Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Contradiction

"It is axiomatic that we should all think of ourselves as being more sensitive than other people because, when we are insensitive in our dealings with others, we cannot be aware of it at the time: conscious insensitivity is a self-contradiction." - W. H. Auden, fully Wystan Hugh Auden

"Your awareness of your self-worth is not a contradiction to the obligation to be humble. Humility is not a lack of awareness of your positive accomplishments and abilities. Only a fool is not aware of what he really is an this is not humility. Humility is the internalized awareness with every fiber of your body that everything, yes everything, you have is not your own. Rather it is a gift from the Almighty who bestowed His kindness on you. The more a person actually feels that what he has is a gift the greater is his humility." - Yehuda Leib Chasman

"“What” we do belongs to the world. In the “how,” the way we do it, we infallibly revel to ourselves whether our attitude is in harmony with the inner law or in contradiction to it, in accordance with our right form or opposed to it, open to Divine Being or closed to it. What is our right “form”? It is none other than that in which we are transparent to Divine Being. And to be transparent means that we are able to experience Divine Being in our selves and to reveal it in the world." - Karlfried Graf Von Dürckheim, fully Karl Friedrich Alfred Heinrich Ferdinand Maria Graf Eckbrecht von Dürckheim-Montmartin

"The contradiction between what is requested of man and what can be offered to him has become so striking, the ideology so thin, the discontents in civilization so great that they must be compensated through annihilation of those who do not conform, political enemies, Jews, asocial persons, the insane. The new order of fascism is reason revealing itself as unreason." - Max Horkheimer

"Without risk there is no faith. Faith is precisely the contradiction between the infinite passion of the individual’s inwardness and the objective uncertainty. If I am capable of grasping god objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. If I wish to preserve myself in faith I must constantly be intent upon holding fast to the objective uncertainty, so as to remain out upon the deep, over seventy thousand fathoms of water, still preserving my faith." - Søren Kierkegaard, fully Søren Aabye Kierkegaard

"Perhaps we scarcely notice that in every direction our natural understanding leads us to nothing. We come either to contradiction or to the unknown... We do not think of the growth of a seed in our world in the same way. We cannot imitate growth. Growth is from ‘inside’. Higher dimensions enter our world from inside, from the direction of the most minute." - Maurice Nicoll

"Every individual character is in the right that is in strict consistence with itself. Self-contradiction is the only wrong." - Friedrich Schiller, fully Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

"There seems to be an unalterable contradiction between the human mind and its employments. How can a soul be a merchant? What relation to an immortal being have the price of linseed, the tare on tallow, or the brokerage on hemp? Can an undying creature debit petty expenses and charge for carriage paid? The soul ties its shoes; the mind washes its hands in a basin. All is incongruous." - Walter Bagehot

"We all live in the past, because there is nothing else to live in. To live in the present is like proposing to sit on a pin. It is too minute, it is too slight a support, it is too uncomfortable a posture, and it is of necessity followed immediately by totally different experiences, analogous to those of jumping up with a yell. To live in the future is a contradiction in terms. The future is dead, in the perfectly definite sense it is not alive." - G. K. Chesterton, fully Gilbert Keith Chesterton

"If the aim of the military action is an equivalent for the political object, that action will in general diminish as the political object diminishes. The more this object comes to the front, the more will this be so. This explains how, without self-contradiction, there can be wars of all degrees of importance and energy, from a war of extermination down to a mere state of armed observation." - Carl von Clausewitz, fully Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz, also Karl von Clausewitz

"Error is a supposition that pleasure and pain, that intelligence, substance, life, are existent in matter. Error is neither Mind nor one of Mind's faculties. Error is the contradiction of Truth. Error is a belief without understanding. Error is unreal because untrue. It is that which stemma to be and is not. If error were true, its truth would be error, and we should have a self-evident absurdity namely, erroneous truth. Thus we should continue to lose the standard of Truth." - Mary Baker Eddy

"Reason is man's faculty for grasping the world by thought, in contradiction to intelligence, which is man's ability to manipulate the world with the help of thought." -

"By means of rational thought we have reached the opinion that God knows in advance only the possibilities open to a man in his freedom, not the particular decisions he will make.. It is the opinion of our religion that God never changes... and yet we find in the words of the prophets that God does repent over some things... It is impossible to solve this contradiction if we adopt the view that God knows particular things as particulars." - Gersonides, abbreviation of first letters as RalBaG from Levi ben Gerson NULL

"Here is a mystery, the stupendous mystery of the Christian religion, the ineffable mystery of three persons in one God. We cannot define it. Every human attempt at definition involves it in deeper mystery. The arithmetic of heaven is beyond us. Yet this is no more mysterious and inexplicable than the trinity of our own nature; body, soul, and spirit; and no man has ever shown that it involved a contradiction or in any way conflicted with the testimony of our senses or with demonstrated truth; and we must accept it by the power of a simple faith, or rush into tritheism on the one hand or unitarianism on the other." - Frederick D. Power, fully Frederick Dunglison Power

"Whatever of goodness emanates from the soul, gathers its soft halo in the eyes; an if the heart be a lurking-place of crime, the eyes are sure to betray the secret. A beautiful eye makes silence eloquent, a kind eye makes contradiction assent, an enraged eye makes beauty a deformity; so you see, forsooth, the little organ plays no inconsiderable, if not a dominant, part." - Frederic Saunders

"As long as man dwells in a state of pure nature (I mean pure and not coarse nature), all his being acts at once like a simple sensuous unity, like a harmonious whole. The senses and reason, the receptive faculty and the spontaneously active faculty, have not been as yet separated in their respective functions; a priori they are not yet in contradiction to each other. Then the feelings of man are not the formless play of chance; nor are his thoughts an empty play of imagination, without any value. His feelings proceed from the law of necessity, his thoughts from reality. But when man enters the state of civilization, and art has fashioned him, this sensuous harmony which was in him disappears, and henceforth he can only manifest himself as a moral unity, that is, as aspiring to unity. The harmony that existed as a fact in the former state, the harmony of feeling and thought, only exists in an ideal state. It is no longer in him, but out of him; it is a conception of thought which he must begin by realizing in himself; it is no longer a fact, a reality of his life." - Friedrich Schiller, fully Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

"In love all the contradiction of existence merge themselves and are lost. Only in love are unity and duality not at variance. Love must be one and two at the same time. Only love is motion and rest in one. Our heart ever changes its place till it finds love, and then it has its rest... Bondage and liberation are not antagonistic in love. for love is most free and at the same time most bound." -

"Military intelligence - a contradiction in terms." - Oswald Garrison Villard

"Error, falsehood, evil are cosmic powers, but relative in their nature, not absolute, since they depend for existence upon the perversion or contradiction of their opposites, and are not like truth and good, self-existing absolutes, inherent aspects of the Supreme Self-Existent." -

"Exclusive love is a contradiction in itself." - Erich Fromm, fully Erich Seligmann Fromm

"The standard device for getting around a logical contradiction by elevating it to the status of a truth beyond logic." - Max Otto, fully Max Carl Otto

"The cardinal responsibility of leadership is to identify the dominant contradiction at each point of the historical process and to work out a central line to resolve it." - Mao Tse-tung, alternatively Zedong, Ze dong, aka Chairman Mao

"The interdependence of the contradictory aspects in all things and the struggle between these aspects determine the life of all things and push their development forward. There is nothing that does not contain contradiction; without contradiction nothing would exist." - Mao Tse-tung, alternatively Zedong, Ze dong, aka Chairman Mao

"We know that we live in contradiction, but that we must refuse this contradiction and do what is needed to reduce it. Our task as men is to find those few first principles that will calm the infinite anguish of free souls. We must stitch up what has been torn apart, render justice in the world which is so obviously unjust, and make happiness meaningful for nations poisoned by the misery of this century." - Albert Camus

"We know that we live in contradiction, but that we must refuse this contradiction and do what is needed to reduce it. Our task as men is to find those few first principles that will calm the infinite anguish of free souls. We must stitch up what has been torn apart, render justice in the world which is so obviously unjust, and make happiness meaningful for nations poisoned by the misery of this century." -

"The universe construed solely in terms of efficient causation of purely physical interconnections, presents a sheer, insoluble contradiction." - Alfred North Whitehead

"Sin is a defiance to the authority of God, a contradiction to the law of righteousness, a disturbance to the society of men, and a distraction to the soul of the sinner." - Benjamin Whichcote

"What a chimera is man! what a confused chaos! what a subject of contradiction! a professed judge of all things, and ;yet a feeble worm of the earth! the great depository and guardian of truth, and yet a mere huddle of uncertainty! the glory and the scandal of the universe!" - Blaise Pascal

"Contradiction is not a sign of falsity, nor the lack of contradiction a sign of truth." - Blaise Pascal

"In every step of the inquiry we are compelled to feel and acknowledge the immeasurable disproportion between the size of the object and the capacity of the human mind. We may strive to abstract the notions of time, of space, and of matter, which so closely adhere to all the perceptions of our experimental knowledge. But as soon as we presume to reason of infinite substance, of spiritual generation, as often as we deduce any positive conclusions from a negative idea, we are involved in darkness, perplexity, and inevitable contradiction." - Edward Gibbon

"Love means in general terms the consciousness of my unity with another, so that I am not in selfish isolation but win my self-consciousness only as the reunification of my independence and through knowing myself as the unity of myself with another and of the other with me. Love, however, is feeling, that is, ethical life in the form of something natural. In the state, feeling disappears; there we are conscious of unity as law; there the content must be rational and known to us. The first moment in love is that I do not wish to be a self-subsistent and independent persona and that, if I were, then I would feel defective and incomplete. The second moment is that I find myself in another person, that I count for something in the other, while the other in turn comes to count for something in me. Love, therefore, is the most tremendous contradiction; the Understanding cannot resolve it since there is nothing more stubborn than this point of self-consciousness which is negated and which nevertheless I ought to possess as affirmative. Love is at once the propounding and the resolving of this contradiction. As the resolving of it, love is unity of an ethical type." - Georg Hegel, fully Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

"Only that will which obeys law is free; for it obeys itself - it is independent and so free. When the state or our country constitutes a community of existence; when the subjective will of man submits to laws - the contradiction between liberty and necessity vanishes." - Georg Hegel, fully Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

"Philosophy must then assume that no real contradiction will be found between freedom and physical necessity of the same human actions, for it cannot give up the conception of nature any more than that of freedom." - Immanuel Kant

"For there is not the smallest contradiction in saying that a thing in appearance (belonging to the world of sense) is subject to certain laws of which the very same as a thing or being in itself is independent." - Immanuel Kant

"The determination of what constitutes right in war, is the most difficult problem of the right of nations and international law. It is very difficult even to form a conception of such a right, or to think of any law in this lawless state without falling into a contradiction." - Immanuel Kant

"Heroism works in contradiction to the voice of mankind, and in contradiction, for a time, to the voice of the great and good. Heroism is an obedience to a secret impulse of an individual’s character." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"To hazard a contradiction - freedom is necessary." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"God in eternity is without contradiction, suffering and grief, and nothing can hurt or vex him of all that is or befalleth. But with God, when he is made Man, it is otherwise." - Theologia Germanica, aka Theologia Deutsch or Teutsch NULL

"Those laws, being forged for universal application, are in perpetual conflict with personal interest, just as personal interest is always in contradiction with the general interest. Good for society, our laws are very bad for the individuals whereof." - Marquis de Sade, born Donatien Alphonse François de Sade

"Reason is man’s faculty for grasping the world by thought, in contradiction to intelligence, which is man’s ability to manipulate the world with the help of thought. Reason is man's instrument for arriving at the truth, intelligence is man's instrument for manipulating the world more successfully; the former is essentially human, the latter belongs to the animal part of man." - Erich Fromm, fully Erich Seligmann Fromm

"Our society is run by a managerial bureaucracy, by professional politicians; people are motivated by mass suggestion, their aim is producing more and consuming more, as purposes in themselves. All activities are subordinated to economic goals, means have become ends; man is an automaton — well fed, well clad, but without any ultimate concern for that which is his peculiarly human quality and function. If man is to be able to love, he must be put in his supreme place. The economic machine must serve him, rather than he serve it. He must be enabled to share experience, to share work, rather than, at best, share in profits. Society must be organized in such a way that man's social, loving nature is not separated from his social existence, but becomes one with it. If it is true, as I have tried to show, that love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence, then any society which excludes, relatively, the development of love, must in the long run perish of its own contradiction with the basic necessities of human nature." - Erich Fromm, fully Erich Seligmann Fromm

"I believe that the nature of man is a contradiction rooted in the conditions of human existence that requires a search for solutions, which in their turn create new contradictions and now the need for answers." - Erich Fromm, fully Erich Seligmann Fromm

"One social structure will be conducive to cooperation and solidarity another social structure to competition, suspiciousness, avarice; another to child-like receptiveness, another to destructive aggressiveness. All empirical forms or human needs and drives have to be understood as results of the social practice (in the last analysis based on the productive forces, class structure, etc., etc.) but they all have to fulfill the functions which are inherent in man’s nature in general, and that is to permit him to relate himself to others and share a common frame of reference, etc. The existential contradiction within man (to which I would now add also the contradiction between limitations which reality imposes on his life, and the virtually limitless imagination which his brain permits him to follow) is what I believe to be one of the motives of psychological and social dynamics. Man can never stand still. He must find solutions to this contradiction, and ever better solutions to the extent to which reality enables him. The question then arises whether there is an optimal solution which can be inferred from man’s nature, and which constitutes a potential tendency in man. I believe that such optimal solutions can be inferred from the nature of man, and I have recently found it quite useful to think in terms of what in sociology and economy is now often called »system analysis«. One might start with the idea, in the first place, that human personality — just like society — is a system, that is to say, that each part depends on every other, and no part can be changed unless all or most other parts are also changed. A system is better than chaos. If a society system disintegrates or is destroyed by blows from the outside the society ends in chaos, and a completely new society is built upon its ruins, often using the elements of the destroyed system to build the new. That has happened many times in history. But, what also happens is that the society is not simply destroyed but that the system is changed, and a new system emerges which can be considered to be a transformation of the old one." - Erich Fromm, fully Erich Seligmann Fromm

"If you observe your own mind in what you call meditation, you will see that there is always a division, a contradiction between the thinker and the thought. As long as there is a thinker apart from thought, meditation is merely a ceaseless effort to overcome this contradiction." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"Effortlessness means not doing anything, inactivity -- AKARMA. Effort means doing much, activity -- KARMA. Both have to be there. Do much, but don't be a doer -- then you achieve both. Move in the world, but don't be a part of it. Live in the world, but don't let the world live in you. Then the contradiction has been absorbed. Then you are not rejecting anything, not denying anything. Then the whole God has been accepted." - Osho, born Chandra Mohan Jain, also known as Acharya Rajneesh and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh NULL

"God is omnipotent; God is wholly good; and yet evil exists. There seems to be some contradiction between these three propositions, so that if any two of them were true the third would be false. But at the same time all three are essential parts of most theological positions: the theologian it seems, at once must adhere and cannot consistently adhere to all three." - John Leslie "J. L." Mackie

"Every definition implies an axiom, since it asserts the existence of the object defined. The definition then will not be justified, from the purely logical point of view, until we have proved that it involves no contradiction either in its terms or with the truths previously admitted." - Henri Poincaré, fully Jules Henri Poincaré

"Obstinacy is a fault of temperament. Stubbornness and intolerance of contradiction result from a special kind of egotism, which elevates above everything else the pleasure of its autonomous intellect, to which others must bow." - Carl von Clausewitz, fully Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz, also Karl von Clausewitz

"If it were true [that there are mathematical problems undecidable by the human mind] it would mean that human reason is utterly irrational in asking questions it cannot answer, while asserting emphatically that only reason can answer them. Human reason would then be very imperfect and, in some sense, even inconsistent, in glaring contradiction to the fact that those parts of mathematics which have been systematically and completely developed show an amazing degree of beauty and perfection. In these fields, by entirely unexpected laws and procedures, means are provided not only for solving all relevant problems, but also solving them in a most beautiful and perfectly feasible manner." - Kurt Gödel, also Goedel

"The world of science lives fairly comfortably with paradox. We know that light is a wave, and also that light is a particle. The discoveries made in the infinitely small world of particle physics indicate randomness and chance, and I do not find it any more difficult to live with the paradox of a universe of randomness and chance and a universe of pattern and purpose than I do with light as a wave and light as a particle. Living with contradiction is nothing new to the human being. " -