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quotations about morality

A man that has lost moral sense is like a man in battle with both of his legs shot off: he has nothing to stand on.

HENRY WARD BEECHER, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit

Morality is the custom of one’s country and the current feeling of one’s peers. Cannibalism is moral in a cannibal country.

SAMUEL BUTLER, Samuel Butler's Notebooks

Morality without religion is only a kind of dead reckoning -- an endeavor to find our place on a cloudy sea by measuring the distance we have run, but without any observation of the heavenly bodies.


It's easy enough to preach morality on a full belly.

ERWIN SYLVANUS, Dr. Korczak and the Children

Custom alone regulates morals.

ANATOLE FRANCE, The Revolt of the Angels

A man that puts himself on the ground of moral principle, if the whole world be against him, is mightier than all of them.

HENRY WARD BEECHER, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit

Morality is always the product of terror; its chains and strait-waistcoats are fashioned by those who dare not trust others, because they dare not trust themselves, to walk in liberty.


Morality is the theory that every human act must be either right or wrong, and that 99% of them are wrong.

H.L. MENCKEN, A Mencken Chrestomathy

I think it's a problem that people are considered immoral if they're not religious. That's just not true.... If you do something for a religious reason, you do it because you'll be rewarded in an afterlife or in this world. That's not quite as good as something you do for purely generous reasons.

LISA RANDALL, Discover Magazine, July 2006

Too cheerful a morality is a loose morality; it is appropriate only to decadent peoples and is found only among them.


Morality is a venereal disease. Its primary stage is called virtue; its secondary stage, boredom; its tertiary stage, syphilis.

KARL KRAUS, Morality and Criminal Justice

Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last.


The whole notion of sanity may be an attempt to medicalize morality -- to speak of the good in the language of health: to make us more accurate, more scientific in our wanting -- but by the same token it becomes a form of moral blackmail. It is as if to say: if these are not valued -- if these forms of wanting and feeling and speaking and doing -- are not cultivated and encouraged and rewarded in the child, then the child will be mad.

ADAM PHILLIPS, Going Sane: Maps of Happiness

The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. Whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise on basic principles.

AYN RAND, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

The truth is that people who pull triggers are ultimately responsible, whether they're following orders or not. An army of people making individual moral choices may be inefficient, but an army of people ignoring their morality is horrifying.

JOEL STEIN, Los Angeles Times, Jan. 24, 2006

Give up money, give up fame, give up science, give the earth itself and all it contains, rather than do an immoral act.

THOMAS JEFFERSON, letter to Peter Carr, Aug. 19, 1785

Whenever you are to do a thing, though it can never be known but to yourself, ask yourself how you would act were all the world looking at you, and act accordingly.

THOMAS JEFFERSON, leter to Peter Carr, Aug. 19, 1785

Modern morality and manners suppress all natural instincts, keep people ignorant of the facts of nature and make them fighting drunk on bogey tales.

ALEISTER CROWLEY, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley

Every day we make our way through a moral forest, along pathways ever branching. Often we get lost. When the array of paths before us is so perplexing that we can't make a choice, or won't, we can hope that we will be given a sign to guide us. A reliance on signs, however, can lead to the evasion of all moral obligations, and thus earn a terrible judgment.

DEAN KOONTZ, Forever Odd

A choice is the root of all morality. Without choice, one can have no moral code. In a vacuum bereft of alternatives, there can be no values. And without values, there can be no reason for a code of ethics. What gives our lives meaning is which alternatives we choose. If we have no options, if we can take but one path, we are by definition slaves.

DAVE GALANTER, Troublesome Minds

Without freedom there can be no morality.

CARL JUNG, Two Essays on Analytical Psychology

There is nothing ... quite like the moral absolutism of the young. It's easy, as a child, to believe in good and evil, in light and dark.


Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people we personally dislike.

ELBERT HUBBARD, The American Bible

Morality is but the vestibule of religion.

E. H. CHAPIN, Living Words

Moral progress is a process of isolation; the mountain tops are lonely.

AUSTIN O'MALLEY, Keystones of Thought

Our moral faculties must be placed highest, else they can no more flourish than could a plant growing under the shade and drip of trees.

HENRY WARD BEECHER, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit

In cases of doubtful morality, it is usual to say is there any harm in doing this? This question may sometimes be best answered by asking ourselves another; is there any harm in letting it alone?


The essence of immorality is the tendency to make an exception of myself.

JANE ADDAMS, attributed, Reader's Digest Quotable Quotes

Every man also has his moral backside which he refrains from showing unless he has to and keeps covered as long as possible with the trousers of decorum.


Every man, in his own opinion, forms an exception to the ordinary rules of morality.

WILLIAM HAZLITT, Characteristics

About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY, Death in the Afternoon

We continually forget that the sphere of morals is the sphere of action, that speculation in regard to morality is but observation and must remain in the sphere of intellectual comment, that a situation does not really become moral until we are confronted with the question of what shall be done in a concrete case, and are obliged to act upon our theory.

JANE ADDAMS, Democracy and Social Ethics

Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right!

ISAAC ASIMOV, Foundation

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