Idealists are foolish enough to throw caution to the winds. They have advanced mankind and have enriched the world.
—Emma Goldman (1869–1940) Lithuanian-American Anarchist, Feminist
Idealism increases in direct proportion to one’s distance from the problem.
—John Galsworthy (1867–1933) English Novelist, Playwright
Some men can live up to their loftiest ideals without ever going higher than a basement.
—Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) American Head of State, Political leader, Historian, Explorer
Our ideals are our better selves.
—Amos Bronson Alcott (1799–1888) American Teacher, Writer, Philosopher
Don’t use that foreign word “ideals.” We have that excellent native word “lies.”
—Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906) Norwegian Playwright
If you are going to build something in the air it is always better to build castles than houses of cards.
—Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–99) German Philosopher, Physicist
Instead of killing and dying in order to produce the being that we are not, we have to live and let live in order to create what we are.
—Albert Camus (1913–60) Algerian-born French Philosopher, Dramatist, Essayist, Novelist, Author
A perfect human being: Man in search of his ideal of perfection. Nothing less.
—Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan (1916–2004) British Sufi Mystic, Religious Leader, Psychologist
Man is born a predestined idealist, for he is born to act. To act is to affirm the worth of an end, and to persist in affirming the worth of an end is to make an ideal.
—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841–1935) American Jurist, Author
I promise to keep on living as though I expected to live forever. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul.
—Douglas MacArthur (1880–1964) American Military Leader
No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism.
—Winston Churchill (1874–1965) British Head of State, Political leader, Historian, Journalist, Author
It is at our mother’s knee that we acquire our noblest and truest and highest ideals, but there is seldom any money in them.
—Mark Twain (1835–1910) American Humorist
Nearly all the Escapists in the long past have managed their own budget and their social relations so unsuccessfully that I wouldn’t want them for my landlords, or my bankers, or my neighbors. They were valuable, like powerful stimulants, only when they were left out of the social and industrial routine.
—Willa Cather (1873–1947) American Novelist, Writer
The actual well seen is ideal.
—Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) Scottish Historian, Essayist
What we need most, is not so much to realize the ideal as to idealize the real.
—Frederic Henry Hedge
The idealist’s program of political or economic reform may be impracticable, absurd, demonstrably ridiculous; but it can never be successfully opposed merely by pointing out that this is the case. A negative opposition cannot be wholly effectual: there must be a competing idealism; something must be offered that is not only less objectionable but more desirable.
—Charles Cooley (1864–1929) American Sociologist
Many have dreamed up republics and principalities that have never in truth been known to exist; the gulf between how one should live and how one does live is so wide that a man who neglects what is actually done for what should be done learns the way to self-destruction rather than self-preservation.
—Niccolo Machiavelli (1469–1527) Florentine Political Philosopher
When they come downstairs from their Ivory Towers, idealists are very apt to walk straight into the gutter.
—Logan Pearsall Smith (1865–1946) American-British Essayist, Bibliophile
A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing.
—Oscar Wilde (1854–1900) Irish Poet, Playwright
An idealist is a person who helps other people to be prosperous.
—Henry Ford (1863–1947) American Businessperson, Engineer
The further limits of our being plunge, it seems to me, into an altogether other dimension of existence from the sensible and merely “understandable” world. Name it the mystical region, or the supernatural region, whichever you choose. So far as our ideal impulses originate in this region (and most of them do originate in it, for we find them possessing us in a way for which we cannot articulately account), we belong to it in a more intimate sense than that in which we belong to the visible world, for we belong in the most intimate sense wherever our ideals belong.
—William James (1842–1910) American Philosopher, Psychologist, Physician
Do not consider Collectivists as sincere but deluded idealists. The proposal to enslave some men for the sake of others is not an ideal; brutality is not idealistic, no matter what its purpose. Do not ever say that the desire to do good by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives.
—Ayn Rand (1905–82) Russian-born American Novelist, Philosopher
The idealist is incorrigible: if he is thrown out of his heaven he makes an ideal of his hell.
—Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) German Philosopher, Scholar, Writer
An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it is also more nourishing.
—H. L. Mencken (1880–1956) American Journalist, Literary Critic
Our salvation is in striving to achieve what we know we’ll never achieve.
—Ryszard Kapuscinski (1932–2007) Polish Journalist
We for a certainty are not the first have sat in taverns while the tempest hurled their hopeful plans to emptiness, and cursed whatever brute and blackguard made the world.
—A. E. Housman (1859–1936) English Poet, Classical Scholar
Our ideals, like pictures, are made from lights and shadows.
—Joseph Joubert (1754–1824) French Writer, Moralist
Why should we strive, with cynic frown, to knock their fairy castles down?
—Eliza Cook (1818–89) English Author, Poet, Writer
Some day the soft Ideal that we wooed confronts us fiercely, foe-beset, pursued, and cries reproachful: “Was it then my praise, and not myself was loved? Prove now thy truth; I claim of thee the promise of thy youth.”
—James Russell Lowell (1819–91) American Poet, Critic
I’m an idealist. I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way.
—Caroline Schoeder American Aphorist
There is no force so democratic as the force of an ideal.
—Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933) American Head of State, Lawyer
Idealist: a cynic in the making.
—Irving Layton (1912–2006) Romanian-born Canadian Poet, Lecturer
The idealist walks on tiptoe, the materialist on his heels.
—Malcolm de Chazal (1902–81) Mauritian Writer, Painter, Visionary
Words without actions are the assassins of idealism.
—Herbert Hoover (1874–1964) 31st American President
It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet, I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever-approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.
—Anne Frank (1929–45) Holocaust Victim
An idealist believes the short run doesn’t count. A cynic believes the long run doesn’t matter. A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run.
—Sydney J. Harris (1917–86) American Essayist, Drama Critic
Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality the cost becomes prohibitive.
—William F. Buckley, Jr. (1925–2008) American TV Personality, Author
Ideals are the world’s masters.
—Josiah Gilbert Holland (1819–81) American Editor, Novelist
The true ideal is not opposed to the real but lies in it; and blessed are the eyes that find it.
—James Russell Lowell (1819–91) American Poet, Critic
Saddle your dreams before you ride em.
—Mary Webb (1881–1927) English Novelist, Poet, Writer