Wisdom Quotes from the Thoughts Archives | Values of the Wise

Thoughts on Values & Ethics

Author and Founder of Values of the Wise Jason Merchey shares his perspectives on classical and modern applications of values, wisdom, ethics, and personal growth. The goal is to provide insight into what “a life of value” is and how one can live it. Quotations, proverbs, idioms, and historical facts often provide grist for the mill! Occasional guest blogs are featured as well.


Patriotism: Liberal & Conservative Viewpoints

patriotism September 24th, 2017

Colin Kaepernick has done what many an African American has done in America’s long and tumultuous and somewhat ignominious history: made us all look at the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and centuries of legal precedence in a new light. He has an outstanding foil in the vacuous President of the United States, I am ashamed to say. Both representatives of polar-opposite points of view tout patriotism – though of a very different stripe. It’s an interesting, critical, and telling public debate that I suggest we all weigh in on. At best, we can progress toward higher levels of legal, societal, and emotional development if we accept America’s liabilities and mistakes and move forward with dignity and grace.

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Values and Virtues in the Form of Quotations

values and virtues September 24th, 2017

You can really benefit from really thinking about the following examples of values and virtues in the form of quotations from many great minds. It is applied philosophy in a very accessible form. VOW has nearly 27,000 quotes, proverbs, poetry, and lyrics relevant to values and virtues such as knowledge, education, peace, liberty, wisdom, ingenuity, lightheartedness, responsibility, and justice – for free. Here are examples and glimpses into what these values and virtues are about.

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Quotations on Virtue, Liberty & Character

quotations on virtue September 22nd, 2017

The Declaration of Independence, the drafting of the Constitution of the United States, and the men (alas, they were all men) who framed these documents are our intellectual forbearers. We – at least those of us who are on the Left – tend not to think about them that much. Heck, I have an oil painting of Jefferson, Adams and Franklin hashing out the Declaration and I rarely think about the principles of the founders. However, I bought a 12-part lecture on these men, their ideas, and their ingenious works: American Ideals: Founding a Republic of Virtue. In this blog, I will share a few quotations on virtue, liberty, character, duty, democracy, and republic – 18th-century wisdom that can help us in our struggles and challenges today.

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What Do We Deserve? Moral Desert & Entitlement

moral desert September 21st, 2017

What does a person – let’s confine it to Americans in this blog – deserve? In philosophy, it is termed moral dessert. That is, as a member of society, what rights does one have to goods and benefits and opportunities? Contrast dessert (sometimes spelled desert) with entitlement – the rights one has based on law, contracts, and agreements. In this piece, I want to dilate on this topic, and to that end, will share a brief discussion a friend and I had. You may not be surprised to learn that I take a generally liberal position, and my friend, a fairly libertarian one. I am more likely to see, optimistically, that people deserve opportunity, chances, and help from society at large (i.e., the institutions of government and associated social welfare provisions). You can expect, of course, to see apt quotations brought to bear on the dialogue.

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Taxation: Good, Bad, or Ugly?

taxation September 20th, 2017

In a class I am participating in (taking), a fellow student asked a question about taxation. Here is a glimpse at that conversation, followed by some thoughts by people who have some wise or insightful point to add. In the end, my view will culminate in: No one likes paying taxes, but it’s basically rent. Unless you’re a saint or a true Christian, routing our collective funds through a good and responsive government – comprised of citizens – is the best way to affect social betterment. It’s in the spirit of this, by mega-capitalist, Warren Buffett: “I was lucky enough to be born into a time and place where society values my talent, and gave me a good education to develop that talent, and set up the laws and the financial system to let me do what I love doing—and make a lot of money doing it. The least I can do is help pay for all that.”

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South Carolina’s Own: Pat Conroy Quotes

Pat Conroy quotes September 19th, 2017

We here in South Carolina are very proud of our native son, Pat Conroy. Perhaps you have heard of his books, many of which were made into movies. Two that pop out are The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini. Excellent works. He is also famous for writing soul-searching, penetrating, deep books. He went to the local college, The Citadel, and it helped create the grist he would run through the busy mill of his erudite and tortured mind. He really was a master at language. Take, for example, this Pat Conroy quote taken from The Prince of Tides, a remarkable story about growing up in a dysfunctional Southern home: “There is such a thing as too much beauty in a woman and it is often a burden as crippling as homeliness and far more dangerous. It takes much luck and integrity to survive the gift of perfect beauty, and its impermanence is its most cunning betrayal.” In this blog, I want to share the Pat Conroy quotes I found were most about values from his book My Losing Season.

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America’s #1 Satirist: Mark Twain Quotes

Mark Twain quotes September 18th, 2017

Mark Twain is up there with American luminaries such as Will Rogers, Lucille Ball, Woody Allen, Dorothy Parker, Ambrose Bierce, Betty White, Thomas Nast, Gary Larson, Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers, Charlie Chaplin, and Carl Reiner. This is, of course, a shockingly truncated list. Mark Twain quotes have stood the test of time for their penetrating, serious character as well as their satirical and humorous quality. Here are those in the Wisdom Archive, over 26,000-strong now! 

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Virtue Ethics: Doing the Right Thing

virtue ethics September 17th, 2017

Virtue ethics is one of the top four or five ethical theories. Ethical theories are ways of organizing information in regard to right and wrong. Typically in science, theories can be shown in just one or two experiments or studies to be “false.” However, when it comes to ethics, it’s a bit more nuanced. The other major theories go by names such as utilitarianism, deontology (duty-based ethics), and religious ethics. Other contenders for the Top 10 include ethical subjectivism, religious ethics, casuistry, and authority-based ethics. Virtue ethics is one of my favorites for sure, and I will share some thoughts and perspectives about it in this blog. In the end, hopefully, the readers gain some appreciation for it, see how it is different from competing ethical theories, and recognize how to “use it” in real life (making ethical decisions, facing moral dilemmas, etc).  

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Buddhist Wisdom: Meditation, Awareness, Stillness

Buddhist wisdom September 17th, 2017

When it comes to wisdom, the Buddhists occupy a unique position. One thinks of monks and other practitioners of a very devout kind of Buddhism as up there with Indian sages, old men with Fu-Manchu mustaches, Gandalf, and assorted grandparents as being quintessential purveyors of wisdom. Meditation, mindfulness, stillness, open-mindedness, self-discipine, awareness, ethics, and insight are the stock-in-trade of Buddhist monks. The Dalai Lama is always reliable to have a mature, enlightened, very ethical perspective on any question posed to him. This blog is about finding wisdom in Buddhist principles.

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Surviving These Times: Howard Zinn Quotes

Howard Zinn Quotes September 14th, 2017

Happily for him, my man Howard Zinn never lived to see Donald Trump ascend to the throne. He was no stranger to demagogues, self-serving hypocrites, and pretenders – for he fought Hitler (like, literally), was a leader in the Civil Rights movement, and every morning had to read the papers while George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Lyndon Johnson were president. He fought the good fight for decades. Finally, his body gave out. But his mind, during most of his long life, was strong, adroit, and productive. Here are some Howard Zinn quotes (and some allied others) to help us all deal with the presidency of Donald Trump. He would want us to look to wise guides and find within ourselves the strength to resist, to organize, and to non-violently protest. If he were alive today, he would say that we will prevail.

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