Judge Learned HandJudge Learned Hand, (1872-1961), Judge, U. S. Court of Appeals

Judge Learned Hand Quote

“The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women...”

Judge Learned HandJudge Learned Hand
~ Judge Learned Hand

Speech, 21 May 1944

Ratings and Comments

Dick, Fort Worth

A great quote. People who are always crying "Patriotism" should contemplate this thought instead.

Mike, Norwalk

The first segment of the quote is incorrect and off topic while the segment that deals with the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women is half right. The other half is the spirit of liberty also deals with the 'being' of man. The use of 'right' here would imply that the spirit of liberty is impervious to judgements at justice. Pages could be written here to explain the implied innuendos and misapplied despotism of the faulty premise.

E Archer, NYC

Yes, it is important to admit that we are not too sure that we are right -- that is what freedom is all about. If we absolutely knew, then any deviation from that would be easily understood as 'wrong' and thus criminal. Historically, those that claimed the 'right' were the most destructive of those 'wrong.' Millions upon millions have been persecuted for conscientiously questioning the claims of pope and king. Because we "don't know" we cannot force others to our way -- we can only make our argument, we cannot force consensus. Freedom is the right to be wrong -- there is no other way to self-determination.

Mike, Norwalk

At natural law, the law is well established, recognized and accepted as law (gravity, fiscal law, murder / stealing, etc.) The right or wrong comes in the definition of such by man (1st degree, 2nd degree / grand larceny - petty theft as terminates in supposed or hoped for justice). Common law being the administrative face of natural law, it is to determine the fact and law, right and wrong. It is the administration of justice, not the spirit of liberty, that is, or should be questioned as to correctness. Law's defining tools (codes, codicils, regulations, rules, statutes, etc.) are to be adjusted to equate the greatest harmony with any 'law' and, results in the greatest accuracy at justice. The spirit of liberty is an innate nobility in the being man - neither right or wrong; just 'IS'. Compelled compliance, license, victimless crimes, larceny with impunity, and denial of inalienable rights are all outside natural law or, the law of nature and nature's God. The spirit of liberty is a natural law observation of being. Judge Hand's statement is a concept at legal positivism (government by/of man, as is averse to government by/of law - natural law) as such, it is the foundation of shallow thought, despotism, tyranny, ignorance and a slippery slope greased by malefactors.


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