Neutral indicates a condition neither positive nor negative in reference to some quality or social stances. Neutrality in philosophy, is a tendency not to actively participate in physical or ideological conflicts, which does not necessarily imply that neutral parties are indifferent, apathetic, or ignorant of the these, but does indicate they have concerns which prevent involvement. In common use "neutral" can be synonymous with "unbiased", but bias can indicate forms of preference, distinct from tendencies to act upon such, even without unjust favoritism. Neutrality in international relations is applied to nations which officially declare themselves to be neutral towards the belligerents in particular conflicts. A state can be non-belligerent yet need not be neutral, while armed neutrality is a stance of any state or group of states which makes no alliances with any side in a conflict, but assert that they will defend themselves against resulting incursions from all parties. In semiotics the neutral level of signs are the material creation or remains of esthesic and poietic processes, levels, and analyses of symbolic forms; the "trace" left behind by a spiritual or ideal creation.
- The metaphysical apologia at least betrayed the injustice of the established order through the incongruence of concept and reality. The impartiality of scientific language deprived what was powerless of the strength to make itself heard and merely provided the existing order with a neutral sign for itself. Such neutrality is more metaphysical than metaphysics.
- Neutrality is too often assumed to require the bleaching out of all traces of faith, excluding religious belief and discourse from public life. But it doesn't, and we can see why by appeal to the notion of public reason, articulated most clearly by the late political philosopher John Rawls. Rawls was quite clear that the religious have no obligation at all to keep their faith entirely to themselves.
"Reasonable comprehensive doctrines, religious or non-religious, may be introduced in public political discussion at any time," he wrote, "provided that in due course proper political reasons – and not reasons given solely by comprehensive doctrines – are presented that are sufficient to support whatever the comprehensive doctrines are said to support."
- Science values objectivity, rationality, and neutrality. It has concern for the truth. The humanities value subjectivity, imagination, and commitment. They have a concern for justice. Design values practicality, ingenuity, creativity, and empathy. It has concerns for goodness of fit and for the impact of design on future generations.
- Béla H. Bánáthy, in Designing Social Systems in a Changing World (1996)
- A guilty system recognizes no innocents. As with any power apparatus which thinks everybody’s either for it or against it, we’re against it. You would be too, if you thought about it. The very way you think places you among its enemies. This might not be your fault, because every society imposes some of its values on those raised within it, but the point is that some societies try to maximize that effect, and some try to minimize it. You come from one of the latter and you’re being asked to explain yourself to one of the former. Prevarication will be more difficult than you imagine; neutrality is probably impossible. You cannot choose not to have the politics you do; they are not some separate set of entities somehow detachable from the rest of your being; they are a function of your existence. I know that and they know that; you had better accept it.
- Hayek forced into public discourse the question of the compatibility of democracy and statism. And unlike Burnham, he made no pretense of neutrality about the phenomena he described. … In responding to Burnham and Hayek … liberals were in fact responding to a powerful strain of Jeffersonian anti-statism in American political culture … The result was a subtle but important shift in liberal thinking.
- Alan Brinkley, The End of Reform : New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War (1995)
- While we enforced the neutrality which we prepared to observe, we declared at the same time that that neutrality must cease if British interests were assailed or menaced. Cosmopolitan critics, men who are the friends of every country save their own, have denounced this policy as a selfish policy. My Lord Mayor, it is as selfish as patriotism.
- Benjamin Disraeli, in speech at the Guildhall, London (9 November 1877)
- Perhaps what I am about to say may seem strange to you, who are socialists, and vaunt humanity and your duty to your neighbor, but I never seek to protect a society which does not protect me, and which I will even say, generally occupies itself about me only to injure me; and thus by giving them a low place in my esteem, and preserving a neutrality towards them, it is society and my neighbor who are indebted to me.
- The rights of neutrality will only be respected, when they are defended by an adequate power. A nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privilege of being neutral.
- It was an axiom of "containment" that no part of the known world could be considered neutral. "Neutralism" was among the Cold Warriors' gravest curse words, applied with caustic hostility to India and even France. Those who were not with were against, subjected to intense economic and ideological — and sometimes military — pressure to fall into line.
- Christopher Hitchens, in "How Neo-Conservatives Perish" (1990), later republished in For the Sake of Argument : Essays and Minority Reports (1993)
- Donald Judd spoke of a "neutral" surface, but what is meant? Neutrality must involve some relationship (to other ways of painting, thinking?) He would have to include these in his work to establish the neutrality of that surface. He also used "non" or "not" – expressive – this is an early problem – a negative solution or – expression of new sense – which can help one into – what one has not known. "Neutral" expresses an intention.
- Jasper Johns, in Book A (sketchbook), p 31, c 1963: as quoted in Jasper Johns, Writings, Sketchbook Notes, Interviews (1996), edited by Kirk Varnedoe, p. 50
- People say that my works are "neutral". But if you paint something, it is "something", and it cannot be neutral. Being neutral is a mere expression of a form of intention.
- Jasper Johns, as quoted in Jasper Johns in Tokyo (August 1964), by Yoshiaki Tono; later in Jasper Johns, Writings, Sketchbook Notes, Interviews (1996), edited by Kirk Varnedoe, p. 101
- Dante once said that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a period of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.
- John F. Kennedy, misquoting Dante at the signing of a charter establishing the German Peace Corps, Bonn, West Germany (24 June 1963). Dante placed those who "non furon ribelli né fur fedeli" [were neither for nor against God] in a special region near the mouth of Hell; the lowest part of Hell, a lake of ice, was for traitors.
- Time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.
- Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins. But the day has passed for superficial patriotism. He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery. Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the truth. "Ye shall know the truth," says Jesus, "and the truth shall set you free." Now, I've chosen to preach about the war in Vietnam because I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal.
- Martin Luther King, Jr., in "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam", as speech at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia (30 April 1967); in this he refers to the Dante misquote which originated with John F. Kennedy.
- No one took the voice of the journalist further away from ‘neutral background’ (or seemed less able to stop himself doing it) than Hunter S. Thompson. Even at the start of his career, he was no believer in journalistic neutrality. … Certainly Thompson is a peculiarly misshapen sort of moralist, one who often makes himself ugly to expose the ugliness he sees around him.
- In their book-length analysis of Doctor Who, John Tulloch and Manuel Alvarado characterize the political outlook of the program as consistent with the BBC's particular brand of political neutrality: skeptical, aggressive, quizzical, and amused towards all forms of political power. In Doctor Who the attitude gets further flavored by the Doctors "Romantic" hero mystique. This characteristic allows him to adopt a "liberal-populist role in criticizing 'sectionalist' forces of 'Left' and 'Right,' and in rebuking the 'official' and the powerful, whether in big business, the military, government or 'militant' unions." … The political form that most resembles these critiques is liberal democracy, which places sovereignty in the hands of the people.
- And it will always happen that he who is not your friend will invite you to neutrality, while he who is your friend will call on you to declare yourself openly in arms. Irresolute Princes, to escape immediate danger, commonly follow the neutral path, in most instances to their destruction.
- The so-called paradox of freedom is the argument that freedom in the sense of absence of any constraining control must lead to very great restraint, since it makes the bully free to enslave the meek. The idea is, in a slightly different form, and with very different tendency, clearly expressed in Plato.
Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.
- The peace-loving nations must make a concerted effort in opposition to those violations of treaties and those ignorings of humane instincts which today are creating a state of international anarchy and instability from which there is no escape through mere isolation or neutrality.
- The State must be made efficient for the work which concerns only the people of the State; and the nation for that which concerns all the people. There must remain no neutral ground to serve as a refuge for lawbreakers, and especially for lawbreakers of great wealth, who can hire the vulpine legal cunning which will teach them how to avoid both jurisdictions.
- Information smacks of safe neutrality; it is simple, helpful heaping of unassailable facts. In that innocent guise, its the perfect starting point for a technocratic political agenda that wants as little exposure for its objectives as possible. After all, what can anyone say against information?
- Theodore Roszak, The Cult of Information: The folklore of computers and the true art of thinking (1968), p. 19
- Most of us are not neutral in feeling, but, as human beings, we have to remember that, if the issues between East and West are to be decided in any manner that can give any possible satisfaction to anybody, whether Communist or anti-Communist, whether Asian or European or American, whether White or Black, then these issues must not be decided by war. We should wish this to be understood, both in the East and in the West.
- No identification of self or mission. No interference with the social development of said planet. No references to space or the fact that there are other worlds or civilizations.
- The Prime Directive is not just a set of rules. It is a philosophy, and a very correct one. History has proven again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous.
- If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
- Desmond Tutu, as quoted in Ending Poverty As We Know It : Guaranteeing a Right to a Job at a Living Wage (2003) by William P. Quigley, p. 8
- Most people understand the need for neutrality. The real struggle is not between the right and the left — that's where most people assume — but it's between the party of the thoughtful and the party of the jerks. And no side of the political spectrum has a monopoly on either of those qualities.
- Jimmy Wales, in "How a ragtag band created Wikipedia" TED Talk (July 2005); this has sometimes appeared paraphrased as "The real struggle is not between the right and the left but between the party of the thoughtful and the party of the jerks."
- In recognizing that words have the power to define and to compel, the semanticists are actually testifying to the philosophic quality of language which is the source of their vexation. In an attempt to get rid of that quality, they are looking for some neutral means which will be a nonconductor of the current called “emotion” and its concomitant evaluation.
- Richard Weaver, in Language is Sermonic (1970), “The Power of the Word,” p. 37
- The eloquent Lysias, posing as a non-lover, had concealed designs upon Phaedrus, so that his fine speech was really a sheep’s clothing. Socrates discerned in him a “peculiar craftiness.” One must suspect the same today of many who ask us to place our faith in the neutrality of their discourse.
- Richard Weaver, in The Ethics of Rhetoric (1953), “The Phaedrus and the Nature of Rhetoric,” p. 22
- I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
- The United States must be neutral in fact as well as in name...We must be impartial in thought as well as in action.
- Woodrow Wilson, in a message to the Senate (19 August 1914)
- We stand apart, unembroiled, conscious of our own principles, conscious of what we hope and purpose. … Neutrality is a negative word. It does not express what America ought to feel. We are not trying to keep out of trouble; we are trying to preserve the foundations on which peace may be rebuilt.
- Woodrow Wilson, in an address to the Daughters of the American Revolution (11 October 1915)
- We have stood apart, studiously neutral.
- Woodrow Wilson, in a message to Congress (7 December 1915)
- Armed neutrality, it now appears, is impracticable.
- I had no sense of being inferior or superior to the people about me; I merely felt that they had had no chance to learn to live differently. I never criticized them or praised them, yet they felt in my neutrality a deeper rejection of them than if I had cursed them.
- Surely, we want to be objective if that means telling the truth as we see it, not concealing information that may be embarrassing to our point of view. But we don’t want to be objective if it means pretending that ideas don’t play a part in the social struggles of our time, that we don’t take sides in those struggles.
Indeed, it is impossible to be neutral. In a world already moving in certain directions, where wealth and power are already distributed in certain ways, neutrality means accepting the way things are now. It is a world of clashing interests – war against peace, nationalism against internationalism, equality against greed, and democracy against elitism – and it seems to me both impossible and undesirable to be neutral in those conflicts.
- Howard Zinn, in Declarations of Independence: Cross-Examining American Ideology (1990), p. 6
- I don't believe it's possible to be neutral. The world is already moving in certain directions, and to be neutral, to be passive in a situation like that, is to collaborate with whatever is going on. And I, as a teacher, do not want to be a collaborator with whatever is happening in the world. I want myself, as a teacher, and I want you, as students, to intercede with whatever is happening in the world.
- Howard Zinn, in Howard Zinn: You Can't be Neutral on a Moving Train (2004)