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Born in BCE[edit]

Lao Tzu[edit]

老子 Lǎozǐ (c. 6th-5th century BCE) was a Chinese monist philosopher; also called Lao Zi, Lao Tzu, Lao Tse, or Lao Tze.  The Tao Te Ching (道德經, Pinyin: Dào Dé Jīng, or Dao De Jing) represents the sole document generally attributed to Laozi.

Socrates[edit]

As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.

Socrates [Σωκράτης] (c. 470 BC399 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher who is widely credited for laying the foundation for Western philosophy.

Socrates left no writings of his own, thus our awareness of his teachings comes primarily from a few ancient authors who referred to him in their own works (see Socratic problem).

As quoted by Plato[edit]

The words of Socrates, as quoted or portrayed in Plato's works, which are the most extensive source available for our present knowledge about his ideas.
  • Wonder is the feeling of a philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder.
  • ἐγὼ δὲ οὐδὲν ἐπίσταμαι πλέον πλὴν βραχέος, ὅσον λόγον παρ᾽ ἑτέρου σοφοῦ λαβεῖν καὶ ἀποδέξασθαι μετρίως.
    • I myself know nothing, except just a little, enough to extract an argument from another man who is wise and to receive it fairly.
      • Theaetetus, 161b
  • μοι νυνὶ γέγονεν ἐκ τοῦ διαλόγου μηδὲν εἰδέναι· ὁπότε γὰρ τὸ δίκαιον μὴ οἶδα ὅ ἐστιν, σχολῇ εἴσομαι εἴτε ἀρετή τις οὖσα τυγχάνει εἴτε καὶ οὔ, καὶ πότερον ὁ ἔχων αὐτὸ οὐκ εὐδαίμων ἐστὶν ἢ εὐδαίμων.
    • As for me, all I know is that I know nothing, for when I don't know what justice is, I'll hardly know whether it is a kind of virtue or not, or whether a person who has it is happy or unhappy.
      • Republic, 354b-c (conclusion of book I)
      • Confer Apology 21d (see below), Theaetetus 161b (see above) and Meno 80d1-3: "So now I do not know what virtue is; perhaps you knew before you contacted me, but now you are certainly like one who does not know."
      • Confer Cicero, Academica, Book I, section 1: "ipse se nihil scire id unum sciat ("He himself thinks he knows one thing, that he knows nothing"). Often quoted as "scio me nihil scire" or "scio me nescire." A variant is found in von Kues, De visione Dei, XIII, 146 (Werke, Walter de Gruyter, 1967, p. 312): "...et hoc scio solum, quia scio me nescire... [I know alone, that (or because) I know, that I do not know]." In the modern era, the Latin quote was back-translated to Greek as "ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα", hèn oîda hóti oudèn oîda). (See also "I know that I know nothing.")

Apology[edit]

Plato's account of the trial of Socrates.
  • πρὸς ἐμαυτὸν δ᾽ οὖν ἀπιὼν ἐλογιζόμην ὅτι τούτου μὲν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐγὼ σοφώτερός εἰμι· κινδυνεύει μὲν γὰρ ἡμῶν οὐδέτερος οὐδὲν καλὸν κἀγαθὸν εἰδέναι, ἀλλ᾽ οὗτος μὲν οἴεταί τι εἰδέναι οὐκ εἰδώς, ἐγὼ δέ, ὥσπερ οὖν οὐκ οἶδα, οὐδὲ οἴομαι· ἔοικα γοῦν τούτου γε σμικρῷ τινι αὐτῷ τούτῳ σοφώτερος εἶναι, ὅτι ἃ μὴ οἶδα οὐδὲ οἴομαι εἰδέναι.
    • When I left him, I reasoned thus with myself:  I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I do.  In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know.
      • 21d
  • For if you kill me, you will not easily find another such person at all, even if to say in a ludicrous way, attached on the city by the god, like on a large and well-bred horse, by its size and laziness both needing arousing by some gadfly; in this way the god seems to have fastened me on the city, some such one who arousing and persuading and reproaching each one of you I do not stop the whole day settling down all over. Thus such another will not easily come to you, men, but if you believe me, you will spare me; but perhaps you might possibly be offended, like the sleeping who are awakened, striking me, believing Anytus, you might easily kill, then the rest of your lives you might continue sleeping, unless the god caring for you should send you another.
    • 30e
  • If I had engaged in politics, I should have perished long ago and done no good to either you or to myself. ...for the truth is that no man who goes to war with you or any other multitude, honestly struggling against the commission of unrighteouosness and wrong in the State, will save his life; he who will really fight for right, if he would live even for a little while, must have a private station and not a public one.
    • 31e
  • I have had no regular disciples: but if anyone likes to come and hear me while I am pursuing my mission, whether he be young or old, he may freely come.  …whether he turns out to be a bad man or a good one, that cannot be justly laid to my charge, as I never taught him anything.
    • 33a-b
  • Someone will say: Yes, Socrates, but cannot you hold your tongue, and then you may go into a foreign city, and no one will interfere with you? Now I have great difficulty in making you understand my answer to this. For if I tell you that this would be a disobedience to a divine command, and therefore that I cannot hold my tongue, you will not believe that I am serious; and if I say that the greatest good of a man is daily to converse about virtue, and all that concerning which you hear me examining myself and others, and that the life which is unexamined is not worth living—that you are still less likely to believe.
    • 37e-38a
The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being.
  • ὁ δὲ ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ (ho de anexetastos bios ou biôtos anthrôpôi)
    • The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being.
      • 38a
      • Variant translations:
        (More closely)  The unexamining life is not worth living for a human being
        The life which is unexamined is not worth living
        An unexamined life is not worth living
        The unexamined life is not the life for man
        Life without enquiry is not worth living for a man
  • I would rather die having spoken in my manner, than speak in your manner and live.  …  The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness; for that runs deeper than death.
    • 38e-39a
  • For if you think that by killing men you can avoid the accuser censoring your lives, you are mistaken; that is not a way of escape which is either possible or honorable; the easiest and the noblest way is not to be crushing others, but to be improving yourselves.
    • 39c-d
The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways — I to die and you to live. Which is the better, only God knows.
  • The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways — I to die and you to live. Which is the better, only God knows.
    • 42a

Phaedo[edit]

Plato's account of Socrates' death.

Note: Generally, the early works of Plato are considered to be close to the spirit of Socrates, whereas the later works, including Phaedo, may possibly be products of Plato's elaborations.

  • In the course of my life I have often had intimations in dreams "that I should make music."  The same dream came to me sometimes in one form, and sometimes in another, but always saying the same or nearly the same words:  Make and cultivate music, said the dream.  And hitherto I imagined that this was only intended to exhort and encourage me in the study of philosophy, which has always been the pursuit of my life, and is the noblest and best of music.
  • And now that the hour of departure is appointed to me, this is the hope with which I depart, and not I only, but every man that believes that he has his mind purified.
    • Compare this to George Orwell’s 1984.
      • In the book, O’Brien says of Jones, Aaronson, and Rutherford, “By the time we had finished with them they were only the shells of men.  There was nothing left in them except sorrow for what they had done, and love of Big Brother.  It was touching to see how they loved him.  They begged to be shot quickly, so that they could die while their minds were still clean.”
      • In the 1984 film Nineteen Eighty-Four based on Orwell’s 1984, Winston Smith is seen at the end of the film by the citizens of Oceania confessing, saying, “I’m glad I was caught.  I was mentally deranged.  Now I am cured.  I ask only for you to accept my love of our leader.  I ask only to be shot while my mind is still clean.”
  • …as there are misanthropists, or haters of men, there are also misologists or haters of ideas, and both spring from the same cause, which is ignorance of the world.  Misanthropy arises from too great confidence of inexperience; you trust a man and think him altogether true and good and faithful, and then in a little while he turns out to be false and knavish; and then another and another, and when this has happened several times to a man, especially within the circle of his most trusted friends, as he deems them, and he has often quarreled with them, he at last hates all men, and believes that no one has any good in him at all.  …The reason is that a man, having to deal with other men, has no knowledge of them; for if he had knowledge he would have known the true state of the case, that few are the good and few the evil, and that the great majority are in the interval between them.
  • …nothing is more uncommon than a very large or a very small man; and this applies generally to all extremes, whether of great and small, or swift and slow, or fair and foul, or black and white; and whether the instances you select be man or dogs or anything else, few are the extremes, but many are in the mean between them.
  • Let us…be careful of admitting into our souls the notion that there is no truth or health or soundness in any arguments at all; but let us rather say that there is as yet no health in us, and that we must quit ourselves like men and do our best to gain health…
  • * It may be said, indeed, that without bones and muscles and the other parts of the body I cannot execute my purposes.  But to say that I do as I do because of them, and that this is the way in which the mind acts, and not from the choice of the best, is a very careless and idle mode of speaking.  I wonder that they cannot distinguish the cause from the condition, which the many, feeling about in the dark, are always mistaking and misnaming.
Last words[edit]
  • Ὦ Κρίτων […] τῷ Ἀσκληπιῷ ὀφείλομεν ἀλεκτρυόνα. ἀλλὰ ἀπόδοτε καὶ μὴ ἀμελήσητε.
    • Crito, Crito, we owe a cock to Aesculapius.  Pay it and do not neglect it.
      • Phaedo 118a

As quoted by Plutarch[edit]

Socrates as quoted by Plutarch
  • I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.
    • Note: Compare doctrine of fidelity to Athenian law in Plato's Crito.

As quoted by Diogenes Laertius[edit]

Socrates as quoted in Diogenes Laertius' Lives of Eminent Philosophers
  • I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.
  • Socrates having heard Plato read the Lysis, said, "O Hercules! what a number of lies the young man has told about me." For he had set down a great many things as sayings of Socrates which he never said.

Misattributed[edit]

  • Know thyself.
    • This statement actually predates Socrates, and was used as an Inscription at the Oracle of Delphi.  It is a saying traditionally ascribed to one of the "Seven Sages of Greece," notably Solon, but accounts vary as to whom.  Socrates himself is reported to have quoted it although it is very likely that Thales was in fact the one who first stated it.

Quotes about Socrates[edit]

Alphabetized by author
  • It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.  And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question.  The other party to the comparison knows both sides.
  • It's important to remember that Thomas Huxley recognized Socrates as the first agnostic.  Socrates very much believed in a God, although his deity was somewhat vague and outside of his people's polytheistic religion.  Philosophically Socrates was the very essence of agnosticism.
    • James Kirk Wall, in Agnosticism : The Battle Against Shameless Ignorance (2011), p. 10

Cicero[edit]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (3 January 106 BC7 December 43 BC), also known by the anglicized name Tully, in and after the Middle Ages, was an orator and statesman of Ancient Rome.


Born in the 1600s[edit]

John Locke[edit]

John Locke (29 August 163228 October 1704) was an influential English philosopher and social contract theorist.  He developed an alternative to the Hobbesian state of nature and asserted a government could be good only if it received the consent of the governed and protected the natural rights of life, liberty, and estate.  If such a consent was not achieved, Locke argued in favour of a right of rebellion.

Voltaire[edit]

François-Marie Arouet (November 21, 1694May 30, 1778), famous using his pen name Voltaire, was a French writer, deist and philosopher.

  • L'homme est libre au moment qu'il veut l'être.
    • Man is free at the instant he wants to be.
      • Source Brutus, act II, scene I (1730).
  • Il vaut mieux hasarder de sauver un coupable que de condamner un innocent.
    • It is better to risk sparing a guilty person than to condemn an innocent one.
      • Zadig (1747).
  • C'est une des superstitions de l'esprit humain d'avoir imaginé que la virginité pouvait être une vertu.
    • It is one of the superstitions of the human mind to have imagined that virginity could be a virtue.
      • Notebooks (c.1735-c.1750)
      • Note: This quotation is from the so-called Leningrad Notebook, also known as Le Sottisier; it is one of several posthumously published notebooks of Voltaire.
  • Il est dangereux d’avoir raison dans des choses où des hommes accrédités ont tort.
    • It is dangerous to be right in matters where established men are wrong.
      • "Catalogue pour la plupart des écrivains français qui ont paru dans Le Siècle de Louis XIV, pour servir à l'histoire littéraire de ce temps," Le Siècle de Louis XIV (1752)
      • Note: The most frequently attributed variant of this quote is: It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.
  • Le doute n'est pas un état bien agréable, mais l'assurance est un état ridicule.
    • Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.
      • Letter to Frederick William, Prince of Prussia (28 November 1770). English: in S.G. Tallentyre (ed.), Voltaire in His Letters. New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1919. p.232. French: Au prince royal de prusse, le 28 novembre, in M. Palissot (ed.), Oeuvres de Voltaire: Lettres Choisies du Roi de Prusse et de M. de Voltaire, Tome II. Paris : Chez Baudoiun, 1802. p. 419.
  • Laissez lire, et laissez danser; ces deux amusements ne feront jamais de mal au monde.
    • Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.
      • "Liberty of the Press," Dictionnaire philosophique (1785-1789).
      • Note: The Dictionnaire philosophique was a posthumously published collection of articles combining the Dictionnaire philosophique portatif (published under various editions and titles from 1764 to 1777), the Questions sur l'Encyclopédie (published from 1770 to 1774), articles written for the Encyclopédie and the Dictionnaire de l'Académie française, the manuscript known as l'Opinion sur l'alphabet and a number of previously published miscellaneous articles.
  • La superstition met le monde entier en flammes; la philosophie les éteint.

Dictionnaire philosophique portatif (1764)[edit]

  • On dit quelquefois: "Le sens commun est fort rare."
    • People sometimes say: "Common sense is quite rare."
      • "Common Sense" (1765)
      • Note: The better known variant of this quote is "Common sense is not so common," found in the Philosophical Dictionary entry "Common sense" [sens commun].
  • La foi consiste à croire ce que la raison ne croit pas.
    • Faith consists in believing what reason cannot.
      • "The Flood" (1764)
  • Voulez-vous avoir de bonnes lois; brûlez les vôtres, et faites-en de nouvelles.
    • If you want good laws, burn those you have and make new ones.
  • Qu’est-ce que la tolérance? c’est l’apanage de l’humanité. Nous sommes tous pétris de faiblesses et d’erreurs; pardonnons-nous réciproquement nos sottises, c’est la première loi de la nature.
    • What is tolerance?  It is the consequence of humanity.  We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly — that is the first law of nature.
      • "Tolerance" (1764).

Questions sur l'Encyclopédie (1770–1774)[edit]

  • La vertu suppose la liberté, comme le transport d’un fardeau suppose la force active. Dans la contrainte point de vertu, et sans vertu point de religion. Rends-moi esclave, je n’en serai pas meilleur. Le souverain même n’a aucun droit d’employer la contrainte pour amener les hommes à la religion, qui suppose essentiellement choix et liberté. Ma pensée n’est pas plus soumise à l’autorité que la maladie ou la santé.
    • Virtue supposes liberty, as the carrying of a burden supposes active force.  Under coercion there is no virtue, and without virtue there is no religion.  Make a slave of me, and I shall be no better for it.  Even the sovereign has no right to use coercion to lead men to religion, which by its nature supposes choice and liberty.  My thought is no more subject to authority than is sickness or health.
      • "Canon Law: Ecclesiastical Ministry" (1771).
  • En général, l’art du gouvernement consiste à prendre le plus d’argent qu’on peut à une grande partie des citoyens, pour le donner à une autre partie.
    • In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.
      • "Money" (1770).
  • Il est défendu de tuer; tout meurtrier est puni, à moins qu’il n’ait tué en grande compagnie, et au son des trompettes.
    • It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
      • "Rights" (1771).

Misattributed[edit]

  • God is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere.
    • For a discussion of this quotation, which is uncertain in origin but was quoted long before Voltaire, see the following: [1]
  • I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
    • Though these words are regularly attributed to Voltaire, they were first used by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, writing under the pseudonym of Stephen G Tallentyre in The Friends of Voltaire (1906), as a summation of Voltaire's beliefs on freedom of thought and expression.[2]
    • Another possible source for the quote was proposed by Norbert Guterman, editor of "A Book of French Quotations," who noted a letter to M. le Riche (6 February 1770) in which Voltaire is quoted as saying: "Monsieur l'abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write" ("Monsieur l'abbé, je déteste ce que vous écrivez, mais je donnerai ma vie pour que vous puissiez continuer à écrire").  This remark, however, does not appear in the letter.
  • No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.

Quotes about Voltaire[edit]

  • Not a day goes by without our using the word optimism, coined by Voltaire against Leibniz, who had demonstrated (in spite of the Ecclesiastes and with the approval of the Church) that we live in the best of possible worlds. Voltaire, very reasonably, denied that exorbitant opinion... Leibniz could have replied that a world which has given us Voltaire has some right to be considered the best.


Born in the 1700s[edit]

Thomas Jefferson[edit]

Thomas Jefferson (13 April 17434 July 1826) was author of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1777), founder of the University of Virginia (1819), the third president of the United States (1801–1809), a political philosopher, editor of Jefferson's Bible (1819), and one of the most influential founders of the United States.


Born in the 1800s[edit]

Lysander Spooner[edit]

If our fathers, in 1776, had acknowledged the principle that a majority had the right to rule the minority, we should never have become a nation; for they were in a small minority, as compared with those who claimed the right to rule over them

Lysander Spooner (January 19, 1808May 14, 1887) was an American individualist anarchist, entrepreneur, political philosopher, abolitionist, supporter of the labor movement, and legal theorist of the nineteenth century.

No Treason (1867–1870)[edit]

  • A man's natural rights are his own, against the whole world; and any infringement of them is equally a crime, whether committed by one man, or by millions; whether committed by one man, calling himself a robber, (or by any other name indicating his true character,) or by millions, calling themselves a government.
  • The principle that the majority have a right to rule the minority, practically resolves all government into a mere contest between two bodies of men, as to which of them shall be masters, and which of them slaves; a contest, that—however bloody—can, in the nature of things, never be finally closed, so long as man refuses to be a slave.
  • It is true that the theory of our Constitution is, that all taxes are paid voluntarily; that our government is a mutual insurance company, voluntarily entered into by the people with each other; that each man makes a free and purely voluntary contract with all others who are parties to the Constitution, to pay so much money for so much protection, the same as he does with any other insurance company; and that he is just as free not to be protected, and not to pay any tax, as he is to pay a tax, and be protected.

    But this theory of our government is wholly different from the practical fact.  The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: Your money, or your life.  And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat.

    The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the road side, and, holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets.  But the robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful.

    The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act.  He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit.  He does not pretend to be anything but a robber.  He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a "protector," and that he takes men's money against their will, merely to enable him to "protect" those infatuated travellers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection.  He is too sensible a man to make such professions as these.  Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do.  He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful "sovereign," on account of the "protection" he affords you.  He does not keep "protecting" you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands.  He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villainies as these.  In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave.

    The proceedings of those robbers and murderers, who call themselves "the government," are directly the opposite of these of the single highwayman.

    In the first place, they do not, like him, make themselves individually known; or, consequently, take upon themselves personally the responsibility of their acts.  On the contrary, they secretly (by secret ballot) designate some one of their number to commit the robbery in their behalf, while they keep themselves practically concealed.

  • A man is none the less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years.
    • A more widely spread wording: A man is no less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years.
    • page 24
  • But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain—that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it.  In either case it is unfit to exist.

Natural Law; or The Science of Justice (1882)[edit]

The full title of this work is Natural Law; or The Science of Justice: A Treatise on Natural Law, Natural Justice, Natural Rights, Natural Liberty, and Natural Society; Showing that All Legislation Whatsoever is an Absurdity, a Usurpation, and a Crime. Part First.  No "Part Second" was ever authored.

Chapter I. The Science of Justice.[edit]

  • The science of mine and thine—the science of justice—is the science of all human rights; of all a man’s rights of person and property; of all his rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
    • Section I, page 5
  • These conditions are simply these: viz., first, that each man shall do, towards every other, all that justice requires him to do; as, for example, that he shall pay his debts, that he shall return borrowed or stolen property to its owner, and that he shall make reparation for any injury he may have done to the person or property of another.

    The second condition is, that each man shall abstain from doing to another, anything which justice forbids him to do; as, for example, that he shall abstain from committing theft, robbery, arson, murder, or any other crime against the person or property of another.

    So long as these conditions are fulfilled, men are at peace, and ought to remain at peace, with each other.

    • Section I, pages 5–6
  • Man, no doubt, owes many other moral duties to his fellow men; such as to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the sick, protect the defenceless, assist the weak, and enlighten the ignorant.  But these are simply moral duties, of which each man must be his own judge, in each particular case, as to whether, and how, and how far, he can, or will, perform them.  But of his legal duty—that is, of his duty to live honestly towards his fellow men—his fellow men not only may judge, but, for their own protection, must judge.  And, if need be, they may rightfully compel him to perform it.  They may do this, acting singly, or in concert.  They may do it on the instant, as the necessity arises, or deliberately and systematically, if they prefer to do so, and the exigency will admit of it.
    • Section II, page 6
  • No objection can be made to these voluntary associations upon the ground that they would lack that knowledge of justice, as a science, which would be necessary to enable them to maintain justice, and themselves avoid doing injustice.  Honesty, justice, natural law, is usually a very plain and simple matter, easily understood by common minds.  Those who desire to know what it is, in any particular case, seldom have to go far to find it.
    • Section IV, page 8
  • Children learn the fundamental principles of natural law at a very early age.  Thus they very early understand that one child must not, without just cause, strike or otherwise hurt, another; that one child must not assume any arbitrary control or domination over another; that one child must not, either by force, deceit, or stealth, obtain possession of anything that belongs to another; that if one child commits any of these wrongs against another, it is not only the right of the injured child to resist, and, if need be, punish the wrongdoer, and compel him to make reparation, but that it is also the right, and the moral duty, of all other children, and all other persons, to assist the injured party in defending his rights, and redressing his wrongs.  These are fundamental principles of natural law, which govern the most important transactions of man with man.  Yet children learn them earlier than they learn that three and three are six, or five and five ten.  Their childish plays, even, could not be carried on without a constant regard to them; and it is equally impossible for persons of any age to live together in peace on any other conditions.
    • Section IV, page 9

Chapter II. The Science of Justice (Continued)[edit]

  • If justice be not a natural principle, it is no principle at all.  If it be not a natural principle, there is no such thing as justice.  If it be not a natural principle, all that men have ever said or written about it, from time immemorial, has been said and written about that which had no existence.  If it be not a natural principle, all the appeals for justice that have ever been heard, and all the struggles for justice that have ever been witnessed, have been appeals and struggles for a mere fantasy, a vagary of the imagination, and not for a reality.

    If justice be not a natural principle, then there is no such thing as injustice; and all the crimes of which the world has been the scene, have been no crimes at all; but only simple events, like the falling of the rain, or the setting of the sun; events of which the victims had no more reason to complain than they had to complain of the running of the streams, or the growth of vegetation.

    If justice be not a natural principle, governments (so-called) have no more right or reason to take cognizance of it, or to pretend or profess to take cognizance of it, than they have to take cognizance, or to pretend or profess to take cognizance, of any other nonentity; and all their professions of establishing justice, or of maintaining justice, or of rewarding justice, are simply the mere gibberish of fools, or the frauds of imposters.

    But if justice be a natural principle, then it is necessarily an immutable one; and can no more be changed—by any power inferior to that which established it—than can the law of gravitation, the laws of light, the principles of mathematics, or any other natural law or principle whatever; and all attempts or assumptions, on the part of any man or body of men—whether calling themselves governments, or by any other name—to set up their own commands, wills, pleasure, or discretion, in the place of justice, as a rule of conduct for any human being, are as much an absurdity, an usurpation, and a tyranny, as would be their attempts to set up their own commands, wills, pleasure, or discretion in the place of any and all the physical, mental, and moral laws of the universe.

    If there be any such principle as justice, it is, of necessity, a natural principle; and, as such, it is a matter of science, to be learned and applied like any other science.  And to talk of either adding to, or taking from, it, by legislation, is just as false, absurd, and ridiculous as it would be to talk of adding to, or taking from, mathematics, chemistry, or any other science, by legislation.

    • Sections I–II, pages 11–12
  • If there be such a principle as justice, or natural law, it is the principle, or law, that tells us what rights were given to every human being at his birth; what rights are, therefore, inherent in him as a human being, necessarily remain with him during life; and, however capable of being trampled upon, are incapable of being blotted out, extinguished, annihilated, or separated or eliminated from his nature as a human being, or deprived of their inherent authority or obligation.

    On the other hand, if there be no such principle as justice, or natural law, then every human being came into the world utterly destitute of rights; and coming into the world destitute of rights, he must necessarily forever remain so.  For if no one brings any rights with him into the world, clearly no one can ever have any rights of his own, or give any to another.  And the consequence would be that mankind could never have any rights; and for them to talk of any such things as their rights, would be to talk of things that never had, never will have, and never can have any existence.

    • Section IV, pages 12–13
  • [A]ll human legislation is simply and always an assumption of authority and dominion, where no right of authority or dominion exists.  It is, therefore, simply and always an intrusion, an absurdity, an usurpation, and a crime.
    • Section V, page 13
  • If there be in nature such a principle as justice, it is necessarily the only political principle there ever was, or ever will be.  All the other so-called political principles, which men are in the habit of inventing, are not principles at all.  They are either the mere conceits of simpletons, who imagine they have discovered something better than truth, and justice, and universal law; or they are mere devices and pretences, to which selfish and knavish men resort as means to get fame, and power, and money.
    • Section VIII, page 15

Alphonse Karr[edit]

Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (November 24, 1808September 29, 1890) was a French critic, journalist and novelist.

  • Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
    • The more it changes, the more it’s the same thing.
    • The more it changes, the more it stays the same.[3]
    • The more things change, the more they stay the same.[4]
    • The more that things change, the more they stay the same.
    • It changes superficially; but, underneath, its essence is always the same.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon[edit]

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (pronounced [ˈpruːd.ɒn] in BrE, [pʁu.dɔ̃] in French) (15 January 180919 January 1865) was the first individual to call himself an "anarchist."

Henry David Thoreau[edit]

Henry David Thoreau (12 July 18176 May 1862), born David Henry Thoreau, was an American writer and philosopher.

Albert Jay Nock[edit]

Albert Jay Nock (13 October 187319 August 1945) was an influential American author, educational theorist, capitalist anarchist, social critic of the early and middle 20th century, and a philosophical founder of the modern libertarian movement later embraced by Karl Hess.

Albert Einstein[edit]

Albert Einstein (14 March 187918 April 1955) was a theoretical physicist widely regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time.  He is most famous for his Special and General Theories of Relativity, but contributed in other areas of physics.  He won the Nobel Prize in physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect.

Ludwig von Mises[edit]

Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises (29 September 188110 October 1973) was an Austrian economist, philosopher, author, and classical liberal who had a significant influence on the modern libertarian movement and the Austrian School of economics.

Isabel Paterson[edit]

Isabel Paterson (22 January 18861961) was a best-selling writer, influential literary critic, and libertarian philosopher.

Born in the 1900s[edit]

Ayn Rand[edit]

Ayn Rand (2 February 19056 March 1982) was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter.  She is known for her best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system called Objectivism.

Murray Rothbard[edit]

Harry Browne[edit]

Carl Sagan[edit]

Carl Edward Sagan (9 November 193420 December 1996) was an American astronomer and popular science writer.

Alex Grey[edit]

Michael Badnarik[edit]

Michael J. Badnarik (born August 1, 1954) is an American software engineer, political figure, and educator.  He was the Libertarian Party nominee for President of the United States in the 2004 elections, and placed fourth in the race, slightly behind independent candidate Ralph Nader.

Roderick Long[edit]

Roderick Tracy Long (born February 4, 1964) is a professor of philosophy at Auburn University.  He also serves as a Senior Scholar for the Ludwig von Mises Institute, an editor of the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, director and president of the Molinari Institute, and an advisory panel member for the Center for a Stateless Society.

Krist Novoselic[edit]

Krist Anthony Novoselic II (May 16, 1965 – present) is an American rock musician, best known for being the bassist and co-founder of the grunge band Nirvana.  (See also Nirvana below.)
  • I voted last week, and everything I voted for was defeated.  I voted for less police station money and against adding more courtrooms.  The guy I voted for, a congressman, lost big time because he's totally anti-military.  He wanted to cut the CIA budget!  He's really cool.  But he lost.
    • As quoted in "Take The Money and Run", Sounds (27 December 1990), interviewed by Keith Cameron on 23 September 1990[5]
  • America is a fucking police state.
    • As quoted in New Musical Express (12 NOvember 1991)[6]
[Note: add escalator quote]

Kurt Cobain[edit]

Kurt Donald Cobain (February 20, 1967 – ca. April 5, 1994) was the lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist of the American grunge band, Nirvana.  (See also Nirvana below.)

Interviews (1989–1994)[edit]

Print[edit]

  • It's really not hard to keep your dignity and sign to a major label.  It shouldn't be too hard.  Most people don't have any dignity in the first place.
  • I just don't see independent labels running their businesses any better.
  • All my life my dream has been to be a big rock star.
  • Maintaining the punk rock ethos is more important to me than anything.
    • As quoted in "Take The Money and Run", Sounds (27 December 1990), interviewed by Keith Cameron on 23 September 1990[7]
  • Rap music is the only vital form of music introduced since punk rock.
    • As quoted in "Metal On The Rise," M.E.A.T (September 1991)[8]
  • Rape is one of the most terrible crimes on earth.  And it happens every few minutes.  The problem with groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves.  What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape.  Go to the source and start there.
    • As quoted in New Musical Express (12 November 1991)[9]
  • I would like to get rid of the homophobes, sexists, and racists in our audience.  I know they're out there and it really bothers me.
    • As quoted in SPIN (December 1992)[10]
  • Yeah, I was run out of town.  They chased me up to the castle of Aberdeen with torches.  Just like the Frankenstein monster.  And I got away in a hot air balloon.  And I came here to Seattle.
    • As quoted in Monk Magazine (October 1992)[11]

Video[edit]

  • They're claiming that [the grunge bands] finally put Seattle on the map, but, like, what map? ...I mean, we had Jimi Hendrix. Heck, what more do we want?
    • From an interview with Marc Coiteux on Musique Plus, 1991-09-21, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • They (Extreme) surround themselves with these professional, dickhead, commercial rock and roll guys...when they show up at an airport, their manager runs ahead of them and yells at the people greeting them, "No video!  We want a path straight to the van!  We don't want any pictures taken!"  Y'know, I'm like, "So what?"
    • Date unknown, but believed to be 1992-06-30 in Sweden[12]
  • Music comes first; lyrics are secondary.  Most of my lyrics are contradictions.  I'll write a few sincere lines, and then I'll have to make fun of [them].  I don't like to make it too obvious, because if it is too obvious, it gets really stale.  You shouldn't be in people's faces 100% all the time.  We don't mean to be really cryptic or mysterious, but I just think that lyrics that are different and weird and spacey paint a nice picture.  It's just the way I like art.

Stage banter[edit]

Note: All stage banter sourced from The Live Nirvana Tour History

  • Hello, we're major label corporate rock sell outs.

Incesticide liner notes (1992)[edit]

  • I don't feel the least bit guilty for commercially exploiting a completely exhausted Rock youth Culture because, at this point in rock history, Punk Rock (while still sacred to some) is, to me, dead and gone.
  • At this point I have a request for our fans.  If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different color, or women, please do this one favor for us - leave us the fuck alone!  Don't come to our shows and don't buy our records.

Journals (2002)[edit]

ISBN 1-57322-359-X

  • To be positive at all times is to ignore all that is important, sacred or valuable.  To be negative at all times is to be threatened by ridiculousness and instant discredibility.
    • Page 18
  • I use bits and pieces of others [sic] personalities to form my own.
    • Page 95

Misattributed[edit]

See also[edit]

Fiona Apple[edit]

Fiona Apple Maggart (born 13 September 1977), most famous as Fiona Apple, is a Grammy Award-winning American singer-songwriter and pianist.
  • This world is bullshit.  And you shouldn't model your life—wait a second—you shouldn't model your life about what you think that we think is cool and what we're wearing and what we're saying and everything.  Go with yourself.  Go with yourself.

Tank Man[edit]

The Tank Man, or the Unknown Protester, is the nickname of an anonymous male dissident who engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience by standing in front of a column of tanks on June 5, 1989, the morning after the Communist Chinese military had suppressed the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 by force.  The man achieved widespread international recognition due to the videotape and photographs taken of the incident despite censorship of the event by the Chinese government.  Although some have identified the man as Wang Weilin (王維林),[1][2], the real name has not been confirmed and little is known about him or of his fate after the confrontation that day.  It is not even known whether this brave individual is alive.  In April 1998, Time included the "Unknown Rebel" in a feature titled Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century.[3]


Misattributed[edit]

  • Why are you here?  My city is in chaos because of you![3]
  • Go back!  Turn around!  Stop killing my people!
    • These two statements are frequently attributed to Tank Man on the Internet.  While it seems clear from the footage that some communication occurred between Tank Man and the people in the front tank, no confirmation has ever been made as to what was actually spoken.

See also[edit]


Alexander S. Peak[edit]

Can't we just give peace, love, anarchy, natural law, and a free market a chance?

Alexander S. Peak (1985 – ) is a libertarian anarchist, a secular humanist, an abolitionist, an agnostic, a psychological egoist, a hard compatibilist, and a writer from Maryland.

  • [F]ree will requires determinism, and is incompatible with indeterminism.
  • Can't we just give peace, love, anarchy, natural law, and a free market a chance?
    • Circa 2013
  • The incongruity of bigotry with libertarianism is self-evident to anyone truly dedicated to a libertarian social order.
    The libertarian and the so-called progressive agree that bigotry is socially harmful and undesirable, their only difference of opinion on the matter being how to resolve the problem.  While the so-called progressive advocates regulation and centralised, domineering control in order to combat the ills of bigotry, the libertarian recognises that those tools can be just as easily harnessed to promote, enact, enforce, or reinforce bigotry.  Thus the libertarian, by contrast, recognises that only free competition and free cooperation can be effectively wielded against the evils of bigotry.  Or, to make it a bit more pithy, the so-called progressive gravitates toward the baton and the gun in fighting bigotry, while the libertarian gravitates to the handshake, realising that only the handshake can dismantle the paradigm of domination and exploitation and, in its stead, promote true mutual accord.
    • 7 February 2014

Misattributed[edit]

  • No socialist monopoly (which is what all government is, foundationally) can compete with private enterprise.
  • They will continue competing for each others' business in the voluntary free marketplace, each attempting to provide the best and widest array of services at the least expense.  This is how capitalism does and is supposed to work.
    • These two statements actually come from an article by Alex R. Knight III called "Marx's Post Office", published by the Center for a Stateless Society on 26 March 2009.


Caitlin Upton[edit]

I personally believe that U. S. Americans are unable to [locate the U. S. on a world map] because, uh, some people out there in our nation don't have maps and, uh, I believe that our education, like such as in South Africa and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should—our education over here in the U. S. should help the U. S., uh, or, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future, for our children.

Lauren Caitlin Upton (27 March 1989 – ), also credited as Caitlin Upton, is an American fashion model and a beauty queen from Lexington, South Carolina.  On 24 August 2007, while Miss South Carolina Teen USA, Upton became an Internet meme for her rambling and unstructured response to a pageant question.

Fictional[edit]

Charlie Anderson[edit]

Charlie Anderson is the protagonist in the 1965 film Shenandoah.  He owns a farm in Virginia, and wishes to stay out of the War Between the States.

Shenandoah[edit]

  • My corn I take serious because it's my corn, and my potatoes and my tomatoes and fences I take note of because they're mine.  But this war is not mine and I take no note of it!
  • I've got five hundred acres of good, rich dirt, here, and as long as the rains come and the sun shines, it'll grow anything I have a mind to plant.  And we pulled every stump, and we cleared every field, and we done it ourselves without the sweat of one slave.
  • That might me so, Johnson, but these are my sons!  They don't belong to the state.  When they were babies, I never saw the state coming around with a spare tit!  We never asked anything of the state, and never expected anything.  We do our own living and thanks to no man for the right.
  • You run a sad kind of train, mister.  It takes people away when they don't want to go, and won't bring them back when they're ready.
  • I'm not going to kill you.  I want you to live.  I want you to live to be an old man, and I want you to have many, many, many children, and I want you to feel about your children then the way I feel about mine now.  And someday, when a man comes along and kills one of 'em, I want you to remember!  Okay?  I want you to remember.
  • There's nothing much I can tell you about this war.  It's like all wars, I suppose.  The undertakers are winning it.  Oh, the politicians will talk a lot about the "glory" of it, and the old men'll talk about the "need" of it—the soldiers, they just want to go home.

Harrison Bergeron[edit]

Harrison Bergeron is the protagonist in Kurt Vonnegut's satirical and dystopian short story, "Harrison Bergeron", first published in October, 1961, in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

"Harrison Bergeron"[edit]

In this original incarnation, Harrison Bergeron is an intelligent, athletic fourteen-year-old who wishes to rule, or at least pretend fancifully to rule, over the people whose government has been unable to successfully keep him handicapped.

  • "I am the Emperor!" cried Harrison.  "Do you hear?  I am the Emperor!  Everybody must do what I say at once!"  He stamped his foot and the studio shook.
"Even as I stand here—" he bellowed, "crippled, hobbled, sickened—I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived!  Now watch me become what I can become!"
  • "I shall now select my Empress!" he said, looking down on the cowering people.  "Let the first woman who dares rise to her feet claim her mate and her throne!"
  • "Now—" said Harrison, taking her hand, "shall we show the people the meaning of the word dance?  Music!" he commanded.
The musicians scrambled back into their chairs, and Harrison stripped them of their handicaps, too.  "Play your best," he told them, "and I'll make you barons and dukes and earls."

2081[edit]

In this incarnation, Harrison Bergeron is a libertarian hero, an anarchist rebel who has escaped from prison and announces on T. V. to the viewing audience the horrors of statism.  In the end, he is murdered by a political elite, but he intelligently ensures that it is done on live television so that all can see the guns of government.

  • My name is Harrison Bergeron.  I am a fugitive, and a public threat.  I am an abomination of the able.  I am an exception to the accepted.  I am the greatest man you have never known.  And for the last six years, I have been held prisoner by the state—sentenced, without trial, to torture without end.
They…had hoped to destroy in me any trace of the extraordinary…but the extraordinary, it seems, was simply out of their reach.
So now I stand before you today, beaten, hobbled, and sickened…but, sadly, not broken.  And I say to you, that if it is greatness we must destroy, then let us drag our enemy out of the darkness, where it has been hiding.  Let us shine a light so, at last, all the world can see!

Ichabod Crane[edit]

Ichabod Crane is a the protagonist in Washington Irving's short story, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", first published in 1820.

Sleepy Hollow[edit]

In this incarnation, Ichabod Crane is an English professor who fought and died in the American Revolutionary War on the side of the revolutionary American secessionists.  After dying in combat, his witch wife performs a spell that affords him the opportunity to return to life, which he does in the early twenty-first century.

"Blood Moon" (S1E2)[edit]

  • What's insane is a ten-percent levy on baked goods.  You do realise the Revolutionary War began on less than two percent—how is the public not flocking to the streets in outrage!?  We must do something.

Tyler Durden[edit]

Tyler Durden is a nihilist and a figment of the imagination of the narrator of the 1996 Chuck Palahniuk novel Fight Club.  In the end, the narrator comes to realise that Tyler Durden is really nothing more than a manifestation of himself.

Fight Club[edit]

  • Narrator: One minute was enough, Tyler said, a person had to work hard for it, but a minute of perfection was worth the effort.  A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection.

John Locke[edit]

John Locke (not to be confused with John Locke above) is a Regional Collections Supervisor for the Tustin Box Company.  Along with others, he finds himself lost on a mysterious island after Oceanic Flight 815 crashes.

Lost[edit]

"The Hunting Party" (S2E11)[edit]

  • Who are we to tell anyone what they can or cannot do?

Britta Perry[edit]

Britta Perry, born in October 1982 and of Swedish descent, is a politically interested and socially empathetic student at Greendale Community College.  Her political persuasions lean anarchist.

Community[edit]

"Cooperative Calligraphy" (S2E8)[edit]

  • It all starts with a quick look-see into someone's bag and, before you can say "1984," the thought police are forcing you to bend and spread!

"Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality" (S5E7)[edit]

  • Don't listen to me—or anyone.  Just listen to yourself, and make sure you tell yourself the truth.

Splinter[edit]

Splinter is a rat who serves as mentor, father figure, and martial arts instructor to the four teenage, mutant, ninja turtles.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles[edit]

In this incarnation, Splinter was born an ordinary rat in Japan, where he lived as a pet of his Master Yoshi, and only grew into a talking, humanoid, ratlike creature upon coming in contact in the New York sewers with a strange, glowing ooze.

  • Possess the right thinking.  Only then can one receive the gifts of strength, knowledge, and peace.
  • Anger clouds the mind.


Bands and Musicians[edit]

Alice in Chains[edit]

Alice in Chains is an American grunge band from Seattle.

Dirt (1992)[edit]


"Them Bones"[edit]

"Rooster"[edit]

  • Ain't found a way to kill me yet
Eyes burn with stinging sweat
Seems every path leads me to nowhere
  • My buddy's breathing his dying breath

Alice in Chains (1995)[edit]


"Heaven Beside You"[edit]

  • Go out and seek your truth

Bloodhound Gang[edit]

The Bloodhound Gang is an American rock/hip-hop band with a punk-influenced sound.  They are originally from Quakertown, Pennsylvania.  The group formed in 1992.

Hooray for Boobies (2000)[edit]


"The Bad Touch"[edit]

Death Cab for Cutie[edit]

Death Cab for Cutie is an American rock band, formed in Bellingham, Washington in 1997.

Plans (2005)[edit]

"I'll Follow You Into the Dark"[edit]

That they both are satisfied,
Illuminate the no's
On their vacancy signs;
If there's no one beside you when your soul embarks,
Then I'll follow you into the dark

Depeche Mode[edit]

Depeche Mode are a highly influential English electronic music band, formed in 1980 in Basildon, Essex.  They are one of the longest-lived and most successful bands to have emerged from the New Wave and New Romantic era, but were actually part of the "futurist" scene.

Violator (1990)[edit]


"Enjoy the Silence"[edit]

All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm

Foo Fighters[edit]

Garbage[edit]

Kings of Leon[edit]

Meat Puppets[edit]

Nirvana[edit]

Paul Revere & the Raiders[edit]

Paul Revere & the Raiders is an American rock band that saw considerable U. S. mainstream success in the second half of the 1960s and early 1970s.

Midnight Ride (1966)[edit]


"(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone"[edit]

  • I'm not your stepping stone

Pixies[edit]

Pussy Riot[edit]

Ramones[edit]

Sex Pistols[edit]

The Offspring[edit]

Tool[edit]

Violent Femmes[edit]

Other[edit]

People[edit]

Rupert Boneham (born 27 January 1964) is an American mentor for troubled teens, a reality television star known for his appearances on Survivor, and the 2012 Libertarian Party candidate for governor of Indiana.
Glenn Jacobs (born 26 April 1967) is an American professional wrestler signed to WWE, better known by his ring name Kane.  He is also an actor and a libertarian who cofounded the Tennessee Liberty Alliance.

Shows[edit]

The Independents (2013–present) is an American television libertarian talk show on Fox Business.  It is broadcast on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  The hosts of the show are Kennedy, FreeThink Media's Kmele Foster, and Reason magazine's Matt Welch.  The show features a roundtable discussion on the news of the day with a special emphasis on the protection of economic and civil liberties.

Topics[edit]

Good[edit]

Bad[edit]

Dark[edit]

References[edit]

  1. "Man who defied tanks may be dead", Los Angeles Times, (3 June 1990).
  2. Robin Munro and Mickey Spiegel, Detained in China and Tibet: a directory of political and religious prisoners (Asia Watch Committee, 1994), p. 194. ISBN 978-1-56432-105-3.
  3. a b The Unknown Rebel Time profile. Retrieved January 10, 2006.