[Democracy] is not about good decision-making but about legitimacy. A government gains its right to govern by the assent of the people. From that point of view it does not matter how wise or informed or intelligent the voter is, or voters in general may be.

In other words, modern governments face two quite different fundamental issues: they have to be legitimate – in the sense that they have to govern with the broad assent of the people, and on the other hand, governments have to try to find good solutions to complicated problems.

John Armstrong, The Philosophy of Voting.

Reason is larger than science. Reason is not scientific; science is rational. Moreover, science is not all that is rational. Philosophy and literature and history and critical scholarship also espouse skepticism, open debate, formal precision (though not of the mathematical kind), and—at the higher reaches of humanistic labor—even empirical tests. What is a novel if not the representation of simultaneous non-omniscient perspectives—skepticism in the form of narrative? In literature and the arts, there are ideas, intellectually respectable ideas, about the world, but they are not demonstrated, they are illustrated. They are not argued, they are imagined; and the imagination has rigors of its own. What the imagination imparts in the way of understanding the world should also be called knowledge.

Leon Wieseltier, Crimes against humanities.

Democracies have great rational and imaginative powers. They also are prone to some serious flaws in reasoning, to parochialism, haste, sloppiness, selfishness, narrowness of the spirit. Education based mainly on profitability in the global market magnifies these deficiencies, producing a greedy obtuseness and a technically trained docility that threaten the very life of democracy itself, and that certainly impede the creation of a decent world culture.

If the real clash of civilizations is…a clash within the individual soul, as greed and narcissism content against respect and love, all modern societies are rapidly losing the battle, as they feed the forces that lead to violence and dehumanization and fail to feed the forces that lead to cultures of equality and respect.

Martha Nussbaum, Not For Profit. (ISBN: 9780691140643) p.142-143

The global economy has tied all of us to distant lives. Our simplest decisions as consumers affect the living standard of people in distant nations who are involved in the production of products we use. Our daily lives put pressure on the global environment. It is irresponsible to bury our head in the sand, ignoring the many ways in which we influence, every day, the lives of distant people. Education, then, should equip us all to function effectively in such discussions, seeing ourselves as “citizens of the world,” to use a time-honored phrase, rather than merely as Americans, or Indians, or Europeans.

Martha Nussbaum, Not for Profit. (ISBN: 9780691140643) p.80

Guard your honor. Let your reputation fall where it will. And outlive the bastards.

Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign. (ISBN: 0671578855)

[P]eople who lead the unexamined life…often treat one another disrespectfully. When people think that political debate is something like an athletic contest, where the aim is to score points for their own side, they are likely to see the “other side“ as the enemy and to wish its defeat, or even humiliation. It would not occur to them to seek compromise or to find common ground, any more than in a hockey match the Chicago Blackhawks would seek “common ground“ with their adversaries.

Martha Nussbaum, Not for Profit. (ISBN: 9780691140643) p.51

To some degree all cultures portray manliness as involving control…

[T]he attempt to be that ideal man involves a pretense of control in a world that one does not really control. This pretense is unmasked virtually every day by life itself, as the young “real man” feels hunger, fatigue, longing, often illness or fear. So an undercurrent of shame runs through the psyche of any person who lives by this myth; I am supposed to be a “real man,” but I feel that I do not control my own surroundings, or even my own body in countless ways.

Martha Nussbaum, Not For Profit. (ISBN: 9780691140643) p.39

People find it comforting to see themselves as engaged in a titanic “clash of civilizations” in which good democratic nations are pitted against allegedly bad religions and cultures from other parts of the world.…

Such myths of purity, however, are misleading and pernicious. No society is pure, and the “clash of civilizations” is internal to every society. Every society contains within itself people who are prepared to live with others on terms of mutual respect and reciprocity, and people who seek the comfort of domination. We need to understand how to produce more citizens of the former sort and fewer of the latter. Thinking falsely that our own society is pure within can only breed aggression toward outsiders and blindness about aggression toward insiders.

Martha Nussbaum, Not for Profit. (ISBN: 9780691140643) p.28-29

Education does not take place only in schools. Most of the traits…need to be nurtured in the family as well, both in the early years and as the child matures. Part of a comprehensive public policy approach…must include discussion of how families can be supported in the task of developing children’s capabilities. The surrounding peer culture and the larger culture of social norms and political institutions also play a role in supporting or subverting the work done by institutions and families.

Martha Nussbaum, Not for Profit. (ISBN: 9780691140643) p.8-9

A written text is not a high-fidelity recording. Its goal is not to reproduce speech as we pronounce it, but rather to code it at a level abstract enough to allow the reader to quickly retrieve its meaning.

Stanislas Dehaene, Reading in the Brain: The New Science of How We Read. (ISBN: 0670021105)

A weapon is a device for making your enemy change his mind. The mind was the first and final battleground, the stuff in between was just noise.

Lois McMaster Bujold, The Vor Game. (ISBN: 978-0-671-72014-8)

[W]hile gifts are financially inefficient, they are an important social lubricant. They help us make friends and create long-term relationships that can sustain us through the ups and downs of life. Sometimes, it turns out, a waste of money can be worth a lot.

Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational. (ISBN: 9780061353246) p.98

[T]here has grown up a system of annotation neither intelligent nor considerate. Instead of putting notes at the foot of pages, it jumbles them in a vast dump at the back of the book. No normal reader much enjoys perusing a volume in two places at once; further, though he may find his way, if he has patience, from the text to note 345, he may have a tedious search to find his way from note 345 to the relevant passage of text. For this type of author has seldom the sense, or the courtesy, to prefix his notes with the page-numbers concerned.

F. L. Lucas, Style: The Art of Writing Well. (ISBN: 9780865475878) p.111

A good writer is a man who knows not only what to write but also what not to write. You can be clear because you are brief; brief because you are clear.

F. L. Lucas, Style: The Art of Writing Well. (ISBN: 9780857191878) p.87

To write well one must skip intermediate ideas – enough to avoid being boring; though not excessively, for fear of not being understood. — Montesquieu

F. L. Lucas, Style: The Art of Writing Well. (ISBN: 9780857191878) p.81

The key is not to make human industries and systems smaller, as efficiency advocates propound, but to design them to get bigger and better in a way that replenishes, restores, and nourishes the rest of the world. Thus the “right things” for manufacturers and industrialists to do are those that lead to good growth—more niches, health, nourishment, diversity, intelligence, and abundance—for this generation of inhabitants on the planet and for generations to come.

William McDonough & Michael Braungart, Cradle to Cradle. (ISBN: 9780865475878) p.78

[U]ltimately a[n environmental] regulation is a signal of design failure. In fact, it is what we call a license to harm: a permit issued by a government to an industry so that they may dispense sickness, destruction, and death at an “acceptable” rate.

William McDonough & Michael Braungart, Cradle to Cradle. (ISBN: 9780865475878) p.61

[W]e are prone to exaggerate the consistency and coherence of what we see.… System 1 runs ahead of the facts in constructing a rich image on the basis of scraps of evidence.

Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow. (ISBN: 9780374533557) p.114

[Asking] “How many types of visualizations there are?” is like asking “How many pictures are there?” “How many sentences can there be in the world?” Every idea can have its own unique sentence, every thought its own unique picture.

Bret Victor, Drawing Dynamic Visualizations.

[W]e live in two worlds: one characterized by social exchanges and the other characterized by market exchanges. And we apply different norms to these two kinds of relationships. Moreover, introducing market norms into social exchanges…violates the social norms and hurts the relationships. Once this type of mistake has been committed, recovering a social relationship is difficult. Once you’ve offered to pay for the delightful Thanksgiving dinner, your mother-in-law will remember the incident for years to come.

Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational. (ISBN: 9780061353246) p.84

[N]either economic interest, Liberalism, nor Enlightenment could, or did, create in themselves the kind, or shape, of imagined community to be defended from these regimes’ depredations; to put it another way, none provided the framework of a new consciousness — the scarcely-seen periphery of its vision — as opposed to centre-field objects of its admiration or disgust.

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities. (ISBN: 0860915468) p.65

It is always a mistake to treat languages in the way that certain nationalist ideologues treat them — as emblems of nation-ness, like flags, costumes, folk-dances, and the rest. Much the most important thing about language is its capacity for generating imagined communities, building in effect particular solidarities.

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities. (ISBN: 0860915468) p.135

Typography exists to honor content.

Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Typographic Style. (ISBN: 881791326)