Quotations about   self-restraint

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The whole country wants civility. Why don’t we have it? It doesn’t cost anything. No federal funding, no legislation is involved. One answer is the unwillingness to restrain oneself. Everybody wants other people to be polite to them, but they want the freedom of not having to be polite to others.

Judith Martin (b. 1938) American author, journalist [a.k.a. Miss Manners]
“Polite Company: A Chat with Judith Martin About Etiquette,” interview with Hara Estroff Marano, Psychology Today (1 Mar 1998)
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Added on 24-Jan-22 | Last updated 24-Jan-22
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The question I get asked by religious people all the time is, without God, what’s to stop me from raping all I want? And my answer is: I do rape all I want. And the amount I want is zero. And I do murder all I want, and the amount I want is zero. The fact that these people think that if they didn’t have this person watching over them that they would go on killing, raping rampages is the most self-damning thing I can imagine. I don’t want to do that. Right now, without any god, I don’t want to jump across this table and strangle you. I have no desire to strangle you. I have no desire to flip you over and rape you.

Penn Jillette (b. 1955) American stage magician, actor, musician, author
“Penn Jillette Rapes All the Women He Wants To,” Interview by Ron Bennington,Interrobang (30 Apr 2012)
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Added on 27-May-21 | Last updated 27-May-21
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I must learn to love the fool in me, the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of human aliveness, humility, and dignity, but for my fool.

Theodore Isaac Rubin (1923-2019) American psychiatrist and author
Love Me, Love My Fool (1976)


Sometimes quoted in the second person.
 
Added on 10-May-21 | Last updated 10-May-21
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The belief that all higher life is governed by the idea of renunciation poisons our moral life by engendering vanity and egotism. But if we take gratification as our ideal we thereby impose on ourselves a program of self-restraint; for if we claim that we are under the necessity of learning all that we can about reality, and that we learn most through pleasure, we must also admit that we are under the necessity of hearing what our fellow-creatures learn about it and of working out a system by which we will curb our pleasures so that they do not interfere with those of others. If, however, we claim that it is by renunciation that we achieve wisdom, we have no logical reason for feeling any disapproval of conditions that thrust pain and deprivation on others.

Rebecca West (1892-1983) British author, journalist, literary critic, travel writer [pseud. for Cicily Isabel Fairfield]
“Pleasure Be Your Guide,” The Nation, “Living Philosophies” series #10 (25 Feb 1939)
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Adapted into Clifton Fadiman, I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Certain Eminent Men and Women of Our Time (1952).
 
Added on 5-Apr-21 | Last updated 5-Apr-21
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Further, a little self-control at the right moment may prevent much subsequent compulsion at the hands of others.

[Daß jedoch ein kleiner, an der rechten Stelle angebrachter Selbstzwang nachmals vielem Zwange von außen vorbeugt.]

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Parerga and Paralipomena, Vol. 1, “Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life [Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit],” “Counsels and Maxims [Paränesen und Maximen],” ch. B, § 15 (1851) [tr. Saunders (1890), 2.15]
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Source (German). Alternate translation:

Nevertheless, a little self-restraint applied at the right place afterwards prevents much restraint from without.
[tr. Payne (1974), 2.15]

 
Added on 5-Nov-13 | Last updated 6-Jul-22
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It is easier to suppress the first Desire than to satisfy all that follow it.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1751)
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Included in his summary piece, "The Way to Wealth" (1757).
 
Added on 29-Sep-09 | Last updated 8-Jul-21
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Believe not all thou hearest, nor speak all thou believest.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Introductio ad Prudentiam, # 323 (1725)
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Added on 21-Apr-09 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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