Creation is a continuing process... One meaning of our life, then, is the opportunity and challenge it presents to us for participation in the continuous process of creation - through discussion and cooperative work rather than conflict.
Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking; where it is absent, discussion is apt to become worse than useless.
Science, history and politics are not suited for discussion except by experts. Others are simply in the position of requiring more information; and, till they have acquired all available information, cannot do anything but accept on authority the opinions of those better qualified.
Free discussion requires an atmosphere unembarrassed by any suggestion of authority or even respect.
Nothing so sharpens the thought process as writing down one's arguments. Weaknesses overlooked in oral discussion become painfully obvious on the written page.
To cherish peace and friendly intercourse with all nations having correspondent dispositions; to maintain sincere neutrality toward belligerent nations; to prefer in all cases amicable discussion and reasonable accommodation of differences to a decision of them by an appeal to arms; to exclude foreign intrigues and foreign partialities, so degrading to all countries and so baneful to free ones; to foster a spirit of independence too just to invade the rights of others, too proud to surrender our own, too liberal to indulge unworthy prejudices ourselves and too elevated not to look down upon them in others; to hold the union of the States as the basis of their peace and happiness; to support the Constitution, which is the cement of the Union, as well in its limitations as in its authorities; to respect the rights and authorities reserved to the States and to the people as equally incorporated with and essential to the success of the general system; to avoid the slightest interference with the right of conscience or the functions of religion, so wisely exempted from civil jurisdiction; to preserve in their full energy the other salutary provisions in behalf of private and personal rights, and of the freedom of the press; to observe economy in public expenditures; to liberate the public resources by an honorable discharge of the public debts; to keep within the requisite limits a standing military force, always remembering that an armed and trained militia is the firmest bulwark of republics — that without standing armies their liberty can never be in danger, nor with large ones safe; to promote by authorized means improvements friendly to agriculture, to manufactures, and to external as well as internal commerce; to favor in like manner the advancement of science and the diffusion of information as the best aliment to true liberty; to carry on the benevolent plans which have been so meritoriously applied to the conversion of our aboriginal neighbors from the degradation and wretchedness of savage life to a participation of the improvements of which the human mind and manners are susceptible in a civilized state — as far as sentiments and intentions such as these can aid the fulfillment of my duty, they will be a resource which can not fail me.
The genuine rationalist does not think that he or anyone else is in possession of the truth; nor does he think that mere criticism as such helps us achieve new ideas. But he does think that, in the sphere of ideas, only critical discussion can help us sort the wheat from the chaff. He is well aware that acceptance or rejection of an idea is never a purely rational matter; but he thinks that only critical discussion can give us the maturity to see an idea from more and more sides and to make a correct judgement of it.
A rattlesnake loose in the living room tends to end all discussion of animal rights.
Every thing secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.
The concept that above him is "an Eye that sees and an Ear that hears," he has never heard it spoken in a heartfelt manner. And if it ever was mentioned, it was only superficial lip-service. Not only that, but from the first day he went to school, it was made clear to him that it is not the school's role to get involved in his character and ethical growth; rather, he is told that he is an independent person and the school merely offers the opportunity to accumulate knowledge, which he can later use to whatever end he sees fit. Any discussion of ethics is, at best, based upon fear of punishment, and this undermines the student's focus and belief – intentionally or unintentionally – that there is "an Eye that sees and an Ear that hears" all his actions.
The study of books is a languishing and feeble activity that gives no heat, whereas discussion teaches and exercises us at the same time.
We cannot set aside an hour for discussion with our children and hope that it will be a time of deep encounter. The special moments of intimacy are more likely to happen while baking a cake together, or playing hide and seek, or just sitting in the waiting room of the orthodontist.
The slogan, “All children can learn,” not only signals a high priority on equality (which I initially rejected in favor of excellence) but, perhaps inadvertently suggests one on learning. Busy explaining why we might give priority to excellence over equality, we may overlook this second difficulty. Is the aim of schooling learning and only learning? Is the proof of our success as educators found, then, in proof of learning? Again the temptation is to respond, “What do you mean by learning?” And then we are off on a discussion of levels and kinds of learning, methods of evaluation, alternative pedagogies, and — wondrous new idea — authentic assessment.
Every discussion which is made from an egoistic standpoint is corrupted from the start and cannot yield an absolutely sure conclusion. The ego puts its own interest first and twists every argument, word, even fact to suit that interest.
We cultivate refinement without extravagance and knowledge without effeminacy; wealth we employ more for use than for show, and place the real disgrace of poverty not in owning to the fact but in declining the struggle against it. Our public men have, besides politics, their private affairs to attend to, and our ordinary citizens, though occupied with the pursuits of industry, are still fair judges of public matters; for, unlike any other nation, regarding him who takes no part in these duties not as unambitious but as useless, we Athenians are able to judge at all events if we cannot originate, and instead of looking on discussion as a stumbling-block in the way of action, we think it an indispensable preliminary to any wise action at all.
If in a discussion of many matters… we are not able to give perfectly exact and self-consistent accounts, do not be surprised: rather we would be content if we provide accounts that are second to none in probability.
Let us hold our discussion together in our own persons, making trial of the truth and of ourselves.
That is all there is to it. No doubts, no discussion of earlier affairs, no to-ing and fro-ing, no physical experiment beyond a kiss, none of the complex voodoo which is thought necessary in even the most perfunctory modern novel to clap two ninnies together.
The world has reached such a degree of interdependence... that international cooperation has become essential... the only self-supporting region of the world is the whole world... Only one opinion and only one market cover the face of the earth.
I do not for a moment entertain the belief that by our simple declaration that we shall make friends of the negro laborers. Their previous condition, their former absolute dependence upon their masters (and now their employers) have deprived them of learning that it is necessary for them to rely upon themselves and upon each other, but I am confident that if organized workingmen will take a more liberal view of the situation, or rather a more practical view, that the negro workman will to a very much greater extent make common cause with us in our struggles. . . [The negro] is a living fact and a factor and regardless of all the prejudices that may be entertained he must be counted with and the way to count with him is the question that must be considered.