10 Quotes by Great Philosophers That Are Still Relevant Today

by Tone Breistrand 11 days ago in quotes

There is a lot to learn from the great minds of our past

10 Quotes by Great Philosophers That Are Still Relevant Today
Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

We all know that history is an important part of us, as we are continuously developing our world and moving forward. In the last centuries, great changes have taken place and our societies have been shaped to what they are today. However, a lot of the content produced by philosophers several hundred years ago is still relevant for us today, and can guide us on our journey towards a better world. Here are ten quotes by some of the greatest thinkers in history, that are still useful today.

Immanuel Kant (1724 - 1804)

"We are not rich by what we possess but by what we can do without."

It's important to remember that we don't need a huge number of belongings to live a good life, and our richness isn't measured by how much we have. We need to focus on appreciating what we do have and taking care of our things, instead of buying excessive amounts. Rather than viewing items as disposable, we need to consider our footprint on the environment and put more thought into our consumption. Minimising your belongings also helps clear your mind and space, and can take away a lot of stress.

René Descartes (1596 - 1650)

"Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it."

We need to take away the power of other people's words, when they are uttered simply to inflict pain. Their insults are invalid and don't matter. Remind yourself that you're better than them, and that no one else has the right to put you down. Likewise, nothing good comes from biting back. Don't let yourself fall down to their level, but rise above petty behaviour and show that you are the winner in this.

Sir Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626)

"In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present."

In order to fully appreciate the good things, you need perspective. When you know what the bad side to something feels like, you'll appreciate the good side so much more. When you've been through hardship, you know how much the good times are worth, and you stop taking things for granted.

Voltaire (1694 - 1778)

"Don’t think money does everything or you are going to end up doing everything for money."

It's sad that some people are motivated solely by riches. If the most important thing to you is money, then it's easy to lose focus on the other parts of your life, and you'll make huge sacrifices just to cash in. Of course, everyone needs money to live, but there are countless examples of people who got themselves in heaps of trouble because they lost sight of what's acceptable to do to get it, and what's really important. You can't bring your fortune with you when you die, so you really shouldn't make it your one goal in life.

John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873)

"A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury."

Staying silent and watching others suffer, when you would be able to act and help, is a great disservice to the world. We must all stand together and help each other in any way we can, as not everyone is able to aid themselves. If you have the power to help someone, you always should. Someone needs you. We are all citizens of the world, we all live on this planet together, and we should all do our bit.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 - 1778)

“Why should we build our happiness on the opinions of others, when we can find it in our own hearts?”

We need to base our happiness on our own wants and needs, and not by how great or successful other people think we are. No one knows better what would make us happy than ourselves, so why would we even care what someone else thinks? Other's opinions of you aren't important, what matters is what you're doing what's right for you, and focusing on creating your own happiness.

John Locke (1632 - 1704)

“New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not common.”

This is extremely relevant in today's society. With the world moving towards becoming more open and accepting towards everyone, there is, of course, resistance from some. Let's use the legalisation of same-sex marriage as an example. Nothing's wrong with it and it's not harming anyone, and yet a great number of people are against it, many of these because it's new to them and not the "norm". With everything that faces conservative doubts, it's going to take time to get everyone on board.

Maximilien Robespierre (1758 - 1794)

"Any law which violates the inalienable rights of man is essentially unjust and tyrannical; it is not a law at all."

Regardless of the type of government a country has, human rights must always remain untouched. Unfortunately, this isn't the reality in all the countries of the world, but it's something that everyone should strive for. Luckily, there are many great people out there who use their voices for the voiceless, and organisations fighting for universal rights for everyone. Eventually we'll achieve a world free of injustice and tyranny.

David Hume (1711 - 1776)

“The life of man is of no greater importance to the universe than that of an oyster.”

I think it's a well-known fact that our society today experiences a disconnect with the value of life, as animals are often viewed as not as worthy or even disposable. We need to focus on the idea of maintaining a balance in the world, and us all existing together in a more harmonic state, rather than treating animals like they're so worthless we can use them for testing nail polish on.

Charles Montesquieu (1689 - 1755)

"If one only wished to be happy, this could be easily accomplished; but we wish to be happier than other people, and this is always difficult, for we believe others to be happier than they are."

In today's society people have a habit of comparing themselves to others way too much, and developing misconceptions that they need to do what they do or have what they have to be as happy as them, all the while not knowing how happy these people really are. This is too much pressure to put on oneself, as well as a waste of energy rather than seeking your own source of happiness.

Which great thinker from past centuries do you think the world should listen to more?


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Tone Breistrand
Tone Breistrand
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Tone Breistrand

Hi there! I am a Norwegian writer living in London. I like to write about love, Disney and finding happiness.

See all posts by Tone Breistrand