„Cultures are relative; morality is absolute. Cultures, as Michael Walzer has argued, are “thick”; they prescribe institutions and behavior patterns to guide humans in the paths which are right in a particular society. Above, beyond, and growing out of this maximalist morality, however, is a “thin” minimalist morality that embodies “reiterated features of particular thick or maximal moralities.”“

—  Samuel P. Huntington, Context: Does the vacuousness of Western universalism and the reality of global cultural diversity lead inevitably and irrevocably to moral and cultural relativism? If universalism legitimates imperialism, does relativism legitimate repression? Once again, the answer to these questions is yes and no. Cultures are relative; morality is absolute. Cultures, as Michael Walzer has argued, are “thick”; they prescribe institutions and behavior patterns to guide humans in the paths which are right in a particular society. Above, beyond, and growing out of this maximalist morality, however, is a “thin” minimalist morality that embodies “reiterated features of particular thick or maximal moralities.” Minimal moral concepts of truth and justice are found in all thick moralities and cannot be divorced from them. There are also minimal moral “negative injunctions, most likely, rules against murder, deceit, torture, oppression, and tyranny.” What people have in common is “more the sense of a common enemy [or evil] than the commitment to a common culture.” Human society is “universal because it is human, particular because it is a society.” At times we march with others; mostly we march alone. Yet a “thin” minimal morality does derive from the common human condition, and “universal dispositions” are found in all cultures. Instead of promoting the supposedly universal features of one civilization, the requisites for cultural coexistence demand a search for what is common to most civilizations. In a multicivilizational world, the constructive course is to renounce universalism, accept diversity, and seek commonalities. Ch. 12 : The West, Civilizations, and Civilization, § 2 : The Commonalities Of Civilization, p. 319
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—  Václav Havel playwright, essayist, poet, dissident and 1st President of the Czech Republic 1936 - 2011
Context: The recent period — and in particular the last six weeks of our peaceful revolution — has shown the enormous human, moral and spiritual potential, and the civic culture that slumbered in our society under the enforced mask of apathy. Whenever someone categorically claimed that we were this or that, I always objected that society is a very mysterious creature and that it is unwise to trust only the face it presents to you. I am happy that I was not mistaken. Everywhere in the world people wonder where those meek, humiliated, skeptical and seemingly cynical citizens of Czechoslovakia found the marvelous strength to shake the totalitarian yoke from their shoulders in several weeks, and in a decent and peaceful way.

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„Political realism refuses to identify the moral aspirations of a particular nation with the moral laws that govern the universe.“

—  Hans Morgenthau American political scientist 1904 - 1980
Context: Political realism refuses to identify the moral aspirations of a particular nation with the moral laws that govern the universe. As it distinguishes between truth and opinion, so it distinguishes between truth and idolatry. All nations are tempted — and few have been able to resist the power for long — to clothe their own aspirations and action in the moral purposes of the universe. To know that nations are subject to the moral law is one thing, while to pretend to know with certainty what is good and evil in the relations among nations is quite another. There is a world of difference between the belief that all nations stand under the judgment of God, inscrutable to the human mind, and the blasphemous conviction that God is always on one's side and that what one wills oneself cannot fail to be willed by God also. Six Principles of Political Realism, § 5.

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—  Robert A. Heinlein American science fiction author 1907 - 1988
Context: Selfishness is the bedrock on which all moral behavior starts and it can be immoral only when it conflicts with a higher moral imperative. An animal so poor in spirit that he won't even fight on his own behalf is already an evolutionary dead end; the best he can do for his breed is to crawl off and die, and not pass on his defective genes.

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„What is God-given is what we call human nature. To fulfil the law of our human nature is what we call the moral law. The cultivation of the moral law is what we call culture.“

—  Zisi Chinese philosopher -481 - -402 a.C.
Opening lines, p. 104 Variant translations: What is God-given is called nature; to follow nature is called Tao (the Way); to cultivate the Way is called culture. As translated by Lin Yutang in The Importance of Living (1937), p. 143 What is God-given is called human nature. To fulfill that nature is called the moral law (Tao). The cultivation of the moral law is called culture. As translated by Lin Yutang in From Pagan to Christian (1959), p. 85

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„Intelligence is the only moral guide.“

—  Robert G. Ingersoll Union United States Army officer 1833 - 1899
Context: All “inspired books,” teaching that what the supernatural commands is right, and right because commanded, and that what the supernatural prohibits is wrong, and wrong because prohibited, are absurdly unphilosophic. And all “inspired books,” teaching that only those who obey the commands of the supernatural are, or can be, truly virtuous, and that unquestioning faith will be rewarded with eternal joy, are grossly immoral. Again I say: Intelligence is the only moral guide.

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—  Kenneth Minogue Australian political theorist 1930 - 2013
Context: For it is a conspicuous feature of democracy, as it evolves from generation to generation, that it leads people increasingly to take up public positions on the private affairs of others. Wherever people discover that money is being spent, either privately or by public officials, they commonly develop opinions on how it ought to be spent. In a state increasingly managed right down to small details of conduct, each person thus becomes his own fantasy despot, disposing of others and their resources as he or she thinks desirable. And this tendency itself results from another feature of the moral revolution. Democracy demands, or at least seems to demand, that its subjects should have opinions on most matters of public discussion. But public policy is a complicated matter and few intelligent comments can be made without a great deal of time being spent on the detail. On the other hand, every public policy may be judged in terms of its desirability. However ignorant a person may be, he or she can always moralize. And it is the propensity to moralize that takes up most of the space for public discussion in contemporary society. pp. 214-215

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