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Profit generally is the making of gain in business activity for the benefit of the owners of the business. The word comes from Latin meaning "to make progress", is defined in two different ways, one for economics and one for accounting.
- Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author
A - F
- If vices were profitable, the virtuous man would be the sinner.
- Francis Bacon, Ornamenta Rationalia.
- O proud philanthropist, your hope is vain
- To get by giving what you lost by gain.
- Ambrose Bierce, Epigrams, The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Volume 8, p. 349.
- There are some sordid minds, formed of slime and filth, to whom interest and gain are what glory and virtue are to superior souls; they feel no other pleasure but to acquire money.
- La Bruyère, Characters, H. Van Laun, trans. (London: 1885) “Of The Gifts of Fortune,” #58
- The infinite, absolute character of Virtue has passed into a finite, conditional one; it is no longer a worship of the Beautiful and Good; but a calculation of the Profitable.
- Thomas Carlyle, Signs of the Times (1829).
- Market signals were clear: There’s no profit in preventing a future catastrophe.
- Noam Chomsky on the COVID-19 pandemic, in an interview with C.J. Polychroniou, Chomsky: Ventilator Shortage Exposes the Cruelty of Neoliberal Capitalism (April 1, 2020), Truthout
- We may add that focus on maximizing profits is also "not always consistent" with the hope for "the survival of humanity," to borrow the phrase of a leaked memo from JPMorgan Chase, [the U.S.’s] largest bank, warning that "the survival of humanity" is at risk on our current course, including the bank's own investments in fossil fuels. Thus, Chevron canceled a profitable sustainable energy project because there’s more profit to be made in destroying life on Earth. ExxonMobil refrained from doing so, because [it] had never opened such a project in the first place, having made more rational calculations of profitability. And rightly so, according to neoliberal doctrine. As Milton Friedman and other neoliberal luminaries have instructed us, the task of corporate managers is to maximize profits. Any deviation from this moral obligation would shatter the foundations of "civilized life."
- Noam Chomsky, in an interview with C.J. Polychroniou, Chomsky: Ventilator Shortage Exposes the Cruelty of Neoliberal Capitalism (April 1, 2020), Truthout
- The promise of every product and service is a better life. Profits are the prize for delivering on the promise.
- Patrick Dixon, Building a Better Business, 2005, p. 88.
G - L
- … actions whose motives he cannot understand—that is, actions not prompted by the hope of profit.
- André Gide, The Immoralist, R. Howard trans., p. 122.
- He is like all the rest: a slave to profit, a master only to his bent for negotiating the best deal.
- Franz Grillparzer, Libussa (1872).
- What the English call “comfortable” is something endless and inexhaustible. Every condition of comfort reveals in turn its discomfort, and these discoveries go on for ever. Hence the new want is not so much a want of those who have it directly, but is created by those who hope to make profit from it.
- Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, S. Dyde, trans. (1896), § 191.
- The thing we must do intensely is be human together. People are more important than things. We must get together. The best thing humans can have going for them is each other. We have each other. We must reject everything which humiliates us. Humans are not objects of consumption.
We must develop an absolute priority of humans ahead of profit — any humans ahead of any profit. Then we will survive. …
- Frank Herbert, "Introduction" to New World or No World (1970).
- Reflective apologists for war at the present day all take it religiously. It is a sort of sacrament. It's profits are to the vanquished as well as to the victor; and quite apart from any question of profit, it is an absolute good, we are told, for it is human nature at its highest dynamic.
- For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, but suffer the loss of his soul?
- I'm convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered.
M - R
- For the corporation executives, the military metaphysic … often coincides with their interest in a stable and planned flow of profit; it enables them to have their risk underwritten by public money; it enables them reasonably to expect that they can exploit for private profit now and later, the risky research developments paid for by public money. It is, in brief, a mask of the subsidized capitalism from which they extract profit and upon which their power is based.
- C. Wright Mills, The Causes of World War Three, 1960.
- I don't think that corporations are these big bogeymen that a lot of people paint them to be. … A corporation is a group of people, and if you want to come together for profit or nonprofit, that's your business—whatever you want to do.
- Krist Novoselic, interviewed by Nick Gillespie, "Nirvana's Krist Novoselic on Punk, Politics, & Why He Dumped the Dems", ReasonTV (19 June 2014), 15:30–15:37, 17:10–17:20.
- It is no longer economy aiming at individual profit, but economy concerned with collective interest.
- Benito Mussolini, Four Speeches on the Corporate State, Laboremus, Roma (1935) p. 38
- The love of gain, which is a large, incalculably large, element in every soul, when once applied to the desire for God, will bless the man who has it.
- Gregory of Nyssa, On Virginity, Chapter 18.
- When a firm makes a profit this means that productive factors have been properly employed and corresponding human needs have been duly satisfied.
- Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 1991.
- Such is the fate of everyone who goes in search of profit; it takes away the life of its owners.
- Proverbs 1:19, Bible in Basic English
- For the words of the profits were written on the studio wall
S - Z
- When by habit a man cometh to have a bargaining soul, its wings are cut, so that it can never soar. It bindeth reason an apprentice to gain, and instead of a director, maketh it a drudge.
- George Savile, Marquess of Halifax, “Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections,” Complete Works (Oxford:1912), p. 253.
- Cui prodest scelus, is fecit.
- Who profits by a sin has done the sin.
- Seneca the Younger, Medea, lines 500-501 (Medea)
- Who profits by a sin has done the sin.
- Whoever has a keen eye for profits, is blind in relation to his craft.
- Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus', l:388.
- So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.
- Spend time on excellence, and love the right,
And don’t let shameful profit master you.
- Theognis, Elegies, Dorothea Wender, trans., 465.
- In aristocracies, it is not precisely work that is scorned, but work with a view to profit. Work is glorious when ambition or virtue alone makes one undertake it. … The idea of gain remains distinct from that of work. No matter that they are joined in fact. … In democratic societies, these two ideas are, on the contrary, always visibly united.
- Tocqueville, Democracy in America, H. Mansfield, trans. (Chicago: 2000), p. 525.
- While thousands of Americans die alone, Donald touts stock market gains. As my father lay dying alone, Donald went to the movies. If he can in any way profit from your death, he'll facilitate it, and then he'll ignore the fact that you died.
- Mary L. Trump, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man (2020), p. 209
- Private property … has led Individualism entirely astray. It has made gain not growth its aim. So that man thought that the important thing was to have, and did not know that the important thing is to be. The true perfection of man lies, not in what man has, but in what man is.
- Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism, ¶ 15.