Men are born ignorant, not stupid; they are made stupid by education.
For all serious intellectual progress depends upon a certain kind of independence of outside opinion, which cannot exist where the will of the majority is treated with that kind of religious respect which the orthodox give to the will of God.
The mind is a strange machine which can combine the materials offered to it in the most astonishing ways.
It is not rational arguments but emotions that cause belief in a future life.
Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool's paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.
Having knowledge of an unethical act and allowing it to continue can spread a contagion that can affect multiple beings in society.
It is clear that thought is not free if the profession of certain opinions makes it impossible to earn a living. It is clear also that thought is not free if all the arguments on one side of a controversy are perpetually presented as attractively as possible, while the arguments on the other side can only be discovered by diligent search.
This seems plainly absurd; but whoever wishes to become a philosopher must learn not to be frightened by absurdities.
There Self must die; there the eagerness, the greed of untamed desire must be slain, for only so can the soul be freed from the empire of Fate.
Patriots always talk of dying for their country but never of killing for their country.
Prudence versus passion is a conflict that runs through history. It is not a conflict in which we ought to side wholly with either party.
All the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noon-day brightnessof human genius, are destined to extinctionin the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man's achievementmust inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins.
To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level.
When I was young, most teachers of philosophy in British and American universities were Hegelians, so that, until I read Hegel, I supposed there must be some truth to his system; I was cured, however, by discovering that everything he said on the philosophy of mathematics was plain nonsense.
I like mathematics because it is not human and has nothing particular to do with this planet or with the whole accidental universe – because, like Spinoza's God, it won't love us in return.
There is no reason why the world could not have come into being without a cause; nor, on the other hand, is there any reason why it should not have always existed. There is no reason to suppose that the world had a beginning at all. The idea that things must have a beginning is really due to the poverty of our imagination.
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.
Certain things are indispensable to the happiness of most men, but these are simple things: food and shelter, health, love, successful work and the respect of one's own herd.
Next to worry probably one of the most potent causes of unhappiness is envy.
In the part of this universe that we know there is great injustice, and often the good suffer, and often the wicked prosper, and one hardly knows which of those is the more annoying.
I dislike Nietzsche because he likes the contemplation of pain, because he erects conceit into a duty, because the men whom he most admires are conquerors, whose glory is cleverness in causing men to die.
I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive.
Conquer the world by intelligence, and not merely by being slavishly subdued by the terror that comes from it.
Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim.
The demand for certainty is one which is natural to man, but is nevertheless an intellectual vice. [...] To endure uncertainty is difficult, but so are most of the other virtues.
I think that, if we are to feel at home in the world after the present war, we shall have to admit Asia to equality in our thoughts, not only politically, but culturally. What changes this will bring about, I do not know, but I am convinced that they will be profound and of the greatest importance.
Reason may be a small force, but it is constant, and works always in one direction, while the forces of unreason destroy one another in futile strife. Therefore, every orgy of unreason in the end strengthens the friends of reason, and shows afresh that they are the only true friends of humanity.
Most of the greatest evils that man has inflicted upon man have come through people feeling quite certain about something which, in fact, was false.
In the modern world, however, love has another enemy more dangerous than religion, and that is the gospel of work and economic success. It is generally held, especially in America, that a man should not allow love to interfere with his career, and that if he does, he is silly. But in this as in all human matters a balance is necessary.
The habit of considering a man's religious, moral and political opinions before appointing him to a post or giving him a job is the modern form of persecution.
Ethics is in origin the art of recommending to others the sacrifices required for cooperation with oneself.
Not all superstitions are dark and cruel. I once received a communication from the god Osiris. He was living at that time in a suburb of Boston.
The accusation of metaphysics has become in philosophy something like the accusation of being a security risk in the public service. I do not for my part know what is meant by the word 'metaphysics'. The only definition I have found that fits all cases is: 'a philosophical opinion not held by the present author'.
One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important.
Philosophy is no longer the pillar of fire going before a few intrepid seekers after truth: it is rather an ambulance following in the wake of the struggle for existence and picking up the weak and wounded.
You find this curious fact, that the more intense has been the religion of any period and the more profound has been the dogmatic belief, the greater has been the cruelty and the worse has been the state of affairs.
Modern methods of production have given us the possibility of ease and security for all; we have chosen, instead, to have overwork for some and starvation for the others. Hitherto we have continued to be as energetic as we were before there were machines; in this we have been foolish, but there is no reason to go on being foolish for ever.
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.
We know too much and feel too little. At least, we feel too little of those creative emotions from which a good life springs.
Even if (as I myself believe) almost all Hegel's doctrines are false, he still retains an importance which is not merely historical, as the best representative of a certain kind of philosophy which, in others, is less coherent and less comprehensive.
When admitting that nothing is certain, one must also, I think, admit that some things are much more nearly certain than others.
Nature and books and (later) mathematics saved me from complete despondency.
We are accustomed to take progress for granted: to assume without hesitation that the changes which have happened during the last hundred years were unquestionably for the better, and that further changes for the better are sure to follow indefinitely.
Two people between whom there is love succeed or fail together, but when two people hate each other the success of either is the failure of the other.
Science does not aim at establishing immutable truths and eternal dogmas; its aim is to approach the truth by successive approximations, without claiming that at any stage final and complete accuracy has been achieved.
Democracy is the process by which people choose the man who'll get the blame.