„there are very few who can think, but every man wants to have an opinion; and what remains but to take it ready-made from others, instead of forming opinions for himself?“
— Arthur Schopenhauer German philosopher 1788 - 1860
Source: The Art of Always Being Right
„Self-interest distinguishes most men at this time, with attendant weaknesses. Yet, in all countries, there are those who have outgrown these self-centred attitudes and there are many who are more interested in civic and the national good than in themselves. A few, a very few in relation to the mass of men, are internationally minded and preoccupied with the welfare of humanity, as a whole.“
— Alice A. Bailey esoteric, theosophist, writer 1880 - 1949
Source: Problems Of Humanity (1944), p. 13
„Though the mere opinion of an Attorney- or Solicitor-General ought not to be cited, yet coupled with the fact, it may have some weight as showing the general sense of professional men.“
— William Henry Ashurst (judge) English judge 1725 - 1807
King v. Pasmore (1789), 3 T. R. 243.
„It is better to fight with a few good men against all the wicked, than with many wicked men against a few good men.“
— Antisthenes Greek philosopher -444 - -365 BC
From Lives and Opinions of the Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laërtius
Original: (el) κρεῖττόν ἐστι μετ᾿ ὀλίγων ἀγαθῶν πρὸς ἅπαντας τοὺς κακοὺς ἢ μετὰ πολλῶν κακῶν πρὸς ὀλίγους ἀγαθοὺς μάχεσθαι.
„It was brought home to me that two men may be as sincere, as earnest, as faithful, as uncompromising, and yet hold opinions far asunder as the poles.“
Confessions Of A Sceptic
The Nemesis of Faith (1849)
Context: It was brought home to me that two men may be as sincere, as earnest, as faithful, as uncompromising, and yet hold opinions far asunder as the poles. I have before said that I think the moment of this conviction is the most perilous crisis of our lives; for myself, it threw me at once on my own responsibility, and obliged me to look for myself at what men said, instead of simply accepting all because they said it. I begin to look about me to listen to what had to be said on many sides of the question, and try, as far as I could, to give it all fair hearing.
„Ideally there should not be a men’s movement but a gender transition movement; only the power of the women’s movement necessitates the temporary corrective of a men’s movement. And this creates a special challenge for men: There are few political movements filled with healthy people, yet few healthy changes have occurred without political movements.“
Source: The Myth of Male Power (1993), Part IV: Where do we go from here, p. 356.
„Men in general judge more from appearances than from reality. All men have eyes, but few have the gift of penetration.“
— Niccolo Machiavelli Italian politician, Writer and Author 1469 - 1527
„I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world: no longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.“
— Woodrow Wilson American politician, 28th president of the United States (in office from 1913 to 1921) 1856 - 1924
Attributed in Shadow Kings (2005) by Mark Hill, p. 91; This and similar remarks are presented on the internet and elsewhere as an expression of regret for creating the Federal Reserve. The quotation appears to be fabricated from out-of-context remarks Wilson made on separate occasions:
I have ruined my country.
Attributed by Curtis Dall in FDR: My Exploited Father-in-Law, regarding Wilson's break with Edward M. House: "Wilson … evidenced similar remorse as he approached his end. Finally he said, 'I am a most unhappy man. Unwittingly I have ruined my country.'"
A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit.…
"Monopoly, Or Opportunity?" (1912), criticizing the credit situation before the Federal Reserve was created, in The New Freedom (1913), p. 185
We have come to be one of the worst ruled… Governments….
"Benevolence, Or Justice?" (1912), also in The New Freedom (1913), p. 201
The quotation has been analyzed in Andrew Leonard (2007-12-21), " The Unhappiness of Woodrow Wilson https://www.salon.com/2007/12/21/woodrow_wilson_federal_reserve/" Salon:
I can tell you categorically that this is not a statement of regret for having created the Federal Reserve. Wilson never had any regrets for having done that. It was an accomplishment in which he took great pride.
John M. Cooper, professor of history and author of several books on Wilson, as quoted by Andrew Leonard
„Not only a few men, but oftentimes whole societies, whilst they consider things but very superficially, set such a value upon certain sounds, as if they were the real essence of all religion. … And yet, as I hinted now, they either signify nothing, or have been invented by some leading men to make plain things obscure.“
Christianity not Mysterious (1696), Preface
„It is never to be expected in a revolution that every man is to change his opinion at the same moment. There never yet was any truth or any principle so irresistibly obvious that all men believed it at once.“
— Thomas Paine English and American political activist 1737 - 1809
1790s, First Principles of Government (1795)
Context: It is never to be expected in a revolution that every man is to change his opinion at the same moment. There never yet was any truth or any principle so irresistibly obvious that all men believed it at once. Time and reason must cooperate with each other to the final establishment of any principle; and therefore those who may happen to be first convinced have not a right to persecute others, on whom conviction operates more slowly. The moral principle of revolutions is to instruct, not to destroy.
Book iii. Chap 2. Of Repentance
Essais (1595), Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919)
Variant: Few men have been admired by their own households.
— George Washington first President of the United States 1732 - 1799
Letter to Major-General Robert Howe (17 August 1779), published in "The Writings of George Washington": 1778-1779, edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (1890)
Few men have the virtue to withstand the highest bidder.
Few men have virtue enough to withstand the highest bidder
„Men have an extraordinarily erroneous opinion of their position in nature; and the error is ineradicable.“
— W. Somerset Maugham British playwright, novelist, short story writer 1874 - 1965
"1896", p. 20
A Writer's Notebook (1946)
„If thinking men are few, they are for that reason all the more powerful. Let no man imagine that he has no influence. Whoever he may be, and wherever he may be placed, the man who thinks becomes a light and a power.“
— Henry George American economist 1839 - 1897
Source: Social Problems (1883), Ch. 21 : Conclusion
Context: Many there are, too depressed, too embruted with hard toil and the struggle for animal existence, to think for themselves. Therefore the obligation devolves with all the more force on those who can. If thinking men are few, they are for that reason all the more powerful. Let no man imagine that he has no influence. Whoever he may be, and wherever he may be placed, the man who thinks becomes a light and a power. That for every idle word men may speak they shall give an account at the day of judgment, seems a hard saying. But what more clear than that the theory of the persistence of force, which teaches us that every movement continues to act and react, must apply as well to the universe of mind as to that of matter? Whoever becomes imbued with a noble idea kindles a flame from which other torches are lit, and influences those with whom he comes in contact, be they few or many. How far that influence, thus perpetuated, may extend, it is not given to him here to see. But it may be that the Lord of the Vineyard will know.
„In England, success in the profession of the law leads to some very great objects of ambition; and yet how few men, born to easy fortunes, have ever in this country been emminent in that profession?“
— Adam Smith Scottish moral philosopher and political economist 1723 - 1790
Source: (1776), Book V, Chapter I, Part III, p. 824.
„Of all the idiots I have met in my life, and the Lord knows that they have not been few or little, I think that I have been the biggest.“
— Karen Blixen Danish writer 1885 - 1962
As quoted in Journey Through Womanhood: Meditations from Our Collective Soul (2002) by Tian Dayton
„The men who succeed are the efficient few. They are the few who have the ambition and will power to develop themselves.“
— Herbert N. Casson Canadian journalist and writer 1869 - 1951
Herbert N. Casson cited in: Supervisory Management. Vol. 1 (1955). p. 60
1950s and later
„From the same it proceedeth, that men gives different names, to one and the same thing, from the difference of their own passions: As they that approve a private opinion, call it Opinion; but they that mislike it, Haeresie: and yet haeresie signifies no more than private opinion; but has only agreater tincture of choler“
The First Part, Chapter 11, p. 50