Fanaticism is a term for belief or behavior involving uncritical zeal, particularly for extreme religious or political causes, often insisting upon very strict standards with little or no tolerance for contrary ideas or opinions. It is also used as a term for generally less dangerous but still pronounced forms of zeal, such as those involved in sports, or enthusiasms for a pastime or hobby.
- Alphabetized by author
- As a musician I tell you that if you were to suppress adultery, fanaticism, crime, evil, the supernatural, there would no longer be the means for writing one note.
- Georges Bizet, in a letter to Edmond Galabert, and G. (October 1866), as quoted in Letters of Composers: An Anthology, 1603-1945 (1946) edited by Gertrude Norman and Miriam Lubell Shrifte, p. 241
- The interval between the decay of the old and the formation and establishment of the new constitutes a period of transition which must always necessarily be one of uncertainty, confusion, error, and wild and fierce fanaticism.
- John C. Calhoun, in A Disquisition on Government (1851), p. 90
- It is precisely because an ideal is necessary to man that the man without ideals is in permanent danger of fanaticism.
- G. K. Chesterton, in Heretics (1905), Ch. XX : Concluding Remarks on the Importance of Orthodoxy
- The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not.
- Eric Hoffer, in The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature Of Mass Movements (1951), Section 62
- A doctrine insulates the devout not only against the realities around them but also against their own selves. The fanatical believer is not conscious of his envy, malice, pettiness and dishonesty. There is a wall of words between his consciousness and his real self.
- Eric Hoffer, in The Passionate State Of Mind, and Other Aphorisms (1955), Section 68
- Success makes men rigid and they tend to exalt stability over all the other virtues; tired of the effort of willing they become fanatics about conservatism.
- Walter Lippmann, statement of 1913, quoted in American Patriotism in Prose and Verse, 1775-1918 (1919) edited by Jesse Madison Gathany
- No government is ever really in favor of so-called civil rights. It always tries to whittle them down. They are preserved under all governments, insofar as they survive at all, by special classes of fanatics, often highly dubious.
- H. L. Mencken, in Minority Report : H.L. Mencken's Notebooks (1956), 33
- The worst government is often the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.
- H. L. Mencken, as quoted in The Oxford Dictionary of Political Quotations (1996) edited by Antony Jay
- I always disagree … when people end up saying that we can only combat Communism, Fascism or what not if we develop an equal fanaticism. It appears to me that one defeats the fanatic precisely by not being a fanatic oneself, but on the contrary by using one's intelligence.
- George Orwell, in a letter to Richard Rees (3 March 1949)
- What is fanaticism today is the fashionable creed tomorrow, and trite as the multiplication table a week after.
- Wendell Phillips, as quoted in Latest Interpretation (1886) by Samuel A. Gardner, p.152
- The key to all fanatical beliefs is that they are self-confirming....(some beliefs are) fanatical not because they are "false", but because they are expressed in such a way that they can never be shown to be false.
- Neil Postman, in "Fanaticism" in Crazy Talk, Stupid Talk (1976), p. 104
- The cardinal doctrine of a fanatic's creed is that his enemies are the enemies of God.
- Andrew Dickson White, in The History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1898), Vol. II, Ch. xvi, p. 149
- If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.
- William Wilberforce, addressing attacks on his anti-slavery positions in 1816, as quoted in The Life of William Wilberforce (1838) by Robert Isaac Wilberforce and Samuel Wilberforce