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The delight of social relations between friends is fostered by a shared attitude to life, together with certain differences of opinion on intellectual matters, through which either one is confirmed in one’s own views, or else one gains practice and instruction through argument.

[Le plaisir de la société entre les amis se cultive par une ressemblance de goût sur ce qui regarde les moeurs, et par quelques différences d’opinions sur les sciences: par là ou l’on s’affermit dans ses sentiments, ou l’on s’exerce et l’on s’instruit par la dispute.]

Jean de La Bruyere
Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
The Characters [Les Caractères], ch. 5 “Of Society and Conversation [De la Société et de la Conversation],” § 61 (5.61) (1688) [tr. Stewart (1970)]

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

The pleasure of Society amongst Friends is cultivated by a likeness of Inclinations, as to Manners; and a difference in Opinion, as to Sciences: the one confirms and humours us in our sentiments; the other exercises and instructs us by disputation.
[Bullord ed. (1696)]

The Pleasure of Society amongst Friends, is cultivated by a likeness of Inclinations, as to Manners, and by some difference in Opinion, as to Sciences: The one confirms us in our Sentiments, the other exercises and instructs us by Disputation.
[Curll ed. (1713)]

The pleasure of social intercourse amongst friends is kept up by a similarity of morals and manners, and by slender differences in opinion about science; this confirms us in our sentiments, exercises our faculties or instructs us through arguments.
[tr. Van Laun (1885)]

Added on 14-Feb-23 | Last updated 6-Jun-23
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Sometimes change came all at once, with a sound like a fire taking hold of dry wood and paper, with a roar that rose around you so you couldn’t hear yourself think. And then, when the roar died down, even when the fires were damped, everything was different.

Anna Quindlen (b. 1953) American journalist, novelist
Object Lessons, ch. 1 (1991)
Added on 16-Dec-22 | Last updated 16-Dec-22
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If I set the sun beside the moon,
And if I set the land beside the sea,
And if I set the flower beside the fruit,
And if I set the town beside the country,
And if I set the man beside the woman,
I suppose some fool would talk
     About one being better.

Chesterton - If I set the sun beside the moon I suppose some fool would talk about one being better - wist.info quote

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) English journalist and writer

In "The Notebook" (1894-98). BL MS Add. 73334, fo. 5.

The poem, which has no formal title, has been printed in multiple forms. In many cases, the third line (flower/fruit) is omitted. In some cases "tower" is substituted for "town."
Added on 6-Sep-22 | Last updated 6-Sep-22
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Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric. Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and more courage it contained. That so few dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.

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 23-Feb-22 | Last updated 19-Oct-23
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It is useful to know something of the manners of different nations, that we may be enabled to form a more correct judgment regarding our own, and be prevented from thinking that everything contrary to our customs is ridiculous and irrational, — a conclusion usually come to by those whose experience has been limited to their own country.

[Il est bon de savoir quelque chose des moeurs de divers peuples, afin de juger des nôtres plus sainement, et que nous ne pensions pas que tout ce qui est contre nos modes soit ridicule et contre raison, ainsi qu’ont coutume de faire ceux qui n’ont rien vu.]

René Descartes (1596-1650) French philosopher, mathematician
Discourse on Method [Discours de la méthode], Part 1 (1637) [tr. Veitch (1850)]

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

It's good to know something of the manners of severall Nations, that we may not think that all things against our Mode are ridiculous or unreasonable, as those are wont to do, who have seen Nothing.
[Newcombe ed. (1649)]

It is good to know something of the customs of different peoples in order to judge more sanely of our own, and not to think that everything of a fashion not ours is absurd and contrary to reason, as do those who have seen nothing.
[tr. Haldane & Ross (1911)]

It is good to know something of the customs of various peoples, so that we may judge our own more soundly and not think that everything contrary to our own ways is ridiculous and irrational, as those who have seen nothing of the world ordinarily do.
[tr. Cottingham, Stoothoff (1985)]

It is well to know something of the manner of various peoples, in order more sanely to judge our own, and that we do not think that everything against our modes is ridiculous, and against reason, as those who have seen nothing are accustomed to think.

Added on 21-Feb-22 | Last updated 21-Feb-22
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Every day of our lives we are on the verge of making those changes that would make all the difference.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 4 (1963)
Added on 29-Apr-21 | Last updated 10-Mar-22
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Censors don’t want children exposed to ideas different from their own. If every individual with an agenda had his/her way, the shelves in the school library would be close to empty.

Judy Blume (b. 1938) American writer
“Judy Blume Talks about Censorship,” judyblume.com
Added on 8-Apr-21 | Last updated 19-Apr-21
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The only reason why we wish to exchange thoughts is that we are different. If we were all the same, we would die dumb. No thought would be expressed after we found that our thoughts were precisely alike. We differ — our thoughts are different. Therefore the commerce that we call conversation.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“The Limits of Toleration,” Speech, Nineteenth Century Club of New York (8 May 1888)
Added on 11-Feb-21 | Last updated 11-Feb-21
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We have a tendency to condemn people who are different from us, to define their sins as paramount and our own sinfulness as being insignificant.

Jimmy Carter (b. 1924) American politician, US President (1977-1981), Nobel laureate [James Earl Carter, Jr.]
“A Statesman And a Man Of Faith,” interview by Don Lattin, San Francisco Chronicle (12 Jan 1997)
Added on 14-Jan-21 | Last updated 14-Jan-21
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Respect only has meaning as respect for those with whom I do not agree.

Karen Armstrong (b. 1944) British author, comparative religion scholar
A History of God (1993)
Added on 21-Sep-20 | Last updated 21-Sep-20
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DEXTER: Every day, here and at home, we are warned about the enemy. But who is the enemy? Is it the alien? Well, we are all alien to one another. Is it the one who believes differently than we do? No, oh no, my friends. The enemy is fear. The enemy is ignorance. The enemy is the one who tells you that you must hate that which is different. Because, in the end, that hate will turn on you. And that same hate will destroy you.

J. Michael (Joe) Straczynski (b. 1954) American screenwriter, producer, author [a/k/a "JMS"]
Babylon 5, 3×20 “And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place” (14 Oct 1996)
Added on 13-Aug-20 | Last updated 13-Aug-20
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Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that, if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe, say, or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.

Rick Warren (b. 1954) American Christian pastor and author
“Rick Warren on Muslims, Evangelism & Missions,” interview with Brandon A. Cox, Christian Post (2 Mar 2012)
Added on 27-May-19 | Last updated 27-May-19
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At bottom every man knows well enough that he is a unique human being, only once on this earth; and by no extraordinary chance will such a marvelously picturesque piece of diversity in unity as he is ever be put together a second time.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher and poet
“Schopenhauer as Educator,” ch. 1 (1874) [tr. Collins]
Added on 26-Nov-18 | Last updated 26-Nov-18
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Everybody thought, “this time is different.” In my view, those are the most frightening words in the English language. If you look at the crises that have infected the world, the term, “this time, it’s different” has almost always been the hubris that comes before nemesis.

Andrew Crockett (1943-2012) British banker, economist, author, public servant
Speech, Pomona College, Claremont, Calif. (Apr 2009)

Referring to the period leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.
Added on 3-Aug-17 | Last updated 3-Aug-17
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Being like everybody is like being nobody.

Rod Serling (1924-1975) American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, narrator

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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People often say that a set of books looks ugly if all volumes are not in the same format, but I was impressed to hear the Abbot Koyu say, “It is typical of the unintelligent man to insist on assembling complete sets of everything. Imperfect sets are better.”

Yoshida Kenkō (1284-1350) Japanese author and Buddhist monk [吉田 兼好]
Essays in Idleness [Tsurezuregusa] (c. 1330)
Added on 9-Feb-17 | Last updated 9-Feb-17
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A man must consider what a rich realm he abdicates when he becomes a conformist.


Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1839-03-22/25)
Added on 14-Nov-16 | Last updated 27-Mar-23
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It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) American writer, feminist, civil rights activist
Our Dead Behind Us (1986)
Added on 4-Jan-16 | Last updated 4-Jan-16
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Never hire or promote in your own image. It is foolish to replicate your strength. It is idiotic to replicate your weakness. It is essential to employ, trust, and reward those whose perspective, ability, and judgment are radically different from yours. It is also rare, for it requires uncommon humility, tolerance, and wisdom.

Dee W. Hock (b. 1929) American businessman
In M. Mitchell Waldrop, “Dee Hock on Management,” Fast Company (Oct/Nov 1996)
Added on 13-Nov-15 | Last updated 13-Nov-15
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Though all men be made of one metal, yet they be not cast all in one mold.

John Lyly (c. 1553-1606) was an English writer [also Lilly or Lylie]
Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit, “Euphues” (1579)
Added on 15-Sep-15 | Last updated 15-Sep-15
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Let us not torment each other because we are not all alike, but believe that God knew best what He was doing in making us so different. So will the best harmony come out of seeming discords, the best affection out of differences, the best life out of struggle, and the best work will be done when each does his own work, and lets every one else do and be what God made him for.

James Freeman Clarke (1810-1888) American theologian and author

Quoted in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
Added on 17-Oct-14 | Last updated 17-Oct-14
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Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make. Good. Art.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British author, screenwriter, fabulist
Commencement address, University of the Arts, Philadelphia (2012)
Added on 2-Jan-14 | Last updated 2-Jan-14
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There is no foreign land; it is the traveller only that is foreign, and again, by a flash of recollection, lights up the contrasts of the earth.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Scottish essayist, novelist, poet
The Silverado Squatters, “With the Children of Israel,” sec. 3 (1883)
Added on 2-Oct-13 | Last updated 20-May-22
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If men would consider not so much wherein they differ, as wherein they agree, there would be far less of uncharitableness and angry feeling in the world.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman

Disputed. First attributed to "Addison" in the early 20th Century, in a paper by A. L. Evans, "Unity in Diversity," read before the Massachusetts Osteopathic Society (17 Mar 1906), and by Tryon Edwards, A Dictionary of Thoughts (1908). But this may have been a reference to another man of the same last name who was credited with publishing Interesting Anecdotes, Memoirs, Allegories, Essays, and Poetical Fragments (1794).
Added on 19-Apr-13 | Last updated 7-Feb-23
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Do not think of knocking out another person’s brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.

Horace Mann (1796-1859) American educator
Thoughts (1867)
Added on 29-May-12 | Last updated 4-Sep-19
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When we lose the right to be different, we lose the right to be free.

Charles Evans Hughes, Sr. (1862-1948) American statesman, politician, Supreme Court Justice (1910-1916, 1930-1941)
Speech, 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill, Faneuil Hall, Boston (17 Jun 1925)
Added on 4-Jan-12 | Last updated 14-Jun-16
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BERNARD. It’s one of those irregular verbs, isn’t it: I have an independent mind, you are eccentric, he is round the twist.

Jonathan Lynn (b. 1943) English actor, comedy writer, director
Yes, Prime Minister, S1E7 “The Bishop’s Gambit” (1986) [with Antony Jay]
Added on 24-May-10 | Last updated 28-Jan-20
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But is uniformity of opinion desirable? No more than of face and stature. Introduce the bed of Procrustes then, and as there is danger that the great men may beat the small, make us all of a size, by lopping the former and stretching the latter. Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of a Censor morum over each other. Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17 (1782)
Added on 29-Apr-10 | Last updated 4-Jul-22
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We don’t have to be “successful,” only valuable. We don’t have to make money, only a difference, and particularly in the lives society counts least and puts last.

William Sloane Coffin, Jr. (1924-2006) American minister, social activist
Credo, “Faith, Hope, Love” (2004)
Added on 28-Apr-08 | Last updated 11-Mar-24
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I don’t understand you. You don’t understand me. What else do we have in common?

Ashleigh Brilliant (b. 1933) Anglo-American epigramist, aphorist, cartoonist
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 4-May-15
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There is nowhere you can go and only be with people who are like you. Give it up.

Reagon - people like you - wist_info quote

Bernice Johnson Reagon (b. 1942) American song leader, composer, scholar, social activist
“Coalition Politics: Turning the Century,” presentation, West Coast Women’s Music Festival, Yosemite (1981)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 9-Dec-15
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It is not best that we should all think alike; it is differences of opinion that make horse races.

Twain - horse races - wist_info quote

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, ch. 19, epigraph (1894)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-Feb-16
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