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Walter Scott

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For he that does good, having the unlimited power to do evil, deserves praise not only for the good which he performs, but for the evil which he forbears.
--
Ch. 33, The Black Knight speaking to Locksley.

 
Walter Scott

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May we not say, perhaps, that the evil man is annihilated because he wished to be annihilated, or that he did not wish strongly enough to eternalize himself because he was evil? May we say that it is not believing in the other life which causes a man to be good, but rather that being good causes him believe in it? And what is being good and being evil? These states belong to the sphere of ethics, not of religion; or rather, does not the doing good though being evil pertain to ethics, and the being good [forgivable] though doing evil, to religion?

 
Miguel de Unamuno
 

You assist an unjust administration most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees. An evil administration never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil.
A good person will resist an evil system with his whole soul. Disobedience of the laws of an evil state is therefore a duty.

 
Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi
 

A person can be both good and evil, just as it is quite simply said that a human being has a disposition to both good and evil, but one cannot simultaneously become both good and evil. Esthetically, the poet has been required not to depict these abstract models of virtue or diabolical characters but to do as Goethe does, whose characters are both good and evil. And why is this a legitimate requirement? Because we want the poet to depict human beings as they are, and every human being is both good and evil, and because the poet’s medium is the medium of imagination, is being but not becoming, at most is becoming in a very foreshortened perspective. But take the individual out of this medium of imagination, out of this being, and place him in existence-then ethics immediately confronts him with its requirement, whether he now deigns to become, and then he becomes-either good or evil. In the earnest moment of self-contemplation, in the sacred moment of confession, the individual removes himself from the process of becoming and in the realm of being inspects how he is. Alas, the result unfortunately is that he is both good and evil, but as soon as he is again in the process of becoming he becomes either good or evil.

 
Soren Aabye Kierkegaard
 

"When you stopped believing in God, did you stop believing in good and evil?"
"No. But I stopped believing there was a power of good and a power of evil that were outside us. And I came to believe that good and evil are names for what people do, not for what they are. All we can say is that this is a good deed, because it helps someone, or that's an evil one, because it hurts them. People are too complicated to have simple labels."

 
Philip Pullman
 

It is with government, as with medicine. They have both but a choice of evils. Every law is an evil, for every law is an infraction of liberty: And I repeat that government has but a choice of evils: In making this choice, what ought to be the object of the legislator? He ought to assure himself of two things; 1st, that in every case, the incidents which he tries to prevent are really evils; and 2ndly, that if evils, they are greater than those which he employs to prevent them.
There are then two things to be regarded ; the evil of the offence and the evil of the law; the evil of the malady and the evil of the remedy.
An evil comes rarely alone. A lot of evil cannot well fall upon an individual without spreading itself about him, as about a common centre. In the course of its progress we see it take different shapes: we see evil of one kind issue from evil of another kind; evil proceed from good and good from evil. All these changes, it is important to know and to distinguish; in this, in fact, consists the essence of legislation.

 
Jeremy Bentham
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