Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Free choice

"If choosing freely for oneself is the highest value, the free choice to wear red socks is as valuable as the free choice to murder one’s father or sacrifice oneself for one’s friend. Such a belief is ridiculous." - Mary Warnock, fully Helen Mary Warnock, Baroness Warnock

"If, as Heraclitus said, “A man’s character is his fate” – that is, if our fate is largely determined by the habitual tendencies of our repetition compulsion-personality – then the power of consciousness is that it allows us to change impulses, we have what Kierkegaard called “the possibility of possibility”: the possibility of having a free choice and the moral responsibility that comes with it. In that sense, the fear of consciousness is ultimately the fear of moral responsibility, because if we own our anxiety, shame, and guilt, and allow ourselves to have full consciousness of emotions that motivate our behavior, then we will inevitably recognize the full weight of our responsibility for that behavior." - Elio Frattaroli

"Faith is a free choice; wherever there is a desire of proof... there is no faith." - Alexander Yelchaninov

"We have been forced step by step to forgo a causal description of the behavior of individual atoms in space and time, and to reckon with a free choice on the part of nature between various possibilities." - Niels Bohr, fully Neils Henrik David Bohr

"If we have defined man’s situation as a free choice, with no excuses and no recourse, every man who takes refuge behind the excuse of his passions, every man who sets up a determinism is a dishonest man." - Jean-Paul Sartre

"Man has free choice. Otherwise counsels, exhortations, commands, prohibitions, rewards and punishments would be in vain... Free choice is the cause of its own movement, because by his free choice man moves himself to act." -

"Free will was granted to humanity. Man became conscious of good and evil, and his power of free choice. He acquired simultaneously Freedom and Responsibility. Henceforth he could help or he could hinder." - Oliver Lodge, fully Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge

"Our sages have taught, "Whoever gets angry, it is as if he worshipped idols" (Zohar I, 27b). The reason for this is... because at the time of his anger, his faith has left him. For were he to believe that what happened to him was G d’s doing, he would not be angry at all. For although it is a person possessed of free choice that is cursing him, or striking him, or causing damage to his property -- and is accountable according to the laws of man and the laws of heaven for his evil choice -- nevertheless, as regards the person harmed, this [incident] was already decreed in heaven and “G d has many agents” [to carry out the decree]." - Shneur Zalman of Liadi

"Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering." - Saint Augustine, aka Augustine of Hippo, St. Austin, Bishop of Hippo NULL

"Love is sufficient of itself; it gives pleasure by itself and because of itself. It is its own merit, its own reward. Love looks for no cause outside itself, no effect beyond itself. Its profit lies in the practice. Of all the movements, sensations and feelings of the soul, love is the only one in which the creature can respond to the Creator and make some sort of similar return however unequal though it be. For when God loves, all he desires is to be loved in return. The sole purpose of his love is to be loved, in the knowledge that those who love him are made happy by their love of him." - Saint Bernard of Clairvaux NULL

"A man should remind himself that an object of faith is not scientifically demonstrable, lest presuming to demonstrate what is of faith, he should produce inconclusive reasons and offer occasion for unbelievers to scoff at a faith based on such ground." - Saint Thomas Aquinas, aka Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis or Doctor Universalis