Philosophy Quotes — ‘The Good Book’ by A. C. Grayling

Jakub Ferencik
5 min readFeb 18, 2018


This is why I believe that philosophy is not a dead practice. Philosophy is practical, useful for everyone, & reassuring.

Here’s some of my favorite quotes from the first 70 pages of A. C. Grayling’s book titled: The Good Book.

Knowledge is freedom, freedom from ignorance and its offspring fear; knowledge is light and liberation, Knowledge that the world contains itself, and its origins, and the mind of man, From which comes more knowledge, and hope of knowledge again. Dare to know: that is the motto of enlightenment. — p. 2

Let us admit no more causes of natural things than are both true and sufficient to explain what we see. — p.9

Philosophy may help us gather up what might otherwise pass unregarded, for philosophy is the microscope of thought. -p.14

The wise ask themselves what they truly seek in wealth, or position, in love, or honour, in victory, or retirement from life; For only clear and distinct ideas of these things guard against false objects of ambition. — p.16

Work, therefore, to be able to say to every harsh appearance, ‘You are but an appearance and not absolutely the thing you appear to be.’ — p.17

Death, for instance, is not terrible, otherwise it would have appeared so to Socrates. Rather, the terror consists in our belief that death is terrible. — p. 18

Behave in life as at a dinner party. Is anything brought around to you? Put out your hand and take your share with moderation. Does it pass by you? Do not stop it. Is it not yet come? Do not stretch your desire towards it, but wait till it reaches you. Do this with regard to children, to a spouse, to public posts, to riches, and you will eventually be a worthy guest at the feast of life. — p.20

Let death, illness, failure and loss, and any other thing which appears terrible, be frankly gazed upon, to be seen for what it is; And chiefly death, which is no more than dreamless sleep, and rest from strife; And you will cease to entertain abject thoughts; nor will you too eagerly covet anything, since all must be left behind one day. If you have an earnest desire of attaining wisdom, prepare yourself from the first to be laughed at by the multitude, To hear them say, ‘He does not covet what we covet, or seek what we hasten after and pursue, but he stands apart.’ Do not mind such rejection, but keep steadily to those things which appear best to you. For if you adhere to your principles, those very persons who at first ridiculed will afterwards admire you. -p.21

If, therefore, you will be negligent and slothful, and always add procrastination to procrastination, purpose to purpose, and delay day after day until you will attend to yourself, You will insensibly continue without proficiency, and, living and dying, persevere in being one of the thoughtless. This instant, think yourself worthy of living as a grown-up. Let whatever is the best be your law. And if any instance of pain or pleasure, of glory or disgrace, is set before you, remember that now is the combat, now the struggle, nor can it be put off. And though you are not yet a Socrates, you ought to live as one desirous of becoming a Socrates, who said, ‘The Life most worth living is the life considered and chosen’ The question to be asked at the end of each day is, ‘How long will you delay to be wise?’ And the great lesson that the end of each day teaches is that wisdom and the freedom it brings must daily be won anew. -p.29



Let us mean by “good people” those whose actions and lives leave no question as to their honour, sense of justice, and generosity of hand and heart; Who have the courage to stand by their principles, and who are free from greed, intemperance and violence. Such people as these are generally accounted “good”, so let us agree to call them that . . . -p.57

It will at once be recognised that the good love the good, and attach them to themselves as though they were united by blood and nature. For nothing can be more eager for what is like itself than nature. — p.64

‘The true rule is to take such care in the selection of our friends as never to enter upon a friendship with anyone whom we could come to hate. Scipio used to complain that there is nothing on which people bestow so little pains as friendships: That everyone could tell exactly how many goats or sheep he had, but not how many friends; And while they took pains in procuring the former, they were careless in selecting friends, and applied no thought to how they might judge of their suitability for friendship.’ (p65)

The qualities we ought to look for in choosing friends are firmness, stability and constancy. — p. 65

What is the quality to look for as a promise of stability and permanence in friendship? Loyalty. We should also look for simplicity, a sociable disposition, and a sympathetic nature, moved by what moves us. You can nver trust a character which is intricate and tortuous. Nor is it possible for one to be trustworthy and firm who is unsympathetic by nature and unmoved by what affects others. — p. 66

But here arises a question of some little difficulty. Are there any occasions on which, assuming their worthiness, we should prefer new to old friends, just as we prefer young to aged horses? The answer is clear. There should be n satiety in friendship, as there is in other things. The older the sweeter as in wines that keep well. -p.66

Though a man be so unsociable as to shun the company of mankind, yet even he cannot refrain from seeking someone to whom he can complain when he suffers. — p. 69

To seek the good is the first demand we should make upon ourselves; But next to the good, and to it alone, the greatest of all things is friendship. — p. 71

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keep reflecting.



Jakub Ferencik

Author of “Up in the Air,” “Beyond Reason,” & "Surprised by Uncertainty" on AMAZON | MA McGill Uni | RA for EUROPEUM Prague | 700+ articles with 1+ mil. views