The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd.
It seems to be the fate of idealists to obtain what they have struggled for in a form which destroys their ideals.
There is no need to worry about mere size. We do not necessarily respect a fat man more than a thin man. Sir Isaac Newton was very much smaller than a hippopotamus, but we do not on that account value him less.
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.
The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.
Admiration of the proletariat, like that of dams, power stations, and aeroplanes, is part of the ideology of the machine age.
Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.
In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.
Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relative to other matter; second, telling other people to do so.
With the introduction of agriculture mankind entered upon a long period of meanness, misery, and madness, from which they are only now being freed by the beneficent operation of the machine.
Both in thought and in feeling, even though time be real, to realise the unimportance of time is the gate of wisdom.
It is possible that mankind is on the threshold of a golden age; but, if so, it will be necessary first to slay the dragon that guards the door, and this dragon is religion.
Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives’ mouths.
Against my will, in the course of my travels, the belief that everything worth knowing was known at Cambridge gradually wore off. In this respect my travels were very useful to me.
The theoretical understanding of the world, which is the aim of philosophy, is not a matter of great practical importance to animals, or to savages, or even to most civilised men.
The fundamental concept in social science is Power, in the same sense in which Energy is the fundamental concept in physics.
A life without adventure is likely to be unsatisfying, but a life in which adventure is allowed to take whatever form it will is sure to be short.
I remain convinced that obstinate addiction to ordinary language in our private thoughts is one of the main obstacles to progress in philosophy.
The true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than Man, which is the touchstone of the highest excellence, is to be found in mathematics as surely as poetry.
I think we ought always to entertain our opinions with some measure of doubt. I shouldn’t wish people dogmatically to believe any philosophy, not even mine.
The megalomaniac differs from the narcissist by the fact that he wishes to be powerful rather than charming, and seeks to be feared rather than loved. To this type belong many lunatics and most of the great men of history.
The universe may have a purpose, but nothing we know suggests that, if so, this purpose has any similarity to ours.
One should respect public opinion insofar as is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.
Almost everything that distinguishes the modern world from earlier centuries is attributable to science, which achieved its most spectacular triumphs in the seventeenth century.
The coward wretch whose hand and heart Can bear to torture aught below, Is ever first to quail and start From the slightest pain or equal foe.
Marriage is for women the commonest mode of livelihood, and the total amount of undesired sex endured by women is probably greater in marriage than in prostitution.
Right discipline consists, not in external compulsion, but in the habits of mind which lead spontaneously to desirable rather than undesirable activities.
There is something feeble and a little contemptible about a man who cannot face the perils of life without the help of comfortable myths.
No; we have been as usual asking the wrong question. It does not matter a hoot what the mockingbird on the chimney is singing. The real and proper question is: Why is it beautiful?
Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.
In the revolt against idealism, the ambiguities of the word experience have been perceived, with the result that realists have more and more avoided the word.
Contempt for happiness is usually contempt for other people’s happiness, and is an elegant disguise for hatred of the human race.
I’ve made an odd discovery. Every time I talk to a savant I feel quite sure that happiness is no longer a possibility. Yet when I talk with my gardener, I’m convinced of the opposite.