible answers to insoluble problems.” ~ Henry Adams
  • “Philosophy—the purple bullfinch in the lilac tree.” ~ T. S. Eliot
  • “I believe that in actual fact, philosophy ranks before and above the natural sciences.” ~ Thomas Mann

See also

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