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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index G > Robert Grosseteste Quotes

Robert Grosseteste
(c. 1168 - 9 Oct 1253)

English scholar who was Bishop of Lincoln (1235-53) and first Chancellor of Oxford University.


Science Quotes by Robert Grosseteste (9 quotes)

A comet is sublimated fire assimilated to the nature of one of the seven planets.
— Robert Grosseteste
As quoted in Alistair Cameron Crombie, Robert Grosseteste and the Origins of Experimental Science, 1100-1700 (1953), 90.
Science quotes on:  |  Assimilate (9)  |  Comet (61)  |  Fire (189)  |  Nature (1928)  |  Planet (357)  |  Sublimate (4)

Can the cause be reached from knowledge of the effect with the same certainty as the effect can be shown to follow from its cause? Is it possible for one effect to have many causes? If one determinate cause cannot be reached from the effect, since there is no effect which has not some cause, it follows that an effect, when it has one cause, may have another, and so that there may be several causes of it.
— Robert Grosseteste
As quoted in Alistair Cameron Crombie, Robert Grosseteste and the Origins of Experimental Science, 1100-1700 (1971), 81.
Science quotes on:  |  Cause (542)  |  Certainty (174)  |  Determinate (6)  |  Effect (394)  |  Follow (379)  |  Knowledge (1536)  |  Natural Law (41)  |  Possible (554)  |  Reach (281)  |  Several (32)  |  Show (346)

It is not possible for form to do without matter because it is not separable, nor can matter itself be purged of form.
— Robert Grosseteste
De Luce seu De Inchoatione Formarum (On Light or On The Beginning of Forms) [1220], trans. A. C. Crombie, quoted in A. C. Crombie, Robert Grosseteste and the Origins of Experimental Science, 1100-1700 (1953), 106.
Science quotes on:  |  Do (1908)  |  Form (960)  |  Matter (801)  |  Possible (554)

Now, all causes of natural effects must be expressed by means of lines, angles and figures, for otherwise it is impossible to grasp their explanation. This is evident as follows. A natural agent multiplies its power from itself to the recipient, whether it acts on sense or on matter. This power is sometimes called species, sometimes a likeness, and it is the same thing whatever it may be called; and the agent sends the same power into sense and into matter, or into its own contrary, as heat sends the same thing into the sense of touch and into a cold body. For it does not act, by deliberation and choice, and therefore it acts in a single manner whatever it encounters, whether sense or something insensitive, whether something animate or inanimate. But the effects are diversified by the diversity of the recipient, for when this power is received by the senses, it produces an effect that is somehow spiritual and noble; on the other hand, when it is received by matter, it produces a material effect. Thus the sun produces different effects in different recipients by the same power, for it cakes mud and melts ice.
— Robert Grosseteste
De Uneis, Angulis et Figuris seu Fractionibus Reflexionibus Radiorum (On Lines, Angles and Figures or On the Refraction and Reflection of Rays) [1230/31], trans. D. C. Lindberg, quoted in E. Grant (ed.), A Source Book in Medieval Science (1974), 385-6.
Science quotes on:  |  Act (272)  |  Agent (70)  |  All (4107)  |  Body (537)  |  Call (769)  |  Cause (542)  |  Choice (110)  |  Cold (112)  |  Contrary (142)  |  Deliberation (5)  |  Different (577)  |  Diversity (73)  |  Effect (394)  |  Evident (91)  |  Explanation (234)  |  Express (187)  |  Figure (160)  |  Follow (379)  |  Heat (174)  |  Ice (54)  |  Impossible (253)  |  Light (609)  |  Likeness (18)  |  Material (353)  |  Matter (801)  |  Mean (809)  |  Means (580)  |  Mud (26)  |  Must (1526)  |  Natural (796)  |  Noble (90)  |  Optics (23)  |  Other (2236)  |  Power (747)  |  Sense (770)  |  Single (354)  |  Somehow (48)  |  Something (719)  |  Species (402)  |  Spiritual (92)  |  Sun (387)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Touch (142)  |  Whatever (234)

So the astronomer is on common ground with the physicist both in the subject and in the predicate of the conclusion, but the physicist demonstrates the predicate to belong to the subject by nature, whereas the astronomer does not care whether it belongs by nature or not. What, therefore, is the predicate for the physicist, is abstracted as the subject for the pure mathematician.
— Robert Grosseteste
As quoted in Alistair Cameron Crombie, Robert Grosseteste and the Origins of Experimental Science, 1100-1700 (1971), 94.
Science quotes on:  |  Abstract (126)  |  Astronomer (94)  |  Belong (162)  |  Both (494)  |  Care (186)  |  Common (436)  |  Common Ground (4)  |  Conclusion (255)  |  Demonstrate (77)  |  Ground (218)  |  Mathematician (389)  |  Nature (1928)  |  Physicist (260)  |  Predicate (3)  |  Pure (292)  |  Scientist (825)  |  Subject (522)

So when light generates itself in one direction drawing matter with it, it produces local motion; and when the light within matter is sent out and what is outside is sent in, it produces qualitative change. From this it is clear that corporeal motion is a multiplicative power of light, and this is a corporeal and natural appetite.
— Robert Grosseteste
As quoted in Alistair Cameron Crombie, Robert Grosseteste and the Origins of Experimental Science, 1100-1700 (1971), 107.
Science quotes on:  |  Appetite (17)  |  Change (595)  |  Corporeal (5)  |  Direction (175)  |  Draw (137)  |  Drawing (56)  |  Generate (16)  |  Light (609)  |  Local (19)  |  Matter (801)  |  Motion (312)  |  Natural (796)  |  Outside (141)  |  Power (747)  |  Produce (104)  |  Qualitative (14)

The method of definition is the method of discovering what the thing under consideration is by means of the definition of that thing in so far as it makes it known. This method involves two procedures, one being by composition and the other by resolution.
— Robert Grosseteste
As quoted in Alistair Cameron Crombie, Robert Grosseteste and the Origins of Experimental Science, 1100-1700 (1971), 63.
Science quotes on:  |  Being (1278)  |  Composition (84)  |  Consideration (139)  |  Definition (224)  |  Discover (553)  |  Involve (90)  |  Know (1519)  |  Known (454)  |  Mean (809)  |  Means (580)  |  Method (506)  |  Other (2236)  |  Procedure (41)  |  Resolution (23)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Two (937)

The rainbow is the repercussion or refraction of rays of the sun in a concave aqueous cloud.
— Robert Grosseteste
As quoted in Alistair Cameron Crombie, Robert Grosseteste and the Origins of Experimental Science, 1100-1700 (1971), 113.
Science quotes on:  |  Aqueous (8)  |  Cloud (104)  |  Concave (6)  |  Meteorology (33)  |  Rainbow (17)  |  Ray (114)  |  Refraction (11)  |  Repercussion (4)  |  Sun (387)

This part of optics [perspectiva], when well understood, shows us how we may make things a very long way off appear to be placed very close, and large near things appear very small, and how we may make small things placed at a distance appear as large as we want, so that it is possible for us to read the smallest letters at an incredible distance, or to count sand, or grain, or seeds, or any sort of minute objects.
Describing the use of a lens for magnification.
— Robert Grosseteste
De iride, in Baur, Die philosophischen Werke, 74.
Science quotes on:  |  Count (105)  |  Distance (163)  |  Grain (50)  |  Incredible (42)  |  Large (394)  |  Lens (14)  |  Letter (109)  |  Long (789)  |  Magnification (9)  |  Minute (125)  |  Object (422)  |  Optics (23)  |  Possible (554)  |  Read (288)  |  Sand (62)  |  Seed (93)  |  Show (346)  |  Small (479)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Understood (156)  |  Use (766)  |  Want (497)  |  Way (1216)


See also:
  • 9 Oct - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Grosseteste's death.

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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