ABSOLUTISM QUOTES

quotations about absolutism

Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, "Am I an Atheist or an Agnostic?", A Plea for Tolerance in the Face of New Dogmas

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Tags: Bertrand Russell, doubt


Only the madman is absolutely sure.

ROBERT ANTON WILSON, Masks of the Illuminati

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Tags: madness


Relativists say that relativism is true. To be consistent, they must say that relativism is relatively true. In turn, absolutists say that absolutism is true. To be consistent, in turn, they must say that absolutism is absolutely true.... So understood, absolutism and relativism are not on the same playing field.... The statements "Absolutism is absolutely true" and "Relativism is relatively true" do not contradict. The relativist cannot say, "Relativism is true" in the same sense of truth that the absolutist deploys when he says, "Absolutism is true." Between them, the very idea of truth must be equivocal. Each begs the question of truth itself.

MICHAEL KRAUSZ, Dialogues on Relativism, Absolutism, and Beyond

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Tags: truth


All parties without exception, when they seek for power, are varieties of absolutism.

PIERRE-JOSEPH PROUDHON, attributed, Crown's Book of Political Quotations

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Tags: political parties, power


Every truth--if it really is truth--presents itself as universal, even if it is not the whole truth. If something is true, then it must be true for all people and at all times. Beyond this universality, however, people seek an absolute which might give to all their searching a meaning and an answer--something ultimate, which might serve as the ground of all things. In other words, they seek a final explanation, a supreme value, which refers to nothing beyond itself and which puts an end to all questioning. Hypotheses may fascinate, but they do not satisfy. Whether we admit it or not, there comes for everyone the moment when personal existence must be anchored to a truth recognized as final, a truth which confers a certitude no longer open to doubt.Through the centuries, philosophers have sought to discover and articulate such a truth, giving rise to various systems and schools of thought. But beyond philosophical systems, people seek in different ways to shape a "philosophy" of their own--in personal convictions and experiences, in traditions of family and culture, or in journeys in search of life's meaning under the guidance of a master. What inspires all of these is the desire to reach the certitude of truth and the certitude of its absolute value.

POPE JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical letter, Fides et Ratio, Sep. 14, 1998

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Tags: truth


Absolutists might tell you that they're absolutists because their beliefs are so compelling. I think it's the opposite. The desire to be finished wondering and doubting themselves compels them to find a belief to hold absolutely. The logical power of the dogma doesn't compel their tail-wagging certainty. Rather, the appetite for tail-wagging certainty wags the dogma. The absolutists' need to be absolutely committed to a belief compels them to pretend that their belief is absolutely right.

JEREMY SHERMAN, "The More Accurate Term for 'Extremist' We Should All Consider Adopting", AlterNet, December 9, 2016

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How are you going to teach virtue if you teach the relativity of all ethical ideas? Virtue, if it implies anything at all, implies an ethical absolute. A person whose idea of what is proper varies from day to day can be admired for his broadmindedness, but not for his virtue.

ROBERT M. PIRSIG, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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Tags: Robert Pirsig, virtue


[Absolutism] is often intolerant toward other philosophies, militant in the need to proselytize, and totalitarian in its attempts to silence anyone expressing an opinion which evidences shades of difference from the official line.

SAUL ADELMAN, "An Antifundamentalist Rejoinder", National Forum, fall 1990

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But after one absolutism is destroyed by a revolutionary attack, the victor establishes itself in equally absolute terms. This is almost unavoidable, because the attack was victorious through the strength of an absolute claim, often of a utopian character. Revolutionary reason believes just as deeply as traditionalism that it represents unchangeable truth.

PAUL TILLICH, Systemic Theology

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Tags: revolution


The problem with many Americans is they will readily see the danger of other person's absolutism, but are slow to recognize the danger of their own. It is easy to say, "But my absolutism is based in the real truth. It is different from the garden variety of narrow-minded absolutism.

JAMES C. ALEXANDER, Stories of a Recovering Fundamentalist

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Dogmatism and skepticism are both, in a sense, absolute philosophies; one is certain of knowing, the other of not knowing. What philosophy should dissipate is certainty, whether of knowledge or ignorance.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, "Philosophy for Laymen", Unpopular Essays

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Tags: knowledge, ignorance


In the light of absolute values (religious or ethical) man himself is judged to be limited or imperfect, while he can occasionally accomplish acts which partake of perfection, he, himself can never be perfect.

T. E. HULME, Speculations

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Tags: perfection


Triangulation is a carrot to be employed first, while absolutism is a stick of last resort.

MICHAEL HARRIS, "Polarised Bashir debate fails to understand foreign policy", Business Day Live, July 23, 2015

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Comparing democratic and monarchical absolutism, we shall find that the latter must needs rest its power somewhere without the monarch himself; for, as has been several times observed, the monarch had personally no more power than the meanest of the crowd. He must be supported by opinion without him; but democratic absolutism is power itself -- it is a reality -- fearfully sweeping power. It is a real power, a torrent which nothing can stem. If an individual opposes monarchical absolutism, there is something heroic in it in the eyes of the people; if a man opposes democratic absolutism, he is at once considered a heretic, a traitor to the common weal.

FRANCIS LIEBER, Manual of Political Ethics

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Tags: democracy


A modern theory of knowledge which takes account of the relational as distinct from the merely relative character of all historical knowledge must start with the assumption that there are spheres of thought in which it is impossible to conceive of absolute truth existing independently of the values and position of the subject and unrelated to the social context.

KARL MANNHEIM, Ideology and Utopia

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Suppose that perspectivism is true in some perspectives and false in others. Consider the latter case, a perspective in which perspectivism is false. In such a perspective, the denial of perspectivism -- that is, absolutism, is true. Now, absolutism is true only if there is at least one statement that is true in all perspectives. But there is no such statement: not the thesis of absolutism itself, since, by hypothesis, there are perspectives in which it is false and perspectivism is true; not perspectivism, since, again by hypothesis, there are perspectives in which it is false; nor any other statement in the perspective in which absolutism is true, since there are distinct perspectives in which all those statements are false. Hence, there is no statement that is true in all perspectives; that is, for every statement there are perspectives in which that statement is true and perspectives in which it is false. But then perspectivism is true in all perspectives, and this, we have already shown, entails that perspectivism is false.

REX WELSHON, The Philosophy of Nietzsche

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The idea of God is the type and foundation of the principle of authority and absolutism, which it is our task to destroy or at least to subordinate wherever it manifests itself.

JOSEPH-PIERRE PROUDHON, The Philosophy of Poverty: The System of Economic Contradictions

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Relativity must replace absolutism in the realm of morals as well as in the spheres of physics and biology. This of course does not involve the denial of the principle of continuity in human affairs. Nor does it mean that each generation must repudiate the system of values of its predecessors. It does mean, however, that no such system is permanent; that it will have to change and grow in response to experience.

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS, Character Education

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Those who claim absolutism is merely a myth are right that it has been misused simply as a byword for political centralisation.

PETER WILSON, Absolutism in Central Europe

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It is possible that the distinction between moral relativism and moral absolutism has sometimes been blurred because an excessively consistent practice of either leads to the same practical result -- ruthlessness in political life.

RICHARD HOFSTADTER, introduction, The Age of Reform: From Bryan to F.D.R.

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