Quotations about:
    hypocrisy


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Well, we cuss the lawmakers. But I notice we’re always perfectly willin’ to share in any of the sums of money that they might distribute.

Will Rogers (1879-1935) American humorist
Radio broadcast (7 Apr 1935)
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Added on 2-Feb-23 | Last updated 2-Feb-23
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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

[L’hypocrisie est un hommage que le vice rend à la vertu.]

François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French epigrammatist, memoirist, noble
Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales [Maxims], ¶ 218 (1665-1678) [tr. FitzGibbon (1957)]
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(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Hypocrisie is a Sort of Homage which Vice pays to Vertue.
[tr. Stanhope (1694), ¶ 219]

Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue.
[pub. Donaldson (1783), ¶ 231; ed. Lepoittevin-Lacroix (1797), ¶ 209; ed. Carville (1835), ¶ 449; tr. Bund/Friswell (1871), ¶ 218]

Hypocrisy is the homage that vice renders to virtue.
[ed. Gowens (1851), ¶ 227]

Hypocrisy is a tribute vice pays to virtue.
[tr. Heard (1917), ¶ 223; tr Tancock (1959), ¶ 218]

Hypocrisy is a sort of homage which vice pays to virtue.
[tr. Stevens (1939), ¶ 218]

Hypocrisy is the homage vice offers to virtue.
[tr. Kronenberger (1959), ¶ 218]

Hypocrisy is a form of homage that vice pays to virtue.
[tr. Whichello (2016), ¶ 218]

 
Added on 30-Jan-23 | Last updated 30-Jan-23
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All the higher animals have methods of expressing pleasure, but human beings alone express pleasure when they do not feel it. This is called politeness and is reckoned among the virtues.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“On smiling,” New York American (17 Aug 1932)
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Added on 26-Jan-23 | Last updated 26-Jan-23
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This Sir, was a time in which you clearly saw into the injustice of a State of Slavery, and in which you had just apprehensions of the horrors of its condition, it was now Sir, that your abhorrence thereof was so excited, that you publickly held forth this true and invaluable doctrine, which is worthy to be recorded and remember’d in all Succeeding ages. “We hold these truths to be Self evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happyness.”

Here Sir, was a time in which your tender feelings for your selves had engaged you thus to declare, you were then impressed with proper ideas of the great valuation of liberty, and the free possession of those blessings to which you were entitled by nature; but Sir how pitiable is it to reflect, that altho you were so fully convinced of the benevolence of the Father of mankind, and of his equal and impartial distribution of those rights and privileges which he had conferred upon them, that you should at the Same time counteract his mercies, in detaining by fraud and violence so numerous a part of my brethren under groaning captivity and cruel oppression, that you should at the Same time be found guilty of that most criminal act, which you professedly detested in others, with respect to yourselves.

Benjamin Banneker
Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806) American naturalist, surveyor, almanac author, mathematician
Letter to Thomas Jefferson (19 Aug 1791)
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Added on 29-Dec-22 | Last updated 29-Dec-22
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A man who parades his piety is one who, under an atheist king, would be an atheist.

[Un dévot est celui qui, sous un roi athée, serait athée.]

Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
The Characters [Les Caractères], ch. 13 “Of the Fashion [De la mode],” § 21 (1688)
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La Bruyère notes in the original this refers to a "faux dévot."

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

An Hypocrite is one that will be an Atheist under a King that is so.
[Bullord ed. (1696)]

A Devote is one, that under a King who was an Atheist, would be a Devote.
[Curll ed. (1713)]

A Devoto is one, that under an atheistical King wouild be an Atheist.
[Browne ed. (1752)]

A pious person is one who, under an atheistical king, would be an atheist.
[tr. Van Laun (1885)]

A pious hypocrite is one who, under an atheistic king, would be an atheist.
[tr. Stewart (1970)]

 
Added on 8-Nov-22 | Last updated 8-Nov-22
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I have often wondered, that persons who make a boast of professing the Christian religion, namely, love, joy, peace, temperance, and charity to all men, should quarrel with such rancorous animosity, and display daily towards one another such bitter hatred, that this, rather than the virtues they claim, is the readiest criterion of their faith.

Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) Dutch philosopher
Theological-Political Treatise [Tractatus Theologico-Politicus], Part 1, Preface, sec. 23 (1670)
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Added on 24-Oct-22 | Last updated 24-Oct-22
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But of all injustice, theirs is certainly of the deepest die, who make it their business to appear honest men, even whilst they are practising the greatest of villainies.

[Totius autem iniustitiae nulla capitalior quam eorum, qui tum, cum maxime fallunt, id agunt, ut viri boni esse videantur.]

Cicero - injustice deepest die appear honest men practising the greatest of villainies - wist.info quote

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 1, ch. 13 (1.13) / sec. 41 (44 BC) [tr. Cockman (1699)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

No act of injustice is more pernicious than theirs, who while they are attempting the greatest deceit, labor to appear good men.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

But in the whole system of villainy, none is more capital than that of the men, who, when they most deceive, so manage as that they may seem to be virtuous men.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

But of all forms of injustice, none is more heinous than that of the men who, while they practise fraud to the utmost of their ability, do it in such a way that they appear to be good men.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]

The most criminal injustice is that of the hypocrite who hides an act of treachery under the cloak of virtue.
[tr. Gardiner (1899)]

No iniquity is more deadly than that of those who, when they are most at fault, so behave as to seem men of integrity.
[ed. Harbottle (1906)]

But of all forms of injustice, none is more flagrant than that of the hypocrite who, at the very moment when he is most false, makes it his business to appear virtuous.
[tr. Miller (1913)]

Taking all forms of injustice into account, none is more deadly than that practiced by people who act as if they are good men when they are being most treacherous.
[tr. Edinger (1974)]

 
Added on 11-Aug-22 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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Vices can be elevated, but are always base. Some people see a certain hero with a certain fault, but they don’t realize it wasn’t the fault that made him a hero. An example of people in high places is so persuasive that it makes people imitate even their ugliness. Adulation mimics even an ugly face, without realizing that what is hidden by greatness is abominated when greatness is lacking.

[Bien pueden estar los vicios realzados, pero no son realces. Ven algunos que aquel héroe tuvo aquel accidente, pero no ven que no fue héroe por aquello. Es tan retórico el ejemplo superior, que aun las fealdades persuade; hasta las del rostro afectó tal vez la lisonja, no advirtiendo que, si en la grandeza se disimulan, en la bajeza se abominan.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 186 (1647) [tr. Maurer (1992)]
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(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translation:

Vices may very well be exalted, but not exalt. Some observe, that such a Heroe hath had such a Vice, but they consider not, that it was not that Vice which made him a Heroe. The example of great men is so good an Oratour, that it persuades one to infamous matters. Sometimes flattery hath affected even bodily defects, without observing, that though they be born with in great men, they are insupportable in the mean.
[Flesher ed. (1685)]

Vices may stand in high place, but are low for all that. Men can see that many a great man has great faults, yet they do not see that he is not great because of them. The example of the great is so specious that it even glosses over viciousness, till it may so affect those who flatter it that they do not notice that what they gloss over in the great they abominate in the lower classes.
[tr. Jacobs (1892)]

The vices may stand high, but they are not high: some see a great man afflicted with this vice or that; but they do not see, that is great not because of it but in spite of it. The portrait of the man high up is so convincing, that even his deformities persuade, wherefore flattery at times mimics them, not seeing, that if in the great such things are overlooked, in the small, they are looked down upon.
[tr. Fischer (1937)]

 
Added on 15-Jun-22 | Last updated 19-Dec-22
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POLITENESS, n. The most acceptable hypocrisy.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Devil’s Dictionary (1911)
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Added on 10-May-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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It is the people with secret attractions to various temptations who busy themselves most with removing those temptations from other people; really they are defending themselves under the pretext of defending others, because at heart they fear their own weakness.

Ernest Jones
Ernest Jones (1879-1958) Welsh neurologist and psychoanalyst
“Criticisms of Psycho-Analytic Treatment,” Speech, Chicago Neurological and Chicago Medical Societies (18 Jan 1911)

Originally published in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences (Jul 1911). Reprinted in Papers on Psycho-Analysis, ch. 12 (1918).
 
Added on 30-Mar-22 | Last updated 30-Mar-22
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People are egregiously mistaken if they think they ever can attain to permanent popularity by hypocrisy, by mere outside appearances, and by disguising not only their language but their looks. True popularity takes deep root and spreads itself wide; but the false falls away like blossoms; for nothing that is false can be lasting.

[Quodsi qui simulatione et inani ostentatione et ficto non modo sermone, sed etiam voltu stabilem se gloriam consequi posse rentur, vehementer errant. Vera gloria radices agit atque etiam propagatur, ficta omnia celeriter tamquam flosculi decidunt, nee simulatum potest quicquam esse diuturnum.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 2, ch. 12 (2.12) / sec. 43 (44 BC) [tr. Edmonds (1865)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translation:

Those people therefore are highly mistaken, who think of obtaining a solid reputation by vain shows and hypocritical pretences; by composed countenances and studied forms of words: for true glory takes deep root, and grows and flourishes more and more; but that which is only in show and mere outside, quickly decays and withers like flowers; nor can anything be lasting that is only counterfeit.
[tr. Cockman (1699)]

But if any suppose, that they can obtain a stable reputation by pretences, empty ostentation, hypocritical conversation, and even artificial looks, they are extremely mistaken. True fame takes deep root, and extends its shoots. Every counterfeit appearance, like blossoms, quickly falls off; and no pretense can be lasting.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

If there be those who think to obtain enduring fame by dissembling and empty show, and by hypocrisy, not only of speech, but of countenance also, they are utterly mistaken. True fame strikes its roots downward, and sends out fresh shoots; all figments fall speedily, like blossoms, nor can anything feigned be lasting.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]

It is a delusion to suppose that glory can be founded on dissimulation, vain ostentation, and studied words and looks. True glory strikes root and spreads, everything unreal soon falls like the blossoms, a lie cannot last.
[tr. Gardiner (1899)]

True glory strikes roots, and grows: ill-founded reputations, like flowers, soon wither, nor can anything last long which is based on pretence.
[ed. Harbottle (1906)]

For if anyone thinks that he can win lasting glory by pretence, by empty show, by hypocritical talk and looks, he is very much mistaken. True glory strikes deep root and spreads its branches wide; but all pretences soon fall to the ground like fragile flowers, and nothing counterfeit can be lasting.
[tr. Miller (1913)]

If anyone thinks he can attain lasting glory by mimicry, by empty shows, by pretense in his looks and his conversation, he is far from correct. Genuine glory puts down roots and even sends out new growth; any pretense dies down quickly, like fragile flowers. Nothing simulated can be long-lasting.
[tr. Edinger (1974)]

 
Added on 24-Mar-22 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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Because we have sought to cover up past evil, though it still persists, we have been powerless to check the new evil of today. Evil unchecked grows, evil tolerated poisons the whole system. And because we have tolerated our past and present evils, international affairs are poisoned and law and justice have disappeared from them.

Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) Indian nationalist leader, politician, statesman, author
“The Bombing of Open Towns,” speech, International Peace Campaign Conference, Paris (24 Jul 1938)
    (Source)

Nehru was comparing rising fascism to colonial imperialism, and the bombings of cities in Spain and China to ongoing British bombing of villages in the North-West Frontier of India. Collected in The Unity of India : Collected Writings, 1937-1940 (1942).
 
Added on 21-Feb-22 | Last updated 21-Feb-22
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All the Sixties were complicated, you know. On the one hand it was funny too, you know; on the other hand it was cruel, you know. The Communists are so cruel, because they impose one taste on everybody, on everything, and who doesn’t comply with their teachings and with their ideology, is very soon labeled pervert, you know, or whatever they want you call it, or counterrevolutionary or whatever. And then the censorship itself, that’s not the worst evil. The worst evil is — and that’s the product of censorship — is the self-censorship, because that twists spines, that destroys my character because I have to think something else and say something else, I have to always control myself. I am stopping to being honest, I am becoming hypocrite — and that’s what they wanted, they wanted everybody to feel guilty, they were, you know… And also they were absolutely brilliant in one way, you know: they knew how effective is not to punish somebody who is guilty; what Communist Party members could afford to do was mind-boggling: they could do practically anything they wanted — steal, you know, lie, whatever. What was important — that they punished if you’re innocent, because that puts everybody, you know, puts fear in everybody.

Milos Forman
Jan Tomáš "Miloš" Forman (1932-2018) Czech-American film director, screenwriter, actor, academic
National Security Archive interview (18 Jan 1997)
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Added on 20-Dec-21 | Last updated 20-Dec-21
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What is blasphemy? I will give you a definition; I will give you my thought upon this subject. What is real blasphemy?

To live on the unpaid labor of other men — that is blasphemy.

To enslave your fellow-man, to put chains upon his body — that is blasphemy.

To enslave the minds of men, to put manacles upon the brain, padlocks upon the lips — that is blasphemy.

To deny what you believe to be true, to admit to be true what you believe to be a lie — that is blasphemy.

To strike the weak and unprotected, in order that you may gain the applause of the ignorant and superstitious mob — that is blasphemy.

To persecute the intelligent few, at the command of the ignorant many — that is blasphemy.

To forge chains, to build dungeons, for your honest fellow-men — that is blasphemy.

To pollute the souls of children with the dogma of eternal pain — that is blasphemy.

To violate your conscience — that is blasphemy.

The jury that gives an unjust verdict, and the judge who pronounces an unjust sentence, are blasphemers.

The man who bows to public opinion against his better judgment and against his honest conviction, is a blasphemer.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Speech to the Jury, Trial of C. B. Reynolds for Blasphemy, Morristown, New Jersey (May 1887)
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Added on 13-Oct-21 | Last updated 13-Oct-21
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By force you can make hypocrites — men who will agree with you from the teeth out, and in their hearts hate you. We want no more hypocrites. We have enough in every community. And how are you going to keep from having more? By having the air free, — by wiping from your statute books such miserable and infamous laws as this.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Speech to the Jury, Trial of C. B. Reynolds for Blasphemy, Morristown, New Jersey (May 1887)
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Added on 22-Sep-21 | Last updated 22-Sep-21
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Preacher preaching love like vengeance
Preaching love like hate
Calling for large donations
Promising estates
Rolling lawns and angel bands
Behind the pearly gates
You know he will have his in this life
But yours will have to wait
He’s immaculately tax free

Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell (b. 1943) Canadian singer-songwriter and painter [b. Roberta Joan Anderson]
“Tax Free” Joni Mitchell (1985)
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Added on 17-Sep-21 | Last updated 17-Sep-21
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The best way to know our faults is to notice which ones you accuse others of.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, #195 (2001)
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Added on 17-Aug-21 | Last updated 17-Aug-21
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People may see hypocrisy and cynicism all around them, but in my experience, almost without exception, they believe their own views and actions — even when contradictory, even when private motivations differ from public explanations — are righteous and principled.

John F Harris
John F. Harris (b. c. 1963) American political journalist, editor
“‘He Is Our O.J.'” Politico (9 Jan 2020)
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Added on 21-Jul-21 | Last updated 21-Jul-21
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For if justice be a virtue, it must be free from the imputation of crime, and not return evil for evil. For what kind of virtue is it for you to do yourself what you punish in another? This is merely to propagate iniquity, not to punish it; and the character of the person whom you injure, whether he be just or unjust, makes no difference, for you ought not to have done evil.

St. Ambrose (339-397) Roman prelate, Bishop of Milan [Aurelius Ambrosius]
Letter to the Church of Vercellae, para. 83
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Added on 14-Jul-21 | Last updated 14-Jul-21
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How few philosophers are to be found who are such in character, so ordered in soul and in life, as reason demands; who regard their teaching not as a display of knowledge, but as the rule of life; who obey themselves, and submit to their own decrees!

[Quotus enim quisque philosophorum invenitur, qui sit ita moratus, ita animo ac vita constitutus, ut ratio postulat? qui disciplinam suam non ostentationem scientiae, sed legem vitae putet? qui obtemperet ipse sibi et decretis suis pareat?]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 2, ch. 4 (2.4) / sec. 11 [Marcus] (45 BC) [tr. Peabody (1886)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alternate translations:

For where is there one Philosopher of a thousand to be found, of such a Temper and Conversation, as Reason requires? who maketh use of his Doctrine not for Ostentation of Knowledge, but a Rule of Life? who believes himself, and observes his own Precepts?
[tr. Wase (1643)]

For how few philosophers will you meet with, whose life and manners are conformable to the dictates of reason? who look on their profession, not as a means of displaying their learning, but as a rule for their practice? who follow their own precepts, and comply with their own decrees?
[tr. Main (1824)]
For, how rare to find a philosopher with such morals, with a mind and life so regulated, as reason requires -- who deems his own doctrine, not a parade of science, but the rule of life -- who yields obedience to himself, and deference to his own decrees.
[tr. Otis (1839)]

For how few philosophers will you meet with, whose life and manners are conformable to the dictates of reason! who look on their profession, not as a means of displaying their learning, but as a rule for their own practice! who follow their own precepts, and comply with, their own decrees!
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

 
Added on 14-Jun-21 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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How then do you demand Chastity, while thou dost not yourself observe it? How do you demand that which thou dost not give? How, though you are equally a body, do you legislate unequally? If you enquire into the worse — the Woman sinned, and so did Adam. The serpent deceived them both; and one was not found to be the stronger and the other the weaker. But do you consider the better? Christ saves both by His Passion. Was He made flesh for the Man? So He was also for the woman. Did He die for the Man? The Woman also is saved by His death. He is called of the seed of David; and so perhaps you think the Man is honoured; but He is born of a Virgin, and this is on the Woman’s side. They two, He says, shall be one Flesh; so let the one flesh have equal honour.

Gregory of Nazianzus (329-390) Byzantine prelate, Doctor of the Church, saint, rhetorician [Γρηγόριος ὁ Ναζιανζηνός; Gregory the Theologian]
Oration 37, sec. 7 [tr. Browne & Swallow]
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Added on 1-Dec-20 | Last updated 1-Dec-20
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That men should pray and fight for their own freedom, and yet keep others in slavery, is certainly acting a very inconsistent, as well as unjust and, perhaps, impious part, but the history of mankind is filled with instances of human improprieties.

John Jay (1745-1829) American statesman, diplomat, abolitionist, politician, Chief Justice (1789-1795)
Letter to Rev. Doctor Price (27 Sep 1785)
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Added on 23-Sep-20 | Last updated 23-Sep-20
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Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Matthew 7:3-5 [NRSV]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • [KJV] "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."
  • [GNT] "Why, then, do you look at the speck in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye? How dare you say to your brother, 'Please, let me take that speck out of your eye,' when you have a log in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
 
Added on 10-Sep-20 | Last updated 10-Sep-20
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What makes it so plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices is that integrity can indeed exist under the cover of all other vices except this one. Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
On Revolution, ch. 2 (1963)
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Added on 11-Aug-20 | Last updated 11-Aug-20
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Politics demands a great capacity for self-deception, which rescues the politician from hypocrisy. He can normally manage to believe what he is saying for the time it takes him to say it. This gives him a certain sincerity even when he is saying opposite things to opposite people.

Garry Wills (b. 1934) American author, journalist, historian
Confessions of a Conservative, ch. 15 (1979)
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Added on 1-Jun-20 | Last updated 1-Jun-20
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It is only hypocrites who cannot forgive hypocrisy, whereas those who search for truth are too conscious of the maze to be hard on others.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“Albergo Empedocle” (1903)
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Added on 22-Apr-20 | Last updated 22-Apr-20
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One mustn’t criticize other people on grounds where he can’t stand perpendicular himself.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, ch. 26 “The First Newspaper” (1889)
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Added on 10-Mar-20 | Last updated 10-Mar-20
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The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. If a man’s associates find him guilty of phoniness, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teachings and actions must square with each other. The first great need, therefore, is integrity and high purpose.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
(Attributed)
 
Added on 24-Mar-19 | Last updated 24-Mar-19
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Apologize, v.i. To lay the foundation for a future offense.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) American writer and journalist
The Cynic’s Word Book (1906)
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Added on 2-Feb-19 | Last updated 2-Feb-19
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“Classic.” A book which people praise and don’t read.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 25, epigraph (1897)
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Added on 7-Jun-18 | Last updated 7-Jun-18
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For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course, that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere. “Blessed are the merciful” in a courtroom? “Blessed are the peacemakers: in the Pentagon? Give me a break!

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922-2007) American novelist, journalist
A Man Without A Country, ch. 9 (2005)
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The Beatitudes (Matthew 5).
 
Added on 2-Apr-18 | Last updated 2-Apr-18
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In our judgment of men, we are to beware of giving any great importance to occasional acts. By acts of occasional virtue weak men endeavour to redeem themselves in their own estimation, vain men to exalt themselves in that of mankind.

Henry Taylor (1800-1886) English dramatist, poet, bureaucrat, man of letters
The Statesman: An Ironical Treatise on the Art of Succeeding, ch. 3 (1836)
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There are no grades of vanity, there are only grades of ability in concealing it.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook, 1898 [ed. Paine (1935)]
 
Added on 21-Jul-17 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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The worst barbarity of war is that it forces men collectively to commit acts against which individually they would revolt with their whole being.

Ellen Key (1849-1926) Swedish feminist and writer
War, Peace, and the Future, ch. 6 (1916) [tr. Norberg]
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Added on 17-Jul-17 | Last updated 17-Jul-17
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I accept this idea of democracy. I am all for trying it out. It must be a good thing if everybody praises it like that. If our government has been willing to go to war and sacrifice billions of dollars and millions of men for the idea I think that I ought to give the thing a trial. The only thing that keeps me from pitching head long into this thing is the presence of numerous Jim Crow laws on the statute books of the nation. I am crazy about the idea of democracy. I want to see how it feels.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) American writer, folklorist, anthropologist
“Crazy for This Democracy,” Negro Digest (Dec 1945)
 
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If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.

Florynce "Flo" Kennedy (1916-2000) American lawyer, feminist, civil rights activist
Speech, Washington, DC (15 May 1971)

Quoted in Off Our Backs (24 Jun 1971). Gloria Steinem, who also used the phrase, later claimed it was said to her and Kennedy by an "old Irish woman taxi driver" in Boston, but she attributed it at other times to Kennedy herself. More info here.
 
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Oppressed people are frequently very oppressive when first liberated. And why wouldn’t they be? They know best two positions. Somebody’s foot on their neck or their foot on somebody’s neck.

Florynce "Flo" Kennedy (1916-2000) American lawyer, feminist, civil rights activist
“Institutionalized Oppression vs. the Female” (1970)
 
Added on 17-Apr-17 | Last updated 1-Sep-20
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That sort of thing wears thin — for when one’s cynicism becomes perfect and absolute, there’s no longer anything amusing in the stupidity and hypocrisy of the herd. It is all to be expected — what else could human nature produce? — so irony annuls itself by means of its own victories!

H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) American fabulist [Howard Phillips Lovecraft]
Letter to August W. Derleth (Jan 1928)

Regarding Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary.
 
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This declared indifference, but as I must think, covert real zeal for the spread of slavery, I cannot but hate. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our Republican example of its just influence in the world — enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites — causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity, and especially because it forces so many really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty — criticizing the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech, Peoria, Illinois (16 Oct 1854)
 
Added on 29-Mar-17 | Last updated 29-Mar-17
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The most dangerous type of atheism is not theoretical atheism, but practical atheism — that’s the most dangerous type. And the world, even the church, is filled up with people who pay lip service to God and not life service. And there is always a danger that we will make it appear externally that we believe in God when internally we don’t. We say with our mouths that we believe in him, but we live with our lives like he never existed. That is the ever-present danger confronting religion. That’s a dangerous type of atheism.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, social activist, preacher
“Rediscovering Lost Values,” sermon, Second Baptist Church, Detroit (28 Feb 1954)
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The man of business goes on Sunday to the church with the regularity of the village blacksmith, there to renounce and abjure before his God the line of conduct which he intends to pursue with all his might during the following week.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Fabian Essays in Socialism, “The Basis of Socialism: Economic” (1889)
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When you have discovered a stain in yourself, you eagerly seek for and gladly find stains in others.

Berthold Auerbach (1812-1882) German author
(Attributed)

Attributed in Maturin M. Ballou, Edge-Tools of Speech (1886).
 
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All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
A Little Book in C Major (1916)
 
Added on 11-Jun-16 | Last updated 11-Jun-16
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You’re supposed to look at that figure of Christ on the cross and think, “How could a man suffer like that and forgive?” Not, “Romans are pussies — he still has his eyes.”

William "Bill" Maher (b. 1956) American comedian, political commentator, critic, television host.
Real Time with Bill Maher, “New Rules” (13 May 2011)

Discussing Christians who support torturing terrorists.
 
Added on 1-Jun-16 | Last updated 1-Jun-16
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The old century is very nearly out, and leaves the world in a pretty pass, and the British Empire is playing the devil in it as never an empire before on so large a scale. We may live to see its fall. All the nations of Europe are making the same hell upon earth in China, massacring and pillaging and raping in the captured cities as outrageously as in the Middle Ages. The Emperor of Germany gives the word for slaughter and the Pope looks on and approves. In South Africa our troops are burning farms under Kitchener’s command, and the Queen and the two houses of Parliament, and the bench of bishops thank God publicly and vote money for the work. The Americans are spending fifty millions a year on slaughtering the Filipinos; the King of the Belgians has invested his whole fortune on the Congo, where he is brutalizing the Negroes to fill his pockets. The French and Italians for the moment are playing a less prominent part in the slaughter, but their inactivity grieves them. The whole white race is reveling openly in violence, as though it had never pretended to be Christian. God’s equal curse be on them all! So ends the famous nineteenth century into which we were so proud to have been born.

Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1840-1922) English poet, critic, horse breeder
My Diaries, 1888-1914, 22 Dec 1900 (1921)
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Added on 26-May-16 | Last updated 26-May-16
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If you rejoice in revenge, torture, and war […] you cannot say you’re a follower of the guy who explicitly said “love your enemies” and “do good to those who hate you”. The next line isn’t, “And if that doesn’t work, send a titanium-fanged dog to rip his nuts off”. Jesus lays on that hippie stuff pretty thick! He has lines like, “do not repay evil with evil”, and “do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you.” Really! It’s in that book you hold up when you scream at gay people.

William "Bill" Maher (b. 1956) American comedian, political commentator, critic, television host.
Real Time with Bill Maher, “New Rules” (13 May 2011)
 
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Jesus, as a philosopher is wonderful. There’s no greater role model, in my view, than Jesus Christ. It’s just a shame that most of the people who follow him and call themselves Christians act nothing like him.

William "Bill" Maher (b. 1956) American comedian, political commentator, critic, television host.
Interview, The O’Reilly Factor (26 Sep 2006)
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Added on 9-Mar-16 | Last updated 9-Mar-16
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Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.

Twain - Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual - wist.info quote

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“New Year’s Day,” Virginia City Territorial Enterprise (c. 1 Jan 1864)
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Added on 31-Dec-15 | Last updated 2-Jan-23
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You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.

Malcolm X - wrong is wrong - wist_info

Malcolm X (1925-1965) American revolutionary, religious leader [b. Malcolm Little]
“Prospects for Freedom in 1965,” speech, New York (7 Jan 1965)
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Added on 20-Nov-15 | Last updated 11-Jan-23
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It is easy to be brave from a safe distance.

Aesop (620?-560? BC) Legendary Greek storyteller
Fables [Aesopica], “The Wolf and the Kid” (6th C BC) [tr. Jacobs (1894)]
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Alternate translation: "Time and place often give the advantage to the weak over the strong." [tr. Townsend (1887), "The Kid and the Wolf"]
 
Added on 20-Nov-15 | Last updated 16-Sep-21
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It must be a good thing to be good or ivrybody wudden’t be pretendin’ he was.

[It must be a good thing to be good, or everybody wouldn’t be pretending he was.]

Dunne - pretending to be good - wist_info

Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936) American humorist and journalist
Observations by Mr. Dooley, “Hypocrisy” (1902)
 
Added on 27-Oct-15 | Last updated 27-Oct-15
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Let no one say that he is a follower of Gandhi. It is enough that I should be my own follower. I know what an inadequate follower I am of myself, for I cannot live up to the convictions I stand for. You are no followers, but fellow students, fellow pilgrims, fellow seekers, fellow workers.
Gandhi - followers - wist_info

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) Indian philosopher and nationalist [Mahatma Gandhi]
In Harijan (2 Mar 1940)
 
Added on 19-Oct-15 | Last updated 19-Oct-15
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Man is the only animal that learns by being hypocritical. He pretends to be polite and then, eventually, he becomes polite.

Jean Kerr (1922-2003) American author and playwright [b. Bridget Jean Collins]
Finishing Touches, Act 1 (1973)
 
Added on 14-Sep-15 | Last updated 14-Sep-15
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It is when the sentimentalist turns preacher of morals that we investigate his character, and are justified in so doing. He may express as many and as delicate shades of feeling as he likes, — for this the sensibility of his organization perfectly fits him, no other person could do it so well, — but the moment he undertakes to establish his feeling as a rule of conduct, we ask at once how far are his own life and deed in accordance with what he preaches? For every man feels instinctively that all the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action; and that while tenderness of feeling and susceptibility to generous emotions are accidents of temperament, goodness is an achievement of the will and a quality of the life. Fine words, says our homely old proverb, butter no parsnips; and if the question be how to render those vegetables palatable, an ounce of butter would be worth more than all the orations of Cicero. The only conclusive evidence of a man’s sincerity is that he give himself for a principle. Words, money, all things else, are comparatively easy to give away; but when a man makes a gift of his daily life and practice, it is plain that the truth, whatever it may be, has taken possession of him.

James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) American diplomat, essayist, poet
“Rousseau And The Sentimentalists,” North American Review (Jul 1867)
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Added on 10-Aug-15 | Last updated 10-Aug-15
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It is easier to write ten volumes of philosophy than to put one principle into practice.

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) Russian novelist and moral philosopher
Diary (17 Mar 1847)
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From his earliest diary entry, when he was 18. Variants:
  • "It is easier to produce ten volumes of philosophical writing than to put one principle into practice."
  • "It is easier to write ten volumes on theoretical principles than to put one principle into practice."
 
Added on 9-Jul-15 | Last updated 9-Jul-15
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