Evil is a term used to indicate acts or qualities involving needless or wanton harm or destruction, or the deliberate violation of some accepted moral codes of behavior. The philosophical questions which arise among various perceptions and definitions of the nature of evil and virtue are a primary focus of most ethical and religious systems of thought. In religion, ethics, philosophy, and psychology "good and evil" is a very common dichotomy.
- Vile deeds are vile, no matter whether we know or do not know what, after death, will be the fate of the doer.
- Destroy the seed of evil, or it will grow up to your ruin.
- One who enters the places of evil repute has no right to complain against a man who speaks ill of him.
- Ali, A Hundred Sayings
- What makes it so plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices is that integrity can indeed exist under the cover of all other vices except this one. Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.
- Hannah Arendt, On Revolution (1963), ch. 2.
- Evils draw men together.
- Aristotle, in Rhetoric Book I, 1362.b39: Quoting a proverb
- The major weapon now being used by the combined Forces of Evil is chaos, disruption, lack of established security, and consequent fear. . . . The entire rhythm of international thinking has to be altered, and that constitutes a slow and arduous task; the evil personalities which, in every country, are responsible for the chaos and uncertainty, have eventually to be replaced by those who can work in co-operation with the rhythm of the seventh ray, and thus produce ordered beauty.
- Alice Bailey, The Externalization of the Hierarchy, p. 668, (1957)
- Generals gathered in their masses
just like witches at black masses.
Evil minds that plot destruction,
sorcerer of death's construction.
- Evil power disappears
Demons worry when the wizard is near
He turns tears into joy
Everyone's happy when the wizard walks by.
- A thing may look specious in theory, and yet be ruinous in practice; a thing may look evil in theory, and yet be in practice excellent.
- Edmund Burke, Impeachment of Warren Hastings, 19th Feb. 1788.
- The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.
- Joseph Conrad, Under Western Eyes (1911), Pt. II, ch. 4
- Evil is relative, Annalist. You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.
- Evil — Anything which impedes evolutionary development.
- “There is evil! It's actual, like cement.
- I can't believe it. I can't stand it.
- Evil is not a view ... it's an ingredient in us. In the world. Poured over us, filtering into our bodies, minds, hearts, into the pavement itself.”
- Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle
- It’s no use crying over spilt evils. It’s better to mop them up laughing.
- Eleanor Farjeon, Gypsy and Ginger (1920).
- Of what use to destroy the children of evil? It is evil itself we must destroy at the roots.
- Eleanor Farjeon, Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard (1922).
- Where two evils present, a wise administration, if there be room for an option, will choose the least.
- J. Foster, in Case of Pressing Mariners (1743), 18 How. St. Tr. 1330; reported in Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904) by James William Norton-Kyshe, p. 91.
- It’s a little hard for me to know that I am “disordered” or again to quote Ratzinger, “that i am guilty of a moral evil” simply by fulfilling my sexual destiny as I see it. It’s…it’s hard for me to be told, to be told that I’m evil, because I think of myself as someone who is filled with love, whose only purpose in life was to achieve love, and who feels love for so much of nature and the world and for everything else and who like anybody decent and with education realizes that in order, to achieve and receive love, it’s a struggle.
- I must say that anyone who moved through those years [World War II] without understanding that man produces evil as a bee produces honey must have been blind or wrong in the head.
- William Golding, "Fable", in The Hot Gates (1965), p. 87
- There is not an evil which fails to bring benefit to some one.
- When the Prophet saw injustice, either on the part of men or on the part of Providence, he did not inquire closely into its causes, nor bend the knee to necessity, and judge the evil-doers leniently; nor again did he give himself up to despair, or doubt the strength of Righteousness, or the possibility of its victory. He simply complained, pouring out his soul in words of fire; then went his way again, fighting for his ideal, and full of hope that in time—perhaps even "at the end of time"—Righteousness would be lord over all the earth.
- Ahad Ha'am, "Priest and Prophet" (1893) in Selected Essays (1904), p. 133.
- Every man knows there are evils in this world which need setting right. Every man has pretty definite ideas as what these evils are. But to most men one in particular stands out vividly. To some, in fact, this stands out with such startling vividness that they lose sight of other evils, or look upon them as the natural consequence of their own particular evil-in-chief.
- Henry Hazlitt, Thinking As A Science (1916).
- It is an act of evil to accept the state of evil as either inevitable or final.
- Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Prophets (1962), Volume 1, p. 181
- The man who does evil to another does evil to himself,
and the evil counsel is most evil for him who counsels it.
- Hesiod, Works and Days (8th century BC), line 265, translated by Richard Lattimore.
- It is by its promise of a sense of power that evil often attracts the weak.
- Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind (1955).
- Rabid suspicion has nothing in it of skepticism. The suspicious mind believes more than it doubts. It believes in a formidable and ineradicable evil lurking in every person.
- Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State Of Mind, and Other Aphorisms (1955), Section 184.
- At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice, and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.
- Aldous Huxley, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow (1952).
- Cease to do evil. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
- When we think of evil, we think of something violent or demonic, something filled with hatred and wretchedly hungry to devour the good. But what if evil eats a salad at lunch and is polite, speaking rationally with nice table manners?
- Evil works best, not as a growling beast crouching in the darkness, but in a rational, scientific voice. It is the way it's always worked, the way it worked years ago, the way it works now.
- Of two evils, the less is always to be chosen.
- Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ, Book III, Chapter 12.
- Our ideas on Evil. Evil has no existence per se and is but the absence of good and exists but for him who is made its victim. It proceeds from two causes, and no more than good is it an independent cause in nature. Nature is destitute of goodness or malice; she follows only immutable laws when she either gives life and joy, or sends suffering and death, and destroys what she has created. Nature has an antidote for every poison and her laws a reward for every suffering. The butterfly devoured by a bird becomes that bird, and the little bird killed by an animal goes into a higher form. It is the blind law of necessity and the eternal fitness of things, and hence cannot be called Evil in Nature. The real evil proceeds from human intelligence and its origin rests entirely with reasoning man who dissociates himself from Nature. Humanity then alone is the true source of evil.
Evil is the exaggeration of good, the progeny of human selfishness and greediness. Think profoundly and you will find that save death—which is no evil but a necessary law, and accidents which will always find their reward in a future life—the origin of every evil whether small or great is in human action, in man whose intelligence makes him the one free agent in Nature. It is not nature that creates diseases, but man... the chief cause of nearly two-thirds of the evils that pursue humanity ever since that cause became a power... is religion under whatever form and in whatever nation. It is the sacerdotal caste, the priesthood and the churches.
- Fervid readiness to judge is the most detestable stupidity, the most pernicious evil.
- Milan Kundera, Testaments Betrayed (1995), p. 7.
- Man needs a certain moral sense of right and wrong. There is such a thing called evil, and it is not the result of being a victim of society. You are just an evil man, prone to do evil things, and you have to be stopped from doing them.
- There was an evil in Pandora's box
Beyond all other ones, yet it came forth
In guise so lovely, that men crowded round
And sought it as the dearest of all treasure.
- It is the evil that lies in ourselves that is ever least tolerant of the evil that lies in others.
- Maurice Maeterlinck, Wisdom and Destiny (1898), translated by Alfred Sutro.
- He thought of the jungle, already regrowing around him to cover the scars they had created. He thought of the tiger, killing to eat. Was that evil? And ants? They killed. No, the jungle wasn't evil. It was indifferent. So, too, was the world. Evil, then, must be the negation of something man had added to the world. Ultimately, it was caring about something that made the world liable to evil. Caring. And then the caring gets torn asunder. Everybody dies, but not everybody cares.
It occurred to Mellas that he could create the possibility of good or evil through caring. He could nullify the indifferent world. But in so doing he opened himself up to the pain of watching it get blown away. His killing that day would not have been evil if the dead soldiers hadn't been loved by mothers, sisters, friends, wives. Mellas understood that in destroying the fabric that linked those people, he had participated in evil, but this evil had hurt him as well. He also understood that his participation in evil, was a result of being human. Being human was the best he could do. Without man there would be no evil. But there was also no good, nothing moral built over the world of fact. Humans were responsible for it all. He laughed at the cosmic joke, but he felt heartsick.
- EVIL. That which one believes of others. It is a sin to believe evil of others, but it is seldom a mistake.
- H. L. Mencken, A Book of Burlesques (1924), p. 203.
- He that has light within his own cleer brest
May sit i'th center, and enjoy bright day,
But he that hides a dark soul, and foul thoughts
Benighted walks under the mid-day Sun;
Himself is his own dungeon.
- John Milton, "A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634," lines 380–84, republished in The Works of John Milton (1931), vol. 1, part 1, p. 99. The title was changed to "Comus" for the stage version in 1737.
- Because we have sought to cover up past evil, though it still persists, we have been powerless to check the new evil of today.
Evil unchecked grows, Evil tolerated poisons the whole system. And because we have tolerated our past and present evils, international affairs are poisoned and law and justice have disappeared from them.
- Jawaharlal Nehru, The Unity of India : Collected Writings, 1937-1940 (1942), p. 280
- Wer mit Ungeheuern kämpft, mag zusehn, dass er nicht dabei zum Ungeheuer wird. Und wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein.
- Jamais on ne fait le mal si pleinement et si gaiement que quand on le fait par conscience.
- Of two evils I have chosen the least.
- I spent, I probably spent my whole life to understand what evil was, and more importantly, what can bed one about it. It is strange pursuit in some ways for an academic because academics talk about academic things. One thing you can say about evil is that whatever it i sit is not bloody well academic. It is not intellectual issue, it is existential issue. And, it is not theoretical issue, it is an issue that deals with absolute nature of reality. And I guess sometimes I think that people would go in academia to shield themselves from having to ask questions about absolute nature of reality.
- Jordan Peterson, Lecture "Tragedy vs Evil"
- It will not be in accordance with your vain desires nor the vain desires of the People of the Book. Whoever does evil, will be requited for it and will not find for himself besides God a guardian nor a savior.
- Quran 4:123
- And I do not acquit myself. Indeed, the soul is a persistent enjoiner of evil, except those upon which my Lord has mercy. Indeed, my Lord is Forgiving and Merciful."
- Quran 12:53
- The long run evil in the extreme will be the End of those who do evil; for that they rejected the Signs of God, and held them up to ridicule.
- Qur'an 30:10
- And whatever (evil) misfortune befalls you, it is on account of what your hands have wrought and He pardons much. And you cannot escape in the earth, and besides God you have no protector nor helper.
- Quran 42:30-31
- Is then he who has a clear argument from his Lord similar to him to whom his evil conduct is made fair-seeming; and they follow their low desires.
- Quran 47:14
- Responding to evil
A superior being does not render evil for evil,
this is the maxim one should observe;
the ornament of virtuous persons is their conduct.
A noble soul will ever exercise compassion
even towards those who enjoy injuring others.
- Ramayana 6.115, Valmiki (Abridged, Translator: Roderick Hindery)
- The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. Whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise on basic principles.
- Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, (1966).
- ...there is a perpetual struggle between manifested chaos and the unmanifested. It is the struggle of the Forces of Light with the dark forces. Christ Himself actively resisted evil... he drove the merchants from the Temple, and all his severe accusations against the scribes and Pharisees... If we try to read objectively the words... attributed to Christ, we shall see a Teaching which is severe in its mercy. Therefore, the words "resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek turn to him the other also... If this law of Karma, "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," is inevitable and exact justice, it by no means follows that we ourselves, personally, should attempt to fulfil it in this way. If we do so, we shall never emerge from the magic circle of karma. Indeed, we must forgive our personal enemies, as who knows but that the blow one receives is a return blow, well-deserved under the law of Karma? By returning such a blow with another and with a feeling of revenge in our heart, we do not outlive this karma, but we continue and even intensify it in the worst way for ourselves. Moreover, by forgiving our enemies we decrease the amount of evil in space and become immune against many blows. Similarly, let us understand the words "Love thine enemies." However, with all this, we must resist evil, if we do not want to be entirely overwhelmed by it. (26 May 1934)
- Helena Roerich, Letters of Helena Roerich Volume I: 1929-1935
- Now let us imagine the situation of Moses if he had not resisted evil and had allowed the worst and crudest elements to destroy the best—the one which was able to assimilate the ideas of morality and order. What would have happened to his task? His duty as a leader and an earthly lawgiver was to protect his people and to maintain order. Therefore, the resistance to evil was basically necessary. All teachings of antiquity declare active resistance to evil. Thus, the well-known sage and lawgiver of China, Confucius, used to say, "God for good, but for evil—justice."
- Helena Roerich, Letters of Helena Roerich Volume I: 1929-1935 (26 May 1934)
- I happen to think that the singular evil of our time is prejudice. It is from this evil that all other evils grow and multiply. In almost everything I've written there is a thread of this: a man's seemingly palpable need to dislike someone other than himself.
- Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.
- The Shadow, in Introductory words to the broadcast radio episodes of The Shadow, as quoted in Radio's Golden Age : The Programs and the Personalities (1966) by Frank Buxton and Bill Owen; also in Orson Welles : A Biography (1995) by Barbara Leaming, p. 123.
- False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.
- The seeds of evil usually germinated in the footprints of people who knew how everybody else ought to behave and felt the need to tell them so.
- I believe in evil. It is the property of all those who are certain of truth. Despair and fanaticism are only differing manifestations of evil.
- Edward Teller, as quoted in The Martians of Science : Five Physicists Who Changed the Twentieth Century (2006) by Istvan Hargittai, p. 251.
- (見ざる, 聞かざる, 言わざる?)
- "See not, hear not, speak not"
- "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil"
- Tōshō-gū shrine Three wise monkeys
- There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve.
- We don't want apartheid liberalized. We want it dismantled. You can't improve something that is intrinsically evil.
- Bishop Desmond Tutu, speech, 1985. Quoted in Equality, Volume 1, Issue 1, 1989.
- When the Devil is too busy, and Death's a bit too much, they call on me by name you see, for my special touch.
- Voltaire, in his song When you're Evil.
- Between two evils, I generally like to pick the one I never tried before.
- Mae West, Klondike Annie (1936) Sometimes quoted as: "When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before."'.
- In the mirrors of the many judgments, my hands are the color of blood. I sometimes fancy myself an evil which exists to oppose other evils; and on that great Day of which the prophets speak but in which they do not truly believe, on the day the world is utterly cleansed of evil, then I too will go down into darkness, swallowing curses. Until then, I will not wash my hands nor let them hang useless.
- The usual devastating put-downs imply that a person is basically bad, rather than that he is a person who sometimes does bad things. Obviously, there is a vast difference between a "bad" person and a person who does something bad.
Besides, failure is an event, it is not a person — yesterday ended last night.
- Variant: Failure is an event, not a person. Yesterday ended last night.
- Zig Ziglar, See You at the Top (2000)
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 239-41.
- Evil events from evil causes spring.
- Souvent la peur d'un mal nous conduit dans un pire.
- Often the fear of one evil leads us into a worse.
- Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux, L'Art Poétique (1674), I. 64.
- From envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness.
- Book of Common Prayer, Litany.
- The world, the flesh, and the devil.
- Book of Common Prayer, Litany.
- I have wrought great use out of evil tools.
- Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Richelieu (1839), Act III, scene 1, line 49.
- The authors of great evils know best how to remove them.
- Como el hacer mal viene de natural cosecha, fácilmente se aprende el hacerle.
- Inasmuch as ill-deeds spring up as a spontaneous crop, they are easy to learn.
- Miguel de Cervantes, Coloquio de los Perros.
- Ex malis eligere minima oportere.
- Of evils one should choose the least.
- Cicero, De Officiis (44 B.C.), Book III. 1. Same idea in Thomas á Kempis. Imit Christi. 312.
- Omne malum nascens facile opprimitur; inveteratum fit pleurumque robustius.
- Every evil in the bud is easily crushed: as it grows older, it becomes stronger.
- Cicero, Philippicæ, V. 11.
- Touch not; taste not; handle not.
- Colossians, II. 21.
- Et tous maux sont pareils alors qu'ils sont extrêmes.
- All evils are equal when they are extreme.
- Pierre Corneille, Horace, III. 4.
- Superbia, invidia ed avarizia sono
Le tre faville che hanno i cori accesi.
- Three sparks—pride, envy, and avarice—have been kindled in all hearts.
- Dante Alighieri, Inferno, VI. 74.
- E duobus malis minimum eligendum.
- Of two evils choose the least.
- Erasmus, Adages.
- Den Bösen sind sie los, die Bösen sind geblieben.
- But evil is wrought by want of Thought,
As well as want of Heart!
- Thomas Hood, The Lady's Dream, Stanza 16.
- Of two
Evils we take the less.
- Richard Hooker, Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Book V, Chapter LXXXI.
- Quid nos dura refugimus
Ætas, quid intactum nefasti
- What has this unfeeling age of ours left untried, what wickedness has it shunned?
- Horace, Carmina, I. 35. 34.
- Magna inter molles concordia.
- There is great unanimity among the dissolute.
- Juvenal, Satires (early 2nd century), II, 47.
- Fere fit malum malo aptissimum.
- Evil is fittest to consort with evil.
- Livy, Annales, I, 46.
- Notissimum quodque malum maxime tolerabile.
- The best known evil is the most tolerable.
- Livy, Annales, XXIII, 3.
- Evil springs up, and flowers, and bears no seed,
And feeds the green earth with its swift decay,
Leaving it richer for the growth of truth.
- James Russell Lowell, Prometheus, line 263.
- Solent occupationis spe vel impune quædam scelesta committi.
- Wicked acts are accustomed to be done with impunity for the mere desire of occupation.
- Ammianus Marcellinus, Historia, XXX. 9.
- Que honni soit celui qui mal y pense.
- Ménage. Ascribed to Tallemant in the Historiettes of Tallemant des Reaux, Volume I, p. 38. Second ed. Note in Third ed., corrects this. Honi soit qui mal y pense. Evil to him who evil thinks. Motto of the Order of the Garter. Established by Edward III, April 23, 1349. See Sir Walter Scott, Essay on Chivalry.
- Genus est mortis male vivere.
- An evil life is a kind of death.
- Ovid, Epistolæ Ex Ponto, III. 4. 75.
- Mille mali species, mille salutis erunt.
- There are a thousand forms of evil; there will be a thousand remedies.
- Ovid, Remedia Amoris, V. 26.
- Omnia perversas possunt corrumpere mentes.
- All things can corrupt perverse minds.
- Ovid, Tristium, II. 301.
- Hoc sustinete, majus ne veniat malum.
- Endure this evil lest a worse come upon you.
- Phaedrus, Fables, Book I. 2. 31.
- Pulchrum ornatum turpes mores pejus cœno collinunt.
- Bad conduct soils the finest ornament more than filth.
- Plautus, Mostellaria, I. 3. 133.
- Male partum male disperit.
- Ill gotten is ill spent.
- Plautus, Pœnulus, IV. 2. 22.
- E malis multis, malum, quod minimum est, id minimum est malum.
- Out of many evils the evil which is least is the least of evils.
- Plautus, Stichus, Act I. 2.
- Timely advis'd, the coming evil shun:
Better not do the deed, than weep it done.
- Matthew Prior, Henry and Emma, line 308.
- Of two evils I have chose the least.
- Matthew Prior, Imitation of Horace, Book I, Epistle IX.
- Maledicus a malefico non distat nisi occasione.
- An evil-speaker differs from an evil-doer only in the want of opportunity.
- Quintilian, De Institutione Oratorio, XII. 9. 9.
- Multitudes think they like to do evil; yet no man ever really enjoyed doing evil since God made the world.
- John Ruskin, Stones of Venice, Volume I, Chapter II.
- Al mondo mal non e senza rimedio.
- here is no evil in the world without a remedy.
- Jacopo Sannazaro, Ecloga Octava.
- Das eben ist der Fluch der bösen That,
Das sie fortzeugend immer Böses muss gebären.
- The very curse of an evil deed is that it must always continue to engender evil.
- Friedrich Schiller, Piccolomini, V. 1.
- Per scelera semper sceleribus certum est iter.
- The way to wickedness is always through wickedness.
- Seneca the Younger, Agamemnon, CXV.
- Si velis vitiis exui, longe a vitiorum exemplis recedendum est.
- If thou wishest to get rid of thy evil propensities, thou must keep far from evil companions.
- Seneca the Younger, Epistolæ Ad Lucilium, CIV.
- Solent suprema facere securos mala.
- Desperate evils generally make men safe.
- Seneca the Younger, Œdipus, CCCLXXXVI.
- Serum est cavendi tempus in mediis malis.
- It is too late to be on our guard when we are in the midst of evils.
- Seneca the Younger, Thyestes, CCCCLXXXVII.
- Magna pars vulgi levis
Odit scelus spectatque.
- Most of the giddy rabble hate the evil deed they come to see.
- Seneca the Younger, Troades, XI. 28.
- Mala mens, malus animus.
- A bad heart, bad designs.
- Terence, Andria, I. 1. 137.
- Aliud ex alio malum.
- One evil rises out of another.
- Terence, Eunuchus, V. 7. 17.
- But, by all thy nature's weakness,
Hidden faults and follies known,
Be thou, in rebuking evil,
Conscious of thine own.
- John Greenleaf Whittier, What the Voice Said, Stanza 15.
Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)
- Many have puzzled themselves about the origin of evil; I observe that there is evil, and that there is a way to escape it, and with this I begin and end.
- John Newton, p. 213.
- Nothing is to be esteemed evil which God and nature have fixed with eternal sanction.
- Jeremy Taylor, p. 213.
- The cardinal method with faults is to overgrow them and choke them out with virtues.
- John Bascom, p. 213.
- Nothing can work me damage except myself. The harm that I sustain I carry about with me, and never am a real sufferer but by my own fault.
- St. Bernard, p. 213.