The Degeneration of Belief

Quotations on Fanaticism and Dogmatism

Compiled By Laird Wilcox

Disloyalty, however picayune, is unforgivable to the fanatic. Even the appearance of disloyalty is sufficient for banishment of the offender, no matter how many years of unquestioned devotion have been given; they are as nothing compared to the enormity of the moment. ROBERT NISBET, Prejudices: A Philosophical Dictionary, 1982.

No dogma or superstition in any religion yet uncovered by anthropologists is more tyrannical, and more intellectually absurd, than that of the historically inevitable or necessary. ROBERT NISBET, Twilight Of Moral Authority, 1981.

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. GEORGE ORWELL (1903-1950), Animal Farm, 1945.

Creeds like pacifism or anarchism, which seem on the surface to imply a complete renunciation of power, rather encourage this habit of mind. For if you have embraced a creed which appears to be free from the ordinary dirtiness of politics … the more you are in the right (and) everybody else should be bullied into thinking otherwise. GEORGE ORWELL (1903-1950), The Road To Wigan Pier.

One defeats a fanatic precisely by not being a fanatic oneself, but on the contrary by using one’s intelligence. GEORGE ORWELL (1903-1950), 1949.

Stereotypes develop because they are useful. They reduce the tremendous complexity of the world around us into a few simple guidelines which we can use in our everyday thought and decision. STUART OSKAMP, Attitudes And Opinions, 1977.

Revolution is not the uprising against preexisting order, but the setting up of a new order contradictory to the old one. JOSE ORTEGA y GASSET (1883-1955), Revolt Of The Masses, 1930.

Fortunately for themselves and the world, nearly all men are cowards and dare not act on what they believe. Nearly all of our disasters come of a few fools having the “courage of their convictions.” COVENTRY PATMORE (1823-1896).

No matter whose lips that would speak, they must be free and ungagged. The community which dares not protect its humblest and most hated member in the free utterance of his opinions, no matter how false or hateful, is only a gang of slaves. If there is anything in the universe that can’t stand discussion, let it crack. WENDELL PHILLIPS (1811-1884), 1863.

Doubt is an uneasy and dissatisfied state from which we struggle to free ourselves and pass into the state of belief; while the latter is a calm and satisfactory state which we do not wish to avoid or to change to a belief in anything else. CHARLES PIERCE (1839-1914), The Fixation of Belief, 1877.

You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths, or any other kind of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt. ROBERT M. PIRSIG, Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance.

I see now more clearly than every before that even our greatest troubles spring from something that is an admirable and sound as it is dangerous — from our impatience to better the lot of our fellows. SIR KARL POPPER, The Open Society And Its Enemies., 1950.