Civilized Life Quotes

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In civilized life, law floats in a sea of ethics.
Earl Warren
• Speech at the Louis Marshall Award Dinner of the Jewish Theological Seminary, Americana Hotel, New York City (11 November 1962)
• Source: Wikiquote: "Earl Warren" (Quotes)
But man's helplessness remains and along with it his longing for his father, and the gods. The gods retain their threefold task: they must exorcise the terrors of nature, they must reconcile men to the cruelty of Fate, particularly as it is shown in death, and they must compensate them for the sufferings and privations which a civilized life in common has imposed on them.
The prevalence of the corporation in America has led men of this generation to act, at times, as if the privilege of doing business in corporate form were inherent in the citizen; and has led them to accept the evils attendant upon the free and unrestricted use of the corporate mechanism as if these evils were the inescapable price of civilized life, and, hence to be borne with resignation.
Civilized life begins with a boiled egg sitting upright in an egg cup.
Mac continued to write scathing commentary on assorted hypocrisies in high places and low, without which hypocrisies, he cheerfully conceded, civilized life would be impossible.
Jack McDevitt
• Epilogue (p. 506)
• Source: Wikiquote: "Jack McDevitt" (Sourced, Academy Series - Priscilla "Hutch" Hutchins, Deepsix (2001): All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published in 2002 by Eos )
The Diary of Vaslav Nijinjsky reaches a limit of sincerity beyond any of the documents that we have referred to on this study. There are other modern works that express the same sense that civilized life is a form of living death; notably the poetry of T. S. Eliot and the novels of Franz Kafka; but there is an element of prophetic denunciation in both, the attitude of healthy men rebuking their sick neighbors. We possess no other record of the Outsider's problems that was written by a man about to be defeated and permanently smashed by those problems.
The rapidity of the progress made by Islam in the sciences, arts, industry, and commerce, and all the refinements of civilized life, is almost as amazing as the rapidity of its conquest.
A public that tries to do without criticism, and asserts that it knows what it wants or likes, brutalizes the arts and loses its cultural memory. Art for art's sake is a retreat from criticism which ends in an impoverishment of civilized life itself.
Shelter is a human need ranking in priority with food and water and a home is an essential condition of civilized life. Once these truths are seen, homelessness will be recognized for what it is: an affront to human dignity and the denial of a basic human right.
• Lord Scarman, president of the United Kingdom Council for the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless, as attributed in The Homeless—Is There a Hope?, Awake! magazine article, 1998 3/8.
• Source: Wikiquote: "House" (Quotes)
Ninety percent of our lives is governed by emotion. Our brains merely register and act upon what is telegraphed to them by our bodily experience. Intellect is to emotion as our clothes are to our bodies; we could not very well have civilized life without clothes, but we would be in a poor way if we had only clothes without bodies.
Alfred North Whitehead
• Ch. 29, June 10, 1943.
• Source: Wikiquote: "Alfred North Whitehead" (Quotes, Attributed from Attributed from posthumous publications, Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead (1954): Lucien Price (1954). Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead)
For the love of God, for the love of your children and of the civilization to which you belong, cease this madness. You are mortal men. You are capable of error. You have no right to hold in your hands — there is no one wise enough and strong enough to hold in his hands — destructive power sufficient to put an end to civilized life on a great portion of our planet.
There is another consideration, which, with most men of the Prairies, operates seriously against their reconciliation to the habits of civilized life. ...a long absence from such society generally obliterates from their minds most of those common laws of social intercourse, which are so necessary to the man of the world. The awkwardness and the gaucheries which ignorance of their details so often involves, are very trying to all men of sensitive temperaments. Consequently, multitudes rush back to the Prairies, merely to escape those criticisms and that ridicule, which they know not how to disarm.
On the night after the first buffalo scamper, we encamped upon a woodless ravine, and were obliged to resort to 'buffalo chips'''' (dry ordure) for fuel. It is amusing to witness the bustle which generally takes place in collecting this offal. In dry weather it is an excellent substitute for wood, than which it even makes a hotter fire; but when moistened by rain, the smouldering pile will smoke for hours before it condescends to burn, if it does at all. The buffalo meat which the hunter roasts or broils upon this fire, he accounts more savory than the steaks dressed by the most delicate cooks in civilized life.'''
Commerce of the Prairies
• p. 114. = Chapter 18 Travelling out of our Latitude — The Buffalo-gnat — ...Indians Least Dangerous to such as Trade with Them =
• Source: Wikiquote: "Commerce of the Prairies" (Quotes: This book in two volumes was originally published in 1844
Gregg, J. 1844. Commerce of the Prairies. New York: Henry G. Langley., two years prior to the outbreak of the Mexican American War, and the year prior to the U.S. annexation of Texas which precipitated the war. The edition from which these quotes are taken was published by A. H. Clark in 1905., Chapter 17 A Return to Prairie Life — ...Prairie Fuel)
Ever since these enlightened principles of the modern point of view were first installed in the eighteenth century as the self-evident rule of reason in civilized life, the industrial arts have also continued to gain in productive efficiency, at an ever-accelerated rate of gain; so that today the industrial methods of the machine era are highly productive, beyond any earlier state of the industrial arts or anything that is known outside the range of this new order of industry. The output of this industrial system yields a wider margin of net product over cost than has ever been obtainable by any other or earlier known method of work. It consequently affords ground for an uncommonly substantial vested interest in this disposable net margin.
What is serious about excitement is that so many of its forms are destructive. It is destructive in those who cannot resist excess in alcohol or gambling. It is destructive when it takes the form of mob violence. And above all it is destructive when it leads to war. It is so deep a need that it will find harmful outlets of this kind unless innocent outlets are at hand. There are such innocent outlets at present in sport, and in politics so long as it is kept within constitutional bounds. But these are not sufficient, especially as the kind of politics that is most exciting is also the kind that does most harm. Civilized life has grown altogether too tame, and, if it is to be stable, it must provide harmless outlets for the impulses which our remote ancestors satisfied in hunting.
Unrestricted ownership of property, with inheritance, free contract, and self-help, is believed to have been highly expedient as well as eminently equitable under the circumstances which conditioned civilized life at the period when the civilized world made up its mind to that effect. And the discrepancy which has come in evidence in this later time is traceable to the fact that other things have not remained the same. The odious outcome has been made by disturbing causes, not by these enlightened principles of honest living. Security and unlimited discretion in the rights of ownership were once rightly made much of as a simple and obvious safeguard of self-direction and self-help for the common man; whereas, in the event, under a new order of circumstances, it all promises to be nothing better than a means of assured defeat and vexation for the common man.
Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail. In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quicksands and thousand-and-one items to be allowed for, that a man has to live, if he would not founder and go to the bottom and not make his port at all, by dead reckoning, and he must be a great calculator indeed who succeeds. Simplify, simplify. Instead of three meals a day, if it be necessary eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes, five; and reduce other things in proportion.
The real world with its common logic pushes us toward catastrophe. The artists seek in his work to free himself from this weight. Art is being transformed into politics, love into trade, education into an apparatus for stifling the mind. In the midst of such horrors, clearly only the dream within me has life. But how do other people live? -There is color, virginal expression - new, without a cage, without routine, without limit, a bath of sun and light. We must realize that nothing man does is of any value. The trouble is that people want to be paid. Only sick men can be artists. Their suffering pushes them into the accomplishment of deeds which reinvest the world with meaning. The sensitive man or the artist can only be a sick man in our civilized life, so full of lies. To think of art as a profession, how appealing! – Painting is man in the face of his downfall.
The workers' militias, based on the trade unions and each composed of people of approximately the same political opinions, had the effect of canalizing into one place all the most revolutionary sentiment in the country. I had dropped more or less by chance into the only community of any size in Western Europe where political consciousness and disbelief in capitalism were more normal than their opposites. Up here in Aragón one was among tens of thousands of people, mainly though not entirely of working-class origin, all living at the same level and mingling on terms of equality. In theory it was perfect equality, and even in practice it was not far from it. There is a sense in which it would be true to say that one was experiencing a foretaste of Socialism, by which I mean that the prevailing mental atmosphere was that of Socialism. Many of the normal motives of civilized life--snobbishness, money-grubbing, fear of the boss, etc.--had simply ceased to exist. The ordinary class-division of society had disappeared to an extent that is almost unthinkable in the money-tainted air of England; there was no one there except the peasants and ourselves, and no one owned anyone else as his master. Of course such a state of affairs could not last. It was simply a temporary and local phase in an enormous game that is being played over the whole surface of the earth. But it lasted long enough to have its effect upon anyone who experienced it. However much one cursed at the time, one realized afterwards that one had been in contact with something strange and valuable. One had been in a community where hope was more normal than apathy or cynicism, where the word 'comrade' stood for comradeship and not, as in most countries, for humbug. One had breathed the air of equality. I am well aware that it is now the fashion to deny that Socialism has anything to do with equality. In every country in the world a huge tribe of party-hacks and sleek little professors are busy 'proving' that Socialism means no more than a planned state-capitalism with the grab-motive left intact. But fortunately there also exists a vision of Socialism quite different from this. The thing that attracts ordinary men to Socialism and makes them willing to risk their skins for it, the 'mystique' of Socialism, is the idea of equality; to the vast majority of people Socialism means a classless society, or it means nothing at all. And it was here that those few months in the militia were valuable to me.
There are two main counts included in this modern -- eighteenth-century -- plan, which appear unremittingly to make for discomfort and dissension under the conditions offered by the New Order of things: -- National Ambition, and the Vested Rights of ownership. Neither of the two need be condemned as being intrinsically mischievous. Indeed, it may be true, as has often been argued, that both have served a good purpose in their due time and place; at least there is no need of arguing the contrary. Both belong in the settled order of civilized life; and both alike are countenanced by those principles of truth, equity and validity that go to make up the modern point of view. It is only that now, as things have been turning during the later one hundred years, both of these immemorially modern rights of man have come to yield a net return of hardship and ill-will for all those peoples who have bound up their fortunes with that kind of enterprise.
The facts, particularly the facts of industry and science, have outrun these provisions of law and custom; and so the scheme of things has got out of joint by that much, through no inherent weakness in the underlying principles of law and custom. The ancient and honorable principles of self-help are as sound as ever; it is only that the facts have quite unwarrantably not remained the same.
Such, in effect, has been the view habitually spoken for by many thoughtful persons of a conservative turn, who take an interest in concerting measures for holding fast that which once was good, in the face of distasteful facts. The vested right of ownership in all kinds of property has the sanction of the time-honored principles of individual self-direction, equal opportunity, free contract, security of earnings and belongings, self-help, in the simple and honest meaning of the word. It would be quite bootless to find fault with these reasonable principles of tolerance and security. Their definitive acceptance and stabilization in the eighteenth century are among the illustrious achievements of Western civilization; and their roots lie deep in the native wisdom of mankind. They are obvious corollaries under the rule of Live and let live, -- an Accidental version of the Golden Rule. Yet in practical effect those vested rights which rest blamelessly on these reasonable canons of tolerance and good faith have today become the focus of vexation and misery in the life of the civilized peoples. Circumstances have changed to such effect that provisions which were once framed to uphold a system of neighborly good-will have now begun to run counter to one another and are working mischief to the common good.

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