Principles are laws or rules that have to be, or usually are followed, or can be desirably followed, or are an inevitable consequence of something, such as the laws observed in nature or the way that a system is constructed. The principles of such a system are understood by its users as the essential characteristics of the system, or reflecting system's designed purpose, and the effective operation or use of which would be impossible if any one of the principles was to be ignored.
- Plato said that virtue has no master [Republic 617e]. If a person does not honor this principle and rejoice in it, but is purchasable for money, he creates many masters for himself.
- Apollonius of Tyana, to Euphrates, Epp. Apoll. 15
- Precedents are not mere dusty phrases, which do not substantially affect the question before us. A precedent embalms a principle. The principle may be right or may be wrong—that is a question for discussion; but at the first glance it is right to conclude that it is a principle that has been acted upon and recognised by those who preceded us.
- Unless you perfectly understand the principle from which anyone acts, how should you know if he acts ill?
- Epictetus, Enchiridion, 45
- If the ruling class thinks that by hanging us, hanging a few anarchists, they can crush out anarchy, they will be badly mistaken, because the anarchist loves his principles more than his life.
- Adolph Fischer, Statement to the Court (1886)
- The man of action is always unprincipled; none but the contemplative has a conscience.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Maxims and Reflections, Elisabeth Stopp, trans. (Penguin: 1998) #241
- Treat the negro as a citizen and a voter, as he is and must remain, and soon parties will be divided, not on the color line, but on principle.
- Ulysses S. Grant, Sixth State of the Union Address (1874).
- Principles have a way of enduring, as do the few irreducible individuals who maintain allegiance to them.
- Christopher Hitchens, as quoted in Merchey, Jason (2004). Values of the Wise : Aspiring to "The Life of Value". p. 330.
- When an active individual of sound common sense perceives the sordid state of the world, desire to change it becomes the guiding principle by which he organizes given facts and shapes them into a theory. The methods and categories as well as the transformation of the theory can be understood only in connection with his taking of sides. This, in turn, discloses both his sound common sense and the character of the world. Right thinking depends as much on right willing as right willing on right thinking.
- Max Horkheimer, “The latest attack on metaphysics,” Critical Theory: Selected Essays (1982), p. 162
- I don't believe in princerple,
But, oh, I du in interest.
- James Russell Lowell, The Biglow Papers (1848), First Series. No, VI, Stanza 9.
- Ez to my princerples, I glory
In hevin' nothin' o' the sort.
- James Russell Lowell, The Biglow Papers (1848), First Series. No, VII, Stanza 10.
- I wish to establish some sort of system not guided by chance but by some sort of definite and exact principle.
- [Many historians of morality,] Mostly Englishmen, … affirm some consensus of the nations, at least of the tame nations, concerning certain principles of morals, and then they infer from this that these principles must be unconditionally binding also for you and me; or, conversely, they see the truth that among different nations moral valuations are necessarily different and then infer from this that no morality is at all binding. Both procedures are equally childish.
- Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (1882) § 345, in Alexander Nehamas, Nietzsche, p. 36
- God does not love that which is already in itself worthy of love, but on the contrary, that which in itself has no worth acquires worth just by becoming the object of God's love. Agape has nothing to do with the kind of love that depends on the recognition of a valuable quality in its object. Agape does not recognize value, but creates it. Agape loves, and imparts value by loving. The man who is loved by God has no value in himself; what gives him value is precisely the fact that God loves him. Agape is a value-creating principle.
- Anders Nygren, Agape and Eros (1930)
Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature, but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this.
All our dignity consists then in thought. By it we must elevate ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot fill. Let us endeavor to think well; this is the principle of morality.
- Blaise Pascal, Pensées, #347, W. F. Trotter, trans. (New York: 1958)
- In Islam, there is no priesthood, and no intermediary between the creature and The Creator; but every Muslim from the ends of earth or in the paths of the sea has the ability of himself to approach his Lord without priest or minister. Nor again can the Muslim administrator derive his authority from any papacy, or from Heaven; but he derives it solely from the Muslim community. Similarly, he derives his principles of administration from the religious law, which is universal in its understanding and application and before which all men come everywhere as equals.
- Sayyid Qutb, Social Justice in Islam (1953), p. 30