The Quote Garden

 I dig old books.

 Est. 1998

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Quotations about Humankind

Alas! it is hard to be human! ~George M. P. Baird, "The Theft of Thistledown: A Faery Interlude," 1915

Child of Heaven! Born from the womb of a star! ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

Good I may occasionally be; wicked I shall certainly be, for are not we all born in iniquity? ~Kate Trimble Sharber (b.1883), At the Age of Eve, 1911

Lordy, Lordy, what an odd creature man is! ~Flora Annie Webster Steel (1847–1929), "For the Faith"

When in the dim beginning of the years,
God mixed in man the raptures and the tears
And scattered thru his brain the starry stuff,
He said, "Behold! Yet this is not enough..."
~Edwin Markham, "Man-Test," The Shoes of Happiness and Other Poems, 1913

We live under the shadow of a gigantic question mark. Who are we? Where do we come from? Whither are we bound? ~Hendrik Willem van Loon, The Story of Mankind, 1921

In each generation the human mind in every man reverts to its starting-point; each new man is a primitive man. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)

Within us there is a living spark of the divine man. Smother it as we may, it will some time set our souls on fire... ~Alwyn M. Thurber, Quaint Crippen, 1896

Jack sighed. "People are pretty stupid, aren't they, Dad?"
"I wouldn't say that, son. Remember, we're people ourselves."
~Gerald Raftery (1905-1986), Twenty-Dollar Horse, 1955

Man was nature's mistake — she neglected to finish him — and she has never ceased paying for her mistake. For it was in the process of finishing himself that man got out from underneath nature's inexorable laws, and became her most formidable adversary. ~Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition, 1973

All kinds of men, herculean, obstinate, petty, profound — men of oak and men of wax — meet you at every move, crowding and jostling through the by-ways of the world. ~Mose Velsor (Walt Whitman), "Manly Health and Training," New York Atlas, 1858 October 10th

Men of Earth, how goes our race?
Runners on a whirling ball...
~Olive Tilford Dargan (1869–1968), "En Route"

      ...the sight of my dog, his whole length prone upon the ground, his outstretched forepaws clasped upon the bone as eagerly as a miser clutches his gold, and the very dog-soul of him as intent upon his task as if life depended upon his finding some shred of gristle, some morsel of meat, upon a knuckle-end that his teeth have already scraped and planed to the whiteness and cleanness of polished ivory.
      Perhaps it is that seeing him thus — his jaw distended to the point of dislocation in an impotent effort to compass the circumference of a huge shinbone, or else making of the same jaws a pair of nutcrackers to scrunch wickedly at some marrow-end, hard enough, one would think to splinter every tooth in his head — reminds me of the way in which we human beings strain every nerve, break our hearts almost, to compass some trivial end, some twopenny triumph as barren of real worth to ourselves or to others as are the dog's gnawing and worrying of the meatless bone. ~Coulson Kernahan, "A Dog in the Pulpit," 1909

For my part, I am not so sure at bottom that man is, as he says, the king of nature; he is far more its devastating tyrant. I believe he has many things to learn from animal societies, older than his own and of infinite variety. ~Romain Rolland

Humanity is the refuse of spirit. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

Human beings are generally considered a higher form, though there are times when I have my doubts. ~Cid Ricketts Sumner, Tammy Out of Time, 1958

Poor Clarence, he is like the rest of the world, — whose goodness lies chiefly in the occasional throbs of a better nature, which soon subside, and leave them upon the old level of desire. ~Ik Marvel (Donald Grant Mitchell, 1822–1908), Dream Life: A Fable of the Seasons

I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am. ~Joseph Baretti, quoted by James Boswell, 1766, commonly misattributed to Samuel Johnson [] (Thanks, Frank Lynch!)

Man behaves as if he had created the world and could play with it. Pretty much at the beginning of his glorious development he coined the saying that man was the measure of all things. Then he quickly went to work and turned as much of the world as he could upside down... He has tailored and pruned away at beauty. ~Jean Arp (1887–1966), "The measure of all things," translated by Ralph Manheim, 1948

Man is perhaps half mind and half matter in the same way as the polyp is half plant and half animal. The strangest creatures are always found on the border lines of species. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), translated by Norman Alliston, 1908  [i.e., coral polyps —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

The human species is made up of seven billion subspecies each consisting of one specimen. ~Robert Brault,

Galen had told me that he gathered and kept anything that spoke to the nature of life on the islands. He did not discriminate between the mundane and the vital, the human and the animal, the tragic and the wonderful. He has told me that the greatest illusion of the human experience was the idea that we were outside of nature — that we were not a part of the food chain — that we were not animals ourselves. ~Abby Geni, The Lightkeepers, 2016

That in man which cannot be domesticated is not his evil but his goodness. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

Man is a luxury-loving animal. Take away play, fancies, and luxuries, and you will turn man into a dull, sluggish creature, barely energetic enough to obtain a bare subsistence. A society becomes stagnant when its people are too rational and too serious to be temped by baubles. ~Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition, 1973

Many and sharp the num'rous ills
Inwoven with our frame!
More pointed still we make ourselves,
Regret, remorse, and shame!
And man, whose heav'n-erected face
The smiles of love adorn,—
Man's inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!
~Robert Burns, "Man Was Made To Mourn: A Dirge," 1784

The greatest obscenity is man's inhumanity to man. ~Howard Moody

We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created people, and all people are created feeble, and all feeble are created minded, and all minded are created equal. ~E.E. Cummings, "And It Came to Pass," 1932  [Boosevelt —tg]

We, the compound of Sovereign, Soul and Sediment! ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

Out of the deep and endless universe
There came a greater Mystery, a Shape,
A Something sad, inscrutable, august—
One to confront the worlds and question them.
~Edwin Markham, "Man"

"'What a piece of work is man!... And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust?' —Shakespeare." Ay, there's the rub! Capable of sublimest thought, world-shaking action, man is still dust. The weakest reed in nature, perhaps, but a thinking reed—one who communicates not only his thoughts but his feelings, hopes, fears, and dreams—all with humor, wit, and—sometimes—defiance, thumbing his nose at the world. ~Wesley Douglass Camp (1915–1991), Preface to What a Piece of Work Is Man: Camp's Unfamiliar Quotations from 2000 B.C. to the Present, 1989

Hoard on hoard of pith and brain... ~William Ernest Henley (1849–1903), "Ballade of Truisms"

Humans have forgotten so much... It's so easy for us to live now that our lives have no meaning. So we start looking for something else, something more. Money. A bigger house. A hobby. Church. ~Abby Geni, The Wildlands, 2018

For humanity, immortal only in misery and mockery, loves the very tangles in which it has enmeshed itself: with good reason, for they are the mark and sign of its being. ~Christopher Morley, "To a New Yorker a Hundred Years Hence," 1921

Human life is the probating of God's will. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

Man is rated the highest animal, at least among all animals who returned the questionnaire. ~Robert Brault,

Man, that inveterate dreamer... ~André Breton, "Manifesto of Surrealism," 1924, translated by Richard Seaver and Helen R. Lane

I have always wished that one of our great libraries might have on its walls a mural of the dramatic sequence of any man's progress from birth to death, the cycle of a human being... In its first panel is a garden in the early morning — that background of childhood where everyone of us learned the fascination of plant life, birds, and animals in the changing lights and colors of a day or of the seasons. The path broadens to a highway where friends and assailants too, jostle along in groups bent on undertakings or adventures. The luckiest have one or two sustainers who walk beside them in complete confidence and understanding for wide stretches of the climb. Occasionally, a comrade turns off on a side road and never returns. As the way mounts steeply through heat and storm and rough travel, the vistas widen and peaks of aspiration rise ahead. There are desert stretches. There are bonfires and hilarity. There are storms to battle and weird swamps to cross. There are woods of refreshment. In the end, each of us vanishes into a mist. ~Althea Warren (1886–1958), in Wilson Library Bulletin, 1943

Despise no man, since every one has his place in God's design. A sheet of brown paper may be better as a wrapper for a loaf of bread than a page from Homer... ~Austin O'Malley (1858–1932), Thoughts of a Recluse, 1898

There's a tension to being human... People are the only animals that die in childbirth... on a regular basis, I mean. It's really common for our species. Even now, with all our modern medicine... It's because of our brains... It makes you what you are, but it doesn't fit easily through a tiny birth canal. ~Abby Geni, The Wildlands, 2018

By the data to date, there is only one animal in the Galaxy dangerous to man — man himself. So he must supply his own indispensable competition. He has no enemy to help him. ~Robert A. Heinlein (1907–1988)

Nature, in her blind thirst for life, has filled every possible cranny of the rotting earth with some sort of fantastic creature, and among them man is but one — perhaps the most miserable of all, because he is the only one in whom the instinct of life falters long enough to enable it to ask the question "Why?" ~Joseph Wood Krutch

Satan becomes a supreme monarch of the mind when seated on the throne of human ambition. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

Such is the human race. Often it does seem such a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat. ~Mark Twain

I do not believe in Belief. But this is an age of faith, and there are so many militant creeds that, in self-defence, one has to formulate a creed of one's own. Tolerance, good temper and sympathy are no longer enough in a world which is rent by religious and racial persecution, in a world where ignorance rules, and science, who ought to have ruled, plays the subservient pimp. Tolerance, good temper and sympathy — they are what matter really, and if the human race is not to collapse they must come to the front before long. But for the moment they are not enough, their action is no stronger than a flower, battered beneath a military jack-boot. They want stiffening, even if the process coarsens them. Faith, to my mind, is a stiffening process, a sort of mental starch, which ought to be applied as sparingly as possible. I dislike the stuff. I do not believe in it, for its own sake, at all. Herein I probably differ from most people, who believe in Belief, and are only sorry they cannot swallow even more than they do. ~E.M. Forster, "What I Believe," 1939

Man is the connecting link between dust and Deity. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

Third Fisherman:  I marvel how the fishes live in the sea.
First Fisherman:  Why, as men do a-land; the great ones eat up the little ones...
~William Shakespeare, Pericles, c. 1608  [II, 1]

I like porcupines! But then, I like all animals — with the exception of certain brands of my own kind, that is. ~R. D. Lawrence, "The Quiet Browsers," A Shriek in the Forest Night: Wilderness Encounters, 1996

There are many fools among men; among animals none. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), "Man and his Maker," Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

      The oldest, easiest-to-swallow idea was that the earth was man's personal property, a combination of garden, zoo, bank vault, and energy source, placed at our disposal to be consumed, ornamented, or pulled apart as we wished. The betterment of mankind was, as we understood it, the whole point of the thing. Mastery over nature, mystery and all, was a moral duty and social obligation.
      In the last few years we were wrenched away from this way of looking at it. and arrived at something like general agreement that we had it wrong. We still argue the details, but it is conceded almost everywhere that we are not the masters of nature that we thought ourselves; we are as dependent on the rest of life as are the leaves or midges or fish. We are part of the system. One way to put it is that the earth is a loosely formed, spherical organism, with all its working parts linked in symbiosis. We are, in this view, neither owners nor operators; at best, we might see ourselves as motile tissue specialized for receiving information — perhaps, in the best of all possible worlds, functioning as a nervous system for the whole being.
      There is, for some, too much dependency in this view, and they prefer to see us as a separate, qualitatively different, special species, unlike any other form of life, despite the sharing around of genes, enzymes, and organelles. ~Lewis Thomas, "Natural Man," 1973

The geometry of human progress is an expanding circle of compassion. Every advance in thinking has shown that our relationships extend further than we thought. ~Carl Safina, 2010

If one could but arrive at a normal expression, how infinitely one could trust it. But life the beauteous is compelled into a distortion; life the human is made a beast.
      One does not represent — he misrepresents.
      One does not express — he is a malexpression.
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "A Soul's Faring: I," A Soul's Faring, 1921

      One of the deepest unspoken prayers of our age is to be delivered from the bondage to fragments. We earnestly search for wholeness, for unity, for a sense of universality. Our intense individualism, in contrast with the sense of "one world" which gave even brutish existence in the Middle Ages a quality of security we lack, has left us with a profound sense of alienation and frustration. It is essential for us, at times, to recall and contemplate the unity of mankind throughout the ages, under one God.
      In the words of John Donne, "All mankind is of one Author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice, but God's hand is in every translation, and His hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another."
      ~Rose Terlin (1908–1979), "The Better Part" (July 25th — "Wholeness"), in Meditations for Women, 1947, edited by Jean Beaven Abernethy

It is possible for a man to be very lonely in a crowd... ~G. Campbell Morgan, "Abram, Called of God," in Mid-Winter Bible Conference Echoes: A Book of Sermons and Addresses, 1914

The natural man has only two primal passions, to get and to beget, — to get the means of sustenance (and to-day a little more) and to beget his kind. Satisfy these, and he looks neither before nor after, but goeth forth to his work and to his labor until the evening, and returning, sleeps in Elysium without a thought of whence or whither. ~William Osler, "The Laodiceans," Science and Immortality, 1904

Humanity is a superhuman enterprise!... The purpose of which is to distinguish the race of man from the hodge-podge of the infinite, by means of the invincible forces of government and science. ~Jean Giraudoux, The Enchanted: A Comedy in Three Acts, 1933, adapted by Maurice Valency, English Acting Edition, 1950

I felt myself like a foolish bird, a bird born in a cage without power to attain freedom... I walked along the fields, by the neat iron railing with which they were enclosed. All about me was visible the care of man. Nature herself seemed under the power of the formal influence, and flourished with rigidity and decorum. Nothing was left wild. The trees were lopped into proper shape, cut down here where their presence seemed inelegant and planted there to complete the symmetry of a group. ~W. Somerset Maugham, 1900

[T]ake time to see the humor in it all. The world is a funny place, and funniest of all are the creatures who walk about upright on two legs, believing that they run the place. ~Richard E. Turner (1937–2011), "An Open Letter to My Grandson," January 1997,

You're human, you know, even if you do live in Mount Vernon and wear velvet collars on your evening coats! ~James Montgomery Flagg, "I Should Say So: Four Easy New Year's Resolutions," 1915

Man embraces in his makeup all the natural orders; he's a squid, a mollusk, a sucker and a buzzard; sometimes he's a cerebrate. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

The most delicate and the most essential piece of mechanism that a man has to deal with is the human machine. ~Andrew Carnegie (1835–1919)

All we hear is "What's the matter with the country?" "What's the matter with the world?" There ain't but one thing wrong with every one of us in the world, and that's selfishness. ~Will Rogers (1879–1935)

Turn me into a snake or a mole or a river-bed stone, or a wasp, or a gnat, or an icicle, but don't make me into a human! Boil me in dragon oil or grind me between thunder clouds, but don't let me suffer like man! Those insolent mortals who mock us and call faery folk the fancies of children and fools! ~George M. P. Baird, "The Theft of Thistledown: A Faery Interlude," 1915  [altered —tg]

The idea of human equality — a hopeful gloss of lipstick on the snout of truth. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all — the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them. ~J.K. Rowling, "The Man with Two Faces," Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, 1997  [Albus Dumbledore —tg]

If man were relieved of all superstition, and all prejudice, and had replaced these with a keen sensitivity to his real environment, and moreover had achieved a level of communication so simplified that one syllable could express his every thought, then he would have achieved the level of intelligence already achieved by his dog. ~Robert Brault,

I have not read Nietzsche or Isben, nor any other philosopher, and have not needed to do it, and have not desired to do it; I have gone to the fountain-head for information—that is to say, to the human race. Every man is in his own person the whole human race, with not a detail lacking. I am the whole human race without a detail lacking; I have studied the human race with diligence and strong interest all these years in my own person; in myself I find in big or little proportion every quality and every defect that is findable in the mass of the race. I knew I should not find in any philosophy a single thought which had not passed through my own head, nor a single thought which had not passed through the heads of millions and millions of men before I was born; I knew I should not find a single original thought in any philosophy, and I knew I could not furnish one to the world myself, if I had five centuries to invent it in. Nietzsche published his book, and was at once pronounced crazy by the world—by a world which included tens of thousands of bright, sane men who believed exactly as Nietzsche believed, but concealed the fact, and scoffed at Nietzsche. What a coward every man is! and how surely he will find it out if he will just let other people alone and sit down and examine himself. The human race is a race of cowards; and I am not only marching in that procession but carrying a banner. ~Mark Twain

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things. ~Henry David Thoreau, Walden

We build cities on quaking ground, or in the path of the tide or the cyclone; we cause floods by squandering forests; we bring on wars; we let in plagues; then we write editorials about the visitations of providence. ~Austin O'Malley, Keystones of Thought, 1914

Man likes to create and build roads, that is beyond dispute. But why does he also have such a passionate love for destruction and chaos? Now tell me that! ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky, "Notes from Underground," 1864, translated by Ralph E. Matlaw, 1959

Man was made at the end of the week's work, when God was tired. ~Mark Twain, 1903

Man is the most alive of living things. In him the traits which distinguish the animate from the inanimate become most pronounced. This is particularly true of his creativeness, which is essentially life giving. It introduces order into the randomness of nature... and is actuated not only by the present environment but by memories and goals. ~Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition, 1973

      DON JUAN.  By Heaven, this is worse than your cant about love and beauty... Shall man give up eating because he destroys his appetite in the act of gratifying it?...
      THE DEVIL.  You think because you have a purpose, Nature must have one. You might as well expect it to have fingers and toes because you have them. ~Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman: A Comedy and a Philosophy, 1903

      Perhaps the secret of the wilderness lies in that man has ever been a part of it. This is our birthright, the vast womb of eternity out of which all things and all men have come. Once, miraculously, there emerged a spark of consciously-motivated vitality from out of the darkness of a primeval swamp. It grew, this writhing, sluggish thing, and changed, and sought, never pursuing the middle course of safety, but reaching farther and farther, guided by Creation, rising from plane to plane until at last it walked upright and it was called man.
      Then this ape-like creature with the often-changing body reached fullness of physical development and only one avenue of growth was left to it: the mind-road. And man turned to it and perfected his brain and his great powers of thought and he became the master of all things. And somewhere along this last, tortuous journey, he began to lose his early ties with Creation. They receded into lost places in the mind, these mysterious senses, and while the brain continued to develop conscious thought, they sank deeper and deeper into the abyss that opened when culture advanced and became almost a fine science. And so man paid his price for civilization...
      Is there a message, a warning, in the bosom of nature telling man to have a care, else his great achievement, his fine powers of thought, will turn upon him and destroy him? ~R. D. Lawrence, The Place in the Forest, 1967

Human pride is a strange thing; it cannot easily be suppressed, and if you stop up hole A will peep forth again in a twinkling from another hole B, and if this is closed it is ready to come out at hole C, and so on. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), translated by Norman Alliston, 1908

Life challenges each of us with an enigmatic and unyielding alchemy — making sense of the human experience. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

Not every great man is a grand human being. ~Marie Dubsky, Freifrau von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830–1916), translated by Mrs Annis Lee Wister, 1882

It may be that all games are silly. But, then, so are human beings. This does not happen to be the planet into which the wiser spirits choose to be born. ~Robert Lynd, "Beaver," Solomon in All His Glory, 1923  [This essay first appeared in 1922 in the New Statesman with a slightly different wording. —tg]

Nature is now.
Humans are a tangled mess of past, present, and future.
~Terri Guillemets

What is man but a painful wart on the heel of time. ~John Collins, "Man," in The Medical Brief, October 1896

What is man but a species of vermin crawling upon the bare skin of Mother Nature? ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

Nature, or that sacred and supreme Cause of all Things, which we term God, has furnished his Creatures with such Guides as may best conduct them to the several Ends of their Beings. To the Birds, Beasts, and other Animals, which we generally hold inferiour to Mankind, he gave Instinct, as sufficient to direct them to all that is necessary for them.... But in Man.... the Things from which the Mind must gather, and of which compose all these, are so vast in Number, and so various and obscure in their Natures, that without the help of a very good Guide, it may make a Collection of Poisons instead of Medicines, and reap its Destruction, not Satisfaction; but the omnipotent Cause, that had so well furnished Brutes, left not the Mind of Man without its Director in this Maze and Lottery of Things; he gave it Reason, and its sovereign Rule and Touch-stone to examine them by, and to fit our Choice to our double Advantage of Body and Mind. Reason is the Light, that brings Day to those Things, that will contribute to, or oppose our Happiness; without which we should in vain grope in the dark; and we should owe entirely to Chance what we obtained. It is true, Reason is not sufficient to bring us to a perfect Knowledge of all Things, but it is able to furnish us with enough to make us happy, and that is as much as we need care for. ~Thomas Burnet, "An Essay on the Use of Reason in Religion," Archæologiæ Philosophicæ, 1692, translated from the Latin by Mr. Foxton, 1729

We are conscious of an animal in us, which awakens in proportion as our higher nature slumbers. It is reptile and sensual, and perhaps cannot be wholly expelled... ~Henry David Thoreau

It was a lovely night, one of those nights, dear reader, which can only happen when you are young. The sky was so bright and starry that when you looked at it the first question that came into your mind was whether it was really possible that all sorts of bad-tempered and unstable people could live under such a glorious sky. ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky, "White Nights," 1848, translated by David Magarshack, 1950

"So it took an eight-year-old child to bring 'em to their senses, didn't it?" said Atticus. "That proves something — that a gang of wild animals can be stopped, simply because they're still human. Hmp, maybe we need a police force of children..." ~Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1960

In seasons of pestilence, some of us will have a secret attraction to the disease — a terrible passing inclination to die of it. And all of us have like wonders hidden in our breasts, only needing circumstances to evoke them. ~Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, 1859

On the Sixth Day, God created man, the sort of result you often get when you go in to work on a Saturday. ~Robert Brault,

      "I think I'll be a clown when I get grown," said Dill... "Yes sir, a clown," he said. "There ain't one thing in this world I can do about folks except laugh, so I'm gonna join the circus and laugh my head off."
      "You got it backwards, Dill," said Jem. "Clowns are sad, it's folks that laugh at them."
      "Well, I'm gonna be a new kind of clown. I'm gonna stand in the middle of the ring and laugh at the folks." ~Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1960

We are living relics of our birth,
Keepsakes of Mother Earth.
~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

God has given a great deal to man, but man would like something from man. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

Man is the only trained animal who expects his reward before he does his trick. ~Robert Brault,

I was surprised just now at seeing a cobweb around a knocker; for it was not on the door of heaven. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

Man is a rope stretched between the animal and the Superman — a rope over an abyss. What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal. ~Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900), Thus Spake Zarathustra, translated by M.A. Mügge, 1908

Man, when he is merely what he seems to be, is almost nothing. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

As a rule, human beings see that which they want to look at, such perceptions being consciously noted. But for the most part, humans do not use their eyes as do wolves and other wild animals, who must look at everything in their world and take conscious note of it, no matter how small or insignificant an object may be. People don't need to be so constantly alert. Compared with other mammals, we live in relatively unchanging environments in which such things as our safety, our home, our food supply, and our mode of travel are usually assured... Because of these things, most humans do not make proper use of their visual capabilities. ~R. D. Lawrence, In Praise of Wolves, 1986

It is curious to note the old sea-margins of human thought! Each subsiding century reveals some new mystery; we build where monsters used to hide themselves. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Kavanagh, 1849

Vain man sits in judgment on Nature's wisdom, and thinks to determine its merits or assumes to point out its demerits—as much as if he were omniscient. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

No matter what the how of life may be,—
      If wheeling tides of planets, comet-cast,
Were flung into a fiery, white-lit sea,
      And set to silent music through the vast
      Abyss of night, until the earth at last
Was formed and man evolved unto his age,
      With wealth of kinship to all life amassed,
Akin to birds and to the flowering sage,—
We still are mystic folk of wonder heritage.
No matter how our ancient sires were made;
      God knows, and we may never understand.
It is enough that breath of life was laid
      Upon our lips, and strength is in our hand.
      God knows the how of every grain of sand,
But can we tell ourselves what is the real?
      It is enough we live at His command
And, living, grow in love, and, loving, feel
Ourselves evolving true unto the God-ideal.
~Leland Moore, "Evolution," 1926

We are each of us born into the arms of mortality, the Lord recognizing our need to be held. ~Robert Brault,

It is the fancy of every mortal that being cradled in the arms of mortality is a safe place for the time being. ~Robert Brault,

IDLE  Useless.
IDOLIZE  To make useless.
~Charles Wayland Towne, The Foolish Dictionary, Executed by Gideon Wurdz, Master of Pholly, Doctor of Loquacious Lunacy, etc., 1904

Man talks about everything, and he talks about everything as though the understanding of everything were all inside him. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

We may be the intelligent species, but we are certainly not the smartest! ~Kyle Short

I have seen Tasmanian devils battle over a carcass. I have seen lionesses crowding a kill, dingoes on the trail of a feral piglet, and adult croc thrashing its prey to pieces. But never, in all the animal world, have I witnessed anything to match the casual cruelty of the human being. ~Terri Irwin, Steve & Me, 2007

The doctors tell us of a physical disease called fatty degeneration of the heart... there is a moral malady—fatty degeneration of the soul; sooner or later it attacks every man, however noble his career, who puts self forward in his aims; who values fame because a personal possession. ~Frank Lee Benedict, The Price She Paid, 1882

Man will do many things to get himself loved, he will do all things to get himself envied. ~Mark Twain

We humans are the greatest of the earth's parasites. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

Often what we take for a kindness is just someone acting in their capacity as a human being. ~Robert Brault,

Humans have an odd ecology. ~Terri Guillemets

God is less careful than General Motors, for He floods the world with factory rejects. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1963

Man's greed for power and for money
Has strangled, within his own soul,
The richness and beauty of Truth
That would help him to reach his goal!
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "God's Gifts to Man," 1940s

...that wretched green ball,
Earth, saddest of infinite spheres,
Where Mammon and Ignorance league
With Hunger and Death...
~George M. P. Baird, "The Theft of Thistledown: A Faery Interlude," 1915

Self and soil! — ha! ha! "The soil is always grateful," says my uncle — "makes you a return in exact proportion to what you bestow on it in the way of manure and labor, — men don't." Says he, "the man that has got one hand in your pocket shakes the other fist in your face; the man that has got both hands in your pocket spits in your face." ~Charles Reade, White Lies

When freedom from want and freedom from fear are achieved, man's remains will be in rigor mortis. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

You have to believe there's a little good in everyone, although if there isn't, that would explain everything. ~Robert Brault,

Every man is a millionaire in some part of his nature, and a pauper in others. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

Our behavior is human with a sliver of animal, our souls animal with a sliver of human. ~Terri Guillemets

First God created time; then God created man that man might, in the course of time, perfect himself; then God decided that He'd better create eternity. ~Robert Brault,

Those who reject biological evolution do so, usually, not out of reason, but out of unjustified vanity. ~Isaac Asimov

The higher the monkey climbs, the more he shows his behind. ~African-American proverb

Ultimately, aren't we all just talking monkeys with an attitude problem? ~"Uncle" Ben, as seen on, c.2001  [defunct]

We are monkeys with money and guns. ~Tom Waits,

Modern man is the missing link between apes and human beings. ~Author unknown

Man waz kreated a little lower than the angells — and haz bin gitting a little lower ever sinse. ~Josh Billings, "Darwin Theory and Whiskee Theory"

Men are created like upright angels, but too often behave like downright devils. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

Perchance God will pity a race that sought the better angels of its nature and found only its lesser demons. ~Robert Brault,

We're animals. We're born like every other mammal and we live our whole lives around disguised animal thoughts. ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

Man may be excused for feeling some pride at having risen, though not through his own exertions, to the very summit of the organic scale; and the fact of his having thus risen, instead of having been aboriginally placed there, may give him hopes for a still higher destiny in the distant future. But we are not here concerned with hopes or fears, only with the truth as far as our reason allows us to discover it. I have given the evidence to the best of my ability; and we must acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man, with all his noble qualities, with sympathy which feels for the most debased, with benevolence which extends not only to other men but to the humblest living creature, with his god-like intellect which has penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar system—with all these exalted powers—Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin. ~Charles Darwin (1809–1882), final paragraph of The Descent of Man, 1871

Grant fretted and irritated him.... He had no right to exist. He should have been extinct for ages.... That, two thousand years after Alexander the Great and Julius Cæsar, a man like Grant should be called—and should actually and truly be—the highest product of the most advanced evolution, made evolution ludicrous.... The progress of evolution from President Washington to President Grant, was alone evidence enough to upset Darwin. ~Henry Adams (1838–1918), The Education of Henry Adams, Chapter XVII  [Adams wrote this third-person autobiography in 1905. It was first publicly published in 1918 from the 1907 private printing. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Evolution: that last step was a doozy! ~Terri Guillemets

Evolution has stepped from the balloon into the parachute. ~Austin O'Malley, Keystones of Thought, 1914

We are told that we have ascended from the ape; but some of us are using round-trip tickets. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1904, George Horace Lorimer, editor

Those who are horrified at Mr. Darwin's theory, may comfort themselves with the assurance that, if we are descended from the ape, we have not descended so far as to preclude all hope of return. ~Ambrose Bierce

Evolution is individual — devolution is collective. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

Evolution: one small step for man, one giant leap backward for mankind. ~Terri Guillemets

We are now one hundred years in the future, — January 1, 1982. Evolution has not been overlooked as a theory explaining the origin of man and linking all the processes of nature into one complete unity. The missing links have been so frequently found that no one even doubts the truth of the scientific explanation of species and genus, and especially of the genus homo. But very strangely the truth of the evolution theory has become confirmed quite as stoutly by the lapsing of man toward the animal. Humans have been found that are rapidly retrograding... in mental characteristics toward the ancestral anthropoid types... ~Edward Payson Powell (1833–1915), "New Year in 1982," Liberty and Life: Discourses by E. P. Powell, 1889  [a little altered —tg]

The next evolutionary step for humankind is to move from human to kind. ~Author unknown

Man, after all, may be but one of God's discarded experiments. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

Human nature is just about the only nature some people experience. ~Terri Guillemets

It is truly said that the most important survival tool is the mind... Granted, we do not have the legs of the deer, the fur of the rabbit, or the claws of the cat. But we have the will and intelligence to adapt to almost any natural environment on earth. Most of us are much stronger and more capable than we realize. One of the first steps in a survival situation, then, is to realize and acknowledge that strength... a quality of spirit and character that is often hidden in modern society. ~Tom Brown, Jr. and Brandt Morgan, Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival, 1983

A strong, brave man is born each month,
     each year God gives a sage to men,
A poet each ten years, perhaps,
     but an unselfish person,—when?
~Frederic Ridgely Torrence, The House of a Hundred Lights: A Psalm of Experience After Reading a Couplet of Bidpai, 1899

We have a world for each one, but we do not have a world for all. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

Infinitely will I trust nature's instincts and promptings, but I will not call my own perversions nature. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "Wind-Wafted Wild Flowers," in The Open Court, August 1903

At one time a bitter argument raged as to whether heredity or environment was more important in determining human traits. Further research has made it abundantly clear that both physical and mental characters are the result of the interplay of genetic and environmental factors. ~Claude Alvin Villee, Jr., Biology, 1954

Lucifer (to Gabriel):
My sorrow crowns me. Get thee back to heaven,
And leave me to the earth, which is mine own
In virtue of her ruin, as I hers
In virtue of my revolt!...
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "A Drama of Exile"

My foot is on the earth, firm as my sin....
My sin is on the earth, to reign thereon....
My woe is on the earth, to curse thereby....
And peradventure in the after years,
When thoughtful men shall bend their spacious brows
Upon the storm and strife seen everywhere
To ruffle their smooth manhood and break up
With lurid lights of intermittent hope
Their human fear and wrong, — they may discern
The heart of a lost angel in the earth.
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "A Drama of Exile"

You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile. ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, 1996

Are we marionettes, or are we creatures of free will who just happen to have a lot of jerky reflexes? ~Robert Brault,

Nobody knows the age of the human race, but everybody agrees that it is old enough to know better. ~Author unknown

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Last saved 2022 Sep 18 Sun 07:43 PDT