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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index B > Sir Thomas Browne Quotes

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Sir Thomas Browne
(19 Oct 1605 - 19 Oct 1682)

British natural philosopher, physician and writer.


Science Quotes by Sir Thomas Browne (21 quotes)

Natura nihil agit frustra [Nature does nothing in vain] is the only indisputible axiom in philosophy. There are no grotesques in nature; not any thing framed to fill up empty cantons, and unncecessary spaces.
— Sir Thomas Browne
Religio Medici (1642), Part I, Section 15. In Thomas Browne and Simon Wilkin (Ed.), The Works of Thomas Browne (1852), Vol. 2, 339. Brown begins by quoting the axiom from Aristotle, which may be seen for “Natura nihil agit frustra” in the Aristotle Quotes on this web site.
Science quotes on:  |  Axiom (63)  |  Empty (80)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Nothing (966)  |  Philosophy (380)  |  Space (500)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Vain (83)

A man may be in as just possession of truth as of a city, and yet be forced to surrender.
— Sir Thomas Browne
In T. Chapman (ed.), Religio Medici (1643, 1831), part 1, sect. 6, 11.
Science quotes on:  |  City (78)  |  Force (487)  |  Man (2251)  |  Possession (65)  |  Surrender (20)  |  Truth (1057)

All things are artificial, for nature is the art of God.
— Sir Thomas Browne
In Religio Medici (1642, 1754), pt. 1, sec. 16, 42.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Art (657)  |  Artificial (33)  |  God (757)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Thing (1915)

All things began in Order, so shall they end, and so shall they begin again, according to the Ordainer of Order, and the mystical mathematicks of the City of Heaven.
— Sir Thomas Browne
In 'Garden of Cyrus', Religio Medici and Other Writings (1909), 229.
Science quotes on:  |  According (237)  |  All (4108)  |  Begin (260)  |  City (78)  |  End (590)  |  Heaven (258)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Mystical (9)  |  Order (632)  |  Thing (1915)

And therefore though Adam was framed without this part (a navel), as having no other womb than that of his proper principles, yet was not his posterity without the same: for the seminality of his fabric contained the power thereof; and was endued with the science of those parts whose predestinations upon succession it did accomplish.
— Sir Thomas Browne
Science quotes on:  |  Accomplishment (93)  |  Adam (7)  |  Contain (68)  |  Fabric (27)  |  Navel (2)  |  Other (2236)  |  Posterity (29)  |  Power (746)  |  Principle (507)  |  Proper (144)  |  Reproduction (72)  |  Science (3879)  |  Succession (77)  |  Womb (24)

As for those wingy mysteries in divinity, and airy subtleties in religion, which have unhinged the brains of better heads, they never stretched the pia mater of mine: methinks there be not impossibilities enough in Religion for an active faith.
— Sir Thomas Browne
In T. Chapman (ed.), Religio Medici (1643, 1831), part 1, sect. 9, 17.
Science quotes on:  |  Active (76)  |  Better (486)  |  Brain (270)  |  Divinity (23)  |  Enough (340)  |  Faith (203)  |  Head (81)  |  Impossibility (61)  |  Mine (76)  |  Mystery (177)  |  Never (1087)  |  Pia Mater (2)  |  Religion (361)  |  Stretch (39)  |  Subtle (35)

For God is like a skilfull Geometrician.
— Sir Thomas Browne
Religio Medici (1642), Part I, Section 16. In L. C. Martin (ed.), Thomas Browne: Religio Medici and Other Works (1964), 16.
Science quotes on:  |  Geometry (255)  |  God (757)

For the world, I count it not an inn, but an hospital, and a place, not to live, but to die in.
— Sir Thomas Browne
In Religio Medici (1642, 1754), pt. 2, sec. 11, 203.
Science quotes on:  |  Count (105)  |  Death (388)  |  Hospital (43)  |  Inn (2)  |  Life (1795)  |  Live (628)  |  Place (177)  |  World (1774)

Gold once out of the earth is no more due unto it; what was unreasonably committed to the ground, is reasonably resumed from it; let monuments and rich fabrics, not riches, adorn men’s ashes.
— Sir Thomas Browne
Science quotes on:  |  Archaeology (49)  |  Ash (20)  |  Due (141)  |  Earth (996)  |  Fabric (27)  |  Gold (97)  |  Ground (217)  |  Monument (45)  |  More (2559)  |  Rich (62)

I boast nothing, but plainely say, we all labour against our owne cure, for death is the cure of all diseases.
— Sir Thomas Browne
Religio Medici (1642), Part I, Section 9. In L. C. Martin (ed.), Thomas Browne: Religio Medici and Other Works (1964), 68.
Science quotes on:  |  Against (332)  |  All (4108)  |  Cure (122)  |  Death (388)  |  Disease (328)  |  Labour (98)  |  Nothing (966)  |  Say (984)

I have often admired the mystical way of Pythagoras, and the secret magick of numbers.
— Sir Thomas Browne
In Religio Medici (1642, 1754), pt. 1, sec. 12, 28.
Science quotes on:  |  Admiration (59)  |  Magic (86)  |  Number (699)  |  Often (106)  |  Pythagoras (38)  |  Secret (194)  |  Way (1217)

I would be content that we might procreate like trees, without conjunction, or that there were any way to perpetuate the World without this trivial and vulgar way of coition.
— Sir Thomas Browne
Science quotes on:  |  Coition (2)  |  Conjunction (10)  |  Content (69)  |  Perpetuate (10)  |  Procreate (4)  |  Reproduction (72)  |  Tree (246)  |  Trivial (57)  |  Vulgar (33)  |  Way (1217)  |  World (1774)

It is common wonder of all men, how among so many millions of faces, there should be none alike.
— Sir Thomas Browne
Religio Medici (1642), Part 2, Section 2. In L. C. Martin (ed.), Thomas Browne: Religio Medki and Other Works (1964), 57.
Science quotes on:  |  Alike (60)  |  All (4108)  |  Common (436)  |  Face (212)  |  Man (2251)  |  Wonder (236)

Many from … an inconsiderate zeal unto truth, have too rashly charged the troops of error, and remain as trophies unto the enemies of truth.
— Sir Thomas Browne
In T. Chapman (ed.), Religio Medici (1643, 1831), part 1, sect. 6, 11.
Science quotes on:  |  Charge (59)  |  Enemy (82)  |  Error (321)  |  Rash (14)  |  Remain (349)  |  Troop (5)  |  Trophy (3)  |  Truth (1057)  |  Zeal (11)

Men that looke no further than their outsides thinke health an appertinance unto life, and quarrell with their constitutions for being sick; but I that have examined the parts of man, and know upon what tender filaments that Fabrick hangs, doe wonder what we are not alwayes so; and considering the thousand dores that lead to death doe thanke my God that we can die but once.
— Sir Thomas Browne
Religio Medici (1642), Part I, Section 44. In L. C. Martin (ed.), Thomas Browne: Religio Medici and Other Works (1964), 42.
Science quotes on:  |  Being (1278)  |  Constitution (76)  |  Death (388)  |  Filament (4)  |  God (757)  |  Hang (45)  |  Health (193)  |  Know (1518)  |  Lead (384)  |  Life (1795)  |  Man (2251)  |  Outside (141)  |  Sick (81)  |  Thousand (331)  |  Wonder (236)

Nature is the art of God.
— Sir Thomas Browne
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Art (657)  |  God (757)  |  Nature (1926)

No one should approach the temple of science with the soul of a money changer.
— Sir Thomas Browne
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Approach (108)  |  Money (170)  |  Science (3879)  |  Soul (226)  |  Temple (42)  |  Temple Of Science (8)

The created world is but a small parenthesis in eternity.
— Sir Thomas Browne
Quoted in Kim Lim (ed.), 1,001 Pearls of Spiritual Wisdom: Words to Enrich, Inspire, and Guide Your Life (2014), 7
Science quotes on:  |  Create (235)  |  Eternity (63)  |  Parenthesis (2)  |  Small (477)  |  World (1774)

The Egyptian mummies, which Cambyses or time hath spared, avarice now consumeth. Mummy is become merchandise, Mizraim cures wounds, and Pharaoh is sold for balsams.
— Sir Thomas Browne
Science quotes on:  |  Archaeology (49)  |  Avarice (2)  |  Become (815)  |  Consume (9)  |  Cure (122)  |  Egyptian (5)  |  Merchandise (2)  |  Mummy (7)  |  Pharaoh (4)  |  Sell (15)  |  Spare (9)  |  Time (1877)  |  Wound (26)

To call ourselves a Microcosme, or little world, I thought it onely a pleasant trope of Rhetorick, till my neare judgement and second thoughts told me there was a reall truth therein: for first wee are a rude masse, and in the ranke of creatures, which only are, and have a dull kinde of being not yet priviledged with life, or preferred to sense or reason; next we live the life of plants, the life of animals, the life of men, and at last the life of spirits, running on in one mysterious nature those five kinds of existence, which comprehend the creatures not onely of world, but of the Universe.
— Sir Thomas Browne
Religio Medici (1642), Part I, Section 34. In L. C. Martin (ed.), Thomas Browne: Religio Medici and Other Works (1964), 33.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (617)  |  Being (1278)  |  Call (769)  |  Creature (233)  |  Dull (54)  |  Existence (456)  |  First (1283)  |  Kind (557)  |  Last (426)  |  Life (1795)  |  Little (707)  |  Live (628)  |  Man (2251)  |  Mysterious (79)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Next (236)  |  Ourselves (245)  |  Plant (294)  |  Reason (744)  |  Running (61)  |  Sense (770)  |  Spirit (265)  |  Thought (953)  |  Truth (1057)  |  Universe (857)  |  World (1774)

…indeed what reason may not go to Schoole to the wisdome of Bees, Aunts, and Spiders? what wise hand teacheth them to doe what reason cannot teach us? Ruder heads stand amazed at those prodigious pieces of nature, Whales, Elephants, Dromidaries and Camels; these I confesse, are the Colossus and Majestick pieces of her hand; but in these narrow Engines there is more curious Mathematicks, and the civilitie of these little Citizens more neatly sets forth the wisedome of their Maker.
— Sir Thomas Browne
In Religio Medici and Other Writings (1909), 17.
Science quotes on:  |  Amaze (4)  |  Ant (28)  |  Bee (40)  |  Camel (11)  |  Citizen (51)  |  Curious (91)  |  Elephant (31)  |  Engine (98)  |  Indeed (324)  |  Little (707)  |  Majestic (16)  |  Maker (34)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  More (2559)  |  Narrow (84)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Prodigious (20)  |  Reason (744)  |  School (219)  |  Set (394)  |  Spider (14)  |  Stand (274)  |  Teach (277)  |  Whale (32)  |  Wisdom (221)  |  Wise (131)



Quotes by others about Sir Thomas Browne (1)

I have lived myself to see the disciples of Hoffman, Boerhaave, Stalh, Cullen, Brown, succeed one another like the shifting figures of a magic lanthern, and their fancies, like the dresses of the annual doll-babies from Paris, becoming from their novelty, the vogue of the day, and yielding to the next novelty their ephemeral favor. The patient, treated on the fashionable theory, sometimes gets well in spite of the medicine.
In letter to Caspar Wistar (21 Jun 1807), collected in Thomas Jefferson Randolph (ed.), Memoir, Correspondence, And Miscellanies, From The Papers Of Thomas Jefferson (1829), Vol. 4, 93.
Science quotes on:  |  Becoming (96)  |  Hermann Boerhaave (21)  |  Brown (23)  |  William Cullen (5)  |  Disciple (7)  |  Doll (2)  |  Dress (9)  |  Ephemeral (4)  |  Fancy (50)  |  Fashionable (15)  |  Favor (63)  |  Figure (160)  |  Magic (86)  |  Medicine (378)  |  Myself (212)  |  Next (236)  |  Novelty (29)  |  Patient (199)  |  Recovery (23)  |  See (1081)  |  Shifting (5)  |  Spite (55)  |  Georg Ernst Stahl (8)  |  Succeed (109)  |  Succession (77)  |  Theory (970)  |  Treatment (130)  |  Vogue (4)


See also:
  • 19 Oct - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Browne's birth.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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