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Irving Babbitt Quotes


An American academic and literary critic, noted for his founding role in a movement that became known as the New Humanism, a significant influence on literary discussion and conservative thought in the period between 1910 to 1930.
(1865 - 1933)

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A democracy, the realistic observer is forced to conclude, is likely to be idealistic in its feelings about itself, but imperialistic about its practice.
 

A man needs to look, not down, but up to standards set so much above his ordinary self as to make him feel that he is himself spiritually the underdog.
 

A person who has sympathy for mankind in the lump, faith in its future progress, and desire to serve the great cause of this progress, should be called not a humanist, but a humanitarian, and his creed may be designated as humanitarianism.
 

A remarkable feature of the humanitarian movement, on both its sentimental and utilitarian sides, has been its preoccupation with the lot of the masses.
 

According to the new ethics, virtue is not restrictive but expansive, a sentiment and even an intoxication.
 

Act strenuously, would appear to be our faith, and right thinking will take care of itself.
 

An American of the present day reading his Sunday newspaper in a state of lazy collapse is one of the most perfect symbols of the triumph of quantity over quality that the world has yet seen.
 

Anyone who thus looks up has some chance of becoming worthy to be looked up to in turn.
 

Democracy is now going forth on a crusade against imperialism.
 

For behind all imperialism is ultimately the imperialistic individual, just as behind all peace is ultimately the peaceful individual.
[Peace]
 

Furthermore, America suffers not only from a lack of standards, but also not infrequently from a confusion or an inversion of standards.
 

If a man went simply by what he saw, he might be tempted to affirm that the essence of democracy is melodrama.
 

If quantitatively the American achievement is impressive, qualitatively it is somewhat less satisfying.
 

If we are to have such a discipline we must have standards, and to get our standards under existing conditions we must have criticism.
 

Inasmuch as society cannot go on without discipline of some kind, men were constrained, in the absence of any other form of discipline, to turn to discipline of the military type.
 

Perhaps as good a classification as any of the main types is that of the three lusts distinguished by traditional Christianity - the lust of knowledge, the lust of sensation, and the lust of power.
 

Robespierre, however, was not the type of leader finally destined to emerge from the Revolution.
 

Since every man desires happiness, it is evidently no small matter whether he conceives of happiness in terms of work or of enjoyment.
 

Spiritual anarchy is not likely to work either for the happiness of the individual or for the welfare of society.
[Religion]
 

Tell him, on the contrary, that he needs, in the interest of his own happiness, to walk in the path of humility and self-control, and he will be indifferent, or even actively resentful.
 


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