„The greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices as well as of the greatest virtues.“

Last update June 12, 2021. History
René Descartes photo
René Descartes45
French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist 1596 - 1650

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„Heaven and Hell suppose two distinct species of men, the good and the bad; but the greatest part of mankind float betwixt vice and virtue.“

—  David Hume Scottish philosopher, economist, and historian 1711 - 1776

Essay on the Immortality of the Soul
Context: Heaven and Hell suppose two distinct species of men, the good and the bad; but the greatest part of mankind float betwixt vice and virtue. -- Were one to go round the world with an intention of giving a good supper to the righteous, and a sound drubbing to the wicked, he would frequently be embarrassed in his choice, and would find that the merits and the demerits of most men and women scarcely amount to the value of either.

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W. H. Auden photo

„In most poetic expressions of patriotism, it is impossible to distinguish what is one of the greatest human virtues from the worst human vice, collective egotism.“

—  W. H. Auden, book Forewords and Afterwords

"C.P. Cavafy", p. 341
Forewords and Afterwords (1973)
Context: In most poetic expressions of patriotism, it is impossible to distinguish what is one of the greatest human virtues from the worst human vice, collective egotism.
The virtue of patriotism has been extolled most loudly and publicly by nations that are in the process of conquering others, by the Roman, for example, in the first century B. C., the French in the 1790s, the English in the nineteenth century, and the Germans in the first half of the twentieth. To such people, love of one's country involves denying the right of others, of the Gauls, the Italians, the Indians, the Poles, to love theirs.

William Hazlitt photo
Frances Burney photo

„Money is the source of the greatest vice, & that Nation which is most rich, is most wicked.“

—  Frances Burney English writer 1752 - 1840

The Early Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney, vol. 1, p. 48, journal entry, November 17, 1768.
Letters

Epicurus photo

„The greatest reward of righteousness is peace of mind.“

—  Epicurus ancient Greek philosopher -341 - -269 BC

Attributed to Epicurus by Clement of Alexandria in Stromata
Original: (el) Δικαιοσύνης καρπὸς μέγιστος ἀταραξία.

Denis Diderot photo

„In any country where talent and virtue produce no advancement, money will be the national god. Its inhabitants will either have to possess money or make others believe that they do. Wealth will be the highest virtue, poverty the greatest vice.“

—  Denis Diderot French Enlightenment philosopher and encyclopædist 1713 - 1784

Observations on the Drawing Up of Laws (1774)
Context: In any country where talent and virtue produce no advancement, money will be the national god. Its inhabitants will either have to possess money or make others believe that they do. Wealth will be the highest virtue, poverty the greatest vice. Those who have money will display it in every imaginable way. If their ostentation does not exceed their fortune, all will be well. But if their ostentation does exceed their fortune they will ruin themselves. In such a country, the greatest fortunes will vanish in the twinkling of an eye. Those who don't have money will ruin themselves with vain efforts to conceal their poverty. That is one kind of affluence: the outward sign of wealth for a small number, the mask of poverty for the majority, and a source of corruption for all.

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„Once writing has become your major vice and greatest pleasure only death can stop it.“

—  Ernest Hemingway American author and journalist 1899 - 1961

Paris Review interview (1958)

William Byrd photo

„Care for thy soul as thing of greatest price,
Made to the end to taste of power divine,
Devoid of guilt, abhorring sin and vice“

—  William Byrd British composer 1543 - 1623

Poem: Care for Thy Soul as Thing of Greatest Price http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/care-for-thy-soul-as-thing-of-greatest-price/

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„Upon the whole, a contented mind is the greatest blessing a man can enjoy in this world.“

—  Joseph Addison politician, writer and playwright 1672 - 1719

No. 574 (30 July 1714).
The Spectator (1711–1714)

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„That member is then capable of the greatest variety of motions; it can compel the most varied instruments to execute the most diverse tasks.“

—  Hermann von Helmholtz physicist and physiologist 1821 - 1894

"On the Conservation of Force" (1862), p. 280
Popular Lectures on Scientific Subjects (1881)
Context: The external work of man is of the most varied kind as regards the force or ease, the form and rapidity, of the motions used on it, and the kind of work produced. But both the arm of the blacksmith who delivers his powerful blows with the heavy hammer, and that of the violinist who produces the most delicate variations in sound, and the hand of the lacemaker who works with threads so fine that they are on the verge of the invisible, all these acquire the force which moves them in the same manner and by the same organs, namely, the muscles of the arm. An arm the muscles of which are lamed is incapable of doing any work; the moving force of the muscle must be at work in it, and these must obey the nerves, which bring to them orders from the brain. That member is then capable of the greatest variety of motions; it can compel the most varied instruments to execute the most diverse tasks.

Isocrates photo

„The greatest thing in the small compass is a sound mind in a human body.“

—  Isocrates ancient greek rhetorician -436 - -338 BC

Verse 40.
To Demonicus
Context: The greatest thing in the small compass is a sound mind in a human body. Strive with all your body to be a lover of toil, and with your soul to be a lover of wisdom, in order that with the one you may have the strength to carry out your resolves, and with the other the intelligence to foresee what is for your good.

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