Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Vice

"Hatred is the vice of narrow souls; they feed it with all their littlenesses, and make it the pretext of base tyrannies." - Honoré de Balzac

"How can we explain the perpetuity of envy - a vice which yields no return?" - Honoré de Balzac

"Sentiment and principle are often mistaken for each other, though, in fact, they widely differ. Sentiment is the virtue of ideas; principle the virtue of action. Sentiment has its seat in the had; principle, in the heart. Sentiment suggest fine harangues and subtle distinctions; principle conceives just notions, and performs good actions in consequence of them. Sentiment refines away the simplicity of truth, and the plainness of piety; and "gives us virtue in words, and vice in deeds."" - Hugh Blair

"As faintness is a disease of the body, so is vice a sickness of the mind. Wherefore, since we judge those that have corporal infirmities to be rather worthy of compassion than hatred, much more are they to be pitied, and not abhorred, whose minds are oppressed with wickedness, the greatest malady that may be." - Boethius, fully Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius NULL

"False modesty is the masterpiece of vanity: showing the vain man in such an illusory light that he appears in the reputation of the virtue quite opposite to the vice which constitutes his real character; it is a deceit." - Jean de La Bruyère

"My will does not produce the motive power to move my limbs. Rather, he who imparted motion to matter, and ordained its laws, shaped my will also; he thus joined together two utterly different things - the movement of matter and the decision of my will in such a way that whenever my will desires some action, the desired bodily movement will occur and vice versa, without there being any causation involved, or any influence of the one upon the other. It is just as if there were two clocks appropriately adjusted with reference to each other and the time of day in such a way that when one struck the hour the other immediately did likewise." - Arnold Geulincx

"There is no truth which personal vice will not distort." - Josiah Gilbert Holland, also Joshua Gilbert Holland

"The tender mind is oft deterred from vice by another's shame." - Horace, full name Quintus Horatius Flaccus NULL

"To flee from vice is the beginning of virtue." - Horace, full name Quintus Horatius Flaccus NULL

"Morality is determined by sentiment. It defines virtue to be whatever mental action or quality gives to a spectator the pleasing sentiment of approbation; and vice the contrary." - David Hume

"The distinction of vice and virtue is not founded merely on the relations of objects, nor is perceiv’d by reason." - David Hume

"Like gluttony or drunkenness, hatred seems an agreeable vice when you practice it yourself, but disgusting when observed in others." - William Henry Irwin, aka "Will"

"Where secrecy or mystery begins, vice or roguery is not far off." -

"Bad passions become more odious in proportion as the motives to them are weakened; and gratuitous vice cannot be too indignantly exposed to reprehension. No man ever arrived suddenly at the summit of vice." - Juvenal, fully Decimus Junius Juvenalis NULL

"There will be nothing more that posterity can add to our immoral habits; our descendants must have the same desires and act the same follies as their sires. Every vice has reached its zenith." - Juvenal, fully Decimus Junius Juvenalis NULL

"The rewards of vice and virtue are like the shadow following the substance." -

"Weaknesses, so called, are nothing more nor less than vice in disguise!" - Johann Kaspar Lavater

"Selfishness is a vice utterly at variance with the happiness of him who harbors it, and as such, condemned by self-love." - James Mackintosh, fully Sir James Mackintosh

"There is not a vice which more effectually contracts and deadens the feelings, which more completely makes a man’s affections center in himself, and excludes all others from partaking in them, than the desire of accumulating possessions. When the desire has once gotten hold of the heart, it shuts out all other considerations, but such as may promote its views. In its zeal for the attainment of its end, it is not delicate in the choice of means. As it closes the heart, so also it clouds the understanding. It cannot discern between right and wrong; it takes evil for good, and good for evil; it calls darkness light, and light darkness. Beware, then, of the beginning of covetousness, for you know not where it will end." - Richard Mant

"Lust is a vice sooner condemned than banished." - William Mason

"Slander is perhaps the only vice which no circumstance can palliate, as well as being one which we are most ingenious in concealing form ourselves." - Jean Baptiste Massillon

"Every duty brings its peculiar delight, every denial its appropriate compensation, every thought its recompense, every love its elysium, every cross its crown; pay goes with performance as effect with cause. Meanness overreaches itself; vice vitiates whoever indulges it; the wicked wrong their own souls; generosity greatens; virtue exalts; charity transfigures; and holiness is the essence of angelhood. God does not require us to live on credit; he pays us what we earn as we earn it, good or evil, heaven or hell, according to our choice." - Arundell Charles St. John-Mildmay

"The most effective way of attacking vice is to expose it to public ridicule. People can put up with rebukes but they cannot bear being laughed at: they are prepared to be wicked but they dislike appearing ridiculous." - Molière, pen name of Jean Baptiste Poquelin NULL

"In truth, knowledge is a great and very useful quality; those who despise it give evidence enough of their stupidity. But yet I do not set its value at that extreme measure that some attribute to it, like Herillus the philosopher, who placed in it the sovereign good, and held that it was in its power to make us wise and content. That I do not believe, nor what others have said, that knowledge is the mother of all virtue, and all vice is produced by ignorance. If that is true, it is subject to a long interpretation." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"Knowledge is the mother of all virtue; all vice proceeds from ignorance." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"For most or even all forms of evil serve the Universe - much as the poisonous snake has it use - though in most cases their function is unknown. Vice itself has many useful sides: it brings about much that is beautiful, in artistic creations for example, and it stirs us to thoughtful living, not allowing us to drowse in security." - Plotinus NULL

"Gaze not on beauty too much, lest it blast thee; nor too long, lest it blind thee; nor too near, lest it burn thee. If thou like it, it deceives thee; if thou love it, it disturbs thee; if thou hunt after it, it destroys thee. If virtue accompany it, it is the heart’s paradise; if vice associate it, it is the soul’s purgatory. It is the wise man’s bonfire, and the fool’s furnace." - Francis Quarles

"The fountain of beauty is the heart, and every generous thought illustrates the walls of your chamber. If virtue accompanies beauty it is the heart's paradise; if vice be associate with it, it is the soul's purgatory. It is the wise man's bonfire, and the fools furnace." - Francis Quarles

"What is good readily changes for the worse, but you can never turn vice into virtue." - Quintilian, fully Marcus Fabius Quintilianus, also Quintillian and Quinctilian NULL

"One vice spilles a greate noumber of vertues." - Barnaby Rich

"No act is ever, in virtue of falling under some general description, necessarily actually right... moral acts often (as every one knows) and indeed always (on reflection we must admit) have different characteristics that tend to make them a the same time prima facie right and prima facie wrong; there is probably no act, for instance, which does good to anyone without doing harm to someone else, and vice versa." - W. D. Ross, fully Sir William David Ross

"If idleness do not produce vice or malevolence, it commonly produces melancholy." - Sydney Smith

"I know no evil so great as the abuse of the understanding, and yet there is no one vice more common." - Richard Steele, fully Sir Richard Steele

"There is no vice or folly that requires so much nicety and skill to manage as vanity; nor any which by ill management makes so contemptible a figure." - Jonathan Swift, pen names, M.B. Drapier, Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff

"There is no vice which mankind carries to such wild extremes as that of avarice." - Jonathan Swift, pen names, M.B. Drapier, Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff

"He who hates vice hates men. [hate [moral] failings and you hate people]" - Publilius Clodius Thrasea Paetus (sometimes inverted Paetus Thrasea)

"The hypocrite's crime is that he bears false witness against himself. What makes it so plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices is that integrity can indeed exist under the cover of all vices except this one." - Lionel Trilling

"To have no virtue or no vice is equally without precedent." -

"Virtue and vice are both prophets; the first, of certain good; the second, of pain or else of penitence." - Ralph Venning

"Debt is the secret foe of thrift, as vice and idleness are its open enemies." - John H. Aughey, fully John Hill Aughey

"Hatred is the vice of narrow souls; they feed it with all their littlenesses, and make it the pretexts of base tyrannies." - Honoré de Balzac

"There is neither vice nor virtue, there are only circumstances." - Honoré de Balzac

"The most fearful characteristic of vice is its irresistible fascination - the ease with which it sweeps away resolution, and wins a man to forget his momentary outlook, and his throb of penitence, in the embrace of indulgence." - Edwin Hubbell Chapin

"Pride, like ambition, is sometimes virtuous and sometimes vicious, according the character in which it is found, and the object to which it is directed. As a principle, it is the parent of almost every virtue and every vice - everything that pleases and displeases in mankind; and as the effects are so very different, nothing is more easy than to discover, even to ourselves, whether the pride that produces them is virtuous or vicious the first object of virtuous pride is rectitude, and the next independence." - Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke, de jure 13th Baron Latimer and 5th Baron Willoughby de Broke

"No vice is so bad as advice." - Marie Dressler

"Public opinion cannot do for virtue what it does for vice. It is the essence of virtue to look above opinion. Vice is consistent with, and very often strengthened by, entire subservience to it." - Benjamin Franklin

"A divine power, mystery, delight, love - and a host of other unquantifiables - are personal realities proven only by themselves, by experience. Even scientific terms such as randomness hint at something ultimately unprovable by strictly scientific means. The phenomena encompass the discipline, not vice versa." - Stuart Litvak and A. Wayne Senzee

"To look for a purpose in Life outside Life itself amounts to killing Life. Reason is given by Life, not vice versa. Life is prior to meaning... Human life is joyful interrogation. Any answer is blasphemy." - Raimon Panikkar, fully Raimon Panikkar-Alemany