Quotations about   self-righteousness

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How wonderful to have someone to blame! How wonderful to live with one’s nemesis! You may be miserable, but you feel forever in the right. You may be fragmented, but you feel absolved of all the blame for it. Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.

Erica Jong (b. 1942) American writer, poet
How To Save Your Own Life, “Intuition, extuition …” (1977)
Added on 8-Oct-20 | Last updated 8-Oct-20
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Yet a personal God can become a grave liability. He can be a mere idol carved in our own image, a projection of our limited needs. fears and desires. We can assume that he loves what we love and hates what we hate, endorsing our prejudices instead of compelling us to transcend them. … Instead of pulling us beyond our limitations, “he” can encourage us to remain complacently within them; “he” can make us a cruel, callous, self-satisfied and partial as “he” seems to be. Instead of inspiring the compassion that should characterize all advanced religion, “he” can encourage us to judge, condemn and marginalize.

Karen Armstrong (b. 1944) British author, comparative religion scholar
A History of God, ch. 7 “The God of the Mystics” (1993)
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Added on 14-Sep-20 | Last updated 14-Sep-20
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Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Matthew 7:3-5 [NRSV]
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Alt. trans.:
  • [KJV] "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."
  • [GNT] "Why, then, do you look at the speck in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye? How dare you say to your brother, 'Please, let me take that speck out of your eye,' when you have a log in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
Added on 10-Sep-20 | Last updated 10-Sep-20
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“My thoughts are not your thoughts. For as high as the heavens are the above the earth, so are my thoughts above your thoughts, my ways above your ways.” It should be written over every preacher’s pulpit. […] Because so often we think that God’s ways are our ways. God’s thoughts are our thoughts. And we created God in our own image and likeness saying, “God approves of this. God forbids that. God desires the other.” […] This is where some of the worst atrocities of religion have come from. Because people have used this to give a sacred seal of a divine approval to some of their worst hatreds, loathings, and fears.

Karen Armstrong (b. 1944) British author, comparative religion scholar
NOW Interview with Bill Moyers, PBS (1 Mar 2002)
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Quoting Isaiah 55:8.
Added on 31-Aug-20 | Last updated 31-Aug-20
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The arrogance of some Christians would close heaven to them if, to their misfortune, it existed.

Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) French author, existentialist philosopher, feminist theorist
All Said and Done (1972)
Added on 15-Oct-18 | Last updated 15-Oct-18
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Other people’s appetites easily appear excessive when one doesn’t share them.

André Gide (1869-1951) French author, Nobel laureate
The Counterfeiters, “Edouard’s Journal: Oscar Molinier” (1925)
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Added on 2-Oct-18 | Last updated 2-Oct-18
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Spiritual strength and passion, when accompanied by bad manners, only provoke loathing.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher and poet
The Will to Power, Part 1, “Critique of Religion,” Sec. 175 [tr. Ludovici] (1888)
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Added on 7-Jun-18 | Last updated 7-Jun-18
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Just because you’re offended, doesn’t mean you’re right.

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Tweet (12 Oct 2013)
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Added on 8-Sep-16 | Last updated 8-Sep-16
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Moral indignation is in most cases 2 percent moral, 48 percent indignation, and 50 percent envy.

De Sica - 50 percent envy - wist_info quote

Vittorio De Sica (1901-1974) Italian neorealist director and actor
In The Observer (1961)

See also H. G. Wells.
Added on 31-Mar-16 | Last updated 31-Mar-16
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There is luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves, we feel no one else has a right to blame us. It is the confession, not the priest, that gives us absolution.

Wilde - luxury in self-reproach - wist_info quote

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
The Picture of Dorian Gray, ch. 8 (1891)
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Added on 28-Mar-16 | Last updated 12-Oct-20
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Keep strong, if possible. In any case, keep cool. Have unlimited patience. Never corner an opponent, and always assist him to save face. Put yourself in his shoes — so as to see things through his eyes. Avoid self-righteousness like the devil — nothing is so self-blinding.

B. H. Liddell Hart (1895-1970) English soldier, military historian (Basil Henry Liddell Hart)
Deterrent or Defense (1960)

Advice to statesmen.
Added on 25-Jun-14 | Last updated 25-Jun-14
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We find it almost as difficult as the communists to believe that anyone could think ill of us, since we are as persuaded as the communists that our society is so essentially virtuous that only malice could prompt criticism of any of our actions.

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) American theologian and clergyman
The Irony of American History (1962)
Added on 4-Dec-13 | Last updated 4-Dec-13
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The lack of objectivity, as far as foreign nations are concerned, is notorious. From one day to another, another nation is made out to be utterly depraved and fiendish, while one’s own nation stands for everything that is good and noble. Every action of the enemy is judged by one standard — every action of oneself by another. Even good deeds by the enemy are considered a sign of particular devilishness, meant to deceive us and the world, while our bad deeds are necessary and justified by our noble goals, which they serve.

Erich Fromm (1900-1980) American psychoanalyst and social philosopher
The Art of Loving, ch. 5 (1956)
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Added on 15-Nov-12 | Last updated 21-Sep-20
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Righteous Indignation: Your own wrath as opposed to the shocking bad temper of others.

Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) American writer, businessman, philosopher
The Roycroft Dictionary (1914)
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Added on 27-Sep-11 | Last updated 14-Sep-20
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Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.

H.G. Wells (1866-1946) British writer [Herbert George Wells]
The Wife of Sir Isaac Harman, 9.2 (1914)
Added on 21-Sep-11 | Last updated 6-Jan-20
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Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart; for his purity, by definition, is unassailable.

Baldwin - pure at heart - wist_info

James Baldwin (1924-1987) American novelist, playwright, activist
“The Black Boy Looks at the White Boy,” Esquire (May 1961)
Added on 14-Jan-11 | Last updated 19-Dec-19
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Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized a man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant in this field as in all others. His culture is based on “I am not too sure.”

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
Minority Report : H.L. Mencken’s Notebooks (1956)
Added on 28-Oct-08 | Last updated 25-Sep-14
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Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious convictions.

[Jamais on ne fait le mal si pleinement et si gaiement, que quand on le fait par un faux principe de conscience.]

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) French scientist and philosopher
Pensées, ch. 14, Appendix: Polemical Fragments #895 (1670) [tr. Trotter]
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Alt. trans.:
  • "We never do evil so fully and cheerfully as when we do it out of conscience." [#813 (#895), tr. Krailsheimer]
  • "We never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when we do it out of conscience." [Miscellaneous Thoughts 7: Sellier #658/Lafuma #813, tr. Ariew]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 3-Aug-20
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Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.

Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) British novelist [pseud. Currer Bell]
Jane Eyre, Preface, 2nd edition (21 Dec 1847)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Dec-15
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