Quotations about   order

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You think that a wall as solid as the earth separates civilization from barbarism. I tell you the division is a thread, a sheet of glass. A touch here, a push there, and you bring back the reign of Saturn.

John Buchan (1875-1940) Scottish novelist, poet, and politician; Governor-General of Canada (1935 -1940)
The Power-House, ch. 3 (1916)
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Added on 29-Jun-22 | Last updated 29-Jun-22
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For that is an absurd position which is taken by some people, who say that they will not rob a parent or a brother for their own gain, but that their relation to the rest of their fellow-citizens is quite another thing. Such people contend in essence that they are bound to their fellow-citizens by no mutual obligations, social ties, or common interests. This attitude demolishes the whole structure of civil society.

[Nam illud quidem absurdum est, quod quidam dicunt, parenti se aut fratri nihil detracturos sui commodi causa, aliam rationem esse civium reliquorum. Hi sibi nihil iuris, nullam societatem communis utilitatis causa statuunt esse cum civibus, quae sententia omnem societatem distrahit civitatis.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 3, ch. 6 / sec. 28 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translation:

For as to what is usually said by some men, that they would not take anything away from a father or brother for their own advantage, but that there is not the same reason for their ordinary citizens, it is foolish and absurd: for they thrust themselves out from partaking of any privileges, and from joining in common with the rest of their citizens, for the public good; an opinion that strikes at the very root and foundation of all civil societies.
[tr. Cockman (1699)]

That indeed is absurd, which some men avow, that for their own advantage they would take nothing from a parent or a brother; but that the case of other citizens is different. These men, stablish with their fellow-citizens no common right, no society for common advantage; an opinion that unhinges the whole internal intercourse of a state.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

For that which some say, that they would take nothing wrongfully, for the sake of their own advantage, from a parent or brother, but that the case is different with other citizens, is indeed absurd. These establish the principle that they have nothing in the way of right, no society with their fellow citizens, for the sake fo the common interest -- an option which tears asunder the whole social compact.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

For this is absurd indeed which some say, that they would take nothing from a parent or a brother for their own benefit, but that it is quite another thing with persons outside of one’s own family. These men disclaim all mutual right and partnership with their fellow-citizens for the common benefit, -- a state of feeling which dismembers the fellowship of the community.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]

It is absurd for people to say that they will not despoil a father or a brother for their own advantage but that fellow-citizens stand on quite a different footing. That is practically to assert that they are bound to their fellow-citizens neither by mutual obligations, social ties, nor common interests. But such a theory tears in pieces the whole fabric of civil society.
[tr. Gardiner (1899)]

The contention that some people advance is absurd, of course: they argue that they would not deprive a parent or brother of anything for their own advantage but that there is another standard applicable to all other citizens. These people do not submit themselves to any law or to any obligation to cooperate with fellow citizens for the common benefit. Their attitude destroys any cooperation within the city.
[tr. Edinger (1974)]

Added on 10-Mar-22 | Last updated 10-Mar-22
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It is necessary to distinguish between the virtue and the vice of obedience.

Lemuel K. Washburn (1846-1927) American freethinker, writer
Is the Bible Worth Reading and Other Essays, Epigram (1911)
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Added on 27-Jan-22 | Last updated 27-Jan-22
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To many white Americans, President Obama must have been corrupt, because his very occupation of the White House was a kind of corruption of the traditional order. When women attain positions of political power usually reserved for men — or when Muslims, blacks, Jews, homosexuals, or “cosmopolitans” profit or even share the public goods of a democracy, such as healthcare — that is perceived as corruption.

Jason Stanley (b. 1969) American philosopher, epistemologist, academic
How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them, ch. 2 (2018)
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Added on 16-Dec-21 | Last updated 16-Dec-21
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It’s that moment, that brief epiphany when the universe opens up and shows us something, and in that instant we get just a sense of an order greater than Heaven and, as yet at least, beyond the grasp of Stephen Hawking. It doesn’t require worship, but, I think, rewards intelligence, observation and enquiring minds. I don’t think I’ve found God, but I may have seen where gods come from.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
“I create gods all the time — now I think one might exist,” Daily Mail (21 Jun 2008)
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Added on 29-Jul-21 | Last updated 29-Jul-21
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However fiercely opposed one may be to the present order, an old respect for the idea of order itself often prevents people from distinguishing between order and those who stand for order, and leads them in practise to respect individuals under the pretext of respecting order itself.

Antonin Artaud (1896-1948) French playwright, actor, director
Letter to André Gide (10 Feb 1935)
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Added on 3-Feb-21 | Last updated 3-Feb-21
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As long as you’re dancing, you can break the rules.
Sometimes breaking the rules is just extending the rules.

Sometimes there are no rules.

Mary Oliver (1935-2019) American poet
“Three Things to Remember”
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Added on 16-Aug-19 | Last updated 16-Aug-19
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In short, Mort was one of those people who are more dangerous than a bag full of rattlesnakes. He was determined to discover the underlying logic behind the universe. Which was going to be hard, because there wasn’t one.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Mort (1987)
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Added on 23-Feb-18 | Last updated 23-Feb-18
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Remember, gentlemen, an order that can be misunderstood will be misunderstood.

Helmuth von Moltke (1800-1891) Prussian soldier
Comment as Chief of the Prussian General Staff, Battle of Sedan (Sep 1870)
Added on 22-Nov-17 | Last updated 6-Dec-17
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People never move towards revolution; they are pushed towards it by intolerable injustices in the economic and social order under which they live.

Suzanne La Follette (1893-1983) American journalist, author, feminist
(Attributed)
Added on 10-Apr-17 | Last updated 10-Apr-17
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Civilization begins with order, grows with liberty, and dies with chaos.

William James (Will) Durant (1885-1981) American historian, teacher, philosopher
(Attributed)
Added on 13-Mar-17 | Last updated 13-Mar-17
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When once a social order is well established, no matter what injustice it involves, those who occupy a position of advantage are not long in coming to believe that it is the only possible and reasonable order.

Suzanne La Follette (1893-1983) American journalist, author, feminist
(Attributed)
Added on 20-Feb-17 | Last updated 20-Feb-17
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Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit.

Henry Adams (1838-1918) American journalist, historian, academic, novelist
The Education of Henry Adams, ch. 16 (1907)
Added on 3-Nov-16 | Last updated 3-Nov-16
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Categories, if you’ll excuse a brief digression, are a useful way to get a handle on things you don’t understand, as long as you don’t get too attached to them and forget that things like to pop out of one category and into another, and that sometimes the whole category turns itself inside out and becomes something different. It’s useful, for example, to categorize your target as a sorcerer, if he is one; but if you get too attached to your category it’ll leave you embarrassed when he suddenly pulls a knife on you.

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
Issola (2001)
Added on 26-Aug-16 | Last updated 26-Aug-16
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Somebody was screaming and I had to check it wasn’t me. It could have been me. I certainly wanted to scream, but I remembered that right then and there Leslie and I were the only coppers on the scene and the public doesn’t like it when the police start screaming; it contributes to an impression of things not being conducive to public calm.

Ben Aaronovitch (b. 1964) British author
Rivers of London [Midnight Riot] (2011)
Added on 21-Oct-15 | Last updated 21-Oct-15
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If individuality has no play, society does not advance; if individuality breaks out of all bounds, society perishes.

T. H. Huxley (1825-1895) English biologist [Thomas Henry Huxley]
“Administrative Nihilism” (1871)
Added on 6-Oct-15 | Last updated 6-Oct-15
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If there be, in any region of the universe, an order of moral agents living in society, whose reason is strong, whose passions and inclinations are moderate, and whose dispositions are turned to virtue, to such an order of happy beings, legislation, administration, and police, with the endlessly various and complicated apparatus of politics, must be in a great measure superfluous.

James Burgh (1714-1775) British politician and writer
Political Disquisitions, Book 1 “Of Government, briefly,” ch. 1 “Government by Laws and Sanctions, why necessary” (1774)
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Added on 23-Oct-14 | Last updated 23-Oct-14
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Absolute freedom mocks at justice. Absolute justice denies freedom. To be fruitful, the two ideas must find their limits in each other.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
“Historical Murder,” The Rebel (1951) [tr. Bower]
Added on 22-Sep-14 | Last updated 22-Sep-14
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Since we cannot hope for order let us withdraw with style from the chaos.

Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) Czech-English playwright and screenwriter
Lord Malquist and Mr Moon, ch. 1 “Dramatis Personae and Other Coincidences” (1966)
Added on 12-Sep-14 | Last updated 12-Sep-14
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For harmony makes small states great, while discord undermines the mightiest empires.

[Nam concordia parvae res crescunt, discordia maxumae dilabuntur.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
The War with Jugurtha [Bellum Iugurthinum], Part 10 [tr. Loeb (1921)]
Added on 22-May-14 | Last updated 22-May-14
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There must be either a predestined Necessity and inviolable plan, or a gracious Providence, or a chaos without design or director. If then there be an inevitable Necessity, why kick against the pricks? If a Providence that is ready to be gracious, render thyself worthy of divine succour. But if a chaos without guide, congratulate thyself that amid such a surging sea thou hast a guiding Reason.

[Ἤτοι ἀνάγκη εἱμαρμένης καὶ ἀπαράβατος τάξις ἢ πρόνοια ἱλάσιμος ἢ φυρμὸς εἰκαιότητος ἀπροστάτητος. εἰ μὲν οὖν ἀπαράβατος ἀνάγκη, τί ἀντιτείνεις; εἰ δὲ πρόνοια ἐπιδεχομένη τὸ ἱλάσκεσθαι, ἄξιον σαυτὸν ποίησον τῆς ἐκ τοῦ θείου βοηθείας. εἰ δὲ φυρμὸς ἀνηγεμόνευτος, ἀσμένιζε ὅτι ἐν τοιούτῳ κλύδωνι αὐτὸς ἔχεις ἐν σαυτῷ τινα νοῦν ἡγεμονικόν.]

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations, Book 12, #14 [tr. Haines (1916)]
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Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Either fate, (and that either an absolute necessity, and unavoidable decree; or a placable and flexible Providence) or all is a mere casual confusion, void of all order and government. If an absolute and unavoidable necessity, why doest thou resist? If a placable and exorable Providence, make thyself worthy of the divine help and assistance. If all be a mere confusion without any moderator, or governor, then hast thou reason to congratulate thyself; that in such a general flood of confusion thou thyself hast obtained a reasonable faculty, whereby thou mayest govern thine own life and actions.
[tr. Casaubon (1634), #11]

Either the Order of Things are fixed by irrevocable Fate, or Providence may be worked into Compassion, or else the World Floats at Raondom without any Steerage. Now if nature lies under immovable Necessity, to what purpose should you struggle against it? If the favor of Providence is to be gained, qualify your self for the Divine Assistance: But if Chance, and Confusion carry it, and no body sits at the Helm; be you contented and Ride out the Storm patiently, for you have a Governor within you , though the World has none.
[tr. Collier (1701)]

Either there is a fatal necessity and invincible order, or a kind providence, or a confusion without a purpose and without a director. If then there is an invincible necessity, why dost thou resist? But if there is a providence which allows itself to be propitiated, make thyself worthy of the help of the divinity. But if there is a confusion without a governor, be content that in such a tempest thou hast in thyself a certain ruling intelligence.
[tr. Long (1862)]

Either the order of things is fixed by irrevocable fate, or providence may be worked into compassion, or else the world floats at random without any steerage. Now if nature lies under an immovable necessity, to what purpose should you struggle against it? If the favor of providence is to be gained, qualify yourself for divine assistance; but if chance and confusion prevail, be you contented that in such a storm you have a governing intelligence within you.
[tr. Zimmern (1887)]

Either the Necessity of destiny and an order none may transgress, or Providence that hears intercession, or an ungoverned welter without a purpose. If then a Necessity which none may transgress, why do you resist? If a Providence admitting intercession, make yourself worthy of assistance from the Godhead. If an undirected welter, be glad that in so great a flood of waves you have yourself within you a directing mind.
[tr. Farquharson (1944)]

Fatal necessity, and inescapable order. Or benevolent Providence. Or confusion -- random and undirected. If it's an inescapable necessity, why resist it? If it's Providence, admits of being worshipped, then try to be worthy of God's aid. If it's confusion and anarchy, then be grateful that on this raging sea you have a mind to guide you.
[tr. Hays (2003)]

Either predetermined necessity and unalterable cosmic order, or a gracious providence, or a chaotic ungoverned mixture. If a predetermined necessity, why do you resist? If it is a gracious Providence that can hear our prayers, then make yourself worthy of divine assistance. If a chaotic ungoverned mixture, be satisfied that in the midst of this storm, you have within yourself a mind whose nature it is to govern and command.
[tr. Needleman/Piazza (2008)]

Added on 26-Mar-13 | Last updated 30-Mar-21
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The Bill of Rights is not a suicide pact.

Justice Robert H. Jackson (1892-1954) US Supreme Court Justice
Terminiello v. City of Chicago, 337 U.S. 37 (1949) [dissenting]
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Common paraphrase of Jackson's actual comment:

This Court has gone far toward accepting the doctrine that civil liberty means the removal of all restraints from these crowds, and that all local attempts to maintain order are impairments of the liberty of the citizen. The choice is not between order and liberty. It is between liberty with order and anarchy without either. There is danger that, if the Court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact.
Added on 1-Mar-12 | Last updated 30-Jun-22
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The chief reason warfare is still with us is neither a secret death wish of the human species, nor an irrepressible instinct of aggression, nor, finally and more plausibly, the serious economic and social dangers inherent in disarmament, but the simple fact that no substitute for this final arbiter in international affairs has yet appeared on the political scene.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
“Reflections on Violence,” New York Review of Books (27 Feb 1969)
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Reprinted as "On Violence," Crises of the Republic (1969)
Added on 25-Mar-11 | Last updated 15-Jun-21
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Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. To courageous, self-reliant men, with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning applied through the processes of popular government, no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion. If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.

Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) American lawyer, activist, Supreme Court Justice (1916-39)
Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927) [Concur]
Added on 9-Sep-10 | Last updated 16-Jun-14
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I’m not an atheist. I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-American physicist
In G. Viereck, Glimpses of the Great (1930)
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Note this passage is not present in the Saturday Evening Post interview that was the basis for that chapter of Viereck's book.
Added on 27-Aug-08 | Last updated 15-Apr-20
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To those peoples in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required — not because the communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Inaugural Address (20 Jan 1961)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-Mar-17
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The art of progress is to preserve order amid change, and to preserve change amid order.

Whitehead - The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order - wist.info quote

Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) English mathematician and philosopher
Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology (1929)
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Based on his Gifford Lectures, University of Edinburgh (1927-28), on process philosophy.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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He threatens many who injures one.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings]
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