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 animals! -William Shakespeare, playwright 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, philosopher The condition of man…is a condition of war of everyone against everyone. -Thomas Hobbes, philosopher 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, philosopher [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, economist 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 nature. -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 image. -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.