Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Quotes

The advice of their elders to young men is very apt to be as unreal as a list of the hundred best books.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Speech in Boston, 1897)
The character of every act depends upon the circumstances in which it is done.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Opinion in the case Schenck v. United States, 1919)
The Constitution is an experiment as all life is an experiment.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Quoted in The Dissenting Opinions of Mr. Justice Holmes, 1981)
We see what you are driving at, but you have not said it, and therefore we shall go on as before.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Johnson v. United States, 1908)
The aim of the law is not to punish sins, but is to prevent certain external results.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Opinion in the case Commonwealth v. Kennedy, 1897)
The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Opinion in the case Schenck v. United States, 1919)
If I were dying, my last words would be, Have faith and pursue the unknown end.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Letter to Jingxiong Wu, 1924)
A page of history is worth a volume of logic.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (New York Trust Co. v. Eisner, 1921)
If you want to know the law and nothing else, you must look at it as a bad man.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Harvard Law Review - The Path of Law, 1897)
The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience... The law embodies the story of a nation's development through many centuries, and it cannot be dealt with as if it contained only the axioms and corollaries of a book of mathematics.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (The Common Law, 1881)
General propositions do not decide concrete cases.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Dissenting opinion in the case Lochner v. New York, 1905)
The chief end of a man is to frame general ideas, and... no general idea is worth a damn.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Letter to Morris Cohen, 1915)
Life is a roar of bargain and battle, but in the very heart of it there rises a mystic spiritual tone that gives meaning to the whole. It transmutes the dull details into romance. It reminds is that our only but wholly adequate significance is as parts of the unimaginable whole. It suggests that even while living we are living to ends outside ourselves.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Speech to the Harvard Alumni Association)
It is now the moment when by common consent we pause to become conscious of our national life and to rejoice in it, to recall what our country has done for each of us, and to ask ourselves what we can do for the country in return.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Speech delivered on Memorial Day, 1884)
To have doubted one's own first principles is the mark of a civilized man.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Illnois Law Review - Ideas and Doubts, 1915)
Free competition is worth more to society than it costs.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Opinion in the case Vegelahn v. Guntner, 1896)
I think that, as life is action and passion, it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Speech delivered on Memorial Day, 1884)
I think it not improbable that man, like the grub that prepares a chamber for the winged thing it never has seen but is to be — that man may have cosmic destinies that he does not understand.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Speech in the Harvard Law School - Law and the Court, 1913)
I do not repine. We have shared the incommunicable experience of war; we have felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Speech delivered in Harvard on Memorial Day, 1895)
State interference is an evil, where it cannot be shown to be a good.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (The Common Law, 1881)
Three generations of imbeciles are enough.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanging, it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in colour and content according to the circumstances and time in which it is used.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Towne v. Eisner, 1918)
Certainty generally is illusion, and repose is not the destiny of man.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Harvard Law Review - The Path of Law, 1897)
Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Speech delivered on Memorial Day, 1884)
Life is action, the use of one's powers. As to use them to their height is our joy and duty, so it is the one end that justifies itself.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Speech in Boston - Bar Association Dinner, 1900)
Even a dog distinguishes between being stumbled over and being kicked.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (The Common Law - Lecture I, 1909)
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. (Speech in Boston - Bar Association Dinner, 1900)

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Biography

Born: March 8, 1841
Died: March 6, 1935

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. was an American jurist. He is best known for serving as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Notable Works

The Common Law (1881)

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