Quotations about   immorality

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The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together, for it implied — as had been said at Nuremberg over and over again by the defendants and their counsels — that this new type of criminal, who is in actual fact hostis generis humani, commits his crimes under circumstances that make it well-nigh impossible for him to know or to feel that he is doing wrong.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, Epilogue (1963)
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Hostis humani generis (Latin for "enemy of humanity") was an admiralty legal term indicating that slavers, pirates, and terrorists were held beyond legal protection and were a legitimate target of any nation.
Added on 21-Jul-20 | Last updated 21-Jul-20
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Loyalty is one of the most attractive of moral qualities, and it necessarily inhibits criticism of its own objects, which has the appearance of treason. But, unless the aims of the corporate body which claims our absolute allegiance are right and reasonable, loyalty may be, and often has been, the parent of hideous crimes, and a social evil of the first magnitude.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
“The Indictment against Christianity” (1917), Outspoken Essays: First Series, ch. 10 (1919)
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Added on 13-Jul-20 | Last updated 15-Jul-20
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DEMOSTHENES: A demagogue must be neither an educated nor an honest man; he has to be an ignoramus and a rogue.

Aristophanes (c.450-c.388 BC) Athenian comedic playwright
The Knights, ll. 191-3 [tr. O’Neill (1938)]
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Alt. trans. "For the character of popular leader no longer belongs to a man of education, nor yet to one good in his morals, but to the ignorant and abominable." [tr. Hickie (1853)]
Added on 3-Jun-20 | Last updated 3-Jun-20
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For the propaganda of totalitarian movements which precede and accompany totalitarian regimes is invariably as frank as it is mendacious, and would-be totalitarian rulers usually start their careers by boasting of their past crimes and carefully outlining their future ones. The Nazis were “convinced that evil-doing in our time has a morbid force of attraction,” Bolshevik assurances inside and outside Russia that they do not recognize ordinary moral standards have become a mainstay of Communist propaganda, and experience has proven time and again that the propaganda value of evil deeds and general contempt for moral standards is independent of mere self-interest, supposedly the most powerful psychological factor in politics.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
The Origins of Totalitarianism, Part 3, ch. 1, sec. 1 (1951)
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Added on 28-Apr-20 | Last updated 28-Apr-20
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There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Preface (1891)
Added on 3-Jan-19 | Last updated 3-Jan-19
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An opinion, right or wrong, can never constitute a moral offense, nor be in itself a moral obligation. It may be mistaken; it may involve an absurdity, or a contradiction. It is a truth; or it is an error: it can never be a crime or a virtue.

Frances "Fanny" Wright (1795-1852) Scottish-American writer, lecturer, social reformer
A Few Days in Athens, Vol. 2, ch. 14 (1822)
Added on 1-Jan-19 | Last updated 1-Jan-19
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The poverty of goods is easily cured; the poverty of the soul is irreparable.

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) French essayist
Essays, Book 3, ch. 10 “Of Managing the Will” (1588) [tr. Cotton (1877)]
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Alt. trans.: "Poverty of possessions may easily be cured, but poverty of soul never."
Added on 1-Aug-17 | Last updated 1-Aug-17
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Is it progress if a cannibal uses knife and fork?

Stanislaw Lec (1909-1966) Polish aphorist, poet, satirist
Unkempt Thoughts (1962)
Added on 21-Mar-17 | Last updated 21-Mar-17
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He that is good will infallibly become better, and he that is bad will as certainly become worse; for vice, virtue, and time are three things that never stand still.

Charles Caleb "C. C." Colton (1780-1832) English cleric, writer
Lacon: or, Many Things in Few Words, #457 (1821 ed.)
Added on 21-Nov-16 | Last updated 21-Nov-16
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Fashions in sin change.

Hellman - fashions in sin change - wist_info quote

Lillian Hellman (1906-1987) American playwright, screenwriter
Watch on the Rhine (1941)
Added on 25-Aug-16 | Last updated 25-Aug-16
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They did to others that which they would not they should do to them — that grand principle of immorality upon which rests the whole art of war.

[Ils faisaient à autrui ce qu’ils ne voulaient pas qu’on leur fît, principe immoral sur lequel repose tout l’art de la guerre.]

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
From the Earth to the Moon, ch. 10 (1865) [tr. Scribner’s (1890)]
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Alt. trans.: "They did unto others what they would not have others do unto them, an immoral principle that is the basic premise of the art of war." [tr. Miller (1978)]
Added on 18-Mar-16 | Last updated 18-Mar-16
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“Vice,” said Mr. Dooley, “is a creature of such heejous mein, as Hogan says, that th’ more ye see it th’ betther ye like it.”

[“Vice,” said Mr. Dooley, “is a creature of such hideous mien, as Hogan says, that the more you see it the better you like it.”]

Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936) American humorist and journalist
“The Crusade Against Vice,” Mr. Dooley’s Opinions (1901)
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Added on 29-Jan-16 | Last updated 29-Jan-16
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The only sin is to be unkind.

Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) American writer, businessman, philosopher
A Thousand and One Epigrams (1911)
Added on 16-May-14 | Last updated 16-May-14
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All luxury corrupts either the morals or the taste.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
Added on 15-Apr-13 | Last updated 13-May-16
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Once again prosperous and successful crime goes by the name of virtue; good men obey the bad, might is right and fear oppresses law.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Hercules Furens, Part 1, l.255 [Amphitryon] [tr. Miller (1917)]
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Alt. trans.: "Successful and fortunate crime is called virtue."
Added on 21-Nov-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-17
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