In all pointed sentences some degree of accuracy must be sacrificed to conciseness.

Samuel Johnson

There is an accuracy that defeats itself by the overemphasis of details. I often say that one must permit oneself, and quite advisedly and deliberately, a certain margin of misstatement.

Benjamin N. Cardozo

A good test of character is how one reacts to the weaknesses of other people.

It’s a sign of maturity not to be scandalized.

Flannery O’Connor

The test of good manners is to be patient with bad ones.

Solomon ibn Gabirol

Certain good qualities are like the senses: people entirely lacking in them can neither perceive nor comprehend them.

La Rochefoucauld

Courtesy is to virtue as words are to thought.

Joseph Joubert

No man can put more virtue into his words than he practises in his life.

Hugh Kingsmill

Blaming or scapegoating someone always implies the claim that we would have done better in their shoes. It’s a way of protesting our innocence and brightening our self-esteem.

David Cayley

Nobody can doubt that nine-tenths of the harm in the world is done simply by talking.

G. K. Chesterton

A large part of mankind is angry not with the sins, but with the sinners.


There is perhaps no phenomenon which contains so much destructive feeling as moral indignation which permits envy or hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue.

Erich Fromm

There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labour of thinking.

Sir Joshua Reynolds

Our minds are lazier than our bodies.

La Rochefoucauld

Everyone is guilty of enjoying the comfort of opinion without submitting himself to the discomfort of thought.

If we could add up all the minutes we have dedicated to a critical examination of one of our most deeply held beliefs, we would probably be shocked at the ridiculously small sum.

Ernest Dimnet

People only see what they are prepared to see.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

A man has his beliefs: his arguments are only his excuses for them . . . we only see what we look at: our attention to our temperamental convictions produces complete oversight as to all the facts that tell against us.

George Bernard Shaw

Nobody will admit without a struggle that he is prejudiced against anything. Such an admission is distressing to one’s vanity. One likes to believe that one’s views on all subjects are the product of calm, dispassionate reasoning on the available evidence.

Arnold Lunn

What probably distorts everything in life is that one is convinced that one is speaking the truth because one says what one thinks.

Sacha Guitry

Objectivity means that we can separate facts from our thoughts and feelings about those facts.

It is important to concede everything which should be conceded because it is not only bad policy but intellectually dishonest to defend the indefensible.

Arnold Lunn

POLITICS: a struggle of interests masquerading as a contest of principles; the conduct of public affairs for private advantage.

Ambrose Bierce

Our effective choice is never between good government and bad government, but between bearable government and unbearable government.

Government comprises a large part of the organized injustice in any society, ancient or modern.

Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.

H. L. Mencken

By and large the United States is run by the corporations and they hire lawyers from Whittier and actors from Warner Brothers to impersonate presidents, but the actual governing of the United States is done in the board rooms of America.

Gore Vidal

Perhaps the simultaneously most profound and silliest words ever written were: “We hold these truths to be self-evident...

M. Scott Peck

It is absurd to blame any class or any sex, as a whole. Great bodies of people are never responsible for what they do. They are driven by instincts which are not within their control.

Virginia Woolf

As I know more of mankind I expect less of them, and am ready now to call a man a good man upon easier terms than I was formerly.

Samuel Johnson

Perfection in making is an art, perfection in acting is a virtue.


The perfection of man consists not in being perfect but in trying to be; and that trying implies, of course, continual failures.

Michael Mason

The youth of twenty who does not think the world can be improved is a cad; the man of forty who still thinks it can is a fool.

Hesketh Pearson

Progress is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing.

George Orwell

Of all follies there is none greater than wanting to put the world to rights.


The troubles of our proud and angry dust
Are from eternity, and shall not fail.

A. E. Housman

Aristotle said that the purpose of education is to make the pupil like what he ought and dislike what he ought.

It is a fact of experience and common-sense that education has to be governed by some set of human values, however sharply we may disagree about the content of these.

Christopher Derrick

Education does not mean teaching people to know what they do not know; it means teaching them to behave as they do not behave.

John Ruskin

Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.

Robert Frost

Allow children to be happy in their own way, for what better way will they ever find?

Samuel Johnson

Mankind are always happy for having been happy; so that if you make them happy now, you make them happy twenty years hence by the memory of it.

Sydney Smith

Very few people listen to argument.

G. K. Chesterton

Many people like their beliefs, opinions and prejudices more than they like argument.

Very few people listen to argument.

G. K. Chesterton

Time makes more converts than reason.

Tom Paine

We are not won by arguments that we can analyse but by tone and temper, by the manner which is the man himself.

Samuel Butler

Men become susceptible to ideas, not by discussion and argument, but by seeing them personified and by loving the person who so embodies them.

Lewis Mumford

You cannot win a man from his belief, political or religious, unless you can see why it attracts him and can almost imagine holding it yourself.

Frank Sheed

The Catholic and the Communist are alike in assuming that an opponent cannot be both honest and intelligent. Each of them tacitly claims that “the truth” has already been revealed, and that the heretic, if he is not simply a fool, is secretly aware of “the truth” and merely resists it out of selfish motives.

George Orwell (from The Prevention of Literature, 1946)

When a subject is highly controversial one cannot hope to tell the truth. One can only show how one came to hold whatever opinion one does hold. One can only give one’s audience the chance of drawing their own conclusions as they observe the limitations, the prejudices, the idiosyncrasies of the speaker.

Virginia Woolf

The simple realization that there are other points of view is the beginning of wisdom. Knowing what they are is a big step. The final achievement is understanding why they are held.

The simple realization that there are other points of view is the beginning of wisdom. Knowing what they are is a big step. The final achievement is understanding why they are held.

Bigotry is an incapacity to conceive seriously the alternative to a proposition. It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.

G. K. Chesterton

It doesn’t pay to tell someone they are wrong.

Dale Carnegie

When you object to someone’s attitude or opinion on moral grounds, it invariably causes bad feeling.

Equality is essential to conversation.

G. K. Chesterton

Every man has a right to be wrong in his opinions. But no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.

Bernard Baruch

The need to be right—the sign of a vulgar mind.

Albert Camus

Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The first condition of right thought is right sensation.

T. S. Eliot

The mind is always the dupe of the heart.

La Rochefoucauld

This is the greatest paradox: the emotions cannot be trusted, yet it is they that tell us the greatest truths.

Don Herold

All the settlement and sane government of life consists in coming to the conclusion that some instincts, impulses or inspirations have authority, and others do not.

G. K. Chesterton

Love is a matter of feeling, not of will or volition. Hence there is no such thing as a duty to love.

Immanuel Kant

Genuine love is volitional rather than emotional.

M. Scott Peck

I was taught when I was young that if people would only love one another, all would be well with the world. This seemed simple and very nice; but I found when I tried to put it in practice not only that other people were seldom lovable, but that I was not very lovable myself . . . you will find yourself making friends with people whose opinions are the very opposite to your own, whilst you cannot bear the sight of others who share all your beliefs. You may love your dog and find your nearest relatives detestable. So don’t waste your time arguing whether you ought to love all you neighbours. You can’t help yourself; and neither can they.

George Bernard Shaw (from a broadcast to sixth forms in 1937)

It is obviously impossible to love all men in any strict and true sense. What is meant by loving all men, is to feel well disposed towards all men, to be ready to assist them, and to act towards those who come in our way as if we loved them.

J. H. Newman

We often irritate others when we think we could not possibly do so.

La Rochefoucauld

The degree to which a person is loved and accepted is in exact proportion to his or her ability to give enjoyment to others—family sometimes excepted.

Love does not mean to be moved by another, to feel something towards another, to let oneself go, to admire another or desire another, to want to possess another. Love is essentially the gift of oneself to another and to others.

Fr. Michel Quoist

All God wants is gratitude and self-surrender. He needs nothing from us except our love.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux

It is a great mistake to suppose that love unites and unifies men. Love diversifies them, because love is directed towards individuality. The thing that really unites men and makes them like to each other is hatred.

G. K. Chesterton

Movements born in hatred very quickly take on the characteristics of the thing they oppose.

J. S. Habgood

All science requires faith in the inner harmony of the world.

Albert Einstein

He who wishes to learn must believe.


Faith is intense, usually confident, belief that is not based on evidence sufficient to command assent from every reasonable person.

Walter Kaufmann

A man who has faith must be prepared not only to be a martyr, but to be a fool.

G. K. Chesterton

Religion by its very nature is unpopular, unpopular with the ego.

Fulton Sheen

Speak, Lord, for Thy servant is listening.

1 Samuel 3:10

RELIGION: Insurance in this world against fire in the next.

Men despise religion; they hate it, and fear it is true.


Had God designed the world, it would not be
A world so frail and faulty as we see.


I defy anyone to imagine an environment more exquisitely designed to provide us with opportunities for spiritual growth than this life of ours.

M. Scott Peck

The word “prove” has two distinct meanings, one strict and one colloquial, that have very little to do with one another. The strict meaning of “prove,” as understood by logicians and mathematicians, is to reason syllogistically such that the conclusion states explicitly what is already contained—but implicit—in the premises. The ordinary wide meaning of “prove”—as in the courtroom phrase “to prove beyond a reasonable doubt”—is to ascertain knowledge with a high degree of probability through evidence and reason.

Reason, in the fullest sense of the word, is about making rational inferences from “reasonable” premises. But most of the rational inferences we make in philosophy and science, as well as in practical life, are non-demonstrative. In other words, most of the inferences employed by reason are not, strictly speaking, logical (or deductive or demonstrative or necessary) inferences.

Every philosophical position has its own difficulties. The question one must decide is not whether the answers to the difficulties of some particular philosophy are completely satisfying, but whether they are more satisfying than the answers to the difficulties inherent in alternative philosophies.

Arnold Lunn

We must abandon the search for an argument so powerful and so incontrovertible that it will destroy the philosophical opposition once and for all.

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