Diversity and independence are important because the best collective decisions are the product of disagreement and contest, not consensus or compromise.
I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center.
Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority.
He had more books than I’ve ever seen in all my life - two libraries, two rooms loaded from floor to ceiling around all four walls and such books as the apocryphal something-or-other in ten volumes. He played Verdi Operas and pantomimed them in his pajamas with a great rip down the back. He didn’t give a damn about anything. He is a great scholar who goes reeling down the New York waterfront with original seventeenth-century musical manuscripts under his arm, shouting. He crawls like a big spider through the streets. His excitement blew out of his eyes in stabs of fiendish light. He rolled his neck in spastic ecstasy. He lisped, he writhed, he flopped, he moaned, he howled, he fell back in despair. He could hardly get a word out, he was so excited with life.
Vincitore è l’uomo che non ha rinunciato ai propri sogni.
The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.
— Albert Camus
, Algerian-French author, journalist, and philosopher (1913-1960)
That Man is the product of causes that had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins — all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.
The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is apt to spread discontent among those who are.
— H.L. Mencken
, American journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, acerbic critic of American life and culture (1880-1956)
The average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked only to infinity.
— Carlos Castaneda
, Peruvian-born American anthropologist and author (1925-1998)
" "[Doubting the great Descartes] was a reaction I learned from my father: Have no respect whatsoever for authority; forget who said it and instead look what he starts with, where he ends up, and ask yourself, "Is it reasonable?" "
Albert Einstein on religion and skeptical attitude
“Through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached the conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true. The consequence was a positively fanatic orgy of freethinking coupled with the impression that youth is intentionally being deceived by the state through lies; it was a crushing impression. Mistrust of every kind of authority grew out of this experience, a skeptical attitude toward the convictions that were alive in any specific social environment — an attitude that has never again left me, even though, later on, it has been tempered by a better insight into the causal connections." "
— Albert Einstein
, Autobiographical Notes
(1979) Edited by Paul Arthur Schilpp
Albert Einstein on Individualism
“A man’s value to the community depends primarily on how far his feelings, thoughts, and actions are directed towards promoting the good of his fellows. We call him good or bad according to how he stands in this matter. It looks at first sight as if our estimate of a man depended entirely on his social qualities.
And yet such an attitude would be wrong. It is clear that all the valuable things, material, spiritual, and moral, which we receive from society can be traced back through countless generations to certain creative individuals. The use of fire, the cultivation of edible plants, the steam engine — each was discovered by one man.
Only the individual can think, and thereby create new values for society — nay, even set up new moral standards to which the life of the community conforms. Without creative, independently thinking and judging personalities the upward development of society is as unthinkable as the development of the individual personality without the nourishing soil of the community.
The health of society thus depends quite as much on the independence of the individuals composing it as on their close political cohesion.” “