Viewpoints on Civilization

Viewpoints on Civilization
These quotations from various sources express a wide range of opinions about human nature society.
Man*, when perfected, is the
best of animals, but, when
separated from law and
justice, he is the worst.
-Aristotle, philosopher
What a piece of work is a
man! How noble in reason!
How infinite in faculty! In
form and moving how
express and admirable!
In action how like an angel!
In apprehension how like a
god! The beauty of the
world! The paragon of
-William Shakespeare,
We have altogether a
confounded, corrupt, and
poisoned nature, both in
body and soul; throughout
the whole of man is nothing
that is good.
-Martin Luther, theologian
With children use force, with
men reason; such is the
natural order of things. The
wise man requires no law.
-Jean-Jacques Rosseau,
The condition of man…is a
condition of war of everyone
against everyone.
-Thomas Hobbes,
Men are not altogether bad
or not altogether good.
-Machiavelli, philosopher
Men is at bottom a wild and
terrible animal. We know
him only as what we call
civilization has tamed and
trained him; hence we are
alarmed by the occasional
breaking out of his true
nature. But whenever the
locks and chains of law and
order are cast off, and
anarchy comes in he, shows
himself for what he really is.
-Arthur Schopenhauer,
[The] tendency of men [is] to
obey anti-social, sadistic
impulses, unless restrained
by a culture which makes
them sufficiently aware of
the nature of the emotion to
which they yield.
-Sir Norman Angell,
The only thing one really
knows about human nature
is that it changes.
-Oscar Wilde, author
Everyone is a moon, and has
a dark side which he never
shows to anybody.
-Mark Twain, author
We are all ready to be savage
in some good cause. The
difference between a good
man and bad one is the
choice of the cause.
-William James, psychologist
Man's nature is not
essentially evil. Brute nature
has been known to yield to
the influence of love. You
must never despair of human
-Mahatma Gandhi, activist
The tendency to aggression
is an innate, independent,
instinctual disposition in
man...It constitutes the most
powerful obstacle to
culture….Civilized society is
perpetually menaced with
disintegration through this
primary hostility of man
towards one another.
-Sigmund Freud, psychiatrist
It is easier to denature
plutonium then to denature
the evil spirit of man.
-Albert Einstein, physicist
I think computer viruses
should count as life. I think it
says something about human
nature that the only form of
life we have created so far is
purely destructive. We've
created life in our own
-Stephen Hawking, English
theoretical physicist
*Early philosophers often used
man to refer to all humans. Use
of gender-inclusive language
became more common during
the mid-20th century.