„Nowadays, the individual seems to be able to choose the spiritual framework of his thoughts and actions quite freely, and this freedom reflects the fact that the boundaries between the various cultures and societies are beginning to become more fluid. But even when an individual tries to attain the greatest possible degree of independence, he will still be swayed by the existing spiritual structures — consciously or unconsciously.“

—  Niels Bohr, Context: In mathematics we can take our inner distance from the content of our statements. In the final analysis mathematics is a mental game that we can play or not play as we choose. Religion, on the other hand, deals with ourselves, with our life and death; its promises are meant to govern our actions and thus, at least indirectly, our very existence. We cannot just look at them impassively from the outside. Moreover, our attitude to religious questions cannot be separated from our attitude to society. Even if religion arose as the spiritual structure of a particular human society, it is arguable whether it has remained the strongest social molding force through history, or whether society, once formed, develops new spiritual structures and adapts them to its particular level of knowledge. Nowadays, the individual seems to be able to choose the spiritual framework of his thoughts and actions quite freely, and this freedom reflects the fact that the boundaries between the various cultures and societies are beginning to become more fluid. But even when an individual tries to attain the greatest possible degree of independence, he will still be swayed by the existing spiritual structures — consciously or unconsciously. For he, too, must be able to speak of life and death and the human condition to other members of the society in which he's chosen to live; he must educate his children according to the norms of that society, fit into its life. Epistemological sophistries cannot possibly help him attain these ends. Here, too, the relationship between critical thought about the spiritual content of a given religion and action based on the deliberate acceptance of that content is complementary. And such acceptance, if consciously arrived at, fills the individual with strength of purpose, helps him to overcome doubts and, if he has to suffer, provides him with the kind of solace that only a sense of being sheltered under an all-embracing roof can grant. In that sense, religion helps to make social life more harmonious; its most important task is to remind us, in the language of pictures and parables, of the wider framework within which our life is set.
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Niels Bohr10
físico danés 1885 - 1962
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„No society can possibly be built upon a denial of individual freedom. It is contrary to the very nature of man. Just as a man will not grow horns or a tail, so will he not exist as man if he has no mind of his own. In reality even those who do not believe in the liberty of the individual believe in their own.“

—  Махатма Ганди pre-eminent leader of Indian nationalism during British-ruled India 1869 - 1948
Conquest of Violence: The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict by Joan V. Bondurant (1965) University of California Press, Berkeley: CA, p. 174. Harijan (February 1942)

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„Freedom’s possibility is not the ability to choose the good or the evil. The possibility is to be able“

—  Sören Kierkegaard Danish philosopher and theologian, founder of Existentialism 1813 - 1855
Context: Freedom’s possibility is not the ability to choose the good or the evil. The possibility is to be able. In a logical system, it is convenient to say that possibility passes over into actuality. However, in actuality it is not so convenient, and an intermediate term is required. The intermediate term is anxiety, but it no more explains the qualitative leap than it can justify it ethically. Anxiety is neither a category of necessity nor a category of freedom; it is entangled freedom, where freedom is not free in itself but entangled, not by necessity, but in itself. p. 49

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„Freedom is necessary for two reasons. It's necessary for the individual, because the individual, no matter how good the society is, every individual has hopes, fears, ambitions, creative urges, that transcend the purposes of his society.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr American protestant theologian 1892 - 1971
Context: Freedom is necessary for two reasons. It's necessary for the individual, because the individual, no matter how good the society is, every individual has hopes, fears, ambitions, creative urges, that transcend the purposes of his society. Therefore we have a long history of freedom, where people try to extricate themselves from tyranny for the sake of art, for the sake of science, for the sake of religion, for the sake of the conscience of the individual — this freedom is necessary for the individual.

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„On entering life, then, young people meet with various collective opinions, more or less narrow-minded. The more the individual has it in him to become a real personality, the more he will resist following a herd. But even if an inner voice says to him; “Become thyself! Be thyself!” he hears its appeal with despondency. Has he a self? He does not know; he is not yet aware of it. He therefore looks about for a teacher, an educator, one who will teach him, not something foreign, but how to become his own individual self.
We had in Denmark a great man who with impressive force exhorted his contemporaries to become individuals. But Søren Kierkegaard’s appeal was not intended to be taken so unconditionally as it sounded. For the goal was fixed. They were to become individuals, not in order to develop into free personalities, but in order by this means to become true Christians. Their freedom was only apparent; above them was suspended a “Thou shalt believe!” and a “Thou shalt obey!” Even as individuals they had a halter round their necks, and on the farther side of the narrow passage of individualism, through which the herd was driven, the herd awaited them again one flock, one shepherd.
It is not with this idea of immediately resigning his personality again that the young man in our day desires to become himself and seeks an educator. He will not have a dogma set up before him, at which he is expected to arrive.“

—  Georg Brandes Danish literature critic and scholar 1842 - 1927
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„The semimetaphysical problems of the individual and society, of egoism and altruism, of freedom and determinism, either disappear or remain in the form of different phases in the organization of a consciousness that is fundamentally social.“

—  Margaret Mead American anthropologist 1902 - 1978
p. 696, as cited in Social Cognitive Psychology: History and Current Domains (1997), David F. Barone, James E. Maddux, Charles R. Snyder . p. 20

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„He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery. Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the truth.“

—  Martin Luther King, Jr. American clergyman, activist, and leader in the American Civil Rights Movement 1929 - 1968
Context: I see this war as an unjust, evil, and futile war. I preach to you today on the war in Vietnam because my conscience leaves me with no other choice. The time has come for America to hear the truth about this tragic war. In international conflicts, the truth is hard to come by because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins. But the day has passed for superficial patriotism. He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery. Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the truth. "Ye shall know the truth," says Jesus, "and the truth shall set you free." Now, I've chosen to preach about the war in Vietnam because I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal. King quoted here John F. Kennedy who at the signing of a charter establishing the German Peace Corps in Bonn, West Germany (24 June 1963) remarked: Dante once said that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a period of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality. According to Bartleby.com, Kennedy's remark may have been inspired by the passage from Dante Alighieri’s La Comedia Divina “Inferno,” canto 3, lines 35–42 (1972) passage as translated by Geoffrey L. Bickersteth: "by those disbodied wretches who were loth when living, to be either blamed or praised. [...] Fear to lose beauty caused the heavens to expel these caitiffs; nor, lest to the damned they theng ave cause to boast, receives them the deep hell." A more modern-sounding translation from the foregoing Dante’s Inferno passage was translataed 1971 by Mark Musa thus: “They are mixed with that repulsive choir of angels … undecided in neutrality. Heaven, to keep its beauty, cast them out, but even Hell itself would not receive them for fear the wicked there might glory over them.” This is also often quoted slightly differently as: "The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict"

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