"The vanity of the sciences. Physical science will not console me for the ignorance of morality in the time of affliction. But thescience of ethics will always console me for the ignorance of the physical sciences."
"When we do not know the truth of a thing, it is of advantage that there should exist a common error which determines the mind of man.... For the chief malady of man is restless curiosity about things which he cannot understand; and it is not so bad for him to be in error as to be curious to no purpose."
"Our senses perceive no extreme. Too much sound deafens us; too much light dazzles us; too great distance or proximity hinders ourview. Too great length and too great brevity of discourse tends to obscurity; too much truth is paralyzing.... In short, extremes are for us as though they were not, and we are not within their notice. They escape us, or we them."
"Man is, then, only disguise, falsehood, hypocrisy--both in himself and in regard to others. He does not wish any one to tell him the truth; he avoids telling it to others; and all these dispositions, so removed from justice and reason, have a natural root in his heart."
"Thus all our dignity lies in thought. Through it we must raise ourselves, and not through space or time, which we cannot fill. Letus endeavor, then, to think well: this is the mainspring of morality."
"True eloquence makes light of eloquence, true morality makes light of morality; that is to say, the morality of the judgment, which has no rules, makes light of the morality of the intellect.... To make light of philosophy is to be a true philosopher."
"We do not rest satisfied with the present.... So imprudent we are that we wander in the times which are not ours and do not thinkof the only one which belongs to us; and so idle are we that we dream of those times which are no more and thoughtlessly overlook that which alone exists. For the present is generally painful to us."
"There was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present."
"The present is never our end. The past and present are our means; the future alone is our end. So we never live, but hope to live;and, as we are always preparing to be happy, it is inevitable that we should never be so."
"There is a certain standard of grace and beauty which consists in a certain relation between our nature, such as it is, weak or strong, and the thing which pleases us. Whatever is formed according to this standard pleases us, be it house, song, discourse, verse, prose, woman, birds, rivers, trees, room, dress, and so on. Whatever is not made according to this standard displeases those who have good taste."
"As we speak of poetical beauty, so ought we to speak of mathematical beauty and medical beauty. But we do not do so; and that reason is that we know well what is the object of mathematics, and that it consists in proofs, and what is the object of medicine, and that it consists in healing. But we do not know in what grace consists, which is the object of poetry."
"Does he who loves someone on account of beauty really love that person? No, for smallpox, which will kill beauty without killing the person, will cause him to love the person no more. And if one loves me for my judgment, for my memory, he does not love me, for I can lose these qualities without losing myself. Where, then, is this myself, if it be neither in the body nor in the soul?"