Quotes about laws
A collection of quotes on the topic of law.Related topics
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„In the first place, an unjust law exists in this Commonwealth, by which marriages between persons of different color is pronounced illegal. I am perfectly aware of the gross ridicule to which I may subject myself by alluding to this particular; but I have lived too long, and observed too much, to be disturbed by the world's mockery.“
— Lydia Maria Child American abolitionist, author and women's rights activist 1802 - 1880
Chapter VIII http://utc.iath.virginia.edu/abolitn/abeslmca5t.html
1830s, An Appeal on Behalf of That Class of Americans Called Africans (1833)
„Moses … takes one form of desire, that one whose field of activity is the belly, and admonishes and disciplines it as the first step, holding that the other forms will cease to run riot as before and will be restrained by having learnt that their senior and as it were the leader of their company is obedient to the laws of temperance.“
— Philo Roman philosopher -15 - 45 BC
On the Special Laws
— Ulpian Roman jurist 170 - 228
„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.“
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.
„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.“
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.
„What we learn in kindergarten comes up again and again in our lives as long as we live. In far more complex, polysyllabic forms, to be sure. In lectures, encyclopedias, bibles, company rules, courts of law, sermons, and handbooks. Life will examine us continually to see if we have understood and have practiced what we were taught that first year of school.“
All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (1986)
„The point Saint Paul … makes is that every one, whether they have ever read the Bible or heard the gospel, knows in his heart that God is God, and what his law order is. So that every man in his unbelief and in his immorality is without excuse, because God having made him has written His requirements in the tables of every man’s heart, so that they all sin with knowledge, whether they are in the depths of the African jungles or in the heart of Asia, or in the heart of New York. Every man sins with knowledge.“
— Rousas John Rushdoony American theologian 1916 - 2001
Audio lectures, Homosexuality (n. d.)
— Publilio Siro Latin writer
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.
Original: (la) Necessitas dat legem non ipsa accipit.
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„Ronald Dworkin… argues that our law includes not only norms found in treaties, customs, constitutions, statutes, and cases, but also moral principles that provide the best justification for the norms found there.5 On his account, the things justified by moral.“
H.L.A. Hart, The Concept of Law, 1961. p. Xviii; introduction.
„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
„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.
„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
„The good historian, then, must be thus described: he must be fearless, uncorrupted, free, the friend of truth and of liberty; one who, to use the words of the comic poet, calls a fig a fig, and a skiff a skiff, neither giving nor withholding from any, from favour or from enmity, not influenced by pity, by shame, or by remorse; a just judge, so far benevolent to all as never to give more than is due to any in his work; a stranger to all, of no country, bound only by his own laws, acknowledging no sovereign, never considering what this or that man may say of him, but relating faithfully everything as it happened.“
— Lucian ancient Greek writer 120
How to Write History
„[We are now] in a position to judge of the validity of the objection which has been made, that the principle of Natural Selection depends on a succession of favourable chances. The objection is more in the nature of an innuendo than of a criticism, for it depends for its force upon the ambiguity of the word chance, in its popular uses. The income derived from a Casino by its proprietor may, in one sense, be said to depend upon a succession of favourable chances, although the phrase contains a suggestion of improbability more appropriate to the hopes of the patrons of his establishment. It is easy without any very profound logical analysis to perceive the difference between a succession of favourable deviations from the laws of chance, and on the other hand, the continuous and cumulative action of these laws. It is on the latter that the principle of Natural Selection relies.“
On the objection (still often made by creationists) that the theory of evolution predicts evolution occurs "only by chance", Ch. 2, p. 37.
The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection (1930)
„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
„A perverted people, should it attaint its liberty, is bound to lose this very soon, because it would be useless to try to impress upon such people that happiness lies in the practice of righteousness; that the reign of law is more powerful than the reign of tyrants, who are more inflexible, and all ought to submit to the wholesome severity of the law; that good morals, and not force, are the pillars of the law and that the exercise of justice is the exercise of liberty.“
— Simón Bolívar Venezuelan military and political leader, South American libertador 1783 - 1830
As quoted in The World’s Great Speeches, Lewis Copeland and Lawrence Lamm, edit., Dover Publications Inc. (1958) p. 388
The Angostura Address (1819)
„Empirical laws […] have only slight or even no value beyond the limits within which they have been observed to be true.“
Manual of Political Economy
„The State’s behavior is violence, and it calls its violence “law”; that of the individual, “crime.”“
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)