Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.


"Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Freedom lies beyond conformity or rebellion." - Sam Keen

"What is in conformity with justice should also be in conformity to the laws." - Socrates NULL

"Endeavor to be always patient of the faults and imperfections of others; for thou has many faults and imperfections of thine own that require forbearance. If thou art not able to make thyself that which thou wishest, how canst thou expect to mold another in conformity to thy will?" - Thomas Kempis, aka Thomas à Kempis, Thomas von Kempen, Thomas Haemerkken or Hammerlein or Hemerken or Hämerken

"Differences of opinion give me but little concern; but it a real pleasure to be brought into communication with anyone who is in earnest, and who really looks to God's will as his standard of right and wrong, and judges of actions according to their greater or lesser conformity." - Thomas Arnold

"Jung equates the unconscious with the soul, and so when we try to live fully consciously in an intellectually predictable world, protected form all mysteries and comfortable with conformity, we lose our everyday opportunities for the soulful life. The intellect wants to know; the soul likes to be surprised. Intellect, looking outward, wants enlightenment and the pleasure of a burning enthusiasm. The soul, always drawn inward, seeks contemplation and the more shadowy, mysterious experience of the underworld." - Thomas Moore

"The pressure that has been brought to bear upon the native people, since the cessation of armed conflict, in the attempt to force conformity of custom and habit has caused a reaction more destructive than war, and the injury has not only affected the Indian, but has extended to the white population as well. Tyranny, stupidity, and lack of vision have brought about the situation now alluded to as the “Indian Problem.”" - Chief Luther Standing Bear

"The essence of a free life is being able to choose the style of living you prefer free from exclusion and without the compulsion of conformity or law." - Eleanor Holmes Norton

"The unity in productive (creative) work is not interpersonal; the unity achieved in orgiastic fusion is transitory; the unity achieved by conformity is only pseudo-unity. Hence they are only partial answers to the problem of existence. The full answer lies in the achievement of interpersonal union, of fusion with another person, in love. " - Erich Fromm, fully Erich Seligmann Fromm

"The hired preachers of all sects, creeds, and religions, never do, and never can, teach any thing but what is in conformity with the opinions of those who pay them. " - Frances Wright, known as Fanny Wright

"The whole drift of our law is toward the absolute prohibition of all ideas that diverge in the slightest from the accepted platitudes, and behind that drift or law there is far more potent force of growing custom, and under that custom there is a national philosophy which erects conformity into the noblest of virtues and the free functioning of personality into a capital crime against society. " - H. L. Mencken, fully Henry Louis Mencken

"“I, for one, hope that youth will again revolt and again demoralize the dead weight of conformity that now lies upon us." - Howard Mumford Jones

"Has there ever been a society which has died of dissent? Several have died of conformity in our lifetime." - Jacob Bronowski

"We cannot expect that all nations will adopt like systems, for conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth. " - John F. Kennedy, fully John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy

"Each man had only one genuine vocation-to find the way to himself... . His task was to discover his own destiny-not an arbitrary one-and live it out wholly and resolutely within himself. Everything else was only a would be existence, an attempt at evasion, a flight back to the ideals of the masses, conformity and fear of one's own inwardness." - Herman Hesse

"A self that is only differentiated - not integrated - may attain great individual accomplishments, but risks being mired in self-centered egotism. By the same token, a person who self is based exclusively on integration will be well connected and secure, but lack autonomous individuality. Only when a person invests equal amounts of psychic energy in these two processes and avoids both selfishness and conformity is the self likely to relect complexity." - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, native form is Csíkszentmihályi Mihály

"My dignity as a man, my human right which consists of refusing to obey any other man, and to determine my own acts in conformity with my convictions is reflected by the equally free conscience of all and confirmed by the consent of all humanity. My personal freedom, confirmed by the liberty of all, extends to infinity. The materialistic conception of freedom is therefore a very positive, very complex thing, and above all, eminently social, because it can be realized only in society and by the strictest equality and solidarity among all men." - Mikhail Bakunin, fully Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin

"In any culture, subculture, or family in which belief is valued above thought, and self-surrender is valued above self-expression, and conformity is valued above integrity, those who preserve their self-esteem are likely to be heroic exceptions." - Nathaniel Branden

"Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. " - Paulo Freire

"Whatever the child's initial reaction, though, the point to notice is that we eat animal flesh long before we are capable of understanding that what we are eating is the dead body of an animal. Thus we never make a conscious, informed decision, free from the bias that accompanies any long-established habit, reinforced by all the pressures of social conformity to eat animal flesh. At the same time, children have a natural love of animals, and our society encourages them to be affectionate toward animals such as dogs and cats and toward cuddly, stuffed animals. These facts help to explain that most distinctive characteristic of the attitudes of children in our society to animals - namely, that rather than having one unified attitude to animals, the child has two conflicting attitudes that coexists, carefully segregated so that the inherent contradiction between them rarely causes trouble. " - Peter Singer

"Justice requires that to lawfully constituted Authority there be given that respect and obedience which is its due; that the laws which are made shall be in wise conformity with the common good; and that, as a matter of conscience all men shall render obedience to these laws. " - Pope Pius XI, born Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti NULL

"It is by the aid of iron that we construct houses, cleave rocks, and perform so many other useful offices of life. But it is with iron also that wars, murders, and robberies are effected, and this, not only hand to hand, but from a distance even, by the aid of missiles and winged weapons, now launched from engines, now hurled by the human arm, and now furnished with feathery wings. This last I regard as the most criminal artifice that has been devised by the human mind; for, as if to bring death upon man with still greater rapidity, we have given wings to iron and taught it to fly. ... Nature, in conformity with her usual benevolence, has limited the power of iron, by inflicting upon it the punishment of rust; and has thus displayed her usual foresight in rendering nothing in existence more perishable, than the substance which brings the greatest dangers upon perishable mortality. " - Pliny the Elder, full name Casus Plinius Secundus NULL

"Justice requires that to lawfully constituted Authority there be given that respect and obedience which is its due; that the laws which are made shall be in wise conformity with the common good; and that, as a matter of conscience all men shall render obedience to these laws" -

"I am convinced that creativity is a priori to the integrity of the universe and that life is regenerative and conformity meaningless." - Buckminster Fuller, fully Richard Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller

"There is no such thing as a neutral educational process. Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. " - Richard Shaull, fully Reverend M. Richard Shaull

"I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself." - Rita Mae Brown

"The reward for conformity was that everyone liked you except yourself." - Rita Mae Brown

"it will be easier for you to bring him around to where you want him more by gentleness and patience than by being too uncompromising." - Saint Vincent de Paul

"Gaskell could not abide this indecorous version of his beloved linear progress theory. He could not bear to imagine that the grand procession from jellyfish to man, orchestrated by an ever-increasing mass of nervous tissue, once paused in its stately and orderly march toward human consciousness in order to execute a fancy little flip, a clever jig of inversion, just at the sublime and definitive moment of entrance into the vertebral home stretch." - Stephan Jay Gould

"Perhaps randomness is not merely an adequate description for complex causes that we cannot specify. Perhaps the world really works this way, and many events are uncaused in any conventional sense of the word. Perhaps our gut feeling that it cannot be so reflects only our hopes and prejudices, our desperate striving to make sense of a complex and confusing world, and not the ways of nature." - Stephan Jay Gould

"Reason and free inquiry are the only effective agents against error. Give a loose to them, they will support the true religion by bringing every false one to their tribunal, to the test of their investigation. They are the natural enemies of error and error only. Had not the Roman government permitted free inquiry, Christianity could never have been introduced. Had not free inquiry been indulged at the era of the Reformation, the corruption of Christianity could not have been purged away." - Thomas Jefferson

"It is true that recent developments in physics have led some to believe that it may after all be incapable of providing a conception of what is really there, independent of observation. But I do not wish to argue that since the idea of objective reality has to be abandoned because of quantum theory anyway, we might as well go the whole hog and admit the subjectivity of the mental. Even if, as some physicists think, quantum theory cannot be interpreted in a way that permits the phenomena to be explained without reference to an observer, the ineliminable observer need not be a member of any particular species like the human, to whom things look and feel in highly characteristic ways. This does not therefore require that we let in the full range of subjective experience. The central problem is not whether points of view must be admitted to the account of the physical world. Whatever may be the answer to that question, we shall still be faced with an independent problem about the mind. It is the phenomena of consciousness themselves that pose the clearest challenge to the idea to the idea that physical objectivity gives the general form of reality. In response I want not to abandon the idea of objectivity entirely, but rather to suggest that the physical is not its only possible interpretation." - Thomas Nagel

"Article 8 - The United Nations shall place no restrictions on the eligibility of men and women to participate in any capacity and under conditions of equality in its principal and subsidiary organs." - United Nations NULL

"Faith in all its sheer simplicity! Faith that takes God precisely at His Word! Faith that simply says, "Thank You."" - W. Ian Thomas, fully Walter Ian Thomas

"I have been accused of denying consciousness but I am not conscious of having done so." - Willard Quine, fully Willard Van Orman Quine

"We are suffering today from a species of Christianity as dry as dust, as cold as ice, as pale as a corpse, and as dead as King Tut. We are suffering not from a lack of correct heads but of consumed hearts." - Vance Havner

"Keeping another person waiting is a basic tactic for defining him as inferior and oneself as superior." - Thomas Szasz, fully Thomas Stephen Szasz

"So soon as the possession of property becomes the basis of popular esteem, therefore, it becomes also a requisite to that complacency which we call self-respect." - Thorstein Veblen, fully Thorstein Bunde Veblen, born Torsten Bunde Veblen

"We may seem great in an employment below our worth, but we very often look little in one that is too big for us." - François de La Rochefoucauld, François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac, Francois A. F. Rochefoucauld-Liancourt

"The growth of modern constitutional government compels for its successful practice the exercise of reason and considerate judgment by the individual citizens who constitute the electorate." - Elihu Root