Quotations about:
    dignity


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Unless a thing is dignified, it cannot be undignified. Why is it funny that a man should sit down suddenly in the street? There is only one possible or intelligent reason: that man is the image of God. It is not funny that anything else should fall down; only that a man should fall down. No one sees anything funny in a tree falling down. No one sees a delicate absurdity in a stone falling down. No man stops in the road and roars with laughter at the sight of the snow coming down. The fall of thunderbolts is treated with some gravity. The fall of roofs and high buildings is taken seriously. It is only when a man tumbles down that we laugh. Why do we laugh? Because it is a grave religious matter: it is the Fall of Man. Only man can be absurd: for only man can be dignified.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) English journalist and writer
“Spiritualism,” All Things Considered (1908)
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Added on 15-Dec-22 | Last updated 15-Dec-22
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From lowest place when virtuous things proceed,
The place is dignified by the doer’s deed.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
All’s Well That Ends Well, Act 2, sc. 3, l. 136ff (1602?)
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Added on 10-Aug-22 | Last updated 10-Aug-22
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Dignity of character ought to be graced by a house; but from a house it is not wholly derived. A master is not to be honored by a house; but a house by its master.

[Ornanda enim est dignitas domo, non ex domo tota quaerenda, nec domo dominus, sed domino domus honestanda est.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 39 (1.39) / sec. 139 (44 BC) [tr. McCartney (1798)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

It is well if a man can enhance that credit and reputation he has gotten by the splendour of his house; but he must not depend on his house alone for it; for the master ought to bring honour to his fine seat, and not the fine seat bring honour to its master.
[tr. Cockman (1699)]

For dignity should be adorned by a palace, but not be wholly sought from it: -- the house ought to be ennobled by the master, and not the master by the house.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

In truth, high standing in the community should be adorned by a house, not sought wholly from a house; nor should the owner be honored by the house, but the house by the owner.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]

The house should not constitute, though it may enhance, the dignity of the master; let the master honour the house, not the house the master.
[tr. Gardiner (1899)]

Your house may add lustre to your dignity, but it will not suffice that you should derive all your dignity from your house: the master should ennoble the house, not the house the master.
[ed. Harbottle (1906)]

The truth is, a man's dignity may be enhanced by the house he lives in, but not wholly secured by it; the owner should bring honour to his house, not the house to its owner.
[tr. Miller (1913)]

A house may enhance a man's dignity, but it should not be the only source of dignity; the house should not glorify its owner, but he should enhance it.
[tr. Edinger (1974)]

 
Added on 21-Apr-22 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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Here is the crisis of the times as I see it: We talk about problems, issues, policies, but we don’t talk about what democracy means — what it bestows on us — the revolutionary idea that it isn’t just about the means of governance but the means of dignifying people so they become fully free to claim their moral and political agency.

Bill Moyers
Bill Moyers (b. 1934) American journalist and public commentator
“The Power of Democracy,” speech, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, New York City (7 Feb 2007)
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Accepting the Frank E. Taplin, Jr. Public Intellectual Award. Reprinted in Bill Moyers, Moyers on Democracy (2008).
 
Added on 15-Mar-22 | Last updated 15-Mar-22
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Our greatest danger is that in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the fact that the masses of us are to live by the productions of our hands, and fail to keep in mind that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labour and put brains and skill into the common occupations of life; shall prosper in proportion as we learn to draw the line between the superficial and the substantial, the ornamental gewgaws of life and the useful. No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) American educator, writer
Speech, Cotton States and International Exposition, Atlanta (18 Nov 1895)
    (Source)

Reprinted in his autobiography, Up from Slavery, ch. 14 "The Atlanta Exposition Address" (1907).
 
Added on 12-Jan-22 | Last updated 12-Jan-22
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People become wedded to their beliefs, because the validity of those beliefs reflects on their competence, commends them as authorities, and rationalizes their mandate to lead. Challenge a person’s beliefs, and you challenge his dignity, standing, and power.

Steven Pinker (b. 1954) Canadian-American cognitive psychologist, linguist, author
The Better Angels of Our Nature, ch. 4 (2011)
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Added on 19-May-21 | Last updated 19-May-21
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The greatest problem about old age is the fear that it may go on too long.

A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) British historian, journalist, broadcaster [Alan John Percivale Taylor]
An Old Man’s Diary, entry from 1981 (1984)
 
Added on 3-May-21 | Last updated 3-May-21
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That which is most excellent, and is most to be desired by all happy, honest and healthy-minded men, is dignified leisure.

[Id quod est praestantissimum, maximeque optabile omnibus sanis et bonis et beatis, cum dignitate otium.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Pro Publio Sestio, ch. 45, sec. 98

Alt. trans.:
  • "That which stands first, and is most to be desired by all happy, honest, and healthy-minded men, is ease with dignity." [tr. Source)]
  • "The thing that is the most outstanding, and chiefly to be desired by all healthy and good and well-off persons, is leisure with honor." [Source]
  • "What is desired the most, by those who are healthy, good, and blessed, is leisure with honor." [Source]
  • "That which is most excellent and most desirable to all men in their senses, and to all good and happy men, -- ease conjoined with duty." [Source]
  • "They are the finest, noblest aims of all men of wisdom, integrity, and substance -- civil peace for Rome and honor for those who deserve it." [tr. Baldwin & Lacey (1978), adapted]
 
Added on 5-Oct-20 | Last updated 5-Oct-20
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Dissent is the native activity of the scientist, and it has got him into a good deal of trouble in the last years. But if that is cut off, what is left will not be a scientist. And I doubt whether it will be a man.

Jacob Bronowski (1908-1974) Polish-English humanist and mathematician
Lecture, MIT (19 Mar 1953)
    (Source)

Reprinted as Science and Human Values, Part 3, sec. 5 "The Sense of Human Dignity" (1961).
 
Added on 6-Feb-17 | Last updated 6-Feb-17
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There is a difference between tragedy and blind brutal calamity. Tragedy has meaning, and there is dignity in it. Tragedy stands with its shoulders stiff and proud. But there is no meaning, no dignity, no fulfillment, in the death of a child.

Walter M. Miller Jr. (1923-1996) American science fiction writer
“The Will” (1953)
 
Added on 6-Feb-17 | Last updated 6-Feb-17
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The only kind of dignity which is genuine is that which is not diminished by the indifference of others.

Hammarskjold - dignity which is genuine - wist_info quote

Dag Hammarskjöld (1905-1961) Swedish diplomat, author, UN Secretary-General (1953-61)
Markings (1964)
 
Added on 14-Apr-16 | Last updated 14-Apr-16
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On the whole, with scandalous exceptions, Democracy has given the ordinary worker more dignity than he ever had.

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) American novelist, playwright
It Can’t Happen Here (1935)
 
Added on 13-Apr-16 | Last updated 13-Apr-16
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The conflict to different approaches to the liberty of man and mind or between different views of human dignity and the right of the individual is continuous. The dividing line goes within ourselves, within our own peoples, and also within other nations. It does not coincide with any political or geographical boundaries. The ultimate fight is one between the human and the subhuman. We are on dangerous ground if we believe that any individual, any nation, or any ideology has a monopoly on rightness, liberty, and human dignity.

Dag Hammarskjöld (1905-1961) Swedish diplomat, author, UN Secretary-General (1953-61)
“The Walls of Distrust,” speech, Cambridge University (5 Jun 1958)
 
Added on 29-Dec-15 | Last updated 29-Dec-15
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If the human animal has any value at all, he is too valuable to be property. If he has an inner dignity, he is much too proud to own other men. I don’t give a damn how scrubbed and perfumed he may be, a slave owner is subhuman.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Time Enough For Love [Lazarus Long] (1973)
 
Added on 12-May-15 | Last updated 12-May-15
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There is a certain dignity to be kept up in pleasures, as well as in business.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son, #216 (5 Feb 1750)
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Added on 30-Mar-15 | Last updated 13-Oct-22
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Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.

Jim Carrey (b. 1962) Canadian American actor, comedian, producer.
(Attributed)
 
Added on 3-Dec-13 | Last updated 3-Dec-13
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I praise loudly, I blame softly.

Catherine II (1762-1796) Russian empress [Catherine the Great; b. Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst]
Letter (23 Aug. 1794)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 12-Jan-16
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Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
(Attributed)

Variant: "Dignity consists not in possessing honors, but in the consciousness that we deserve them."

Citation not identified. Earliest reference found in 1854.
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-May-21
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