Educational Quotes by Famous Philosophers

Quotations from Confucius, Aristotle, Euripides, Seneca, Cicero, Horace, William James, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, John Fowles, George Bernard Shaw

Study the past if you would define the future.
I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge; I am one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in seeking it there.
Learning without thought is labour lost; thought without learning is perilous. (Confucius, Analects)

Those who educate children well are more to be honoured than parents, for these gave only life, those the art of living well. (Aristotle, In Education)

The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living from the dead. (Aristotle, In Education)

All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth. (Aristotle)

Learned we may be with another man’s learning: we can only be wise with wisdom of our own:
[I hate a sage who is not wise for himself] (Euripides)

What use is knowledge if there is no understanding? (Stobaeus)

‘non vitae sed scholae discimus’. [We are taught for the schoolroom not for life] (Seneca)

Now we are not merely to stick knowledge on to the soul: we must incorporate it into her; the soul should not be sprinkled with knowledge but steeped in it. (Seneca)

And if knowledge does not change her and make her imperfect state better then it is preferable just to leave it alone. Knowledge is a dangerous sword; in a weak hand which does not know how to wield it it gets in its master’s way and wounds him, ‘ut fuerit melius non didicisse’ [so that it would have been better not to have studied at all] (de Montaigne quoting Cicero)

She (philosophy) is equally helpful to the rich and poor: neglect her, and she equally harms the young and old. (Horace)

‘As a man who knows how to make his education into a rule of life not a means of showing off; who can control himself and obey his own principles.’ The true mirror of our discourse is the course of our lives. (de Montaigne quoting Cicero)

THE TEACHER AS A NECESSARY EVIL. Let us have as few people as possible between the productive minds and the hungry and recipient minds! The middlemen almost unconsciously adulterate the food which they supply. It is because of teachers that so little is learned, and that so badly. (Nietzsche, 1880)

What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult. (Sigmund Freud)

To teach how to live without certainty, and yet without being paralysed by hesitation, is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can do for those who study it. (Bertrand Russell, The History of Western Philosophy)

To begin with our knowledge grows in spots. ..What you first gain, ... is probably a small amount of new information, a few new definitions, or distinctions, or points of view. But while these special ideas are being added, the rest of your knowledge stands still, and only gradually will you line up your previous opinions with the novelties I am trying to instil, and to modify to some slight degree their mass. ..Your mind in such processes is strained, and sometimes painfully so, between its older beliefs and the novelties which experience brings along. (William James, Pragmatism)

Chess permits freedom of permutations within a framework of set rules and prescribed movements. Because a chess player cannot move absolutely as he likes, either in terms of the rules or in terms of the exigencies of the particular game, has he no freedom of move? The separate games of chess I play with existence has different rules from your and every other game; the only similarity is that each of our games always has rules. The gifts, inherited and acquired, that are special to me are the rules of the game; and the situation I am in at any given moment is the situation of the game. My freedom is the choice of action and the power of enactment I have within the rules and situation of the game. (Fowles, 1964. The Aristos)

Our present educational systems are all paramilitary. Their aim is to produce servants or soldiers who obey without question and who accepts their training as the best possible training. Those who are most successful in the state are those who have the most interest in prolonging the state as it is; they are also those who have the most say in the educational system, and in particular by ensuring that the educational product they want is the most highly rewarded. (Fowles, 1964. The Aristos)

Every serious student of the subject knows that the stability of a civilisation depends finally on the wisdom with which it distributes its wealth and allots its burdens of labour, and on the veracity of the instruction it provides for its children. We do not distribute the wealth at all: we throw it into the streets to be scrambled for by the strongest and the greediest who will stoop to such scrambling, after handing the lion’s share to the professional robbers politely called owners. We cram our children with lies, and punish anyone who tries to enlighten them. Our remedies for the consequences of our folly are tariffs, inflation, wars, vivisections and inoculations – vengeance, violences, black magic. (George Bernard Shaw)

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