Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Quotes

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.

If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought, not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.

My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins.

Certitude leads to violence. This is a proposition that has an easy application and a difficult one. The easy application is to ideoologues, dogmatists, and bullies–people who think that their rigtness justifies them in imposing on anyone who does not happen to suscribe to their particular ideology, dogma or notion of turf. If the conviction of rightness is powerful enough, resistance to it will be met, sooner or later by force. There are people like this in every sphere of life, and it is natural to feel that the world would be a better place without them!

The mark of a civilized man is his willingness to re-examine his most cherished beliefs.

Success. Is not the position where you are standing, but which direction you are going.

This is a court of law, not a court of justice.

Even a dog distinguishes between being stumbled over and being kicked.

I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.

Young men know the rules, but old men know the exceptions.

I like to pay taxes. With them, I buy civilization.

The history of intellectual growth and discovery clearly demonstrates the need for unfettered freedom, the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable. To curtail free expression strikes twice at intellectual freedom, for whoever deprives another of the right to state unpopular views necessarily also deprives others of the right to listen to those views.

The man of action has the present, but the thinker controls the future.

The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.

Pretty much all law consists in forbidding men to do something that they want to do.

Where we stand is not as important as the direction in which we are moving.

The ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas [and] the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.

The character of every act depends upon the circumstances in which it is done.

Between two groups of people who want to make inconsistent kinds of worlds, I see no remedy but force.

Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

We have been cocksure of many things that were not so.

I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country.

Liberty is often a heavy burden on a man. It involves the necessity for perpetual choice which is the kind of labor men have always dreaded.

The only prize much cared for by the powerful is power. The prize of the general is not a bigger tent, but command.

If you don’t know what you want, you will probably never get it.