Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Conformity

"Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth." - John F. Kennedy, fully John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy

"At first glance, life appears meaningless, futile, full of contradictions and absurdities. But a deeper, meditating look uncovers beauty, order and harmony, revealing life as a supreme accomplishment of eternal wisdom... All of creation is an act of love and providence, a drama imbued with meaning... In simple words: Life is a mission of awareness and awakening and deep enlightenment. We are here to sense this divine presence beyond all phenomena. We are here to recognize a deep urge in our hearts to act in harmony, in conformity and in love with these divinities." - Mustapha Mahmoud

"The rule of law is essentially a negative value. The law inevitably creates a great danger of arbitrary power - the rule of law is designed to minimize the danger created by the law itself. Similarly, the law may be unstable, obscure, retrospective, etc., and thus infringe people’s freedom and dignity. The rule of law is designed to prevent his danger as well. Thus the rule of law is a negative virtue in two senses: conformity to it does not cause good except through avoiding evil and the evil which is avoided is evil which could only have been caused by the law itself." - Joseph Raz

"He who cannot rule his passions, nor hold them in check out of respect for the law, while he may be excusable on the ground of weakness, is incapable of enjoying conformity of spirit and knowledge and love of God; and he is lost inevitably." -

"To act absolutely in conformity with virtue is nothing but acting according to the laws of our own proper nature. But only in so far as we understand do we act. Therefore, to act in conformity with virtue is nothing but acting, living, and preserving our being as reason directs, and doing so from the ground of seeking our own profit." -

"Man have long begun to suspect that civilization's repression of our primitive impulses has somehow warped what are potentially the most productive forces in human nature. We are increasingly disturbed by the thought that society's passion for obedience and conformity may have overreached itself, causing us to lose in individual happiness perhaps as much as we have gained in group activity." -

"As children we all possess a natural, uninhibited curiosity, a hunger for explanation, which seems to die slowly as we age - suppressed, I suppose, by the high value we place on conformity and by the need not to appear ignorant. It betokens a conviction that somehow science is innately incomprehensible. It precludes reaching deeper, thereby denying the profound truth that understanding enriches experience, that explanation vastly enhances beauty of the natural world in the eye of the beholder." - Mahlon Hoagland

"Success, recognition, and conformity are the bywords of the modern world where everyone seems to crave the anesthetizing security of being identified with the majority." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Human progress is furthered, not by conformity, but by aberration." - H. L. Mencken, fully Henry Louis Mencken

"Creativity can replace conformity as the primary mode of social being. We can cling to that which is passing, or has already passed, or we can remain accessible to - even surrender to - the creative process, without insisting that we know in advance the ultimate outcome for us, our institutions, or our planet. To accept this challenge is to cherish freedom, to embrace life, and to find meaning." - Stephan Nachmanovitch

"A constitution is not a thing in name only, but in fact. It has not an ideal but a real existence, and wherever it cannot be produced in a visible form, there is none. A constitution is a thing antecedent to a government, and a government is only the creature of a constitution. The constitution of a country is not the act of its government, but of a people constituting a government. It is the body of elements to which you refer, and quote article by article, and contains the principles on which the government shall be established - the form in which it shall be organized - the powers it shall have - the mode of elections - the duration of Congress - and, in fine, everything that relates to the complete organization of a civil government, and the principles on which it shall act, and by which it shall be bound. A constitution is to a government, therefore, what the laws made by that government care to a court of judicature. The court of judicature does not make laws, neither can it alter them; it only acts in conformity to the laws made; and the government is in like manner governed by the constitution." - Thomas Paine

"To be able to live in strict conformity with nature is what the men of old defined as the end of happiness." - Philo, aka Philo of Alexandria, Philo Judaeus, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, Yedidia, "Philon", and Philo the Jew NULL

"We are half ruined by conformity, but we should be wholly ruined without it." - Charles Dudley Warner

"That the truths of the Bible have the power of awakening an intense moral feeling in every human being; that they make bad men good, and send a pulse of healthful feeling through all the domestic, civil, and social relations; that they teach men to love right, and hate wrong, and seek each other's welfare as children of a common parent; that they control the baleful passions of the heart, and thus make men proficient in self-government; and finally that they teach man to aspire after conformity to a being of infinite holiness, and fill him with hopes more purifying, exalted, and suited to his nature than any other book the world has ever known - these are facts as incontrovertible as the laws of philosophy, or the demonstrations of mathematics." - Francis Wayland

"The price of group membership is conformity to prevailing norms." - James MacGregor Burns

"Religion is not mere conformity to moral law, it is an espousal of moral ideals, a dedication of the heart, a loyal devotion, the perpetual renewal of a right spirit within us." - Durant Drake

"I believe that our choice between two models of psychiatry is really a choice between two competing sets of moral values that will ultimately determine the kind of society we live in. One is the Psychotherapeutic Model’s ideal of healing the soul with its values of self-awareness, autonomy, personal growth, an I-Thou spirit of love, respect, and compassion for others, and an acceptance of moral responsibility for our own egoistic impulses and emotions. The other is the Medical Model’s ideal of quick fix, with its swimming-pool values of stability and conformity, and an I-It orientation toward material success and other superficial addictive pleasures" - Elio Frattaroli

"The tyranny of conformity tends to deprive man of his inner identity, of his ability to stand still in the midst of flux, to remain a person in the midst of a crowd." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"Religions, considered as moral teachers, are realized and effective only when their moral teaching is in conformity with the teaching of their age." - W. E. H. Lecky, fully William Edward Hartpole Lecky

"The whole drift of our law is toward the absolute prohibition of all ideas that diverge in the slightest from the accepted platitudes, and behind that drift or law there is far more potent force of growing custom, and under that custom there is a national philosophy which erects conformity into the noblest of virtues and the free functioning of personality into a capital crime against society." -

"It is reasonable to concur where Conscience does not forbid compliance; for Conformity is at least a Civic Virtue... it is a Weakness in Religion and Government where it is carried to Things of an Indifferent Nature, since... Liberty is always the Price of it." - William Penn

"To indoctrinate the child with the prevailing world-view of the society and class in which he has been born, to enforce conformity in later life by the thunders of the priest and by the sword of the magistrate has been “the wisdom of our ancestor” at every stage in their progress from savagery to civilization." - Preserved Smith

"In contemporary America [mental health] has come to mean conformity to the demands of society. According to the commonsense definition, mental health is the ability to play the game of social living, and to play it well. Conversely, mental illness is the refusal to play, or the inability to play well." -

"[Groupthink] is rationalized conformity – an open, articulate philosophy which holds that group values are not only expedient but right as and good as well." - William H. Whyte, Jr., fully William Hollingsworth "Holly" Whyte

"The unity in productive (creative) work is not interpersonal; the unity achieved in orgiastic fusion is transitory; the unity achieved by conformity is only pseudo-unity. Hence they are only partial answers to the problem of existence. The full answer lies in the achievement of interpersonal union, of fusion with another person, in love." -

"To the claims of conformity, no man may yield and remain free." -

"The Whole Truth is fathomless, ever free of containment, confinement, or conformity... No teacher, religion, or cult can hold exclusive possession of the Truth. The hallmark of Truth is its inclusive nature; no one or no thing could ever be excluded from It." - Alan Cohen

"The Whole Truth is fathomless, ever free of containment, confinement, or conformity... No teacher, religion, or cult can hold exclusive possession of the Truth. The hallmark of Truth is its inclusive nature; no one or no thing could ever be excluded from It." -

"The Whole Truth is fathomless, ever free of containment, confinement, or conformity... No teacher, religion, or cult can hold exclusive possession of the Truth. The hallmark of Truth is its inclusive nature; no one or no thing could ever be excluded from It." -

"The human good turns out to be an activity of soul in conformity with excellence." - Aristotle NULL

"The life of animals, then, may be divided into two acts - procreation and feeding; for on these two acts all their interests and life concentrate... And whatsoever is in conformity with nature is pleasant, and all animals pursue pleasure in keeping with their nature." - Aristotle NULL

"The pressure that has been brought to bear upon the native people, since the cessation of armed conflict, in the attempt to force conformity of custom and habit has caused a reaction more destructive than war, and the injury has not only affected the Indian, but has extended to the white population as well. Tyranny, stupidity, and lack of vision have brought about the situation now alluded to as the “Indian Problem.”" -

"The society of incipient population decline develops in its typical members a social character whose conformity is insured by their tendency to be sensitized to the expectations and preferences of others." - David Riesman

"Beauty is a pledge of the possible conformity between the soul and nature, and consequently a ground of faith in the supremacy of the good." - George Santayana

"Beauty is a pledge of the possible conformity between soul and nature, and consequently a ground of faith in the supremacy of good." - George Santayana

"Human progress is furthered not by conformity, but by aberration." -

"The only law which is really lived up to wholeheartedly and with a vengeance is the law of conformity." - Henry Miller, aka Henry Valentine Miller

"If we attend to the experience of men’s conduct, we meet frequent and, as we ourselves allow, just complaints that one cannot find a single certain example of the disposition to act from pure duty. Although many things are done in conformity with what duty prescribes, it is nevertheless always doubtful whether they are done strictly from duty, so as to have moral worth." - Immanuel Kant

"All alterations take place in conformity with the law of connection of cause and effect." - Immanuel Kant

"The whole course of our life must be subject to moral maxims; but this is impossible, unless with the moral law, which is a mere idea, reason connects an efficient cause which ordains to all conduct which conforms to the moral law an issue either in this or another life, which is in exact conformity with our highest aims." - Immanuel Kant

"Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth." -

"Customs are made for customary circumstances and customary characters... The mind itself is bowed to the yoke; even in what people do for pleasure, conformity is the first thing thought of; they live in crowds: they exercise choice only among things commonly done: peculiarity of taste, eccentricity of conduct, are shunned equally with crimes: until by dint of not following their own nature they have not nature to follow: their human capacities are withered and starved: they become incapable of any strong wishes or native pleasures, and are generally without either opinions or feelings of home growth, or properly their own." - John Stuart Mill

"Customs are made for customary circumstances; even in what people do for pleasure, conformity is the first thing thought of; they live in crowds: they exercise choice only among things commonly done: peculiarity of taste, eccentricity of conduct, are shunned equally with crimes: until by dint of not following their own nature they have not nature to follow. Whatever crushes individuality is despotism. [And] I am not aware that any community has a right to force another to be civilized." - John Stuart Mill

"As the greatest single social influence during the formative years, schools have been the instruments of our greatest denial, unconsciousness, conformity, and broken connections. Just as allopathic medicine treats symptoms without concern for the whole system, schools break knowledge and experience into “subjects,” relentlessly turning wholes into parts, flowers into petals, history into events, without ever restoring continuity... Worse yet, not only the mind is broken, but too often, so is the spirit. Allopathic teaching produces the equivalent of iatrogenic, or doctor-caused” illness - teacher-caused learning disabilities. We might call these pedogenic illnesses. The child who may have come to school intact, with the budding courage to risk and explore, finds stress enough to permanently diminish that adventure." - Marilyn Ferguson

"To the claims of conformity, no man may yield and remain free." - Oscar Wilde, pen name for Fingal O'Flahertie Wills

"Conformity and obedience, Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth, Makes slaves of men and of the human frame, A mechanized automaton." - Percy Bysshe Shelley

"Conformity is the ape of harmony." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"You must pay for conformity. All goes well as long as you run with conformists. But you, who are honest men in other particulars, know that there is alive somewhere a man whose honesty reaches to this point also, that he shall not kneel to false gods, and, on the day when you meet him, you sink into the class of counterfeits." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Our expense is almost all for conformity. It is for cake that we run in debt; `tis not the intellect, not the heart, not beauty, not worship, that costs so much." - Ralph Waldo Emerson