The Degeneration of Belief

Quotations on Fanaticism and Dogmatism

Compiled By Laird Wilcox

The world always makes the assumption that the exposure of an error is identical with the discovery of truth — that error and truth are simply opposite. They are nothing of the sort. What the world turns to, when it has been cured of one error, is usually another error, and maybe one worse than the first one. H. L. MENCKEN (1800-1956).

The bulk of the totalitarian-minded in the democratic societies are men and women who are attracted to this destructive way of life for inner emotional reasons unknown to themselves. JOOST A. MERLOO, The Rape Of The Mind, 1956.

In my own experience, I have been amazed to see how unrealistic are the bases for political opinion in general. Only rarely have I found a person who has chosen any particular political party — democratic or totalitarian — through study and comparison of principles. JOOST A. MERLOO, The Rape Of The Mind, 1956.

The most awful tyranny is that of the proximate utopia where the last sins are currently being eliminated and where, tomorrow, there will be no sins because all the sinners have been wiped out. THOMAS MERTON (1915-1968), 1948.

The principle itself of dogmatic religion, dogmatic morality, dogmatic philosophy, is what requires to be booted out; not any particular manifestation of that principle. JOHN STUART MILL (1806-1873), The Spirit Of The Age.

Little difference exist in their mind between what they have seen and what they have thought. Chains of unconnected facts are fitted together. An inoperable course from the imagination to supposition to suspicion takes place, and soon a system of invalid and unshakable belief has been created. THEODORE MILTON, Disorders of Personality, 1982.

Ideology is systematically destructive of political ideas and values because it represents the imperfections of the human condition as the necessary deficiencies of an oppressive system, judging everything in terms of a concealed absolute constructed from the human essense itself. KENNETH MINOGUE, Alien Powers: The Pure Theory Of Ideology, 1985.

Where it is a duty to worship the sun it is pretty sure to be a crime to examine the laws of heat. JOHN MORLEY (1838-1923), Voltaire, 1872.

Our opinions are less important than the spirit and temper with which they possess us, and even good opinions are worth very little unless we hold them in a broad, intelligent, and spacious way. JOHN MORLEY (1838-1923), Critical Miscellanies, 1871-1908.

Tolerance of people who differ in convictions and habits requires a residual awareness of the complexity of truth and the possibility of opposing vews having some light on one or the other facet of a many-sided truth. REINHOLD NIEBUHR (1892-1971), “Tolerance,” in Colliers Encyclopedia, 1966.

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you. FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE (1844-1900), Beyond Good And Evil, 1886.

The beating of drums, which delights young writers who serve a party, sounds to him who does not belong to the party line like a rattling of chains, and excites sympathy rather than admiration. FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE (1844-1900), Miscellaneous Maxims and Opinions, 1879.