Mark Van DorenMark Van Doren, (1894-1972) Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, professor, and critic

Mark Van Doren Quote

“An unexamined idea, to paraphrase Socrates, is not worth having and a society whose ideas are never explored for possible error may eventually find its foundations insecure.”

Mark Van DorenMark Van Doren
~ Mark Van Doren

Man’s Right to Knowledge, 1954

Ratings and Comments

John-Douglas, Nassau

I think GWB should take this to heart - if ever common sense can break through his self-proclaimed "bubble" (of self-imposed blind ignorance?)

Rebecca, Kamloops, BC

All Americans who have bought GWB's BS ought to consider these timeless words.....

jim k, Austin, Tx

Maybe it's time to examine Obama's ideas before it's too late.

Mike, Norwalk

Many ideas are not worth having after being fully examined. Through man's sojourn on this planet, most ideas have not only been had but, expressed thoroughly (verbally, physically, by experience, etc.). Take the theocracy that is socialism for example. Put new names to it (progressive, communism, fascism, a statist director over a collective mentality, etc.) so that the facade of it is palatable and then don't examine the depth of it; the results remain the same. When the personal responsibility of examining an idea is negated, the ignorant is doomed to repeat the horrors of history (for example; an in depth examination of personal charity by free will demonstrates an admirable character that prospers the individual and the many; the un-examined facade of forced charity by the state - the dole, insurance, ponzi schemes, a welfare state in anyway, etc. diminishes or ultimately destroys personal responsibility, individual character, complete examination, and society as a whole.

Bobble, No. Ferrisburgh, VT

AGREED. Not true only of societies but of individuals as well, who, like societies, should constantly be examining and re-examining his / its beliefs. THIS quote is 61 years old; nothing wrong with that -- some "truths" are MUCH older ( as am I ) but we need not to unthinkingly apply to age the authenticity of what we thought ( or were ) six or more decades ago.

Ronw13, Yachats Or

Mike, Norwalk pretty much sums it up. ! Our current state of affairs in this once great nation founded for the people.

E Archer, NYC

Well said, Mike. 'Question Authority'

The thing to understand is that this is a PERSONAL responsibility -- to take the time to re-evaluate one's principles, attitudes, and purpose. From the moment we come into this world we are learning -- obviously some of what we learned as children were fairy tales used as teaching aids -- learning to make the distinction between what is 'so' and what we 'want' is a good start. But like a losing gambler hoping the next throw of the dice will recoup all his losses, our desires can cloud our reason. DENIAL is the common trait that props up the illusion -- a price has been paid for this fantasy, and facing the lie means facing the real cost -- often lives, liberty, and property, i.e. one's sovereignty, honor, and home (and often not just yours but everyone's).


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