Quotes on Evil

All concerns of men go wrong when they wish to cure evil with evil.

SOPHOCLES, The Sons of Aleus

The whole gamut of good and evil is in every human being, certain notes, from stronger original quality or most frequent use, appearing to form the whole character; but they are only the tones most often heard. The whole scale is in every soul, and the notes most seldom heard will on rare occasions make themselves audible.

FANNY KEMBLE, Further Records, Feb. 12, 1875

The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.


Evil is done without effort, naturally, it is the working of fate; good is always the product of an art.


There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organisation. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organised along the lines of the Mafia.

KURT VONNEGUT, JR., The Sirens of Titan

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.


No one who, like me, conjures up the most evil of those half-tamed demons that inhabit the human breast, and seeks to wrestle with them, can expect to come through the struggle unscathed.

SIGMUND FREUD, Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria

No one becomes depraved all at once.

JUVENAL, Satires

Apathy and evil. The two work hand in hand. They are the same, really…. Evil wills it. Apathy allows it. Evil hates the innocent and the defenseless most of all. Apathy doesn’t care as long as it’s not personally inconvenienced.

JAKE THOENE, Shaiton’s Fire

Apathy is the glove in which evil slips its hand.


All things truly wicked start from an innocence.


The belief that there is only one truth and that oneself is in possession of it seems to me the deepest root of all evil that is in the world.

MAX BORN, as quoted in Judith Sherven’s The New Intimacy

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.


Fairly examined, truly understood,

No man is wholly bad, nor wholly good.


Those who choose not to empathise enable real monsters, for without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves we collude with it through our apathy.

J. K. ROWLING, speech, Jun. 5, 2008

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.

BLAISE PASCAL, quoted in The International Thesaurus of Quotations


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