Consistency means: "the property of holding together and retaining shape." This is the most commonly-used definition of the word. It describes something that is the same throughout.
- A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
- Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead.
- Aldous Huxley, "Wordsworth in the Tropics" in Do What You Will (1929).
- Consistency is a virtue for trains: what we want from a philosopher is insights, whether he comes by them consistently or not.
- Stephen Vizinczey, "Good Faith and Bad" in London Sunday Telegraph (4/21/1974); reprinted in Truth and Lies in Literature (1986).
- Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.
- Oscar Wilde, "The Relation of Dress to Art" in Pall Mall Gazette (2/28/1885); reprinted in Aristotle at Afternoon Tea:The Rare Oscar Wilde (1991).
- Consistency is the enemy of enterprise, just as symmetry is the enemy of art.
- George Bernard Shaw, quoted by Michael Holroyd in Bernard Shaw: The Lure of Fantasy (1991).
- The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Crack-Up" in Esquire (2/36).
- If a person never contradicts himself, it must be that he says nothing.
- Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.
- Bernard Berenson, Notebook (1892).
- Of course I'm inconsistent! Only logicians and cretins are consistent!
- A silly ass … wrote a paper to prove me inconsistent. … Inconsistency is the bugbear of fools! I wouldn't give a damn for a fellow who couldn't change his mind with a change of conditions.
- John Arbuthnot "Jacky" Fisher, British Admiral and First Sea Lord, in a letter to former Prime Minister Arthur Balfour (ndg); reported in Arthur J. Marder, From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow: The Royal Navy in the Fisher Era, 1904-1919. (1961-1965); quoted by Robert K. Massie in Deadnought: Britain, Germany and the Comiing of the Great War (1991).
- I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own tastes.
- Marchel Duchamp, quoted by Harriet & Sidney Janis in "Marchel Duchamp: Anti-Artist" in View magazine (3/21/45); reprinted in Robert Motherwell, Dada Painters and Poets (1951).
- Some people, myself included, advocated foreign intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo while opposing our adventure in Iraq. Sam Moyn might find this inconsistent, but (on this occasion at least) it is the world that is inconsistent, not us. During the Balkan wars individuals’ rights were under ascertainable threat in real time. Outside intervention could make a difference, and it did. This was not the case in Iraq. We should always be suspicious of the invocation of universal “rights” as a cover for sectional interests. But it doesn’t follow from this that talk of rights is “really” always about something else. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t. How, then, should we adjust our response? Well, there is a serviceable Keynesian answer to that: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?”
- Tony Judt, "Double-Entry Moral Bookkeeping", The Nation (April 25, 2007)
- When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?
- John Maynard Keynes, Reply to a criticism during the Great Depression of having changed his position on monetary policy, as quoted in "The Keynes Centenary" by Paul Samuelson, in The Economist Vol. 287 (1983), p. 19; later in The Collected Scientific Papers of Paul Samuelson, Volume 5 (1986), p. 275; also in "Understanding Political Development: an Analytic Study" (1987) by Myron Weiner, Samuel P. Huntington and Gabriel Abraham Almond, p. xxiv; this has also been paraphrased as "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"
- The problem with being consistent is that there are lots of ways to be consistent, and they're all inconsistent with each other.
- Psychotics are consistently inconsistent. The essence of sanity is to be inconsistently inconsistent.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 132.
- Of right and wrong he taught
Truths as refin'd as ever Athens heard;
And (strange to tell) he practis'd what he preach'd.
- John Armstrong, Art of Preserving Health (1744), Book IV, line 302.
- Tush! Tush! my lassie, such thoughts resigne,
Comparisons are cruele:
Fine pictures suit in frames as fine,
Consistencies a jewell.
For thee and me coarse cloathes are best,
Rude folks in homelye raiment drest,
Wife Joan and goodman Robin.
- Jolly Robyn, Roughhead (fake ballad; appeared in American Newspaper, 1867).
- Nemo doctus unquam mutationem consilii inconstantiam dixit esse.
- No well-informed person has declared a change of opinion to be inconstancy.
- Cicero, Epigram ad Atticum, Book XVI. 8.
- Gineral C. is a dreffle smart man:
He's been on all sides that give places or pelf;
But consistency still wuz a part of his plan;
He's been true to one party, and that is, himself;—
So John P.
Sez he shall vote for Gineral C.
- James Russell Lowell, The Biglow Papers, Series I. No. 3.
- Inconsistency is the only thing in which men are consistent.
- Horatio Smith, Tin Trumpet, Volume I, p. 273.
- Cantilenam eandem canis.
- You are harping on the same string.
- Terence, Phormio, III. 2. 10.