Quotations about   individualism

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Democracy is not a beloved Republic really, and never will be. But it is less hateful than other contemporary forms of government, and to that extent it deserves our support. It does start from the assumption that the individual is important, and that all types are needed to make a civilization. It does not divide its citizens into the bossers and the bossed — as an efficiency-regime tends to do. The people I admire most are those who are sensitive and want to create something or discover something, and do not see life in terms of power, and such people get more of a chance under a democracy than elsewhere. They found religions, great or small, or they produce literature and art, or they do disinterested scientific research, or they may be what is called “ordinary people”, who are creative in their private lives, bring up their children decently, for instance, or help their neighbours. All these people need to express themselves; they cannot do so unless society allows them liberty to do so, and the society which allows them most liberty is a democracy.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“What I Believe,” The Nation (16 Jul 1938)
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Added on 1-Jan-19 | Last updated 1-Jan-19
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An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. And this is one of the big problems of life, that so many people never quite get to the point of rising above self. And so they end up the tragic victims of self-centeredness. They end up the victims of distorted and disrupted personality.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Conquering Self-Centeredness,” sermon, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama (11 Aug 1957)
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Added on 31-Mar-17 | Last updated 31-Mar-17
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If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

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Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American philosopher and writer
Walden, ch. 18 (1854)
Added on 7-Nov-16 | Last updated 7-Nov-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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I believe in individualism. I believe in it in the arts, the sciences and professions. I believe in it in business. I believe in individualism in all of these things — up to the point where the individualist starts to operate at the expense of society.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) US President (1933-1945)
Acceptance Speech, Democratic Convention, Chicago (27 Jun 1936)
Added on 25-Aug-15 | Last updated 25-Aug-15
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Unrestricted individualism spells ruin to the individual himself. But so does the elimination of individualism, whether by law or custom.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
An Autobiography, ch. 5 (1913)
Added on 18-Aug-15 | Last updated 18-Aug-15
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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, 2.2 (1905-06)
Added on 11-Aug-15 | Last updated 11-Aug-15
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Individualism, at first, only saps the virtues of public life; but in the long run it attacks and destroys all others and is at length absorbed in downright selfishness.

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) French writer, diplomat, politician
Democracy in America, 2.2.2 (1840) [tr. Reeve & Bowen (1862)]
Added on 28-Jul-15 | Last updated 28-Jul-15
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Nothing is cheaper and more common than physical bravery. […] Common experience shows how much rarer is moral courage than physical bravery. A thousand men will march to the mouth of the cannon where one man will dare espouse an unpopular cause […] True courage and manhood come from the consciousness of the right attitude toward the world, the faith in one’s own purpose, and the sufficiency of one’s own approval as a justification for one’s own acts.

Clarence Darrow (1857-1938) American lawyer
Resist Not Evil, ch. 16 (1903)
Added on 4-Aug-09 | Last updated 4-Dec-15
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