We regard as this counter-pole an aesthetics which proceeds not from man’s urge to empathy, but from his urge to abstraction. Just as the urge to empathy as a pre-assumption of aesthetic experience finds its gratification in the beauty of the organic, so the urge to abstraction finds its beauty in the life-denying inorganic, in the crystalline or, in general terms, in all abstract law and necessity.
— Wilhelm Worringer, Abstraction and Empathy
This doctrine of Ahimsa tells us that we may guard the honour of those who are under our charge by delivering ourselves into the hands of the man who would commit the sacrilege. And that requires far greater physical and mental courage than the delivering of blows. You may have some degree of physical power, (I do not say courage) and you may use that power. But after that is expended, what happens ? The other man is filled with wrath and indignation, and you have made him more angry by matching your violence against his; and when he has done you to death, the rest of his violence is delivered against your charge. But if you do not retaliate, but stand your ground between your charge and the opponent simply receiving the blows without retaliating, what happens ? I give you my promise that the whole of the violence will be expended on you, and your charge will be left unscathed.
— Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi, The Law of Love
I heartily accept the motto, “That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe: “That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government. The standing army is only an arm of the standing government. The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for, in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure.
This American government, what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity? It has not the vitality and force of a single living man; for a single man can bend it to his will. It is a sort of wooden gun to the people themselves. But it is not the less necessary for this; for the people must have some complicated machinery or other, and hear its din, to satisfy that idea of government which they have. Governments show thus how successfully men can be imposed on, even impose on themselves, for their own advantage. It is excellent, we must all allow. Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way. For government is an expedient by which men would fain succeed in letting one another alone; and, as has been said, when it is most expedient, the governed are most let alone by it. Trade and commerce, if they were not made of india-rubber, would never manage to bounce over the obstacles which legislators are continually putting in their way; and, if one were to judge these men wholly by the effects of their actions and not partly by their intentions, they would deserve to be classed and punished with those mischievous persons who put obstructions on the railroads.
— Henry David Thoreau, Resistance to Civil Government 1849
Men are deceived if they think themselves free, an opinion which consists only in this, that they are conscious of their actions and ignorant of the causes by which they are determined.
— Benedict Spinoza, Ethics
KRYTEN They always say the hardest part about leaving
Cyberspace is realising the whole universe does
not revolve around you.
CAT Sure doesn't! It revolves around me.
CAT I'm serious! Look at the evidence.
LISTER What evidence?
CAT Take food. Until I bite into it, it has no taste.
Even when I know what I'm gonna say, it never
LISTER You and you alone...
CAT And here's the clincher: all of the interesting
things that ever happenned to me, happenned when I
was in the room! Coincidence? Get outta here..!
— From Red Dwarf Series 7 Episode 4 (scene 24), Duct Soup (extended)
Because physics has found no continuums, no experimental solids, no things, no real matter, I had decided half a century ago to identify, mathematical behaviors of energy phenomena only as events. If there are no things, there are no nouns of material substance. The old semantics permitted common-sense acceptance of such a sentence as, “A man pounds the table,” wherein a noun verbs a noun or a subject verbs a predicate. I found it necessary to change this form to a complex of events identified as me, which must be identified as a verb. The complex verb me observed another complex of events identified again ignorantly as a “table.” I disciplined myself to communicate exclusively with verbs. There are no wheres and whats; only angle and frequency events described as whens.
— R Buckminster Fuller, 250.32 Synergy
If one accepts this assumption, freedom will never be achieved; for one can not arrive at the maturity for freedom without having already acquired it; one must be free to learn how to make use of one’s powers freely and usefully. The first attempts will surely be brutal and will lead to a state of affairs more painful and dangerous than the former condition under the dominance but also the protection of an external authority. However, one can achieve reason only through one’s own experiences and one must be free to be able to undertake them…. To accept the principle that freedom is worthless for those under one’s control and that one has the right to refuse it to them forever, is an infringement on the rights of God himself, who has created man to be free.
— Immanuel Kant, (Quoted in Chomskys Language and Freedom)
There is no man so good, who, were he to submit all his thoughts and actions to the laws, would not deserve hanging ten times in his life.
— Essays, Michel de Montaigne
No long discussion is necessary to demonstrate that the power of denying a man his thought, his will, his personality, is a power of life and death, and that to make a man a slave is to assassinate him.
— Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, quoted in Chomsky’s Language and Freedom.
Predatory capitalism created a complex industrial system and an advanced technology; it permitted a considerable extension of democratic practice and fostered certain liberal values, but within limits that are now being pressed and must be overcome. It is not a fit system for the mid–twentieth century. It is incapable of meeting human needs that can be expressed only in collective terms, and its concept of competitive man who seeks only to maximize wealth and power, who subjects himself to market relationships, to exploitation and external authority, is antihuman and intolerable in the deepest sense. An autocratic state is no acceptable substitute; nor can the militarized state capitalism evolving in the United States or the bureaucratized, centralized welfare state be accepted as the goal of human existence. The only justification for repressive institutions is material and cultural deficit. But such institutions, at certain stages of history, perpetuate and produce such a deficit, and even threaten human survival. Modern science and technology can relieve people of the necessity for specialized, imbecile labor. They may, in principle, provide the basis for a rational social order based on free association and democratic control, if we have the will to create it.
— Noam Chomsky, Language and Freedom 1970