The Human Condition

Humanists recognize that it is only when people feel free to think for themselves, using reason as their guide, that they are best capable of developing values that succeed in satisfying human needs and serving human interests.

 

Isaac Asimov, 1920–1992, Professor of Biochemistry and science fiction author

 


 

There is no passion so contagious as that of fear.

 

Michel de Montaigne, 1533–1592, Renaissance scholar

 


 

To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.

 

George Santayana, 1863–1952, philosopher and poet

 


 

Ignorance being darkness, what we need is intellectual light. The most important things to teach, as the basis of all progress, are that the universe is natural; that man must be the providence of man; that, by the development of the brain, we can avoid some of the dangers, some of the evils, overcome some of the obstructions, and take advantage of some of the facts and forces of nature; that, by invention and industry, we can supply, to a reasonable degree, the wants of the body, and by thought, study and effort, we can in part satisfy the hunger of the mind.

 

Robert Green Ingersoll, 1833–1899, American political leader
Quote from How to Reform Mankind, 1896

 


 

He who establishes his argument by noise and command shows that his reason is weak.

 

Michel de Montaigne, 1533–1592, Renaissance scholar

 


 

Out on the intellectual sea there is room enough for every sail. In the intellectual air there is space enough for every wing. The man who does not do his own thinking is a slave, and is a traitor to himself and to his fellow men.

 

Robert Green Ingersoll, 1833–1899, American political leader
Quote from The Liberty of All, 1877

 


 

Our brief finitude is but a beautiful spark in the vast darkness of space. So we should live the fleeting day with passion and, when the night comes, depart from it with grace.

 

Richard Holloway, writer, broadcaster, retired Bishop of Edinburgh
Quote from Looking in the Distance: The Human Search for Meaning, 2007

 


 

Of all our infirmities, the most savage is to despise our being.

 

Michel de Montaigne, 1533–1592, Renaissance scholar

 


 

If abuses are destroyed, man must destroy them. If slaves are freed, man must free them. If new truths are discovered, man must discover them. If the naked are clothed; if the hungry are fed; if justice is done; if labor is rewarded; if superstition is driven from the mind; if the defenseless are protected and if the right finally triumphs, all must be the work of man. The grand victories of the future must be won by man, and by man alone.

 

Robert Green Ingersoll, 1833–1899, American political leader