Top Quotes by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought, not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The advice of the elders to young men is very apt to be as unreal as a list of the hundred best books.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Lawyers spend a great deal of their time shoveling smoke.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Beware how you take away hope from another human being.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The greatest act of faith is when a man understands he is not God.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Between two groups of people who want to make inconsistent kinds of worlds, I see no remedy but force.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and time in which it is used.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

It is very lonely sometimes, trying to play God.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Every calling is great when greatly pursued.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Every calling is great when greatly pursued.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Life is painting a picture, not doing a sum.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

A man is usually more careful of his money than of his principles.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Young man, the secret of my success is that at early age I discovered that I was not God.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Life is an end in itself, and the only question as to whether it is worth living is whether you have had enough of it.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

It seems to me that at this time we need education in the obvious more than investigation of the obscure.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The mode by which the inevitable comes to pass is effort.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The main part of intellectual education is not the acquisition of facts, but learning how to make facts live.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

A new untruth is better than an old truth.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The language of judicial decision is mainly the language of logic. And the logical method and form flatter that longing for certainty and for repose which is in every human mind. But certainty generally is illusion, and repose is not the destiny of man.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Most of the things we do, we do for no better reason than that our fathers have done them or our neighbors do them, and the same is true of a larger part than what we suspect of what we think.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Men must turn square corners when they deal with the Government.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

To have doubted one’s own first principles is the mark of a civilized man.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The only prize much cared for by the powerful is power.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

I despise making the most of one’s time. Half of the pleasures of life consist of the opportunities one has neglected.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

On the whole, I am on the side of the unregenerate who affirms the worth of life as an end in itself, as against the saints who deny it.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

When in doubt, do it.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The great act of faith is when a man decides he is not God.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

People talk fundamentals and superlatives and then make some changes of detail.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

To be civilized is to be potentially master of all possible ideas, and that means that one has got beyond being shocked, although one preserves one’s own moral aesthetic preferences.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Certitude is not the test of certainty. We have been cocksure of many things that were not so.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

I have no respect for the passion of equality, which seems to me merely idealizing envy – I don’t disparage envy, but I don’t accept it as legitimately my master.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The rule of joy and the law of duty seem to me all one.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Any two philosophers can tell each other all they know in two hours.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Every idea is an incitement… eloquence may set fire to reason.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Every now and then a man’s mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Even for practical purposes theory generally turns out the most important thing in the end.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

You make me chuckle when you say that you are no longer young, that you have turned twenty-four. A man is or may be young to after sixty, and not old before eighty.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

If I were dying, my last words would be: Have faith and pursue the unknown end.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

A new and valid idea is worth more than a regiment and fewer men can furnish the former than command the latter.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The rules of evidence in the main are based on experience, logic, and common sense, less hampered by history than some parts of the substantive law.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.