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Sacha GuitryOur wisdom comes from our experience, and our experience comes from our foolishness.

—  Sacha Guitry, 1885-1957, French writer

QuintilianThose who wish to appear wise among fools, among the wise seem foolish.

—  Quintilian, 35-96 AD, Roman rhetorician

Samuel Taylor ColeridgeCommon sense in an uncommon degree is what the world calls wisdom.

—  Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1772-1834, English poet & philosopher

Carl SandburgBack of every mistaken venture and defeat is the laughter of wisdom, if you listen.

—  Carl Sandburg, 1878-1967, American poet

William BlakeIf the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.

—  William Blake, 1757-1827, English poet & painter

Michel de MontaigneWe can be knowledgeable with other men's knowledge, but we cannot be wise with other men's wisdom.

—  Michel de Montaigne, 1533-1592, French thinker

Ralph Waldo EmersonThere are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant.

—  Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1884, American philosopher

Ralph Waldo EmersonThe invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.

—  Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1884, American philosopher

Bias of PrieneCherish wisdom as a means of travelling from youth to old age, for it is more lasting than any other possession.

—  Bias of Priene, 625-540 BC, Greek philosopher, one of the 7 sages of Ancient Greece

Samuel JohnsonYou can never be wise unless you love reading.

—  Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784, English writer

JuvenalNever does Nature say one thing and Wisdom another.

—  Juvenal, 1st-2nd cent. AD, Roman satiric poet

Lord ChesterfieldBe wiser than other people if you can; but do not tell them so.

—  Lord Chesterfield, 1694-1773, English statesman & writer

La RochefoucauldIt is a great folly to wish to be wise alone.

—  La Rochefoucauld, 1613-1680, French writer

Will DurantKnowledge is power but only wisdom is liberty.

—  Will Durant, 1885-1981, American historian & philosopher

Jacques LacanThe reason we go to poetry is not for wisdom, but for the dismantling of wisdom.

—  Jacques Lacan, 1901-1981, French psychoanalyst

André GideWisdom comes not from reason but from love.

—  André Gide, 1869-1951, French writer, Nobel 1947

George SantayanaWisdom lies in taking everything with good humor and a grain of salt.

—  George Santayana, 1863-1952, Spanish-American philosopher

Elbert HubbardEvery man is a damn fool for at least five minutes a day. Wisdom consists of not exceeding the limit.

—  Elbert Hubbard, 1856-1915, American writer

William JamesThe art of being wise is knowing what to overlook.

—  William James, 1842-1910, American philosopher

Anton ChekhovSolomon made a great mistake when he asked for wisdom.

—  Anton Chekhov, 1860-1904, Russian writer

Jean Jacques RousseauWhat wisdom can you find greater than kindness.

—  Jean Jacques Rousseau, 1712-1778, Swiss-French philosopher

Marcel ProustWe don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.

—  Marcel Proust, 1871-1922, French writer

John KeatsI will give you a definition of a proud man: he is a man who has neither vanity nor wisdom; one filled with hatreds cannot be vain, neither can he be wise.

—  John Keats, 1795-1821, English poet

Charles Caleb ColtonThere is this difference between happiness and wisdom, that he that thinks himself the happiest man, really is so; but he who thinks himself the wisest, is generally the greatest fool.

—  Charles Caleb Colton, 1780-1832, English cleric & writer

Arthur ClarkeBefore you become too entranced with gorgeous gadgets and mesmerizing video displays, let me remind you that information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all.

—  Arthur Clarke, 1917-2008, British Sci-Fi writer

Eleanor RooseveltNever mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life.

—  Eleanor Roosevelt, 1884-1962, American politician & wife of the 32nd USA president

William ShakespeareThe fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.

—  William Shakespeare, 1564-1616, English poet & playwright ‐ As You Like It

ConfuciusBy three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.

—  Confucius, 551-479 BC, Chinese teacher & philosopher

Quotes in Verse

T. S. EliotWhere is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

—  T. S. Eliot, 1888-1965, British poet, Nobel 1948

Bob MarleyDon’t gain the world and lose your soul. Wisdom is better than silver and gold.

—  Bob Marley, 1945-1981, Jamaican singer

William WordsworthWisdom is oft-times nearer when we stoop
Than when we soar.

—  William Wordsworth, 1770-1850, English poet

Ancient Greek

HomerMany cities of men he saw and learned their minds.

Πολλών δ’ ανθρώπων ίδεν άστεα και νόον έγνων.

—  Homer, c. 800-750 BC, II ‐ Odyssey I

PindarWise is he who knows much by nature.

Σοφὸς ο πολλά ειδώς φυά.

—  Pindar, 522-438 BC, Ancient Greek lyric poet


Chinese proverbBeauty is the wisdom of women. Wisdom is the beauty of men.

—  Chinese proverb

American Indian proverbIf a man is as wise as a serpent, he can afford to be as harmless as a dove.

—  American Indian proverb ‐ Cheyenne


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