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Daniel Quinn quotes (showing 1-30 of 180)

“There is no one right way to live.”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael
“But why? Why do you need prophets to tell you how you ought to live? Why do you need anyone to tell you how you ought to live”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael
“I have amazing news for you. Man is not alone on this planet. He is part of a community, upon which he depends absolutely.”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
“It's the idea that people living close to nature tend to be noble. It's seeing all those sunsets that does it. You can't watch a sunset and then go off and set fire to your neighbor's tepee. Living close to nature is wonderful for your mental health.”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
“If the world is saved, it will not be saved by old minds with new programs but by new minds with no programs at all.”
Daniel Quinn, The Story of B: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
“Thinkers aren't limited by what they know, because they can always increase what they know. Rather they're limited by what puzzles them, because there's no way to become curious about something that doesn't puzzle you.”
Daniel Quinn, My Ishmael
“Everyone in your culture knows this. Man was born to turn the world into paradise, but tragically he was born flawed. And so his paradise has always been spoiled by stupidty, greed, destructiveness, and shortsightedness.”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
“There's nothing fundamentally wrong with people. Given a story to enact that puts them in accord with the world, they will live in accord with the world. But given a story to enact that puts them at odds with the world, as yours does, they will live at odds with the world. Given a story to enact in which they are the lords of the world, they will ACT like lords of the world. And, given a story to enact in which the world is a foe to be conquered, they will conquer it like a foe, and one day, inevitably, their foe will lie bleeding to death at their feet, as the world is now.”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
“Once you learn to discern the voice of Mother Culture humming in the background, telling her story over and over again to the people of your culture, you’ll never stop being conscious of it. Wherever you go for the rest of your life, you’ll be tempted to say to the people around you, “how can you listen to this stuff and not recognize it for what it is?”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael
“The world must live. We are only one species among billions. The gods don't love us any more than they love spiders or bears or whales or water lilies.”
Daniel Quinn
“The premise of the Taker story is 'the world belongs to man'. … The premise of the Leaver story is 'man belongs to the world'.”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
“In fact, of course, there is no secret knowledge; no one knows anything that can't be found on a shelf in the public library.”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
“The ship was sinking---and sinking fast. The captain told the passengers and crew, "We've got to get the lifeboats in the water right away."
But the crew said, "First we have to end capitalist oppression of the working class. Then we'll take care of the lifeboats."

Then the women said, "First we want equal pay for equal work. The lifeboats can wait."

The racial minorities said, "First we need to end racial discrimination. Then seating in the lifeboats will be allotted fairly."

The captain said, "These are all important issues, but they won't matter a damn if we don't survive. We've got to lower the lifeboats right away!"

But the religionists said, "First we need to bring prayer back into the classroom. This is more important than lifeboats."

Then the pro-life contingent said, "First we must outlaw abortion. Fetuses have just as much right to be in those lifeboats as anyone else."

The right-to-choose contingent said, "First acknowledge our right to abortion, then we'll help with the lifeboats."

The socialists said, "First we must redistribute the wealth. Once that's done everyone will work equally hard at lowering the lifeboats."

The animal-rights activists said, "First we must end the use of animals in medical experiments. We can't let this be subordinated to lowering the lifeboats."

Finally the ship sank, and because none of the lifeboats had been lowered, everyone drowned.

The last thought of more than one of them was, "I never dreamed that solving humanity's problems would take so long---or that the ship would sink so SUDDENLY.”
Daniel Quinn
“Man's destiny was to conquer and rule the world, and this is what he's done.. almost. He hasn't quite made it, and it looks as though this may be his undoing. The problem is that man's conquest of the world has itself devastated the world. And in spite of all the mastery we've attained, we don't have enough mastery to stop devastating the world.. or to repair the devastation we've already wrought.”
Daniel Quinn
“We're not destroying the world because we're clumsy. We're destroying the world
because we are, in a very literal and deliberate way, at war with it.”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
“Do you see the slightest evidence anywhere in the universe that creation came to an end with the birth of man? Do you see the slightest evidence anywhere out there that man was the climax toward which creation had been straining from the beginning? ...Very far from it. The universe went on as before, the planet went on as before. Man's appearance caused no more stir than the appearance of jellyfish.”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
“You're captives of a civilizational system that more or less compels you to go on destroying the world in order to live. … You are captives—and you have made a captive of the world itself. That's what's at stake, isn't it?—your captivity and the captivity of the world.”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
“Our lifestyle is evolutionarily unstable--and is therefore in the process of eliminating itself in the perfectly ordinary way.”
Daniel Quinn
“And every time the Takers stamp out a Leaver culture, a wisdom ultimately tested since the birth of mankind disappears from the world beyond recall.”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
tags: deep
“[A]ny species that exempts itself from the rules of competition ends up destroying the community in order to support its own expansion.”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
“The world doesn't belong to us, we belong to it. Always have, always will. We belong to the world. We belong to the community of life on this planet--it doesn't belong to us. We got confused about that, now it's time to set the record straight”
Daniel Quinn
“If you alone found out what the lie was, then you're probably right—it would make no great difference. But if you ALL found out what the lie was, it might conceivably make a very great difference indeed.”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
“The mythology of your culture hums in your ears so constantly that no one pays the slightest bit of attention to it. Of course man is conquering space and the atom and the deserts and the oceans and the elements. According to your mythology, this is what he was BORN to do.”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
“The world of the Takers is one vast prison, and except for a handful of Leavers scattered across the world, the entire human race is now inside that prison.”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
“[I]n Africa I was a member of a family—of a sort of family that the people of your culture haven't known for thousands of years. If gorillas were capable of such an expression, they would tell you that their family is like a hand, of which they are the fingers. They are fully aware of being a family but are very little aware of being individuals. Here in the zoo there were other gorillas—but there was no family. Five severed fingers do not make a hand.”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
“Diversity is a survival factor for the community itself. A community of a hundred million species can survive anything short of total global catastrophe. Within that hundred million will be thousands that could survive a global temperature drop of twenty degrees—which would be a lot more devastating than it sounds. Within that hundred million will be thousands that could survive a global temperature rise of twenty degrees. But a community of a hundred species or a thousand species has almost no survival value at all.”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
“You shouldn't have to settle for rabbits if what you want is deer”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
tags: deep
“No one species shall make the life of the world its own.' … That's one expression of the law. Here's another: 'The world was not made for any one species.”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
“[E]ducation is a thing you get past and forget about as quickly as possible. This is particularly true of elementary and secondary education, of course…. I began to remember what it had been like: the tremendous excitement of the first couple of years, when kids imagine that great secrets are going to be unfolding before them, then the disappointment that gradually sets in when you begin to realize the truth: There’s plenty of learning to do, but it’s not the learning you wanted. It’s learning to keep your mouth shut, learning how to avoid attracting the teacher’s attention when you don’t want it, learning not to ask questions, learning how to pretend to understand, learning how to tell teachers what they want to hear, learning to keep your own ideas and opinions to yourself, learning how to look as if you’re paying attention, learning how to endure the endless boredom.”
Daniel Quinn, Providence
“Guess what? The Nazis didn't lose the war after all. They won it and flourished. They took over the world and wiped out every last Jew, every last Gypsy, black, East Indian, and American Indian. Then, when they were finished with that, they wiped out the Russians and the Poles and the Bohemians and the Moravians and the Bulgarians and the Serbians and the Croatians--all the Slavs. Then they started in on the Polynesians and the Koreans and the Chinese and the Japanese--all the peoples of Asia. This took a long, long time, but when it was all over, everyone in the world was one hundred percent Aryan, and they were all very, very happy. Naturally the textbooks used in the schools no longer mentioned any race but the Aryan or any language but German or any religion but Hitlerism or any political system but National Socialism. There would have been no point. After a few generations of that, no one could have put anything different into the textbooks even if they'd wanted to, because they didn't know anything different. But one day, two young students were conversing at the University of New Heidelberg in Tokyo. Both were handsome in the usual Aryan way, but one of them looked vaguely worried and unhappy. That was Kurt. His friend said, "What's wrong, Kurt? Why are you always moping around like this?" Kurt said, "I'll tell you, Hans. There is something that's troubling me--and troubling me deeply." His friend asked what it was. "It's this," Kurt said. "I cannot shake the crazy feeling that there is some small thing that we're being lied to about." And that's how the paper ended.'
Ishmael nodded thoughtfully. 'And what did your teacher think of that?'
'He wanted to know if I had the same crazy feeling as Kurt. When I said I did, he wanted to know what I thought we were being lied to about. I said, 'How could I know? I'm no better off than Kurt.”
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit

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