Denis Diderot - Baruch Spinoza - Francis Bacon - David Hume - William Ralph Inge - Author unknown - Christopher Hitchens - Stephen Fry - William Wordsworth - William Shakespeare - Bertrand Russell - Neil deGrasse Tyson - J B S Haldane - Stephen Hawking TV - Karl Marx - Jim Al-Khalili TV - Alexandre Dumas - John Keats - Friedrich Nietzsche - John Milton - Oliver Edwards - John Donne - Alfred North Whitehead - Cicero - W E F Hegel - Daniel C Dennett - Ludwig Wittgenstein - Gilbert Ryle - Alain de Botton TV - Colossians 2:8 - Ludwig van Beethoven - William S Burroughs - Epictetus - Albert Camus - James Madison - Josein Gaarder - Edgar Allan Poe - Henry David Thoreau - Noam Chomsky - Blaise Pascal - Aristotle - Dalai Lama - George Bernard Shaw - Socrates - Plato - Victor Hugo - Napoleon Bonaparte - James Joyce - Anton Chekhov - Charles M Schultz - Marquis de Sade - Tom Stoppard - Annie Besant - Alfred Jules Ayer - Soren Kierkegaard - L S Lowry - Star Trek: The Next Generation TV - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine TV - Max Born - Simon Schama TV - Kenneth Clark TV - John Selden - Ovid - The Office US TV - Richard Dawkins - Dionysius of Hallarnassus - Bettany Hughes - 21st Century Mythologies with Richard Clay TV - Adam Becker - Slavoj Zizek -
The philosopher forms his principles from an infinity of particular observations. Most people adopt principles without thinking of the observations that have produced them, they believe the maxims exist, so to speak, by themselves. But the philosopher takes maxims from their source; he examines their origin; he knows their proper value, and he makes use of them only in so far as they suit him. Denis Diderot, L’Encyclopédie
When you say that if I deny, that the operations of seeing, hearing, attending, wishing, &c., can be ascribed to God, or that they exist in Him in any eminent fashion, you do not know what sort of God mine is; I suspect that you believe there is no greater perfection than such as can be explained by the aforesaid attributes. I am not astonished; for I believe that, if a triangle could speak, it would say, in like manner, that God is eminently triangular, while a circle would say that the divine nature is eminently circular. Thus each would ascribe to God its own attributes, would assume itself to be like God, and look on everything else as ill-shaped.
The briefness of a letter and want of time do not allow me to enter into my opinion on the divine nature, or the questions you have propounded. Besides, suggesting difficulties is not the same as producing reasons. That we do many things in the world from conjecture is true, but that our redactions are based on conjecture is false. In practical life we are compelled to follow what is most probable; in speculative thought we are compelled to follow truth. A man would perish of hunger and thirst, if he refused to eat or drink, till he had obtained positive proof that food and drink would be good for him. But in philosophic reflection this is not so. On the contrary, we must take care not to admit as true anything, which is only probable. For when one falsity has been let in, infinite others follow.
Again, we cannot infer that because sciences of things divine and human are full of controversies and quarrels, therefore their whole subject-matter is uncertain; for there have been many persons so enamoured of contradiction, as to turn into ridicule geometrical axioms. Baruch Spinoza
All good moral philosophy is but an handmaid to religion. Francis Bacon, 1561-1626, The Advancement of Learning
A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion. Francis Bacon
Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous. David Hume
Opposing one species of superstition to another set them a quarrelling; while we ourselves, during their fury and contention, happily make our escape into the calm, though obscure, regions of philosophy. David Hume
To become a popular religion, it is only necessary for a superstition to enslave a philosophy. William Ralph Inge
Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned. Author unknown
Religion is what you get before Philosophy. Christopher Hitchens, lecture 6th October 2009
Philosophy is an odd thing ... The most important philosophy I think is that even if it isn’t true, you must absolutely assume there is no after-life. You cannot for one second I think abrogate the responsibility of believing that this is it. Stephen Fry, televised interview
It’s not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing – they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me. Stephen Fry, Moab is My Washpot
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind ...
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind. William Wordsworth, ‘Ode Intimations of Immortality’, 1807
Adversity’s sweet milk, philosophy. William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet III iii 55, Friar Laurence to Romeo
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. William Shakespeare, Hamlet I v 167-168, Hamlet to Horatio
There is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out. ibid. II ii 392
Ever since Plato most philosophers have considered it part of their business to produce ‘proofs’ of immortality and the existence of God. They have found fault with the proofs of their predecessors – Saint Thomas rejected Saint Anselm’s proofs, and Kant rejected Descartes’ – but they have supplied new ones of their own. In order to make their proofs seem valid, they have had to falsify logic, to make mathematics mystical, and to pretend that deepseated prejudices were heaven-sent intuitions. Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one can prove that there is not a God. On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think I ought to say that I am an Atheist, because when I say that I cannot prove that there is not a God, I ought to add equally that I cannot prove that there are not the Homeric gods. Bertrand Russell, Am I an Atheist or an Agnostic?
Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don’t know. Bertrand Russell
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. Bertrand Russell
Dogmatism and scepticism are both, in a sense, absolute philosophies; one is certain of knowing, the other of not knowing. What philosophy should dissipate is certainty, whether of knowledge or ignorance. Bertrand Russell
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. Bertrand Russell
Philosophy seems to me on the whole a rather hopeless business. Bertrand Russell, letter to Gilbert Murray 28th December 1902
Philosophy, if it cannot answer so many questions as we could wish, has at least the power of asking questions which increase the interest of the world, and show the strangeness and wonder lying just below the surface even in the commonest things of daily life. Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy, 1912
Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind is also rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good. ibid.
For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you. Neil deGrasse Tyson
My view is that if your philosophy is not unsettled daily then you are blind to all the universe has to offer. Neil deGrasse Tyson
Now, my own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose. I have read and heard many attempts at a systematic account of it, from materialism and theosophy to the Christian system or that of Kant, and I have always felt that they were much too simple. I suspect that there are more things in heaven and earth that are dreamed of, or can be dreamed of, in any philosophy. That is the reason why I have no philosophy myself, and must be my excuse for dreaming. J B S Haldane, Possible Worlds