David R. Henderson  

Lord Acton's Humor

100% money?... A review of DeLong's review of...

Yesterday I posted about what a treat it was to read two essays by Lord Acton. Here are some of his more-humorous lines.

On Heraclitus:

Heraclitus is, unfortunately, so obscure that Socrates could not understand him, and I won't pretend to have succeeded better.

On Machiavelli:
I have shown you how Machiavelli supplied the immoral theory needful for the consummation of royal absolutism; the absolute oligarchy of Venice required the same assurance against the revolt of conscience. It was provided by a writer as able as Machiavelli, who analysed the wants and resources of aristocracy, and made known that its best security is poison.

His retelling of an old philosophical joke:
At that time there was some truth in the old joke which describes the English dislike of speculation by saying that all our philosophy consists of a short catechism in two questions: "What is mind? No matter. What is matter? Never mind."

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (2 to date)
ThomasH writes:

Acton was the best know opponent of the declaration of the Dogma of Papal Infallibility in 1870 and the "Absolute power" quote was directed at the Papal monarchy.

I thought "The Prince" was 'dog-whistle' to opponents of monarchy saying that rule by a prince means rule by a psychopath.

Comments for this entry have been closed
Return to top