Quotes; Authors: V to Z
It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.
Whoever in discussion adduces authority uses not intellect but rather memory.
Any one who in discussion relies upon authority uses, not his understanding, but rather his memory. Good culture is born of a good disposition; and since the cause is more to be praised than the effect, I will rather praise a good disposition without culture, than good culture without the disposition.
Necessity is the mistress and guardian of Nature.
Science is the observation of things possible, whether present or past; prescience is the knowledge of things which may come to pass, though but slowly.
Wisdom is the daughter of experience.
Nature is full of infinite causes that have never occurred in experience.
Experience does not err; only your judgments err by expecting from her what is not in her power. Men wrongly complain of Experience; with great abuse they accuse her of leading them astray but they set Experience aside, turning from it with complaints as to our ignorance causing us to be carried away by vain and foolish desires to promise ourselves, in her name, things that are not in her power; saying that she is fallacious. Men are unjust in complaining of innocent Experience, constantly accusing her of error and of false evidence.
Mechanics is the paradise of the mathematical sciences because by means of it one comes to the fruits of mathematics.
The Book of the science of Mechanics must precede the Book of useful inventions.
Many will think they may reasonably blame me by alleging that my proofs are opposed to the authority of certain men held in the highest reverence by their inexperienced judgments; not considering that my works are the issue of pure and simple experience, who is the one true mistress. These rules are sufficient to enable you to know the true from the false — and this aids men to look only for things that are possible and with due moderation — and not to wrap yourself in ignorance, a thing which can have no good result, so that in despair you would give yourself up to melancholy.
If you condemn painting, which is the only imitator of all visible works of nature, you will certainly despise a subtle invention which brings philosophy and subtle speculation to the consideration of the nature of all forms — seas and plains, trees, animals, plants and flowers — which are surrounded by shade and light. And this is true knowledge and the legitimate issue of nature; for painting is born of nature — or, to speak more correctly, we will say it is the grandchild of nature; for all visible things are produced by nature, and these her children have given birth to painting. Hence we may justly call it the grandchild of nature and related to God.
The eye, which is called the window of the soul, is the principal means by which the central sense can most completely and abundantly appreciate the infinite works of nature; and the ear is the second, which acquires dignity by hearing of the things the eye has seen.
Truth at last cannot be hidden. Dissimulation is of no avail. Dissimulation is to no purpose before so great a judge. Falsehood puts on a mask. Nothing is hidden under the sun.
Fire is to represent truth because it destroys all sophistry and lies; and the mask is for lying and falsehood which conceal truth.
To lie is so vile, that even if it were in speaking well of godly things it would take off something from God’s grace; and Truth is so excellent, that if it praises but small things they become noble.
Priscilla Vogelbacher –
No one creates a double-edged sword without the intent of using both sides.
Times have not become more violent. They have just become more televised.
Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.
It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government.
A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.
God grants Liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it.
Inconsistencies of opinion, arising from changes of circumstances, are often justifiable.
If the true spark of religious and civil liberty be kindled, it will burn. Human agency cannot extinguish it. Like the earth’s central fire, it may be smothered for a time; the ocean may overwhelm it; mountains may press it down; but its inherent and unconquerable force will heave both the ocean and the land, and at some time or other, in some place or other, the volcano will break out and flame up to heaven.
Let our object be, our country, our whole country, and nothing but our country. And, by the blessing of God, may that country itself become a vast and splendid monument, not of oppression and terror, but of Wisdom, of Peace, and of Liberty, upon which the world may gaze with admiration for ever.
There is nothing so powerful as truth — and often nothing so strange.
An English farmer looks not merely to the present year’s crop. He considers what will be the condition of the land when that crop is off; and what it will be fit for the next year. He studies to use his land so as not to abuse it. On the contrary, his aim is to get crop after crop, while still the land shall be growing better and better. If he should content himself with raising from the soil a large crop this year, and then leave it neglected and exhausted, he would starve. It is upon this fundamental idea of constant production without exhaustion, that the system of English cultivation, and, indeed, of all good cultivation, is founded. England is not original in this. Flanders, and perhaps Italy, have been her teachers.
Let us never forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. Man may be civilized, in some degree, without great progress in manufactures and with little commerce with his distant neighbors. But without the cultivation of the earth, he is, in all countries, a savage. Until he gives up the chase, and fixes himself in some place and seeks a living from the earth, he is a roaming barbarian. When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of human civilization.
Standing armies are the oppressive instruments for governing the people, in the hands of hereditary and arbitrary monarchs. A military republic, a government founded on mock elections and supported only by the sword, is a movement indeed, but a retrograde and disastrous movement, from the regular and old-fashioned monarchical systems. If men would enjoy the blessings of republican government, they must govern themselves by reason, by mutual counsel and consultation, by a sense and feeling of general interest, and by the acquiescence of the minority in the will of the majority, properly expressed; and, above all, the military must be kept, according to the language of our Bill of Rights, in strict subordination to the civil authority.
Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.
Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking of them.
Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.
Disobedience, in the eyes of any one who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.
Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people for the people.
The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised.
Say what you say plainly, and then take responsibility for it.
A small act is worth a million thoughts.
Liberty is about our rights to question everything.
Freedom of speech implies the world isn’t defined. It is meaningful when people are allowed to see the world their way.
I call on people to be “obsessed citizens,” forever questioning and asking for accountability. That’s the only chance we have today of a healthy and happy life.
Stupidity can win for a moment, but it can never really succeed because the nature of humans is to seek freedom. Rulers can delay that freedom, but they cannot stop it.
A land that rejects the truth, barricades itself against change and lacks the spirit of freedom is hopeless.
I also have to speak out for people around me who are afraid, who think it is not worth it or who have totally given up hope. So I want to set an example: you can do it and this is okay, to speak out
Prior to Capitalism, the way people amassed great wealth was by looting, plundering, and enslaving their fellow man. Capitalism made it possible to become wealthy by serving your fellow man.
How does something immoral, when done privately, become moral when it is done collectively? Furthermore, does legality establish morality? Slavery was legal; apartheid is legal; Stalinist, Nazi, and Maoist purges were legal. Clearly, the fact of legality does not justify these crimes. Legality, alone, cannot be the talisman of moral people.
In 302, the Roman emperor Diocletian commanded “there should be cheapness,” declaring, “Unprincipled greed appears wherever our armies … march. … Our law shall fix a measure and a limit to this greed.” The predictable result of Diocletian’s food price controls were black markets, hunger and food confiscation by his soldiers. Despite the disastrous history of price controls, politicians never manage to resist tampering with prices — that’s not a flattering observation of their learning abilities.
We’re all grossly ignorant about most things that we use and encounter in our daily lives, but each of us is knowledgeable about tiny, relatively inconsequential things. For example, a baker might be the best baker in town, but he’s grossly ignorant about virtually all the inputs that allow him to be the best baker. What is he likely to know about what goes into the processing of the natural gas that fuels his oven? For that matter, what does he know about oven manufacture? Then, there are all the ingredients he uses — flour, sugar, yeast, vanilla and milk. Is he likely to know how to grow wheat and sugar and how to protect the crop from diseases and pests? What is he likely to know about vanilla extraction and yeast production? Just as important is the question of how all the people who produce and deliver all these items know what he needs and when he needs them. There are literally millions of people cooperating with one another to ensure that the baker has all the necessary inputs. It’s the miracle of the market and prices that gets the job done so efficiently. What’s called the market is simply a collection of millions upon millions of independent decision makers not only in America but around the world. Who or what coordinates the activities all of these people? Rest assuredly it’s not a bakery czar.
The essence of exchange is the transfer of title. Here’s the essence of what happens when I buy a gallon of milk from my grocer. I tell him that I hold title to these three dollars and he holds title to the gallon of milk. Then, I offer: If you transfer your title to that gallon of milk, I will transfer title to these three dollars. Whenever there’s voluntary exchange, the only clear conclusion that a third party can make is that both parties, in their opinion, perceived themselves as better off as a result of the exchange; otherwise, they wouldn’t have exchanged. I was free to keep my three dollars, and the grocer was free to keep his milk. If you think it’s obvious that both parties benefit from voluntary exchange, then how come we hear pronouncements about worker exploitation? Say you offer me a wage of $2 an hour. I’m free to either accept or reject your offer. So what can be concluded if I’m seen working for you at $2 an hour? One clear conclusion is that I must have seen myself as being better off taking your offer than my next best alternative. All other alternatives were less valuable, or else why would I have accepted the $2 offer? How appropriate is it to say that you’re exploiting me when you’ve given me my best offer? Rather than using the term exploitation, you might say you wish I had more desirable alternatives. While people might characterize $2 an hour as exploitation, they wouldn’t say the same about $50 an hour. Therefore, for the most part, when people use the term exploitation in reference to voluntary exchange, they simply disagree with the price. If we equate price disagreement with exploitation, then exploitation is everywhere. For example, I not only disagree with my salary, I also disagree with the prices of Gulfstream private jets. By no means do I suggest that you purge your vocabulary of the term exploitation. It’s an emotionally valuable term to use to trick others, but in the process of tricking others, one need not trick himself. I’m reminded of charges of exploitation Mrs. Williams used to make early on in our 44-year marriage. She’d charge, “Walter, you’re using me!” I’d respond by saying, “Honey, sure, I’m using you. If I had no use for you, I wouldn’t have married you in the first place.” How many of us would marry a person for whom we had no use? As a matter of fact, the problem of the lonely hearts among us is that they can’t find someone to use them.
There’s the claim that this or that price is unreasonable. I used to have conversations about this claim with Mrs. Williams early on in our 44-year marriage. She’d return from shopping complaining that stores were charging unreasonable prices. Having aired her complaints, she’d ask me to go out and unload a car trunk loaded with groceries and other items. Having completed the chore, I’d resume our conversation, saying, “Honey, I thought you said the prices were unreasonable. Are you an unreasonable person? Only an unreasonable person would pay unreasonable prices.” The long and short of it is that the conversation never went over well, and we both ceased discussions of reasonable or unreasonable prices. The point is that whatever price a transaction is transacted at represents a meeting of the mind of both buyer and seller. Both viewed themselves as being better off than the next alternative — not making the transaction. That’s not to say that the seller wouldn’t have found a higher price more pleasing or the buyer wouldn’t have been pleased with a lower price.
What human motivation is responsible for getting the most wonderful things done? I would say greed. When I use the term greed, I do not mean cheating, stealing, fraud and other acts of dishonesty, I mean people seeking to get the most for themselves. One might be tempted to use “enlightened self interest” but I like greed better. Unfortunately, many people are naive enough to believe that it is compassion, concern, and “feeling another’s pain” that’s the superior human motivation. As such we fall easy prey to charlatans, quacks and hustlers.
Most people agree that slavery is immoral. But what makes it so? Slavery denies a person the right to use his property (body) and the fruits of his labor the way he sees fit. Slavery forcibly uses one person to serve the purposes of another. Tragically, most Americans, including blacks, whose ancestors have suffered from gross property right violations, think it quite proper that one person be forcibly used to serve the purposes of another.
A well-educated electorate, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right to the people to keep and read books shall not be infringed. Does that mean only well-educated people have a right to own and read books? Then how can this — A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. …possibly mean only members of the militia have a right to own weapons?
If the Negro in the ghetto must eternally be fed by the hand that pushes him into the ghetto, he will never become strong enough to get out of the ghetto.
You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass.
When there are too many policemen, there can be no liberty. When there are too many soldiers, there can be no peace. When there are too many lawyers, there can be no justice.
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.
I am doing my best to glorify the scamp or vagabond. I hope I shall succeed. For things are not so simple as they sometimes seem. In this present age of threats to democracy and individual liberty, probably only the scamp and the spirit of the scamp alone will save us from being lost in serially numbered units in the masses of disciplined, obedient, regimented and uniformed coolies. The scamp will be the last and most formidable enemy of dictatorships. He will be the champion of human dignity and individual freedom, and will be the last to be conquered. All modern civilization depends entirely upon him.
One can learn such a lot and enjoy such a lot in seventy years, and three generations is a long, long time to see human follies and acquire human wisdom. Anyone who is wise and has lived long enough to witness the changes of fashion and morals and politics through the rise and fall of three generations should be perfectly satisfied to rise from his seat and go away saying, “It was a good show,” when the curtain falls.
All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The Communist Party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party.
Konrad Zuse –
The danger of computers becoming like humans is not as great as the danger of humans becoming like computers.