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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index H > Thomas Henry Huxley Quotes > Fact

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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.



A world of facts lies outside and beyond the world of words.
— Thomas Henry Huxley
From After-Dinner Speech (Apr 1869) delivered before the Liverpool Philomathic Society, 'Scientific Education', collected in Lay Sermons, Addresses, and Reviews (1870), 63. Previously published in Macmillan’s Magazine.
Science quotes on:  |  Beyond (99)  |  Fact (688)  |  Outside (44)  |  Word (282)  |  World (854)

Any one who is practically acquainted with scientific work is aware that those who refuse to go beyond fact, rarely get as far as fact.
— Thomas Henry Huxley
In 'The Progress of Science 1837-1887' (1887), Collected Essays (1901), Vol. 1, 62.
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (688)  |  Refusal (20)

Common sense is science exactly in so far as it fulfills the ideal of common sense; that is, sees facts as they are, or at any rate, without the distortion of prejudice, and reasons from them in accordance with the dictates of sound judgment. And science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.
— Thomas Henry Huxley
The Crayfish: an Introduction to the Study of Zoölogy (1880), 2. Excerpted in Popular Science (Apr 1880), 16, 789.
Science quotes on:  |  Accordance (9)  |  Accuracy (59)  |  Best (160)  |  Common Sense (72)  |  Dictate (11)  |  Distortion (10)  |  Fact (688)  |  Fallacy (25)  |  Fulfillment (14)  |  Ideal (65)  |  Judgment (89)  |  Logic (229)  |  Observation (438)  |  Prejudice (65)  |  Reason (424)  |  Rigidity (3)  |  Science (1939)

Deduction, which takes us from the general proposition to facts again—teaches us, if I may so say, to anticipate from the ticket what is inside the bundle.
— Thomas Henry Huxley
'On the Educational Value of the Natural History Sciences' (1854). In Collected Essays (1893), Vol. 3, 52.
Science quotes on:  |  Deduction (66)  |  Fact (688)

I ask any one who has adopted the calling of an engineer, how much time he lost when he left school, because he had to devote himself to pursuits which were absolutely novel and strange, and of which he had not obtained the remotest conception from his instructors? He had to familiarize himself with ideas of the course and powers of Nature, to which his attention had never been directed during his school-life, and to learn, for the first time, that a world of facts lies outside and beyond the world of words.
— Thomas Henry Huxley
From After-Dinner Speech (Apr 1869) delivered before the Liverpool Philomathic Society, 'Scientific Education', collected in Lay Sermons, Addresses, and Reviews (1870), 63. Previously published in Macmillan’s Magazine.
Science quotes on:  |  Attention (106)  |  Beyond (99)  |  Conception (77)  |  Course (78)  |  Directed (2)  |  Engineering (121)  |  Fact (688)  |  Familiarize (3)  |  First (285)  |  Idea (545)  |  Instructor (5)  |  Learn (255)  |  Lose (88)  |  Nature (1154)  |  Novel (16)  |  Outside (44)  |  Power (337)  |  School (107)  |  Strange (83)  |  Time (562)  |  Word (282)  |  World (854)

I really see no harm which can come of giving our children a little knowledge of physiology. ... The instruction must be real, based upon observation, eked out by good explanatory diagrams and models, and conveyed by a teacher whose own knowledge has been acquired by a study of the facts; and not the mere catechismal parrot-work which too often usurps the place of elementary teaching.
— Thomas Henry Huxley
Science and Culture (1882), 92.
Science quotes on:  |  Catechism (2)  |  Child (234)  |  Diagram (12)  |  Education (314)  |  Instruction (64)  |  Knowledge (1244)  |  Model (76)  |  Observation (438)  |  Physiology (80)  |  Teacher (115)

In fact a favourite problem of [Tyndall] is—Given the molecular forces in a mutton chop, deduce Hamlet or Faust therefrom. He is confident that the Physics of the Future will solve this easily.
— Thomas Henry Huxley
Letter to Herbert Spencer (3 Aug 1861). In L. Huxley, The Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley (1900), Vol. 1, 249.
Science quotes on:  |  Literature (73)  |  Physics (329)  |  Problem (451)  |  William Shakespeare (100)  |  John Tyndall (48)

It was badly received by the generation to which it was first addressed, and the outpouring of angry nonsense to which it gave rise is sad to think upon. But the present generation will probably behave just as badly if another Darwin should arise, and inflict upon them that which the generality of mankind most hate—the necessity of revising their convictions. Let them, then, be charitable to us ancients; and if they behave no better than the men of my day to some new benefactor, let them recollect that, after all, our wrath did not come to much, and vented itself chiefly in the bad language of sanctimonious scolds. Let them as speedily perform a strategic right-about-face, and follow the truth wherever it leads.
— Thomas Henry Huxley
'On the Reception of the Origin of Species'. In F. Darwin (ed.), The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Including an Autobiographical Chapter (1888), Vol. 2, 204.
Science quotes on:  |  Conviction (66)  |  Charles Darwin (294)  |  Nonsense (35)  |  Truth (881)

Science seems to me to teach in the highest and strongest manner the great truth which is embodied in the Christian conception of entire surrender to the will of God. Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do this.
— Thomas Henry Huxley
Letter to Charles Kingsley (23 Sep 1860). In L. Huxley, The Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley (1903), Vol. 1, 316.
Science quotes on:  |  Enquiry (76)  |  God (509)  |  Nature (1154)  |  Preconception (10)  |  Science (1939)  |  Truth (881)

The antagonism between science and religion, about which we hear so much, appears to me purely factitious, fabricated on the one hand by short-sighted religious people, who confound theology with religion; and on the other by equally short-sighted scientific people who forget that science takes for its province only that which is susceptible of clear intellectual comprehension.
— Thomas Henry Huxley
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Antagonism (5)  |  Appear (97)  |  Clear (85)  |  Comprehension (53)  |  Confound (13)  |  Equally (25)  |  Fabricate (5)  |  Forget (55)  |  Hand (131)  |  Hear (55)  |  Intellectual (111)  |  People (360)  |  Province (12)  |  Purely (26)  |  Religion (231)  |  Religious (47)  |  Science (1939)  |  Science And Religion (289)  |  Scientific (215)  |  Short-Sighted (2)  |  Susceptible (5)  |  Theology (39)

The great tragedy of science—the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.
— Thomas Henry Huxley
President's Address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Liverpool Meeting, 14 Sep 1870. The Scientific Memoirs of Thomas Henry Huxley (1901), Vol. 3, 580.
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (688)  |  Hypothesis (245)

The publication of the Darwin and Wallace papers in 1858, and still more that of the 'Origin' in 1859, had the effect upon them of the flash of light, which to a man who has lost himself in a dark night, suddenly reveals a road which, whether it takes him straight home or not, certainly goes his way. That which we were looking for, and could not find, was a hypothesis respecting the origin of known organic forms, which assumed the operation of no causes but such as could be proved to be actually at work. We wanted, not to pin our faith to that or any other speculation, but to get hold of clear and definite conceptions which could be brought face to face with facts and have their validity tested. The 'Origin' provided us with the working hypothesis we sought.
— Thomas Henry Huxley
'On the Reception of the Origin of Species'. In F. Darwin (ed.), The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Including an Autobiographical Chapter (1888), Vol 2, 197.
Science quotes on:  |  Charles Darwin (294)  |  Evolution (523)  |  Fact (688)  |  Faith (152)  |  Hypothesis (245)  |  Origin Of Life (35)  |  Proof (235)  |  Publication (89)  |  Speculation (95)  |  Alfred Russel Wallace (39)


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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