Quotes on Justice, Virtue, and Human Nature

Classified in Philosophy and ethics

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·A just person is happy, and an unjust one wretched. SOCRATES PLATO’S REPUBLIC

·Crooked wood must await steaming and straightening on the shaping frame, and only then does it become straight. Blunt metal must await honing and grinding, and only then does it become sharp. Now since people’s nature is bad, they must await teachers and proper models, and only then do they become correct in their behavior. XUNXI

·Even those who practice justice do so against their will because they lack the power to do wrong. PLATO’S REPUBLIC

·Every man believes that injustice is much more profitable to himself than justice, and any exponent of this argument will say that he is right. The man who did not wish to do wrong with that opportunity, and did not touch other people’s property, would be thought by those who knew it to be very foolish and miserable. RING OF GYGES

·Honor, pleasure, understanding, and every virtue we certainly choose because of themselves, since we would choose each of them even if it had no further result; but we also choose them for the sake of happiness, supposing that through them we shall be happy. ARISTOTLE

·Human beings… when they are harmed they become worse in human virtue… can those who are just make people unjust through justice? In a word, can those who are good make people bad through virtue? PLATO’S REPUBLIC SOCRATES

·I believe one should forgive the person or persons who have committed atrocities against oneself and mankind. But this does not necessarily mean one should forget about the atrocities committed. In fact, one should be aware and remember these experiences so that efforts can be made to check the reoccurrence of such atrocities in the future. Dalai Lama

·If someone turned your body over to just any person who happened to meet you, you would be angry. But are you not ashamed that you turn over your own faculty of judgement to whoever happens along, so that if he abuses you it is upset and confused? Epictetus

·It is clear that if we look only to retributive justice, then we could just as well close up shop. Forgiveness is not some nebulous thing. It is practical politics. Without forgiveness, there is no future. TUTU

·Only if Nazi crimes like the genocide of European Jewry are not subject to a statute of limitation now or in the future, only if everyone who committed atrocities is hunted down and finally caught, will the potential murderers of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow be prevented from realizing their criminal potential. AMERY

·People desire to become good because their nature is bad. The person who has little longs to have much. The person of narrow experience longs to be broadened. The ugly person longs to be beautiful… that which one does not have within oneself, one is sure to seek for outside. xunzi

·Some things are up to us and some are not up to us… the things that are up to us are by nature free, unhindered, and unimpeded; the things that are not up to us are weak, enslaved, hindered, and not our own. So remember, if you think that things naturally enslaved are free or that things not your own are your own, you will be thwarted, miserable, and upset, and will blame both gods and men. Epictetus

·To say of oneself that one is unable to be virtuous is to steal from oneself. To say that one’s ruler is unable to be virtuous is to steal from one’s ruler. Mengzi

·Water surely does not distinguish between east and west. But does it not distinguish between upward and downward? Human nature’s being good is like water’s tending downward. There is no human who does not tend toward goodness. There is no water that does not tend downward. MENGZI

·We condemn the intelligent man of conscience because there is a difference; because though at heart not a savage, he allowed himself to become one, he did not resist. It was not that he lacked conscience; he smothered it. It was not that he lacked sensibility; he coarsened it. It was not that he lacked humanity; he deadened it. OZICK

·We have found, then, that the human function is activity of the soul in according with reason or requiring reason.  ARISTOTLE

·Well, I kept silent when a young Nazi, on his deathbed, begged me to be his confessor. And later when I met his mother I again kept silent rather than shatter her illusions about her dead son’s inherent goodness. And how many bystanders kept silent as they watched Jewish men, women, and children being led to the slaughterhouses of Europe? Wiesenthal

·What upsets people is not things themselves but their judgements about the things… So when we are thwarted or upset or distressed, let us never blame someone else but rather ourselves, that is, our own judgements. An uneducated person accuses others when he is doing badly; a partly educated person accuses himself, an educated person accuses neither someone else nor himself. Epictetus

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