Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"A man's true greatness lies in the consciousness of an honest purpose in life, founded on a just estimate of himself and everything else, on frequent self-examinations, and a steady obedience to the rule which he knows to be right, without troubling himself about what others may think or say, or whether they do or do not that which he thinks and says and does." - Marcus Aurelius, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus

"There are many seasons in a man’s life - and the more exalted and responsible his position, the more frequently do these seasons recur - when the voice of duty and the dictates of feeling are opposed to each other; and it is only the weak and the wicked who yield that obedience to the selfish impulses of the heart which is due to reason and honor." - Arthur Aughey

"Public opinion is a permeating influence, and it exacts obedience to itself; it requires us to think other men's thoughts, to speak other men's words, to follow other men's habits." - Walter Bagehot

"Obedience to duty means resistance to self." - Henri Bergson, aka Henri-Louis Bergson

"Obedience completes itself in understanding." - Phillips Brooks

"In the wildest anarchy of man’s insurgent appetites and sins there is still a reclaiming voice, a voice which, even when in practice disregarded, it is impossible not to own; and to which, at the very moment that we refuse our obedience, we find that we cannot refuse the homage of what ourselves do feel and acknowledge to be the best, the highest principles of our nature." - Thomas Chalmers

"Of all ennobling sentiments, patriotism may be the most easily manipulated. On the one hand, it gives powerful expression to what is best in a nation’s character: a commitment to principle, a willingness to sacrifice, a devotion to the community by the choice of the individual. But among its toxic fruits are intolerance, belligerence and blind obedience, perhaps because it blooms most luxuriantly during times of war." - Nancy Gibbs

"The virtue of Paganism was strength; the virtue of Christianity is obedience." - Julius Charles Hare (1795-1855) and his brother Augustus William Hare

"Deliverance is out of time into eternity, and is achieved by obedience and docility to the eternal Nature of Things. We have been given free will, in order that we may will our self-will out of existence and so come to live continuously in a “state of grace.” All our actions must be directed, in the last analysis, to making ourselves passive in relation to the activity and the being of divine Reality. We are, as it were, aeolian harps, endowed with the power either to expose themselves to the wind of the Spirit or to shut themselves away from it." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God." - Thomas Jefferson

"Involuntary obedience corrupts the soul." - Ludwig Lewisohn

"From obedience and submission spring all other virtues, as all sin does form self-opinion." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"Obedience is yielded more readily to one who commands gently." -

"Scripture does not teach philosophy, but merely obedience, and... all it contains has been adapted to the understanding and established opinions of the multitude." -

"Obedience is the primary and irremissible motive and the foundation of all morality." - Pierre-Jules Hetzel, wrote under pen name P. J. Stahl

"Man have long begun to suspect that civilization's repression of our primitive impulses has somehow warped what are potentially the most productive forces in human nature. We are increasingly disturbed by the thought that society's passion for obedience and conformity may have overreached itself, causing us to lose in individual happiness perhaps as much as we have gained in group activity." -

"Love naturally reverses the idea of obedience, and causes the struggle between any; two who truly love each other to be, not who shall command, but who shall yield." - Frances Power Cobbe

"Religion, in its purity, is not so much a pursuit as a temper; or rather it is a temper, leading to the pursuit of all that is high and holy. Its foundation is faith; its action, works; its tempter, holiness; its aim, obedience to God in improvement of self and benevolence to men." - Tyron Edwards

"Religion is more like a response to a friend than it is like obedience to an expert." - Austin Madsen Farrer

"Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God." - Benjamin Franklin

"Religion is an attempt to get control over the sensory world, in which we are placed, by means of the wish-world, which we have developed inside us as a result of biological and psychological necessities. But it cannot achieve its end. Its doctrines carry with them the stamp of the times in which they originated, the ignorant childhood days of the human race. Its consolations deserve no trust. Experience teaches us that the world is not a nursery. The ethical commands, to which religion seeks to lend its weight, require some other foundations instead, for human society cannot do without them, and it is dangerous to link up obedience to them with religious belief. If one attempts to assign to religion its place in man’s evolution, it seems not so much to be a lasting acquisition, as a parallel to the neurosis which the civilized individual must pass through on his way from childhood to maturity." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"No principle is more noble, as there is none more holy, than that of a true obedience." - Henry Giles

"I believe that the fewer the laws in a home the better; but there is one law which should be as plainly understood as the shining of the sun is visible at noonday, and that is, implicit and instantaneous obedience from the child to the parent, not only for the peace of the home, but for the highest good of the child." - Abbott Elliot Kittredge

"Repentance is a hearty sorrow for our past misdeeds, and is a sincere resolution and endeavor, to the utmost of our power, to conform all our actions to the law of God. It does not consist in one single act of sorrow, but in doing works meet for repentance; in a sincere obedience to the law of Christ for the remainder of our lives." - John Locke

"The perfect condition of slavery... is nothing else but the state of war continued between a lawful conqueror and a captive, for if once compact enter between them, and make an agreement for a limited power on the one side, and obedience on the other, the state of war and slavery ceases as long as the compact endures; for, as has been said, no man can by agreement pass over to another that which hath not in himself - a power over his own life." - John Locke

"Time cools, time clarifies, no mood can be maintained quite unaltered through the course of hours. In the early dawn, standing weapon in hand, neither of the combatants would be the same man as on the evening of the quarrel. They would be going through it, if at all, mechanically, in obedience to the demands of honour, not, as they would have at first, of their own free will, desire, and conviction; and such a denial of their actual selves in favour of their past ones, it must somehow be possible to prevent." - Thomas Mann, fully Paul Thomas Mann

"Command is anxiety; obedience, easy." - William Paley, Archdeacon of Saragossa

"Inquiry is human; blind obedience brutal. Truth never loses by the one but often suffers by the other... O God, help us not to despise or oppose what we do not understand." - William Penn

"Let the ground of all thy religious actions be obedience; examine not why it is commanded, but observe it because it is commanded. True obedience neither procrastinates nor questions." - Francis Quarles

"The ultimate aim of Government is not to rule or restrain by fear, not to exact obedience, but on the contrary, to free every man from fear, that he may live in all possible security; in other words to strengthen his natural right to exist and work without injury to himself and others. The object of government is not to hang men from rational beings into puppets, but to enable them to develop their minds and bodies in security, and to employ their reason unshackled... The true aim of Government is liberty." -

"Men are not corrupted by the exercise of power or debased by the habit of obedience, but by the exercise of a power which they believe to be illegitimate, and by obedience to a rule which they consider to be usurped and oppressive." - Alexis de Tocqueville, fully Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville

"The world is full of paradox. For example, [in Buddhism] though no notion of a creator is entertained, great stress is laid upon the need for faith and piety. By faith is meant not trust in a benevolent diety avid for love, praise and obedience, but conviction that beyond the seeming reality misreported by our senses which is inherently unsatisfactory, lies a mystery which, when intuitively unsatisfactory, lies a mystery which, when intuitively perceived, will give our lives undreamed-of meaning and endow the most insignificant object with holiness and beauty." - John Blofeld, fully John Eaton Calthorpe Blofeld

"Blind obedience is itself an abuse of human morality. It is a misuse of the human soul in the name of religious commitment. It is a sin against individual conscience. It makes moral children of the adults from whom moral agency is required. It makes a vow, which is meant to require religious figures to listen always to the law of God, beholden first to the laws of very human organizations in the person of very human authorities. It is a law that isn't even working in the military and can never substitute for personal morality." - Joan Chittister, fully Sister Joan D. Chittister

"The basis of society, of any society, is a certain pride in obedience. When this pride no longer exists, the society collapses." - Emil M. Cioran

"Faith is wealth! Obedience is wealth! Modesty also is wealth! Hearing is wealth, and so is Charity! Wisdom is sevenfold riches." - Dhammapada NULL

"Action makes propaganda’s effect irreversible. He who acts in obedience to propaganda can never go back. He is not obliged to believe in that propaganda because of his past action. He is obliged to receive from it his justification and authority, without which his action will seem to him absurd or unjust, which would be intolerable." - Jacques Ellul

"No man can build a bridge to God. But God never forces man to cross the bridge he builds for him. God never drags man across unwillingly to a relationship of love and communion. Even man’s obedience, in order to be real, must be from the heart; it must be willed by man." - Nels F. S. Ferré, fully Nels Fredrick Solomon Ferré

"There is nothing real, lasting, imperishable in me, but these two elements: the voice of conscience, and my free obedience." - Johann Gottlieb Fichte

"Obedience is the “virtue-making virtue.”" -

"The proper office of religion is to regulate the heart of men, humanize their conduct, infuse the spirit of temperance, order, and obedience." - David Hume

"Anarchism (from the Greek… contrary to authority), the name given to a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government – Harmony in such a society not being obtained by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted form the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being." - Peter Kropotkin, fully Prince Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin

"Crisis demands dictatorship, centralization, concentration, obedience, and bias. Intercrisis permits concessions toward democracy, decentralization, dispersion, originality, and objectivity." - Harold Dwight Lasswell

"Simple minds, less curious, less well instructed, are made good Christians, and through reverence and obedience hold their simple belief and abide by their laws." -

"Rebellion is almost as stupid as obedience. In either case you let yourself be defined by what they tell you to do." - Paul Graham

"If you would keep young and happy, be good; live a high moral life; practice the principles of the brotherhood of man; send out good thoughts to all, and think evil of no man. This is in obedience to the great natural law; to live otherwise is to break this great Divine law. Other things being equal, it is the cleanest, purest minds that live long and are happy. The man who is growing and developing intellectually does not grow old like the man who has stopped advancing, but when ambition, aspirations and ideals halt, old age begins." - Author Unknown NULL

"To the universal religion belong only such dogmas as are absolutely required in order to attain obedience to God, and without which such obedience would be impossible. As for the rest, each man – seeing that he is the best judge of his own character – should adopt whatever he thinks best adapted to strengthen his love of justice." -

"Whatever is found what is called a paternal government was found a State education. It has been discovered that the best way to insure implicit obedience [is] to commence tyranny in the nursery." - Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield

"Your ‘personal’ life cannot have a lasting intrinsic meaning. It can acquire a contingent meaning, but only by being fitted into and subordinated to something which ‘lasts’ and has a meaning in itself. Is this something what we attempt to identify when we speak of ‘Life’? Can your life have a meaning as a tiny fragment of life? Does Life exist? Seek and you shall find, experience Life as reality. Has Life a ‘meaning’? Experience Life as reality and the question becomes meaningless. Seek - ? Seek by daring to take the leap into unconditional obedience. Dare this when you are challenged, for only by the light of a challenge will you be able to see the cross-roads and, in full awareness of your choice, turn your back upon your personal life - with no right ever to look back. You will find that ‘in the pattern’ you are liberated from the need to live ‘with the herd’. You will find that, thus subordinated, your life will receive from Life all its meaning, irrespective of the conditions given you for its realization. You will find that the freedom of the continual farewell, the hourly self-surrender, gives to your experience of reality the purity and clarity which signify - seal-realization. You will find that obedience requires an act of will which must continually be re-iterated, and that you will fail, if anything in your personal life is allowed to slip back into the center." - Dag Hammarskjöld

"Happy are the families where the government of parents is the reign of affection, and obedience of the children the submission of love." - Francis Bacon

"Vice is waste of life. Poverty, obedience, and celibacy are the canonical vices." - George Bernard Shaw