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date: 28 February 2020

The Human Race 

  1. Men are more like the times they live in than they are like their fathers.
    Ali ibn-Abi-Talib c.602–661 Arab ruler, fourth Islamic caliph: attributed
  2. In all my work what I try to say is that as human beings we are more alike than we are unalike.
    Maya Angelou 1928–2014 American writer: interview in New York Times 20 January 1993
  3. We are born of risen apes, not fallen angels, and the apes were armed killers beside.
    Robert Ardrey 1908–80 American dramatist and evolutionist: African Genesis (1961)
  4. We are all here on Earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don't know.
    W. H. Auden 1907–73 English poet: a favourite saying; in Commonweal 23 October 1942 and elsewhere
  5. Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love all year round, madam; that is all there is to distinguish us from other animals.
    Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais 1732–99 French dramatist: The Marriage of Figaro (1784) act 2, sc. 21
  6. We carry within us the wonders we seek without us: there is all Africa and her prodigies in us.
    Sir Thomas Browne 1605–82 English writer and physician: Religio Medici (1643) pt. 1, sect. 15
  7. I hate ‘Humanity’ and all such abstracts: but I love people. Lovers of ‘Humanity’ generally hate people and children, and keep parrots or puppy dogs.
    Roy Campbell 1901–57 South African poet: Light on a Dark Horse (1951)
  8. Considerate la vostra semenza:
    Fatti non foste a viver come bruti,
    Ma per seguir virtute e conoscenza.
    Consider your origins: you were not made to live as brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge.
    Dante Alighieri 1265–1321 Italian poet: Divina Commedia ‘Inferno’ canto 26, l. 118
  9. Disinterested love for all living creatures, the most noble attribute of man.
    Charles Darwin 1809–82 English natural historian: The Descent of Man (1871) ch. 3
  10. Man with all his noble qualities…still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.
    Charles Darwin 1809–82 English natural historian: The Descent of Man (1871), closing words
  11. The animal needing something knows how much it needs, the man does not.
    Democritus c.460–c.370 bc Greek philosopher: fragment 198
  12. What is man, when you come to think upon him, but a minutely set, ingenious machine for turning, with infinite artfulness, the red wine of Shiraz into urine?
    Isak Dinesen 1885–1962 Danish novelist and short-story writer: Seven Gothic Tales (1934) ‘The Dreamers’
  13. This is Plato's man.
    presenting Plato's disciples with a plucked chicken after Plato defined Man as ‘a two-footed, featherless animal’; Plato subsequently added ‘with broad flat nails’
    Diogenes c.400–c.325 bc Greek Cynic philosopher: Diogenes Laertius Lives of the Philosophers
  14. Is man an ape or an angel? Now I am on the side of the angels.
    Benjamin Disraeli 1804–81 British Tory statesman and novelist; Prime Minister 1868, 1874–80: speech at Oxford, 25 November 1864; see Wilberforce
  15. Human kind
    Cannot bear very much reality.
    T. S. Eliot 1888–1965 American-born British poet, critic, and dramatist: Four Quartets ‘Burnt Norton’ (1936) pt. 1.
  16. I believe man will not merely endure, he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he, alone among creatures, has an inexhaustible voice but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.
    William Faulkner 1897–1962 American novelist: Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Stockholm, 10 December 1950
  17. Man is a tool-making animal.
    Benjamin Franklin 1706–90 American politician, inventor, and scientist: James Boswell Life of Samuel Johnson (1791) 7 April 1778
  18. On earth there is nothing great but man; in man there is nothing great but mind.
    William Hamilton 1788–1856 Scottish metaphysician: Lectures on Metaphysics and Logic (1859); attributed in a Latin form to Favorinus in Pico di Mirandola (1463–94) Disputationes Adversus Astrologiam Divinatricem
  19. Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be.
    William Hazlitt 1778–1830 English essayist: Lectures on the English Comic Writers (1819) ‘On Wit and Humour’
  20. I am all at once what Christ is, since he was what I am, and
    This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,
    Is immortal diamond.
    Gerard Manley Hopkins 1844–89 English poet and priest: ‘That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire’ (written 1888)
  21. The life of man is of no greater importance to the universe than that of an oyster.
    David Hume 1711–76 Scottish philosopher: Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary (ed. T. H. Green and T. H. Grose, 1875) ‘On Suicide’ (1783)
  22. Many people believe that they are attracted by God, or by Nature, when they are only repelled by man.
    William Ralph Inge 1860–1954 English writer; Dean of St. Paul's, 1911–34: More Lay Thoughts of a Dean (1931)
  23. Gloria Dei vivens homo.
    The glory of God is a man fully alive.
    St Irenaeus 130–c.200 Greek theologian: Against the Heresies bk. 4, ch. 20
  24. Man, biologically considered, and whatever else he may be into the bargain, is simply the most formidable of all the beasts of prey, and, indeed, the only one that preys systematically on its own species.
    William James 1842–1910 American philosopher: in Atlantic Monthly December 1904
  25. Taking a very gloomy view of the future of the human race, let us suppose that it can only expect to survive for two thousand million years longer, a period about equal to the past age of the earth. Then, regarded as a being destined to live for three-score years and ten, humanity, although it has been born in a house seventy years old, is itself only three days old.
    James Jeans 1877–1946 English astronomer, physicist, and mathematician: Eos (1928)
  26. Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing can ever be made.
    Immanuel Kant 1724–1804 German philosopher: Idee zu einer allgemeinen Geschichte in weltbürgerlicher Absicht (1784) proposition 6
  27. In the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal.
    John F. Kennedy 1917–63 American Democratic statesman, 35th President 1961–3: address at American University, Washington, DC, 10 June 1963
  28. O mankind, We have created you
    male and female, and appointed you
    races and tribes, that you may know
    one another.
    The Koran: sura 49, tr. A. J. Arberry
  29. Limited in his nature, infinite in his desires, man is a fallen god who remembers heaven.
    Alphonse de Lamartine 1790–1869 French poet: ‘L'Homme’ (1820)
  30. Every man carries the entire form of human condition.
    Montaigne 1533–92 French moralist and essayist: Essays (1580, ed. M. Rat, 1958) bk. 3, ch. 2
  31. There are one hundred and ninety-three living species of monkeys and apes. One hundred and ninety-two of them are covered with hair. The exception is a naked ape self-named Homo sapiens.
    Desmond Morris 1928–  English anthropologist: The Naked Ape (1967) introduction
  32. To say, for example, that a man is made up of certain chemical elements is a satisfactory description only for those who intend to use him as a fertilizer.
    H. J. Muller 1890–1967 American geneticist: Science and Criticism (1943)
  33. I teach you the superman. Man is something to be surpassed.
    Friedrich Nietzsche 1844–1900 German philosopher and writer: Thus Spake Zarathustra (1883) prologue, sect. 3
  34. For after all, what is man in nature? A nothing in respect of that which is infinite, an all in respect of nothing, a middle betwixt nothing and all.
    Blaise Pascal 1623–62 French mathematician, physicist, and moralist: Pensées (1670, ed. L. Brunschvicg, 1909) sect. 2, no. 72
  35. Man is only a reed, the weakest thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed.
    Blaise Pascal 1623–62 French mathematician, physicist, and moralist: Pensées (1670, ed. L. Brunschvicg, 1909) sect. 6, no. 347
  36. Mankind is a dream of a shadow.
    Pindar 518–438 bc Greek lyric poet: Pythian Odes bk. 8, l. 135
  37. Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
    The proper study of mankind is man.
    Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
    A being darkly wise, and rudely great.
    Alexander Pope 1688–1744 English poet: An Essay on Man Epistle 2 (1733) l. 1; see Charron
  38. Man is the measure of all things.
    Protagoras b. c.485 bc Greek philosopher: Plato Theaetetus 160d
  39. I wish I loved the Human Race;
    I wish I loved its silly face;
    I wish I liked the way it walks;
    I wish I liked the way it talks;
    And when I'm introduced to one
    I wish I thought What Jolly Fun!
    Walter Raleigh 1861–1922 English lecturer and critic: ‘Wishes of an Elderly Man’ (1923)
  40. The children of Adam are limbs to each other, having been created of one essence.
    Sadi c.1213–c.91 Persian poet: The Rose Garden ch. 1, Tale 10
  41. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not me; no, nor woman neither, though, by your smiling, you seem to say so.
    William Shakespeare 1564–1616 English dramatist: Hamlet (1601) act 2, sc. 2, l. [323] (Oxford Standard Authors ed.)
  42. There are many wonderful things, and nothing is more wonderful than man.
    Sophocles c.496–406 bc Greek dramatist: Antigone l. 333
  43. Man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments.
    John Steinbeck 1902–68 American novelist: The Grapes of Wrath (1939) ch. 14
  44. Notwithstanding, if he could be reincarnated and placed in a New York subway—provided that he were bathed, shaved, and dressed in modern clothing—it is doubtful whether he would attract any more attention than some of its other denizens.
    of Neanderthal man
    William L. Strauss and A. J. E. Cave: in Quarterly Review of Biology Winter 1957
  45. Principally I hate and detest that animal called man; although I heartily love John, Peter, Thomas, and so forth.
    Jonathan Swift 1667–1745 Irish poet and satirist: letter to Pope, 29 September 1725
  46. I am a man, I count nothing human foreign to me.
    Terence c.190–159 bc Roman comic dramatist: Heauton Timorumenos l. 77
  47. Man is the Only Animal that Blushes. Or needs to.
    Mark Twain 1835–1910 American writer: Following the Equator (1897) ch. 27
  48. I can stand any society. All that I care to know is that a man is a human being—that is enough for me; he can't be any worse.
    Mark Twain 1835–1910 American writer: How To Tell a Story and other essays (1900) ‘Concerning the Jews’
  49. We're all of us guinea pigs in the laboratory of God. Humanity is just a work in progress.
    Tennessee Williams 1911–83 American dramatist: Camino Real (1953)
  50. The real problem of humanity is the following: we have Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and god-like technology.
    Edward O. Wilson 1929–  American sociobiologist: debate at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Cambridge, Mass., 9 September 2009