Arthur Koestler quotes

  • Courage is never to let your actions be influenced by your fears.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Courage #Business #Thought Provoking

  • One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Believe #Writing #Shut Up

  • The story of the Khazar Empire, as it slowly emerges from the past, begins to look like the most cruel hoax which history has ever perpetrated.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Past #Looks #Stories

  • In any language it is a struggle to make a sentence say exactly what you mean.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Struggle #Mean #Language

  • The evolution of the brain not only overshot the needs of prehistoric man, it is the only example of evolution providing a species with an organ which it does not know how to use.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Men #Brain #Example

  • The most persistent sound which reverberates through man's history is the beating of war drums.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Military #War #Men

  • The more original a discovery, the more obvious it seems afterwards.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Inspirational #Education #Business

  • Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Inspiring #Teacher #Learning

  • Nothing is more sad than the death of an illusion.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Motivational #Death #Motivation

  • Without the hard little bits of marble which are called 'facts' or 'data' one cannot compose a mosaic; what matters, however, are not so much the individual bits, but the successive patterns into which you arrange them, then break them up and rearrange them.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #What Matters #Data #Mosaics

  • Space-ships and time machines are no escape from the human condition. Let Othello subject Desdemona to a lie-detector test; his jealousy will still blind him to the evidence. Let Oedipus triumph over gravity; he won't triumph over his fate.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Lying #Fate #Technology

  • If the creator has a purpose in equipping us with a neck, he surely would have meant for us to stick it out.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Courage #Innovation #Purpose

  • The principle mark of genius is not perfection but originality, the opening of new frontiers.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Carpe Diem #Perfection #Principles

  • The prerequisite of originality is the art of forgetting, at the proper moment, what we know.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Art #Originality #Forget

  • God seems to have left the receiver off the hook and time is running out.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #God #Running #Hook

  • Prometheus is reaching out for the stars with an empty grin on his face.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Stars #Faces #Empty

  • True creativity often starts where language ends.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Business #Creativity #Language

  • Creativity is the defeat of habit by originality.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Creativity #Originality #Defeat

  • The greatest temptation for the like of us is: to renounce violence, to repent, to make peace with oneself. Most revolutionaries fell before this temptation, from Spartacus to Danton and Dostoevsky; they are the classical form of betrayal of the cause. The temptations of God were always more dangerous for mankind than those of Satan. As long as chaos dominates the world, God is an anachronism; and every compromise with one’s own conscience is perfidy. When the accursed inner voice speaks to you, hold your hands over your ears….
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Betrayal #Hands #Voice

  • The principle that the end justifies the means is and remains the only rule of political ethics; anything else is just a vague chatter and melts away between one’s fingers.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Mean #Political #Principles

  • One may not regard the world as a sort of metaphysical brothel for emotions.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #World #May #Emotion

  • The individual is not a killer, but the group is, and by identifying with it the individual is transformed into a killer.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Society #Groups #Killers

  • A writer's ambition should be to trade a hundred contemporary readers for ten readers in ten years' time and for one reader in a hundred years' time.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Ambition #Years #Hundred

  • As modern physics started with the Newtonian revolution, so modern philosophy starts with what one might call the Cartesian Catastrophe. The catastrophe consisted in the splitting up of the world into the realms of matter and mind, and the identification of 'mind' with conscious thinking. The result of this identification was the shallow rationalism of l' esprit Cartesien, and an impoverishment of psychology which it took three centuries to remedy even in part.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Philosophy #Thinking #Psychology

  • Modern man lives isolated in his artificial environment, not because the artificial is evil as such, but because of his lack of comprehension of the forces which make it work- of the principles which relate his gadgets to the forces of nature, to the universal order. It is not central heating which makes his existence 'unnatural,' but his refusal to take an interest in the principles behind it. By being entirely dependent on science, yet closing his mind to it, he leads the life of an urban barbarian.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Men #Order #Evil

  • The continuous disasters of man's history are mainly due to his excessive capacity and urge to become identified with a tribe, nation, church or cause, and to espouse its credo uncritically and enthusiastically, even if its tenets are contrary to reason, devoid of self-interest and detrimental to the claims of self-preservation.We are thus driven to the unfashionable conclusion that the trouble with our species is not an excess of aggression, but an excess capacity for fanatical devotion.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Men #Self #Church

  • The integrative tendencies of the individual are incomparably more dangerous than his self-assertive tendencies.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Self #Individual #Tendencies

  • The more backwoodish a social group, juvenile or adult, the stricter its conception of the normal, and the readier it will ridicule any departure from it.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Society #Adults #Groups

  • Some tribes [of monkeys] have taken to washing potatoes in the river before eating them, others have not. Sometimes migrating groups of potato-washers meet non-washers, and the two groups watch each other's strange behavior with apparent bewilderment. But unlike the inhabitants of Lilliput, who fought holy crusades over the question at which end to break the egg, the potato-washing monkeys do not go to war with the non-washers, because the poor creatures have no language which would enable them to declare washing a diving commandment and eating unwashed potatoes a deadly heresy.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #War #Taken #Eggs

  • No man is an island- he is a holon. A Janus-faced entity who, looking inward, sees himself as a self-contained unique whole, looking outward as a dependent part. His self-assertive tendency is the dynamic manifestation of his unique wholeness, his autonomy and independence as a holon. Its equally universal antagonist, the integrative tendency, expresses his dependence on the larger whole to which he belongs: his 'part-ness.'.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Unique #Men #Islands

  • To sell oneself for thirty pieces of silver is an honest transaction; but to sell oneself to one s own conscience is to abandon mankind.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Pieces #Honest #Silver

  • Every error has its consequences and venges itself unto the seventh generation.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Errors #Generations #Consequence

  • I am not sure whether ethical absolutes exist. But I am sure that we have to act as if they existed or civilization perishes.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Civilization #Ethics #Ethical

  • History knows no scruples and no hesitation. Inert and unerring, she flows towards her goal. At every bend in her course she leaves the mud which she carries and the corpses of the drowned.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Goal #Mud #Flow

  • Snobbery is not merely a silly human weakness but something basic in the mentality of modern man-a symptom which reflects the general sickness, the dislocation of social and cultural values in contemporary civilization.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Silly #Men #Civilization

  • Coincidence may be described as the chance encounter of two unrelated causal chains which
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Two #May #Encounters

  • Laughter and weeping, the Greek masks of comedy and tragedy, mark the extremes of a continuous spectrum; both provide channels for the overflow of emotion; both are
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Laughter #Greek #Tragedy

  • There is an abundance of ancient place names in the Ukraine and Poland, which derive from 'Khazar' or 'Zhid' (Jew).
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Ukraine #Names #Ancient

  • The evils of mankind are caused, not by the primary aggressiveness of individuals, but by their self-transcending identification with groups whose common denominator is low intelligence and high emotionality.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Self #Evil #Groups

  • From the psychological point of view, the self-asserting emotions, derived from emergency reactions, involve a narrowing of consciousness; the participatory emotions an expansion of consciousness by identificatory processes of various kinds.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Self #Views #Expansion

  • Brain-washing starts in the cradle.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Brain #Cradle

  • History is a priori amoral; it has no conscience.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Conscience

  • in the course of the last century science has become so dizzy with its successes, that it has forgotten to ask the pertinent questions- or refused to ask them under the pretext that they are meaningless, and in any case not the scientists concern.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Society #Lasts #Dizzy

  • The 'missing link' between ape and man will probably never be found- because it was an embryo.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Men #Missing #Society

  • The Revolutionary's Utopia, which in appearance represents a complete break with the past, is always modeled on some image of the Lost Paradise, of a legendary Golden Age... All utopias are fed from the source of mythology; the social engineers' blueprints are merely revised editions of the ancient text.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Past #Atheism #Age

  • The inner defenses are unconscious. They consist of a kind of magic aura which the mind builds around cherished belief. Arguments which penetrate into the magic aura are not dealt with rationally but by a specific type of pseudo-reasoning. Absurdities and contradictions are made acceptable by specious rationalizations.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Magic #Mind #Atheism

  • Somebody once asked Niels Bohr why he had a horseshoe hanging above the front door of his house. Surely you, a world famous physicist, can't really believe that hanging a horseshoe above your door brings you luck? Of course not, Bohr replied, but I have been reliably informed that it will bring me luck whether I believe in it or not.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Believe #Doors #House

  • Chemically induced hallucinations, delusions and raptures may be frightening or wonderfully gratifying; in either case they are in the nature of confidence tricks played on one's own nervous system.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #May #Hallucinations #Nervous

  • The purposiveness of all vital processes, the strategy of the genes and the power of the exploratory drive in animal and man, all seem to indicate that the pull of the future is as real as the pressure of the past.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Real #Animal #Past

  • One question that people always ask at home is never asked here: "What happened to Communism in Russia?" Everybody yawns when a visitor brings it up, because the answer is so obvious to every Russian. The answer is that there never was Communism in Russia; there were only communists.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Home #Russia #People

  • The ultimate truth is penultimately always a falsehood. He who will be proved right in the end appears to be wrong and harmful before it.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Truth #Ends #Ultimate

  • Wars are not fought for territory, but for words. Man's deadliest weapon is language. He is as susceptible to being hypnotized by slogans as he is to infectious diseases. And where there is an epidemic, the group-mind takes over.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #War #Men #Epidemics

  • The cell door slammed behind Rubishov.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Book #Doors #Cells

  • The creative act does not create something out of nothing; it uncovers, selects, reshuffles, combines, synthesizes already existing facts, ideas, faculties, and skills.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Skills #Ideas #Creative

  • When a person identifies himself with a group his critical faculties are diminished and his passions enhanced by a kind of emotive resonance. The individual is not a killer, the group is, and by identifying with it, the individual becomes one. This is the infernal dialect reflected in man's history.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Passion #Men #History

  • What is an editor but a cross between a fall guy and a father figure? arthur koestler
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Family #Father #Fall

  • It is impossible to decide whether a particular detail of the Pythagorean universe was the work of the master, or filled in by a pupil a remark which equally applies to Leonardo or Michelangelo . But there can be no doubt that the basic features were conceived by a single mind; that Pythagoras of Samos was both the founder of a new religious philosophy, and the founder of Science, as the word is understood today.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Religious #Philosophy #Doubt

  • All "if" statements about the past are as dubious as prophecies of the future are. It seems fairly plausible that if Alexander or Ghengis Khan had never been born, some other individual would have filled his place and executed the design of the Hellenic or Mongolic expansion; but the Alexanders of philosophy and religion, of science and art, seem less expendable; their impact seems less determined by economic challenges and social pressures; and they seem to have a much wider range of possibilities to influence the direction, shape and texture of civilizations.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Art #Philosophy #Past

  • If time is treated in modern physics as a dimension on a par with the dimensions of space, why should we a priori exclude the possibility that we are pulled as well as pushed along its axis? The future has, after all, as much or as little reality as the past, and there is nothing logically inconceivable in introducing, as a working hypothesis, an element of finality, supplementary to the element of causality, into our equations. It betrays a great lack of imagination to believe that the concept of "purpose" must necessarily be associated with some anthropomorphic deity.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Believe #Reality #Past

  • The integrative tendencies of the individual operate through the mechanisms of empathy, sympathy, projection, introjection, identification, worship- all of which make him feel that he is a part of some larger entity which transcends the boundaries of the individual self. This psychological urge to belong, to participate, to commune is as primary and real as its opposite. The all-important question is the nature of that higher entity of which the individual feels himself a part.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Real #Self #Opposites

  • When reality becomes unbearable, the mind must withdraw from it and create a world of artificial perfection. Plato's world of pure Ideas and Forms, which alone is to be considered as real, whereas the world of nature which we perceive is merely its cheap Woolworth copy, is a flight into delusion.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Plato #Real #Ideas

  • Wherever we find orderly, stable systems in Nature, we find that they are hierarchically structured, for the simple reason that without such structuring of complex systems into sub-assemblies, there could be no order and stability- except the order of a dead universe filled with a uniformly distributed gas.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Simple #Order #Society

  • one of the tests of a theory is that, once grasped, it appears self-evident.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Self #Society #Tests

  • The ultimate truth is penultimately a falsehood.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Truth #Ultimate #Falsehood

  • Zen is to religion what a Japanese "rock garden" is to a garden. Zen knows no god, no afterlife, no good and no evil, as the rock-garden knows no flowers, herbs or shrubs. It has no doctrine or holy writ: its teaching is transmitted mainly in the form of parables as ambiguous as the pebbles in the rock-garden which symbolise now a mountain, now a fleeting tiger. When a disciple asks "What is Zen?", the master's traditional answer is "Three pounds of flax" or "A decaying noodle" or "A toilet stick" or a whack on the pupil's head.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Flower #Teaching #Garden

  • Among all forms of mentation, verbal thinking is the most articulate, the most complex, and the most vulnerable to infectious diseases. It is liable to absorb whispered suggestions, and to incorporate them as hidden persuaders into the code.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Thinking #Suggestions #Disease

  • Einstein's space is no closer to reality than Van Gogh's sky . The glory of science is not in a truth more absolute than the truth of Bach or Tolstoy, but in the act of creation itself. The scientist's discoveries impose his own order on chaos, as the composer or painter imposes his; an order that always refers to limited aspects of reality, and is based on the observer's frame of reference, which differs from period to period as a Rembrant nude differs from a nude by Manet.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Reality #Discovery #Order

  • Indeed, the ideal for a well-functioning democratic state is like the ideal for a gentleman's well-cut suit it is not noticed. For the common people of Britain, Gestapo and concentration camps have approximately the same degree of reality as the monster of Loch Ness. Atrocity propaganda is helpless against this healthy lack of imagination .
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Cutting #Reality #Imagination

  • Men cannot be treated as units in operations of political arithmetic because they behave like the symbols for zero and the infinite , which dislocate all mathematical operations.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Zero #Men #Political

  • We find in the history of ideas mutations which do not seem to correspond to any obvious need, and at first sight appear as mere playful whimsies such as Apollonius' work on conic sections, or the non-Euclidean geometries, whose practical value became apparent only later.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Sight #Ideas #Mutation

  • If there is a lesson in our story it is that the manipulation, according to strictly self-consistent rules, of a set of symbols representing one single aspect of the phenomena may produce correct, verifiable predictions, and yet completely ignore all other aspects whose ensemble constitutes reality...
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Reality #Self #Ensemble

  • The Régime did not want Communists; it wanted robots. It will take at least a generation to change them back into humans again.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Robots #Generations #Want

  • To want to meet an author because you like his books is as ridiculous as wanting to meet the goose because you like pate de foie gras.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Book #Want #Ridiculous

  • You can't help people being right for the wrong reasons...This fear of finding oneself in bad company is not an expression of political purity; it is an expression of a lack of self-confidence.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Self Confidence #Expression #People

  • When all is said, its atmosphere [England's] still contains fewer germs of aggression and brutality per cubic foot in a crowded bus, pub or queue than in any other country in which I have lived
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Country #Feet #Atmosphere

  • In the social equation, the value of a single life is nil; in the cosmic equation, it is infinite... Not only communism, but any political movement which implicitly relies on purely utilitarian ethics, must become a victim to the same fatal error. It is a fallacy as naïve as a mathematical teaser, and yet its consequences lead straight to Goya's Disasters, to the reign of the guillotine, the torture chambers of the Inquisition, or the cellars of the Lubianka.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Errors #Political #Single Life

  • I profoundly admire Aldous Huxley, both for his philosophy and uncompromising sincerity. But I disagree with his advocacy of 'the chemical opening of doors into the Other World', and with his belief that drugs can procure 'what Catholic theologians call a gratuitous grace'. Chemically induced hallucinations, delusions and raptures may be frightening or wonderfully gratifying; in either case they are in the nature of confidence tricks played on one's own nervous system.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Philosophy #Doors #Other Worlds

  • A publisher who writes is like a cow in a milk bar.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Writing #Bars #Cows

  • The fact is: I no longer believe in my own infallibility. That is why I am lost.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Believe #Facts #Lost

  • History knows no scruples and no hesitation. Inert and unnering flows towards her goal. History knows herway. She makes no mistakes.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Mistake #Goal #Flow

  • Some of the greatest discoveries...consist mainly in the clearing away of psychological roadblocks which obstruct the approach to reality; which is why,post factum they appear so obvious.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Reality #Discovery #Psychological

  • Habit is the denial of creativity and the negation of freedom; a self-imposed straitjacket of which the wearer is unaware.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Creativity #Self #Empathy

  • The definition of the individual was: a multitude of one million divided by one million.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Individuality #Definitions #Individual

  • When a chess player looks at the board, he does not see a static mosaic, a 'still life', but a magnetic field of forces, charged with energy - as Faraday saw the stresses surrounding magnets and currents as curves in space; or as Van Gogh saw vortices in the skies of Provence.
    -- Arthur Koestler

    #Stress #Player #Curves