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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index C > William Cullen Quotes

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William Cullen
(15 Apr 1710 - 5 Feb 1790)

Scottish doctor and chemist who taught the first independent course in chemistry in the British Isles and probably the first to used reversed arrows for "double decomposition".

Science Quotes by William Cullen (4 quotes)

Chemistry is an art that has furnished the world with a great number of useful facts, and has thereby contributed to the improvement of many arts; but these facts lie scattered in many different books, involved in obscure terms, mixed with many falsehoods, and joined to a great deal of false philosophy; so that it is not great wonder that chemistry has not been so much studied as might have been expected with regard to so useful a branch of knowledge, and that many professors are themselves but very superficially acquainted with it. But it was particularly to be expected, that, since it has been taught in universities, the difficulties in this study should have been in some measure removed, that the art should have been put into form, and a system of it attempted—the scattered facts collected and arranged in a proper order. But this has not yet been done; chemistry has not yet been taught but upon a very narrow plan. The teachers of it have still confined themselves to the purposes of pharmacy and medicine, and that comprehends a small branch of chemistry; and even that, by being a single branch, could not by itself be tolerably explained.
— William Cullen
John Thomson, An Account of the Life, Lectures and Writings of William Cullen, M.D. (1832), Vol. 1, 40.
Science quotes on:  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Fact (609)  |  Knowledge (1128)

I would have you to observe that the difficulty & mystery which often appear in matters of science & learning are only owing to the terms of art used in them, & if many gentlemen had not been rebuted by the uncouth dress in which science was offered to them, we must believe that many of these who now shew an acute & sound judgement in the affairs of life would also in science have excelled many of those who are devoted to it & who were engaged in it only by necessity & a phlegmatic temper. This is particularly the case with respect to chemistry, which is as easy to be comprehended as any of the common affairs of life, but gentlemen have been kept from applying to it by the jargon in which it has been industriously involved.
— William Cullen
Cullen MSS, No. 23, Glasgow University library. In A. L. Donovan, Philosophical Chemistry In the Scottish Enlightenment: The Doctrines and Discoveries of Wllliam Cullen and Joseph Black (1975), 111.
Science quotes on:  |  Chemistry (239)  |  Men Of Science (97)

It is said to be the manner of hypochondriacs to change often their physician …For a physician who does not admit the reality of the disease cannot be supposed to take much pains to cure it.
— William Cullen
First Lines of the Practice of Physic, (annoted by John Rotheram, 1796), Vol. 3, 297-8.
Science quotes on:  |  Medicine (322)

The great horde of physicians are always servile imitators, who can neither perceive nor correct the faults of their system, and are always ready to growl at and even to worry the ingenious person that could attempt it. Thus was the system of Galen secured in the possession of the schools of physic.
— William Cullen
In Lectures Introductory to the Practice of Physic, Collected in The Works of William Cullen: Containing his Physiology, Nosology, and first lines of the practice of physic (1827), Vol. 1, 386.
Science quotes on:  |  Attempt (94)  |  Correct (53)  |  Fault (27)  |  Galen (19)  |  Great (300)  |  Growl (3)  |  Horde (2)  |  Imitator (3)  |  Ingenious (18)  |  Medicine (322)  |  Perceive (18)  |  Person (114)  |  Physic (5)  |  Physician (232)  |  Possession (37)  |  Ready (16)  |  School (87)  |  Secure (13)  |  Servile (3)  |  System (141)  |  Worry (27)

Quotes by others about William Cullen (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:  |  Hermann Boerhaave (21)  |  Sir Thomas Browne (16)  |  Disciple (4)  |  Doll (2)  |  Dress (6)  |  Ephemeral (2)  |  Fancy (16)  |  Favor (22)  |  Figure (32)  |  Medicine (322)  |  Novelty (19)  |  Patient (116)  |  Recovery (18)  |  Shifting (3)  |  Spite (10)  |  Georg Ernst Stahl (8)  |  Succession (39)  |  Treatment (88)  |  Vogue (4)

See also:
  • 15 Apr - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Cullen'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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