Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Indifference

"Perhaps misguided moral passion is better than confused indifference." -

"Anger is not only inevitable, it is necessary. Its absence means indifference - the most disastrous of all human failings." - Arthur Ponsonby, 1st Baron Ponsonby of Shulbrede

"Sacredness of human life! The world has never believed it! It has been with life that we settled our quarrels, won wives, gold, and land, defended ideas, imposed religions. We have held that a death toll was a necessary part of every human achievement, whether sport, war, or industry. A moment's rage over the horror of it; and we have sunk into indifference." -

"Whatever happens to one people affects all people; I plead against indifference." -

"The opposite of death is not life; it's indifference." -

"If our freedom means ease alone, if it means shirking the hard disciplines of learning, if it means evading the rigors and rewards of creative activity, if it means more expenditure on advertising than education, if it means in the schools the steady cult of the trivial and the mediocre, if it means - worst of all - indifference, or even contempt for all but athletic excellence, we may keep for a time the forms of free society, but its spirit will be dead." - Adlai Ewing Stevenson

"If our freedom means ease alone, if it means shirking the hard disciplines of learning, if it means evading the rigors and rewards of creative activity, if it means more expenditure on advertising than education, if it means in the schools the steady cult of the trivial and the mediocre, if it means - worst of all - indifference, or even contempt for all but athletic excellence, we may keep for a time the forms of free society, but its spirit will be dead." -

"If our freedom means ease alone, if it means shirking the hard disciplines of learning, if it means evading the rigors and rewards of creative activity, if it means more expenditure on advertising than education, if it means in the schools the steady cult of the trivial and the mediocre, if it means - worst of all - indifference, or even contempt for all but athletic excellence, we may keep for a time the forms of free society, but its spirit will be dead." -

"Patience does not mean indifference. We may work and trust and wait, but we ought not to be idle or careless while waiting." - Alexander Hamilton

"Nature, in her indifference, makes no distinction between good and evil." -

"Joy and sorrow are not ideas of the mind but affections of the will, and so they do not lie in the domain of memory. We cannot recall our joys and sorrows; by which I mean we cannot renew them. We can recall only the ideas that accompanied them; and, in particular, the things we were led to say; and these form a gauge of our feelings at the time. Hence our memory of joys and sorrows is always imperfect, and they become a matter of indifference to us as soon as they are over." - Arthur Schopenhauer

"How much happier would the religious history of the world been if the different religions and sects had seen their role as contributors to a common stream of seeking for the Ultimate, which always escapes the conceptual net, yet perennially inspires the search. Actually many in the modern world are becoming tolerant toward religion in the wrong way. Their tolerance is not a product of understanding but is bred of indifference. They see the conventional forms in which religion is practiced as empty shells although they excite in their defense belligerent intolerance." - Arthur W Osborn

"There are three modes of bearing the ills of life; by indifference, which is the most common; by philosophy, which is the most ostentatious; and by religion, which is the most effectual." - Charles Caleb Colton

"The only kind of dignity which is genuine is that which is not diminished by the indifference of others." - Dag Hammarskjöld

"Age generally makes men more tolerant; youth is always discontented. The tolerance of age is the result of the ripeness of a judgment which, not merely as the result of indifference, is satisfied even with what is inferior, but, more deeply taught by the grave experience of life, has been led to perceive the substantial, sold worth of the object in question. The insight then to which - in contradistinction fro those ideals - philosophy is to lead us, is, that the real world is as it ought to be, that the truly good, the universal divine reason, is not a mere abstraction, but a vital principle capable of realizing itself." - Georg Hegel, fully Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

"Love cannot endure indifference. It needs to be wanted. Like a lamp, it needs to be fed out of the oil of another’s heart, or its flame burns low." - Henry Ward Beecher

"Realizing that no simple formulas apply to everyone, we develop the courage to live a unique spiritual life, in our own idiosyncratic way. While archetypal patterns exist to guide seekers, in the West individuals can find their won way within these deeper patterns by honoring their unique backgrounds, temperaments, values and creative capacities... We commit ourselves to passionate action in the world, without becoming overly attached to the success or failure of our endeavors... In spiritual maturity, recognizing that such an attitude of indifference stems from a fear of life, we commit to our spouses, professions, and social action, developing compassion and equanimity through a balanced engagement with life." - Jack Kornfield

"The brevity of our life, the dullness of our senses, the torpor of our indifference, the futility of our occupation, suffer us to know but little: and that little is soon shaken and then torn from the mind by the traitor to learning, that hostile and faithless stepmother to memory, oblivion." - John of Salisbury NULL

"So natural to mankind is intolerance in whatever they really care bout, that religious freedom has hardly anywhere been practically realized, except where religious indifference, which dislikes to have its peace disturbed by theological quarrels, has added its weight to the scale." - John Stuart Mill

"Wine heightens indifference into love, love into jealousy, and jealousy into madness. It often turns the good-natured man into an idiot, and the choleric into an assassin. It give bitterness to resentment, it makes vanity insupportable, and displays every little spot of the soul in its utmost deformity." - Joseph Addison

"Desire is half of life; indifference is half of death." - Kahlil Gibran

"Where there is no difference, there is only indifference." - Louis Nizer

"Many people with different backgrounds, cultures, languages, and creeds combine to make a nation. But that nation is greater than the sum total of the individual skills and talents of its people. Something more grows out of their unity than can be calculated by adding the assets of individual contributions. That intangible additional quantity is often due to the differences which make the texture of the nation rich. Therefore, we must never wipe out or deride the differences amongst us-for where there is no difference, there is only indifference." - Louis Nizer

"Beware of an inordinate desire for wealth. Nothing is so revealing of narrowness and littleness of soul than love for money. Conversely, there is nothing more honorable or noble than indifference to money, if one doesn’t have any; or than genuine altruism and well-doing if one does have it." - Cicero, fully Marcus Tullius Cicero, anglicized as Tully NULL

"Courage is nothing less than indifference to hardship and pain." - Cicero, fully Marcus Tullius Cicero, anglicized as Tully NULL

"The price of eternal vigilance is indifference." -

"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." - Plato NULL

"The great make us feel, first of all, the indifference of circumstances. They call into activity the higher perceptions, and subdue the low habits of comfort and luxury; but the higher perceptions find their objects everywhere; only the low habits need palaces and banquets." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Religion is as effectively destroyed by bigotry as by indifference." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Religion is the relation of the soul to God, and therefore the progress of sectarianism marks the decline of religion. Religion is as effectively destroyed by bigotry as by indifference." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"As to the freedom of the will, a very different account must be given of it as it exists in God and as its exists for us... That idea of good impelled God to choose one thing rather than another... Thus that supreme indifference in God is the supreme proof of his omnipotence. But as to man, since he finds the nature of all goodness and truth already determined by God, and his will cannot bear upon anything else, it is evident that he embraces the true and the good the more willingly and hence the more freely in proportion as he sees the true and the good more clearly, and that he is never indifferent save when he does not know what is the more true or the better, or at least when he does not see clearly enough to prevent him from doubting about it. Thus the indifference which attaches to human liberty is very different from that which belongs to the divine." - René Descartes

"Nothing precludes sympathy so much as a perfect indifference to it." - William Hazlitt

"Nature, in her indifference, makes no distinction between good and evil." - Anatole France, pen name of Jacques Anatole Francois Thibault

"Perhaps misguided moral passion is better than confused indifference." - Iris Murdoch, aka Dame Jean Iris Murdoch

"If moderation is a fault then indifference is a crime." - Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

"It is a matter of perfect indifference where a thing originated; the only question is: "Is it true in and for itself?"" - Georg Hegel, fully Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

"The truth is that it is our attitude towards children that is right, and our attitude towards grown-up people that is wrong. Our attitude towards our equals in age consists in a servile solemnity, overlying a considerable degree of indifference or disdain. Our attitude towards children consists in a condescending indulgence, overlying an unfathomable respect." - Gilbert Keith "G.K." Chesteron

"Moral indifference is the malady of the cultivated classes. " - Henri Frédéric Amiel

"Everything proceeds as if of its own accord, and this can all too easily tempt us to relax and let things take their course without troubling over details. Such indifference is the root of all evil." - I Ching, Book of Changes or Zhouyi NULL

"Everything proceeds as if of its own accord and this can all too easily tempt us to relax and let things take their course without troubling over details. Such indifference is the root of all evil." - I Ching, Book of Changes or Zhouyi NULL

"This comparative indifference to clearness and consistency of thought is visible even in that chief object of our national concern, education." - Irving Babbitt

"All politics are based on the indifference of the majority." - James Barrett Reston, nicknamed "Scotty"

"In reality, the difference is, that the savage lives within himself while social man lives outside himself and can only live in the opinion of others, so that he seems to receive the feeling of his own existence only from the judgement of others concerning him. It is not to my present purpose to insist on the indifference to good and evil which arises from this disposition, in spite of our many fine works on morality, or to show how, everything being reduced to appearances, there is but art and mummery in even honour, friendship, virtue, and often vice itself, of which we at length learn the secret of boasting; to show, in short, how abject we are, and never daring to ask ourselves in the midst of so much philosophy, benevolence, politeness, and of such sublime codes of morality, we have nothing to show for ourselves but a frivolous and deceitful appearance, honour without virtue, reason without wisdom, and pleasure without happiness." -

"In reality, the difference is, that the savage lives within himself while social man lives outside himself and can only live in the opinion of others, so that he seems to receive the feeling of his own existence only from the judgment of others concerning him. It is not to my present purpose to insist on the indifference to good and evil which arises from this disposition, in spite of our many fine works on morality, or to show how, everything being reduced to appearances, there is but art and mummery in even honor, friendship, virtue, and often vice itself, of which we at length learn the secret of boasting; to show, in short, how abject we are, and never daring to ask ourselves in the midst of so much philosophy, benevolence, politeness, and of such sublime codes of morality, we have nothing to show for ourselves but a frivolous and deceitful appearance, honor without virtue, reason without wisdom, and pleasure without happiness. " - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"The surest way to suppress our ability to understand the meaning of God and the importance of worship is to take things for granted. Indifference to the sublime wonder of living is the root of sin. Modern man fell into the trap of believing that everything can be explained, that reality is a simple affair which has only to be organized in order to be mastered. " - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"Mathematicians do not study objects, but the relations between objects; to them it is a matter of indifference if these objects are replaced by others, provided that the relations do not change. Matter does not engage their attention, they are interested in form alone." - Henri Poincaré, fully Jules Henri Poincaré

"Nature is not benevolent; with ruthless indifference she makes all things serve their purposes. " - Lao Tzu, ne Li Urh, also Laotse, Lao Tse, Lao Tse, Lao Zi, Laozi, Lao Zi, La-tsze

"The future of the world no longer disturbs me; I do not try still to calculate, with anguish, how long or how short a time the Roman peace will endure; I leave that to the Gods. Not that I have acquired more confidence in their justice, which is not our justice, or more faith in human wisdom; the contrary is true. Life is atrocious, we know. But precisely because I expect little of the human condition, man's periods of felicity, his partial progress, his efforts to begin over again and to continue, all seem to me like so many prodigies which nearly compensate for monstrous mass of ills and defeats, of indifference and error. Catastrophe and ruin will come; disorder will triumph, but order will too, from time to time. Peace will again establish itself between two periods and there regain the meaning which we have tried to give them. Not all our books will perish, nor our statues, if broken, lie unrepaired; other domes and pediments will rise from our domes and pediments; some few men will think and work and feel as we have done, and I venture to count upon such continuators, placed irregularly throughout the centuries, and upon this kind of intermittent immortality." - Marguerite Yourcenar, pseudonym for Marguerite Cleenewerck de Crayencour

"The technique of a great seducer requires a facility and an indifference in passing from one object of affection to another which I could never have; however that may be, my loves have left me more often than I have left them, for I have never been able to understand how one could have enough of any beloved. The desire to count up exactly the riches which each new love brings us, and to see it change, and perhaps watch it grow old, accords ill with multiplicity of conquests." - Marguerite Yourcenar, pseudonym for Marguerite Cleenewerck de Crayencour

"Conservatives are fond of telling us what a wonderful, happy, prosperous nation this is. The only thing that matches their love of country is the remarkable indifference they show toward the people who live in it." - Michael Parenti