For substantially all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily used by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them anywhere except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral calibre and his temperament, and which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing
— Mark Twain

Because others have already said it better, here is a collection of eloquent ruminations. 


Ludwig Von Mises - Human Action

  • Human life is an unceasing sequence of single actions.
  • Nothing is more useless than complaining over errors that can no longer be rectified, nothing more vain than regret.

  • Life consists in adjusting oneself to actual conditions and in taking account of things as they really are, not as one would wish them to be.

  • Action is, by definition, always rational. One is unwarranted in calling goals of action irrational simply because they are not worth striving for from the point of view of ones own valuations.

  • There is no evidence that social evolution must move steadily upwards in a straight line. Social standstill and social retrogression are historical facts which we cannot ignore. World history is the graveyard of dead civilizations.

  • Nobody is in a position to decree what should make a fellow man happier.

  • In Nature too, much may exist that we do not like. But we cannot change the essential character of natural events. If, for example, someone thinks and there are some who have maintained as much that the way in which man ingests his food, digests it, and incorporates it into his body is disgusting, one cannot argue the point with him. One must say to him: There is only this way or starvation.

SUN TZU - THE ART OF WAR

  • The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin.  Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.

  • The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.

  • In respect of military method, we have, firstly, Measurement; secondly, Estimation of quantity; thirdly, Calculation; fourthly, Balancing of chances; fifthly, Victory

  • Measurement owes its existence to Earth; Estimation of quantity to Measurement; Calculation to Estimation of quantity; Balancing of chances to Calculation; and Victory to Balancing of chances.

  • Ponder and deliberate before you make a move.

  • The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy's not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.

  • Success in warfare is gained by carefully accommodating ourselves to the enemy's purpose.

  • At first, then, exhibit the coyness of a maiden, until the enemy gives you an opening; afterwards emulate the rapidity of a running hare, and it will be too late for the enemy to oppose you.

  •  If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are.

    Miscellaneous

  • The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false. --Paul Johnson

 

  • We shall not grow wiser before we learn that much that we have done was very foolish. -- F. A. Hayek

 

  • Certainly, it is a world of scarcity. But the scarcity is not confined to iron ore and arable land. The most constricting scarcities are those of character and personality. --William R. Allen

 

  • The chief source of problems is solutions. -- Eric Sevareid