Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"I consider the subordination of reason to the authority of any person to be idolatry." - Maier NULL

"Custom is a violent and treacherous school mistress. She, by little and little, slyly and unperceived, slips in the foot of her authority; but having by this gentle and humble beginning, with the benefit of time, fixed and established it, she then unmasks a furious and tyrannic countenance, against which we have no more the courage or the power so much as to lift up our eyes." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"Each of the four main virtues - wisdom, courage, temperance, justice - is a sovereign wielding authority." - Philo, aka Philo of Alexandria, Philo Judaeus, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, Yedidia, "Philon", and Philo the Jew NULL

"Most tyrannous is the authority of custom." - Publius Syrus

"The world is governed by three things - wisdom, authority, and appearance. Wisdom for thoughtful people, authority for rough people, and appearances for the great mass of superficial people who can look only at the outside." - Abbé Raynal

"The fundamental argument for freedom of opinion is the doubtfulness of all our beliefs. If we certainly knew the truth, there would be something to be said for teaching it. But in that case it could be taught without invoking authority, by means of its inherent reasonableness." -

"The pith of conversation does not consist in exhibiting your own superior knowledge on matters of small importance, but in enlarging, improving, and correcting the information you possess, by the authority of others." -

"Maturity is a quality of personality made up of a number of elements. It is stick-to-itiveness, the ability to stick to a job, to work on it and to struggle through it until it is finished, or until one has given all one has in the endeavor. It is the quality or capacity of giving more than is asked or required in a given situation. It is this characteristic that enables others to count on one; thus it is reliability. Persistence is an aspect of maturity; persistence to carry out a a goal in the face of difficulties. Endurance enters into the concept of maturity; the endurance of difficulties, unpleasantness, discomfort, frustration, hardship. The ability to size things up, make one's own decisions, is a characteristic of maturity. This implies a considerable amount of independence. A mature person is not dependent unless ill. Maturity includes a determination, a will to succeed and achieve, a will to live. Of course, maturity represents the capacity to cooperate; to work with others; to work in an organization and under authority. The mature person is flexible, can defer to time, persons, circumstances. He can show tolerance. He can be patient, and, above all, he has qualities of adaptability and compromise. Basically, maturity represents a wholesome amalgamation of two things: 1) Dissatisfaction with the status quo, which calls forth aggressive, constructive effort, and 2) Social concern and devotion. Emotional maturity is the morale of the individual." - Edward A. Strecker

"A moral decision is the loneliest thing that exists. Knowledge is shed abroad everywhere. Anybody may dip his cup into that great sea and take out what he can. It is a public appropriation from a public store. But what the man himself must do as a moral being, what ordering he shall make of his life, what allegiance he shall choose, what cause he shall cleave to - this is decided in that solitude where his soul in authentic presence lives with no other companion than the Final Authority which he recognizes as supreme." - William L. Sullivan

"Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; but still more when they are super bad and add the tendency of the certainty of corruption of authority." - Lord Acton, John Emerich Dalberg-Acton

"Truth is the secret of eloquence and virtue, the basis of moral authority; it is the highest summit of art and of life." -

"All I have is a voice to undo the folded lie, the romantic lie in the brain of the sensual man-in-the-street and the lie of Authority whose buildings grope the sky: there is no such thing as the State and no one exists alone; hunger allows no choice to the citizen or the police; we must love one another or die." - W. H. Auden, fully Wystan Hugh Auden

"There in fact four very significant stumbling-blocks in the way of grasping the truth, which hinder every man however learned, and scarcely allow anyone to win a clear title to wisdom, namely, the example of weak and unworthy authority, long-standing custom, the feeling of the ignorant crowd, and the hiding of our own ignorance while making a display of our apparent knowledge... there are two modes of acquiring knowledge, namely by reasoning and experience." - Roger Bacon, scholastic accolade Doctor Mirabilis meaning "Wonderful Teacher"

"The best government rests on the people, and not on the few, on persons and not on property, on the free development of public opinion and not on authority." - George Bancroft

"There is no stopping the world’s tendency to throw off imposed restraints, the religious authority that is based on the ignorance of the many, the political authority that is based on the knowledge of the few." - Van Wyck Brooks

"The acceptance of women as authority figures or as role models is an important step I female education... It is this process of identification, respect, and then self-respect that promotes growth." -

"Reason and authority, the two brightest lights of the world." - Edward Coke, fully Sir Edward Coke

"Nothing enhances authority better than silence." - Charles de Gaulle, fully Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle

""Faith is tendency toward action." According to such a view, faith is the matrix of formulated creeds and the inspiration of endeavor... Faith in its newer sense signifies that experience itself is the sole ultimate authority." - John Dewey

"Tracing the progress of mankind in the ascending path of civilization, and moral and intellectual culture, our fathers found that the divine ordinance of government, in every stage of ascent, was adjustable on principles of the common reason to the actual condition of a people, and always had for its objects, in the benevolent councils of the divine wisdom, the happiness, the expansion, the security, the elevation of society, and the redemption of man. They sought in vain for any title of authority of man over man, except of superior capacity and higher morality." - William Maxwell Evarts

"Taboos are very ancient prohibitions which at one time were forced upon a generation of primitive people by an earlier generation. These prohibitions concerned actions for which there existed a strong desire. The prohibitions maintain themselves from generation to generation, perhaps only as the results of a tradition set up by paternal and social authority." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"The credulity of love is the most fundamental source of authority." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"To be sure, if it is the purpose of educators to stifle the child’s power of independent thought as early as possible, in order to produce that ‘good behavior’ which is so highly prized, they cannot do better than deceive children in sexual matters and intimidate them by religious means. The stronger characters will, it is true, withstand these influences; they will become rebels against the authority of their parents and later against every other form of authority. When children do not receive the explanations for which they turn to their elders, they go on tormenting themselves in secret with the problem, and produce attempts at solution in which the truth they have guessed is mixed up in the most extraordinary way with grotesque inventions; or else they whisper confidences to each other which, because of the sense of guilt in the youthful inquirers, stamp everything sexual as horrible and disgusting." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"Whenever there is authority, there is a natural inclination to disobedience." - Thomas Haliburton, fully Thomas Chandler Haliburton, pseudonym "Sam Slick"

"Of the systems above us, angelic and seraphic, we know little; but we see one law, simple, efficient, and comprehensive as that of gravitation - the law of love, extending its sway over the whole of God’s dominions, living where He lives, embracing every moral movement in its ;universal authority, and producing the same harmony, where it is obeyed as we observe in the movements of nature." -

"Among well-bred people a mutual deference is affected, contempt of others is disguised; authority concealed; attention given to each in his turn; and an easy stream of conversation maintained without vehemence, without interruption, without eagerness for victory, and without any airs of superiority." - David Hume

"The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The essential ingredient of democracy is not doctrine but intelligence, not authority but reason, not cynicism but faith in men, faith in God. Our strength lies in the fearless pursuit of truth by the minds of men who are free." -

"The uprooting of human beings from the land, the concentration in cities, the breakdown of the authority of family, of tradition, and of moral conventions, the complexity and the novelty of modern life, and finally the economic insecurity of our industrial system have called into being the modern social worker. They perform a function in modern society which is not a luxury but an absolute necessity." - Walter Lippmann

"Constant experience shows us that every man invested with power is apt to abuse it, and to carry his authority as far as it will go... To prevent this abuse, it is necessary from the very nature of things that power should be a check to power." - Baron de Montesquieu, fully Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu

"Truth for authority, not authority for truth." - Lucretia Mott, fully Lucretia Coffin Mott

"Believe nothing against another, but on good authority; nor report what may hurt another, unless it be a greater hurt to another to conceal it." - William Penn

"It is clear that property in itself owes allegiance to no particular form of government, and is bound by no dynastic or legal ties. Its politics may be summed up in a single word: exploitation, or even anarchy. It is the most formidable enemy and most treacherous ally of any form of power. In short, in its relation to the State it is governed by only one principle, one sentiment, one concern: self-interest, or egoism... That is why all governments, all utopias, and all Churches distrust property... We can conclude that property is the greatest existing revolutionary force, with an unequaled capacity for setting itself against authority." - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

"By the spirit of the age... the man of today is forced into skepticism about his own thinking, in order to make him receptive to truth which comes to him from authority... Truth taken over by skepticism which has become believing... is not capable of uniting itself with him to the very marrow of his being." - Albert Schweitzer

"The Lord's Prayer is short and mysterious, and, like the treasures of the Spirit, full of wisdom and latent senses: it is not improper to draw forth those excellencies which are intended and signified by every petition, that by so excellent an authority we may know what is lawful to beg of God." - Jeremy Taylor

"The certitude of laws is an obscurity of judgment backed only by authority." - Giovanni Battista Pergolesi

"Authority is properly the servant of justice, and political powers are arbitrary and illegitimate if not based upon qualification for that service. This is the doctrine of the ethical derivation of authority or public power, as opposed to that of an unconditioned and inherent sovereignty." - David Atwood Wasson

"Authority that does not exist for Liberty is not authority but force." - John Dalberg-Acton, Lord Acton, fully John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton

"The true guide of our conduct is no outward authority, but the voice of God, who comes down to dwell in our souls, who knows all our thoughts." - John Dalberg-Acton, Lord Acton, fully John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton

"No morality can be founded on authority, even if the authority were divine." - A. J. Ayer, Alfred Jules Ayer

"Our various improvements not only mark a diminution of the function improved upon… but they also work to dissolve some of the fundamental authority of the human itself. We are experiencing the gradual but steady erosion… of the species itself." - Sven Birkerts

"Parenting: Affection without sentiment, authority without cruelty, discipline without aggression, humor without ridicule, sacrifice without obligation, companionship without possessiveness." - William E. Blatz, fully William Emet Blatz

"Charisma is the ability to inspire followers with devotion and enthusiasm to a cause. It encourages disciples rather than independent persons. It is a way of investing oneself with authority over other rather than vesting others with authority over themselves." - Peter R. Breggin

"A leader who ceases to take sides simply abdicates his role and hands authority to his strongest competitors." - Alan Brinkley

"Communism and Fascism or Nazism although poles apart in their intellectual content are similar in this, that both have emotional appeal to the type of personality that takes pleasure in being submerged in a mass movement and submitting to superior authority." - J. A. C. Brown, fully James Alexander Campbell Brown

"Courage is of two kinds: first, physical courage, or courage in the presence of danger to the person; and next, moral courage, or courage before responsibility, whether it be before the judgment seat of external authority, or of the inner power, the conscience." - Carl von Clausewitz, fully Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz, also Karl von Clausewitz

"In religious matters it is holiness which gives authority." - Samuel Taylor Coleridge

"A person who holds for the moral authority of conscience will also hold for the individual’s freedom to follow his conscience without interference from the State." - Eric D’Arcy, fully Joseph Eric D'Arcy

"The great moral reformers have usually found the greatest opposition not in the “immoral” and impulsive individual, but in the regularly constituted organs of social authority and law." - Christopher Henry Dawson