Famous Quotes & Sayings

Richard Hofstadter Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 43 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Richard Hofstadter.

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Richard Hofstadter Quotes 1151874

There has always been in our national experience a type of mind which elevates hatred to a kind of creed; for this mind, group hatreds take a place in politics similar to the class struggle in some other modern societies. — Richard Hofstadter

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To be sick and helpless is a humiliating experience. Prolonged illness also carries the hazard of narcissistic self-absorption. — Richard Hofstadter

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We are all sufferers from history, but the paranoid is a double sufferer, since he is afflicted not only by the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well. — Richard Hofstadter

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The older America, until the 1890s and in some respects until 1914, was wrapped in the security of continental isolation, village society, the Protestant denominations, and a flourishing industrial capitalism. But reluctantly, year by year, over several decades, it has been drawn into the twentieth century and forced to cope with its unpleasant realities: first the incursions of cosmopolitanism and skepticism, then the disappearance of American isolation and easy military security, the collapse of traditional capitalism and its supplementation by a centralized welfare state, finally the unrelenting costs and stringencies of the Second World War, the Korean War, and the cold war. As a consequence, the heartland of America, filled with people who are often fundamentalist in religion, nativist in prejudice, isolationist in foreign policy, and conservative in economics, has constantly rumbled with an underground revolt against all these tormenting manifestations of our modern predicament. — Richard Hofstadter

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Intellect is resented as a form of power or privilege. — Richard Hofstadter

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A university's essential character is that of being a center of free inquiry and criticism - a thing not to be sacrificed for anything else. — Richard Hofstadter

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The nation seems to slouch onward into its uncertain future like some huge inarticulate beast, too much attainted by wounds and ailments to be robust, but too strong and resourceful to succumb. — Richard Hofstadter

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The utopia of the Populists was in the past, not in the future. According to the agrarian myth, the health of the state was proportionate to the degree to which it was dominated by the agricultural class, and this assumption pointed to the superiority of an earlier age. — Richard Hofstadter

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It is ironic that the United States should have been founded by intellectuals, for throughout most of our political history, the intellectual has been for the most part either an outsider, a servant or a scapegoat. — Richard Hofstadter

Richard Hofstadter Quotes 1816437

The American mind was shaped in the mold of early modern Protestantism. Religion was the first arena for American intellectual life, and thus the first arena for an anti-intellectual impulse. Anything that seriously diminished the role of rationality and learning in early American religion would later diminish its role in secular culture. The feeling that ideas should above all be made to work, the disdain for doctrine and for refinements in ideas, the subordination of men of ideas to men of emotional power or manipulative skill are hardly innovations of the twentieth century; they are inheritances from American Protestantism. — Richard Hofstadter

Richard Hofstadter Quotes 1960976

To be confronted with a simple and unqualified evil is no doubt a kind of luxury ... — Richard Hofstadter

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Intellectualism, though by no means confined to doubters, is often the sole piety of the skeptic. — Richard Hofstadter

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To the reactionary ear every whispered criticism of the elite classes has always sounded like the opening shot of an uprising. — Richard Hofstadter

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A university is not a service station. Neither is it a political society, nor a meeting place for political societies. With all its limitations and failures, and they are invariably many, it is the best and most benign side of our society insofar as that society aims to cherish the human mind. — Richard Hofstadter

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Get action, do things; be sane," he once raved, "don't fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody: get action. — Richard Hofstadter

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[Herbert] Hoover, had he been challenged with the overpowering implausibility of his notion that economic life is a race that is won by the ablest runner, would have had a ready answer from his own biography: had he not started in life as a poor orphan and worked in the mines for a pittance, and had he not become first a millionaire and then President of the United States? There are times when nothing is more misleading than personal experience, and the man whose experience has embraced only success is likely to be a forlorn and alien figure when his whole world begins to fail. — Richard Hofstadter

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The danger that American society as a whole will over-esteem intellect or assign it such a transcendent value as to displace other legitimate values is one that hardly troubles us. — Richard Hofstadter

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What came in the end was only a small war and a quick victory; when the farmers and the gentlemen finally did coalesce in politics, they produced only the genial reforms of Progressivism; and the man on the white horse turned out to be just a graduate of the Harvard boxing squad, equipped with an immense bag of platitudes, and quite willing to play the democratic game. — Richard Hofstadter

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If for every error and every act of incompetence one can substitute an act of treason, many points of fascinating interpretation are open to the paranoid imagination. — Richard Hofstadter

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The growth of the mass media of communication and their use in politics have brought politics closer to the people than ever before and have made politics a form of entertainment in which the spectators feel themselves involved. Thus it has become, more than ever before, an arena into which private emotions and personal problems can be readily projected. Mass communications have made it possible to keep the mass man in an almost constant state of political mobilisation. — Richard Hofstadter

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It is a part of the intellectual's tragedy that the things he most values about himself and his work are quite unlike those society values in him ... — Richard Hofstadter

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It is a poor head that cannot find plausible reason for doing what the heart wants to do. — Richard Hofstadter

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If there is anything more dangerous to the life of the mind than having no independent commitment to ideas, it is having an excess of commitment to some special and constricting idea. — Richard Hofstadter

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The idea of the paranoid style as a force in politics would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to men with profoundly disturbed minds. It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant. — Richard Hofstadter

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The delicate thing about the university is that it has a mixed character, that it is suspended between its position in the eternal world, with all its corruption and evils and cruelties, and the splendid world of our imagination. — Richard Hofstadter

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Intellect needs to be understood not as some kind of claim against the other human excellences for which a fatally high price has to be paid, but rather as a complement to them without which they cannot be fully consummated. — Richard Hofstadter

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Tocqueville saw that the life of constant action and decision which was entailed by the democratic and businesslike character of American life put a premium upon rough and ready habits of mind, quick decision, and the prompt seizure of opportunities - and that all this activity was not propitious for deliberation, elaboration, or precision in thought. — Richard Hofstadter

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As with the pursuit of happiness, the pursuit of truth is itself gratifying whereas the consummation often turns out to be elusive. — Richard Hofstadter

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It is possible that the distinction between moral relativism and moral absolutism has sometimes been blurred because an excessively consistent practice of either leads to the same practical result - ruthlessness in political life. — Richard Hofstadter

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[John C.] Calhoun was a minority spokesman in a democracy, a particularist in an age of nationalism, a slaveholder in an age of advancing liberties, and an agrarian in a furiously capitalistic country. His weakness was to be inhumanly schematic and logical, which is only to say that he thought as he lived. His mind, in a sense, was too masterful - it imposed itself upon realities. The great human, emotional, moral complexities of the world escaped him because he had no private training for them, had not even the talent for friendship, in which he might have been schooled. It was easier for him to imagine, for example, that the South had produced upon its slave base a better culture than the North because he had no culture himself, only a quick and muscular mode of thought. It may stand as a token of Calhoun's place in the South's history that when he did find culture there, at Charleston, he wished a plague upon it. — Richard Hofstadter

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However, in a populistic culture like ours, which seems to lack a responsible elite with political and moral autonomy, and in which it is possible to exploit the wildest currents of public sentiment for private purposes, it is at least conceivable that a highly organized, vocal, active, and well-financed minority could create a political climate in which the rational pursuit of our well-being and safety would become impossible. — Richard Hofstadter

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They thought man was a creature of rapacious self-interest, and yet they wanted him to be free- free, in essence, to contend, to engage in an umpired strife, to use property to get property. — Richard Hofstadter

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The tradition of the new. Yesterday's avant-gard-experiment is today's chic and tomorrow's cliche. — Richard Hofstadter

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If mind is seen not as a threat but as a guide to emotion, if intellect is seen neither as a guarantee of character nor as an inevitable danger to it, if theory is conceived as something serviceable but not necessarily subordinate or inferior to practice, and if our democratic aspirations are defined in such realistic and defensible terms as to admit of excellence, all these supposed antagonisms lose their force. — Richard Hofstadter

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[Grover} Cleveland, this product of good conscience and self-help, with his stern ideas of purity, efficiency, and service, was a taxpayer's dream, the ideal bourgeois statesmen for his time: out of heartfelt conviction he gave to the interests what many a lesser politician might have sold them for a price. He was the flower of American political culture in the Gilded Age. — Richard Hofstadter

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A large segment of the public willingly resigns itself to political passivity in a world in which it cannot expect to make well-founded judgments. — Richard Hofstadter

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Any historian of warfare knows that it is in good part a comedy of errors and a museum of incompetence; but if for every error and every act of incompetence one can substitute an act of treason, we can see how many points of fascinating interpretation are open to the paranoid imagination: treason in high places can be found at almost every turning
and in the end the real mystery, for one who reads the primary works of paranoid scholarship, is not how the United States has been brought to its present dangerous position, but how it has managed to survive at all. — Richard Hofstadter

Richard Hofstadter Quotes 1923219

In using the terms play and playfulness, I do not intend to suggest any lack of seriousness; quite the contrary. Anyone who has watched children, or adults, at play will recognize that there is no contradiction between play and seriousness, and that some forms of play induce a measure of grave concentration not so readily called forth by work. — Richard Hofstadter

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Ideally, the pursuit of truth is said to be at the heart of the intellectual's business, but this credits his business too much and not quite enough. As with the pursuit of happiness, the pursuit of truth is itself gratifying whereas consummation often turns out to be elusive. Truth captured loses its glamour; truths long known and widely believed have a way of turning false with time; easy truths are bore and too many of them become half truths. Whatever the intellectual is too certain of, if he is healthily playful, he begins to find unsatisfactory. The meaning of his intellectual life lies not in the possession of truth but in the quest for new uncertainties. Harold Rosenberg summed up this side of the life of the mind supremely well when he said that the intellectual is one who turns answers into questions. — Richard Hofstadter

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The intellectual as ideologist, having had a leading role in purveying to the country each innovation and having frequently hastened the country into the acceptance of change, is naturally felt to have played an important part in breaking the mold in which America was cast and in consequence he gets more than his share of the blame. — Richard Hofstadter

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Intellect is neither practical nor impractical; it is extra-practical. — Richard Hofstadter

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One of the primary tests of the mood of a society at any given time is whether its comfortable people tend to identify, psychologically, with the power and achievements of the very successful or with the needs and sufferings of the underprivileged. — Richard Hofstadter

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The intellectual is engage-he is pledged, committed, enlisted. What everyone else is willing to admit, namely that ideas and abstractions are of signal importance in human life, he imperatively feels. — Richard Hofstadter