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Who said: “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”
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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index H > Wilhelm His Quotes

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Wilhelm His
(9 Jul 1831 - 1 May 1904)

Swiss anatomist and embryologist.


Science Quotes by Wilhelm His (5 quotes)

But nature is remarkably obstinate against purely logical operations; she likes not schoolmasters nor scholastic procedures. As though she took a particular satisfaction in mocking at our intelligence, she very often shows us the phantom of an apparently general law, represented by scattered fragments, which are entirely inconsistent. Logic asks for the union of these fragments; the resolute dogmatist, therefore, does not hesitate to go straight on to supply, by logical conclusions, the fragments he wants, and to flatter himself that he has mastered nature by his victorious intelligence.
— Wilhelm His
'On the Principles of Animal Morphology', Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2 Apr 1888), 15, 289. Original as Letter to Mr John Murray, communicated to the Society by Professor Sir William Turner. Page given as in collected volume published 1889.
Science quotes on:  |  Apparently (11)  |  Conclusion (120)  |  Dogmatist (4)  |  Fragment (24)  |  General (92)  |  Hesitate (5)  |  Inconsistent (7)  |  Intelligence (138)  |  Law (418)  |  Like (18)  |  Logic (187)  |  Master (55)  |  Mocking (4)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Obstinate (4)  |  Operation (96)  |  Phantom (5)  |  Procedure (16)  |  Remarkably (3)  |  Resolute (2)  |  Satisfaction (48)  |  Scattered (4)  |  Schoolmaster (4)  |  Union (16)

Heredity is the general expression of the periodicity of organic life. All generations belong to a continuous succession of waves, in which every single one resembles its predecessors and its followers.
— Wilhelm His
In 'On the Principles of Animal Morphology', Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1888), 15, 295. Original as Letter to Mr John Murray, communicated to the Society by Professor Sir William Turner. Page given as in collected volume published 1889.
Science quotes on:  |  Belong (33)  |  Continuous (24)  |  Expression (82)  |  Follower (7)  |  Generation (111)  |  Heredity (51)  |  Life (917)  |  Organic (48)  |  Periodicity (4)  |  Predecessor (18)  |  Resemble (16)  |  Succession (39)  |  Wave (55)

I defend the following postulate as an indisputable principle: that each nerve fibre originates as a process from a single cell. This is its genetic, nutritive, and functional center; all other connections of the fibre are either indirect or secondary.
— Wilhelm His
'Zur Geschichte des menschlichen Rόckenmarkes und der Nervenwurzeln' (1887). Trans. Edwin Clarke and C. D. O'Malley, The Human Brain and Spinal Cord (1968), 103.
Science quotes on:  |  Cell (125)  |  Nerve (66)

I should be the last to discard the law of organic heredity ... but the single word “heredity” cannot dispense science from the duty of making every possible inquiry into the mechanism of organic growth and of organic formation. To think that heredity will build organic beings without mechanical means is a piece of unscientific mysticism.
— Wilhelm His
In 'On the Principles of Animal Morphology', Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1888), 15, 294-295. Original as Letter to Mr John Murray, communicated to the Society by Professor Sir William Turner. Page given as in collected volume published 1889.
Science quotes on:  |  Build (80)  |  Discard (14)  |  Duty (51)  |  Formation (54)  |  Growth (111)  |  Heredity (51)  |  Inquiry (33)  |  Law (418)  |  Means (109)  |  Mechanical (31)  |  Mechanism (41)  |  Mysticism (5)  |  Organic (48)  |  Think (205)  |  Unscientific (7)

No other explanation of living forms is allowed than heredity, and any which is founded on another basis must be rejected. The present fashion requires that even the smallest and most indifferent inquiry must be dressed in phylogenetic costume, and whilst in former centuries authors professed to read in every natural detail some intention of the creator mundi, modern scientists have the aspiration to pick out from every occasional observation a fragment of the ancestral history of the living world.
— Wilhelm His
'On the Principles of Animal Morphology', Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2 Apr 1888), 15, 294. Original as Letter to Mr John Murray, communicated to the Society by Professor Sir William Turner. Page given as in collected volume published 1889.
Science quotes on:  |  Aspiration (19)  |  Basis (60)  |  Detail (65)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Fashion (24)  |  Form (210)  |  Founded (10)  |  Fragment (24)  |  Heredity (51)  |  History (302)  |  Indifferent (9)  |  Inquiry (33)  |  Intention (25)  |  Life (917)  |  Modern (104)  |  Natural (128)  |  Observation (418)  |  Occasional (10)  |  Pick (14)  |  Read (83)  |  Reject (21)  |  Scientist (447)


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  • 9 Jul - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of His'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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