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 H.L. Mencken Quotes
51 Famous Quotes by H.L. Mencken

A great literature is chiefly the product of inquiring minds in revolt against the immovable certainties of the nation.

Literature Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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It is hard to tell if a man is telling the truth when you know you would lie if you were in his place.

Lying Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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To denounce moralizing out of hand is to pronounce a moral judgment.

Morality Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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The true function of art is to...edit nature and so make it coherent and lovely. The artist is a sort of impassioned proofreader, blue-penciling the bad spelling of God.

Psychological subjects Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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It is only doubt that creates. It is only the minority that counts.

Psychological subjects Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

Psychological subjects Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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There is only one honest impulse at the bottom of Puritanism, and that is the impulse to punish the man with a superior capacity for happiness.

Psychological subjects Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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Any man who inflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood.

Psychological subjects Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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The human race is divided into two sharply differentiated and mutually antagonistic classes, almost two genera- a small minority that plays with ideas and is capable of taking them in, and a vast majority that finds them painful, and is thus arrayed against them, and against all who have traffic with them. The intellectual heritage of the race belongs to the minority, and to the minority only. The majority has no more to do with it than it has to do with ecclesiastic politics on Mars. In so far as that heritage is apprehended, it is viewed with enmity. But in the main it is not apprehended at all.

Psychological subjects Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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Every step in human progress, from the first feeble stirrings in the abyss of time, has been opposed by the great majority of men. Every valuable thing that has been added to the store of man's possessions has been derided by them when it was new, and destroyed by them when they had the power. They have fought every new truth ever heard of, and they have killed every truth-seeker who got into their hands.

Psychological subjects Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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The psychologists and the metaphysicians wrangle endlessly over the nature of the thinking process in man, but no matter how violently they differ otherwise they all agree that it has little to do with logic and is not much conditioned by overt facts.

Psychological subjects Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.

Psychological subjects Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind.

Religion / beliefs Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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For men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt.

Religion / beliefs Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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We must think of human progress, not as of something going on in the race in general, but as something going on in a small minority, perpetually beleaguered in a few walled towns. Now and then the horde of barbarians outside breaks through, and we have an armed effort to halt the process. That is, we have a Reformation, a French Revolution, a war for democracy, a Great Awakening. The minority is decimated and driven to cover. But a few survive- and a few are enough to carry on.

Society Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps.

Society Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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No matter how happily a woman may be married, it always pleases her to discover that there is a nice man who wishes that she were not.

Society Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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Philosophy consists very largely of one philosopher arguing that all other philosophers are jackasses. He usually proves it, and I should add that he also usually proves that he is one himself.

Society Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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God is the immemorial refuge of the incompetent, the helpless, the miserable. They find not only sanctuary in His arms, but also a kind of superiority, soothing to their macerated egos; He will set the above their betters.

Society Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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The world always makes the assumption that the exposure of an error is identical with the discovery of truth--that the error and truth are simply opposite. They are nothing of the sort. What the world turns to, when it is cured on one error, is usually simply another error, and maybe one worse than the first one.

Society Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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No one in this world, so far as I know- and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me- has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.

Society Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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Nature abhors a moron.

Society Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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Every failure teaches a man something, to wit, that he will probably fail again.

Society Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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It is common to assume that human progress affects everyone- that even the dullest man, in these bright days, knows more than any man of, say, the Eighteenth Century, and is far more civilized. This assumption is quite erroneous...The great masses of men, even in this inspired republic, are precisely where the mob was at the dawn of history. They are ignorant, they are dishonest, they are cowardly, they are ignoble. They know little if anything that is worth knowing, and there is not the slightest sign of a natural desire among them to increase their knowledge.

Society Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them.

Society Quotes, by H.L. Mencken

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