Eleven Philosophical Quotes on Change (With References)

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This page contains a collection of philosophical quotes on change, arranged in roughly chronological order. These quotes are all genuine and details about the author, book, chapter number, and translation are included where applicable. Quotes that begin with a section of bold text are my personal favourites. Without further ado, here are eleven philosophical quotes on change:

All things are in flux and nothing at rest . . . you cannot step into the same stream twice.

– Heraclitus as quoted in Plato, Cratylus, 402A

For time changes the nature of the whole world and all things must pass on from one condition to another, and nought continues like to itself: all things quit their bounds, all things nature changes and compels to alter. One thing crumbles away and is worn and enfeebled with age, then another comes unto honour and issues out of its state of contempt. In this way then time changes the nature of the whole world and the earth passes out of one condition into another, so that now it cannot bear what once it could, and now it can bear what before it did not bear.

– Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, V, trans. H. A. J. Munro

Often think of the rapidity with which things pass by and disappear, both the things which are and the things which are produced. For substance is like a river in a continual flow, and the activities of things are in constant change, and the causes work in infinite varieties; and there is hardly anything which stands still.

– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, V, 23, trans. George Long

Some things are hurrying into existence, and others are hurrying out of it; and of that which is coming into existence part is already extinguished. Motions and changes are continually renewing the world, just as the uninterrupted course of time is always renewing the infinite duration of ages. In this flowing stream then, on which there is no abiding, what is there of the things which hurry by on which a man would set a high price? It would be just as if a man should fall in love with one of the sparrows which fly by, but it has already passed out of sight.

– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, VI, 15, trans. George Long

Is any man afraid of change? Why what can take place without change? What then is more pleasing or more suitable to the universal nature? And canst thou take a bath unless the wood undergoes a change? And canst thou be nourished, unless the food undergoes a change? And can anything else that is useful be accomplished without change? Dost thou not see then that for thyself also to change is just the same, and equally necessary for the universal nature?

– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, VII, 18, trans. George Long

All things are in a state of flux, and everything is brought into being with a changing nature. Time itself flows on in constant motion, just like a river. For neither the river nor the swift hour can stop its course; but, as wave is pushed on by wave, and as each wave as it comes is both pressed on and itself presses the wave in front, so time both flees and follows and is ever new.

– Ovid, Metamorphoses, II, VX, trans. Frank Justus Miller

As the births of living creatures, at first are ill-shapen, so are all innovations, which are the births of time.

– Francis Bacon, Of Innovations

He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator.

– Francis Bacon, Of Innovations

He no longer loves the person whom he loved ten years ago. I quite believe it. She is no longer the same, nor is he. He was young, and she also; she is quite different. He would perhaps love her yet, if she were what she was then.

– Blaise Pascal, Pensées, II, 123, trans. W. F. Trotter

Samuel Johnson: When I was a young man, being anxious to distinguish myself, I was perpetually starting new propositions. But I soon gave this over; for, I found that generally what was new was false.

– James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (Mar. 26, 1779)

All change is a miracle to contemplate; but it is a miracle which is taking place every instant.

– Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Economy

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