principle laid down as inconvertibly true in an ideology or belief system

For the film, see Dogma (film).

This is the idea—the founding of a new religion corresponding to the development of mankind: the religion of Christ, but purged of all dogma and mystery, a practical religion, not promising future bliss but realizing bliss on earth. ~ Leo Tolstoy

Dogma is a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.


  • Our most urgent problem just now is how to preserve in a positive and critical form the soul of truth in the two great traditions, classical and Christian, that are crumbling as mere dogma.
    • Irving Babbitt, "English and the Discipline of Ideas" (1920), Irving Babbitt: Representative Writings (1981), p. 69
  • All teaching is dogmatic. Dogma, indeed, means only "a thing taught," and teaching not dogmatic would cease to be teaching and would become discussion and doubt.
    • Hilaire Belloc, Survivals and New Arrivals (1929), Chapter IV The Main Opposition (iii) The "Modern Mind"
  • To Dogmatism the Spirit of Inquiry is the same as the Spirit of Evil.
    • Ambrose Bierce, Epigrams, The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Volume 8, p. 343
  • Yield not one inch to all the forces which conspire to make you an echo. That is the sin of dogmatism and creeds. Avoid them; they build a fence about the intellect.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson in conversation, as reported by Charles J. Woodbury, Talks with Ralph Waldo Emerson (1890), p. 30
  • No priestly dogmas, invented on purpose to tame and subdue the rebellious reason of mankind, ever shocked common sense more than the doctrine of the infinitive divisibility of extension, with its consequences; as they are pompously displayed by all geometricians and metaphysicians, with a kind of triumph and exultation. A real quantity, infinitely less than any finite quantity, containing quantities infinitely less than itself, and so on in infinitum; this is an edifice so bold and prodigious, that it is too weighty for any pretended demonstration to support, because it shocks the clearest and most natural principles of human reason.
  • Christian dogmatics, it seems to me, must grow out of Christ's activity, and all the more so because Christ did not establish any doctrine; he acted.
  • "Religion does not mean to surrender to dogmas and religious scriptures or conformity to rituals. But my religion constitutes an abiding faith in the perfect values of truth and the ceaseless attempt to realise them in the inner most part of our nature."
  • We can indeed recognize a tremendous difference in manner, but not in principle, between a shaman of the Tunguses and a European prelate: … for, as regards principle, they both belong to one and the same class, namely, the class of those who let their worship of God consist in what in itself can never make man better (in faith in certain statutory dogmas or celebration of certain arbitrary observances). Only those who mean to find the service of God solely in the disposition to good life-conduct distinguish themselves from those others, by virtue of having passed over to a wholly different principle.
    • Immanuel Kant, Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, Book IV, Part 2, Section 3
  • Government is a veritable religion: it has its dogmas, its mysteries, its ministers. ... The primary need of man is that his growing reason ... be lost in the national reason so that it may change his individual existence into another, common existence.
    • Joseph de Maistre, Etude sur la Souveraineté, Ouvres Completes, Lyon 1891, Tome I, p. 367
  • The mind petrifies if a circle be drawn around it, and it can hardly be denied that dogma draws a circle round the mind.
  • The word dogma comes from the Greek verb dokein, to seem to be, to appear to be. A dogma, therefore, was something which appeared to be a truth: an opinion about truth, and hence was frequently employed in certain Greek states as signifying the decision, the considered opinion, and therefore the final vote arrived at in a state council or assembly. It was only in later times that the word dogma acquired the meaning which it now has: a doctrine based upon the declaration of an ecumenical council, or perhaps of some other widely recognized churchly authority.
  • By propagating the dogma of Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God, the Church contradicts the very sense of the prayer given to us by Jesus Christ himself, "Our Father which art in heaven." And also the words of the Scriptures, "So God created man in his own image." (Genesis 1:27)
  • To be a philosopher, that is to say, a lover of wisdom (for wisdom is nothing but truth), it is not enough for a man to love truth, in so far as it is compatible with his own interest, with the will of his superiors, with the dogmas of the church, or with the prejudices and tastes of his contemporaries; so long as he rests content with this position, he is only a φίλαυτος, not a φιλόσοφος. For this title of honor is well and wisely conceived precisely by its stating that one should love the truth earnestly and with one’s whole heart, and thus unconditionally and unreservedly, above all else, and, if need be, in defiance of all else. Now the reason for this is the one previously stated that the intellect has become free, and in this state it does not even know or understand any other interest than that of truth.
    • Arthur Schopenhauer, “Sketch for a history of the doctrine of the ideal and the real,” Parerga and Paralipomena, E. Payne, trans. (1974) Vol. 1, pp. 21-22
  • Yesterday a conversation about divinity and faith suggested to me a great, a stupendous idea to the realization of which I feel capable of dedicating my whole life. This is the idea—the founding of a new religion corresponding to the development of mankind: the religion of Christ, but purged of all dogma and mystery, a practical religion, not promising future bliss but realizing bliss on earth.
    • Leo Tolstoy, Journal Entry, 1855, cited in Selected Essays (New York: 1964), p. v

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