irving babbitt quotes



A man needs to look, not down, but up to standards set so much above his ordinary self as to make him feel that he is himself spiritually the underdog.


Tell him, on the contrary, that he needs, in the interest of his own happiness, to walk in the path of humility and self-control, and he will be indifferent, or even actively resentful.


A person who has sympathy for mankind in the lump, faith in its future progress, and desire to serve the great cause of this progress, should be called not a humanist, but a humanitarian, and his creed may be designated as humanitarianism.


An American of the present day reading his Sunday newspaper in a state of lazy collapse is one of the most perfect symbols of the triumph of quantity over quality that the world has yet seen.


Yet Aristotle's excellence of substance, so far from being associated with the grand style, is associated with something that at times comes perilously near jargon.


The humanities need to be defended today against the encroachments of physical science, as they once needed to be against the encroachment of theology.


Perhaps as good a classification as any of the main types is that of the three lusts distinguished by traditional Christianity - the lust of knowledge, the lust of sensation, and the lust of power.


A democracy, the realistic observer is forced to conclude, is likely to be idealistic in its feelings about itself, but imperialistic about its practice.


To say that most of us today are purely expansive is only another way of saying that most of us continue to be more concerned with the quantity than with the quality of our democracy.


Inasmuch as society cannot go on without discipline of some kind, men were constrained, in the absence of any other form of discipline, to turn to discipline of the military type.


To harmonize the One with the Many, this is indeed a difficult adjustment, perhaps the most difficult of all, and so important, withal, that nations have perished from their failure to achieve it.


A remarkable feature of the humanitarian movement, on both its sentimental and utilitarian sides, has been its preoccupation with the lot of the masses.


We must not, however, be like the leaders of the great romantic revolt who, in their eagerness to get rid of the husk of convention, disregarded also the humane aspiration.


We may affirm, then, that the main drift of the later Renaissance was away from a humanism that favored a free expansion toward a humanism that was in the highest degree disciplinary and selective.


The papacy again, representing the traditional unity of European civilization, has also shown itself unable to limit effectively the push of nationalism.




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