In December 2005, CG&A COMM published their research on uncovering the most significant quotes through the ages. Here is an annotated list (in no particular order) of the ‘Top-Ten-Quotes-of-All-Time.’
Do onto others as you would have others do onto you. The Bible – This is known as the ‘Golden Rule’. It captures the fundamental belief of what we most want from the human condition – to be treated with the same degree of respect that we afford others.
Know thyself. Anon. – This ancient Greek quote is an inscription at the temple of Apollo at Delphi. The sage advice is said to be the key to happiness. It is found in ancient scriptures; writings from the middle ages; cited in thoughts of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and Freud; and, today, it can be found as core advice in many ‘self-help’ works.
I think therefore I am. Rene Descartes (1596-1650) – a French mathematician and philosopher. ‘Cogito ergo sum’ is a profound thought that influenced many thinkers for centuries. For his many works, Descartes is recognized as the ‘The Founder of Modern Philosophy.’
Nothing succeeds like success. Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) – a French novelist. A saying that successful people like to quote – one of Donald Trump’s favourites. It is also often used by sports coaches and commentators. It best sums up the thought that if one experiences success at something, then the next success will be that much easier.
Knowledge is power. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) – an English philosopher and scientist. Bacon believed that one should learn and acquire as much knowledge as possible. It’s liberating – powerful. Today, this saying serves as a cornerstone of our information age. With the advent of the Internet and our telecommunications industries – acquiring information and the ability to acquire information is of paramount importance.
The more things change, the more it is the same thing. Alphonse Karr (1808-1890) – a French writer. This observation is often used to rationalize man’s reoccurring life experiences. The thought is wrongly attributed to the existentialist J.P. Sarte who slightly altered Karr’s quote to muse: The more things change, the more they stay the same.
It is better to have loved and lost, than not to have loved at all. Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809 – 1892) – an English novelist. Consolation for that raw feeling of loved lost. This is a very popular saying for jilted lovers who are trying to rationalize the time spent in a failed relationship.
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Lord Acton (1834 – 1902) – an English historian. Unbridled power is dangerous and leads to misuse of power. Think of how many times we hear political analysts and pundits comment on a dictatorship or an abuse of power with this quote. Lord Acton’s thought: Power requires checks and balances.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. George Santayana (1863 – 1952) – a Spanish born philosopher and poet, schooled in America and resided in Italy. Santayana’s thoughts moved many world leaders in the aftermath of the World Wars. He believed people (our leaders included) are not properly instructed in history. We see this quote often employed when a historian or writer wishes to juxtapose a current happening with a historical event.
God, give us serenity to accept what cannot be changed; courage to change what should be changed; and wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Reinhold Niebuhr (1892 – 1971) – an American theologian. Probably best known as the Alcoholic Anonymous creed. It is also used within many spiritual writings. We see it in many pieces dealing with death, particularly untimely deaths of loved ones. It is a powerful saying that has helped many accept the unknown and unacceptable.
(ed. – This is a repost, picked as one of our favourite three posts from the earliest of posts on this By George Journal back in 2008.)
This article also appears in the By George Treasury, a collection of the very best materials from the CG&A COMM offices dating into the mid-90’s. In that collection, there are pages and pages of remarkable quotations, classic wordplay, puns and quizzes, editorials, humour and popular feature articles. You can read more about this book at: