Friday, April 26, 2013

Insights on Fanaticism

It is often said that mankind needs a faith if the world is to be improved. In fact, unless the faith is vigilantly and regularly checked by a sense of man's fallibility, it is likely to make the world worse.

The tendency to claim God as an ally for our partisan value and ends is the source of all religious fanaticism.
Reinhold Niebuhr

The closer a man approaches tragedy the more intense is his concentration of emotion upon the fixed point of his commitment, which is to say the closer he approaches what in life we call fanaticism.
Arthur Miller

In that face, deformed by hatred of philosophy, I saw for the first time the portrait of the Antichrist, who does not come from the tribe of Judas, as his heralds have it, or from a far country. The Antichrist can be born from piety itself, from excessive love of God or of the truth, as the heretic is born from the saint and the possessed from the seer.
Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose

It is precisely that requirement of shared worship that has been the principal source of suffering for individual man and the human race since the beginning of history. In their efforts to impose universal worship, men have unsheathed their swords and killed one another. They have invented gods and challenged each other: "Discard your gods and worship mine or I will destroy both your gods and you!
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.
Winston Churchill

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