Quotations about   candor

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It may be necessary temporarily to accept a lesser evil, but one must never label a necessary evil as good.

Margaret Mead (1901-1978) American anthropologist
(Attributed)
Added on 6-Jan-21 | Last updated 6-Jan-21
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Above all, the search after truth and its eager pursuit are peculiar to man. And so, when we have leisure from the demands of business cares, we are eager to see, to hear, to learn something new, and we esteem a desire to know the secrets or wonders of creation as indispensable to a happy life. Thus we come to understand that what is true, simple, and genuine appeals most strongly to a man’s nature.

[In primisque hominis est propria veri inquisitio atque investigatio. Itaque cum sumus necessariis negotiis curisque vacui, tum avemus aliquid videre, audire, addiscere cognitionemque rerum aut occultarum aut admirabilium ad beate vivendum necessarian! ducimus. Ex quo intellegitur, quod verum, simplex sincerumque sit, id esse naturae hominis aptissimum.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 4 / sec. 13 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]
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Original Latin. Alt. trans.:

But of all the properties and inclinations of men, there is none more natural and peculiar to them than an earnest desire and search after truth. Hence it is that our minds are no sooner free from the thoughts and engagements of necessary business, but we presently long to be either seeing, or hearing, or learning of something; and esteem the knowledge of things secret and wonderful as a necessary ingredient of a happy life. Whence it appears that nothing is more agreeable and suited to the nature and minds of men than undisguised openness, truth, and sincerity.
[tr. Cockman (1699)]

The desire and investigation of truth is proper to man. When disengaged from necessary business and cares, we are eager to add to our knowledge by examining for ourselves or listening to others. The discovery of what is secret or wonderful, we are disposed to conceive essential to happiness. Hence, what is true, simple, and undisguised, is best adapted to human nature.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

The distinguishing property of man is to search for and to follow after truth. Therefore, when relaxed from our necessary cares and concerns, we then covet to see, to hear, and to learn somewhat; and we esteem knowledge of things either obscure or wonderful to be the indispensable means of living happily. From this we understand that truth, simplicity, and candour, are most agreeable to the nature of mankind.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

The research and investigation of truth, also, are a special property of man. Thus, when we are free from necessary occupations, we want to see, or hear, or learn something, and regard the knowledge of things either secret or wonderful as essential to our living happily and well.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]
Added on 4-Jan-21 | Last updated 4-Jan-21
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A friend is someone who listens to your bullshit, tells you that it is bullshit, and listens some more.

Robin Williams (1951-2014) American comedian and actor
(Attributed)
Added on 7-Dec-20 | Last updated 7-Dec-20
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How beautiful is candor! All faults may be forgiven of him who has perfect candor.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) American poet
Leaves of Grass, Preface (1855)
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Added on 18-Nov-20 | Last updated 18-Nov-20
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One odd thing about foreign-policy professionals is that for all their sophistication, they tend to think the way to communicate with allies and potential allies is to compliment and sooth, compliment and soothe. But that isn’t polite, it’s patronizing, and to patronize is to insult. Candor is a compliment; it implies equality. It’s how true friends talk.

Peggy Noonan (b. 1950) American writer
What I Saw at the Revolution, ch. 11 (1990)
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Added on 11-Nov-20 | Last updated 11-Nov-20
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Candor is always a double-edged sword; it may heal or it may separate.

Wilhelm Stekel (1868-1940) Austrian physician, psychologist
Marriage at the Crossroads (1931)
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Added on 4-Nov-20 | Last updated 4-Nov-20
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For virtue, not secrecy, is sought by good men.

[Honesta enim bonis viris, non occulta quaeruntur.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 3, ch. 9 / sec. 38 (44 BC) [tr. Edmonds (1865)]
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Original Latin. Alt. trans.:
  • "For good men desire to be virtuous and honest, and not to be secret, that so they may sin without danger." [tr. Cockman (1699)]
  • "What is honorable, and not what is concealed, is the object of pursuit with wise men." [tr. McCartney (1798)]
  • "For it is right things, not hidden things, that are sought by good men." [tr. Peabody (1883)]
  • "For good men aim to secure not secrecy but the right." [tr. Miller (1913)]
  • "Honorable things, not secretive things, are sought by good men."
Added on 2-Nov-20 | Last updated 4-Jan-21
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Let none of us delude himself by supposing that honesty is always the best policy. It is not.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
Speculum Animae, Part 2, “Sunday Morning,” address, Cambridge (15 Jan 1911)
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Inge's argument is not that honesty is not the most virtuous course, but that it is not always the most secularly advantageous course, and that such disadvantage is one of the costs of maintaining Christian virtue.
Added on 5-Oct-20 | Last updated 5-Oct-20
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DUKHAT: When others do a foolish thing, you should tell them it is a foolish thing. They can still continue to do it, but at least the truth is where it needs to be.

J. Michael (Joe) Straczynski (b. 1954) American screenwriter, producer, author [a/k/a "JMS"]
Babylon 5, 4×09 “Atonement” (24 Feb 1997)
Added on 17-Jul-20 | Last updated 17-Jul-20
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Never apologize for showing feeling, my friend. Remember that when you do so, you apologize for truth.

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) English politician and author
Contarini Fleming, ch. 13 (1832)
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Added on 16-Apr-19 | Last updated 16-Apr-19
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The one condition coupled with the gift of truth is its use.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“The Method of Nature,” speech, Waterville College, Maine (11 Aug 1841)
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Added on 12-Dec-17 | Last updated 12-Dec-17
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I believe it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than to be ignorant.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
“What I Believe,” sec. 6, Forum and Century (Sep 1930)
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Added on 22-May-17 | Last updated 22-May-17
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Ryunac, notwithstanding the bow, appeared unhappy with the answer. “You perceive,” he said, “that this answer is not likely to make me love you.”

“Well, but it is the truth, and I have been told that the truth has always some value.”

“Indeed it has value. So much so, that it should not be squandered uselessly; especially when doing so can be dangerous.”

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
The Paths of the Dead (2002)
Added on 3-Mar-17 | Last updated 3-Mar-17
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No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous.

Henry Adams (1838-1918) American journalist, historian, academic, novelist
The Education of Henry Adams, ch. 31 (1907)
Added on 1-Dec-16 | Last updated 1-Dec-16
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Our loyalty is due entirely to the United States. It is due to the President only and exactly to the degree in which he efficiently serves the United States. It is our duty to support him when he serves the United States well. It is our duty to oppose him when he serves it badly. This is true about Mr. Wilson now and it has been true about all our Presidents in the past. It is our duty at all times to tell the truth about the President and about every one else, save in the cases where to tell the truth at the moment would benefit the public enemy.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
Kansas City Star (7 May 1918)

Reprinted in "Lincoln and Free Speech," The Great Adventure (1926).
Added on 22-Aug-16 | Last updated 22-Aug-16
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There is but one way I know of conversing safely with all men; that is, not by concealing what we say or do, but by saying or doing nothing that deserves to be concealed.

Pope - deserves to be concealed - wist_info quote

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) English poet
Letter to H. Cromwell (28 Oct 1710)
Added on 11-Apr-16 | Last updated 11-Apr-16
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He who, when called upon to speak a disagreeable truth, tells it boldly and has done, is both bolder and milder than he who nibbles in a low voice, and never ceases nibbling.

Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801) Swiss poet, theologian, physiognomist.
Aphorisms on Man, 2nd ed. (1789)
Added on 4-Apr-16 | Last updated 4-Apr-16
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Give me the avow’d, the erect, the manly foe,
Bold I can meet — perhaps may turn his blow;
But of all plagues, good Heaven, thy wrath can send,
Save, save, oh! save me from the Candid Friend!

George Canning (1770-1827) British stateman, politician, Prime Minister
“New Morality,” Anti-Jacobin (9 Jul 1798)
Added on 28-Mar-16 | Last updated 4-Nov-20
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To think all you say, is but candor;
To say all you think, would be slander.

William Allingham (1824–1889) Irish poet, diarist
Blackberries Picked Off Many Bushes (1884)
Added on 14-Mar-16 | Last updated 14-Mar-16
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If someone knows of a problem and conceals it from me, I get more upset from that than from the problem itself. I tell our people time and time again: Bad news first.

Donald Regan (1918-2003) American financier, government executive
In Bernard Weintraub, “How Donald Regan Runs the White House,” New York Times Magazine (5 Jan 1986)
Added on 7-Mar-16 | Last updated 7-Mar-16
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A Man that should call everything by its right Name, would hardly pass the Streets without being knock’d down as a common Enemy.

George Savile, Marquis of Halifax (1633-1695) English politician and essayist
“Of Caution and Suspicion,” Political, Moral and Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections (1750)
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Added on 7-Oct-11 | Last updated 30-Jan-20
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Frank and explicit: That is the right line to take when you wish to conceal your mind and confuse the minds of others.

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) English politician and author
Sybil, “The Gentleman in Downing Street,” bk 6, ch 1 (1845)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 28-Mar-16
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A candor affected is a dagger concealed.

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations, Book 11, #15 [tr. Staniforth (1964)]
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Alternate translations:
  • "But the affectation of simplicity is nowise laudable." [tr. Casaubon (1634), #14]
  • "An affectation of being real, is an untoward pretence." [tr. Collier (1701)]
  • "But the affectation of simplicity is like a crooked stick." [tr. Long (1862)]
  • "An affectation of sincerity is a very dagger." [tr. Zimmern (1887)]
  • "But the affectation of simplicity is like a razor." [tr. Farquharson (1944)]
  • "But false straightforwardness is like a knife in the back." [tr. Hays (2003)]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-Mar-21
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The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
“Sedition, A Free Press, and Personal Rule,” Kansas City Star (7 May 1918)
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Reprinted in "Lincoln and Free Speech," The Great Adventure (1926).
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Dec-19
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Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
“The Critic as Artist” [Gilbert] (1891)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 23-Oct-20
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The truth is often a terrible weapon of aggression. It is possible to lie, and even to murder with the truth.

Alfred Adler (1870-1937) Austrian psychologist
The Problems of Neurosis, ch. 2 (1929)
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If there is one thing upon this earth that mankind love and admire better than another, it is a brave man — it is the man who dares to look the devil in the face and tell him he is a devil.

James A. Garfield (1831-1881) US President (1881), lawyer, lay preacher, educator
(Attributed)
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Quoted in The Phrenological Journal (Dec 1881).
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Nov-20
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