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William Godwin Quotes

Justice is the sum of all moral duty.
William Godwin (Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, 1793)
He that loves reading has everything within his reach.
William Godwin (The Enquirer - Of An Early Taste For Reading, 1797)
Revolutions are the produce of passion, not of sober and tranquil reason.
William Godwin (Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, 1793)
The lessons of their early youth regulated the conduct of their riper years.
William Godwin (Thoughts on Man: His Nature, Productions, and Discoveries, 1831)
The interests of the human species require a gradual, but uninterrupted change
William Godwin (Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, 1793)
Perfectibility is one of the most unequivocal characteristics of the human species.
William Godwin (Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, 1793)
Let us not, in the eagerness of our haste to educate, forget all the ends of education.
William Godwin (The Enquirer - Of the Communication of Knowledge, 1797)
What can be more clear and sound in explanation, than the love of a parent to his child?
William Godwin (Thoughts on Man: His Nature, Productions, and Discoveries, 1831)
If there be such a thing as truth, it must infallibly be struck out by the collision of mind with mind.
William Godwin (Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, 1793)
Learning is the ally, not the adversary of genius... he who reads in a proper spirit, can scarcely read too much.
William Godwin (The Enquirer - Of Learning, 1797)
The great model of the affection of love in human beings is the sentiment which subsists between parents and children.
William Godwin (Thoughts on Man: His Nature, Productions, and Discoveries, 1831)
Man is the only creature we know, that, when the term of his natural life is ended, leaves the memory of himself behind him.
William Godwin (Thoughts on Man: His Nature, Productions, and Discoveries, 1831)
Above all we should not forget that government is an evil, a usurpation upon the private judgement and individual conscience of mankind.
William Godwin (Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, 1793)
There must be room for the imagination to exercise its powers; we must conceive and apprehend a thousand things which we do not actually witness.
William Godwin (Thoughts on Man: His Nature, Productions, and Discoveries, 1831)
Whenever government assumes to deliver us from the trouble of thinking for ourselves, the only consequences it produces are those of torpor and imbecility.
William Godwin (Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, 1793)
He that loves reading has everything within his reach. He has but to desire, and he may possess himself of every species of wisdom to judge and power to perform.
William Godwin (The Enquirer - Of An Early Taste For Reading, 1797)
As the true object of education is not to render the pupil the mere copy of his preceptor, it is rather to be rejoiced in, than lamented, that various reading should lead him into new trains of thinking.
William Godwin (The Enquirer - Of Choice in Reading, 1797)
It has an unhappy effect upon the human understanding and temper, for a man to be compelled in his gravest investigation of an argument, to consider, not what is true, but what is convenient.
William Godwin (The Life of Geoffrey Chaucer, 1803)
If he who employs coercion against me could mould me to his purposes by argument, no doubt he would. He pretends to punish me because his argument is strong; but he really punishes me because his argument is weak.
William Godwin (Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, 1793)
The proper method for hastening the decay of error is not by brute force, or by regulation which is one of the classes of force, to endeavour to reduce men to intellectual uniformity; but on the contrary by teaching every man to think for himself.
William Godwin (Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, 1793)
In a well-written book we are presented with the maturest reflections, or the happiest flights of a mind of uncommon excellence. It is impossible that we can be much accustomed to such companions without attaining some resemblance to them.
William Godwin (The Enquirer - Of An Early Taste For Reading, 1797)
Above all, the poet, whose judgment should be clear, whose feelings should be uniform and sound, whose sense should be alive to every impression and hardened to none, who is the legislator of generations and the moral instructor of the world, ought never to have been a practising lawyer, or ought speedily to have quitted so dangerous an engagement.
William Godwin (The Life of Geoffrey Chaucer, 1803)
As long as parents and teachers in general shall fall under the established rule, it is clear that politics and modes of government will educate and infect us all. They poison our minds, before we can resist, or so much as suspect their malignity. Like the barbarous directors of the Eastern seraglios, they deprive us of our vitality, and fit us for their despicable employment from the cradle.
William Godwin (Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, 1793)
He who should make these principles would not rashly insist upon instant abolition of all existing abuses . . . . Truth, however unreserved by the mode of its enunciation, will be sufficiently gradual in is progress. It will be fully comprehended only be slow degrees, by its most assiduous votaries; and the degrees will be still more temperate by which it will pervade so considerable a portion of the community as to render them mature for a change of their common institutions . . . we shall have many reforms, but no revolutions . . . . Revolutions are the produce of passion, not of sober and tranquil reason.
William Godwin (Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, 1793)
Strange that men, from age to age, should consent to hold their lives at the breath of another, merely that each in his turn may have a power of acting the tyrant according to the law! Oh, God! give me poverty! Shower upon me all the imaginary hardships of human life! I will receive them with all thankfulness. Turn me a prey to the wild beasts of the desert, so I be never again the victim of man, dressed in the gore-dripping robes of authority! Suffer me at least to call life, the pursuits of life, my own! Let me hold it at the mercy of the elements, of the hunger of the beasts, or the revenge of barbarians, but not of the cold-blooded prudence of monopolists and kings!
William Godwin (Things as They Are; or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams, 1794)
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William Godwin Biography

Born: March 3, 1756
Died: April 7, 1836

William Godwin was an British political philosopher, novelist and journalist. He is best known for his novels and his role as an proponent of anarchism and utilitarianism.

Notable Works
Political Justice (1793)
Things as They Are (1794)
St. Leon (1799)
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