Frasi di John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton

John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton foto
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John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton

Data di nascita: 10. Gennaio 1834
Data di morte: 19. Giugno 1902

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Sir John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton comunemente conosciuto come Lord Acton è stato uno storico e politico britannico, di origini italo-tedesche.

Fu insignito del Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.

Prestigioso esponente del cattolicesimo liberale, ebbe un importante ruolo nel dibattito ottocentesco sul rapporto tra chiesa cattolica e liberalismo.

Frasi John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton

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„By liberty I mean the assurance that every man shall be protected in doing what he believes his duty against the influence of authority and majorities, custom and opinion.“

— John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton
Context: By liberty I mean the assurance that every man shall be protected in doing what he believes his duty against the influence of authority and majorities, custom and opinion.<!--p.3

„There are two things which cannot be attacked in front: ignorance and narrow-mindedness.“

— John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton
Context: There are two things which cannot be attacked in front: ignorance and narrow-mindedness. They can only be shaken by the simple development of the contrary qualities. They will not bear discussion. Letter (23 January 1861), published in Lord Acton and his Circle (1906) by Abbot Francis Aidan Gasquet, Letter 74

„Judge not according to the orthodox standard of a system religious, philosophical, political, but according as things promote, or fail to promote the delicacy, integrity, and authority of Conscience.“

— John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton
Context: ADVICE TO PERSONS ABOUT TO WRITE HISTORY — DON’T In the Moral Sciences Prejudice is Dishonesty. A Historian has to fight against temptations special to his mode of life, temptations from Country, Class, Church, College, Party, Authority of talents, solicitation of friends. The most respectable of these influences are the most dangerous. The historian who neglects to root them out is exactly like a juror who votes according to his personal likes or dislikes. In judging men and things Ethics go before Dogma, Politics or Nationality. The Ethics of History cannot be denominational. Judge not according to the orthodox standard of a system religious, philosophical, political, but according as things promote, or fail to promote the delicacy, integrity, and authority of Conscience. Put conscience above both system and success. History provides neither compensation for suffering nor penalties for wrong. Postscript of letter to Mandell Creighton (5 April 1887), puplished in [http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=2201&chapter=203934&layout=html&Itemid=27 Historical Essays and Studies, by John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton (1907), edited by John Neville Figgis and Reginald Vere Laurence, Appendix, p. 505]

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„Seeing how little was done by the wisdom of former times for education and public health, for insurance, association, and savings, for the protection of labour against the law of self-interest, and how much has been accomplished in this generation, there is reason in the fixed belief that a great change was needed, and that democracy has not striven in vain. Liberty, for the mass, is not happiness; and institutions are not an end but a means.“

— John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton
Context: The manifest, the avowed difficulty is that democracy, no less than monarchy or aristocracy, sacrifices everything to maintain itself, and strives, with an energy and a plausibility that kings and nobles cannot attain, to override representation, to annul all the forces of resistance and deviation, and to secure, by Plebiscite, Referendum, or Caucus, free play for the will of the majority. The true democratic principle, that none shall have power over the people, is taken to mean that none shall be able to restrain or to elude its power. The true democratic principle, that the people shall not be made to do what it does not like, is taken to mean that it shall never be required to tolerate what it does not like. The true democratic principle, that every man‘s free will shall be as unfettered as possible, is taken to mean that the free will of the collective people shall be fettered in nothing. Religious toleration, judicial independence, dread of centralisation, jealousy of State interference, become obstacles to freedom instead of safeguards, when the centralised force of the State is wielded by the hands of the people. Democracy claims to be not only supreme, without authority above, but absolute, without independence below; to be its own master, not a trustee. The old sovereigns of the world are exchanged for a new one, who may be flattered and deceived, but whom it is impossible to corrupt or to resist, and to whom must be rendered the things that are Caesar's and also the things that are God’s. The enemy to be overcome is no longer the absolutism of the State, but the liberty of the subject. Nothing is more significant than the relish with which Ferrari, the most powerful democratic writer since Rousseau, enumerates the merits of tyrants, and prefers devils to saints in the interest of the community. For the old notions of civil liberty and of social order did not benefit the masses of the people. Wealth increased, without relieving their wants. The progress of knowledge left them in abject ignorance. Religion flourished, but failed to reach them. Society, whose laws were made by the upper class alone, announced that the best thing for the poor is not to be born, and the next best to die in childhood, and suffered them to live in misery and crime and pain. As surely as the long reign of the rich has been employed in promoting the accumulation of wealth, the advent of the poor to power will be followed by schemes for diffusing it. Seeing how little was done by the wisdom of former times for education and public health, for insurance, association, and savings, for the protection of labour against the law of self-interest, and how much has been accomplished in this generation, there is reason in the fixed belief that a great change was needed, and that democracy has not striven in vain. Liberty, for the mass, is not happiness; and institutions are not an end but a means. The thing they seek is a force sufficient to sweep away scruples and the obstacle of rival interests, and, in some degree, to better their condition. They mean that the strong hand that heretofore has formed great States, protected religions, and defended the independence of nations, shall help them by preserving life, and endowing it for them with some, at least, of the things men live for. That is the notorious danger of modern democracy. That is also its purpose and its strength. And against this threatening power the weapons that struck down other despots do not avail. The greatest happiness principle positively confirms it. The principle of equality, besides being as easily applied to property as to power, opposes the existence of persons or groups of persons exempt from the common law, and independent of the common will; and the principle, that authority is a matter of contract, may hold good against kings, but not against the sovereign people, because a contract implies two parties.

„I exhort you never to debase the moral currency or to lower the standard of rectitude, but to try others by the final maxim that governs your own lives, and to suffer no man and no cause to escape the undying penalty which history has the power to inflict on wrong.“

— John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton
Context: Most of this, I suppose, is undisputed, and calls for no enlargement. But the weight of opinion is against me when I exhort you never to debase the moral currency or to lower the standard of rectitude, but to try others by the final maxim that governs your own lives, and to suffer no man and no cause to escape the undying penalty which history has the power to inflict on wrong. The plea in extenuation of guilt and mitigation of punishment is perpetual. At every step we are met by arguments which go to excuse, to palliate, to confound right and wrong, and reduce the just man to the level of the reprobate. The men who plot to baffle and resist us are, first of all, those who made history what it has become. They set up the principle that only a foolish Conservative judges the present time with the ideas of the past; that only a foolish Liberal judges the past with the ideas of the present.

„Put conscience above both system and success.“

— John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton
Context: ADVICE TO PERSONS ABOUT TO WRITE HISTORY — DON’T In the Moral Sciences Prejudice is Dishonesty. A Historian has to fight against temptations special to his mode of life, temptations from Country, Class, Church, College, Party, Authority of talents, solicitation of friends. The most respectable of these influences are the most dangerous. The historian who neglects to root them out is exactly like a juror who votes according to his personal likes or dislikes. In judging men and things Ethics go before Dogma, Politics or Nationality. The Ethics of History cannot be denominational. Judge not according to the orthodox standard of a system religious, philosophical, political, but according as things promote, or fail to promote the delicacy, integrity, and authority of Conscience. Put conscience above both system and success. History provides neither compensation for suffering nor penalties for wrong. Postscript of letter to Mandell Creighton (5 April 1887), puplished in [http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=2201&chapter=203934&layout=html&Itemid=27 Historical Essays and Studies, by John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton (1907), edited by John Neville Figgis and Reginald Vere Laurence, Appendix, p. 505]

„It is bad to be oppressed by a minority, but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority. For there is a reserve of latent power in the masses which, if it is called into play, the minority can seldom resist.“

— John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton
Context: It is bad to be oppressed by a minority, but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority. For there is a reserve of latent power in the masses which, if it is called into play, the minority can seldom resist. But from the absolute will of an entire people there is no appeal, no redemption, no refuge but treason.

Pubblicità

„But it may be urged, on the other side, that Liberty is not the sum or substitute for of all things men ought to live for... to be real it must be circumscribed“

— John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton
Context: But it may be urged, on the other side, that Liberty is not the sum or substitute for of all things men ought to live for... to be real it must be circumscribed... advancing civilisation invests the state with increased rights and duties, and imposes increased burdens and constraints on the subject... a highly instructed and intelligent community may perceive the benefit of compulsory obligations which, at a lower stage, would be thought unbearable... liberal progress is not vague or indefinite, but aims at a point where the public is subject to no restrictions but those of which it feels the advantage... a free country may be less capable of doing much for the advancement of religion, the prevention of vice, or the relief of suffering, than one that does not shrink from confronting great emergencies by some sacrifice of individual rights, and some concentration of power... the supreme political object ought to be sometimes postponed to still higher moral objects. My argument involves no collision with these qualifying reflections. We are dealing, not with the effects of freedom, but with its causes.... influences which brought arbitrary government under control, either by the diffusion of power, or to an appeal to an authority which transcends all government, and among these influences the greatest philosophers of Greece have no claim to be reckoned.

„At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare, and its triumphs have been due to minorities, that have prevailed by associating themselves with auxiliaries whose objects often differed from their own;“

— John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton
Context: At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare, and its triumphs have been due to minorities, that have prevailed by associating themselves with auxiliaries whose objects often differed from their own; and this association, which is always dangerous, has been sometimes disastrous, by giving to opponents just grounds of opposition, and by kindling dispute over the spoils in the hour of success.<!--p. 1

„When the last of the Reformers died, religion, instead of emancipating the nations, had become an excuse for the criminal art of despots. Calvin preached, and Bellarmine lectured; but Machiavelli reigned.“

— John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton
Context: John Knox thought that every Catholic in Scotland ought to be put to death; and no man ever had disciples of a sterner or more relentless temper. But his counsel was not followed. All through the religious conflict, policy kept the upper hand. When the last of the Reformers died, religion, instead of emancipating the nations, had become an excuse for the criminal art of despots. Calvin preached, and Bellarmine lectured; but Machiavelli reigned.

„The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities.“

— John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton
Context: The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities. Liberty, by this definition, is the essential condition and guardian of religion...<!--p.4

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