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Incline us oh God! to think humbly of ourselves, to be severe only in the examination of our own conduct, to consider our fellow-creatures with kindness, and to judge of all they say and do with that charity which we would desire from them ourselves.

Jane Austen
Jane Austen (1775-1817) English author
Prayer 3 “Another Day Now Gone”

On e of three surviving prayers Austen wrote. More discussion: Exploring Jane Austen’s Prayers | Jane Austen's World.
Added on 16-Apr-24 | Last updated 16-Apr-24
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When men are brought face to face with their opponents, forced to listen and learn and mend their ideas, they cease to be children and savages and begin to live like civilized men. Then only is freedom a reality, when men may voice their opinions because they must examine their opinions.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
“The Indispensable Opposition,” The Atlantic Monthly (Aug 1939)
Added on 9-Mar-22 | Last updated 9-Mar-22
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No simplicity of mind, no obscurity of station, can escape the universal duty of questioning all that we believe.

William Kingdon Clifford (1845-1879) English mathematician and philosopher
“The Ethics of Belief,” Part 1 “The Duty of Inquiry,” Contemporary Review (Jan 1877)
Added on 1-Nov-21 | Last updated 1-Nov-21
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I must intreat your patience — your gentle hearing. I am not going to question your opinions. I am not going to meddle with your belief. I am not going to dictate to you mine. All that I say is, examine; enquire. Look into the nature of things. Search out the ground of your opinions, the for and the against. Know why you believe, understand what you believe, and possess a reason for the faith that is in you.

Frances "Fanny" Wright (1795-1852) Scottish-American writer, lecturer, social reformer
A Course of Popular Lectures, Lecture 3 “Of the more Important Divisions and Essential Parts of Knowledge” (1829)
Added on 10-Apr-19 | Last updated 10-Apr-19
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In self-examination, take no account of yourself by your thoughts and resolutions in the days of religion and solemnity; examine how it is with you in the days of ordinary conversation and in the circumstances of secular employment.

Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667) English cleric and author

Quoted in The Friends' Intelligencer (24 Jun 1882).
Added on 18-Jul-17 | Last updated 18-Jul-17
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It is a sad fate for a man to die
Too well known to everybody else,
And still unknown to himself.

[Illi mors gravis incubate
Qui notus nimis omnibus
Ignotus moritur sibi.]

Seneca - still unknown to himself - wist_info quote

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Thyestes, ll. 401-403 [tr. Bacon]

Lines from the Chorus translated by Francis Bacon, in "Of Great Place," Essays, Part 11. Sometimes incorrectly attributed to Bacon.
Added on 20-May-16 | Last updated 20-May-16
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If evil Men speak good, or good Men evil of thee; examine thy Actions, and suspect thy self: But if evil Men speak evil of thee; hold it as an Honor, and by way of Thankfulness love them; but upon condition, that they continue to hate thee.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English physician, preacher, aphorist, writer
Introductio ad Prudentiam, #1253 (1725)
Added on 20-May-15 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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‘Tis the hardest thing in the world to be a good Thinker, without being a strong Self-Examiner.

Anthony Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713) English politician and philosopher
Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, Vol. 1, “Soliloquy: or Advice to an Author” (1711)
Added on 26-Dec-14 | Last updated 26-Dec-14
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Everyone should be prepared at times to re-examine the foundations of their beliefs, to view the world from others’ perspectives, and to seriously consider the possibility that what they accept as the Absolute Truth may, in fact, not be true at all — except me, of course, because I know I’m right.

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John Russell (contemp.) ("jr")
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Feb-19
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When you see someone who is worthy, concentrate upon becoming their equal; when you see someone who is unworthy, use this as an opportunity to look within yourself.


Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [論語, 论语, Lúnyǔ], Book 4, verse 17 (4.17) (6th C. BC – AD 3rd C.) [tr. Slingerland (2003)]

(Source (Chinese)). Alternate translations:

When we see men of worth, we should think of equaling them; when we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.
[tr. Legge (1861)]

When you meet with men of worth, think how you may attain to their level; when you see others of an opposite character, examine yourself.
[tr. Jennings (1895)]

When we meet with men of worth, we should think how we may equal them. When we meet with worthless men, we should turn into ourselves and find out if we do not resemble them.
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898)]

When you see a man of worth, think how to rise to his level. When you see an unworthy man, then look within and examine yourself.
[tr. Soothill (1910)]

See solid talent and think of measuring up to it; see the un-solid and examine your own insides.
[tr. Pound (1933)]

In the presence of a good man, think all the time how you may learn to equal him. In the presence of a bad man, turn your gaze within!
[tr. Waley (1938)]

When you see a man of the highest caliber, give thought to attaining his stature. When you see one who is not, go home and conduct a self-examination.
[tr. Ware (1950)]

When you meet someone better than yourself, turn your thoughts to becoming his equal. When you meet someone not as good as you are, look within and examine your own self.
[tr. Lau (1979)]

When you come across a superior person, think of being equal to him. When you come across an inferior person, turn inwards and examine yourself.
[tr. Dawson (1993)]

When you see a worthy man, seek to emulate him. When you see an unworthy man, examine yourself.
[tr. Leys (1997)]

On seeing a worthy man, think of equalling him; on seeing an unworthy man, examine yourself inwardly.
[tr. Huang (1997)]

One should think to follow the sagaciousness when one sees it; One should examine onceself when one sees the no sagaciousness.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998), #83]

When you meet persons of exceptional character think to stand shoulder to shoulder with them; meeting persons of little character, look inward and examine yourself.
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998)]

When he sees a worthy man, let him think how he might come up to him; when he sees an unworthy man, let him examine within himself.
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998)]

In the presence of sages, you can see how to perfect your thoughts. In the presence of folls, you must awaken yourself.
[tr. Hinton (1998)]

When you see a worthy person, think about how you can equal him. When you see an unworthy person, reflect on your own conduct.
[tr. Watson (2007)]

When you meet a worthy person, think how you could become his equal. When you meet an unworthy person, turn inward and examine your own conduct.
[tr. Chin (2014)]

When you meet a virtuous person, you should strive to emulate his virtues. When you meet a person void of virtue, you should consider whether you have the same flaws.
[tr. Li (2020)]

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 8-May-23
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