After all, if you believe that no one was ever corrupted by a book, you also have to believe that no one was ever improved by a book (or a play or a movie). You have to believe, in other words, that all art is morally trivial and that, consequently, all education is morally irrelevant. No one, not even a university professor, really believes that.
Somehow, the fact that more poor people are on welfare, receiving more generous payments, does not seem to have made this country a nice place to live – not even for the poor on welfare, whose condition seems not noticeably better than when they were poor and off welfare. Something appears to have gone wrong; a liberal and compassionate social policy has bred all sorts of unanticipated and perverse consequences.
An intellectual may be defined as a man who speaks with general authority about a subject on which he has no particular competence.
People need religion. It’s a vehicle for a moral tradition. A crucial role. Nothing can take its place.
No modern nation has ever constructed a foreign policy that was acceptable to its intellectuals
Power breeds responsibilities, in international affairs as in domestic—or even private. To dodge or disclaim these responsibilities is one form of the abuse of power.
I have observed over the years that the unanticipated consequences of social action are always more important, and usually less agreeable, than the intended consequences.
It requires strength of character to act upon one’s ideas; it requires no less strength of character to resist being seduced by them.
Nostalgia is one of the legitimate and certainly one of the most enduring of human emotions; but the politics of nostalgia is at best distracting, at worst pernicious.
What rules the world is idea, because ideas define the way reality is perceived.
Doing good isn’t [that] hard. It’s just doing a lot of good that is very hard. If your aims are modest, you can accomplish an awful lot. When your aims become elevated beyond a reasonable level, you not only don’t accomplish much, you can cause a great deal of damage.
Young people, especially, are looking for religion so desperately that they are inventing new ones. They should not have to invent new ones; the old religions are pretty good.
Topics: Patience, Resilience, Wisdom, Hope
When we lack the will to see things as they really are, there is nothing so mystifying as the obvious.
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- Sidney Hook American Social Philosopher
- Al Gore American Politician, Environmentalist
- Abbie Hoffman American Political Activist
- Heywood Broun American Journalist
- Duke Ellington American Musician
- Norman Podhoretz American Political Activist
- Bob Woodward American Journalist
- Stephen Jay Gould American Paleontologist
- Alvin Toffler American Writer, Futurist
- Douglas R. Hofstadter American Scientist, Author