Sunday, April 30, 2006

Quotes from Democritus

Democritus was a pre-Socratic philosopher and an early proponent of "atomism": The view that all that exists is made of "atoms". He lived about 2,400 years ago in Greece.


"Disease occurs in a household, or in a life, just as it does in a body."
"Medicine cures the diseases of the body; wisdom, on the other hand, relieves the soul of its sufferings."
"The needy animal knows how much it needs, but the needy man does not."
"It is hard to fight with desire; but to overcome it is the mark of a rational man."
"Moderation increases enjoyment, and makes pleasure even greater."
"It is childish, not manly, to have immoderate desires."
"The good things of life are produced by learning with hard work; the bad are reaped of their own accord, without hard work."
"The brave man is he who overcomes not only his enemies but his pleasures. There are some men who are masters of cities but slaves to women."
"In cattle excellence is displayed in strength of body; but in men it lies in strength of character."
"I would rather discover a single cause than become king of the Persians."
"There is no poetry without madness."
"Proclus states that Pythagoras and Epicurus agree with Cratylus, but Democritus and Aristotle agree with Hermogenes, the former that names arise by nature, the latter that they arise by chance. Pythagoras thought that the soul gave the names, deriving them like images of reality from the mind. But Democritus thought that the proof of their chance origin was fourfold: (1) the calling of different things by the same name; (2)having several names for the same thing; (3)change of name; (4)lack of name."
"Medicine heals diseases of the body, wisdom frees the soul from passions."
"Nature and instruction are similar; for instruction transforms the man."
"If any man listens to my opinions, here recorded, with intelligence, he will achieve many things worthy of a good man, and avoid doing many unworthy things."
"He who chooses the advantages of the soul chooses things more divine, but he who chooses those of the body, chooses things human."
"It is noble to prevent the criminal; but if one cannot, one should not join him in crime.
"One must either be good, or imitate a good man."
"Men find happiness neither by means of the body nor through possessions, but through uprightness and wisdom."
"Refrain from crimes not through fear but through duty."
"It is a great thing, when one is in adversity, to think of duty."
"Repentance for shameful deeds is salvation in life."
"The wrongdoer is more unfortunate than the man wronged."
"Magnanimity consists in enduring tactlessness with mildness."
"Well-ordered behavior consists in obedience to the law, the ruler, and the man wiser than oneself."
"When inferior men censure, the good man pays no heed."
"It is hard to be governed by one’s inferior."
"The man enslaved to wealth can never be honest."
"In power of persuasion, reasoning is far stronger than gold."
"He who tries to give intelligent advice to one who thinks he has intelligence, is wasting his time."
"Many who have not learnt Reason, nevertheless live according to reason."
"Many whose actions are most disgraceful practice the best utterances."
"The foolish learn sense through misfortune."
"One should emulate the deeds and actions of virtue, not the words."
"Noble deeds are recognized and emulated by those of natural good disposition."
"Good breeding in cattle depends on physical health, but in men on a well-formed character."
"The hopes of right-thinking men are attainable, but those of the unintelligent are impossible."
"Neither skill nor wisdom is attainable unless one learns."
"It is better to examine one’s own faults than those of others."
"Those whose character is well-ordered have also a well-ordered life."
"Virtue consists, not in avoiding wrong-doing, but in having no wish thereto."
"To pronounce praise on noble deeds is noble; for to do so over base deeds is the work of a false deceiver."
"Many much-learned men have no intelligence." (Also attributed to Heraclitus)
"One should practice much sense, not much learning."
"It is better to deliberate before action than to repent afterwards."
"Believe not everything, but only what is approved: the former is foolish, the latter the act of a sensible man."
"The worthy and the unworthy man are to be known not only by their actions, but also their wishes."
"For all men, good and true are the same; but pleasant differs for different men."
"Immoderate desire is the mark of a child, not a man."
"Untimely pleasures produce unpleasantness. "
"Violent desire for one thing blinds the soul to all others."
"Virtuous love consists in decorous desire for the beautiful."
"Accept no pleasure unless it is beneficial."
"It is better for fools to be ruled than to rule."
"For the foolish, not reason but advantage is the teacher."
"Fame and wealth without intelligence are dangerous possessions."
"To make money is not without use, but if it comes from wrong-doing, nothing is worse."
"It is a bad thing to imitate the bad, and not even to wish to imitate the good."
"It is shameful to be so busy over the affairs of others that one knows nothing of one's own."
"Constant delay means work undone."
"The false and the seemingly good are those who do all in word, not in fact."
"The cause of error is ignorance of the better."
"The man who does shameful deeds must first feel shame in his own eyes."
"He who contradicts and chatters much is ill-fitted for learning what he ought."
"It is greed to do all the talking and not be willing to listen."
"One must be on one’s guard against the bad man, lest he seize his opportunity."
"The envious man torments himself like an enemy."
"An enemy is not he who injures, but he who wishes to do so."
"The enmity of relatives is much worse than that of strangers."
"Be not suspicious towards all, but be cautious and firm."
"Accept favors in the foreknowledge that you will have to give a greater return for them.
"When you do a favor study the recipient first, lest he prove to be a scoundrel and repay evil for good."
"Small favors at the right time are greatest to the recipients."
"Marks of honor at the right time are greatly valued by right-thinking men, who understand why they are being honored."
"The generous man is he who does not look for a return, but who does good from choice."
"Many who seem friendly are not so, and those who do not seem so, are."
"The friendship of one intelligent man is better than that of all the unintelligent."
"Life is not worth living for the man who has not even one good friend."
"The man whose tested friends do not stay long with him is bad-tempered."


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