Freedom of thought
freedom of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of others' viewpoints
Freedom of thought (also called freedom of conscience or freedom of ideas) is the freedom of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of others' viewpoints.
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- The freedom of thought is a sacred right of every individual man, and diversity will continue to increase with the progress, refinement, and differentiation of the human intellect.
- The most unpardonable sin in society is independence of thought.
- Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays, Minorities Versus Majorities, 1910, Mother Earth Publishing
- The class which has the means of material production at its disposal has control over the means of mental production, so that in consequence the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are, in general, subject to it.
- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology ca. April or early May 1846
- If it is the drive of our time, after freedom of thought is won, to pursue it to that perfection through which it changes to freedom of the will in order to realize the latter as the principle of a new era.
- Max Stirner, Das unwahre Prinzip unserer Erziehung, oder: Humanismus und Realismus [The False Principle of Our Education: Or, Humanism and Realism] (1842) as translated by Ralph Myles (1967), p. 21
- But arms – instrumentalities, as President Wilson called them – are not sufficient by themselves. We must add to them the power of ideas. People say we ought not to allow ourselves to be drawn into a theoretical antagonism between Nazidom and democracy; but the antagonism is here now. It is this very conflict of spiritual and moral ideas which gives the free countries a great part of their strength. You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. On all sides they are guarded by masses of armed men, cannons, aeroplanes, fortifications, and the like – they boast and vaunt themselves before the world, yet in their hearts there is unspoken fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts; words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home – all the more powerful because forbidden – terrify them. A little mouse of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic. They make frantic efforts to bar our thoughts and words; they are afraid of the workings of the human mind. Cannons, airplanes, they can manufacture in large quantities; but how are they to quell the natural promptings of human nature, which after all these centuries of trial and progress has inherited a whole armoury of potent and indestructible knowledge?
- Winston Churchill, Broadcast to the United States and to London, 16 October 1938
- Liberty of conscience was the one great value which the common people had preserved from the Commonwealth. The countryside was ruled by the gentry, the towns by corrupt corporations, the nation by the corruptest corporation of all: but the chapel, the tavern and the home were their own. In the "unsteepled" places of worship there was room for a free intellectual life and for democratic experiments with "members unlimited". Against the background of London Dissent, with its fringe of deists and earnest mystics, William Blake seems no longer the cranky untutored genius that he must seem to those who know only the genteel culture of the time. On the contrary, he is the original yet authentic voice of a long popular tradition. If some of the London Jacobins were strangely unperturbed by the execution of Louis and Marie Antoinette it was because they remembered that their own forebears had once executed a king. No one with Bunyan in their bones could have found many of Blake's aphorisms strange: "The strongest poison ever known \ Game from Caesar's laurel crown."
- E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (1963), pp. 51-52