Quotes to make (or help) you think: Graham Greene, Bertrand Russell and T.S. Eliot

Quotes to make (or help) you think:  Graham Greene, Bertrand Russell and T.S. Eliot

Having over the years read a little (well, more than a little) of Bertrand Russell (British mathematician, philosopher and social critic, 1872 – 1970) , some of Graham Greene (British playwright and novelist, 1904 – 1991), and less from Thomas Stearns Eliot (modern poet and playwright, 1888 – 1965), we offer these thought provoking quotes for perusing over your morning coffee or afternoon green tea or evening whiskey or brandy.  All of these quotes and many others by many notable personalities can be found at:


We do not necessarily agree with all of Greene’s or Russell’s or Eliot’s views, but offer these quotes to stimulate thinking in an age that so desperately needs it (thinking).

Religiosity is substituted these days for truly living by a religion’s teachings.  We are pharisees who may scrupulously observe the letter of the law, but not often the spirit of it.  (that one is ours)


Graham Greene (British playwright and novelist, 1904 – 1991)

Champagne, if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie detector.  It encourages a man to be expansive, even reckless, while lie detectors are only a challenge to tell lies successfully.

I have often noticed that a bribe has that effect – it changes a relation.  The man who offers a bribe gives away a little of his own importance; the bribe once accepted, he becomes the inferior, like a man who has paid for a woman.

If you have abandoned one faith, do not abandon all faith.  There is always an alternative to the faith we lose.  Or is it the same faith under another mask?

It is impossible to go through life without trust: that is to be imprisoned in the worst cell of all, oneself.

Media is just a word that has come to mean bad journalism.

Morality comes with the sad wisdom of age, when the sense of curiosity has withered.

No human being can really understand another, and no one can arrange another’s happiness.

There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.

They are always saying God loves us.  If that’s love I’d rather have a bit of kindness.

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.


Bertrand Russell (British mathematician, philosopher and social critic, 1872 – 1970).  If he appears skeptical, even somewhat cynical, we note for our readers that Russell once wrote an essay entitled Why I Am Not a Christian (1927).  There are a few anthologies of some of Russell’ writings such as Bertrand Russell’s Best (Mentor Books, paperback, 1958).  Russell was in our view the greatest British social critic (for his insights) since John Stuart Mill (1806 – 1873).  Mill’s The Subjection of Women is a classic in support of equity feminism.

Many people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so.

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.

Why is propaganda so much more successful when it stirs up hatred than when it tries to stir up friendly feeling?

No one gossips about other people’s secret virtues.

None but a coward dares to boast that he has never known fear.

One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.

One should respect public opinion insofar as is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.

It has been said that man is a rational animal.  All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.

Religions, which condemn the pleasures of sense, drive men to seek the pleasures of power.  Throughout history power has been the vice of the ascetic.  (Sadly, so true as religious clerics do abuse their authority – editor.)

Right discipline consists, not in external compulsion, but in the habits of mind which lead spontaneously to desirable rather than undesirable activities.

The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.

The infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists.  That is why they invented Hell.

The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.

To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.

Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible.  Thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit.  Thought is great and swift and free.


Thomas Stearns Eliot aka T.S. Eliot (modern poet and playwright, 1888 – 1965)

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.  (This beautiful quote is used in the movie, The Magus (1968).)

Poetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves.

The bad poet is usually unconscious where he ought to be conscious, and conscious where he ought to be unconscious.

The last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason.

The Nobel is a ticket to one’s own funeral.  No one has ever done anything after he got it.  (Similar to professional athletes after they sign the “mega deal”?!)

The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.

Our difficulties of the moment must always be dealt with somehow, but our permanent difficulties are difficulties of every moment.

Our high respect for a well read person is praise enough for literature.

Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality.  But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.

I don’t believe one grows older.  I think that what happens early on in life is that at a certain age one stands still and stagnates.


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