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Anthony Ashley Cooper Shaftesbury Quotes

English philosopher
(1671 - 1713)

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A grain of honesty and native worth is of more value than all the adventitious ornaments, estates, or preferments, for the sake of which some of the better sort so oft turn knaves.

A man is by nothing so much himself, as by his temper and the character of his passions and affections. If he loses what is manly and worthy in these, he is as much lost to himself, as when he loses his memory and understanding.

As a malicious censure, carefully worded and pronounced with assurance, is apt to pass with mankind for shrewd wit, so a virulent maxim in bold expressions, though without any justness of thought, is readily received for true philosophy.

Giving advice is sometimes only showing our wisdom at the expense of another.

Gravity is the very essence of imposture; it not only mistakes other things, but is apt perpetually to mistake itself.

I would be virtuous for my own sake, though nobody were to know it; as I would be clean for my own sake, though nobody were to see me.

In nature, all is managed for the best with perfect frugality and just reserve, profuse to none, but bountiful to all; never employing on one thing more than enough, but with exact economy retrenching the superfluous, and adding force to what is principal in everything.

In poetry, which is all fable, truth still is the perfection.

It is not a head merely, but a heart and resolution, which complete the real philosopher.

It is the hardest thing in the world to be a good thinker without being a good self-examiner.

It is the same with understanding as with eyes; to a certain size and make just so much light is necessary, and no more. Whatever is beyond, brings darkness and confusion.

It was the saying of an ancient sage that humor was the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor; for a subject that would not bear raillery was suspicious, and a jest that would not bear a serious examination was certainly false wit.

Never did any soul do good, but it came readier to do the same again, with more enjoyment. Never was love, or gratitude, or bounty practised, but with increasing joy, which made the practiser still more in love with the fair act.

Of all the adult male criminals in London, not two in a hundred have entered upon a course of crime who have lived an honest life up to the age of twenty. - Almost all who enter on a course of crime do so between the ages of eight and sixteen.

Pedantry and bigotry are millstones, able to sink the best book which carries the least part of their dead weight. The temper of the pedagogue suits not with the age; and the world, however it may be taught, will not be tutored.

Pleasure and pain, beauty and deformity, good and ill, seemed to me everywhere interwoven; and one with another made a pretty mixture, agreeable enough in the main. 'Twas the same, I fancied, as in some of those rich stuffs where the flowers and ground were oddly put together, with such irregular work and contrary colors, as looked ill in the pattern, but natural and well in the piece.

Prejudice is a mist, which in our journey through the world often dims the brightest and obscures the best of all the good and glorious objects that meet us on our way.

Reason and virtue alone can bestow liberty.

Temper, if ungoverned, governs the whole man.

The greatest of fools is he who imposes on himself, and in his greatest concerns thinks he knows that which he has least studied, and of which he is profoundly ignorant.

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