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Quotes on value and values

Value Quotes

Quotations on value, values, virtues and ethics

from Socrates to Hsi-Tang

from Genesis 1:1 to The Dalai Lama

from Warren Buffett to George W. Bush


By last name of Author  | Chronological

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We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly.

Aristotle 384 B.C.-322 B.C., Greek philosopher and scientist, student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great


Different things delight different people. But it is my delight to keep the ruling faculty sound without turning away either from any man or from any of the things which happen to men, but looking at and receiving all with welcome eyes and using everything according to its value.

Marcus Aurelius 121-180, Roman emperor and stoic philosopher in "Ta eis heauton" (The things you say to yourself), VIII.43


Capital must be propelled by self-interest; it cannot be enticed by benevolence.

Walter Bagehot 1826-1877, English monetary economist


Commerce is as a heaven, whose sun is trustworthiness and whose moon is truthfulness.

Bahá'u'lláh 1817-1892, Persian nobleman and founder of the Baha’I religion.


Corporation, n., An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility.

Ambrose Bierce 1842-1914, American columnist and writer of horror stories, The Devil's Dictionary 1906


There are two levers to set a man in motion, fear and self-interest.

Napoleon Bonaparte 1769-1821, French general and emperor


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Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.

Warren Buffett 1930-, American Investment Entrepreneur


Earnings can be pliable as putty when a charlatan heads the company reporting them.

Warren Buffett 1930-, American Investment Entrepreneur


All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

Edmund Burke 1729 - 1797, Irish orator, philosopher, & politician


There is a natural principle of benevolence in man, which is in some degree to society what self-love is to the individual.

Joseph Butler 1692-1752, English Bishop of Durham and Theologian in one of his sermons on "Compassion'" (1726)


At this moment, America's highest economic need is higher ethical standards -- standards enforced by strict laws and upheld by responsible business leaders.

George W. Bush, current President of the USA, corporate responsibility speech - July 9, 2002


In making judgments, the Early Kings were perfect, because they made moral principles the starting point of all their undertakings and the root of everything that was beneficial. This principle, however, is something that persons of mediocre intellect never grasp. Not grasping it, they lack awareness, and lacking awareness, they pursue profit. But while they pursue profit, it is absolutely impossible for them to be certain of attaining it.

Lü Bu-wei 246 B.C., Chinese Prime Minister under Emperor Ying Zheng, The Annals of Lü Bu-wei, Lu Shi Chun Qiu


Cheshire Puss, asked Alice. Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here? That depends a good deal on where you want to go, said the Cat. I don’t much care where, said Alice. Then it doesn’t matter which way you go, said the Cat.

Charles "Lewis Carroll" Dodgson 1832-1898, English writer and mathematician, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 1865


 The inherent vice of capitalism is the uneven division of blessings, while the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal division of misery.

Sir Winston Churchill  1874-1965, British Prime Minister and writer


 Old age, especially an honored old age, has so great authority, that this is of more value than all the pleasures of youth.

Marcus Tullius Cicero 106-43  B.C., Roman statesman, writer, lawyer and orator, murdered by Antonius


Learn more on value...
Definition of "Value"
Value Based Management
Values in Organizations

It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value.

Arthur C. Clarke  1917-, British Science Fiction Writer


To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage.

Confucius 551 B.C. - 479 B.C., Chinese philosopher, The Analects, Book II, Chapter XXIV


The mind of the superior man is conversant with righteousness; the mind of the mean man is conversant with gain.

Confucius 551 B.C. - 479 B.C., Chinese philosopher, The Analects, Book IV, Chapter XVI


The things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

II Corinthians 4.1:18


Personal leadership is the process of keeping your vision and values before you and aligning your life to be congruent with them.

Stephen Covey, American leadership consultant and writer


Out of 5.8 billion people in the world, the majority of them are certainly not believers in Buddhism. We can't argue with them, tell them they should be believers. No! Impossible! And, realistically speaking, if the majority of humanity remain nonbelievers, it doesn't matter. No problem! The problem is that the majority have lost, or ignore, the deeper human values - compassion, a sense of responsibility. That is our big concern.

The Dalai Lama in Time, December 1997


In God we trust, all others bring data.

Dr. W. Edwards Deming 1900-1993, American Statistician


It is important that an aim never be defined in terms of activity or methods. It must always relate directly to how life is better for everyone. . . . The aim of the system must be clear to everyone in the system. The aim must include plans for the future. The aim is a value judgment.

Dr. W. Edwards Deming 1900-1993, American Statistician


My aim is not to teach the method that everyone ought to follow in order to conduct his reason well, but solely to reveal how I have tried to conduct my own.

René Descartes 1596-1650, French philosopher and founder of analytic geometry, in Discours de la méthode, 1637


What has never been doubted, has never been proven.

Denis Diderot 1713-1784, French radical Enlightenment philosopher and Chief Editor of the Encyclopédie, in 'Pensées Philosophique'(1746)


It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.

Roy Disney, American Film Writer, Producer, Nephew of Walt Disney


Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. It is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for. A product is not quality because it is hard to make and costs a lot of money, as manufacturers typically believe. This is incompetence. Customers pay only for what is of use to them and gives them value. Nothing else constitutes quality.

Peter F. Drucker, American Management Guru


That business purpose and business mission are so rarely given adequate thought is perhaps the most important cause of business frustration and failure.

Peter F. Drucker, American Management Guru in 'Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices' (1973)


Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.

Peter F. Drucker, American Management Guru


The most important, and indeed the truly unique, contribution of management in the 20th century was the fifty-fold increase in the productivity of the manual worker in manufacturing. The most important contribution management needs to make in the 21st century is similarly to increase the productivity of knowledge work and the knowledge worker.

Peter F. Drucker, American Management Guru


Wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.

Ecclesiastes 10:19


Executives will have to invest more and more on issues such as culture, values, ethos and intangibles. Instead of managers, they need to be cultivators and storytellers to capture minds.

Leif Edvinsson, pioneer on Intellectual Capital in Corporate Longitude 2002


A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.

Dwight David Eisenhower 1890-1969, US General, 34th president of the United States


We never know the worth of water 'til the well is dry.

English Proverb


Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.

Albert Einstein 1879 - 1955, German-born brilliant American theoretical physicist


Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.

Albert Einstein 1879-1955, German-born brilliant American theoretical physicist


The true value of a human being can be found in the degree to which he has attained liberation from the self.

Albert Einstein 1879-1955, German-born brilliant American theoretical physicist


One should guard against preaching to young people success in the customary form as the main aim in life. The most important motive for work in school and in life is pleasure in work, pleasure in its result, and the knowledge of the value of the result to the community.

Albert Einstein 1879-1955, German-born brilliant American theoretical physicist


The value of achievement lies in the achieving.

Albert Einstein 1879-1955, German-born brilliant American theoretical physicist


When we say, then, that pleasure is the end and aim, we do not mean the pleasures of the prodigal or the pleasures of sensuality, as we are understood to do by some through ignorance, prejudice, or willful misrepresentation. By pleasure we mean the absence of pain in the body and of trouble in the soul. It is not an unbroken succession of drinking-bouts and of merrymaking, not sexual love, not the enjoyment of the fish and other delicacies of a luxurious table, which produce a pleasant life; it is sober reasoning, searching out the grounds of every choice and avoidance, and banishing those beliefs through which the greatest disturbances take possession of the soul.

Epicurus 341 B.C.-270 B.C., ancient Greek philosopher, father of hedonism in: "The letter to Menoeceus"


Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.

Epicurus 341 B.C.-270 B.C., ancient Greek philosopher, father of hedonism


Good education teaches in the shortest possible way what one should aim for and what one should try to avoid, and does not show, after the evil has happened: this has gone wrong, be alert for this from now on, but it learns you before you act: when you do this, you will disgrace yourself and disaster will come over you. So let's create this threefold bond: that education will lead nature and that practice will complete education.

Desiderius Erasmus 1466-1536, Dutch renaissance scholar, theologian and humanist, in 'De libero arbitrio diatribe', (1524)


Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.

Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929


A business that makes nothing but money is a poor kind of business.

Henry Ford 1863 – 1947, American industrialist


I conceive that the great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by false estimates they have made of the value of things.

Benjamin Franklin 1706-1790, American politician, inventor and scientist


There is one and only one responsibility of business - to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game.

Milton Friedman 1912-, American prominent economist advocate of free markets, 1976 Nobel price for economics


You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to discover it in himself.

Galileo Galilei 1564-1642, Italian physicist and astronomer


Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed.

Mahatma Gandhi 1869-1948, Indian great ethic-spiritual and political leader, famous for non-violent resistance


Greed is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed cuts through, clarifies, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.

Gordon Gekko - played by Michael Douglas - in the movie Wall Street


In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.

Genesis 1:1-4


The only sustainable competitive advantage is the ability to learn faster than the competition.

Arie de Geus, Dutch writer, author of 'The Living Company'


I can't change the fact that my paintings don't sell. But the time will come when people will recognize that they are worth more than the value of the paints used in the picture.

Vincent van Gogh 1853-1890, Dutch painter


Its not enough, to know, one should also use; its not enough to want, one should also act.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 1749-1832, German poet and Nature philosopher


After all, everybody only hears what he understands.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 1749-1832, German poet and Nature philosopher


One should not think about the result; one does not travel to reach a destination, but to travel.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 1749-1832, German poet and Nature philosopher


The illustrious bishop of Cambrai was of more worth than his chambermaid, and there are few of us that would hesitate to pronounce, if his palace were in flames, and the life of only one of them could be preserved, which of the two ought to be preferred.

William Goldwin 1756-1836, British uncompromising rational thinker and philosophic radical who surprisingly did not apply these principles in his own personal life, in: 'An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Political Justice, and Its Influence on general Virtue and Happiness' (1793)

Treating people with respect will gain one wide acceptance and improve the business.

Tao Zhu Gong 500 B.C., Assistant to the Emperor of Yue, 2nd Business Principle


Huggling over evey ounce in purchasing may not reduce one's cost of capital.

Tao Zhu Gong 500 B.C., Assistant to the Emperor of Yue, 9th Business Principle


Comradeship and trust will emerge naturally when discipline and high standards are enforced.

Tao Zhu Gong 500 B.C., Assistant to the Emperor of Yue, 11th Business Principle


Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.

Heber J. Grant


The psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating, spiraling process marked by progressive subordination of older, lower-order behavior systems to newer, higher-order systems as man's existential problems change.

Clare W. Graves 1914-1986, American clinical psychologist and originator of the "Theory of levels of human existence" in the Futurist (1974)


How do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values?

Alan Greenspan, Chairman of US Federal Reserve Board


Where the legal system fails, violence begins.

Hugo de Groot 1583-1645, Dutch brilliant lawyer and historian in 'De jure belli ac pacis' (About the law of war and peace), still the basis of modern international law (1625)


The assiduous merchant, the laborious husbandman, the active mechanic, and the industrious manufacturer - all orders of men look forward with eager expectation and growing alacrity to the pleasing reward of their toils.

Alexander Hamilton 1755-1804, 'father of the American government'


In a knowledge economy, a good business is a community with a purpose, not a piece of property.

Charles Handy, Harvard Business Review, December 2002


Without commonly shared and widely entrenched moral values and obligations, neither the law, nor democratic government, nor even the market economy will function properly.

Václav Havel 1936-, writer, fighter for human rights and President of Czechoslovakia and later on the Czech Republic


He only profits from praise who values criticism.

Heinrich Heine 1797-1856, German poet


The British Enlightenment represents "the sociology of virtue," the French "the ideology of reason," the American "the politics of liberty". The British moral philosophers were sociologists as much as philosophers; concerned with man in relation to society, they looked to the social virtues for the basis of a healthy and human society. The French had a more exalted mission: to make reason the governing principle of society as well as mind, to "rationalize, "as is were, the world. The Americans, more modestly, sought to create a new "science of politics" that would establish the new republic upon a sound foundation of liberty.

Gertrude Himmelfarb, American cultural historian, professor emeritus of history at the Graduate School of the City University of New York , in The Roads to Modernity (2004)


The issue is the performance of Capitalism against the promises of Communism.

Paul G. Hoffman 1891-1974, President of the Studebaker Corporation and founder of the Committee for Economic Development in 1942


Most men feel themselves entitled by the weakness or misfortune of others to inflict further outrages upon them without fear or reprisal; they take a barbarous pleasure in adding to their afflictions, in making them feel their superiority, in treating them cruelly, in ridiculing them.

D'Holbach 1723-1789, German-born French man of leisure, known as a conversationalist, host, scholar, secular moralist, and philosopher celebrated for his freely spoken views on atheism, determinism, and materialism and for his contributions to Diderot's Encyclopédie, in 'Universal Morality' (1776)


Although gold dust is precious, when it gets in your eyes it obstructs your vision.

Hsi-Tang Chih Tsang 735 – 814, renowned Zen master


There is some benevolence, however small, infused into our bosom; some spark of friendship for human kind; some particle of the dove kneaded into our frame, along with the elements of the wolf and the serpent.

David Hume 1711-1776, Scottish philosopher in 'A Treatise of Human Nature' (1739)

How nearly equal all men are in their bodily force, and even in their mental powers and faculties, till cultivated by education.

David Hume 1711-1776, Scottish philosopher in 'Of the Original Contract' (1741)


That action is best which procures the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers.

Francis Hutcheson 1694-1746, Scottish philosopher in 'Inquiry concerning Moral Good and Evil, sect. 3' (1725)


Morals are too essential to the happiness of man to be risked on the uncertain combinations of the head. She [nature] laid their foundation therefore in sentiment, not science.

Thomas Jefferson 1743-1826, Author of the Declaration of Independence, Anti-Federalist, philosopher and third President of the United States in 'Writings', p. 874 (1786)


Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing wonder and awe - the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.

Immanuel Kant 1724-1804, Prussic-German metaphysician and philosopher in 'Critique of Practical Reason (1788)


When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind: it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, what ever the matter may be.

Lord Kelvin 1824-1907, British scientist


God has many disciples, but few servants.

Thomas a Kempis 1379/1380-1471, Dutch priest, monk and writer devoted to prayer, simplicity, and union with God, in'The Imitation of Christ' (1440)


We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy 1917-1963, 35th president of the United States


My candidate for an ethic to replace the idea of maximizing shareholder value thinking would be building and sharing wealth. Why? Shareholder value thinking was always about creating wealth. The terminology got in the way, however. The very word ‘value’ implies an immediacy that in most cases should have no place in the conduct of great business enterprises.

Alan Kennedy, writer and consultant in ‘The end of shareholder value’-2000


Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.

John Maynard Keynes 1883-1946, English Economist


How absurd men are! They never use the liberties they have, they demand those they do not have. They have freedom of thought, they demand freedom of speech.

Søren Kierkegaard 1813-1855, Danish existentialist philosopher and theologian


If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values -- that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.

Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929-1968, Baptist civil-rights leader in the US


Give just weight and full measure.

Koran, Surah Cattle, 6:149


As for those that have faith and do good works, God will bestow on them their rewards and enrich them from his own abundance.

Koran, Surah Women, 4:173


Anything you lose automatically doubles in value.

Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966
(contributed by Olaf Keltering)


The crux of the accounting problem with intangibles is that to know the past, one must know the future.

Baruch Lev, Knowledge Management Expert, in Intangibles: Management, Measurement and Reporting 2001


Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art...it has no survival value; rather, it is one of those things that give value to survival.

C.S. Lewis 1898-1963, British novelist


When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion.

Abraham Lincoln 1809-1865, American President, abolisher of slavery


Hence naturally flows the great variety of opinions concerning moral rules which are to be found among men, according to the different sorts of happiness they have a prospect of, or propose to themselves; which could not be if practical principles were innate, and imprinted in our minds immediately by the hand of God.

John Locke 1632-1704, English philosopher, political theorist and founder of Empiricism, in 'Essay Concerning Human Understanding' (Bk I, Ch 2, Sec 6) (1689)


Everything of value is defenseless.

Lucebert 1924-1994, Dutch poet and painter


Many men have imagined republics and principalities that never really existed at all. Yet the way men live is so far removed from the way they ought to live that anyone who abandons what is for what should be pursues his downfall rather than his preservation; for a man who strives after goodness in all his acts is sure to come to ruin, since there are so many men who are not good.

Niccolò Machiavelli 1469-1529, Florentine statesman and realistic political philosopher in Il Principe (The Prince), Chapter 15, pg. 56 (1513)


A firm’s income statement may be likened to a bikini – what it reveals is interesting, but what it conceals is vital.

Burton G. Malkiel in A Random Walk Down Wall Street

THEN leave Complaints: Fools only strive
To make a Great an honest Hive.
T'enjoy the World's Conveniencies,
Be famed in War, yet live in Ease
Without great Vices, is a vain
Eutopia seated in the Brain.
Fraud, Luxury, and Pride must live;
We the Benefits receive.

Bernard Mandeville 1670-1733, A Dutch doctor who practiced in London in The Grumbling Hive: or, Knaves Turn'd Honest (1705)


Capital is money, capital is commodities. By virtue of it being value, it has acquired the occult ability to add value to itself. It brings forth living offspring, or, at the least, lays golden eggs.

Karl Marx 1818-1883, German Political Theorist and Social Philosopher


For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Matthew 16:26


The chief value of money lies in the fact that one lives in a world in which it is overestimated.

Henry Louis Mencken 1880-1956, American journalist and critic


Man in general seems a deceitful, tricky, dangerous, perfidious animal; he seems to follow the heat of his blood and passions rather than the ideas which are given to him in childhood and which are the basis of natural law and remorse.

Julien Offray de La Mettrie 1709-1751, French physician and philosopher, the earliest of the materialist writers of the Enlightenment. He has been claimed as a founder of cognitive science. In 'Discours sur le bonheur' (1779)


To you is granted the power of degrading yourself into the lower forms of life, the beasts, and to you is granted the power, contained in your intellect and judgment, to be reborn into the higher forms, the divine.

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola 1463-1494, Italian Renaissance Neoplatonist philosopher, scholar, and humanist whose aim was to conciliate religion and philosophy in 'Oratio de hominis dignitate'


Things only have the value that we give them.

Molière 1622-1673, French actor and playwright


The value of life is not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them; a man may live long yet very little.

Michel de Montaigne 1533-1592, French writer and philosopher


Mankind are influenced by various causes, by the climate, by the religion, by the laws, by the maxims of government, by precedents, morals, and customs; whence is formed a general spirit of nations.

Charles de Secondat, Baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu 1689-1755, French philosopher, writer and ideological co-founder of the American constitution in 'Spirit of the laws' (1748)


The winner of any corporate competition is the company whose moral purpose best fits the prevailing environment and assets.

Nikos Mourkogiannis, management consultant in Strategy + Business, Issue 41, Winter 2005


The reward of one who does something lies in something being done for him. This is considered by God as ma'at. [Note: Ma'at was the name of the ancient Egyptian social system and also of the principle that forms individuals into communities and that gives their actions meaning and direction by ensuring that good is rewarded and evil punished]

Pharao Neferhotep I, XIIIth Dynasty (ca. 1700 B.C.)


Far better to be aware that the Value Opportunity Gap difference between current value and potential value is presently in a 50 to 57 percent range and to know the critical actions necessary to close that GAP, than to waste time trying to pinpoint the exact underperformance amount. An insecure CEO might be impressed by an unnecessarily complex valuation model. For the rest, the dazzle connotes paralysis by analysis, not progress. Precise future estimates exist only in economist' dreams. Pragmatic, outperforming top managers emphasize the key actions to narrow the Value Opportunity Gap.

Peter J. Clark and Stephen Neil, Value Based Management consultants in: The Value Mandate, 2001


How much truth can a spirit bear, how much truth can a spirit dare? ... that became for me more and more the real measure of value.

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844-1900, German classical scholar, philosopher and critic


Men do not value a good deed unless it brings a reward.

Ovid B.C. 43-18 A.D., Roman Poet


What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.

Thomas Paine 1737–1809, Anglo-American political theorist and writer in 'Common Sense' (1791)


Society is produced by our wants and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices.

Thomas Paine 1737–1809, Anglo-American political theorist and writer in 'Common Sense' (1791)


I believe in one God, and no more. I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, not by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.

Thomas Paine 1737–1809, Anglo-American political theorist and writer. Opening pages of 'Age of Reason' (1794)


Thus passes away all man's life. Men seek rest in a struggle against difficulties; and when they have conquered these, rest becomes insufferable. For we think either of the misfortunes we have or of those which threaten us. And even if we should see ourselves sufficiently sheltered on all sides, weariness of its own accord would not fail to arise from the depths of the heart wherein it has its natural roots and to fill the mind with its poison.

Blaise Pascal 1623-1662, French mathematician and philosopher, inventor of the calculator


Our self-interest is a beautiful tool to throw dust in our eyes in a pleasant way.

Blaise Pascal 1623-1662, French mathematician and philosopher, inventor of the calculator


A stockbroker urged me to buy a stock that would triple its value every year. I told him, ''At my age, I don't even buy green bananas.

Claude D. Pepper 1900-1989, U.S. senator, politician and attorney


Short is the road which leads philosophers to wealth. It is built in this way: do not multiply your belongings, but restrain our desires.

Francesco Petrarca 1304-1374, Italian renaissance poet, scholar & humanist, one of greatest figures of Italian literature in "De Vita Solitaria"


Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things.

Philippians 4:8


Alcibiades: But it holds thus, and I shall begin from here to take care of justice.
Socrates: I would like you also to continue; but I am shuddering, not from any mistrust of your nature, but from viewing the strength of the state, lest it prevail over both me and you.

Plato 427 B.C.-347 B.C., famous ancient Greek philosopher, in the dialog "Alcibiades"


Know thyself.

Plato 427 B.C.-347 B.C., famous ancient Greek philosopher, in the dialog "Alcibiades"


Where there is no vision, the people perish.

Proverbs 29:18


Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.

Ayn Rand 1905 - 1982, US Russian-born novelist


Self-interest speaks all languages and plays all roles, even that of the unselfishly.

François La Rochefoucauld 1613-1680, French writer, famous for Les Maximes, in which he tries to prove that the entire human acting is based on self-love


The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be the far greater value than what you get.

Jim Rohn


It is therefore quite certain that pity is a natural sentiment which, by moderating in every individual the activity of self-love, contributes to the mutual preservation of the entire species. It is pity that carries us without reflection to the assistance of those we see suffer; pity that, in the state of Nature, takes the place of Laws, morals, and virtue, with the advantage that no one is tempted to disobey its gentle voice…

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712-1778, Swiss-French philosopher, author, political theorist, and composer whose novels inspired the leaders of the French Revolution in Discourse on Inequality, I.38 (1754)


Virtue is a state of war, and to live in it we have always to combat with ourselves.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712-1778, Swiss-French philosopher, author, political theorist, and composer whose novels inspired the leaders of the French Revolution


The truth is that the value we set upon the opinion of others, and our constant endeavor in respect of it, are each quite out of proportion to any result we may reasonably hope to attain; so that this attention to other people’s attitude may be regarded as a kind of universal mania which every one inherits.

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788-1860, German post-Kantian philosopher, who considered true philosophy as art, and accessible to only a few capable minds, in "Quotations on the wisdom of life", Chapter IV, Section 1, (1886)


The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity with other human beings.

Albert Schweitzer 1875-1965, German Nobel Peace Prize-winning mission doctor and theologian


Virtue depends partly upon training and partly upon practice; you must learn first, and then strengthen your learning by action. If this be true, not only do the doctrines of wisdom help us but the precepts also, which check and banish our emotions by a sort of official decree.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca 1-65, Stoa philosopher in "Letters to Lucilius - On the value of advice" (Epistle XCIV)


Why do we complain of Nature? She has shown herself kindly; life, if you know how to use it, is long.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca 1-65, Stoa philosopher in "On the Shortness of Life ( De Brevitate Vitae)"


Horus (civilization) and Seth (force) are unified by law.

Throne pedestal from Lisht, Sesostris I, anscient Egyptian pharao of the 12th dynasty, Middle Kingdom, as explained by Jan Assman, Professor of Egyptology at the University of Heidelberg in 'The Mind of Egypt' (ca. 1950 B.C.)


Thus the wisdom of what rules, and is first and chief in nature, has made it to be according to the private interest and good of everyone to work towards the general good; which if a creature ceases to promote, he is actually so far wanting to himself and ceases to promote his own happiness and welfare... And thus, Virtue is the good, and Vice the ill of everyone.

The Third Earl of Shaftesbury 1671-1713, English politician and philosopher in 'An Inquiry Concerning Virtue, or Merit' (1699)


Plate sin with gold, and the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks; arm it in rags, a pigmy's straw does pierce it.

William Shakespeare 1564-1616, Playwright and bard, King Lear, Act 4


All that glitters is not Gold. Often have you heard that told.

William Shakespeare 1564-1616, Playwright and bard, The Merchant of Venice


The purest treasure mortal times afford is spotless reputation; that away men are but gilded loam or painted clay.

William Shakespeare 1564-1616, Playwright and bard, The Tragedy of King Richard the Second


For every complex problem there is a simple solution that is wrong.

G.B. Shaw 1856-1950, Irish critic and poet, famous for his 'verbal wit'


Lack of money is the root of all evil.

G.B. Shaw 1856-1950, Irish critic and poet, famous for his 'verbal wit'


People exaggerate the value of things they haven't got: everybody worships truth and unselfishness because they have no experience with them.

G.B. Shaw 1856-1950, Irish critic and poet, famous for his 'verbal wit'


Currencies fluctuate; commodity prices fluctuate. Why should we expect earnings to rise in a straight line upward.

William G. Shenkir, University of Virginia commerce professor who worked for the U.S. FASB in the 1970s


Ethics and religion must not stay at home when we go to work.

Achille Silvestrini, Cardinal of the Roman Curia, May 20th, 2004, at a congress of the Union of Industrialists of Rome, organized under the theme "Business, Ethics and Legality"


How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature which interest him in the fortune of others and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it. Of this kind is pity or compassion, the emotion which we feel for the misery of others when we either see it or are made to conceive it in a very lively matter.... By the imagination we place ourselves in his situation. We enter, as it were, into his body and become in some measure the same person with him.

Adam Smith 1723-1790, Scottish philosopher and economist. Opening sentences of :The Theory of Moral Sentiments, 1759


Every individual endeavors to employ his capital so that its produce may be of greatest value. He generally neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. He intends only his own security, only his own gain. And he is in this led by an invisible hand to promote an end, which has no part of his intention. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.

Adam Smith 1723-1790, Scottish philosopher and economist in: The Wealth of Nations, 1776


The patrimony which every man has in his own labour, as it is the original foundation of all other property, so it is the most sacred and inviolable. The patrimony of a poor man lies in the strength and dexterity of his hand; and to hinder him from employing this strength and dexterity in what manner he thinks proper without injury to his neighbour is a plain violation of this most sacred property.

Adam Smith 1723-1790, Scottish philosopher and economist in: The Wealth of Nations, 1776


The unexamined life is not worth living.

Socrates 469-399 B.C., Ancient Greek ethicist-philosopher, Apol. 38a


Not life, but good life, is to be chiefly valued.

Socrates 469-399 B.C., Ancient Greek ethicist-philosopher


As men’s habits of mind differ, so that some more readily embrace one form of faith, some another, for what moves one to pray may move another to scoff, I conclude ... that everyone should be free to choose for himself the foundations of his creed, and that faith should be judged only by its fruits.

Baruch (or also: Benedictus) de Spinoza 1632-1676, Dutch deductive-rational pantheistic philosopher, founder of the European Enlightenment in 'A Theologico-Political Treatise' (1670)


A person is free only insofar as he is in a position at every moment in his life to follow himself.

Rudolf Steiner 1861-1925, Austrian anthroposophic philosopher in: The Philosophy Of Freedom, Chapter 9, 1894


You know the value of every merchandise, but you do not know your own value -- that is stupidity....

The Sufi Path of Love, The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi


There is no value in life except what you choose to place upon it and no happiness in any place except what you bring to it yourself.

Henri David Thoreau 1817-1862, American poet and philosopher


The principle of self-interest rightly understood is not a lofty one, but it is clear and sure. It does not aim at mighty objects, but it attains without excessive exertion all those at which it aims. As it lies within the reach of all capacities, everyone can without difficulty learn and retain it. By its admirable conformity to human weaknesses it easily obtains great dominion; nor is that dominion precarious, since the principle checks one personal interest by another, and uses, to direct the passions, the very same instrument that excites them.

The principle of self-interest rightly understood produces no great acts of self-sacrifice, but it suggests daily small acts of self-denial. By itself it cannot suffice to make a man virtuous; but it disciplines a number of persons in habits of regularity, temperance, moderation, foresight, self- command; and if it does not lead men straight to virtue by the will, it gradually draws them in that direction by their habits. If the principle of interest rightly understood were to sway the whole moral world, extraordinary virtues would doubtless be more rare; but I think that gross depravity would then also be less common. The principle of interest rightly understood perhaps prevents men from rising far above the level of mankind, but a great number of other men, who were falling far below it, are caught and restrained by it. Observe some few individuals, they are lowered by it; survey mankind, they are raised.

I am not afraid to say that the principle of self-interest rightly understood appears to me the best suited of all philosophical theories to the wants of the men of our time, and that I regard it as their chief remaining security against themselves. Towards it, therefore, the minds of the moralists of our age should turn; even should they judge it to be incomplete, it must nevertheless be adopted as necessary.

Alexis de Tocqueville 1805-1859, French social philosopher in 'Democracy in America' (1835-1840)(2nd volume, section 2, chapter 8) a highly positive and optimistic account of American government and society


We all want to live. And in large part we make our logic according to what we like. But not having attained our aim and continuing to live is cowardice. This is a thin dangerous line. To die without gaming one's aim is a dog's death and fanaticism.

Yamamoto Tsunetomo 1659-1710, Japanese samurai warrior and Buddhist priest
(contributed by Nate Baber)


To permit a large number of men to live free of charge is to encourage laziness and all the disorders that follow; it is to render the condition of the idler preferable to that of the man who works... The race of industrious citizens is replaced by a vile population composed of vagabond beggars free to commit all sorts of crimes.

Anne Robert Jacques Turgot 1727-1781, French economic theorist, controller general of finances and philosopher, on 'Fondations' in Encyclopédie, VII, 75


October: This is one of the particularly dangerous months to invest in stocks. Other dangerous months are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August and February.

Mark Twain 1835-1910, American humorist and writer, famous for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn


Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy you must have somebody to share it with.

Mark Twain 1835-1910, American humorist and writer, famous for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn


All existing things are really one. We regard those that are beautiful and rare as valuable, and those that are ugly as foul and rotten The foul and rotten may come to be transformed into what is rare and valuable, and the rare and valuable into what is foul and rotten. Therefore it is said that one vital energy pervades the world. Consequently, the sage values Oneness.

Chuang Tzu 389-286 B.C., Chinese interpreter of Taoism


Like migrating gnus the investors follow each other and the analysts. Sometimes they encounter a ravine on their journey.

ir. drs. Jeroen van der Veer, CEO Royal Dutch/Shell Group, January 2002


There is only one moral, as there is only one geometry.

Voltaire 1694-1778, French philosopher, writer and deist satirist, the embodiment of the 18th-century French Enlightenment, a crusader against tyranny and bigotry.


Religion must be destroyed among respectable people and left to the canaille large and small, for whom it was made.

Voltaire 1694-1778, French philosopher, writer and deist, the embodiment of the 18th-century French Enlightenment, a crusader against tyranny and bigotry.


There is no such thing as absolute value in this world. You can only estimate what a thing is worth to you.

Charles Dudley Warner 1829-1900, American writer


And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

George Washington 1732-1799, the first President of the United States in his 'Farewell Address' (1796)


While luxury and profaneness have been increasing on one hand, on the other, benevolence and compassion toward all forms of human woe have increased in a manner not known before, from the earliest ages of the world.

John Wesley 1703-1791, British founder and preacher of the Methodist Church (ca. 1790)


This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.

Western Union internal memo, 1876


Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Oscar Wilde 1854-1900, Anglo-Irish dramatist and poet


 

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Last updated: 07-04-2014


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