Foundation for the Study of Individualism

A Non-profit, Educational and Research Organization Since 1972 [formerly, “School of Communication”]

“Cogito ergo sum”—I think, therefore I am—Descartes, 1637

Hall of Fame Quotes

Some quotes can be seen as distinctive in that they focus on the pillars of relative thinking and can be seen as hurdles to absolute thinkers.  Such quotes can be inspiring every day, all day long.  

We have five focus points:  (1) Individual primacy, (2) change, (3) interaction, (4) perspective, and (5) jurisdiction.   


“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”

Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor from 161 to 180 CE and a Stoic philosopher.
Focus:  Individual Primacy

“Silence is very important.  The silence between the notes is as important as the notes themselves.” 

Wolfgang Mozart (1756—1791), prolific composer.
Focus:  Interaction

“Within you is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.”

Hermann Hesse (1877—1962), German-Swiss poet, novelist, and painter. 
Focus:  Internal Locus of Control

“I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.”

Galileo Galilei (1564—1642), Italian astronomer, physicist and engineer.  
Focus:  Perspective

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe.  To be your own man is hard business.  If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened.  But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”

Rudyard Kipling (1865—1936), English novelist and journalist; born in British India. 
Focus:  Individual Primacy

“If you can’t offend, you can’t be honest.”

Thomas Paine (1737—1809), Founding Father, political theorist, and revolutionary.
Focus:  Perspective

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men.  True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.”

Ernest Hemingway (1899—1961), American novelist, 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature. 
Focus:  Individual Primacy 

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

Aristotle (384—322 BCE), ancient Greek philosopher, writings covered natural sciences, philosophy, linguistics, economics, politics, psychology, and the arts. 
Focus:  Interaction

“The pursuit of perfection often impedes improvement.” 

George Will (b. 1941), political commentator, Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. 
Focus:  Perspective

“Doubt is uncomfortable, certainty is ridiculous.” 

Voltaire (1694—1778), writer, philosopher, historian, advocate of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and separation of church and state. 
Focus:  Perspective

“The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.” 

Socrates (470—399 BCE), Greek philosopher from Athens who is credited as the founder of Western philosophy. 
Focus:  Interactions

“If you are alone you belong entirely to yourself…If you are accompanied by even one companion you belong only half to yourself, or even less, in proportion to the thoughtlessness of his conduct; and if you have more than one companion you will fall more deeply into the same plight.”

Leonardo da Vinci, Italian artist, c. 1500.    
Focus:  Internal Locus of Control

“The right to be let alone is the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by civilized men.”

Justice Brandeis, famous dissent in Olmstead, SCOTUS.
Focus:  Individual Primacy

“The individual regresses in a crowd and descends several rungs in the ladder of civilization.”

Gustave Le Bon (1841—1931), anthropology, social psychologist, medicine, and physics. 
Focus:  Interaction

“You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself.”

Galileo Galilei  (1564—1642), Italian astronomer, physicist and engineer. 
Focus:  Internal Locus of Control

“Anyone who has begun to think places some portion of the world in jeopardy.” 

John Dewey (1859—1952), American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer.
Focus:  Change

“Making mistakes is the privilege of the active.  It is always the mediocre people who are negative, who spend their time proving that they were not wrong.”

Ingvar Kamprad, Ikea Founder .
Focus:  Internal Locus of Control

“Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character.”

Heraclitus (c. 500 BCE), ancient Greek pre-Socratic philosopher.
Focus:  Change

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Russian novelist, four years in a Siberian prison camp, acclaimed novel Crime and Punishment (1866). 
Focus:  Individual Primacy

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet 
Focus:  Change

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”    

C.S. Lewis (1898—1963), British writer, literary scholar, and Anglican lay theologian.
Focus:  Change 

“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.”

Michelangelo (1475—1564), Italian sculptor—Pietà and David; painter—Sistine Chapel.
Focus:  Interaction

“The thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that which makes you lonely.”

Lorraine Hansberry (1930—1965), playwright and writer, first African American female author to have a play performed on Broadway.
Focus:  Perspective 

“I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.”

Booker T. Washington (1856—1915), leader in the African-American community, educator, author, orator, and adviser to several presidents of the United States.
Focus:  Internal Locus of Control

“Have you learn’d lessons only of those who admired you, and were tender with you, and stood aside for you? Have you not learn’d great lessons from those who reject you, and brace themselves against you? Or who treat you with contempt, or dispute the passage with you?”

Walt Whitman, Stronger Lessons 
Focus:  Perspective

“And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and his brother, saying ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord.”

Jeremiah 31:34; c, 627 B.C. 
Focus:  Individual Primacy

“All except the shallowest living involves tearing up one rough draft after another.”

Msg. John J. Sullivan, The Leaflet Missal  
Focus:  Change