Quotations about   precedent

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Everybody thought, “this time is different.” In my view, those are the most frightening words in the English language. If you look at the crises that have infected the world, the term, “this time, it’s different” has almost always been the hubris that comes before nemesis.

Andrew Crockett (1943-2012) British banker, economist, author, public servant
Speech, Pomona College, Claremont, Calif. (Apr 2009)
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Referring to the period leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.
Added on 3-Aug-17 | Last updated 3-Aug-17
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The trouble is, you can ignore history — but history won’t necessarily ignore you.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Fuller Memorandum (2010)
Added on 31-Jan-17 | Last updated 31-Jan-17
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Men think they may justly do that for which they have a precedent.

[Quod exemplo fit, id etiam jure fieri putant.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Epistulae ad Familiares, 4.3
Added on 12-Oct-16 | Last updated 12-Oct-16
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Our deeds still travel with us from afar.
And what we have been makes us what we are.

Eliot - deeds still travel with us - wist_info quote

George Eliot (1819-1880) English novelist [pseud. of Mary Ann Evans]
Middlemarch (1871-72)
Added on 22-Jun-16 | Last updated 22-Jun-16
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Make a careful list of all things done to you that you abhorred. Don’t do them to others, ever. Make another list of things done for you that you loved. Do them for others, always.

Dee W. Hock (b. 1929) American businessman
In M. Mitchell Waldrop, “Dee Hock on Management,” Fast Company (Oct/Nov 1996)
Added on 23-Oct-15 | Last updated 23-Oct-15
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No action, whether foul or fair,
Is ever done, but it leaves somewhere
A record, written by fingers ghostly,
As a blessing or a curse, and mostly
In the greater weakness or greater strength
Of the acts which follow it.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
Christus, pt. 2 “A Village Church” (1872)
Added on 3-Aug-15 | Last updated 3-Aug-15
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Dead battles, like dead generals, hold the military mind in their dead grip.

Barbara W. Tuchman (1912-1989) American historian and author
The Guns of August, ch. 2 (1962)
Added on 21-Jul-15 | Last updated 21-Jul-15
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It is revolting to have no better reason for a rule of law than that so it was laid down in the time of Henry IV.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935) American jurist, Supreme Court Justice
“The Path of the Law,” Speech to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (8 Jan 1897)
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Added on 10-Apr-15 | Last updated 10-Apr-15
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Stare decisis is usually the wise policy, because in most matters it is more important that the applicable rule of law be settled than that it be settled right. … This is commonly true even where the error is a matter of serious concern, provided correction can be had by legislation. But in cases involving the Federal Constitution, where correction through legislative action is practically impossible, this court has often overruled its earlier decisions. The court bows to the lessons of experience and the force of better reasoning, recognizing that the process of trial and error, so fruitful in the physical sciences, is appropriate also in the judicial function.

Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) American lawyer, activist, Supreme Court Justice (1916-39)
Burnet v. Coronado Oil & Gas Co., 285 U.S. 393 (1932) [dissent]
Added on 11-Nov-14 | Last updated 11-Nov-14
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Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.

Karl Marx (1818-1883) German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, ch. 1 (1852)
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Added on 14-Aug-12 | Last updated 14-Mar-16
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Ask counsel of both times — of the ancient time what is best, and of the latter time what is fittest.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
“Of Great Place,” Essays, No. 11 (1625)
Added on 17-Sep-10 | Last updated 16-May-16
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A book is a mirror: if an ape looks into it, an apostle is unlikely to look out.

Georg C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799) German physicist, writer
Aphorisms, F.17 (1775-79) (tr. R. Hollingdale (1990))

Alt trans: "A book is a mirror: when a monkey looks in, no apostle can look out." [tr. Mautner and Hatfield]
Added on 6-Jan-09 | Last updated 29-Mar-17
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