Quotations about   individual

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But although foreign and internal threats of Fascism must be taken seriously, there is no greater mistake and no graver danger than not to see that in our own society we are faced with the same phenomenon that is fertile soil for the rise of Fascism anywhere: the insignificance and powerlessness of the individual.

Erich Fromm (1900-1980) American psychoanalyst and social philosopher
Escape from Freedom, ch. 7, sec. 1 (1941)
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Added on 21-Sep-20 | Last updated 21-Sep-20
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Society in its full sense […] is never an entity separable from the individuals who compose it. No individual can arrive even at the threshold of his potentialities without a culture in which he participates. Conversely, no civilization has in it any element which in the last analysis is not the contribution of an individual.

Ruth Benedict (1887-1947) American anthropologist
Patterns of Culture, ch. 8 “The Individual and Culture” (1934)
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Sometimes quoted as "The community is never an entity ...."
Added on 18-Sep-20 | Last updated 18-Sep-20
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Any power must be the enemy of mankind which enslaves the individual by terror and force, whether it arises under a Fascist or Communist flag. All that is valuable in human society depends on the opportunity for development accorded to the individual.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-American physicist
Press statement, England (15 Sep 1933)
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Added on 17-Sep-20 | Last updated 17-Sep-20
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What is not good for the swarm is not good for the bee.

[Τὸ τῷ σμήνει μὴ συμφέρον οὐδὲ τῇ μελίσσῃ συμφέρει.]

Marcus Aurelius (121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations, Book 6, #54 (2nd C AD)

Original here. Alt. trans.:
  • "That which is not good for the beehive, cannot be good for the bee." [tr. Casaubon (1634); numbered 49]
  • "What does not benefit the hive is no benefit to the bee." [tr. Farquharson (1944)]
  • "That which is not for the interest of the whole swarm is not for the interest of the bee." [tr. Collier]
  • "What injures the hive injures the bee." [tr. Hays (2002)]
  • "What is not good for the hive is not good for the bee."
Added on 17-Apr-20 | Last updated 17-Apr-20
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During the greater part of the nineteenth century the significance of the opposition between the two principles of individual rights and social functions was masked by the doctrine of the inevitable harmony between private interests and public good. Competition, it was argued, was an effective substitute for honesty. Today … few now would profess adherence to the compound of economic optimism and moral bankruptcy which led a nineteenth century economist to say: “Greed is held in check by greed, and the desire for gain sets limits to itself.”

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
The Acquisitive Century, ch. 3 “The Acquisitive Society” (1920)
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Added on 5-Jan-17 | Last updated 5-Jan-17
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There are a billion people in China. It’s not easy to be an individual in a crowd of more than a billion people. Think of it. More than a BILLION people. That means even if you’re a one-in-a-million type of guy, there are still a thousand guys exactly like you.

A. Whitney Brown (b. 1952) American comic actor, writer
The Big Picture: An American Commentary (1991)
Added on 23-Sep-16 | Last updated 23-Sep-16
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The humblest citizen of all the land, when clad in the armor of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of Error.

William Jennings Bryan (1860–1925) American lawyer, statesman, politician, orator
Speech, National Democratic Convention, Chicago (Jul 1896)
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Added on 9-Jun-16 | Last updated 17-Sep-20
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Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:9; Yerushalmi Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 37a
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Alt. trans.: "Whoever destroys a single life is as guilty as though he had destroyed the entire world; and whoever rescues a single life earns as much merit as though he had rescued the entire world."
Added on 1-Sep-15 | Last updated 20-Dec-19
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Individualism in one sense the only possible ideal; for whatever social order may be most valuable can be valuable only for its effect on conscious individuals.

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, Vol. 2 “Reason in Society,” ch. 2 “The Family” (1905-06)
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Added on 11-Aug-15 | Last updated 16-Mar-20
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The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in
the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with evil in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to produce evil in someone else. The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher and economist
On Liberty, ch. 1 (1859)
Added on 5-Aug-15 | Last updated 24-Feb-16
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Where after all do universal human rights begin? In small places, closes to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person: The neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
Speech, United Nations (27 Mar 1958)
Added on 29-Apr-15 | Last updated 29-Apr-15
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At the heart of that Western freedom and democracy is the belief that the individual man, the child of God, is the touchstone of value, and all society, groups, the state, exist for his benefit. Therefore the enlargement of liberty for individual human beings must be the supreme goal and the abiding practice of any Western society.

Robert Francis Kennedy (1925-1968) American politician
“Day of Affirmation,” address, University of Capetown, South Africa (6 Jun 1966)
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Added on 3-Nov-14 | Last updated 3-Nov-14
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What are the American ideals? They are the development of the individual for his own and the common good; the development of the individual through liberty, and the attainment of the common good through democracy and social justice.

Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) American lawyer, activist, Supreme Court Justice (1916-39)
“True Americanism” (1915)
Added on 7-Oct-14 | Last updated 7-Oct-14
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To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

e e cummings (1894-1962) American poet and painter [Edward Estlin Cummings]
A Miscellany (1958)
Added on 29-Aug-14 | Last updated 29-Aug-14
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As a whole, people suck, but a person can be extraordinary.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Changes, ch. 18 (2010)
Added on 21-Jan-14 | Last updated 21-Jan-14
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Let every man shovel out his own snow and the whole city will be passable.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (Jun-Aug 1840)
Added on 1-Jul-13 | Last updated 19-Dec-16
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You begin saving the world by saving one person at a time; all else is grandiose romanticism or politics.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
Tales of Ordinary Madness, “Too Sensitive” (1967)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Jan-20
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The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Marcus Aurelius (121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
(Attributed)
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The earliest identifiable citation appears as an epigraph to Leo Tolstoy, Bethink Yourselves!, ch. 8 (1904), in Recollections & Essays [tr. Aylmer Maud (1937)]. A cleaner copy can be found at the Nonresistance.org site. The classic (and presumably abridged) version of Bethink Yourselves!, as translated by Chertkov (1904), does not include any of the copious epigraphs, including this one.

Regardless, this phrase is not clearly found in Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, though other parts of the lengthy epigraph appear to be. If ordered by position, this would presumably fall somewhere from 10.6 to 10.8 (i.e., the preceding and following sentences are more clearly identifiable), but the language of this sentence does not seem to line up.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-May-20
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There are two great rules in life, the one general and the other particular. The first is that every one can in the end get what he wants if he only tries. This is the general rule. The particular rule is that every individual is more or less of an exception to the general rule.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
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Each snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty.

Stanislaw Lec (1909-1966) Polish aphorist, poet, satirist
More Unkempt Thoughts (1968)

Variant: "No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Jan-17
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