"Among the innumerable mortifications which waylay human arrogance
on every side may well be reckoned our ignorance of the most common
objects and effects, a defect of which we become more sensible by
every attempt to supply it. Vulgar and inactive minds confound
familiarity with knowledge and conceive themselves informed of the
whole nature of things when they are shown their form or told their
use; but the speculatist, who is not content with superficial views,
harasses himself with fruitless curiosity, and still, as he inquires
more, perceives only that he knows less."
Dr. Samuel Johnson
(1709-1784) English author, poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer
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Reader comments about this quote:
Familiar is "we are a democracy", when in fact we are a Republic.
 -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
    Joe is right. Democracy is merely mob rule which is why America was founded as a Republic of sovereign individuals responsible for themselves. Our "Democracy" has become a nanny state, bordering on a security police state. Which is compunded by the falsely named Federal Reserve's manipulation of our entire economy and personal wealth. End the Fed, Restore the Republic.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    The last line of the quote reminded me of a limerick, as follows. "There once was a man named Nesser, whose knowledge grew lesser and lesser, it at last grew so small he knew nothing at all, and now he's a college professor."
     -- jim k, Austin,Tx     
    I have met few on this site who perceive that they know less. Hmm......Joe is right. North Korea and China are also republics. So while Joe is right his point is exactly what? As in the previous quote of Dr. Johnson I think he needs to perceive more about how little he really knows about the politcal make of this our country. I just came from Jamestown, Va. They consider that place to be the beginning of American democracy when the town was run by the House of Burgesses. The place was still under the monarcy at that time, they did not declare themselves to be a republic but did practice elective democracy. Joe "A Republic" is nothing more than an independent geographical entity like North Korea and China. Nothing more and nothing less. Isn't it amazing how Jim K can single out others who know lesser and lesser. How about a little humility of your own dear jim k.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
    Waffler, a "Communist Republic" is a misuse of the term and you know it. Our Republic is a Republic of Sovereign (free) individuals as prescribed in our Constitution, and you know that too. Which makes your entire statement one of diversion and misdirection. A typical Alinsky tactic employed widely by..."communists".
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    Democracy was practiced in Jamestown. While they still were loyal to the Crown they elected representatives to the House of Burgesses. It was not a republic it was a monarchy with democratic politics. The US is a republic (independent geographical region) with democracy. North Korea is a republic with totalitarianism, period! The biggest ignorance extant today is the BS about Republic not a Democracy.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
    A very brilliant observation. I like: "Vulgar and inactive minds confound familiarity with knowledge and conceive themselves informed of the whole nature of things when they are shown their form or told their use." This is what leads to de facto arbitrary rule. BTW must we continually debate 'republic' vs. 'democracy'? More properly, what should be examined is 'a republican form of government' which are the words in the Constitution, and the only form of government to be practiced in the United States of America. The USA is not 'a democracy' per se, but it is democratic in principle BUT limited by the individual natural born rights of its citizens -- not everything is up for vote. It is also a matter of jurisdiction -- New York citizens cannot vote on policies in Rhode Island. Might does not make right. As well, the poor may not vote away the property of the wealthy -- sorry, it is unlawful, and it is in fact the tool of communism. And after the communists vote themselves the property of the industrious and productive they are left with new rulers who now dictate every aspect of the lives of the citizens. Thus the distinction made by the founders between a republican form of government and democratic/aristocratic/monarchical forms of government is one of being a nation governed by natural law not by the arbitrary will of men. And the laws are to above all protect and defend the natural born rights of the citizens including but not limited to the right to life, liberty, one's property, one's labors, one's beliefs, to protest, and most importantly the right to defend one's rights individually or collectively.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    wow......I thought the quote was great, but ALL of your comments are fab-u, too! Thanks ALL..........I could use a little less of the "I'm right, and you're wrong" attitude, however :)
     -- Krista, Palm Springs     
    And again Waffler perverts the truth. Who cares if Jamestown was practising Democracy while still loyal to the King. That was BEFORE the revolution and BEFORE our AMERICAN Constitution was written. You really are a piece of "communist" work Waffler. Nothing but twisted BS from you.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    To ignite the flame of curiosity and to engage the mind in it's depth, is to acknowledge the path of true learning and the way to freedom of mind and body.
     -- Anonymous     
    You should care J. Colonial Virginia was neglected by the Crown, They devised a method to govern themselves, the method was democracy in an elected House of Burgesses. Government of, by, and for (that is democracy) started there. The Constitution and Declaration was substantially written and thought through by these Virginia lovers of democracy. Only a person with their head in the sand would say "who cares". When you think of the "ignorance is bliss" look in the mirror J man.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
    Waffler I notice you paraphrase Lincoln's "by and for" speech and then call me ignorant. Yet any one who understands northern imperialism also understands that it was the south who was fighting for a government "by and for the people". Sorry, no points for you. A Republic of Sovereign Individuals in a limited government Republic is what our Founding Fathers gave us, and for damned good reason. Keep spinning "lil Communist", keep spinning the truth. It gives the rest of us a good supply of ammunition. :)
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    "Republic" is not a geographic entity. "republic" is a form of government, or do I really have to go into the history of, for example, the Roman republic?

    A republic is a form of government in which the country is considered a "public matter" (Latin: res publica), not the private concern or property of the rulers, and where offices of state are subsequently directly or indirectly elected or appointed rather than inherited. Today the simplest definition is that we have a government where the head is not a monarch. So yes, the US is a republic by that definition as well as the classic definition. Accept it.

    In regards to North Korea and China, they call themselves republic, but that doesn't make them one. I can call myself POTUS, but that doesn't mean I am that. North Korea is Asia's Nazi Germany, while China isn't far behind.

    Besides, if we start using geographic entity as definition for "republic", then oh dear gods, some people here need some lessons in geography, especially in regards to China.

     -- Krakono, Prague     
    Thanks Krakono. The United States is a "Constitutional Republic" based on the wisdom handed down from its founders. A first in the history of the planet and not really comparable to any other, or previous form of the term "Republic".
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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