Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Discussion

"Free and fair discussion will ever be found the firmest friend to truth." - George Campbell

"The more discussion the better, if passion and personality be eschewed; and discussion, even if stormy, often winnows truth from error - a good never to be expected in an uninquiring age." - William Ellery Channing

"Creation is a continuing process... One meaning of our life, then, is the opportunity and challenge it presents to us for participation in the continuous process of creation - through discussion and cooperative work rather than conflict." -

"Free and fair discussion will ever be found the firmest friend to truth." -

"The more discussion the better, if passion and personality be eschewed. Discussion, even if stormy, often winnows truth from error - a good never to be expected in an uninquiring age." - William Ellery Channing

"Understand your antagonist before you answer him... Discussion, even if story, often winnows truth from error - a good never to be expected in an uninquiring age." - William Ellery Channing

"A people living under the... threat of war and invasion is very easy to govern. It demands no social reforms. It doesn't not haggle over armaments and military expenditures. It pays without discussion, it ruins itself, and that is a fine thing for the financiers and manufacturers for whom patriotic terrors are an abundant source of gain." - Anatole France, pen name of Jacques Anatole Francois Thibault

"If we discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason - for then we would know the mind of God." -

"In a discussion the difficulty lies, not in being able to defend your opinion, but to know it." - F. D. Maurice, fully John Frederick Denison "F.D." Maurice

"A certain degree of solitude seems necessary to the full growth and spread of the highest mind; and therefore must a very extensive intercourse with men stifle many a holy germ, and scare away the gods, who shun the restless tumult of noisy companies and the discussion of petty interests." - Novalis, pseudonym of Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg NULL

"Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking; where it is absent, discussion is apt to become worse than useless." -

"Has America become a country where classroom discussion of the Ten Commandments is impermissible, but teacher instructions in safe sodomy be to be mandatory?" - Pat Buchanan, fully Patrick Joseph "Pat" Buchanan

"Moral ambiguity creates mental cramps of various sorts, which lead to reflection, discussion, and argument… Morality resists theoretical unification under either a set of special-purpose rules or single general-purpose rule or principle, such as the categorical imperative or the principle of unity. If this is right, and if it is right because the ends of moral life are plural and heterogeneous in kind and because our practices of moral education rightly reflect this, then we have some greater purchase on why the project of finding a single theoretically satisfying moral theory has failed." - Owen Flanagan

"There’s a moment when the choice to act moves beyond a discussion of motives, for even an awareness of our own motives can become a form of necessity that lets our responsibility off the hook. And the moment of faith is a moment when no part of us is excused. With no ifs, no buts, no conditions, no escape clauses, all we are is challenged to rise to the choice and shoulder the responsibility for our answer." - Os Guiness

"If we do discover a complete [unified] theory [of the universe], it should be in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we should know the mind of God." - Stephen Hawking

"We hear in these days of scientific enlightenment a great deal of discussion about the efficacy of Prayer. Many reasons are given why we should not pray. Others give reasons why we should pray. Very little is said of the reason why we do pray. The reason is simple: We pray because we cannot help praying." - William James

"The study of books is a languishing and feeble activity that gives no heat, whereas discussion teaches and exercises us at the same time." -

"A key difference between a dialogue and an ordinary discussion is that, within the latter people usually hold relatively fixed positions and argue in favor of their views as they try to convince others to change. At best this may produce agreement or compromise, but it does not give rise to anything creative." - David Bohm, fully David Joseph Bohm

"If we do discover a complete [unified] theory, it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason -- for then we would know the mind of God." -

"Our culture of discussion in our region is to debate, to know the truth, and try to prove to the other one how they are mistaken - and it's not really helpful. Listening compassionately can enable us to let the other person reveal and discover what is really there." -

"Most teachers do not like controversy. A study some years ago found that 92 percent of teachers did not initiate discussion of controversial issues, 89 percent didn't discuss controversial issues when students brought them up, and 79 percent didn't believe they should. Among the topics that teachers felt children were interested in discussing but that most teachers believed should not be discussed in the classroom were the Vietnam War, politics, race relations, nuclear war, religion, and family problems such as divorce." - Jack L. Nelson & William B. Stanley

"Discussion without asperity, sympathy with fusion, gayety unracked by too abundant jests, mental ease in approaching one another, these are the things which give a pleasant smoothness to the rough edge of life." - Agnes Repplier

"Discussion without asperity, sympathy with fusion, gayety unracked by too abundant jests, mental ease in approaching one another, these are the things which give a pleasant smoothness to the rough edge of life." -

"Discussion without asperity, sympathy with fusion, gayety unracked by too abundant jests, mental ease in approaching one another, these are the things which give a pleasant smoothness to the rough edge of life." -

"We must grasp the number of aims entertained by those who argue as competitors, and rivals to the death. These are five in number, refutation, fallacy, paradox, solecism, and fifthly to reduce the opponent in the discussion to babbling - i.e. to constrain him to repeat himself a number of times; or it is to produce the appearance of each of these things without the reality." - Aristotle NULL

"Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; argument is an exchange of ignorance."" - Author Unknown NULL

"The period of time covered by history is far too short to allow any perceptible progress in the popular sense of Evolution of the Human Species. The notion that there has been any such Progress since Caesar’s time (less than 20th centuries ago) is too absurd for discussion. All the savagery, barbarism, dark ages and the rest of it of which we have any record as existing in the past exists at the present moment." - George Bernard Shaw

"The justification and the purpose of freedom of speech is not to indulge those who want to speak their minds. It is to prevent error and discover truth. There may be other ways of detecting error and discovering truth than that of free discussion, but so far we have not found them." - Henry Steele Commager

"The great enemy of knowledge is not error, but inertness. All that we want is discussion; and then we are sure to do well, no matter what our blunders may be. One error conflicts with another, each destroys its opponent, and truth is evolved." - Henry Thomas Buckle

"As soon as any part of a person’s conduct affects prejudicially the interests of others, society has jurisdiction over it, and the question whether the general welfare will or will not be promoted by interfering with it, becomes open to discussion." - John Stuart Mill

"All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility." - John Stuart Mill

"To be surprised, to wonder, is to begin to understand. This is the sport, the luxury, special to the intellectual man... If anyone in a discussion with us is not concerned with adjusting himself to truth, if he has no wish to find the truth, he is intellectually a barbarian. That, in fact, is the position of the mass-man when he speaks, lectures or writes... The man who discovers a new scientific truth has previously had to smash to atoms almost everything he had learnt, and arrives at the new truth with hands bloodstained from the slaughter of a thousand platitudes." - José Ortega y Gasset

"The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress." - Joseph Joubert

"The end of argument or discussion should be, not victory, but enlightenment." - Joseph Joubert

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." - Joseph Joubert

"Men become susceptible to ideas, not by discussion and argument, but by seeing them personified and by loving the person who embodies them." - Lewis Mumford

"No danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion. If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence." - Louis D. Brandeis, fully Louis Dembitz Brandeis

"Instead of looking on discussion as a stumbling block in the way of action, we think it an indispensable preliminary to any wise action at all." - Pericles NULL

"Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; argument is an exchange of ignorance." - Robert Quillen, fully Verni Robert Quillen

"The greatest barrier in this world is use and wont. To say that a thing has never yet been done among men is to erect a barrier stronger than reason, stronger than discussion." - Thomas Brackett Reed, aka Czar Reed

"Creation is a continuing process... One meaning of our life, then, is the opportunity and challenge it presents to us for participation in the continuous process of creation - through discussion and cooperative work rather than conflict." - Chinua Achebe, formally Albert Chinụalụmọgụ Achebe

"Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking; where it is absent, discussion is apt to become worse than useless." -

"Science, history and politics are not suited for discussion except by experts. Others are simply in the position of requiring more information; and, till they have acquired all available information, cannot do anything but accept on authority the opinions of those better qualified. " - Frank Plumpton Ramsey

"Free discussion requires an atmosphere unembarrassed by any suggestion of authority or even respect." - Hyman George Rickover

"Nothing so sharpens the thought process as writing down one's arguments. Weaknesses overlooked in oral discussion become painfully obvious on the written page." - Hyman George Rickover

"To cherish peace and friendly intercourse with all nations having correspondent dispositions; to maintain sincere neutrality toward belligerent nations; to prefer in all cases amicable discussion and reasonable accommodation of differences to a decision of them by an appeal to arms; to exclude foreign intrigues and foreign partialities, so degrading to all countries and so baneful to free ones; to foster a spirit of independence too just to invade the rights of others, too proud to surrender our own, too liberal to indulge unworthy prejudices ourselves and too elevated not to look down upon them in others; to hold the union of the States as the basis of their peace and happiness; to support the Constitution, which is the cement of the Union, as well in its limitations as in its authorities; to respect the rights and authorities reserved to the States and to the people as equally incorporated with and essential to the success of the general system; to avoid the slightest interference with the right of conscience or the functions of religion, so wisely exempted from civil jurisdiction; to preserve in their full energy the other salutary provisions in behalf of private and personal rights, and of the freedom of the press; to observe economy in public expenditures; to liberate the public resources by an honorable discharge of the public debts; to keep within the requisite limits a standing military force, always remembering that an armed and trained militia is the firmest bulwark of republics — that without standing armies their liberty can never be in danger, nor with large ones safe; to promote by authorized means improvements friendly to agriculture, to manufactures, and to external as well as internal commerce; to favor in like manner the advancement of science and the diffusion of information as the best aliment to true liberty; to carry on the benevolent plans which have been so meritoriously applied to the conversion of our aboriginal neighbors from the degradation and wretchedness of savage life to a participation of the improvements of which the human mind and manners are susceptible in a civilized state — as far as sentiments and intentions such as these can aid the fulfillment of my duty, they will be a resource which can not fail me." - James Madison

"The genuine rationalist does not think that he or anyone else is in possession of the truth; nor does he think that mere criticism as such helps us achieve new ideas. But he does think that, in the sphere of ideas, only critical discussion can help us sort the wheat from the chaff. He is well aware that acceptance or rejection of an idea is never a purely rational matter; but he thinks that only critical discussion can give us the maturity to see an idea from more and more sides and to make a correct judgement of it." - Karl Popper, fully Sir Karl Raimund Popper

"A rattlesnake loose in the living room tends to end all discussion of animal rights." - Lance Morrow

"Every thing secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity." - John Dalberg-Acton, Lord Acton, fully John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton

"The concept that above him is "an Eye that sees and an Ear that hears," he has never heard it spoken in a heartfelt manner. And if it ever was mentioned, it was only superficial lip-service. Not only that, but from the first day he went to school, it was made clear to him that it is not the school's role to get involved in his character and ethical growth; rather, he is told that he is an independent person and the school merely offers the opportunity to accumulate knowledge, which he can later use to whatever end he sees fit. Any discussion of ethics is, at best, based upon fear of punishment, and this undermines the student's focus and belief – intentionally or unintentionally – that there is "an Eye that sees and an Ear that hears" all his actions." - Menachem Mendel Schneerson, known as the Lubavitcher Rebbe