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Abraham Pais

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One of the absolute rules I learned in the war was, don't know anything you don't need to know, because if you ever get caught they will get it out of you.
--
p. 50

 
Abraham Pais

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The Savior who wants to turn men into angels is as much a hater of human nature as the totalitarian despot who wants to turn them into puppets.
There are similarities between absolute power and absolute faith: a demand for absolute obedience; a readiness to attempt the impossible; a bias for simple solutions to cut the knot rather than unravel it; the viewing of compromise as surrender; the tendency to manipulate people and "experiment with blood."
Both absolute power and absolute faith are instruments of dehumanization. Hence absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power.

 
Eric Hoffer
 

We know one thing only. Absolute existence, absolute motion, absolute direction, absolute simultaneity, absolute truth, all such ideas: they have not, and never can have, any real meaning. If a man in delirium tremens fell into the Hudson River, he might remember the proverb and clutch at an imaginary straw. Words such as "truth" are like that straw. Confusion of thought is concealed, and its impotence denied, by the invention. This paragraph opened with "We know": yet, questioned, "we" make haste to deny the possibility of possessing, or even of defining, knowledge. What could be more certain to a parabola-philosopher that he could be approached in two ways, and two only? It would be indeed little less that the whole body of his knowledge, implied in the theory of his definition of himself, and confirmed by every single experience. He could receive impressions only be meeting A, or being caught up by B. Yet he would be wrong in an infinite number of ways. There are therefore Aleph-Zero possibilities that at any moment a man may find himself totally transformed. And it may be that our present dazzled bewilderment is due to our recognition of the existence of a new dimension of thought, which seems so "inscrutably infinite" and "absurd" and "immoral," etc. because we have not studied it long enough to appreciate that its laws are identical with our own, though extended to new conceptions.

 
Aleister Crowley
 

The Sovereign is absolute; for there is no other Authority but that which centers in his single Person, that can act with a Vigour proportionate to the Extent of such a vast Dominion.
The Extent of the Dominion requires an absolute Power to be vested in that Person who rules over it. It is expedient so to be, that the quick Dispatch of Affairs, sent from distant Parts, might make ample Amends for the Delay occasioned by the great Distance of the Places.
Every other Form of Government whatsoever would not only have been prejudicial to Russia, but would even have proved its entire Ruin.

 
Catherine II of Russia
 

The genius of human society is in fact the ease with which alliances are formed, broken, and reconstituted, always with strong emotional appeals to rules believed to be absolute.

 
E. O. Wilson
 

Ministers not responsible to parliament that would never do. Besides, I wanted to prepare a nice quiet job without too much work for my old age. Still, I admit, I was tempted. Look at the way de Gaulle rules France ... absolute rule ... very efficient.

 
Eamon de Valera
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