The Devil's Notebook (1992)
Quotes about Evil
A collection of quotes on the topic of evil.Related topics
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„All the great evils which men cause to each other because of certain intentions, desires, opinions, or religious principles, are likewise due to non-existence, because they originate in ignorance, which is absence of wisdom.“
Guide for the Perplexed (c. 1190), Part III
„It is extraordinary that nobody nowadays under the stress of great troubles is turned into stone or a bird or a tree or some inanimate object; they used to undergo such metamorphoses in ancient times (or so they say), though whether that is myth or a true story I know not. Maybe it would be better to change one's nature into something that lacks all feeling, rather than be so sensitive to evil. Had that been possible, these calamities would in all probability have turned me to stone“
The Alexiad, Preface
— Herodotus ancient Greek historian, often considered as the first historian -484 - -425 BC
The words of Socrates, as quoted by Diogenes Laertius.
„Lesser, greater, middling, it's all the same. Proportions are negotiated, boundaries blurred. I'm not a pious hermit, I haven't done only good in my life. But if I'm to choose between one evil and another, then I prefer not to choose at all.“
Source: The Last Wish
„There was a solemn article in the local paper seriously advocating systematic exterminating of the entire German nation as the only proper course after military victory: because, if you please, they are rattlesnakes, and don't know the difference between good and evil! (What of the writer?) The Germans have just as much right to declare the Poles and Jews exterminable vermin, subhuman, as we have to select the Germans: in other words, no right, whatever they have done.“
— John Ronald Reuel Tolkien British philologist and author, creator of classic fantasy works 1892 - 1973
Letter (September 1944)
— Socrates classical Greek Athenian philosopher -470 - -399 BC
literally: 'For know well', he said, 'o dearest Kriton, that to not speak well is not only sinful by itself, but lets evil intrude into the soul.'(εὖ γὰρ ἴσθι, ἦ δ᾽ ὅς, ὦ ἄριστε Κρίτων, τὸ μὴ καλῶς λέγειν οὐ μόνον εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο πλημμελές, ἀλλὰ καὶ κακόν τι ἐμποιεῖ ταῖς ψυχαῖς.)
— Confucius Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher -551 - -479 BC
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„My boys may charge me with all they want. The main thing is, it helps them. They are not evil and no criminals. They are the products of total war, grown up on the streets of scattered towns without any education! The only thing [they] knew was to handle weapons for the Dream of [the] Reich. They were young people with a hot heart and the desire to win or to die, according to the word: right or wrong—my country!“
— Joachim Peiper SS officer 1915 - 1976
Letter to Willis Everett, July 4, 1946. Parker, Hitler's Warrior, chapter 14, citing Everett Papers in note 5.
„Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.“
I Corinthians Ch. 13 (KJV) The word "Charity" is here used as a translation of the Latin Caritas, and the original Greek Agape, which were words for "Love", and used to denote the highest and most self-transcending forms of Love.
Variants: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
I Corinthians Ch. 13 (NKJV)
If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophesy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes in all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tounges, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present, we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians Ch. 13 (NASB)
Now, there remain faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13, New World Translation http://www.watchtower.org/e/bible/1co/chapter_013.htm
First Epistle to the Corinthians
Context: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
„No one saves us but ourselves,
No one can and no one may.
We ourselves must walk the path
Buddhas merely teach the way.
By ourselves is evil done,
By ourselves we pain endure,
By ourselves we cease from wrong,
By ourselves become we pure.“
— Gautama Buddha philosopher, reformer and the founder of Buddhism -563 - -483 BC
Ch. 165, as translated in The Dharma, or The Religion of Enlightenment; An Exposition of Buddhism (1896) by Paul Carus; variants for some years have included "We ourselves must walk the path but Buddhas clearly show the way", but this is not yet located in any of the original publications of Carus.
Pali Canon, Sutta Pitaka, Khuddaka Nikaya (Minor Collection), Dhammapada
„Perched up high on a rooftop,
like a bird I'm having evil thoughts,
A black hood covers my face
as death flows through my mind at its own pace.“
— Eazy-E American rapper and producer 1963 - 1995
"Neighborhood Sniper", 5150: Home 4 tha Sick (1992).
„We're [the Red Hot Chili Peppers] jamming and that works really well. We don't talk much about songs or how songs should be constructed. We just start to play and see what happens, how they develop. We improvise a lot. We find a groove. We experiment and somehow it turns into music. The Koreans have influenced us a lot, through their loving attitude, evil dictatorship, and funky bass playing.“
— Flea (musician) American musician 1962
Quoted from NYRock Red Hot Chili Peppers Interview http://www.nyrock.com/interviews/rhcp_int.htm
— Napoleon III French emperor, president, and member of the House of Bonaparte 1808 - 1873
Napoléon III, Des Idées napoléoniennes, edited by Henri Colburn, London (1839), chapter 3, p. 39: En politique il faut guérir les maux, jamais les venger.
Translated by James A. Dorr, in: Napoleonic Ideas, Appleton & Co, New York (1859), p. 41
„I affirm, in words as true and literal as any that belong to geometry, that the man who withholds knowledge from a child not only works diabolical miracles for the destruction of good, but for the creation of evil also.“
— Horace Mann American politician 1796 - 1859
Congressional speech (1849)
Context: I affirm, in words as true and literal as any that belong to geometry, that the man who withholds knowledge from a child not only works diabolical miracles for the destruction of good, but for the creation of evil also. He who shuts out truth, by the same act opens the door to all the error that supplies its place. Ignorance breeds monsters to fill up all the vacuities of the soul that are unoccupied by the verities of knowledge. He who dethrones the idea of law, bids chaos welcome in its stead. Superstition is the mathematical complement of religious truth; and just so much less as the life of a human being is reclaimed to good, just so much more is it delivered over to evil. The man or the institution, therefore, that withholds knowledge from a child, or from a race of children, exercises the awful power of changing the world in which they are to live, just as much as though he should annihilate all that is most lovely and grand in this planet of ours, or transport the victim of his cruelty to some dark and frigid zone of the universe, where the sweets of knowledge are unknown, and the terrors of ignorance hold their undisputed and remorseless reign.
„The poniard and the stiletto were once the resource of a murderous spirit; now the vengeance, which formerly would assassinate in the dark, libels character, in the light of day, through the medium of the press.
But through this instrumentality good can be wrought as well as evil.“
— Horace Mann American politician 1796 - 1859
"Printing and Paper Making" in The Common School Journal Vol. V, No. 3 (1 February 1843)
Context: Every school boy and school girl who has arrived at the age of reflection ought to know something about the history of the art of printing, papermaking, and so forth. … All children will work better if pleased with their tools; and there are no tools more ingeniously wrought, or more potent than those which belong to the art of the printer. Dynasties and governments used to be attacked and defended by arms; now the attack and the defence are mainly carried on by types. To sustain any scheme of state policy, to uphold one administration or to demolish another, types, not soldiers, are brought into line. Hostile parties, and sometimes hostile nations, instead of fitting out martial or naval expeditions, establish printing presses, and discharge pamphlets or octavoes at each other, instead of cannon balls. The poniard and the stiletto were once the resource of a murderous spirit; now the vengeance, which formerly would assassinate in the dark, libels character, in the light of day, through the medium of the press.
But through this instrumentality good can be wrought as well as evil. Knowledge can be acquired, diffused, perpetuated. An invisible, inaudible, intangible thought in the silent chambers of the mind, breaks away from its confinement, becomes imbodied in a sign, is multiplied by myriads, traverses the earth, and goes resounding down to the latest posterity.