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A collection of Will Durant Quotes about civilization, books, philosophy, India, history, life, science, failures, mistakes, education, liberty and much more.

100 Top Inspirational Will Durant Quotes

Quick Facts

Famous As
Writer, Historian, Philosopher

Born On

Died On

Born In
North Adams, Massachusetts

Died At Age

Will Durant, an American philosopher, historian and 1968's Pulitzer Prize winning author co-wrote 'The Story of Civilization', an eleven-volume work with his writer wife, Ariel Durant. He perceived philosophy as a means to unify and humanize historical knowledge. His groundbreaking works- 'The Pleasure of Philosophy' and 'The Story of Philosophy' are contemporary application of his knowledge on American history, the Bible, religion, evolution as well as rebuilding and decline of human civilizations. Both his books are most successful histroriographical editorials in American history. Will, who's a recipient of 'Presidential Medal of Freedom' in 1977, started off as a reported for the New York Evening Journal. Following his graduation at St. Peter's College, Durant began his professional career as a school teacher. Will's life dramatically changed after the wedding. He quit teaching and went on to develop philosophical views regarding the society. He and his wife presented insightful stories of Western life, as it progressed through different ages. Will and Ariel's life is a struggle for equal wages, fair working condition, American labor rights and women security. Due to his revolutionary views and skilled tongue, he'll forever be remembered as an amazingly talented creative genius who inspired younger generations to think beyond the social realms without historical restrictions and boundaries. He had a profound impact on several subjects through his writings and thoughts. We have scanned through his most popular work and life observations to present some of Will Durant’s quotes. Here is a collection of Will Durant Quotes about civilization, books, philosophy, India, history, life, science, failures, mistakes, education, liberty and much more.

Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.

- The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.

- Will Durant

Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

- Will Durant

To speak ill of others is a dishonest way of praising ourselves. . . let us be above such transparent egotism.

- Will Durant

How much more suffering is caused by the thought of death than by death itself.

- The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

Tolerance grows only when faith loses certainty; certainty is murderous.

- Will Durant

Sixty years ago I knew everything; now I know nothing; education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

- Will Durant

Those who have suffered much become very bitter or very gentle.

- Will Durant

Forget mistakes. Forget failure. Forget everything except what you're going to do now and do it. Today is your lucky day

- Will Durant

A nation is born stoic, and dies epicurean

- Will Durant

Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.

- Will Durant

The greatest question of our time is not communism vs. individualism, not Europe vs. America, not even the East vs. the West; it is whether men can bear to live without God.

- Will Durant

When liberty exceeds intelligence, it begets chaos, which begets dictatorship.

- Will Durant

So the story of man runs in a dreary circle, because he is not yet master of the earth that holds him.

- Will Durant

Every science begins as philosophy and ends as art; it arises in hypothesis and flows into achievement.

- Will Durant

The trouble with most people is that they think with their hopes or fears or wishes rather than with their minds.

- Will Durant

Rome remained great as long as she had enemies who forced her to unity, vision, and heroism. When she had overcome them all she flourished for a moment and then began to die.

- Caesar and Christ, Will Durant

There have been only 268 of the past 3,421 years free of war.

- Will Durant

History reports that the men who can manage men manage the men who can manage only things, and the men who can manage money manage all.

- The Lessons of History, Will Durant

In philosophy, as in politics, the longest distance between two points is a straight line.

- The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

In the end, nothing is lost. Every event, for good or evil, has effects forever.

- The Story of Civilization, Will Durant

Nature smiles at the union of freedom and equality in our utopias. For freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails the other dies.

- Will Durant

You can’t fool all the people all the time,” but you can fool enough of them to rule a large country.

- The Lessons of History, Will Durant

To rulers religion, like almost everything else, is a tool of power.

- The Renaissance, Will Durant

In the last 3,421 years of recorded history only 268 have seen no war.

- The Lessons of History, Will Durant

The fear of capitalism has compelled socialism to widen freedom, and the fear of socialism has compelled capitalism to increase equality. East is West and West is East, and soon the twain will meet.

- The Lessons of History, Will Durant

History is an excellent teacher with few pupils.

- Will Durant

By and large the poor have the same impulses as the rich, with only less opportunity or skill to implement them

- Will Durant

If we rated greatness by the influence of the great, we will say "Muhammad is the greatest of the great in history

- Will Durant

One of the lessons of history is that the gods can be silent in many languages.

- The Story of Civilization, Will Durant

[N]o language has ever had a word for a virgin man.

- Our Oriental Heritage, Will Durant

Read, think well of mankind, go to our libraries and rejoice.

- Will Durant

History is mostly guessing, the rest is prejudice.

- The Story of Civilization, Will Durant

We have here the fundamental problem of ethics, the crux of the theory of moral conduct. What is justice? -shall we seek righteousness, or shall we seek power? -is it better to be good, or to be strong?

- Will Durant

The past is not dead. Indeed, it is often not even past.

- Will Durant

Most history is guessing, and the rest is prejudice.

- The Lessons of History, Will Durant

Nature has never read the Declaration of Independence. It continues to make us unequal.

- Will Durant

The older Romans used temples as their banks, as we use banks as our temples;

- Caesar and Christ, Will Durant

But now and then liberty, in the slogans of the strong, means freedom from restraint in the exploitation of the weak.

- Caesar and Christ, Will Durant

But the new generation had tasted the wine of philosophy; and from this time onward the rich youth of Rome went eagerly to Athens and Rhodes to exchange their oldest faith for the newest doubts.

- Caesar and Christ, Will Durant

Our knowledge is a receding mirage in an expanding desert of ignorance.

- Will Durant

A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within

- The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

Truth always originates in a minority of one, and every custom begins as a broken precedent.

- Will Durant

Philosophy begins when one learns to doubt—particularly to doubt one’s cherished beliefs, one’s dogmas and one’s axioms.

- Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

...but which of us has read every line of the Iliad, or the Aeneid, or The Divine Comedy, or Paradise Lost? Only men of epic stomach can digest these epic tales.

- The Age of Faith, Will Durant

Nothing is impossible to gods and authors.

- Will Durant

When the universe has crushed him man will still be nobler than that which kills him, because he knows that he is dying, and of its victory the universe knows nothing.

- The Lessons of History, Will Durant

It is not the race that makes the civilization, it is the civilization that makes the people: circumstances geographical, economic, and political create a culture, and the culture creates a human type.

- The Lessons of History, Will Durant

Facts" replaced understanding; and knowledge, split into a thousand isolated fragments, no longer generated wisdom.

- The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

The form of Christianity that developed in Europe and later spread to America and the rest of the world was the last great creation of the ancient pagan world.

- Caesar and Christ, Will Durant

In its youth a people produce mythology and poetry; in its decadence, philosophy and logic.

- The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

This is the tragedy of almost every civilization—that its soul is in its faith, and seldom survives philosophy.

- Our Oriental Heritage, Will Durant

The present is the past rolled up for action, and the past is the present unrolled for understanding

- The Lessons of History, Will Durant

Normally and generally men are judged by their ability to produce—except in war, when they are ranked according to their ability to destroy.

- The Lessons of History, Will Durant

To say nothing, especially when speaking, is half the art of diplomacy.

- Will Durant

When a man is interested in the past he writes history; when he is interested in the future he makes it.

- Philosophy and the Social Problem, Will Durant

But he had gained a perspective of thought in which every extreme was seen as a half-truth,

- The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

I thank God,” he used to say, “that I was born Greek and not barbarian, freeman and not slave, man and not woman; but above all, that I was born in the age of

- Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

For what is philosophy but an art - one more attempt to give "significant form" to the chaos of experience?

- Our Oriental Heritage, Will Durant

Morality, said Jesus, is kindness to the weak; morality, said Nietzsche, is the bravery of the strong; morality, says Plato, is the effective harmony of the whole.

- Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

Progress is the domination of chaos by mind and purpose, of matter by form and will. It need not be continuous to be real.

- Will Durant

The fount and breeding-place of the Semites was Arabia.

- Our Oriental Heritage, Will Durant

There are not many things finer in our murderous species than this noble curiosity, this restless and reckless passion to understand.

- Our Oriental Heritage, Will Durant

Civilization exists by geologic consent, subject to change without notice.

- Will Durant

Human behavior, says Plato, flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.

- Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

The worst conceivable government would be by philosophers; they botch every natural process with theory; their ability to make speeches and multiply ideas is precisely the sign of their incapacity for action.

- Our Oriental Heritage, Will Durant

There is no real philosophy until the mind turns round and examines itself.

- Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

Economic development specializes functions, differentiates abilities, and makes men unequally valuable to their group.

- The Lessons of History, Will Durant

A book is like a quarrel. One word leads to another, and may erupt in blood or print, irrevocably.

- Will Durant

Coarse necessities of physical existence drag him from the heights of thought into the mart of economic strife and gain.

- Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

All science is a charted ignorance and belongs to Maya.

- Our Oriental Heritage, Will Durant

It was his motto that one lived best by the hidden life—bene vixit qui bene latuit.

- The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

The historian always oversimplifies, and hastily selects a manageable minority of facts and faces out of a crowd of souls and events whose multitudinous complexity he can never quite embrace or comprehend.

- The Lessons of History, Will Durant

So the conservative who resists change is as valuable as the radical who proposes it—perhaps as much more valuable as roots are more vital than grafts.

- The Lessons of History, Will Durant

And, after speech, it provided a readier instrument for the dissemination of nonsense than the world has ever known until our time.

- The Reformation: The Story of Civilization, Will Durant

Fear of death, wonder at the causes of chance events or unintelligible happenings, hope for divine aid and gratitude for good fortune, cooperated to generate religious belief.

- Our Oriental Heritage, Will Durant

If ideas do not determine history, inventions do; and inventions are determined by ideas.

- The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, Will Durant

In some way the god had to be appeased and satisfied; for his worshipers had made him in the image and dream of themselves, and he had no great regard for human life, or womanly tears.

- Our Oriental Heritage, Will Durant

The strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must.

- The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

I was only 44, which is childhood philosophy.

- Will Durant

We must steel ourselves against utopias and be content with a slightly better state.

- Will Durant

When a band of flute players attempted a musical concert at a triumph in 167, the audience forced the musicians to change their performance into a boxing match.15 In the widening middle classes commercialism

- Caesar and Christ, Will Durant

Peace is war by other means.

- Will Durant

When Germany defeated Napoleon it was a disastrous to culture as when Luther defeated the Church.

- The story of philosophy: The lives and opinions of the greater philosophers, Will Durant

Democritus (460-360 B.C.)— "in reality there is nothing but atoms and space.

- The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

By 1911 I found it impossible to continue my pretenses to orthodoxy;

- Fallen Leaves: Last Words on Life, Will Durant

[S]hame is a child of custom rather than of nature.

- Our Oriental Heritage, Will Durant

Not to be occupied, and not to exist, amount to the same thing," he said. "All people are good except those who are idle.

- The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

[W]orship, if not the child, is at least the brother, of fear.

- Will Durant

Death like style is the removal of rubbish.

- Will Durant

Let us trust to ourselves, see all with our own eyes; Let these be our oracles, our tripods and our gods.

- Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

He who leaves his home in search of knowledge walks in the path of God … and the ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr”;

- The Age of Faith, Will Durant

A disintegrating individualism had weakened the Athenian character, and left the city a prey at last to the sternly-nurtured Spartans.

- The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

What I am not,” he says, most truthfully, “that for me is God

- Philosophy and the Social Problem, Will Durant

Radicalism is a luxury of stability; we may dare to change things only when things lie steady under our hands.

- Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

He is his own best friend, and takes delight in privacy whereas the man of no virtue or ability is his own worst enemy, and is afraid of solitude.59 Such

- Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

Animals eat one another without qualm; civilized men consume one another by due process of law. Co-operation

- The Lessons of History, Will Durant

If you look at a map of Europe you will observe that Greece is a skeleton-like hand stretching its crooked fingers out into the Mediterranean Sea.

- The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

To confer a kindness is a mark of superiority; to receive one is a mark of subordination . . .

- Story of Philosophy, Will Durant

There his chief enterprises are reading and doing nothing.

- Caesar and Christ, Will Durant