FREEDOM OF THOUGHT
There cannot be too much freedom of thought.
Reason, not authority, establishes truth. Authority never established truth, but often has suppressed it.
Reason is the only weapon a free thinker uses against error.
The world is to be enlightened with the lamp of liberty.
Freedom of thought implies the freedom to express it.
Enlightenment depends upon freedom to investigate.
To control the opinions of people is to make mental slaves of them.
The most valuable asset to a nation is a free, independent thinker.
It is not thought that is dangerous to a nation, but the lack of it.
Thought is as necessary to a healthy brain as is air to healthy lungs.
The unknown is discovered by those having freedom to investigate.
A thing that cannot stand investigation cannot stand the test of time.
There is one value in a false opinion – it gives the truth exercise in combating it.
When one assumes to do your thinking for you, he either thinks you are a fool or expects you to become one.
Those who would force their opinions upon others believe in their own infallibility.
Freedom of thought will produce something worthy of freedom of speech.
An authoritarian is a defender of the old and false; a free thinker is a defender of the new, the true.
Free thinking is necessary to the discovery of truth, and free expression to its dissemination.
Even the truth has little value when accepted on authority; it must be reasoned out to give real mental activity. Force cannot change beliefs, but it can change honest men into hypocrites.
One should no more be praised or blamed for his beliefs than for the color of his eyes.
Freedom of thought implies thought which is free from or refuses to recognize traditional or external authority in matters of opinion. It means independent thinking. Professor Bury says: “Free thought is a refusal of thought to be controlled by any authority but its own.” In order to be free, thought must be unbiased by authority or dogma; it cannot recognize any mental dictation.
Of course, in an absolute sense, thought is not free. It is determined by evidence, by logic and other influences on the mind. But it is the freedom to examine and select the true that is contended for. It is the process of reasoning unhampered by mannot freedom from facts, not freedom from evidence; but freedom from interference and dictation.
A free thinker knows by the nature of evidence that a mountain is not a hole in the ground. A free thinker relies on reason and not on force to establish truth. He does not convert by might, but by intelligence.
To think new thoughts is to exercise free thought. The fruit is the discovery of new truths. A free examination is not only necessary to arrive at the truth, but also necessary for intellectual growth.
Freedom of thought means unfettered intellectuality, and the more intellectual the people are the greater will be their happiness.
Freedom of thought means individual sovereignty, whose ultimate purpose is to establish the independence of the human race. It is an enemy of mental subserviency and conventionalism, because freedom is necessary to intellectual advancement.
A free thinker opposes mental slavery just as the Abolitionist opposed chattel slavery. Whatever advancement has been made is due to freedom. Slavery is static; freedom is dynamic. Man can accomplish nothing without freedom to act. A hampered thought is worthless. To get the truth, the speaker must be unafraid. Speech controlled by fear is of no value to the hearer. All believe in the free exchange of goods between the states, but some do not believe in a free exchange of ideas between individuals. A dealer in ideas is of more importance than a dealer in merchandise.
Freedom of thought is the force that creates, that improves. Authority is the mental slavery of every period -of history. Freedom of thought is the emancipator of the mind and the forerunner of human progress.
The authoritarian sets up some book, or man, or tradition to establish the truth. The free thinker sets up reason and private judgment to discover the truth. He demands freedom of inquiry; that is, the freedom to accept or reject any belief or unbelief.
Those who rely upon authority, instead of exercising their faculties, soon become incapable of thinking. Those who are prevented from expressing their thoughts will decline mentally.
The free thinker claims the freedom to improve on past thinking. He would be unhampered by menacing authority. A restraint upon freedom of speech is a check upon thinking. Therefore, the free thinker demands freedom of speech. The advocates of free thought and free speech are the true friends of progress. The suppression of free speech leads to riot and disorder-the very thing it is boasted that suppression prevents. To have reasonable action, you must have freedom to think.
The champions of freedom of thought do not demand freedom for themselves alone, but for others also. They demand freedom for those they disagree with, as well as for those with whom they agree. While disbelieving in dogmas, they believe in the liberty to believe in them. They stand for the freedom to think rightly, and the freedom to think wrongly.
The term, freedom of thought, implies that there has been hindrance, resistance, difficulty. All restraint upon freedom of speech is a negation of freedom of thought. Wherever the spirit of free thought advances, the spirit of intolerance recedes. VI e cannot learn the thought of our fellow men, if they deem it advisable, through fear, to conceal it. No honest man will deny that this condition prevails today. Many fear they will lose employment; others fear they will lose their business; still others fear for their standing in society. The politician dares not express any doubts in religious matters, or he will not obtain office. The preacher dares not, or he will lose his congregation.
In our universities, men have lost their chairs for teaching unpopular truth. Teachers in our public schools have to teach what the majority approve, and nothing else.
The newspapers will not advocate advanced ideas because they must please the majority, and the large advertisers, who are always very conservative. They want no change. Conditions suit them. While the newspapers dominate in national matters, the big advertisers determine their attitude locally.
If the unaccepted truth-that is, the new truth-is not taught, when will the people come into possession of it? NEVER. It must be taught; and it will be taught only by those who will not be intimidated, and are willing to pay the price which mental integrity has always paid; and those who will defy the majority and tell the truth are the free thinkers.
The teacher of truth has a difficult situation to overcome. He must first free a man before he can obtain his assistance. That is hard to accomplish, since the man is surrounded by every possible barrier which can be erected by a powerful and designing authority. Besides being taught to love the old and fear the new, he is held in bondage by family and social ties, which are so powerful that only the very strong can break them. A man is hedged about by custom and law so completely that it is almost impossible to reach him. He is told how to vote by his daily adviser, the newspaper; he is told what to believe by his church; and in this way he is relieved of all mental activity.
To establish freedom of thought is the most important work that can be done. A man must be mentally free before he can otherwise free himself. Many noble men and women are now helping in this work of enlightening the world, but many more are needed to win the cause.
The free thinkers gained for us what we have of freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom in religion, and political freedom. What would this old world have been without them? And they will give us still other freedoms; for they will solve the great world problems, which are really problems of freedom.