Quotations: Conscience

Another man’s soul is darkness.
— Russian proverb

Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike.
— Theodore Roosevelt, American adventurer and 26th president (1858-1919)

What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, philosopher and poet (1803-1882)

What a man’s mind can create, man’s character can control.
— Attributed to Thomas Edison, American inventor (1847-1931)

The measure of a man’s character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out.
— Baron Thomas Babington Macauley, English historian and statesman (1800-1859)

A clear conscience is usually the sign of bad memory.
— Steven Wright, American comedian (b. 1955)

Conscience is God’s presence in man.
— Emmanuel Swedenborg, Swedish-American spiritualist (1688-1772)

Prudence reproaches; conscience accuses.
— Immanuel Kant, Prussian geographer and philosopher (1724-1804)

Trust that man in nothing who has not a conscience in everything.
— Laurence Sterne, English novelist (1713-1768)

Most men sell their souls and live with a good conscience on the proceeds.
— Logan Pearsall Smith, American-British editor and essayist (1865-1946)

A good conscience is a continual Christmas
— Benjamin Franklin, American Founding Father, inventor and statesman (1706-1790)

Reason often makes mistakes but conscience never does.
— Josh Billings (Henry Wheeler Shaw), American writer and humorist (1818-1885)

Conscience is thoroughly well-bred and soon leaves off talking to those who do not wish to hear it.
— Samuel Butler, English poet (1612-1680)

The difficulty is to know conscience from self-interest.
— William Dean Howells, American journalist and novelist (1837-1920)

When your intelligence don’t tell you something ain’t right, your conscience gives you a tap you on the shoulder and says ‘Hold on’. If it don’t, you’re a snake.
— Elvis Presley, American rock ‘n’ roll icon (1935-1977)

There is no witness so terrible, no accuser so powerful as conscience which dwells within us.
— Sophocles, Greek dramatist (496-406 B.C.)

A regard for reputation and the judgment of the world may sometimes be felt where conscience is dormant.
— Thomas Jefferson, American Founding Father and third president (1743-1826), in a letter to Edward Livingston, 1825

There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.
— Albert Camus, French existentialist novelist (1913-1960)

In law a man is guilty when he violates the rights of others. In ethics he is guilty if he only thinks of doing so.
— Immanuel Kant, Prussian geographer and philosopher (1724-1804)

A moral being is one who is capable of comparing his past and future actions or motives, and of approving or disapproving of them.
— Charles Darwin, English biologist (1809-1882)

Rise above principle and do what is right.
— Walter Heller, American economist (1915-1987)

To describe happiness is to diminish it.
— Henri Stendahl (Marie-Henri Beyle), French novelist (1783-1842)

I believe a man is born first unto himself — for the happy developing of himself, while the world is a nursery, and the pretty things are to be snatched for, and pleasant things tasted; some people seem to exist thus right to the end. But most are born again on entering manhood; then they are born to humanity, to a consciousness of all the laughing, and the never-ceasing murmur of pain and sorrow that comes from the terrible multitudes of brothers.
— D.H. Lawrence, British author (1885-1930)

Somebody does somethin’ stupid, that’s human. They don’t stop when they see it’s wrong, that’s a fool.
— Elvis Presley, American rock ‘n’ roll icon (1935-1977)

The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none.
— Thomas Carlyle, Scots-English historian and author (1795-1881)

The people have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge – I mean of the character and conduct of their rulers.
— John Adams, American Founding Father and second U.S. president (1735-1826)

A politician would do well to remember that he has to live with his conscience longer than he does with his constituents.
— Melvin R. Laird, 20th-century American secretary of defense

The gem cannot be polished without friction.
— Chinese proverb

Every man, at the bottom of his heart, wants to do right. But only he can do right who knows right; only he knows right who thinks right; only he thinks right who believes right.
— Tiorio

Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people’s vanity, ignorance or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.
— Janet Malcolm, American journalist and author (b. 1934), in The Journalist and the Murderer

Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought.
— Henri Bergson, French philosopher (1859-1941)

To sensible men, every day is a day of reckoning.
— John W. Gardner, American nonprofit leader, founder of Common Cause (1912-2002)

When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love.
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., American civil rights leader (1929-1968)

The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm, but because of those who look at it without doing anything.
— Albert Einstein, German-born physicist, philosopher (1879-1955)

Wha’ got blood got feelings.
— Barbadian proverb

He who steals an egg will steal a camel.
— Arab proverb

Lying and stealing are next-door neighbors.
— Arab proverb

He who steals once is always a thief.
— Spanish proverb

It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself.
— Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady, civil rights advocate (1884-1962)

Hunger makes a thief of any man.
— Pearl S. Buck, American writer (1892-1973)

Justice knows no friendship.
— Estonian proverb

We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil, all committed, for our safety, to its security and peace. Preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work and the love we give our fragile craft.
— Adlai Stevenson, 31st Governor of Illinois (1900-1965)

A human being is a deciding being.
— Viktor E. Frankl, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist (1905-1997)

The most important fact about Spaceship Earth: an instruction book didn’t come with it.
— R. Buckminster Fuller, engineer, author, designer, inventor (1895-1983)

Once the ‘what’ is decided, the ‘how’ always follows. We must not make the ‘how’ an excuse for not facing and accepting the ‘what.’
— Pearl S. Buck, American writer (1892-1973)

Rules of society are nothing; one’s conscience is the umpire.
— Marie Anne de Vichy-Chamrond, French hostess and patron of the arts (1697-1780)

Laws control the lesser person. Right conduct controls the greater one.
— Chinese proverb

To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice.
— Confucius (K’ung Fu-tzu), Chinese sage (551-479 B.C.)

Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.
— Harper Lee, American writer

All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If people speak or act with evil thoughts, pain follows them. If people speak or act with pure thoughts, happiness follows them, like a shadow that never leaves them.
— Siddhartha Gautama, spiritual teacher and founder of Buddhism (c. 563 – 483 BCE)