By measuring individual human worth, the novelist reveals the full enormity of the State’s crime when it sets out to crush that individuality.
—Ian McEwan British Novelist, Short-Story Writer
And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in all the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual.
—John Steinbeck (1902–68) American Novelist, Short Story Writer, Journalist
The individual in the ordinary circumstances of living may feel more unreal than real; in a literal sense, more dead than alive; precariously differentiated from the rest of the world, so that his identity and autonomy are always in question…. He may not possess an over-riding sense of personal consistency or cohesiveness. He may feel more insubstantial than substantial, and unable to assume that the stuff he is made of is genuine, good, valuable. And he may feel his self as partially divorced from his body.
—R. D. Laing (1927–89) Scottish Psychiatrist
Individuality is the aim of political liberty. By leaving to the citizen as much freedom of action and of being, as comports with order and the rights of others, the institutions render him truly a freeman. He is left to pursue his means of happiness in his own manner.
—James Fenimore Cooper (1789–1851) American Novelist
It is said that if Noah’s ark had had to be built by a company, they would not have laid the keel yet; and it may be so. — What is many men’s business is nobody’s business. — The greatest things are accomplished by individual men.
—Charles Spurgeon (1834–92) English Baptist Preacher
A gesture cannot be regarded as the expression of an individual, as his creation (because no individual is capable of creating a fully original gesture, belonging to nobody else), nor can it even be regarded as that person’s instrument; on the contrary, it is gestures that use us as their instruments, as their bearers and incarnations.
—Milan Kundera (b.1929) Czech Novelist
Never follow the crowd.
—Bernard M. Baruch (1870–1965) American Financier, Economic Consultant
Practical to the end,
it is the poem
of his existence
—William Carlos Williams (1883–1963) American Poet, Novelist, Cultural Historian
We need not be afraid to touch, to feel, to show emotion. The easiest thing in the world is to be what you are, what you feel. The hardest thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don’t let them put you in that position.
—Leo Buscaglia (1924–98) American Motivational Speaker
To be nobody-but-yourself–in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else–means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.
—e. e. cummings (1894–1962) American Poet, Writer, Painter
Writers write to influence their readers, their preachers, their auditors, but always, at bottom, to be more themselves.
—Aldous Huxley (1894–1963) English Humanist, Pacifist, Essayist, Short Story Writer, Satirist
Once you admit that the individual is merely a means to serve the ends of a higher entity called society or the nation, most of those features of totalitarian regimes which horrify us follow of necessity. From the collectivist standpoint, intolerance and brutal suppression of dissent, the complete disregard of the life and happiness of the individual, are essential and unavoidable consequences of this basic premise; and the collectivist can admit this and at the same time claim that his system is superior to one in which the
—Friedrich Hayek (1899–1992) British Economist, Social Philosopher
Do what you feel in your heart to be right—for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.
—Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962) American First Lady, Diplomat, Humanitarian
Seeing God without seeing the Self, one sees only mental image. Only he who has seen Himself has seen God, since he has lost individuality, and now sees nothing but God.
—Ramana Maharshi (1879–1950) Indian Hindu Mystic
The mass of men lead quiet lives of desperation.
—Henry David Thoreau (1817–62) American Philosopher
In each individual the spirit is made flesh, in each one the whole of creation suffers, in each one a Savior is crucified.
—Hermann Hesse (1877–1962) German-born Swiss Novelist, Poet
Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.
—Oprah Winfrey (b.1954) American TV Personality
Each man must grant himself the emotions that he needs and the morality that suits him.
—Remy de Gourmont (1858–1915) French Poet, Novelist, Critic
This above all—to thine own self be true; And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.
—William Shakespeare (1564–1616) British Playwright
Each man must have his “I”; it is more necessary to him than bread; and if he does not find scope for it within the existing institutions he will be likely to make trouble.
—Charles Cooley (1864–1929) American Sociologist
Comrades! We must abolish the cult of the individual decisively, once and for all.
—Nikita Khrushchev (1894–1971) Russian Head of State, Political leader
No one can transcend their own individuality.
—Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860) German Philosopher
I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is no path, and I will leave a trail.
—Muriel Strode (1875–1964) American Author, Businesswoman
Be content to be what you are, and prefer nothing to it, and do not fear or wish for your last day.
—Martial (40–104) Ancient Roman Latin Poet
I don’t think of myself as a poor deprived ghetto girl who made good. I think of myself as somebody who from an early age knew I was responsible for myself, and I had to make good.
—Oprah Winfrey (b.1954) American TV Personality
Obscenity is our name for the uneasiness which upsets the physical state associated with self-possession, with the possession of a recognized and stable individuality.
—Georges Bataille (1897–1962) French Essayist, Intellectual
And truly it demands something godlike in him who cast off the common motives of humanity and ventured to trust himself for a taskmaster.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) American Philosopher