We enter our studies, and enjoy a society which we alone can bring together. We raise no jealousy by conversing with one in preference to another; we give no offense to the most illustrious by questioning him as long as we will, and leaving him as abruptly. Diversity of opinion raises no tumult in our presence: each interlocutor stands before us, speaks or is silence, and we adjourn or decide the business at our leisure.
Only by deep involvement in the problems of the greater society can one achieve happiness, or at least, harmony with oneself.
Solitude is as needful to the imagination as society is wholesome for the character.
Man is in his actions and practice, as well as in his fictions, essentially a story-telling animal. He is not essentially, but becomes through is history, a teller of stories that aspire to truth. But the key question for men is not about their own authorship; I can only answer the question ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question, ‘Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?’ We enter human society, that is, with one or more imputed characters - roles into which we have been drafted - and we have to learn what they are in order to be able to understand how others respond to us and how our responses to them are a part to be construed... Deprive children of stories and you leave them unscripted, anxious strutters in their actions as in their words. Hence there is no way to give us an understanding of any society, including our own, except through the stock of stories which constitute its initial dramatic resource. Mythology, in its original sense, is at the heart of things. Vico was right and so was Joyce. And so too of course is that moral tradition fro heroic society to its medieval heirs according to which the telling of stories has a key part in educating us into the virtues.
It is a mistake to base one’s hopes for happiness upon the enforcement of security and equality. In principle, both desires are insatiable... No individual or society is secure in a world of emergent probability and sin... To exercise liberty is to take risks, to embrace uncertainties.
A society in which everyone works is not necessarily a free society and may indeed be a slave society; on the other hand, a society in which there is widespread insecurity can turn freedom into a barren and vapid right for millions of people.
Luxury, which cannot be prevented among men who are tenacious of their own convenience and of the respect paid them by others, soon completes the evil society had begun, and, under the pretense of giving bread to the poor, whom it should never have made such, impoverishes all the rest, and sooner or later depopulates the State.
If you devote your time to study, you will avoid all the irksomeness of this life; nor will you long for the approach of night, being tired of the day; nor will you be a burden to yourself, nor your society insupportable to others.
Many souls fail to find God because they want a religion which will remake society without remaking themselves.
A society which values equality will attach a high degree of significance to differences of character and intelligence between different individuals, and a low degree of significance to economic and social differences between different groups. It will endeavor, in shaping its policy and organization, to encourage the former and to neutralize and suppress the latter, and will regard it as vulgar and childish to emphasize them when, unfortunately, they still exist.
Solitude is a good school, but the world is the best theater; the institution is best there, but the practice here; the wilderness hath the advantage of discipline, and society opportunities of perfection.
Religion in American takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must be regarded as the first of their political institutions... How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie is not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed? And what can be done with a people who are their own masters if they are not submissive to the Deity?
We live in an environment whose principal product is garbage. The shined shoe in such a society is a hypocritical statement because it promotes the lie that we can thrive on garbage without being dirtied by it.
Tolerance of opinions which are thought to be innocuous is as easy, as acts of charity that entail no sacrifice. But the test of a free society is its tolerance of what is deplored or despised by a majority of its members. The argument for such tolerance must be made on the ground that it is useful to the society... that free societies are better fitted to survive than closed societies.
The future of society is in the hands of the mothers. If the world was lost through woman, she alone can save it.
If civilization has profoundly modified man, it is by accumulating in his social surroundings, as in a reservoir, the habits and knowledge which society pours into the individual at each new generation. Scratch the surface, abolish everything we owe to an education which is perpetual and unceasing, and you find in the depth of our nature primitive humanity, or something very near it.
Society is a wall of very strong masonry, as it now stands; it may be sapped in the course of a thousand years, but stormed in a day - no! You dash your head against it - you scatter your brains, and you dislodge a stone. Society smiles in scorn, effaces the stain, and replaces the stone.
The true proof of the inherent nobleness of our common nature is in the sympathy it betrays with what is noble whenever crowds are collected. Never believe the world base; if it were so, no society could hold together for a day.
Wherever progress ends, decline in variably begins; but remember that the healthful progress of society is like the natural life of man - it consists in the gradual and harmonious development of all its constitutional powers, all its component parts, and you introduce weakness and disease into the whole system whether you attempt to stint or to force its growth.
Whatever mitigates the woes or increases the happiness of others - this is my criterion of goodness. And whatever injures society at large, or any individual in it - this is my measure of iniquity.