Quotations about   ends

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But no moral philosopher, from Aristotle to Aquinas, to John Locke and Adam Smith, divorced economics from a set of moral ends or held the production of wealth to be an end in itself; rather it was seen as a means to the realization of virtue, a means of leading a civilized life.

Daniel Bell (1919-2011) American sociologist, writer, editor, academic
The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (1976)
Added on 8-Mar-21 | Last updated 8-Mar-21
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In this decline of all public virtue, ambition, and not avarice, was the passion that first possessed the minds of men; and this was natural. Ambition is a vice that borders on the confines of virtue; it implies a love of glory, of power, and pre-eminence; and these are objects that glitter alike in the eyes of the man of honour, and the most unprincipled: but the former pursues them by fair and honourable means, while the latter, who finds within himself no resources of talent, depends altogether upon intrigue and fallacy for his success.

[Sed primo magis ambitio quam avaritia animos hominum exercebat, quod tamen vitium propius virtutem erat. Nam gloriam, honorem, imperium bonus et ignavus aeque sibi exoptant; sed ille vera via nititur, huic quia bonae artes desunt, dolis atque fallaciis contendit.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Bellum Catilinae [The War of Cateline; The Conspiracy of Catiline], ch. 11, sent. 1-2 [tr. Murphy (1807)]
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Alt. trans.:

At first, indeed, the minds of men were less influenced by avarice than ambition, a vice which has some affinity to virtue; for the desire of glory, power, and preferment is common to the worthy and the worthless; with this difference, that the one pursues them by direct means; the other, being void of merit, has recourse to fraud and subtlety. [tr. Rose (1831)]

But at first ambition more than avarice influenced the minds of the Romans. Which vice however was the nearer to virtue. For glory, honour, command, the good and slothful equally wish for themselves. But the former strives by the right course; to the latter because good qualities are wanting, he works by tricks and deceits. [Source (1841)]

At first, however, it was ambition, rather than avarice, that influenced the minds of men; a vice which approaches nearer to virtue than the other. For of glory, honor, and power, the worthy is as desirous as the worthless; but the one pursues them by just methods; the other, being destitute of honorable qualities, works with fraud and deceit. [tr. Watson (1867)]

At first it was not so much avarice as ambition which spurred men's minds, a vice, indeed, but one akin to virtue. Glory, distinction, and power in the state are equally desired by good and bad, though the first strives to reach his goal by the path of honor, the second, in the lack of honest arts, uses the weapons of falsehood and deceit. [tr. Pollard (1882)]

But at first men’s souls were actuated less by avarice than by ambitions -- a fault, it is true, but not so far removed from virtue; for the noble and the base alike long for glory, honour, and power, but the former mount by the true path, whereas the latter, being destitute of noble qualities, rely upon craft and deception. [tr. Rolfe (1931)]

At first people's minds were taxed less by avarice than by ambition, which, though a fault, was nevertheless closer to prowess: for the good man and the base man have a similar personal craving for glory, honour, and command, but the former strives along the truth path, whereas the latter, because he lacks good qualities, presses forward by cunning and falsity. [tr. Woodman (2007)]
Added on 27-Oct-20 | Last updated 27-Oct-20
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He who tries to be holy in order to be happy will assuredly be neither.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
Christian Mysticism, Lecture 1 (1899)
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Added on 27-Jul-20 | Last updated 27-Jul-20
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Most of the great results of history are brought about by discreditable means.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
The Conduct of Life, “Considerations Along the Way” (1860)
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Added on 21-Apr-20 | Last updated 5-May-20
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A noble man compares and estimates himself by an idea which is higher than himself; and a mean man by one which is lower than himself. The one produces aspiration; the other, ambition. Ambition is the way in which a vulgar man aspires.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
Life Thoughts (1858)
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Sometimes misattributed to Marcus Aurelius.
Added on 17-May-17 | Last updated 17-May-17
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Perseverance must have some practical end, or it does not avail the man possessing it. A person without a practical end in view becomes a crank or an idiot. Such persons fill our asylums.

Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) Scottish-American scientist, inventor, engineer
Interview, in Orison Swett Marden, How They Succeeded, ch. 2 (1901)
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Added on 7-Apr-16 | Last updated 7-Apr-16
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As the means, so the end.

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) Indian philosopher and nationalist [Mahatma Gandhi]
In Young India (17 Jul 1924)

Compare to this.
Added on 14-Aug-15 | Last updated 14-Aug-15
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Act so that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another, always as an end and never as a means only.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) German philosopher
Metaphysics of Morals [Metaphysik der Sitten], ch. 2 (1797) [tr. Beck (1969)]
Added on 7-Aug-15 | Last updated 25-Sep-15
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I have tried to make it clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.

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 31-Jul-15 | Last updated 31-Jul-15
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Let us diligently apply the means, never doubting that a just God, in his own good time, will give us the rightful result.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Letter to James C. Conkling (26 Aug 1863)
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Added on 24-Jul-15 | Last updated 24-Jul-15
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If one takes care of the means, the end will take care of itself.

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) Indian philosopher and nationalist [Mahatma Gandhi]
In Harijan (6 Feb 1939)
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The companion before the road, and the road before the destination. But without the destination there is no road, and without the road there is no companion.

Abdal Hakim Murad (b. 1960) British Muslim shaykh, researcher, writer, academic [b. Timothy John Winter]
“Contentions 2,” # 7
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Added on 24-Apr-15 | Last updated 24-Apr-15
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Consider and act with reference to the true ends of existence. This world is but the vestibule of an immortal life. Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.

Edwin Hubbell Chapin (1814-1880) American clergyman
(Attributed)
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Quoted in Charles Northend, Memory Gems (1890).

Variant: "Every action of your life touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity." ["Advice to the Young," quoted in Charles W. Sanders, Sanders' Union Fourth Reader (1873)]
Added on 20-Apr-15 | Last updated 11-Sep-17
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The free way of life proposes ends, but it does not prescribe means.

Robert Francis Kennedy (1925-1968) American politician
The Pursuit of Justice, “Berlin East and West” (1964)
Added on 15-Sep-14 | Last updated 15-Sep-14
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DARLA: You really think that safety can be plucked from the arms of an evil deed?

Steven S. DeKnight (b. 1964) American television screenwriter, producer
Angel, 4×17 “Inside Out” (2 Apr 2003)
Added on 22-Aug-14 | Last updated 24-Aug-20
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Our ends will not be won by rhetoric and we can have faith in the future only if we have faith in ourselves.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
“The New Frontier,” Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech, Democratic National Convention, Los Angeles (15 Jul 1960)
Added on 7-Jul-14 | Last updated 7-Jul-14
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Whenever a single definite object is made the supreme end of the State, be it the advantage of a class, the safety of the power of the country, the greatest happiness of the greatest number, or the support of any speculative idea, the State becomes for the time inevitably absolute. Liberty alone demands for its realisation the limitation of the public authority, for liberty is the only object which benefits all alike, and provokes no sincere opposition.

John Dalberg, Lord Acton (1834-1902) British historian
“Nationality,” Home and Foreign Review (Jul 1862)
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Added on 7-Jan-14 | Last updated 12-Feb-20
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I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.

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 12-Jun-09 | Last updated 19-Jan-15
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Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [tr. Collins (1928)]

Alt. trans.: "The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress." [tr. Paul Auster (1983)]
Added on 9-Dec-08 | Last updated 24-Jan-17
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“Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature — that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance — and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the truth.”
“No, I wouldn’t consent,” said Alyosha softly.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881) Russian novelist
The Brothers Karamazov, Part 2, book 5, ch. 4 [Ivan] (1880) [tr. Garnett (1912)]
Added on 20-Aug-07 | Last updated 24-Jul-15
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We may draw good out of evil; we must not do evil, that good may come.

Maria Weston Chapman (1806-1885) American abolitionist, editor
“How Can I Help to Abolish Slavery,” speech, New York (1855)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-Dec-15
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Good intentions are no substitute for knowing how a buzz saw works, Ira; the worst criminals in history have been loaded with good intentions.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Time Enough for Love [Lazarus Long] (1973)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 12-May-15
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Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.

George Santayana (1863-1952) Spanish-American poet and philosopher [Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruíz de Santayana y Borrás]
The Life of Reason or The Phases of Human Progress, Introduction (1905-06)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-Mar-20
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