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Meditation 105
Quotations VI

"I hate quotations, tell me what you know." Ralph Waldo Emerson.

But as some people do like quotations and think they can be useful in succinctly communicating an opinion, we will post a selection occasionally. This is the sixth in an ongoing series.

A discussion on the attribution of quotations has been opened. To contribute your thoughts to this exchange, please use the Contact form.

  1. A moral principle is not a command to act or to forbear acting in a given way: it is a tool for analyzing a special situation, the right or wrong being determined by the situation in its entirety, not by the rule as such. John Dewey
  2. I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell. It doesn't frighten me. Richard Feynman
  3. Man's best friend is his dogma. Timothy Leary
  4. There is no place in a fanatic's head where reason can enter. Napoleon Bonaparte
  5. Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one's thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. Frederick Douglass
  6. Well, it's like I always said, 'There's nothing an agnostic can't do if he really doesn't know whether he believes in anything or not. Graham Chapman[1]
  7. Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself. Salman Rushdie
  8. Only fraud and falsehood dread examination . Truth invites it . Thomas Cooper
  9. God is a lonely place without steak. Charles Bukowski
  10. Sometimes too much to drink is barely enough. Mark Twain
  11. I resist all established beliefs. My religion basically is to be immediate, to live in the now. Jack Nicholson
  12. Mostly, we are good when it makes sense. A good society is one that makes sense of being good. Ian McEwan
  13. The world is not a prison house but a kind of spiritual kindergarten where millions of bewildered infants are trying to spell God with the wrong blocks. Edwin Arlington Robinson
  14. If there is a God, atheism must strike Him as less of an insult than religion. Edmond and Jules de Goncourt
  15. A Galileo could no more be elected president of the United States than he could be elected Pope of Rome. Both high posts are reserved for men favored by God with an extraordinary genius for swathing the bitter facts of life in bandages of self-illusion. H.L. Mencken
  16. Credulity is not a crime for the individual - but it is clearly a crime as regards the race. Just look at the actual consequences of credulity. For years men believed in the foul superstition of witchcraft and many poor people suffered for this foolish belief. There was a general belief in angels and demons, flying familiarly, yet skittishly through the air, and that belief caused untold distress and pain and tragedy. The most holy Catholic church (and, after it, the various Protestant sects) enforced the dogma that heresy was terribly sinful and punishable by death. Imagine - but all you need do is to recount - the suffering entailed by that belief. When one surveys the causes and consequences of credulity, it is apparent that this easy believer in the impossible, this readiness toward false and fanatical notions, has been indeed a most serious and major crime against humanity. The social life in any age, it may be said, is about what its extent of credulity guarantees. In an extremely credulous age, social life will be cruel and dark and treacherous. In a skeptical age, social life will be more humane. E. Haldeman-Julius
  17. Each religion, so dear to those whose life it sanctifies, and fulfilling so necessary a function in the society that has adopted it, necessarily contradicts every other religion, and probably contradicts itself. George Santayana
  18. Nobody can have the consolations of religion or philosophy unless he has first experienced their desolations. Aldous Huxley
  19. What has been the effect of religious coercion? To make half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. Thomas Jefferson
  20. All religions must be tolerated... for... every man must get to heaven his own way. Frederick the Great



  1. This quote was originally attributed to the group Monty Python. The suggestion for the change generated an interesting exchange on the attribution of quotations.