Philip Wylie

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What egotism, what stupid vanity, to suppose that a thing could not happen because you could not conceive it!

Philip Gordon Wylie (12 May 190225 October 1971) was a U.S. author of social criticism, short stories, screenplays, and several science-fiction novels.


There is no advance without strife.

Generation of Vipers (1942)

We are infants still, with loaded guns for toys.
Page numbers may refer to one of the following editions: Farrar & Rinehart, 1942; Rinehart, "Newly annotated by the author", 1955; Dalkey Archive Press, 1996
Ignorance is not bliss — it is oblivion. Determined ignorance is the hastiest kind of oblivion.
Education is not a function of any church — or even of a city — or a state; it is a function of all mankind.
  • But we are as other men, exactly. Of one blood, one species, one brain, one figure, one fundamental set of collective instincts, one solitary body of information, one everything. Superiority and inferiority are individual, not racial or national.
    • On Americans, p. 7
  • Absolute dominion of a powerful people by a minority always produces national aggression.
    • p. 18
  • The blame for Armageddon lies on man. And the millennium will come only when the average man exhibits a scientific integrity about all he is and does — instead of half of it. Many a psychological Archimedes has put signposts on the hard road man must follow if he is to avoid self-destruction and come into his own. A few very great modern scientists have added to the lore. Indications of what man may expect of himself are everywhere at hand. But most men must first be persuaded that the task lies ahead and not behind — that we are infants still, with loaded guns for toys.
    • p. 20
  • Ignorance is not bliss — it is oblivion. Determined ignorance is the hastiest kind of oblivion.
    • p. 44
  • The church has stood, a rock colossus of bigotry, in the path of ten thousand proposed reforms. Sane efforts to legalize birth control information, the manufacture of proper birth control appliances, appliances for the inhibition of the spread of venereal disease, public instruction in sex hygiene, free clinics for the treatment of venereal disease, the inspection and treatment of prostitutes, controlled prostitution itself, the publication of psychological and physical sex information, aid for unwed mothers—myriad attempts by sane men acting sanely on real problems — have been fought down by church-frightened legislatures and church-dominated courts.
    • p. 74
  • Few men, indeed, are so mad that they do not know when they are doing wrong. But so avid is their pursuit of goods that wrongdoing has become an element of all they do. To protest that fact is idle. Our politics, our business — little and big, our professions, our labor, are smitten in every facet with a corruption occasioned by reckless determination to make not just a reasonable profit but all the profit that can be wrung from every enterprise. Our commonest man, emulating his superiors, forges ahead with a brick on the safety valve of his conscience. Think over your morning paper in that light.
    • p. 104
  • Common man has at long last got himself so far out of gear with nature and his environment that he is beginning to see the shape of extinction, whether he recognizes it as such or not.
    • p. 116
  • There are in America from fifteen to twenty million religious fundamentalists who are dedicated to doctrines incompatible with democracy in that they insist on their prerogatives as first principles. An even larger group feebly follows the trail of fire breathed by those fundamentalists. They are the most dangerous minority we have because they categorically eschew the reasoned judgments of the majority. Democracy properly allows them the right to worship as they choose. It should never have conceded them the right to establish schools. Education is not a function of any church — or even of a city — or a state; it is a function of all mankind.
    • p. 324
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