Quotations about   self-defense

Note that not all quotations have been tagged, so the Search function may find additional quotations on this topic.



It is absurd to hold that a man ought to be ashamed of being unable to defend himself with his limbs but not of being unable to defend himself with reason when the use of reason is more distinctive of a human being than the use of his limbs.

[πρὸς δὲ τούτοις ἄτοπον εἰ τῷ σώματι μὲν αἰσχρὸν μὴ δύνασθαι βοηθεῖν ἑαυτῷ, λόγῳ δ᾽ οὐκ αἰσχρόν: ὃ μᾶλλον ἴδιόν ἐστιν ἀνθρώπου τῆς τοῦ σώματος χρείας.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Rhetoric [Ῥητορική; Ars Rhetorica], Book 1, ch. 1, sec. 12 / 1355b.1 (350 BC) [tr. Roberts (1954)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Absurd were it, if inability to defend oneself, in the case of the body be disgraceful, but in the case of the reason, which is more peculiarly the characteristic of man than the use of his body, be not disgraceful.
[Source (1847)]

It were absurd, if, while it is disgraceful for a man not to be able to assist himself by his person, it were not disgraceful to be unable to do this by his speech, which is more a peculiarity of man than the exercise of the body.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

It would be absurd that, while incapacity for physical self-defence is a reproach, incapacity for mental defence should be none; mental effort being more distinctive of man than bodily effort.
[tr. Jebb (1873)]

It would be absurd if it were considered disgraceful not to be able to defend oneself with the help of the body, but not disgraceful as far as speech is concerned, whose use is more characteristic of man than that of the body.
[tr. Freese (1924)]

It would make no sense for an inability to defend oneself by physical means to be a source of shame, while an inability to defend oneself by verbal means was not, since the use of words is more specifically human than the use of the body.
[tr. Waterfield (2018)]

It is strange if it is a shameful thing not to be able to come to one's own aid with one's body but not a shameful thing to be unable to do so by means of argument, which is to a greater degree a human being's own than is the use of the body.
[tr. Bartlett (2019)]

Added on 26-Mar-21 | Last updated 26-Mar-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Aristotle

I don’t want to kill anybody. I am passionately opposed to killing, but I’m even more passionately fond of freedom.

Edward Teller (1908-2003) Hungarian-American theoretical physicist
“Fallout and Disarmament: A Debate Between Linus Pauling and Edward Teller,” KQED-TV, San Francisco (20 Feb 1958)
    (Source)
Added on 23-Feb-21 | Last updated 23-Feb-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Teller, Edward

For laws are silent when arms are raised.

[Silent enim leges inter arma.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Pro Milone, ch. 4, sec. 11 [tr. Yonge (1891)]
    (Source)

In context, Cicero is asserting that self-defense is a valid defense for killing, even though that principle was not written into Roman law. It has been extended in legal terms to times of war being exempt from normal laws regarding killing.

Alt. trans.:
  • "For laws are silent among arms."
  • "In a time of war, the law falls silent."
  • "Laws are silent in time of war."
  • "The laws are silent in warfare."
  • "For among arms, the laws fall mute."
  • "The power of law is suspended during war."
Original Latin.
Added on 28-Sep-20 | Last updated 28-Sep-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Cicero, Marcus Tullius

If people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust; the wicked people would have it all their own way: they would never feel afraid, and so they would never alter, but would grow worse and worse. When we are struck at without a reason, we should strike back again very hard; I am sure we should — so hard as to teach the person who struck us never to do it again.

Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) British novelist [pseud. Currer Bell]
Jane Eyre, ch. 6 [Jane] (1847)
    (Source)
Added on 21-Apr-17 | Last updated 21-Apr-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Bronte, Charlotte

It must be made a sacred maxim, that the militia obey the executive power, which represents the whole people in the execution of laws. To suppose arms in the hands of citizens, to be used at the individual discretion, except in private self-defence, or by partial orders of towns, counties, or districts of a state, is to demolish every constitution, and lay the laws prostrate, so that liberty can be enjoyed by no man; it is a dissolution of the government. The fundamental law of the militia is, that it be created, directed and commanded by the laws, and ever for the support of the laws.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, Vol. 3, ch. 3 (1787)
Added on 14-Sep-16 | Last updated 14-Sep-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Adams, John

Americans, indeed, all free men, remember that in the final choice a soldier’s pack is not so heavy a burden as a prisoner’s chains.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Inaugural Address (20 Jan 1953)
Added on 5-Apr-16 | Last updated 5-Apr-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Eisenhower, Dwight David

We have borne patiently a great deal of wrong, on the consideration that if nations go to war for every degree of injury, there would never be peace on earth. But when patience has begotten false estimates of its motives, when wrongs are pressed because it is believed they will be borne, resistance becomes morality.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Mme de Stael (1807) [ME 11:282]
Added on 14-Apr-15 | Last updated 14-Apr-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Jefferson, Thomas

We do, then, most solemnly before God and the world declare that regardless of every consequence, at the risk of every distress, the arms we have been compelled to assume we will use with perseverance, exerting to their utmost energies all those powers which our Creator hath given us to preserve that liberty which he committed to us in sacred deposit and to protect from every hostile hand our lives and our properties.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
“Declaration on Taking Up Arms” (1775) [Papers 1:202]
Added on 7-Apr-15 | Last updated 7-Apr-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Jefferson, Thomas

If a madman were to come into this room with a stick in his hand, no doubt we should pity the state of his mind; but our primary consideration would be to take care of ourselves. We should knock him down first, and pity him afterwards.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (3 Apr 1776)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
Added on 25-Apr-14 | Last updated 25-Apr-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Johnson, Samuel

Necessity may force you to do unto the prince that which you see the prince about to do to you.

Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) Italian politician, philosopher, political scientist
The Discourses on Livy, Book 3, ch. 6 (1517) [tr. Detmold (1882)]

See Matthew 7:12.
Added on 25-Oct-10 | Last updated 27-Jan-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Machiavelli, Niccolo

I thoroughly disapprove of duels. I consider them unwise, and I know they are dangerous. Also, sinful. If a man should challenge me now, I would got to that man and take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet, retired spot, and kill him.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1, 1864 (2010)
    (Source)

Seen paraphrased: "I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Twain, Mark