"At the utmost, the active-minded young man should ask of his teacher only mastery of his tools. The young man himself, the subjectof education, is a certain form of energy; the object to be gained is economy of his force; the training is partly the clearing away of obstacles, partly the direct application of effort. Once acquired, the tools and models may be thrown away."
"A republican government should be based on free and equal education among the people. While we have class and sectarian schools the parties supporting them will not give their fullest aid toward building up the public school system. If all of the rich and all of the church people should send their children to the public schools they would feel bound to concentrate their money and energies on improving these schools until they met the highest ideals. To be a success a republic must have a homogeneous people, and to do this it must have homogeneous schools.... I grow more and more opposed to [sectarian schools]."
"Education is the point at which we decide whether we love our children enough not to expel them from our world and leave them to their own devices, not to strike from their hands their chance of undertaking something new--but to prepare them in advance for the task of renewing a common world."
"It is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits; it is evidently equally foolish to accept probable reasoning from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician demonstrative proofs."
"The legislator should direct his attention above all to the education of youth; for the neglect of education does harm to the constitution. The citizen should be molded to suit the form of government under which he lives. For each government has a peculiar character which originally formed and which continues to preserve it. The character of democracy creates democracy, and the character of oligarchy creates oligarchy."
"it is best then that the buried word remain buried for we were intended to appreciate only its fruits and not the secret principleactivating them to know this would be to know too much. Meanwhile it is possible to know just enough, and this is all we were supposed to know, toward which we have been straining all our lives."
"If people like to read their books, it is all very well, but to be at so much trouble in filling great volumes, which, as I used to think, nobody would willingly ever look into, to be labouring only for the torment of little boys and girls, always struck me as a hard fate."
"Shakespeare one gets acquainted with without knowing how. It is part of a British man's constitution. His thoughts and beauties are so spread abroad that one touches them every where, one is intimate with him by instinct.--No man of any brain can open at a good part of one of his plays, without falling into the flow of his meaning immediately."
"Girls are apt to imagine noble and enchanting and totally imaginary figures in their own minds; they have fanciful extravagant ideas about men, and sentiment, and life; and then they innocently endow somebody or other with all the perfections for their daydreams, and put their trust in him."
"Among the repulsions of atheism for me has been its drastic uninterestingness as an intellectual position. Where was the ingenuity, the ambiguity, the humanity (in the Harvard sense) of saying that the universe just happened to happen and that when we're dead we're dead?"
"My paternal grandmother would not light a fire on the Sabbath and piled all Sunday's washing-up in a bucket, to be dealt with on Monday morning, because the Sabbath was a day of rest--a practice that made my paternal grandfather, the village atheist, as mad as fire. Nevertheless, he willed five quid to the minister, just to be on the safe side."
"If therefore my work is negative, irreligious, atheistic, let it be remembered that atheism--at least in the sense of this work--is the secret of religion itself; that religion itself, not indeed on the surface, but fundamentally, not in intention or according to its own supposition, but in its heart, in its essence, believes in nothing else than the truth and divinity of human nature."
"Agnosticism is a perfectly respectable and tenable philosophical position; it is not dogmatic and makes no pronouncements about the ultimate truths of the universe. It remains open to evidence and persuasion; lacking faith, it nevertheless does not deride faith. Atheism, on the other hand, is as unyielding and dogmatic about religious belief as true believers are about heathens. It tries to use reason to demolish a structure that is not built upon reason."