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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index J > William Stanley Jevons Quotes

William Stanley Jevons
(1 Sep 1835 - 13 Aug 1882)

British philosopher and economist.

Science Quotes by William Stanley Jevons (12 quotes)

Although a physical law may never admit of a perfectly abrupt change, there is no limit to the approach which it may make to abruptness.
— William Stanley Jevons
In The Principles of Science: A Treatise on Logic and Scientific Method (1874), Vols. 1-2, 273.
Science quotes on:  |  Abrupt (6)  |  Admit (44)  |  Approach (53)  |  Change (363)  |  Limit (123)  |  Perfect (83)  |  Physical Law (8)

Charles Babbage proposed to make an automaton chess-player which should register mechanically the number of games lost and gained in consequence of every sort of move. Thus, the longer the automaton went on playing game, the more experienced it would become by the accumulation of experimental results. Such a machine precisely represents the acquirement of experience by our nervous organization.
— William Stanley Jevons
In ‘Experimental Legislation’, Popular Science (Apr 1880), 16, 754-5.
Science quotes on:  |  Accumulation (30)  |  Acquisition (41)  |  Artificial Intelligence (8)  |  Automaton (10)  |  Charles Babbage (54)  |  Chess (23)  |  Consequence (110)  |  Experience (338)  |  Experiment (600)  |  Gain (67)  |  Game (61)  |  Human Mind (80)  |  Loss (73)  |  Machine (157)  |  Mechanical (48)  |  Move (94)  |  Nerve (69)  |  Organization (84)  |  Player (8)  |  Proposal (11)  |  Registration (2)  |  Representation (35)  |  Result (376)

Experiments may be of two kinds: experiments of simple fact, and experiments of quantity. ...[In the latter] the conditions will ... vary, not in quality, but quantity, and the effect will also vary in quantity, so that the result of quantitative induction is also to arrive at some mathematical expression involving the quantity of each condition, and expressing the quantity of the result. In other words, we wish to know what function the effect is of its conditions. We shall find that it is one thing to obtain the numerical results, and quite another thing to detect the law obeyed by those results, the latter being an operation of an inverse and tentative character.
— William Stanley Jevons
Principles of Science: A Treatise on Logic and Scientific Method (1874, 1892), 439.
Science quotes on:  |  Condition (160)  |  Effect (165)  |  Experiment (600)  |  Expression (104)  |  Fact (725)  |  Function (128)  |  Induction (59)  |  Law (513)  |  Mathematics (1149)  |  Numerical (13)  |  Quality (93)  |  Quantitative (18)  |  Quantity (64)  |  Result (376)  |  Variation (61)

I am convinced that it is impossible to expound the methods of induction in a sound manner, without resting them upon the theory of probability. Perfect knowledge alone can give certainty, and in nature perfect knowledge would be infinite knowledge, which is clearly beyond our capacities. We have, therefore, to content ourselves with partial knowledge—knowledge mingled with ignorance, producing doubt.
— William Stanley Jevons
The Principles of Science: A Treatise on Logic and Scientific Method, 2nd edition (1877), 197.
Science quotes on:  |  Ability (107)  |  Induction (59)  |  Knowledge (1293)  |  Nature (1211)  |  Probability (106)

In 1808 … Malus chanced to look through a double refracting prism at the light of the setting sun, reflected from the windows of the Luxembourg Palace. In turning the prism round, he was surprised to find that the ordinary image disappeared at two opposite positions of the prism. He remarked that the reflected light behaved like light which had been polarized by passing through another prism.
— William Stanley Jevons
In Principles of Science (1874), Vols. 1-2, Book IV, Chap. 18, 163.
Science quotes on:  |  Behave (17)  |  Chance (159)  |  Disappear (29)  |  Find (405)  |  Image (55)  |  Light (345)  |  Étienne-Louis Malus (2)  |  Opposite (50)  |  Ordinary (71)  |  Palace (8)  |  Passing (6)  |  Polarize (2)  |  Position (75)  |  Prism (6)  |  Reflect (31)  |  Remark (26)  |  Round (26)  |  Sun (276)  |  Surprise (70)  |  Turn (118)  |  Window (40)

In abstract mathematical theorems, the approximation to absolute truth is perfect. … In physical science, on the contrary, we treat of the least quantities which are perceptible.
— William Stanley Jevons
In The Principles of Science: A Treatise on Logic and Scientific Method (1913), 478.
Science quotes on:  |  Absolute (97)  |  Abstract (79)  |  Approximation (22)  |  Contrary (34)  |  Least (74)  |  Mathematics (1149)  |  Perceptible (5)  |  Perfect (83)  |  Physical Science (65)  |  Quantity (64)  |  Theorem (88)  |  Treat (34)  |  Truth (914)

It is usual to say that the two sources of experience are Observation and Experiment. When we merely note and record the phenomena which occur around us in the ordinary course of nature we are said to observe. When we change the course of nature by the intervention of our will and muscular powers, and thus produce unusual combinations and conditions of phenomena, we are said to experiment. [Sir John] Herschel has justly remarked that we might properly call these two modes of experience passive and active observation. In both cases we must certainly employ our senses to observe, and an experiment differs from a mere observation in the fact that we more or less influence the character of the events which we observe. Experiment is thus observation plus alteration of conditions.
— William Stanley Jevons
Principles of Science: A Treatise on Logic and Scientific Method (1874, 2nd ed., 1913), 400.
Science quotes on:  |  Alteration (25)  |  Definition (191)  |  Event (115)  |  Experience (338)  |  Experiment (600)  |  Fact (725)  |  Sir John Herschel (23)  |  Influence (137)  |  Intervention (12)  |  Note (33)  |  Observation (445)  |  Occurrence (32)  |  Phenomenon (276)  |  Record (67)  |  Sense (315)  |  Source (90)

It seems perfectly clear that Economy, if it is to be a science at all, must be a mathematical science. There exists much prejudice against attempts to introduce the methods and language of mathematics into any branch of the moral sciences. Most persons appear to hold that the physical sciences form the proper sphere of mathematical method, and that the moral sciences demand some other method—I know not what.
— William Stanley Jevons
The Theory of Political Economy (1871), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Economy (54)  |  Mathematics (1149)  |  Method (230)  |  Moral (123)  |  Physical Science (65)

Science arises from the discovery of Identity amid Diversity.
— William Stanley Jevons
The Principles of Science: A Treatise on Logic and Scientific Method (1874), 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Discovery (676)  |  Diversity (51)  |  Identity (11)  |  Science (2043)

The child which overbalances itself in learning to walk is experimenting on the law of gravity.
— William Stanley Jevons
In ‘Experimental Legislation’, Popular Science (Apr 1880), 16, 754.
Science quotes on:  |  Child (245)  |  Experiment (600)  |  Law Of Gravity (9)  |  Learning (177)  |  Walk (67)

The whole value of science consists in the power which it confers upon us of applying to one object the knowledge acquired from like objects; and it is only so far, therefore, as we can discover and register resemblances that we can turn our observations to account.
— William Stanley Jevons
Principles of Science: A Treatise on Logic and Scientific Method (1874, 2nd ed., 1913), 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Application (166)  |  Confer (11)  |  Definition (191)  |  Discovery (676)  |  Diveristy (2)  |  Identity (11)  |  Knowledge (1293)  |  Object (169)  |  Register (10)  |  Resemblance (19)  |  Science (2043)  |  Value (240)

Whoever wishes to acquire a deep acquaintance with Nature must observe that there are analogies which connect whole branches of science in a parallel manner, and enable us to infer of one class of phenomena what we know of another. It has thus happened on several occasions that the discovery of an unsuspected analogy between two branches of knowledge has been the starting point for a rapid course of discovery.
— William Stanley Jevons
Principles of Science: A Treatise on Logic and Scientific Method (1874, 2nd ed., 1913), 631.
Science quotes on:  |  Acquaintance (22)  |  Analogy (56)  |  Class (83)  |  Connection (107)  |  Discovery (676)  |  Inference (31)  |  Knowledge (1293)  |  Nature (1211)  |  Observation (445)  |  Occasion (23)  |  Parallel (17)  |  Phenomenon (276)  |  Unsuspected (7)


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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