Recent quotes

Quotes in
Sorted by
Author
Subject
Text
2366 quotes  
He who dares not offend cannot be honest.
There are more copies than originals among people.
Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.
The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.
Immagina di essere morto, di aver vissuto la tua vita. Poi vivi in modo appropriato quanto ti resta da vivere.
Il miglior combattente non è mai arrabbiato.
It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.
A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.
When we are talking about the consequences of an action, we have to include things like one's memory of having performed it and the effect this memory will have on one's future experiences, relationships, and beliefs.
You're only as free as your attention is.
It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.
Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.
Those who control their passions do so because their passions are weak enough to be controlled.
The bad sort of vulnerability comes in pretending to be someone you're not.
He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.
Most of us are genuinely unaware that it is possible to change our minds.
Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings.
E' meglio fallire nell'originalità che avere successo nell'imitazione.
It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.
I am free and that is why I am lost.
We have names for people who have many beliefs for which there is no rational justification. When their beliefs are extremely common we call them ‘religious’; otherwise, they are likely to be called ‘mad’, ‘psychotic’ or ‘delusional’...
I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.
A falling tree makes more noise than a growing forest.
My worst boss was a departmental chair who never learned to appreciate new developments in the field. He had contempt for students and younger researchers, and he saw the job of running the department as a nuisance.
I'm very interested in language because it reflects our obsessions and ways of conceptualising the world.
Roads, better harnesses for horses, time-keeping devices, financial instruments like a currency that was recognized everywhere in the kingdom, enforceable contracts - all of this made commerce more appealing than plunder.
There is a correlation between economic inequality and personal violence. The explanation for the correlation isn't completely clear; there are a number of possibilities.
People today sometimes get uncomfortable with empirical claims that seem to clash with their political assumptions, often because they haven't given much thought to the connections.
As women are empowered, violence can come down, for a number of reasons. By all measures, men are the more violent gender.
I've never argued that humans are massively hot-wired. What I was trying to point out was that you can't understand how we learn unless you identify the learning mechanisms. And these have some genetic basis.
You can't hear a word and just hear it as raw sound; it always evokes an associated meaning and emotion in the brain.
Violence and religion have often gone together, but it's not a perfect correlation, and it doesn't have to be a permanent connection, because religions themselves change.
Anything that makes it easier to imagine trading places with someone else increases your moral consideration for that other person.
There is no society ever discovered in the remotest corner of the world that has not had something that we would consider the arts. Visual arts - decoration of surfaces and bodies - appears to be a human universal.
I think a lot of moral debates are not over what is the basis of justice, but who gets a ticket to play in the game.
If the myth of pure evil is that evil is committed with the intention of causing harm and an absence of moral considerations, then it applies to very few acts of so-called 'pure evil' because most evildoers believe what they are doing is forgivable or justifiable.
We are visual creatures. Visual things stay put, whereas sounds fade.
Everyone's pedigree merges into everyone else's pedigree. So if you go back far enough, everyone is related.
We really are creatures of a violent world, biologically speaking - watching violence and learning about it is one of our cognitive drives.
In societies no less than individuals, acknowledging our limitations may ultimately be more humane than denying them.
Today we take it for granted that war happens in smaller, poorer and more backward countries.
The European wars of religion were more deadly than the First World War, proportionally speaking, and in the range of the Second World War in Europe. The Inquisition, the persecution of heretics and infidels and witches, they racked up pretty high death tolls.
All of the violence that doesn't occur doesn't get reported on the news.
Plants can't very well defend themselves by their behavior, so they resort to chemical warfare, and plants are saturated with toxins and irritants to deter creatures like us who want to eat them.
Reading is a technology for perspective-taking. When someone else's thoughts are in your head, you are observing the world from that person's vantage point.
Why is it surprising that scientists might have long hair and wear cowboy boots? In fields like neuroscience, where the events you are recording are so minute, I suspect scientists cultivate a boring, reliable image. A scientist with a reputation for flamboyance might be suspect.
Time spent with friends makes a life happier; time spent with loved ones makes it more meaningful.
There's the common veneration (not just by the religious) of faith, namely believing something without a good reason.
There is a growing movement called Humanism, which promotes a non-supernatural basis for meaning and ethics: good without God.
The thinkers of the Enlightenment sought a new understanding of the human condition. The era was a cornucopia of ideas, some of them contradictory, but four themes tie them together: reason, science, humanism, and progress.
The first step toward wisdom is the realization that the laws of the universe don't care about you.
The beauty of reason is that it can always be applied to understand failures of reason.
Remember your math: an anecdote is not a trend.
People are not clones in a monoculture, so what satisfies one will frustrate another, and the only way they can end up equal is if they are treated unequally.
Even if he does occasionally hurt people's feelings -- he occasionally hurts my feelings -- but I'm a big boy. I can get over it. I can argue back. We really need somebody to question the way a university is run.
All of us have a theory about human nature.
We may be seeing a coming together of the humanities and the science of human nature.
My opinions about human nature are shared by many psychologists, linguists, and biologists, not to mention philosophers and scholars going back centuries.
There has to be innate circuitry that does the learning, that creates the culture, that acquires the culture, and that responds to socialization.
No matter how important learning and culture and socialization are, they don't happen by magic.
To make changes you have to make some enemies, but you also have to be careful not too make too many enemies. He made far too many enemies.
One of the perks of being a psychologist is access to tools that allow you to carry out the injunction to know thyself.
People are under the impression that dictionaries legislate language. What a dictionary does is keep track of usages over time.
Statisticians tell us that people underestimate the sheer number of coincidences that are bound to happen in a world governed by chance.
Look at almost any passage, and you'll find that a paragraph has five or six metaphors in it. It's not that the speaker is trying to be poetic, it's just that that's the way language works.
I do look for openings where I can overturn popular misconceptions, but unlike Christopher Hitchens, I am neither a contrarian nor a lone heretic. I like to have a significant number of academics watching my back.
However much we might deplore the profit motive, or consumerist values, if everyone just wants i-Pods we would probably be better off than if they wanted class revolution.
For one thing, before the 20th century, there were plenty of genocides. We tend to forget about them, partly because they weren't as well documented and partly because, until recently, people didn't care. We used euphemisms like 'sackings' and 'sieges' instead of calling them 'genocides.'
Evolutionary psychologists seem to want to unmask our noblest motives as ultimately self-interested - to show that our love for children, compassion for the unfortunate and sense of justice are just tactics in a Darwinian struggle to perpetuate our genes.
Conventions are unstated agreements within a community to abide by a single way of doing things - not because there is any inherent advantage to the choice, but because there is an advantage to everyone making the same choice.
Consciousness surely does not depend on language. Babies, many animals, and patients robbed of speech by brain damage are not insensate robots; they have reactions like ours that indicate that someone's home.
Commerce, trade and exchange make other people more valuable alive than dead, and mean that people try to anticipate what the other guy needs and wants. It engages the mechanisms of reciprocal altruism, as the evolutionary biologists call it, as opposed to raw dominance.
I have never been a fan of science fiction. For me, fiction has to explore the combinatorial possibilities of people interacting under the constraints imposed by our biology and history. When an author is free to suspend the constraints, it's tennis without a net.
It's likely that taboo words are stored in the right hemisphere of the brain. Massive left hemisphere strokes or the entire surgical removal of the left hemisphere can leave people with no articulate speech other than the ability to swear, spout cliches and song lyrics.
In the 1970s, many intellectuals had become political radicals. Marxism was correct, liberalism was for wimps, and Marx had pronounced that 'the ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class.'
If you aren't just brought up in your tribe but interact with other people either directly or vicariously, through journalism and literature, you see what life is like from other points of view and are less likely to demonize them or dehumanize others and more likely to empathize with them.
I think this confusion leads intellectuals and artists themselves to believe that the elite arts and humanities are a kind of higher, exalted form of human endeavor.
I think students should know something about religion as a historical phenomenon, in the same way that they should know something about socialism and humanism and the other great ideas that have shaped political philosophies and therefore the course of human events.
Cognitive psychology has shown that the mind best understands facts when they are woven into a conceptual fabric, such as a narrative, mental map, or intuitive theory. Disconnected facts in the mind are like unlinked pages on the Web: They might as well not exist.
Gossip is certainly one of the things that language is useful for, because it's always handy to know who needs a favor, who can offer a favor, who's available, who's under the protection of a jealous spouse. And being the first to get a piece of gossip is like engaging in insider trading: You can capitalize on an opportunity before anyone else can.
America had, for one thing, lived in anarchy for - until much more recently than Europe. We had the Wild West, where the cliche of the cowboy movies was the nearest sheriff is 90 miles away, and so you had to pack a gun and defend yourself.
Academics lack perspective. In a debate on whether the world is round, they would argue, 'No,' because it's an oblate spheroid. They suffer from 'the curse of knowledge': the inability to imagine what it's like not to know something that they know.
As individual people, embedded in our daily lives, of course we're interested in what makes one person different from another. We've got to hire one person and not another, marry one person and not another.
A word is an arbitrary label - that's the foundation of linguistics. But many people think otherwise. They believe in word magic: that uttering a spell, incantation, curse, or prayer can change the world. Don't snicker: Would you ever say, 'Nothing has gone wrong yet' without looking for wood to knock?
A decent government with an effective, but not gratuitously violent, police force and a fair court system are essential. This deters and incapacitates psychopaths, bullies and hotheads - and if it earns the confidence of the people, they don't have to become violent in self-defence.
People have long assumed that violence is necessary for political change. Rulers never cede power voluntarily, the argument goes, so progressives have no choice but to contemplate the use of force to bring about a better world, mindful of the trade-off between a small amount of violence now and acceptance of an unjust status quo indefinitely.
Morality is not just any old topic in psychology but close to our conception of the meaning of life. Moral goodness is what gives each of us the sense that we are worthy human beings.
I think that communism was a major force for violence for more than 100 years, because it was built into its ideology - that progress comes through class struggle, often violent.
Capitalism' is a dirty word for many intellectuals, but there are a number of studies showing that open economies and free trade are negatively correlated with genocide and war.
But the newest research is showing that many properties of the brain are genetically organized, and don't depend on information coming in from the senses.
Climate change could produce a lot of misery and waste without necessarily leading to large-scale armed conflict, which depends more on ideology and bad governance than on resource scarcity.
Racism, because it favors color over talent, is bad for business.
Most wars are not fought over shortages of resources such as food and water, but rather over conquest, revenge, and ideology.
Language mavens commonly confuse their own peeves with a worsening of the language.
Language is a window into human nature, but it is also a fistula, an open wound through which we're exposed to an infectious world.
We will never have a perfect world, but it's not romantic or naive to work toward a better one.
It's natural to think that living things must be the handiwork of a designer. But it was also natural to think that the sun went around the earth. Overcoming naive impressions to figure out how things really work is one of humanity's highest callings.
Just as blueprints don't necessarily specify blue buildings, selfish genes don't necessarily specify selfish organisms. As we shall see, sometimes the most selfish thing a gene can do is build a selfless brain. Genes are a play within a play, not the interior monologue of the players.
It begins with skepticism. The history of human folly, and our own susceptibility to illusions and fallacies, tell us that men and women are fallible.
2366 quotes