The Undergraduate Center

[PHL103] Quotes on Wisdom and Ethics

Philosophy, rightly defined, is simply the love of wisdom.
Cicero (B.C.E. 106-43)

By three methods we may learn wisdom:

First, by reflection which is noblest;
second, by imitation, which is the easiest;
and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.
Confucius (551-479 B.C.E.)

The childish go after outward pleasures;

They walk into the net of widespread death.
But the wise, knowing immortality,
Seek not the stable among things which are unstable here.
Upanishads (ca. 800 B.C.E.)

In seeking wisdom thou art wise;

in imagining that thou hast attained it - thou art a fool.
The Talmud ( 500? B.C.E.-400? C.E.)

The clouds may drop down titles and estates,

wealth may seek us;
but wisdom must be sought.
Young (1683-1765)

Wisdom consists in doing the next thing that you have to
do. Doing it with your whole heart and finding  delight in
doing it. And the delight is the sense of the sacred.
Helen Luke (1904-1995), Jungian counselor.

Wise men learn more from fools than fools from the wise.
Cato the Elder (234-149 B.C.E.)

There are two sentences inscribed upon the Ancient oracle...

'Know thyself' and 'Nothing too much;' and upon these all
other precepts depend.
Plutarch (46-120 C.E.)

The philosopher is Nature's pilot. And there you have our

difference: to be in hell is to drift: to be in heaven is to steer.
G. B. Shaw (1856-1950)

To ridicule philosophy is truly philosophical.
Pascal (1623-1662)

The wise only possess ideas;

the greater part of mankind are possessed by them.
Samuel Coleridge (1772-1834)

Wonder is the feeling of a philosopher,

and philosophy begins in wonder.
Plato (427?-347? B.C.E.)

The most evident token and apparent sign of true wisdom

is a constant and unconstrained rejoicing.
Montaigne (1533-1592)

The strongest symptom of wisdom in man is

his being sensible of his own follies.
La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680)

Common sense in an uncommon degree

is what the world calls wisdom.
Samuel Coleridge (1772-1834)

Philosophy is a kind of journey,

ever learning yet never arriving
at the ideal perfection of truth.
Albert Pike (1809-1891)

Philosophy is systematic reflection

upon the common experience of mankind.
Robert Maynard Hutchins (1899-1977)

Happy is the man who finds wisdom,

and the man who gets understanding,
for the gain from it is better than gain from silver
and its profit better than gold.
She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called happy.
Proverbs (1000?-200? B.C.E. )

Perfect wisdom has four parts:

Wisdom, the principle of doing things aright.
Justice, the principle of doing things equally in public and private.
Fortitude, the principle of not fleeing danger, but meeting it.
Temperance, the principle of subduing desires and living moderately.
Plato (427?-347? B.C.E.)

Philosophy is the art and law of life, and it teaches us

what to do in all cases, and, like good marksmen,
to hit the white at any distance.
Seneca (3 B.C.E. -65 C.E.)

Wisdom is the conqueror of fortune.
Juvenal (40-125 C.E.)

Philosophy, when superficially studied, excites doubt;

when thoroughly explored, it dispels it.
Bacon (1561-1626)

The career of a sage is of two kinds:

He is either honored by all in the world,
Like a flower waving its head,
Or else he disappears into the silent forest.
Nagarjuna (ca. 100-200 C.E.)

Wisdom is to the mind what health is to the body.
La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680)

The weak have remedies, the wise have joys;

superior wisdom is superior bliss.
Young (1683-1765)

In seeking Wisdom, the first stage is silence,

the second listening,
the third remembrance,
the fourth practicing,
the fifth teaching.
Solomon Ibn Gabirol (1021?-1053)

Call him wise whose actions, words, and steps

are all a clear because to a clear why.
Lavater (1741-1801)

To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts;

but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates.
Thoreau (1817-1862)

A philosopher is one who desires to discern the truth.
Plato ( 427?-347? B.C.E.)

Wisdom is the wealth of the wise.
Ecclesiasticus (200? B.C.E. )

Return to Ethics (PHL103) Course Syllabus.