15 August, 2009

Illuminating Thoughts

Each of the following quotes either exemplifies critical thought, or illuminates a problem in human thought which critical thinking addresses.

But if thought is to become the possession of many, not the privilege of the few, we must have done with fear. It is fear that holds men back — fear lest their cherished beliefs should prove delusions, fear lest the institutions by which they live should prove harmful, fear lest they themselves should prove less worthy of respect than they have supposed themselves to be.
~ Bertrand Russell (Principles of Social Reconstruction)

You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees. An evil system never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil. A good person will resist an evil system with his or her whole soul.
~ Mahatma Gandhi

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
~ George Orwell

Big Government and Big Business ... will try to impose social and cultural uniformity upon adults and their children. To achieve this they will (unless prevented) make use of all the mind-manipulating techniques at their disposal and will not hesitate to reinforce these methods of non-rational persuasion by economic coercion and threats of physical violence. If this kind of tyranny is to be avoided, we must begin without delay to educate ourselves and our children for freedom and self-government. Such an education for freedom should be ... first of all in facts and in values — the facts of individual diversity and genetic uniqueness and the values of freedom, tolerance and mutual charity, which are the ethical corollaries of these facts.
~ Aldous Huxley: (Brave New World Revisited)

The voice of protest, of warning, of appeal is never more needed than when the clamor of fife and drum, echoed by the press and too often by the pulpit, is bidding all men fall in and keep step and obey in silence the tyrannous word of command. Then, more than ever, it is the duty of the good citizen not to be silent.
~ Charles Eliot Norton

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.
~ Bertrand Russell

The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.
~ Aldous Huxley

The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same.
~ Stendhal

The great masses of the people…will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one.
~ Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1933

Any formal attack on ignorance is bound to fail because the masses are always ready to defend their most precious possession – their ignorance.
~ Hendrik Van Loon

The trouble with most folks isn’t so much their ignorance, as knowing so many things that ain’t so.
~ Josh Billings

I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.
~ Thomas Jefferson

I am mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, the sale of a book can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too.
~ Thomas Jefferson

Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public mind.
~ General William Westmoreland

So long as a man rides his hobbyhorse peaceably and quietly along the King’s highway, and neither compels you or me to get up behind him – pray, Sir, what have either you or I to do with it?
~ Laurence Sterne, 1759

Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in their readiness to doubt.
~ H. L. Mencken

The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.
~ Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, 1801

It is not only vain, but wicked, in a legislator to frame laws in opposition to the laws of nature, and to arm them with the terrors of death. This is truly creating crimes in order to punish them.
~ Thomas Jefferson, 1779

We are all tolerant enough of those who do not agree with us, provided only they are sufficiently miserable.
~ David Grayson

We learn from history that we do not learn from history.
~ George Wilhelm Hegel

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.
~ George Bernard Shaw

There is no slavery but ignorance. Liberty is the child of intelligence.
~ Robert G. Ingersoll

The highest result of education is tolerance.
~ Helen Keller

Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.
~ Malcolm S. Forbes

Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic diseases of the twentieth century, and more than anywhere else this disease is reflected in the press.
~ Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression.
~ Thomas Paine, 1795

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
~ Edmund Burke, 1770

The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.
~ Dante

We think so because other people all think so; or because – or because – after all we do think so; or because we were told so, and think we must think so; or because we once thought so, and think we still think so; or because, having thought so, we think we will think so…
~ Henry Sidgwick

To every complex question there is a simple answer and it is wrong…
~ H.L. Mencken

These quotes have been pulled from a number of resources, and many can be found in any good book on famous quotations.