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Quotes of the day: Joseph Joubert

Published Wednesday, May 06, 2015 @ 2:40 PM EDT
May 06 2015

Joseph Joubert (May 7, 1754 – May 4,1824) was a French moralist and essayist, remembered today largely for his Pensées (Thoughts), which was published posthumously. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve.

A thought is a thing as real as a cannonball.

A work is perfectly finished only when nothing can be added to it and nothing taken away.

All luxury corrupts either the morals or the taste.

All reflection is art.

All things that are easy to say have already been perfectly said.

An oratorical style often has the same drawbacks as those operas in which the music prevents you from hearing the words. Here the words prevent you from seeing the thoughts.

Animals love the people who talk to them.

Are you listening to the ones who keep quiet?

Ask the young. They know everything.

Because they know all the words, they think they know all the truths.

Close your eyes and you will see.

Do not choose for your wife any woman you would not choose for a friend if she were a man.

Everything we can measure seems small.

Fear feeds the imagination.

For in spite of ourselves we respect those whom we see respected.

From the center we should perceive the circle.

Genius begins great works; labor alone finishes them.

Genius is the aptitude for seeing invisible things, for stirring intangible things, for painting things that have no features.

Genuine good sayings surprise the author as much as the listeners.

Good impulses are naught, unless they become good actions.

He who has imagination without learning has wings but no feet.

He who has no poetry in himself will find poetry in nothing.

I have too much brain for my head. It cannot play comfortably in its box.

In order to know men, something must be chanced. Who risks himself of nothing knows nothing.

In political institutions, almost everything we call an abuse was once a remedy.

In the same way crimes have increased laws, errors have increased explanations.

It is better to be concerned with being than with nothingness. Dream therefore of what you still have rather than what you have lost.

It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.

It is easy to understand God as long as you don't try to explain him.

It is impossible for me to say something foolish without being aware of it.

It is impossible to love the same person twice.

It is not facts, but rumors that cause emotions among the people. What is believed creates everything.

Let anger pass, make a place for it; do not impede its progress; do not disturb its development, give it the time it needs to die out, open a wide path for it.

Little people have few passions, they hardly have anything but needs.

Madness is an illness of the brain, not of the mind.

Misery is almost always the result of thinking.

My soul lives in a place where the passions have passed by and where I have known them all.

Never cut what you can untie.

One must be an illusionary rather than a visionary.

One ruins the mind with too much writing. One rusts it by not writing at all.

Reason does not reason. It goes straight to the fact or the consequence.

Retreat often into your sphere, rest yourself in your center, plunge yourself into your element: good advice, which must be remembered.

Speak for the ear and write for the memory.

Speak more softly to be better heard by a deaf public.

The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress.

The direction of the mind is more important than its progress.

The great inconvenience of new books is that they prevent us from reading the old ones.

The imagination is the eye of the soul.

The mind can only create errors. Truths are not created, they exist; one can only see them, disentangle them, discover them, and expose them.

The poet must not cross an interval with a step when he can cross it with a leap.

The punishment of those who have loved women too much is to love them forever.

The truth. They make it consist of nothing they cannot prove. The greatest happiness they find in it is being able to put forth incontestable assertions. This is what they like, and they consider it a sign of prestige, a prerogative, a power, a dignity, etc., a liberation from error.

There must be several voices together in one voice for it to be beautiful. And several meanings in one word for it to be beautiful.

Those who have judgment use it as much as in judging stones as in judging men.

Those who never back down love themselves more than they love the truth.

To be capable of respect is, in these days, almost as rare as to be worthy of it.

To descend into ourselves, we must first lift ourselves up.

To judge things of taste, we must give ourselves time to taste them.

To see the world means judging the judges.

To teach is to learn twice over.

We are afraid of having and showing a small mind and we are not afraid of having and showing a small heart.

We can sprain our minds as well as our bodies.

We use up in the passions the stuff that was given us for happiness.

What good is modesty? It makes us seem more beautiful when we are beautiful, and less ugly when we are ugly.

What will you think of pleasures when you no longer enjoy them?

When I had the strength, I did not have the patience. I have the patience today and I no longer have the power.

When I see young people such as those of our day, I think that Heaven wishes to destroy the world.

When men are imbeciles, the one who is mad dominates the others.

When you go in search of honey you must expect to be stung by bees.

Wisdom is the strength of the weak.

Words, like eyeglasses, blur everything that they do not make clear.

Writing is closer to thinking than to speaking.


(May 7 is also the birthday of Angela Carter and David Hume.)

Categories: Joseph Joubert, Quotes of the day


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