Quotes about laws

A collection of quotes on the topic of law.

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Al Capone photo
Lydia Maria Child photo
Immanuel Kant photo
Philo photo
Ulpian photo
Hermann Hesse photo

„Each of us has to find out for himself what is permitted and what is forbidden — forbidden for him. It's possible for one never to transgress a single law and still be a bastard. And vice versa.“

—  Hermann Hesse, book Demian

Source: Demian (1919), p. 147
Context: Certainly you shouldn't go kill somebody or rape a girl, no! But you haven't reached the point where you can understand the actual meaning of "permitted" and "forbidden." You've only sensed part of the truth. You will feel the other part, too, you can depend on it. For instance, for about a year you have had to struggle with a drive that is stronger than any other and which is considered "forbidden." The Greeks and many other peoples, on the other hand, elevated this drive, made it divine and celebrated it in great feasts. What is forbidden, in other words, is not something eternal; it can change. Anyone can sleep with a woman as soon as he's been to a pastor with her and has married her, yet other races do it differently, even nowadays. Each of us has to find out for himself what is permitted and what is forbidden — forbidden for him. It's possible for one never to transgress a single law and still be a bastard. And vice versa. Actually it's only a question of convenience. Those who are too lazy and comfortable to think for themselves and be their own judges obey the laws. Others sense their own laws within them; things are forbidden to them that every honorable man will do any day in the year and other things are allowed to them that are generally despised. Each person must stand on his own feet.

Hermann Hesse photo

„Beginners learned how to establish parallels, by means of the Game's symbols, between a piece of classical music and the formula for some law of nature. Experts and Masters of the Game freely wove the initial theme into unlimited combinations.“

—  Hermann Hesse, book The Glass Bead Game

The Glass Bead Game (1943)
Context: Under the shifting hegemony of now this, now that science or art, the Game of games had developed into a kind of universal language through which the players could express values and set these in relation to one another. Throughout its history the Game was closely allied with music, and usually proceeded according to musical and mathematical rules. One theme, two themes, or three themes were stated, elaborated, varied, and underwent a development quite similar to that of the theme in a Bach fugue or a concerto movement. A Game, for example, might start from a given astronomical configuration, or from the actual theme of a Bach fugue, or from a sentence out of Leibniz or the Upanishads, and from this theme, depending on the intentions and talents of the player, it could either further explore and elaborate the initial motif or else enrich its expressiveness by allusions to kindred concepts. Beginners learned how to establish parallels, by means of the Game's symbols, between a piece of classical music and the formula for some law of nature. Experts and Masters of the Game freely wove the initial theme into unlimited combinations.

Robert Fulghum photo
Rousas John Rushdoony photo
Publilio Siro photo

„Necessity gives the law without itself acknowledging one.“

—  Publilio Siro Latin writer

Maxim 444
Variant translation: Necessity knows no law except to conquer.
Necessitas non habet legem, "Necessity has no law", is apparently of medieval origin. See Necessity for further variants.
Sentences
Original: (la) Necessitas dat legem non ipsa accipit.

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H. L. A. Hart photo

„For those who practise tyranny and deprive others of their rights, I will be harsh and stern, but for those who follow the law, I will be most soft and tender.“

—  Umar Second Caliph of Rashidun Caliphate and a companion of Muhammad 585 - 644

As quoted in Al Farooq, Umar (1944) by Muhammad Husayn Haykal, Ch. 5, p. 123

Aaron Swartz photo

„The law about what is stealing is very clear. Stealing is taking something away from someone so they cannot use it. There’s no way that making a copy of something is stealing under that definition.“

—  Aaron Swartz computer programmer and internet-political activist 1986 - 2013

UTI interview (2004)
Context: The law about what is stealing is very clear. Stealing is taking something away from someone so they cannot use it. There’s no way that making a copy of something is stealing under that definition.
If you make a copy of something, you’ll be prosecuted for copyright infringement or something similar — not larceny (the legal term for stealing). Stealing, like piracy and intellectual property, is another one of those terms cooked up to make us think of intellectual works the same way we think of physical items. But the two are very different.
You can’t just punish people because they took away a “potential sale”. Earthquakes take away potential sales, as do libraries and rental stores and negative reviews. Competitors also take away potential sales.

S.J. Perelman photo

„I guess I’m just an old mad scientist at bottom. Give me an underground laboratory, half a dozen atom-smashers, and a beautiful girl in a diaphanous veil waiting to be turned into a chimpanzee, and I care not who writes the nation’s laws.“

—  S.J. Perelman American humorist, author, and screenwriter 1904 - 1979

"Captain Future, Block That Kick!," The New Yorker (20 January 1940) p. 23 http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1940/01/20/captain-future-block-that-kick
Published in book form under the same title in The Most of S. J. Perelman (1992) p. 71

Lucian photo
Ronald Fisher photo
Émile Durkheim photo

„When mores are sufficient, laws are unnecessary. When mores are insufficient, laws are unenforceable.“

—  Émile Durkheim French sociologist (1858-1917) 1858 - 1917

Attributed from postum publications
Source: Jeffrey Eisenach et al. (1993), Readings in renewing American civilization, p. 54

Simón Bolívar photo
Vilfredo Pareto photo
Max Stirner photo

„The State’s behavior is violence, and it calls its violence “law”; that of the individual, “crime.”“

—  Max Stirner, book The Ego and Its Own

The state calls its own violence law, but that of the individual, crime.
As quoted in The Great Quotations (1960) by George Seldes, p. 664
The Ego and Its Own (1845)

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“