Quotations about   conformity

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The security of society lies in custom and unconscious instinct, and the basis of the stability of society, as a healthy organism, is the complete absence of any intelligence amongst its members. The great majority of people being aware of this, rank themselves naturally on the side of that splendid system that elevates them to the dignity of machines, and rage so wildly against the intrusion of the intellectual faculty into any question that concerns life, that one is tempted to define man as a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
“The Critic as Artist,” Intentions (1891)
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Added on 27-May-19 | Last updated 27-May-19
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I believe that you can reach the point where there is no longer any difference between developing the habit of pretending to believe and developing the habit of believing.

Umberto Eco (b. 1932) Italian semiotician, essayist, philosopher, novelist
Foucault’s Pendulum, ch. 87 (1988) [tr. W. Weaver (1989)]
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See also Hawthorne.
Added on 26-Jan-19 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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How do you expect to arrive at the end of your own journey if you take the road to another man’s city? How do you expect to reach your own perfection by leading somebody else’s life?

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) French-American religious and writer [a.k.a. Fr. M. Louis]
New Seeds of Contemplation, ch. 14 “Integrity” (1962)
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Added on 26-Oct-18 | Last updated 26-Oct-18
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The reward for conformity was that everyone liked you but yourself.

Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944) American author, playwright
Venus Envy, ch. 15 (1993)
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Often paraphrased in the present tense: "The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you but yourself."
Added on 2-Apr-18 | Last updated 2-Apr-18
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Truth is compar’d in Scripture to a streaming fountain; if her waters flow not in a perpetuall progression, they sick’n into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition.

[Truth is compared in Scripture to a streaming fountain; if her waters flow not in a perpetual progression, they sicken into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition.]

John Milton (1608-1674) English poet
Areopagitica (1644)
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Added on 16-Aug-17 | Last updated 16-Aug-17
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Prim did seem in some distress. Poor thing, she genuinely felt that she should do what was expected of her. What a horrible way to go through life.

Gail Carriger (b. 1976) American archaeologist, author [pen name of Tofa Borregaard]
Imprudence (2016)
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Added on 20-Apr-17 | Last updated 20-Apr-17
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Being like everybody is like being nobody.

Rod Serling (1924-1975) American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, narrator
(Attributed)
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Frequently attributed, but never cited. In the Twilight Zone episode, "Number 12 Looks Just Like You" (ep 05x17), the protagonist comments, "But is that good, being like everybody? I mean, isn't that the same as being nobody?" That episode is credited to Charles Beaumont and John Tomerlin.
Added on 10-Apr-17 | Last updated 10-Apr-17
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If I know your sect, I anticipate your argument.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Self-Reliance,” Essays: First Series (1841)
Added on 6-Feb-17 | Last updated 6-Feb-17
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The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.

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Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher and poet
The Dawn (1881)

Alt. trans.: "The surest way of ruining a youth is to teach him to respect those who think as he does more highly than those who think differently from him." [[tr. R.J. Hollingdale (1982)]
Added on 13-Dec-16 | Last updated 15-Apr-17
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Conformity is the ape of harmony.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (10 May 1840)
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Added on 5-Dec-16 | Last updated 5-Dec-16
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A man must consider what a rich realm he abdicates when he becomes a conformist.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (22-25 Mar 1839)
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Added on 14-Nov-16 | Last updated 14-Nov-16
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Imposed virtues are not virtuous — they are conformist.

Graham Ericsson (b. 1947) American writer, aphorist
Into a New Day (2008)
Added on 2-Nov-16 | Last updated 2-Nov-16
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How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.

Marcus Aurelius (121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations [tr. Staniforth (1964)]
Added on 14-Jan-16 | Last updated 14-Jan-16
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Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.

Barry Goldwater (1909-1998) American politician
Speech, accepting the GOP Presidential Nomination, San Francisco (16 Jul 1964)
Added on 19-Nov-15 | Last updated 19-Nov-15
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All of them perceived that American Democracy did not imply any equality of wealth, but did demand a wholesome sameness of thought, dress, painting, morals, and vocabulary.

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) American novelist, playwright
Babbitt, ch. 34 (1922)
Added on 27-Oct-15 | Last updated 27-Oct-15
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It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who, in the midst of the crowd, keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Self-Reliance,” Essays: First Series (1841)
Added on 14-Oct-15 | Last updated 14-Oct-15
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I have regard to appearance still. So am I no hero.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (6 Apr 1839)
Added on 4-Sep-15 | Last updated 4-Sep-15
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There is one characteristic of the present direction of public opinion peculiarly calculated to make it intolerant of any marked demonstration of individuality. The general average of mankind are not only moderate in intellect, but also moderate in inclinations; they have no tastes or wishes strong enough to incline them to do anything unusual, and they consequently do not understand those who have, and class all such with the wild and intemperate whom they are accustomed to look down upon.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher and economist
On Liberty, ch. 3, “Of Individuality, as One of the Elements of Well-Being” (1859)
Added on 4-Jun-15 | Last updated 4-Jun-15
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Whenever the locals rub blue mud in their navels, I rub blue mud in mine just as solemnly.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Time Enough for Love [Lazarus Long] (1973)
Added on 2-Jun-15 | Last updated 2-Jun-15
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Most of the things we do, we do for no better reason than that our fathers have done them or our neighbors do them, and the same is true of a larger part than what we suspect of what we think.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935) American jurist, Supreme Court Justice
“The Path of the Law,” speech, Boston University School of Law on (8 Jan 1897)
Added on 20-May-15 | Last updated 20-May-15
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She was already learning that if you ignore the rules people will, half the time, quietly rewrite them so that they don’t apply to you.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Equal Rites (1987)
Added on 29-Apr-15 | Last updated 29-Apr-15
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Public opinion, because of the tremendous urge to conformity in gregarious animals, is less tolerant than any system of law.

George Orwell (1903-1950) English writer [pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair]
“Politics vs. Literature: An Examination of Gulliver’s Travels” (Sep-Oct 1946)
Added on 13-Jan-15 | Last updated 13-Jan-15
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Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
Notebooks: 1942-1951, Notebook 4
Added on 12-Jan-15 | Last updated 12-Jan-15
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Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the road less traveled by and they CANCELLED MY FRIKKIN’ SHOW. I totally shoulda took the road that had all those people on it. Damn.

Joss Whedon (b. 1964) American screenwriter, author, producer [Joseph Hill Whedon]
Bronze Beta board (14 Feb 2004)
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Posted after learning the WB had canceled "Angel".
Added on 1-Jan-15 | Last updated 1-Jan-15
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To be one’s self, and unafraid whether right or wrong, is more admirable than the easy cowardice of surrender to conformity.

Irving Wallace (1916-1990) American author and screenwriter
Square Pegs: Some Americans Who Dared to Be Different, ch. 1 (1958)
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Added on 7-Nov-14 | Last updated 7-Nov-14
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Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
“Notebook 4,” Notebooks: 1942-1951
Added on 13-Oct-14 | Last updated 13-Oct-14
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To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

e e cummings (1894-1962) American poet and painter [Edward Estlin Cummings]
A Miscellany (1958)
Added on 29-Aug-14 | Last updated 29-Aug-14
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Conformity is the jailer of freedom, and the enemy of growth.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, United Nations General Assembly (25 Sep 1961)
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Added on 28-Jul-14 | Last updated 28-Jul-14
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Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) English modernist writer [b. Adeline Virginia Stephen]
A Room of One’s Own, ch. 3 (1929)
Added on 21-Jul-14 | Last updated 21-Jul-14
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The weirder you are going to behave, the more normal you should look. It works in reverse, too. When I see a kid with three or four rings in his nose, I know there is absolutely nothing extraordinary about that person.

P.J. O'Rourke (b. 1947) American humorist, editor
Give War a Chance (1992)
Added on 11-Jul-14 | Last updated 11-Jul-14
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If you rebel against high-heeled shoes, take care to do it in a very smart hat.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism, and Fascism, ch. 79 (1928)
Added on 5-Dec-13 | Last updated 5-Dec-13
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Selling out is usually more a matter of buying in. Sell out, and you’re really buying into someone else’s system of values, rules and rewards.

Bill Watterson (b. 1958) American cartoonist
Commencement Address, Kenyon College (20 May 1990)
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Added on 5-Dec-13 | Last updated 5-Dec-13
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Compulsion in religion is distinguished peculiarly from compulsion in every other thing. I may grow rich by art I am compelled to follow, I may recover health by medicines I am compelled to take against my own judgment, but I cannot be saved by a worship I disbelieve & abhor.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Notes on Religion (Oct 1776)
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Added on 3-Jan-13 | Last updated 13-Apr-15
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Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men; men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1786)
Added on 19-Jul-10 | Last updated 13-Apr-15
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Be always restless, unsatisfied, unconforming. Whenever a habit becomes convenient, smash it! The greatest sin of all is satisfaction.

Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957) Greek writer and philosopher
The Saviors of God [Salvatores Dei], “The March: First Step” (1923) [tr. Friar [1960])
Added on 21-May-10 | Last updated 2-Dec-13
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Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Letter from Birmingham Jail (16 Apr 1963)
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Added on 27-Apr-09 | Last updated 31-Jul-15
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Do as most do and few will speak ill of thee.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Introductio ad Prudentiam, # 135 (1726)
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Added on 3-Apr-09 | Last updated 27-May-15
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If there is anything the nonconformist hates worse than a conformist, it’s another nonconformist who doesn’t conform to the prevailing standard of nonconformity.

William E. "Bill" Vaughan (1915-1977) American columnist, humorist [pseud. Burton Hillis]
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 6-Aug-15
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