Consistency

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words and tomorrow speak what tomorrow things in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today - "Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood."-Is is to bad then to be misunderstood... to be great is to be misunderstood.

Without consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall.

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds… Speak what you think now in hard words; and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today.

What we call good sense in the conduct of life consists chiefly in that temper of mind which enables its possessor to view at all times, with perfect coolness and accuracy, all the various circumstances of his situation: so that each of them may produce its due impression on him, without any exaggeration arising from his own peculiar habits. But to a man of an ill-regulated imagination, external circumstances only serve as hints to excite his own thoughts, and the conduct he pursues has in general far less reference to his real situation than to some imaginary one in which he conceives himself to be placed: in consequence of which, while he appears to himself to be acting with the most perfect wisdom and consistency, he may frequently exhibit to others all the appearances of folly.

In the overwhelming majority of phenomena whose regularity and invariability have led to the formulation of the postulate of causality, the common element underlying the consistency observed - is chance.

To doubt one's own first principles is the mark of a civilized man. Don't defend past actions; what is right today may be wrong tomorrow. Don't be consistent; consistency is the refuge of fools.

This comparative indifference to clearness and consistency of thought is visible even in that chief object of our national concern, education.

As far as consistency of thought goes, I prefer inconsistency.

A consistency proof for [any sufficiently powerful] system… can be carried out only by means of modes of inference that are not formalized in the system… itself.

Anger may be kindled in the noblest breasts: but in these slow droppings of an unforgiving temper never takes the shape of consistency of enduring hatred.

During the fifties, for example, the American character appeared with some consistency that became a model of manhood adopted by many men: the Fifties male. He got to work early, labored responsibly, supported his wife and children and admired discipline. Reagan is a sort of mummified version of this dogged type. This sort of man didn't see women's souls well, but he appreciated their bodies; and his view of culture and America's part in it was boyish and optimistic. Many of his qualities were strong and positive, but underneath the charm and bluff there was, and there remains, much isolation, deprivation, and passivity. Unless he has an enemy, he isn't sure that he is alive. The Fifties man was supposed to like football, be aggressive, stick up for the United States, never cry, and always provide.... During the sixties, another sort of man appeared. The waste and violence of the Vietnam war made men question whether they knew what an adult male really was. If manhood meant Vietnam, did they want any part of it? Meanwhile, the feminist movement encouraged men to actually look at women, forcing them to become conscious of concerns and sufferings that the Fifties male labored to avoid.

We fight not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for honest men to live in.

They realized that the gains that you get by statistical methods are gains that you get without new machinery, without new people. Anybody can produce quality if he lowers his production rate. That is not what I am talking about. Statistical thinking and statistical methods are to Japanese production workers, foremen, and all the way through the company, a second language. In statistical control you have a reproducible product hour after hour, day after day. And see how comforting that is to management, they now know what they can produce, they know what their costs are going to be.

Of Justice: In a loose and general view I and my neighbor are both of us men; and of consequence entitled to equal attention. But, in reality, it is probable that one of us is a being of more worth and importance than the other. A man is of more worth than a beast; because, being possessed of higher faculties, he is capable of a more refined and genuine happiness. In the same manner the illustrious archbishop of Cambray was of more worth than his valet, and there are few of us that would hesitate to pronounce, if his palace were in flames, and the life of only one of them could be preserved, which of the two ought to be preferred. But there is another ground of preference, beside the private consideration of one of them being further removed from the state of a mere animal. We are not connected with one or two percipient beings, but with a society, a nation, and in some sense with the whole family of mankind. Of consequence that life ought to be preferred which will be most conducive to the general good. In saving the life of Fenelon, suppose at the moment he conceived the project of his immortal Telemachus, should have been promoting the benefit of thousands, who have been cured by the perusal of that work of some error, vice and consequent unhappiness. Nay, my benefit would extend further than this; for every individual, thus cured, has become a better member of society, and has contributed in his turn to the happiness, information, and improvement of others. Suppose I had been myself the valet; I ought to have chosen to die, rather than Fenelon should have died. The life of Fenelon was really preferable to that of the valet. But understanding is the faculty that perceives the truth of this and similar propositions; and justice is the principle that regulates my conduct accordingly. It would have been just in the valet to have preferred the archbishop to himself. To have done otherwise would have been a breach of justice. Suppose the valet had been my brother, my father, or my benefactor. This would not alter the truth of the proposition. The life of Fenelon would still be more valuable than that of the valet; and justice, pure, unadulterated justice, would still have preferred that which was most valuable. Justice would have taught me to save the life of Fenelon at the expense of the other. What magic is there in the pronoun my, that should justify us in overturning the decisions of impartial truth? My brother or my father may be a fool or a profligate, malicious, lying or dishonest. If they be, of what consequence is it that they are mine? [on Fenelon and his Valet]

A big part of my work is to try and shift the conversation from whether aid is good or bad to think about policy or programs instead. Another objective of my work is to think about not just the five percent [of aid], but the 100 percent. [That is], what role this five percent can play in improving the quality of programs. I want to think about the efforts of most private donors…as not being an end in itself, but as being venture capitalism and finding the good ideas in development. In that case, think of each dollar you are spending as being multiplied many, many fold. If these programs help us identify what really works then that can be taken up as a policy on a very large scale. That is the reason for my work and the reason for placing so much emphasis on the evaluation of specific programs.

When the wine is in, the wit is out.