Lin Yutang quotes page 3
The love of mankind which requires reasons is no true love.
I prefer talking with a colored maid to talking with a mathematician. I generally gain more in
knowledge of human nature by talking with her.
This I conceive to be the chemical function of humor: To change the character of our
Much as I like reasonable persons, I hate completely rational beings. For that reason, I am
always scared and ill at ease when I enter a house in which there are no ash trays.
Common sense is so uncommon.
My faith in human dignity consists in the belief that man is the greatest scamp on earth.
Human dignity must be associated with the idea of a scamp and not with that of an obedient,
disciplined and regimented soldier.
While in the West the insane are so many that they are put in an asylum, in China the insane
are so unusual that we worship them, as anybody who has a knowledge of Chinese literature
Any good practical philosophy must start out with the recognition of our having a body.
I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all
autumn, because its leaves are a little yellow, its tone mellower, its colours richer, and it is
tinged a little with sorrow and a premonition of death. Its golden richness speaks not of the
innocence of spring, nor of the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of
approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and is content. From a knowledge of those
limitations and its richness of experience emerges a symphony of colours, richer than all, its
green speaking of life and strength, its orange speaking of golden content and its purple of
resignation and death.
Thoreau is the most Chinese of all American authors.
All women's dresses are merely variations on the eternal struggle between the admitted desire
to dress and the unadmitted desire to undress.
I have done my best. That is about all the philosophy of living one needs.
Art is both creation and recreation. Of the two ideas, I think art as recreation or as sheer
play of the human spirit is more important.
Sometimes it is more important to discover what one cannot do, than what one can do.
Communists and Fascists make a false start at the very beginning by ignoring the role of the
individual, both as the creating personality and the object of the creation.
Nine tenths of the world's most important discoveries, both scientific and philosophical, are
come upon when the scientist or philosopher is curled up in bed at two or five o'clock in the
I call no man wise until he has made the progress from the wisdom of knowledge to the
wisdom of foolishness.
Women as a whole, as seen in the parks and in the streets, have better figures and are better
dressed, thanks to the continuous tremendous daily efforts of women to keep their figure to
the great delight of men. But I imagine how it must wear on their nerves.
The highest conception of human dignity, according to the Chinese Confucianists, is when
man reaches ultimately his greatest height, an equal of heaven and earth, by living in
accordance with nature.
If men fail to enjoy this earthly existence we have, it is because they do not love life
sufficiently and allow it to be turned into a humdrum routine existence.
The final test of any civilization is, what type of husbands and wives and fathers and mothers
does it turn out?
The end of all knowledge is to serve human happiness.
It is not when he is working in his office but when he is lying idly on the sand that his soul
utters, "Life is beautiful."
I distrust all dead and mechanical formulas for expressing anything connected with human
affairs and human personalities. Putting human affairs in exact formulas shows in itself a lack
of the sense of humor and therefore a lack of wisdom.
A man with a warm, generous and sentimental nature may be easily taken in by his cleverer
How many of us are able to distinguish between the odors of noon and midnight, or of winter
and summer, or of a windy spell and a still one? If man is so generally less happy in the cities
than in the country, it is because all these variations and nuances of sight and smell and
sound are less clearly marked and lost in the general monotony of gray walls and cement
Where are the smiles of the European dictators?
When one cannot be powerful, one must choose to be dainty, and when one cannot be
aggressive, one has to make a virtue of reasonableness.