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Some Important Sayings Related to Ethics (Dr. Peter Krey for the Ethics Course at Vista Community College)

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Important Sayings Related to Ethics

“True unity differentiates, it does not confound. [1] (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin) (Uniformity is external. Unity provides an internal bond.)

“Socrates called down philosophy from the skies and implanted it in the cities and homes of people.” (Cicero)

“The European philosophical tradition consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.” (Alfred North Whitehead)

“Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” (Lord Acton)

“The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of.” (Blaise Pascal) (Our emotional processes have to be taken into account.)

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” (Socrates)

“Man is the measure of all things, of things that are, that they are, and of things that are not, that they are not.” (Protagoras)

“The divine intellect is the measure of all things.” (Thomas Aquinas)

“Hate traps us in the past, love opens the future.” (from Nicholas Berdyaev)

“We hang petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” (Aesop)

“All generalizations are false, including this one.” (Blaise Pascal)

“Faith and God belong together. Whatever your heart clings to and trusts in, I tell you, is really your God.” (Martin Luther)

“For the Word of God comes, whenever it comes, to change and renew the world.” (Martin Luther in Bondage of the Will)

“Philosophers have all variously interpreted the world, the point, however, is to change it.”   (Karl Marx)

“A law is a measure and rule of human acts” and reason is the first principle of human acts…. “It follows therefore that law is something pertaining to reason.” and “It is universally right for all humans that all their inclinations should be directed by reason.” (Thomas Aquinas)

“Take any action allow’d to be vicious: willful murder, for instance. Examine it in all its lights, and see if you can find that matter of fact, or real existence, which you call vice. In whichever way you take it, you find only certain passions, motives, volitions, and thoughts. There is no other matter of fact in the case. The vice entirely escapes you, as long as you consider the object. You never find it, till you turn your reflexion into your own breast, and find a sentiment….” (David Hume)

“It’s one thing to talk about a promise, it is quite another to make one.” (J.L. Austin, who discovered performatives in How to Do Things with Words)

“You can have democracy or the unequal distribution of wealth, but you can’t have both.” (Chief Justice Brandeis)

“You can’t step into the same river twice” and “Everything changes but change itself.” (Heraclitus)

“I must again repeat, what the assailants of Utilitarianism seldom have the justice to acknowledge, that the happiness which forms the utilitarian standard of what is right in conduct, is not the agent’s own happiness, but that of all concerned.” (John Stuart Mill)

“Two things fill the soul with new and ever increasing wonder and awe, the more often and longer I contemplate them: the stars in the heavens over me, and the moral law within me.” (Immanuel Kant)

“In the state of nature, there is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no culture on earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving, and removing, such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” (Thomas Hobbes)

“Justice is the good of others” and “the best is not the one who practices virtue in regard to him or herself, but who practices it toward others.” (Aristotle)

“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately corrupt. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah)

Asked by Napoleon, if he believed in God, La Place answered, “I have no need of that hypothesis.”


[1]More fully, translated from the Pierre Teilhard’s French: Opposing the individual to the group is a false habit of mind: The coming together of separate elements does nothing to eliminate their differences. On the contrary, it exalts them. In every practical sphere true union (that is to say, synthesis) does not confound; it differentiates. From The Future of Man.

Written by peterkrey

September 21, 2011 at 6:20 pm

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