Not Exactly For The Quote-A-Day Calendar


You know those quote-a-day calendars? The ones that have inspirational or ponder-provoking messages like:

you-are-doomed

Oh wait, not like that. Rather, like this:

griffith-joyner-quote

Sometimes philosophers end up on these things, or in similar collections of quotes, because they’ve supposedly said something that’s interpreted as inspirational or moving. For example:

aristotle-quality-act-habit

I’m pretty sure that Aristotle didn’t say exactly that, and I’m more than pretty sure he didn’t say it about sofas, but you get the gist, and if you’d like you can get the above as a large wall decal.

Sometimes the quotes are accurate, though for some of them it is puzzling why they’re included alongside Disneyisms like “If you can dream it, you can do it.” The latest example of this is from Yale University Press. Behold the following from their Facebook feed:

quine-inspirational-quote-not-really

Ponder that, people. Can you feel the ontology move you?

This, of course, requires a response, and the best one I can think of is for us to find other quotes from philosophers that can be snuck into collections of inspirational or wonder-inducing quotes, despite not meaning anything inspirational at all. The best ones will have the largest gap between their inspirational impression and relatively dispassionate meaning.

(via Matt McAdam)

Related: “Motivational” Posters from Philosophers.

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David Morrow
David Morrow
4 years ago

Nothing is impossible. — ParmenidesReport

Greg Gauthier
4 years ago

“god is dead”Report

Pierre Le Houte
Pierre Le Houte
4 years ago

“There’s no success like failure and failure’s no success at all.” Bob DylanReport

Eric Wiland
4 years ago

1 The world is everything that is the case.
1.1 The world is the totality of facts, not of things.
1.11 The world is determined by the facts, and by these being all the facts.
2.02 The object is simple.
2.024 Substance is what exists independently of what is the case.
2.1 We make to ourselves pictures of facts.
3.01 The totality of true thoughts is a picture of the world.
5.473 Logic must take care of itself.
5.6 The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.
5.621 The world and life are one.
5.63 I am my world. (The microcosm.)
6.13 Logic is not a theory but a reflexion of the world. Logic is transcendental.
6.421 … Ethics are transcendental. (Ethics and æsthetics are one.)
6.5 …The riddle does not exist.
7 Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.Report

upstate upstart
upstate upstart
4 years ago

“Paradise on the cheap, like the famous free lunch, is not to be had.” -David Lewis

The extended quote would also be suitable for a larger post: “Paradise on the cheap, like the famous free lunch, is not to be had. Make of this what you will. Join the genuine modal realists; or foresake genuine and ersatz worlds alike.”Report

Critilo
Critilo
4 years ago

“On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” —H. L. Mencken

“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.” —H. L. Mencken

“The only ‘ism’ that has justified itself is pessimism.” —George Orwell

(Imagine tearing off a boundlessly saccharine calendar sheet and being greeted thusly soon after waking.)Report

Cleber Corrêa
Cleber Corrêa
4 years ago

“Never mind mind, essence is not essential, and matter doesn’t matter”, Nelson Goodman.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
4 years ago

“Is everything pointless?” – Frank Arntzenius.

(This is a discussion of “gunky ” theories of spacetime)Report

SCM
SCM
4 years ago

“Das Nichts nichtet” usually gets me out of bed in the morning.Report

Kenny Easwaran
4 years ago

A math camp that I have taught at on several occasions had a t-shirt focusing on the quote “existence is freedom”, by the mathematician David Hilbert. Well actually, it had the full sentence, but with those words in large print – “In mathematics, existence is freedom from contradiction.”Report

Peter Alward
Peter Alward
4 years ago

“One must, it is true, forgive one’s enemies– but not before they have been hanged.”

Heinrich HeineReport

L.E. Ran
L.E. Ran
4 years ago

“Snow is white” is true iff snow is white. — Alfred TarskiReport

Anna
Anna
4 years ago

“That which doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger” – Guess who?Report

Tristan Haze
4 years ago

Identities are necessary. – Kripke (para.)Report

James Dow
4 years ago

“Wittgenstein might have been a shortstop.” — John HaugelandReport

Tim O'Keefe
4 years ago

“I spit upon the noble, and all those who vainly admire it, when
it produces no pleasure.” –EpicurusReport

Socrates
Socrates
4 years ago

“Go outside and enjoy the sunshine.”Report

Socrates
Socrates
4 years ago

“Don’t believe the hype.”Report

recent grad
recent grad
4 years ago

Leibniz: “everything happens for a reason”.Report

Corey
4 years ago

“Dogmas change and our knowledge is deceptive; but Nature never errs. Her procedure is sure, and she never conceals it.” – Arthur “show-’em-how-it’s-done” Schopenhauer.Report

Rebecca Root
Rebecca Root
4 years ago

“It don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that swing” – EllingtonReport

Sara
Sara
4 years ago

“Now, the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum, what might be right for you, may not be right for some…”

Friedrich NietzscheReport

Richard Zach
Richard Zach
4 years ago

Is Yale UP misspelling Quine’s middle name some kind of dig at Harvard?Report

Christopher
4 years ago

“To think is the only moral act.” – William James.

In context it means that there is no act of “will” distinct from the act of thinking about a given action, that is, I think about moving my arm and (given healthy neurology) my arm moves. I don’t think about moving my arm, and then have to say “make it so!”! Thus, to the extent we tend to think of moral-judgment worthy acts as willed actions, we should revise that assessment and think about them as thought-about actions, “to think is the only moral act.”

The cool part is, out of context it SOUNDS LIKE James is making some proto-Arendtian point here. If we think — if we avoid banality — we will be moral (good) people. That’s not what he is saying — and given how much thinking the Heideggers of the world do it doesn’t hold up. Sounds good, though.Report

Doc F Emeritus
Doc F Emeritus
4 years ago

Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.
Friedrich Nietzsche

You cannot use fingers to demonstrate fingers not being fingers.
Chuang Tzu

Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.
George CarlinReport