The Degeneration of Belief

Quotations on Fanaticism and Dogmatism

Compiled By Laird Wilcox

The more unpopular an opinion is, the more necessary it is that the holder should be somewhat punctilious in his observance of conventionalities generally. SAMUEL BUTLER (1835-1902), Notebooks, 1912.

It is in the uncompromisingness with which dogma is held and not in the dogma, or want of dogma, that the danger lies. SAMUEL BUTLER (1835-1902), The Way Of All Flesh, 1903.

The slave begins by demanding justice and ends by wanting to wear a crown. ALBERT CAMUS (1913-1960), The Rebel, 1951.

You cannot become a truly effective advocate unless you know all sides of your subject thoroughly, opposing arguments as well as your own. G. R. CAPP and T. R. CAPP, Principles of Argumentation and Debate, 1965.

I grow daily to honor facts more and more, and theory less and less. THOMAS CARLYLE.

There are two kinds of people in the world: the conscious and the unconscious dogmatists. I have always found that the unconscious dogmatists were by far the most dogmatic. GILBERT KEITH CHESTERTON (1874-1936), Generally Speaking, 1928.

Political ideology helps people avoid ambiguity in their lives and provides them with a sense of certainty and security. If people see powerful and unpredictable forces around them, ideological faith becomes a sanctuary. It permits them to believe in something outside and beyond themselves, in ideas and prospects derived from a higher power, whether religious, historical, or scientific. REO M. CHRISTIANSON, et al, Ideologies and Modern Politics. 1975.

The sociological historian uses his theory as the criterion for the selection of the relevant facts, and then on the basis of those selected facts he illustrates and confirms the theory by which they have been selected … success is built in. ALFRED COBBAN, Sociological Interpretation of the French Revolution, 1964.

In politics as in religion, it so happens that we have less charity for those who believe the half of our creed, than for those who deny the whole of it. CHARLES CALEB COLTON (1780-1832), Lacon, 1825.

We are not more ingenious in searching out bad motives for good actions when performed by others, then good motives for bad actions when performed by ourselves. CHARLES CALEB COLTON (1780-1832), Lacon, 1825.

Slogans are both exciting and comforting, but they are also powerful opiates for the conscience. JAMES BRYANT CONANT, Address, Harvard University, 1934.

The revolutionary is mightily convenient in this: that if frees one from all scruples as regards ideas. JOSEPH CONRAD (1857-1924), A Personal Record, 1912.

You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other mans freedom. You can only be free if I am free. CLARENCE S. DARROW, Address to the Court, The Communist Trial, 1920.

Fanaticism is … over compensation for doubt. ROBERTSON DAVIES, The Manticore, 1972.