I have found little that is “good” about human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are trash, no matter whether they publicly subscribe to this or that ethical doctrine or to none at all. That is something that you cannot say aloud, or perhaps even think.
—Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) Austrian Psychiatrist, Psychoanalytic
Man is not an end but a beginning. We are at the beginning of the second week. We are children of the eighth day.
—Thornton Wilder (1897–1975) American Novelist, Playwright
The proof that man is the noblest of all creatures is that no other creature has ever denied it.
—Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–99) German Philosopher, Physicist
Know then thyself, presume not God to scan,
The proper study of Mankind is Man.
Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
A being darkly wise and rudely great.
—Alexander Pope (1688–1744) English Poet
Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapour, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the Universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this.
—Blaise Pascal (1623–62) French Mathematician, Physicist, Theologian
We are the local embodiment of a Cosmos grown to self-awareness. We have begun to contemplate our origins: starstuff pondering the stars; organized assemblages of ten billion billion billion atoms considering the evolution of atoms; tracing the long journey by which, here at least, consciousness arose. Our loyalties are to the species and the planet. We speak for Earth. Our obligation to survive is owed not just to ourselves but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring.
—Carl Sagan (1934–96) American Astronomer
I can’t make head or tail of Life. Love is a fine thing, Art is a fine thing, Nature is a fine thing; but the average human mind and spirit are confusing beyond measure. Sometimes I think that all our learning is the little learning of the maxim. To laugh at a Roman awe-stricken in a sacred grove is to laugh at something today.
—Wallace Stevens (1879–1955) American Poet
All that is limited by form, semblance, sound, color is called object. Among them all, man alone is more than an object. Though, like objects, he has form and semblance, He is not limited to form. He is more. He can attain to formlessness. When he is beyond form and semblance, beyond this and that, where is the comparison with another object? Where is the conflict? What can stand in his way? He will rest in his eternal place which is no-place. He will be hidden in his own unfathomable secret. His nature sinks to its root in the One. His vitality, his power hide in secret Tao.
—Zhuang Zhou (c.369–c.286 BCE) Chinese Taoist Philosopher
Wondrous hole! Magical hole! Dazzlingly influential hole! Noble and effulgent hole! From this hole everything follows logically: first the baby, then the placenta, then, for years and years and years until death, a way of life. It is all logic, and she who lives by the hole will live also by its logic. It is, appropriately, logic with a hole in it.
—Cynthia Ozick (b.1928) American Novelist, Short-story Writer, Essayist
Man is not the creature of circumstances, circumstances are the creatures of man. We are free agents, and man is more powerful than matter.
—Benjamin Disraeli (1804–81) British Head of State
‘Know thyself’ was written over the portal of the antique world. Over the portal of the new world, ‘Be thyself’ shall be written.
—Oscar Wilde (1854–1900) Irish Poet, Playwright
We tolerate shapes in human beings that would horrify us if we saw them in a horse.
—William Ralph Inge (1860–1954) English Anglican Clergyman, Priest, Mystic
I mean, after all; you have to consider we’re only made out of dust. That’s admittedly not much to go on and we shouldn’t forget that. But even considering, I mean it’s a sort of bad beginning, we’re not doing too bad. So I personally have faith that even in this lousy situation we’re faced with we can make it. You get me?
—Philip K. Dick (1928–82) American Novelist, Essayist, Short Story Writer
Man is the creature of circumstances.
—Robert Owen (1771–1858) British Social Reformer, Philosopher
What was my body to me? A kind of flunkey in my service. Let but my anger wax hot, my love grow exalted, my hatred collect in me, and that boasted solidarity between me and my body was gone.
—Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900–44) French Novelist, Aviator
Our bodies are shaped to bear children, and our lives are a working out of the processes of creation. All our ambitions and intelligence are beside that great elemental point.
—Phyllis McGinley (1905–78) American Children’s Books Writer, Poet, Writer of Children’s Books
The basic Female body comes with the following accessories: garter belt, panty-girdle, crinoline, camisole, bustle, brassiere, stomacher, chemise, virgin zone, spike heels, nose ring, veil, kid gloves, fishnet stockings, fichu, bandeau, Merry Widow, weepers, chokers, barrettes, bangles, beads, lorgnette, feather boa, basic black, compact, Lycra stretch one-piece with modesty panel, designer peignoir, flannel nightie, lace teddy, bed, head.
—Margaret Atwood (b.1939) Canadian Writer, Poet, Critic
It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking.
—William Faulkner (1897–1962) American Novelist
The human body is a peculiar device, pat it on the back and the head swells.
The good, say the mystics of spirit, is God, a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man’s power to conceive – a definition that invalidates man’s consciousness and nullifies his concepts of existence. The good, say the mystics of muscle, is Society – a thing which they define as an organism that possesses no physical form, a super-being embodied in no one in particular and everyone in general except yourself…. The purpose of man’s life, say both, is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question.
—Ayn Rand (1905–82) Russian-born American Novelist, Philosopher
Man is never honestly the fatalist, nor even the stoic. He fights his fate, often desperately. He is forever entering bold exceptions to the rulings of the bench of gods. This fighting, no doubt, makes for human progress, for it favors the strong and the brave. It also makes for beauty, for lesser men try to escape from a hopeless and intolerable world by creating a more lovely one of their own.
—H. L. Mencken (1880–1956) American Journalist, Literary Critic
Man: The most complex of beings, and thus the most dependent of beings. On all that made you up, you depend.
—Andre Gide (1869–1951) French Novelist
Your body is the church where Nature asks to be reverenced.
—Marquis de Sade (1740–1814) French Political leader, Revolutionary, Novelist, Poet, Critic
The body is a community made up of its innumerable cells or inhabitants.
—Thomas Edison (1847–1931) American Inventor, Scientist, Entrepreneur
The function of muscle is to pull and not to push, except in the case of the genitals and the tongue.
—Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Italian Polymath, Painter, Sculptor, Inventor, Architect
In the arts of life man invents nothing; but in the arts of death he outdoes Nature herself, and produces by chemistry and machinery all the slaughter of plague, pestilence, and famine.
—George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) Irish Playwright
But the lightning which explodes and fashions planets, maker of planets and suns, is in him. On one side, elemental order, sandstone and granite, rock-ledges, peat-bog, forest, sea and shore; and, on the other part, thought, the spirit which composes and decomposes nature,—here they are, side by side, god and devil, mind and matter, king and conspirator, belt and spasm, riding peacefully together in the eye and brain of every man.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) American Philosopher
It takes more than just a good looking body. You’ve got to have the heart and soul to go with it.
—Epictetus (55–135) Ancient Greek Philosopher
Our generation is realistic for we have come to know man as he really is.
After all, man is that being who has invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who has entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or Shema Yisrael on his lips.
—Viktor Frankl (1905–97) Austrian Psychiatrist, Psychotherapist
The body is mortal, but the person dwelling in the body is immortal and immeasurable.
—The Bhagavad Gita Hindu Scripture