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Thomas Henry Huxley
(4 May 1825 - 29 Jun 1895)

English biologist known as the main advocate for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.



Any one who has studied the history of science knows that almost every great step therein has been made by the “anticipation of Nature,” that is, by the invention of hypotheses, which, though verifiable, often had very little foundation to start with; and, not unfrequently, in spite of a long career of usefulness, turned out to be wholly erroneous in the long run.
— Thomas Henry Huxley
In 'The Progress of Science 1837-1887' (1887), Collected Essays (1901), Vol. 1, 62.
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I know no study which is so unutterably saddening as that of the evolution of humanity, as it is set forth in the annals of history. Out of the darkness of prehistoric ages man emerges with the marks of his lowly origin strong upon him. He is a brute, only more intelligent than the other brutes, a blind prey to impulses, which as often as not led him to destruction; a victim to endless illusions, which make his mental existence a terror and a burden, and fill his physical life with barren toil and battle.
— Thomas Henry Huxley
'Agnosticism' (1889). In Collected Essays (1894), Vol. 5, 256.
Science quotes on:  |  Age (499)  |  Barren (30)  |  Blind (95)  |  Brute (28)  |  Darkness (68)  |  Destruction (125)  |  Endless (56)  |  Evolution (593)  |  Existence (460)  |  History (675)  |  Humanity (169)  |  Illusion (66)  |  Impulse (48)  |  Intelligent (100)  |  Know (1519)  |  Life (1799)  |  Man (2249)  |  Mental (177)  |  More (2559)  |  Origin (241)  |  Other (2236)  |  Physical (508)  |  Prehistoric (10)  |  Prehistoric Man (2)  |  Set (394)  |  Strong (174)  |  Study (656)  |  Terror (30)  |  Toil (25)  |  Victim (35)

Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors.
— Thomas Henry Huxley
Science and Culture, and Other Essays (1890), 335.
Science quotes on:  |  Error (321)  |  More (2559)  |  Reason (744)  |  Truth (1062)

It is an error to imagine that evolution signifies a constant tendency to increased perfection. That process undoubtedly involves a constant remodeling of the organism in adaptation to new conditions; but it depends on the nature of those conditions whether the direction of the modifications effected shall be upward or downward.
— Thomas Henry Huxley
'The Struggle for Existence in Human Society' (1888). In Collected Essays (1894), Vol. 9, 199.
Science quotes on:  |  Adaptation (58)  |  Condition (357)  |  Constant (144)  |  Depend (228)  |  Direction (175)  |  Effect (394)  |  Error (321)  |  Evolution (593)  |  Imagine (165)  |  Involve (90)  |  Modification (55)  |  Nature (1928)  |  New (1217)  |  Organism (220)  |  Perfect (216)  |  Perfection (130)  |  Process (423)  |  Tendency (99)  |  Upward (43)

The scientific spirit is of more value than its products, and irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors.
— Thomas Henry Huxley
'The Coming of Age of the Origin of Species' (1880). In Collected Essays (1893), Vol. 2, 229.
Science quotes on:  |  Error (321)  |  More (2559)  |  Product (160)  |  Reason (744)  |  Reasoning (207)  |  Scientific (940)  |  Spirit (265)  |  Truth (1062)  |  Value (368)


See also:
  • 4 May - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Huxley's birth.
  • Thomas Henry Huxley - Autobiography
  • Thomas Henry Huxley - context of quote “Investigation of nature is an infinite pasture-ground ” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Thomas Henry Huxley - context of quote “Investigation of nature is an infinite pasture-ground ” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • Thomas Henry Huxley: The Evolution of a Scientist, by Sherrie L. Lyons. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for Thomas Huxley.

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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