What are the moral convictions most fondly held by barbarous and semi-barbarous people? They are the convictions that authority is the soundest basis of belief; that merit attaches to readiness to believe; that the doubting disposition is a bad one, and skepticism is a sin.
more Thomas Henry Huxley quotes
Doubt is the beginning, not the end, of wisdom.
more George Iles quotes
Worry is interest paid on trouble before it falls due.
more William Ralph Inge quotes
It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.
more Eugene Ionesco quotes
We are not final because we are infallible, but infallible only because we are final.
more Justice Robert H. Jackson quotes
If you believe everything you read, you better not read.
more Japanese Proverb quotes
I do believe that General Washington had not a firm confidence in the durability of our government. He was naturally distrustful of men, and inclined to gloomy apprehensions; and I was ever persuaded that a belief that we must at length end in something like a British constitution, had some weight in his adoption of the ceremonies of levees, birthdays, pompous meetings with Congress, and other forms of the same character, calculated to prepare us gradually for a change which he believed possible, and to let it come on with as little shock as might be to the public mind.
more Thomas Jefferson quotes
We shall have our follies without doubt. Some one or more of them will always be afloat. But ours will be the follies of enthusiasm, not of bigotry, not of Jesuitism. Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. Education and free discussion are the antidotes of both.
more Thomas Jefferson quotes
...truth is great and will prevail if left to herself; that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.
more Thomas Jefferson quotes
Every good historian is almost by definition a revisionist. He looks at the accepted view of a particular historic episode or period with a very critical eye.
more Paul Johnson quotes
Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intelligence.
more Dr. Samuel Johnson quotes
The truth is sometimes a poor competitor in the market place of ideas -- complicated, unsatisfying, full of dilemmas, always vulnerable to misinterpretation and abuse.
more George F. Kennan quotes
To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.
more Soren Kierkegaard quotes
Free inquiry entails recognition of civil liberties as integral to its pursuit, that is, a free press, freedom of communication, the right to organize opposition parties and to join voluntary associations, and freedom to cultivate and publish the fruits of scientific, philosophical, artistic, literary, moral and religious freedom.
more Paul Kurtz quotes
Dogma is a defensive reaction against doubt in the mind of the theorist, but doubt of which he is unaware.
more Harold D. Lasswell quotes
A heretic is a man who sees with his own eyes.
more Gotthold Ephraim Lessing quotes
Hitherto the plans of the educationalists have achieved very little of what they attempted, and indeed we may well thank the beneficent obstinacy of real mothers, real nurses, and (above all) real children for preserving the human race in such sanity as it still possesses.
more C. S. Lewis quotes
One's first step in wisdom is to question everything -- and one's last is to come to terms with everything.
more Georg Christoph Lichtenberg quotes
Authority has every reason to fear the skeptic, for authority can rarely survive in the face of doubt.
more Robert Lindner quotes
A wise skepticism is the first attribute of a good critic.
more James Russell Lowell quotes
If we are ever in doubt about what to do, it is a good rule to ask ourselves what we shall wish on the morrow that we had done.
more John Lubbock quotes
Many politicians are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition, that no people ought to be free till they are fit to use their freedom. The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story, who resolved not to go into the water till he had learned to swim.
more Thomas Babington Macaulay quotes
All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.
more James Madison quotes
Whilst we assert a freedom to embrace, to profess, and to observe the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to choose minds who have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us.
more James Madison quotes
All men having power ought to be mistrusted.
more James Madison quotes
I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.
more H. L. Mencken quotes
Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the 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.
more H. L. Mencken quotes
Human progress is furthered, not by conformity, but by aberration.
more H. L. Mencken quotes
I am beginning to realize that "sanity" is no longer a value or an end in itself. If modern people were a little less sane, a little more doubtful, a little more aware of their absurdities and contradictions, perhaps there might be the possibility of their survival.
more Thomas Merton quotes
If you do not specify and confront real issues, what you will do will surely obscure them. If you do not alarm anyone morally, you will yourself remain morally asleep. If you do not embody controversy, what you say will be an acceptance of the drift to the coming human hell.
more C. Wright Mills quotes
Access to knowledge is the superb, the supreme act of truly great civilizations. Of all the institutions that purport to do this, free libraries stand virtually alone in accomplishing this.
more Toni Morrison quotes
The path of sound credence is through the thick forest of skepticism.
more George Jean Nathan quotes
There must be no barriers for freedom of inquiry. There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors.
more J. Robert Oppenheimer quotes
All the progress we have made in philosophy… is the result of that methodical skepticism which is the element of human freedom.
more Charles S. Pierce quotes
The believer is happy, the doubter is wise.
more Hungarian Proverb quotes
There is no inherent misdirection in holding unorthodox views. Indeed, the autonomous individual, free from compulsive conformance and unquestioned assumptions, is likely to be unorthodox... They stimulate the climate of controversy without which political democracy becomes an empty formalism.
more Snell Putney quotes
A liberal society stands on the proposition that we should all take seriously the idea that we might be wrong. This means we must place no one, including ourselves, beyond the reach of criticism (no final say); it means that we must allow people to err, even where the error offends and upsets, as it often will.
more Jonathan Rauch quotes
What a state of society is this in which freethinker is a term of abuse, and in which doubt is regarded as sin?
more William Winwood Reade quotes
In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.
more Bertrand Russell quotes
Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
more Bertrand Russell quotes
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
more Bertrand Russell quotes
The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.
more Bertrand Russell quotes
The practical objection to Puritanism, as to every form of fanaticism, is that it singles out certain evils as so much worse than others that they must be suppressed at all costs. The fanatic fails to recognise that the suppression of a real evil, if carried out too drastically, produces other evils which are even greater.
more Bertrand Russell quotes
It is clear that thought is not free if the profession of certain opinions make it impossible to earn a living.
more Bertrand Russell quotes
There is a lurking fear that some things are not meant “to be known,” that some inquiries are too dangerous for human beings to make.
more Carl Sagan quotes
At the heart of science is an essential tension between two seemingly contradictory attitudes -- an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense.
more Carl Sagan quotes
Without doubt the greatest injury of all was done by basing morals on myth. For, sooner or later, myth is recognized for what it is, and disappears. Then morality loses the foundation on which it has been built.
more Lord Herbert Louis Samuel quotes
Skepticism is a discipline fit to purify the mind of prejudice and render it all the more apt, when the time comes, to believe and to act wisely.
more George Santayana quotes
Liberalism regards all absolutes with profound skepticism, including both moral imperatives and final solutions... Insistence upon any particular solution is the mark of an ideologue...
more Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. quotes
The State…has had a vested interest in promoting attitudes that would tend to make us skeptical of our own abilities, fearful of the motives of others, and emotionally dependent upon external authorities for purpose and direction in our lives.
more Butler D. Shaffer quotes
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