Quotes with individuals
I cannot conceive of a personal God who would directly influence the actions of individuals, or would directly sit in judgment on creatures of his own creation. I cannot do this in spite of the fact that mechanistic causality has, to a certain extent, been placed in doubt by modern science. [He was speaking of Quantum Mechanics and the breaking down of determinism.] My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. Morality is of the highest importance -- but for us, not for God.
'The Human Side', 1954
I have known not a few men who, after reaching the summits of business success, found themselves miserable on attaining retirement age. They were so exclusively engrossed in their day-to-day affairs that they had no time for friend-making.... They may flatter themselves that their unrelaxing concentration on business constitutes patriotism of the highest order. They may tell themselves that the existing emergency will pass, and that they can then adopt different, more sociable, more friendly habits. [But] such a day is little likely to come for such individuals.
It is the great irony of life that a mindless act repeated in sequence can only lead to greater depths of absurdity, while a mindless act performed in parallel by a swarm of individuals can, under the proper conditions, lead to all that we find interesting.
Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World (1995)
I want to say, and this is very important: at the end we lucked out. It was luck that prevented nuclear war. We came that close to nuclear war at the end. Rational individuals: Kennedy was rational; Khrushchev was rational; Castro was rational. Rational individuals came that close to total destruction of their societies. And that danger exists today.
The Fog of War
Insanity is the exception in individuals. In groups, parties, peoples, and times it is the rule.
Beyond Good and Evil
Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.
Excess of liberty, whether it lies in state or individuals, seems only to pass into excess of slavery.
Moral habits, induced by public practices, are far quicker in making their way into men's private lives, than the failings and faults of individuals are in infecting the city at large.
Millions of individuals making their own decisions in the marketplace will always allocate resources better than any centralized government planning process.
Harshness towards individuals who flout the laws and commands of state is for the public good; no greater crime against the public interest is possible than to show leniency to those who violate it.
I cannot escape from the conclusion that the great ages of progress have depended upon a small number of individuals of transcendent ability.
In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays (1935)
My belief is that if we live another century or so -- I am talking of the common life which is the real life and not of the little separate lives which we live as individuals -- and have five hundred a year each of us and rooms of our own; if we have the habit of freedom and the courage to write exactly what we think.
A Room of One's Own (1929)