Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Guilt

"Respectable sin is, in principle, the mother of all basest crime. Follow it to the bitter end, and there is ignominy as well as guilt eternal." - Horace Bushnell

"Shame and guilt are noble emotions essential in the maintenance of civilized society, and vital for the development of some of the most refined and elegant qualities of human potential - generosity, service, self-sacrificed, unselfishness and duty." - Willard Gaylen

"Guilt always looks for punishment, and punishment creates pain." - Louise L. Hay

"Fear is the energy to do our best in a new situation. Guilt is the energy for personal change. Unworthiness keeps us on track. Hurt feelings remind us how much we care. Anger is the energy for change. Discouragement reveals our courage." - John-Roger & Peter McWilliams NULL

"Guilt is anger directed at ourselves - at what we did or did not do. Resentment is anger directed at others - at what they did or did not do." - John-Roger & Peter McWilliams NULL

"Humanly speaking, there is a certain degree of temptation which will overcome any virtue. Now, in so far as you approach temptation to a man, you do him an injury, and if he is overcome, you share his guilt." -

"Rash oaths, whether kept or broken, frequently lead to guilt." -

"Guilt is a poor, helpless, dependent being. Without the alliance of able, diligent, and let me add, fortunate fraud, it is inevitably undone. If the guilty culprit be obstinately silent, it forms a deadly presumption against him; if he speaks, talking tends only to his discovery, and his very defense often furnishes the materials for his conviction." -

"He who within his breast meditates a crime has all the guilt of the deed." - Juvenal, fully Decimus Junius Juvenalis NULL

"The human condition suffers from the fact that our sins and our guilt are cumulative; we may assuage, we forgive, but have no way to forget." - Joshua Lederberg

"Maturity is achieved when a person accepts life as full of tension; when he does not torment himself with childish guilt feelings, but avoids tragic adult sins; when he postpones immediate pleasures for the sake of long-term values... Our generation must be inspired to search for that maturity which will manifest itself in the qualities of tenacity, dependability, co-operativeness and the inner drive to work and sacrifice for a nobler future of mankind." - Joshua L. Liebman, fully Joshua Loth Liebman

"Men's minds are too ready to excuse guilt in themselves." -

"There may be guilt when there is too much virtue." - Jean Racine, baptismal name Jean-Baptiste Racine

"Fear is attachment to security... Guilt and fear arise from a conviction you have accepted about yourself." - Shantananda Saraswathi, fully Swami Shantananda Saraswathi, born Chandrashekar

"It is rascally to steal a purse, daring to steal a million, and proof of greatness to steal a crown. The blame diminishes as the guilt increases." - Friedrich Schiller, fully Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

"Guilt, though it may attain temporal splendor, can never confer real happiness; the evil consequences of our crimes long survive their commission, and, like the ghosts of the murdered, forever haunt the steps of the malefactor; while the paths of virtue, though seldom those of worldly greatness, are always those of pleasantness and peace." -

"The race of mankind would perish did they cease to aid each other. We cannot exist without mutual help. All therefore that need aid and have a right to ask it from their fellowmen; and no one who has the power of granting can refuse it without guilt." -

"Fear is the tax that conscience pays to guilt." - George Sewell

"Nothing more unqualifies a man to act iwth prudence, than a misfortune that is attended with shame and guilt." - Jonathan Swift, pen names, M.B. Drapier, Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff

"Man's freedom is his inner worth; His guilt alone can rob him of it." - M. Beer

"The suicide is guilt of a double offence; one spiritual, in invading the prerogative of the Almighty... the other temporal, against the king." - William Blackstone, fully Sir William Blackstone

"Guilt soon learns to lie." - Mary Elizabeth Braddon

"Guilt is the very nerve of sorrow." - Horace Bushnell

"When a nation has allowed itself to fall under a tyrannical regime, it cannot be absolved from the faults due to the guilt of that regime." -

"Guilt is ever at a loss, and confusion waits upon it; when innocence and bold truth are always ready for expression." - William Congreve

"Sin with the multitude, and your responsibility and guilt are as great and as truly personal, as if you alone had done the wrong." - Tyron Edwards

"To be sure, if it is the purpose of educators to stifle the child’s power of independent thought as early as possible, in order to produce that ‘good behavior’ which is so highly prized, they cannot do better than deceive children in sexual matters and intimidate them by religious means. The stronger characters will, it is true, withstand these influences; they will become rebels against the authority of their parents and later against every other form of authority. When children do not receive the explanations for which they turn to their elders, they go on tormenting themselves in secret with the problem, and produce attempts at solution in which the truth they have guessed is mixed up in the most extraordinary way with grotesque inventions; or else they whisper confidences to each other which, because of the sense of guilt in the youthful inquirers, stamp everything sexual as horrible and disgusting." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"It is criminal to steal a purse, daring to steal a fortune, a mark of greatness to steal a crown. The blame diminishes as the guilt increases." - Friedrich Schiller, fully Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

"Christianity bears a huge burden of guilt... We shall continue to have a worsening ecological crisis until we reject the Christian axiom that nature has no reason for existence save to serve man." - Lynn White, Jr., fully Lynn Townsend White, Jr.

"It is counterproductive to assume we have created every misfortune in our life, as if we had made a conscious intention to do so. That kind of thinking leads to guilt and despair. Nevertheless, a sincere willingness to acknowledge that we have certain beliefs that have created our situation will enrich our approach to working through obstacles." - Carol Adrienne

"Man’s freedom is his inner worth... His guilt alone can rob him of it." - Michael Beer

"The myth of integration as propounded under the banner of the liberal ideology must be cracked because it makes people believe that something is being achieved when in reality the artificially integrated circles are a sophomoric to the blacks while salving the consciences of the few guilt-stricken whites." - Steve Biko, fully Stephen "Steve" Bantu Biko

"To live by the code of “do as you please regardless” is to become a prisoner of your own moral corruption. It is to be troubled by guilt and tormented by the inconsistency of living contrary to the demands of your own conscience and moral nature. You simply cannot be satisfied while ignoring any part of your nature." - Joe Boot

"To “justify” means nothing else than to acquit of guilt him who was accused as if his own innocence were confirmed." -

"Glory, built on selfish principles, is shame and guilt." - William Cowper

"The apportioning of blame [is] the means by which society obtains a modicum of revenge for the wrong it has suffered, expiates its own guilt for such responsibility as it may have had for the event in question, and finally seeks to prevent a repetition of the disaster." - Norman F. Dixon

"Pessimism about man serves to maintain the status quo. It is a luxury for the affluent, a sop to the guilt of the politically inactive, a comfort to those who continue to enjoy the amenities of privilege." - Leon Eisenberg

"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

"The root of the guilt problem lies in human nature itself, in our failure as human being to live in accordance with our potentialities and our vision of the good." - J. Glenn Gray

"The issue we should all ponder is moral, not legal; responsibility, rather than guilt; prevention rather than punishment." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"I am glad I am guilt of some sins, else I might be guilt of one of the greatest sins of all - conceit." -

"Its effects on the soul is to be measured neither by the guilt nor by the temporal punishment inexorably fixed, but by that deep sense of loneliness it brings with it." - Bede Jarrett

"It is not a gain that guilt should be wholly forgotten. On the contrary, it is loss and perdition. But it is a gain to win an inner intensity of heart through a deeper and deeper inner sorrowing over guilt." -

"Life, for all its agonies of despair and loss and guilt, is exciting and beautiful, amusing and artful and endearing, full of liking and love, at times a poem and a high adventure, at times noble and at times very gay; and whatever (if anything) is to come after it--we shall not have this life again." -

"The whole earth cannot satisfy the lust of the flesh; who can do its will? To him who longs for the impossible come guilt and bafflement of desire; but he who is utterly without desire has a happiness that ages not." - Shantideva NULL

"Guilt is thus intimately related to possibility or potentiality. When the "call of conscience" is heard (that is, the call that brings one back to facing one's "authentic" (mode of being), one is always "guilty" and guilty to the extent that one has failed to fulfill authentic possibility." - Irvin David Yalom

"The existential concept of guilt adds something even more important than the broadening of the scope of "accountability." Most simply put: one is guilty not only through transgressions against another or against some moral or social code, but one may be guilty of transgression against oneself." - Irvin David Yalom

"It is deliberate purpose that constitutes wickedness and criminal guilt." - Aristotle NULL

"The man who believes firmly that the Creator of the universe loves him and cares infinitely what he dose with his life - this man is automatically freed from much of the self-distrust that afflicts less certain men. Fear, guilt, hostility, anger - these are the emotions that stifle thought and impede action. By reducing or eliminating them, religious faith makes boldness possible, and boldness makes achievement possible." - Arthur Gordon