§ "Of all the horrid, hideous notes of woe,
Sadder than owl songs or the midnight blast,
Is that portentous phrase, I told you so." (Lord Byron)
¶ "Nothing else in the world ... not all the armies ... is so powerful as an idea whose time has come." (Victor Hugo.)
¶ "The cruelty of ideas lies in the assumption that human beings can be bent to fit them."
[Paul Johnson, Intellectuals (New York: Harper & Row, 1988), p 268.]
¶ "There seems to be a constant decay of all our Ideas, even of those which are struck deepest." (John Locke)
¶ "If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of Giants." (Isaac Newton)
IDEAS & THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD
¶ "When I had taken in any new idea, I could not rest till I had adjusted its relation to my old opinions, and ascertained exactly how far its effect ought to extend in modifying or superseding them." (John Stuart Mill, Autobiography.)
IDEAS, MARKET OF ...
¶ We should look to the definition and the operation of the market (see blupete's commentary of -- February 21st, 1999) and to understand that market principles apply equally well to ideas. It is the best argument against totalitarianism. In a totalitarian state, disputes (at times unmanageable) arise between the people and the central authority; to be compared with a democracy with a limited government, where disputes are generally between individuals or small groups (and which are manageable through an independent judiciary).
¶ "There are four classes of Idols which beset men's minds. To these for distinction's sake I have assigned names: calling the first class, Idols of the Tribe; the second, Idols of the Cave; the third, Idols of the Market-Place; the fourth, Idols of the Theater." (Francis Bacon, Novum Organum, Aphorism 39.)
¶ "Where ignorance is bliss 'tis folly to be wise."
¶ "Ignorance is the softest pillow on which a man can rest his head." (Attributed to Montaigne)
¶ [Imagination is] that wondrous faculty, which, left to ramble uncontrolled, leads us astray into a wilderness of perplexities and errors, a land of mists and shadows; but which properly controlled by experience and reflection, becomes the noblest attribute of man: the source of poetic genius, the instrument of discovery ... (Sir Benjamin Brodie, in an address to the Royal Society, 1859; as quoted by John Tyndall, Fragments.)
¶ "He would stand, like the Schoolman's Ass, irresolute and undetermined, betwixt equal Motives." (David Hume)
¶ A true individualist will hold to his own independent judgment, even when others agree with him.
¶ "The young spirit pants to enter society. But all the ways of culture and greatness lead to solitary imprisonment. [Only, Emerson continues, "inflamed individualism" will keep one away from the herd.]"
¶ "Among them, but not of them; in a shroud
Of thoughts which were not their thoughts." (Lord Byron)
¶ "But Oh! ye lords of ladies intellectual,
Inform us truly, have they not henpecked you all?" (Lord Byron)
¶ "It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare." (Edmund Burke)
¶ "It would be well if gentlemen, before they joined in a cry against any establishment, had well considered for what purpose that cry is raised." (Edmund Burke)
¶ "No rational man ever did govern himself, by abstractions and universals." (Edmund Burke)
¶ "Every individual necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally indeed neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. He intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good." (Adam Smith)
¶ "The notion that truths external to the mind may be known by
intuition or consciousness, independently of observation and
experience, is, I am persuaded, in these times, the great
intellectual support of false doctrines and bad institutions. By
the aid of this theory, every inveterate belief and every intense
feeling, of which the origin is not remembered, is enabled to
dispense with the obligation of justifying itself by reason, and
is erected into its own all-sufficient voucher and justification." (John Stuart Mill, Autobiography.)
¶ "... the Irish regard the British as strangers and neighbors with whom intimate friendship is impracticable, Ireland has appeared to the British mind as a recurring inconvenience, a distant relative always wanting relief, a wayward being whose ardent enthusiasm is not to be comprehended. The Irish mind is by nature politically disposed; it is romantic, adventurous, readily roused to fight for a cause. The Briton's temperament is rather to rely on undisturbed government, to let well alone, to preserve an equable poise, to respond slowly when invited to perform emotional acts." [Chatterton, A Life of William Pitt, (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1930).]
¶ "Italy is a land of volcanoes, more or less subdued. It is a great grapery, built over a flue. If the earthquake did not come, it was thought the crops were not so good." [Leigh Hunt's Autobiography (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1870).]
¶ "I love the language, that soft bastard Latin,
Which melts like kisses from a female mouth." (Lord Byron)
¶ "Italia! O Italia! thou who hast
The fatal gift of beauty." (Lord Byron)