Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Contradiction

"Teamwork is the quintessential contradiction of a society grounded in individual achievement. " - Marvin Weisbord

"We must, however, not deceive ourselves – this naive belief does not exist nowadays even among common people, and it cannot be revived by backwards oriented (rückwärts gerichtete) considerations and measures. Since to believe means to consider something true (fürwahrhalten), and the growing knowledge of the nature, proceeding forwards incessantly along incontestably reliable path, had led to the result that for a man educated at least slightly in natural sciences it is entirely (schlechterdings) impossible to consider as reliable many reports about extraordinary events contradicting natural laws, about miracles (Naturwunder) which used to be generally accepted as essential support and confirmation (Bekräftigung) of religious teachings and which people considered formerly as facts without critical examination (Bedenken). The one who takes his religion really seriously and cannot tolerate that it gets into contradiction with his knowledge (Wissen), is facing the question of conscience whether he can still honestly consider himself to be a member of religious community which in its confession (Bekenntnis) contains belief in miracles. For a certain period of time many a believer could find a kind of reconciliation in an effort to take the middle way and to restrict his belief to acceptance (Anerkennung) of few miracles, considered to be extremely important. However, such a position is not tenable for a long time. The belief in miracles must retreat step by step before relentlessly and reliably progressing science and we cannot doubt that sooner or later it must vanish completely (zu Ende gehen muss). " - Max Planck, fully Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck

"Having discovered what requirements religion and sciences put on our attitude to the uppermost questions of the world view, we are now going to investigate whether, and to what extent, those two kinds of requirements can be brought into mutual agreement. It is primarily evident that this investigation (Prüfung) can concern only such laws in which religion and sciences meet each other. There are namely many fields in which they do not have anything in common. For example, all questions of ethics are irrelevant for natural sciences, equally as the values of natural constants are of no meaning for the religion. The religion and science meet, on the contrary, in the question about the existence and essence of the supreme power (Macht) governing the world, and here the answers they both furnish, are at least to a certain extent mutually comparable. They are in no way, as we have seen, in contradiction (Widerspruch), but they agree in that firstly, there exists a reasonable world order (vernünftiger Weltordnung) independent from man and secondly, the essence of this order is never knowable directly, but only indirectly, or it can be only intuitively guessed. Religion uses to this effect its own specific (eigentümlichen) symbols, exact sciences use measurements based on sensual perceptions. In this sense nothing prevents us – and our instinct of knowledge, demanding a unified world view, even requires it – to identify the world order of natural sciences with the god of religion (Gott der Religion). According to this, the deity (die Gottheit), which believing man strives to approach using his visual symbols, is in its essence identical (wesensgleich) with the power of natural laws (naturgesetzlichen Macht), about which the researching man learns to a certain extent with the help of sensual experiences." - Max Planck, fully Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck

"The world of science lives fairly comfortably with paradox. We know that light is a wave, and also that light is a particle. The discoveries made in the infinitely small world of particle physics indicate randomness and chance, and I do not find it any more difficult to live with the paradox of a universe of randomness and chance and a universe of pattern and purpose than I do with light as a wave and light as a particle. Living with contradiction is nothing new to the human being." - Madeleine L’Engle

"The market came with the dawn of civilization and it is not an invention of capitalism. If it leads to improving the well-being of the people there is no contradiction with socialism." - Mikhail Gorbachev, fully Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev

"The State, therefore, is the most flagrant, the most cynical, and the most complete negation of humanity. It shatters the universal solidarity of all men on the earth, and brings some of them into association only for the purpose of destroying, conquering, and enslaving all the rest. It protects its own citizens only; it recognises human rights, humanity, civilisation within its own confines alone. Since it recognises no rights outside itself, it logically arrogates to itself the right to exercise the most ferocious inhumanity toward all foreign populations, which it can plunder, exterminate, or enslave at will. If it does show itself generous and humane toward them, it is never through a sense of duty, for it has no duties except to itself in the first place, and then to those of its members who have freely formed it, who freely continue to constitute it or even, as always happens in the long run, those who have become its subjects. As there is no international law in existence, and as it could never exist in a meaningful and realistic way without undermining to its foundations the very principle of the absolute sovereignty of the State, the State can have no duties toward foreign populations. Hence, if it treats a conquered people in a humane fashion, if it plunders or exterminates it halfway only, if it does not reduce it to the lowest degree of slavery, this may be a political act inspired by prudence, or even by pure magnanimity, but it is never done from a sense of duty, for the State has an absolute right to dispose of a conquered people at will. This flagrant negation of humanity which constitutes the very essence of the State is, from the standpoint of the State, its supreme duty and its greatest virtue. It bears the name patriotism, and it constitutes the entire transcendent morality of the State. We call it transcendent morality because it usually goes beyond the level of human morality and justice, either of the community or of the private individual, and by that same token often finds itself in contradiction with these. Thus, to offend, to oppress, to despoil, to plunder, to assassinate or enslave one's fellowman is ordinarily regarded as a crime. In public life, on the other hand, from the standpoint of patriotism, when these things are done for the greater glory of the State, for the preservation or the extension of its power, it is all transformed into duty and virtue. And this virtue, this duty, are obligatory for each patriotic citizen; everyone is supposed to exercise them not against foreigners only but against one's own fellow citizens, members or subjects of the State like himself, whenever the welfare of the State demands it." - Mikhail Bakunin, fully Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin

"Television’s way of knowing is uncompromisingly hostile to typography’s way of knowing; that television’s conversations promote incoherence and triviality; that the phrase “serious television” is a contradiction in terms; and that television speaks in only one persistent voice—the voice of entertainment. " - Neil Postman

"I must try to enjoy all the graces that God has given me today. Grace cannot be hoarded. There are no banks where it can be deposited to be used when I feel more at peace with myself. If I do not make full use of these blessings, I will lose them forever… I refuse to walk faintly through life only to arrive safely at death... I think that, with age, people come to realize that death is inevitable. And we need to learn to face it with serenity, wisdom and resignation. Death often frees us from a lot of senseless sufferings… I see no contradiction between my search and personal happiness." - Paulo Coelho

"The fact that certain members of the oppressor class join the oppressed in their struggle for liberation, thus moving from one pole of the contradiction to the other... Theirs is a fundamental role, and has been throughout the history of this struggle. It happens, however, that as they cease to be exploiters or indifferent spectators or simply the heirs of exploitation and move to the side of the exploited, they almost always bring with them the marks of their origin: their prejudices and their deformations, which include a lack of confidence in the people's ability to think, to want, and to know. Accordingly, these adherents to the people's cause constantly run the risk of falling into a type of generosity as malefic as that of the oppressors. The generosity of the oppressors is nourished by an unjust order, which must be maintained in order to justify that generosity. Our converts, on the other hand, truly desire to transform the unjust order; but because of their background they believe that they must be the executors of the transformation. They talk about the people, but they do not trust them; and trusting the people is the indispensable precondition for revolutionary change. A real humanist can be identified more by his trust in the people, which engages him in their struggle, than by a thousand actions in their favor without that trust. " - Paulo Freire

"Education must begin with the solution of the teacher-student contradiction, by reconciling the poles of the contradiction so that both are simultaneously teachers and students." - Paulo Freire

"As a matter of strict logic, perhaps, there is no contradiction in taking an interest in animals on both compassionate and gastronomic grounds. If a person is opposed to the infliction of suffering on animals, but not to the painless killing of animals, he could consistently eat animals that had lived free of all suffering and been instantly, painlessly slaughtered. Yet practically and psychologically it is impossible to be consistent in one's concern for nonhuman animals while continuing to dine on them. If we are prepared to take the life of another being merely in order to satisfy our taste for a particular type of food, then that being is no more than a means to our end. In time we will come to regard pigs, cattle, and chickens as things for us to use, no matter how strong our compassion may be; and when we find that to continue to obtain supplies of the bodies of these animals at a price we are able to pay it is necessary to change their living conditions a little, we will be unlikely to regard these changes too critically. The factory farm is nothing more than the application of technology to the idea that animals are means to our ends. Our eating habits are dear to us and not easily altered. We have a strong interest in convincing ourselves that our concern for other animals does not require us to stop eating them. No one in the habit of eating an animal can be completely without bias in judging whether the conditions in which that animal is reared caused suffering." - Peter Singer

"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

"All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was na" - Ralph Ellison, fully Ralph Waldo Ellison

"It goes a long way back, some twenty years. All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naive. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: That I am nobody but myself. But first I had to discover that I am an invisible man!" - Ralph Ellison, fully Ralph Waldo Ellison

"Governments have worked hard to get growth started again. But, to the very limited degree that this effort temporarily succeeded in late 2009 and 2010, it did so by ignoring the underlying contradiction at the heart of our entire economic system " - Richard Heinberg

"Perhaps the story you finish is never the one you begin." - Salman Rushdie, fully Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie

"It's not about having any particular experience. The practice is about opening to whatever presents itself." - Shunryu Suzuki, also Daisetsu Teitaro or D.T. Suzuki or Suzuki-Roshi

"In the small matters trust the mind, in the large ones the heart." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"When a man's life is destroyed or damaged by some wound or privation of soul or body, which is due to other men's actions or negligence, it is not only his sensibility that suffers but also his aspiration toward the good. Therefore there has been sacrilege towards that which is sacred in him." - Simone Weil

"A man attaches himself to woman -- not to enjoy her, but to enjoy himself." - Simone de Beauvoir, fully Simone-Ernestine-Lucie-Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir

"A secret atheism, or a partial atheism, is the spring of all the wicked practices in the world: the disorders of the life spring from the ill dispositions of the heart." - Stephen Charnock

"It is less injury to Him to deny His being, than to deny the purity of it; the one makes Him no God, the other a deformed, unlovely, and a detestable God. He that saith God is not holy speaks much worse that he that saith there is no God at all." - Stephen Charnock

"A man's silence is wonderful to listen to. Though a good deal is too strange to be believed, nothing is too strange to have happened." - Thomas Hardy

"Discovering the contemplative life is a new self-discovery. One might say it is the flowering of a deeper identity on an entirely different plane from a mere psychological discovery, a paradoxical new identity that is found only in loss of self. To find one’s self by losing one’s self: that is part of ‘contemplation.’" - Thomas Merton

"The dread of being open to the ideas of others generally comes from our hidden insecurity about our own convictions. We fear that we may be converted – or perverted – by a pernicious doctrine. On the other hand, if we are mature and objective in our open-mindedness, we may find that viewing things from a basically different perspective – that of our adversary – we discover our own truth in a new light and are able to understand our own ideal more realistically." - Thomas Merton

"It is a fraud of the Christian system to call the sciences human invention; it is only the application of them that is human. Every science has for its basis a system of principles as fixed and unalterable as those by which the universe is regulated and governed. Man cannot make principles, he can only discover them." - Thomas Paine

"Mutual fear is a principal link in the chain of mutual love." - Thomas Paine

"Blindness is never bashful, for the one simple reason that that blindness cannot see." - Wilkie Collins, fully William Wilkie Collins

"Properly pursued, the Art of Cookery allows of no divided attention." - Wilkie Collins, fully William Wilkie Collins

"True remorse depends, to my mind, on a man's accurate knowledge of his own motives." - Wilkie Collins, fully William Wilkie Collins

"It is an insistence that the love of God happens in praxis, not in thought or in piety, and that “knowledge of God” is a relational reality, a point well recognized by John Calvin: “All right knowledge of God is born of obedience.”" - Walter Brueggemann

"The purpose of preaching and of worship is transformation." - Walter Brueggemann

"A significant part of the pleasure of eating is in one's accurate consciousness of the lives and the world from which the food comes." - Wendell Berry

"I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love." - Wendell Berry

"Making every allowance for the errors of the most extreme fallibility, the history of Catholicism would on this hypothesis represent an amount of imposture probably unequaled in the annals of the human race." - W. E. H. Lecky, fully William Edward Hartpole Lecky

"Even when Darwin's teaching first made its appearance, it became clear at once that its scientific, materialist core, its teaching concerning the evolution of living nature, was antagonistic to the idealism that reigned in biology." - Trofim Lysenko, fully Trofim Denisovich Lysenko

"Liberty is one of the best of all sublunary advantages. I would willingly therefore communicate knowledge, without infringing, or with as little possible violence to, the volition and individual judgment of the person to be instructed." - William Godwin

"For all organisms, then, opposing and obliterating power is evil – it threatens to stop experience. But men are truly sorry creatures because they have made death conscious. They can see evil in anything that wounds them, causes ill health, or even deprives them of pleasure. Consciousness means too that they have to be preoccupied with evil even in the absence of any immediate danger; their lives become a meditation on evil and a planned venture for controlling it and forestalling it." - Ernest Becker

"In fact, the French - who read and theorise the most - became so addicted to political experiment that in the two centuries since our own rather drab revolution they have exuberantly produced one Directory, one Consulate, two empires, three restorations of the monarchy, and five republics. That's what happens when you take writing too seriously." - Gore Vidal, fully Eugene Luther Gore Vidal

"What other creatures are bred so exquisitely and purposefully for mistreatment as women are?" - Euripedes NULL