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Quotes of the day: Daniel J. Boorstin

Published Tuesday, October 01, 2013 @ 6:26 AM EDT
Oct 01 2013

Daniel Joseph Boorstin (October 1, 1914 - February 28, 2004) was an American historian, professor, attorney, and writer. He was appointed twelfth Librarian of the United States Congress in 1975 and served until 1987. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A sign of a celebrity is often that his name is worth more than his services.

Any government which made the welfare of men depend on the character of their governors was an illusion.

As individuals and as a nation, we now suffer from social narcissism. The beloved Echo of our ancestors, the virgin America, has been abandoned. We have fallen in love with our own image, with images of our making, which turn out to be images of ourselves.

Disagreement produces debate but dissent produces dissension.

Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know.

Every artist invents an artist, and every artist adds. While the great works of science displace the theories that people had before or modified them in some significant way, the artist only adds.

I write to discover what I think. After all, the bars aren't open that early.

Knowledge is not simply another commodity. On the contrary. Knowledge is never used up. It increases by diffusion and grows by dispersion.

No agnostic ever burned anyone at the stake or tortured a pagan, a heretic, or an unbeliever.

Since the Creator had made the facts of the after-life inaccessible to man, He must not have required that man understand death in order to live fruitfully.

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.

Technology is so much fun but we can drown in our technology. The fog of information can drive out knowledge.

The celebrity is a person who is known for his well-knownness.

The great obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents, and the oceans was not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge.

The most important American addition to the World Experience was the simple surprising fact of America. We have helped prepare man kind for all its later surprises.

The Republic of Technology where we will be living is a feedback world.

These creators, makers of the new, can never become obsolete, for in the arts there is no correct answer.

We need not be theologians to see that we have shifted responsibility for making the world interesting from God to the newspaperman.

We suffer primarily not from our vices or our weaknesses, but from our illusions.

What preoccupies us, then, is not God as a fact of nature, but as a fabrication useful for a God-fearing society. God himself becomes not a power but an image.

While the easiest way in metaphysics is to condemn all metaphysics as nonsense, the easiest way in morals is to elevate the common practice of the community into a moral absolute.

While the Jeffersonian did not flatly deny the Creator's power to perform miracles, he admired His refusal to do so.

A liberal society thrives on disagreement but is killed by dissension. Disagreement is the life blood of democracy, dissension is its cancer.

In our world of big names, curiously, our true heroes tend to be anonymous. In this life of illusion and quasi-illusion, the person of solid virtues who can be admired for something more substantial than his well-knownness often proves to be the unsung hero: the teacher, the nurse, the mother, the honest cop, the hard worker at lonely, underpaid, unglamorous, unpublicized jobs.

A bestseller was a book which somehow sold well simply because it was selling well.

More appealing than knowledge itself is the feeling of knowing.

We must abandon the prevalent belief in the superior wisdom of the ignorant.

Categories: Daniel J. Boorstin, Quotes of the day


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