Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Contempt

"Of all afflictions, the worst is self-contempt." - Berthold Auerbach

"Dissimulation in youth is the forerunner of perfidy in old age; its first appearance is the fatal omen of growing depravity and future shame. It degrades parts and learning obscures the luster of every accomplishment and sinks us into contempt. The path of falsehood is a perplexing maze. After the first departure from sincerity, it is not in our power to stop; one artifice unavoidably leads on to another, till, as the intricacy of the labyrinth increases, we are left entangled in our snare." - Hugh Blair

"When Americans are morally divided, it is appropriate that our laws reflect that fact... Our popular institutions, the legislative and executive branches, were structured to provide safety to achieve compromise when we are divided, to slow change, to dilute absolutisms... They are designed, in short, to do the very things that abstract generalizations about moral principles and the just society tend to bring into contempt." - Robert Bork, fully Robert Heron Bork

"Discourtesy does not spring merely from one bad quality, but from several - from foolish vanity, from ignorance of what is due to others, from indolence, from stupidity, from the distraction of thought, from contempt of others, from jealousy." - Jean de La Bruyère

"Contempt of all outward things that come in competition with duty fulfills the ideal of human greatness. It is sanctioned by conscience, that universal and eternal lawgiver, whose chief principle is, that everything must be yielded up for right." - William Ellery Channing

"It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome. Its appeal is to the material part, and if allowed its way, it will in time disturb one’s spiritual balance. Therefore, children must early learn the beauty of generosity. They are taught to give what they prize most, that they may taste the happiness of giving. If a child is inclined to be grasping, or to cling to any of his or her little possessions, legends are related about the contempt and disgrace falling upon the ungenerous and mean person... The Indians in their simplicity literally give away all that they have - to relatives, to guests of other tribes or clans, but above all to the poor and the aged, from whom they can hope for no return." - Charles Alexander Eastman, first named Ohiyesa

"There is no real elevation of mind in a contempt of little things; it is, on the contrary, from too narrow views that we consider those things of little importance which have in fact such extensive consequences." - François Fénelon, fully Francois de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon

"Contempt of others is the truest symptom of a base and bad heart, while it suggests itself to the mean and the vile, and tickles their little fancy on every occasion, it never enters the great and good mind but on the strongest motives; nor is it then a welcome guest - affording only an uneasy sensation, and bringing always with it a mixture of concern and compassion." - Henry Fielding

"Pride that dines on vanity, sups on contempt." - Benjamin Franklin

"Welfare is hated by those who administer it, mistrusted by those who pay for it and held in contempt by those who receive it." - Peter C. Goldmark, Jr.

"Moral courage is a virtue of higher cast and nobler origin than physical. It springs from a consciousness of virtue and renders a man, in the pursuit or defense of right, superior to the fear of reproach, opposition in contempt." - Samuel Griswold Goodrich, better known by pseudonymn Peter Parley

"Our greatest need is emancipation from self-contempt." -

"What is called affluence - the consequence of the type of rapid economic development which occurred from about the middle of the nineteenth century - is in a real sense an abundance not just of serious problems which machines cannot solve, but of hopeless poverty: the physical insecurity, personal unhappiness, the intensified morality, the sense of being dwarfed by vast and uncontrollable physical, mechanical and corporate structures, the hatred and contempt of other peoples, the lack of opportunity for contemplation, the loss of community life." - Charles Richard Hensman

"Each age has its own characteristic depravity. Ours is perhaps not pleasure or indulgence or sensuality, but rather a dissolute pantheistic contempt for the individual man." - Søren Kierkegaard, fully Søren Aabye Kierkegaard

"What keeps persons down in the world, besides lack of capacity, is not a philosophical contempt of riches or honors, but thoughtlessness and improvidence, a love of sluggish torpor, and of present gratification. It is not from preferring virtue to wealth - the goods of the mind to those of fortune - that they take no thought for the morrow; but from want of forethought and stern self-command. The restless, ambitious man too often directs these qualities to an unworthy object; the contented man is generally deficient in the qualities themselves. The one is a stream that flows too often in a wrong channel, and needs to have its course altered, the other is a stagnant pool." -

"Man is much more sensitive to the contempt of others than to self-contempt." -

"Moral contempt is a far greater indignity and insult than any kind of crime." -

"Too much familiarity breeds contempt." - Publius Syrus

"Constant exposure to danger breeds contempt for them." -

"The shortest way to riches is by contempt of riches." -

"A man can bear a world’s contempt when he has that within which says he’s worthy. When he contemns himself, there burns the hell." - Alexander Smith

"He who lives according to the guidance of reason strives as much as possible to repay the hatred, anger, or contempt of others towards himself with love or generosity." -

"There be four good mothers who have four bad daughters: Truth hath Hatred, Prosperity hath Pride, Security hath Peril, and Familiarity hath Contempt." - Harold W Thompson

"Wit implies hatred or contempt of folly and crime, produces its effects by brisk shocks of surprise, uses the whip of scorpions and the branding iron, stabs, stings, pinches, tortures, goads, teases, corrodes, undermines." - Edwin Percy Whipple

"Have you learn’d lessons only of those who admired you, and were tender with you and stood aside for you? Have you not learn’d great lessons from those who reject you, and brace themselves against you? or who treat you with contempt, or dispute the passage with you?" - Walt Whitman, fully Walter "Walt" Whitman

"Whereas speaking distracts, silence and work collect the thoughts and strengthen the spirit. As soon therefore as a person understand what has been said to him for his good, there is no further need to hear or to discuss; but to set himself in earnest to practice what he has learnt with silence and attention, in humility, charity and contempt of self." -

"By dispising himself too much a man comes to be worthy of his own contempt." -

"Keep the middle path of strength and virtue, lest you be overwhelmed by misfortune or corrupted by pleasant fortune. All that falls short or goes too far ahead, has contempt for happiness, and gains not the reward for labor done. It rests in your own hands what shall be the nature of the fortune which you choose to form for yourself. For all fortune which seems difficult, either exercises virtue, or corrects or punishes vice." - Boethius, fully Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius NULL

"Pride defeats its own end, by bringing the man who seeks esteem and reverence into contempt." - Henry Bolingbroke, Henry IV of England

"How little praise warms out of a man the good that is in him, as the sneer of contempt which he feels is unjust chill the ardor to excel." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, fully Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, Lord Lytton

"It is strange what a contempt men have for the joys that are offered them freely." - Georges Duhamel, Pen name Denis Thevenin

"Familiarity may breed contempt in some areas of human behavior, but in the field of social ideas it is the touchstone of acceptability." - J. William Galbraith

"Moral courage is a virtue of higher cast and nobler origin than physical. It springs from a consciousness of virtue, and renders a man, in the pursuit of defense of right, superior to the fear of reproach, opposition, or contempt." - S. G. Goodrich, fully Samuel Griswold Goodrich, pen name Peter Praley

"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

"Age looks with anger on the temerity of youth, and youth with contempt on the scrupulosity of age." -

"My friend, there will come one day to you a Messenger, whom you cannot treat with contempt. He will say, “Come with me;” and all your pleas of business cares and earthly loves will be of no avail. When his cold hand touches yours, the key of the counting-room will drop forever, and he will lead you away from all your investments, your speculations, your bank-notes and real estate, and with him you will pass into eternity, up to the bar of God. You will not be too busy to die." - Abbott Elliot Kittredge

"Familiarity breeds contempt." - Publius Syrus

"When thou seest thine enemy in trouble, curl not thy whiskers in contempt; for in every bone there is marrow, and within every jacket there is a man." - Sa'di (or Saadi), pen name of Abū-Muḥammad Muṣliḥ al-Dīn bin Abdallāh Shīrāzī, born Muslih-uddin NULL

"It happens a little unluckily that the persons who have the most infinite contempt of money are the same that have the strongest appetite for the pleasures it procures." - William Shenstone

"Where nature is concerned, familiarity breeds love and knowledge, not contempt." - Stewart Udall, Fully Stewart Lee Udall

"In an active life is sown the seed of wisdom; but he who reflects not, never reaps; has no harvest from it, but carries the burden of age without the wages of experience; nor knows himself old, but from his infirmities, the parish register, and the contempt of mankind. And age if it is not esteem, has nothing." -

"The love of solitude, when cultivated in the morn of life, elevates the mind to a noble independence, but to acquire the advantages which solitude is capable of affording, the mind must not be impelled to it by melancholy and discontent, but by a real distaste to the idle pleasures of the world, a rational contempt for the deceitful joys of life, and just apprehensions of being corrupted and seduced by its insinuating and destructive gayeties." - Johann Georg Ritter von Zimmermann

"Contempt is the sharpest reproof." -

"There can be no prestige without mystery, for familiarity breeds contempt." -

"The more cruel the wrong that men commit against an individual or a people, the deeper their hatred and contempt for their victim. Conceit and false pride on the part of a nation prevent the rise of remorse for its crime." - Albert Einstein

"The idea is to have contempt for crime, not for people… It’s more useful to think of every other person as another you - to think of every individual as a representative of the universe." - Rolling Thunder, born Louis Belmont Newell NULL

"If our freedom means ease alone, if it means shirking the hard disciplines of learning, if it means evading the rigors and rewards of creative activity, if it means more expenditure on advertising than education, if it means in the schools the steady cult of the trivial and the mediocre, if it means - worst of all - indifference, or even contempt for all but athletic excellence, we may keep for a time the forms of free society, but its spirit will be dead." - Adlai Ewing Stevenson

"If our freedom means ease alone, if it means shirking the hard disciplines of learning, if it means evading the rigors and rewards of creative activity, if it means more expenditure on advertising than education, if it means in the schools the steady cult of the trivial and the mediocre, if it means - worst of all - indifference, or even contempt for all but athletic excellence, we may keep for a time the forms of free society, but its spirit will be dead." -

"If our freedom means ease alone, if it means shirking the hard disciplines of learning, if it means evading the rigors and rewards of creative activity, if it means more expenditure on advertising than education, if it means in the schools the steady cult of the trivial and the mediocre, if it means - worst of all - indifference, or even contempt for all but athletic excellence, we may keep for a time the forms of free society, but its spirit will be dead." -

"The aim of art, the aim of a life can only be to increase the sum of freedom and responsibility to be found in every man and in the world. It cannot, under any circumstances, be to reduce or suppress that freedom, even temporarily. No great work has ever been based on hatred and contempt. On the contrary, there is not a single true work of art that has not in the end added to the inner freedom of each person who has known and loved it." - Albert Camus