Apathy (also called perfunctoriness) is most commonly defined as a lack of feeling, emotion, interest, or concern. It is a state of indifference, or the suppression of emotions such as concern, excitement, motivation, and/or passion. An apathetic individual has an absence of interest in or concern about emotional, social, spiritual, philosophical or physical life and the general world.


  • The more the Jew is a Jew, the more universalist will his views and aspirations be, the less aloof will he be from anything that is noble and good, true and upright, in art or science, in culture or education; the more joyfully will he applaud whenever he sees truth and justice and peace and the ennoblement of man prevail and become dominant in human society.
    • [Samson Raphael Hirsch] Essay "Religion Allied to Progress" [1]
  • The greatest danger to our future is apathy.
    • Jane Goodall "The Power of One", Time Magazine (August 26, 2002).
  • We spend our lives fighting to get people very slightly more stupid than ourselves to accept truths that the great men have always known. They have known for thousands of years that to lock a sick person into solitary confinement makes him worse. They have known for thousands of years that a poor man who is frightened of his landlord and of the police is a slave. They have known it. We know it. But do the great enlightened mass of the British people know it? No. It is our task, Ella, yours and mine, to tell them. Because the great men are too great to be bothered. They are already discovering how to colonise Venus and to irrigate the moon. That is what is important for our time. You and I are the boulder-pushers. All our lives, you and I, we’ll put all our energies, all our talents into pushing a great boulder up a mountain. The boulder is the truth that the great men know by instinct, and the mountain is the stupidity of mankind.
  • Indifference, if let alone, will produce obduracy; and obduracy, if let alone, will produce torment.
    • Henry Melvill, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 344.
  • Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.
    • John Stuart Mill, Inaugural Address Delivered to the University of St. Andrews, Feb. 1st 1867.
  • The Comedian: Yeah. Yeah, that's right. Pregnant woman. Gunned her down. Bang. And y'know what? You watched me. You coulda changed the gun into steam or the bullets into mercury or the bottle into god damn snowflakes! You coulda teleported either of us to goddamn Australia...but you didn't lift a finger! You don't really give a damn about human beings. I've watched you. You never cared about what's her name, Janey Slater, even before you ditched her. Soon you won't be interested in Sally Jupiter's little girl, either. You're driftin' outta touch, Doc. You're turnin' into a flake. God help us all.
  • Doctor Manhattan: A live body and a dead body contain the same number of particles. Structurally, there's no discernible difference. Life and death are unquantifiable abstracts. Why should I be concerned?
  • There are few signs in a soul's state more alarming than that of religious indifference, that is, the spirit of thinking all religions equally true — the real meaning of which is, that all religions are equally false.
  • Once you have glimpsed the world as it might be, as it ought to be, as it's going to be (however that vision appears to you), it is impossible to live compliant and complacent anymore in the world as it is.
    • Victoria Safford in "The Small Work in the Great Work" in The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear (2004) by Paul Rogat Loeb
  • The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.
  • The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death.
  • Rise and shine, Adam. You're probably wondering where you are. I'll tell you where you might be. You might be in the room you die in. Up until now you simply sat in the shadows watching others live out their lives. But what do voyeurs see when they look into the mirror? Now, I see you as a strange mix of someone angry, yet apathetic. But mostly just pathetic. So are you going to watch yourself die today, Adam, or do something about it?
  • Ideas may be bulletproof, but apathy wins hands down.

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