The principle that human nature, in its psychological aspects, is nothing more than a product of history and given social relations removes all barriers to coercion and manipulation by the powerful.
—Noam Chomsky (b.1928) American Linguist, Social Critic
Too many people confine their exercise to jumping to conclusions, running up bills, stretching the truth, bending over backward, lying down on the job, sidestepping responsibility and pushing their luck.
However exquisitely human nature may have been described by writers, the true practical system can be learned only in the world.
—Henry Fielding (1707–54) English Novelist, Dramatist
The man of power is ruined by power, the man of money by money, the submissive man by subservience, the pleasure seeker by pleasure.
—Hermann Hesse (1877–1962) German-born Swiss Novelist, Poet
There is nothing that can be changed more completely than human nature when the job is taken in hand early enough.
—George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) Irish Playwright
It is human nature to think wisely and act foolishly.
—Anatole France (1844–1924) French Novelist
It is a pleasure to give advice, humiliating to need it, normal to ignore it.
I have never, in all my various travels, seen but two sorts of people I mean men and women, who always have been, and ever will be, the same. The same vices and the same follies have been the fruit of all ages, though sometimes under different names.
—Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689–1762) English Aristocrat, Poet, Novelist, Writer
There is an electric fire in human nature tending to purify—so that among these human creatures there is continually some birth of new heroism. The pity is that we must wonder at it, as we should at finding a pearl in rubbish.
—John Keats (1795–1821) English Poet
Really I don’t like human nature unless all candied over with art.
—Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) English Novelist
I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, human liberty as the source of national action, the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas.
—John F. Kennedy (1917–63) American Head of State, Journalist
What is called an acute knowledge of human nature is mostly nothing but the observer’s own weaknesses reflected back from others.
—Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–99) German Philosopher, Physicist
Man has demonstrated that he is master of everything—except his own nature.
—Henry Miller (1891–1980) American Novelist
It will be very generally found that those who sneer habitually at human nature, and affect to despise it, are among its worst and least pleasant samples.
—Charles Dickens (1812–70) English Novelist
There is a great deal of human nature in people.
—Mark Twain (1835–1910) American Humorist
My nature is subdued to what it works in, like the dyer’s hand.
—William Shakespeare (1564–1616) British Playwright
Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.
—Albert Einstein (1879–1955) German-born Physicist
It is almost impossible to smile on the outside without feeling better on the inside.
There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult.
—Warren Buffett (b.1930) American Investor
Mutability of temper and inconsistency with ourselves is the greatest weakness of human nature.
—Joseph Addison (1672–1719) English Essayist, Poet, Playwright, Politician
Nature is trying very hard to make us succeed, but nature does not depend on us. We are not the only experiment.
—Buckminster Fuller (1895–1983) American Inventor, Philosopher
Human nature is not of itself vicious.
—Thomas Paine (1737–1809) American Nationalist, Author, Pamphleteer, Radical, Inventor
We are all murderers and prostitutes—no matter to what culture, society, class, nation one belongs, no matter how normal, moral, or mature, one takes oneself to be.
—R. D. Laing (1927–89) Scottish Psychiatrist
Poor human nature, what horrible crimes have been committed in thy name!
—Emma Goldman (1869–1940) Lithuanian-American Anarchist, Feminist
Now I believe I can hear the philosophers protesting that it can only be misery to live in folly, illusion, deception and ignorance, but it isn’t—it’s human.
—Desiderius Erasmus (c.1469–1536) Dutch Humanist, Scholar
Are you appalled at existing conditions? Don’t waste your energy trying to change conditions from without! Change the Human Heart from within.
—William J. H. Boetcker (1873–1962) American Presbyterian Minister
The only thing that one really knows about human nature is that it changes. Change is the one quality we can predicate of it. The systems that fail are those that rely on the permanency of human nature, and not on its growth and development. The error of Louis XIV was that he thought human nature would always be the same. The result of his error was the French Revolution. It was an admirable result.
—Oscar Wilde (1854–1900) Irish Poet, Playwright
It is not human nature we should accuse but the despicable conventions that pervert it.
—Denis Diderot (1713–84) French Philosopher, Writer