Jacques Barzun Quotes

Scholarship has yielded to the irresistible pull that science exerts on our minds by its self-confidence and the promise of certified knowledge. But, to repeat, the objects of culture are not analyzable, not graspable by the geometric mind. Great works of art are great by virtue of being syntheses of the world; they qualify as art by fusing form and contents into an indivisible whole; what they offer is not "discourse about," nor a cipher to be decoded, but a prolonged incitement to finesse. So it is paradoxical that our way of introducing young minds to such works should be the way of scholarship.

Jacques Barzun

On reflection, moral judgment in the arts appears rather as a tribute to their power to influence emotion and possibly conduct. And reflecting further on what some critics do today, one sees that a good many have merely shifted the ground of their moralism, transferring their impulse of righteousness to politics and social issues.

Jacques Barzun

Like Nietzsche, he rails at romanticism, but it is evident that what they both mean by the word is the clichs of second-hand romance. Historic romanticism is in fact the ground-work of their philosophy.

Jacques Barzun

No one has ever used historical examples, near or remote, with the detail, precision, and directness to be found in every page of Shaw.

Jacques Barzun

Shaw's emotional development was one with his intellectual strength. His path led him into the thick of the scrimmage, where more spontaneous natures defend themselves with the usual weapons of malice, humility, bad temper or conceit. But Shaw used the death ray of imperturbability. His feelings were never hurt, his envy never aroused, his conceit was a transparent fiction, he never quarreled.

Jacques Barzun

Strangers who have seen Shaw face to face are wont to report their surprise at his gentleness and consideration, his willingness to listen and his complete lack of pose.

Jacques Barzun

Old age is like learning a new profession. And not one of your own choosing.

Jacques Barzun

I have always been I think any student of history almost inevitably is a cheerful pessimist.

Jacques Barzun

Bernard Shaw remains the only model we have of what the citizen of a democracy should be: an informed participant in all things we deem important to the society and the individual.

Jacques Barzun

The truth is, when all is said and done, one does not teach a subject, one teaches a student how to learn it.

Jacques Barzun

The one thing that unifies men in a given age is not their individual philosophies but the dominant problem that these philosophies are designed to solve.

Jacques Barzun

Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition.

Jacques Barzun

Among the words that can be all things to all men, the word "race" has a fair claim to being the most common, most ambiguous and most explosive. No one today would deny that it is one of the great catchwords about which ink and blood are spilled in reckless quantities. Yet no agreement seems to exist about what race means.

Jacques Barzun
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