Preference

Good-breeding is benevolence in trifles, or the preference of others to ourselves in the daily occurrences of life.

Those who speak ill of me are really my good friends. When, being slandered, I cherish neither enmity nor preference. There grows within me the power of love and humility, which is born of the Unborn.

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.

All the Actions, that we have any Idea of, reducing themselves, as has been said, to these two, viz. Thinking and Motion, so far as a Man has a power to think, or not to think; to move or not to move, according to the preference or direction of his own mind, so far is a Man Free. Wherever any performance or forbearance are not equally in a Man’s power; wherever doing or not doing, will not equally follow upon the preference of his mind directing it, there he is not Free, though perhaps the Action may be voluntary.

Esteem must be founded on some sort of preference. Bestow it on everybody and it ceases to have any meaning at all.

In science, read, by preference, the newest works; in literature, the oldest. The classic literature is always modern. New books revive and redecorate old ideas; old books suggest and invigorate new ideas.

Old ideas give way slowly; for they are more than abstract logical forms and categories. They are habits, predispositions, deeply ingrained attitudes of aversion and preference.

The discovery that one cannot well give back or be given back what one has given or been given in the same place is sometimes as painful as the discovery that one is being loved on principle and not from preference.

From the fact that there are 400,000 species of beetles on this planet, but only 8,000 species of mammals, he [Haldane] concluded that the Creator, if He exists, has a special preference for beetles.

Constancy in love is a perpetual inconstancy, which makes the heart attach itself successively to all the qualities of the person we love, giving preference now to one and presently to another.

To diminish envy, let us consider not what others possess, but what they enjoy; mere riches may be the gift of lucky accident or blind chance, but happiness must be the result of prudent preference and rational design; the highest happiness then can have no other foundation than the deepest wisdom; and the happiest fool is only as happy as he knows how to be.

Love is clutched at in preference to the laborious process of changing from within.

The cause of all the blunders committed by man arises from this excessive self-love. For the lover is blinded by the object loved; so that he passes a wrong judgment on what is just, good and beautiful, thinking that he ought always to honor what belongs to himself in preference to truth. For he who intends to be a great man ought to love, neither himself nor his own thins, but only what is just, whether it happens to be done by himself, or by another.

At least two requirements are involved in the formation of a genuine conviction: adequate information and the knowledge that one's decision has an effect. Opinions formed by the powerless onlooker do not express his or her conviction, but are a game, analogous to expressing a preference for one brand of cigarette over another. For these reasons the opinions expressed in polls and in elections constitute the worst, rather than the best, level of human judgment...Without information, deliberation, and the power to make one's decision effective, democratically expressed opinion is hardly more than the applause at a sports event.

We may think there is willpower involved, but more likely... change is due to want power. Wanting the new addiction more than the old one. Wanting the new me in preference to the person I am now.

It is because simplicity and vastness are both beautiful that we seek by preference simple facts and vast facts; that we take delight, now in following the giant courses of the stars, now in scrutinizing the microscope that prodigious smallness which is also a vastness, and now in seeking in geological ages the traces of a past that attracts us because of its remoteness.

Even as the fingers of the two hands are equal, so are human beings equal to one another. No one has any right, nor any preference to claim over another. You are brothers.

Perhaps the most obvious of our systemic problems is uncontrollable growth. I use the word “uncontrollable” advisedly, in preference to “uncontrolled.” The growth of which I speak is not humanity’s colonization of the planet over millennia of history. It is rather an inexorable material reality that is unique to our era: namely, that unlimited economic growth is assumed to be evidence of human progress. We have taken this notion so much for granted over the past few generations that it is as immutably fixed in our consciousness as the sanctity of property itself.

If animals are no longer quite outside the moral sphere, they are still in a special section near the outer rim. Their interests are allowed to count only when they do not clash with human interests. If there is a clash - even a clash between a lifetime of suffering for a nonhuman animal and the gastronomic preference of a human being - the interests of the nonhuman are disregarded. The moral attitudes of the past are too deeply embedded in our thought and our practices to be upset by a mere change in our knowledge of ourselves and of other animals.

So far as this argument is concerned nonhuman animals and infants and retarded humans are in the same category; and if we use this argument to justify experiments on nonhuman animals we have to ask ourselves whether we are also prepared to allow experiments on human infants and retarded adults; and if we make a distinction between animals and these humans, on what basis can we do it, other than a bare-faced - and morally indefensible - preference for members of our own species?