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Charles Horton Cooley Quotes


An American sociologist.
(1864 - 1929)

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A man may lack everything but tact and conviction and still be a forcible speaker; but without these nothing will avail... Fluency, grace, logical order, and the like, are merely the decorative surface of oratory.
 

A talent somewhat above mediocrity, shrewd and not too sensitive, is more likely to rise in the world than genius, which is apt to be perturbable and to wear itself out before fruition.
[Talent]
 

An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one.
[Art]
 

As social beings we live with our eyes upon our reflection, but have no assurance of the tranquillity of the waters in which we see it.
 

Between richer and poorer classes in a free country a mutually respecting antagonism is much healthier than pity on the one hand and dependence on the other, as is, perhaps, the next best thing to fraternal feeling.
[Antagonism]
 

Each man must have his I; it is more necessary to him than bread; and if he does not find scope for it within the existing institutions he will be likely to make trouble.
 

Every general increase of freedom is accompanied by some degeneracy, attributable to the same causes as the freedom.
 

Failure sometimes enlarges the spirit. You have to fall back upon humanity and God.
 

Faith in our associates is part of our faith in God.
 

Form the habit of making decisions when your spirit is fresh ... to let dark moods lead is like choosing cowards to command armies.
[Decisions]
 

If we divine a discrepancy between a man's words and his character, the whole impression of him becomes broken and painful; he revolts the imagination by his lack of unity, and even the good in him is hardly accepted.
 

Institutions - government, churches, industries, and the like - have properly no other function than to contribute to human freedom; and in so far as they fail, on the whole, to perform this function, they are wrong and need reconstruction.
 

One should never criticize his own work except in a fresh and hopeful mood. The self-criticism of a tired mind is suicide.
 

Our individual lives cannot, generally, be works of art unless the social order is also.
[Society]
 

Prudence and compromise are necessary means, but every man should have an impudent end which he will not compromise.
 

So far as discipline is concerned, freedom means not its absence but the use of higher and more rational forms as contrasted with those that are lower or less rational.
 

The bashful are always aggressive at heart.
 

The general fact is that the most effective way of utilizing human energy is through an organized rivalry, which by specialization and social control is, at the same time, organized co-operation.
 

The idea that seeing life means going from place to place and doing a great variety of obvious things is an illusion natural to dull minds.
 

The imaginations which people have of one another are the solid facts of society.
 


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