Celebrating 20 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index P > Robert Pirsig Quotes

Robert Pirsig
(6 Sep 1928 - )

American novelist and microbiologist whose best-known work is his autobiographical Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974), in which he relates his motorcycle journey across America with his eleven-year-old son, from Minneapolis west through the Dakotas, the Rockies, and on to the Pacific Coast. He includes his contemplations on life, technology, and himself.

Science Quotes by Robert Pirsig (10 quotes)

A person filled with gumption doesn’t sit about stewing about things. He’s at the front of the train of his own awareness, watching to see what’s up the track and meeting it when it comes. That’s gumption. If you’re going to repair a motorcycle, an adequate supply of gumption is the first and most important tool. If you haven’t got that you might as well gather up all the other tools and put them away, because they won’t do you any good.
— Robert Pirsig
In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974), 272.
Science quotes on:  |  Adequate (46)  |  All (4107)  |  Awareness (36)  |  Do (1908)  |  Fill (61)  |  First (1284)  |  Front (16)  |  Gather (72)  |  Good (889)  |  Gumption (2)  |  Important (210)  |  Meet (32)  |  Most (1729)  |  Motorcycle (2)  |  Other (2236)  |  Person (363)  |  Repair (11)  |  See (1082)  |  Sit (48)  |  Stew (2)  |  Supply (93)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Tool (117)  |  Track (40)  |  Train (114)  |  Watch (109)

An experiment is never a failure solely because it fails to achieve predicted results. An experiment is a failure only when it also fails adequately to test the hypothesis in question, when the data it produces don’t prove anything one way or another.
— Robert Pirsig
In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (1974), 102.
Science quotes on:  |  Achievement (180)  |  Adequate (46)  |  Data (156)  |  Experiment (696)  |  Fail (185)  |  Failure (161)  |  Hypothesis (296)  |  Never (1087)  |  Predict (80)  |  Prediction (82)  |  Production (183)  |  Proof (289)  |  Prove (252)  |  Prove Anything (7)  |  Question (622)  |  Result (678)  |  Sole (49)  |  Test (212)  |  Way (1216)

For every fact there is an infinity of hypotheses. The more you look the more you see.
— Robert Pirsig
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974), 171.
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (1212)  |  Hypothesis (296)  |  Infinity (91)  |  Look (582)  |  More (2559)  |  See (1082)

One geometry cannot be more true than another; it can only be more convenient. Geometry is not true, it is advantageous.
— Robert Pirsig
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Advantageous (10)  |  Convenience (50)  |  Geometry (259)  |  More (2559)  |  True (214)

The major producer of the social chaos, the indeterminacy of thought and values that rational knowledge is supposed to eliminate, is none other than science itself.
— Robert Pirsig
In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974).
Science quotes on:  |  Chaos (91)  |  Knowledge (1536)  |  Major (83)  |  Other (2236)  |  Rational (91)  |  Science (3880)  |  Social (252)  |  Thought (954)  |  Value (368)

The number of rational hypotheses that can explain any given phenomenon is infinite.
— Robert Pirsig
In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An inquiry into Values (1974), 107.
Science quotes on:  |  Explain (322)  |  Hypothesis (296)  |  Infinite (233)  |  Number (701)  |  Phenomenon (319)  |  Rational (91)

The real purpose of scientific method is to make sure Nature hasn’t misled you into thinking you know something you don’t actually know. There’s not a mechanic or scientist or technician alive who hasn’t suffered from that one so much that he’s not instinctively on guard. … If you get careless or go romanticizing scientific information, giving it a flourish here and there, Nature will soon make a complete fool out of you.
— Robert Pirsig
In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An inquiry into Values (1974), 100-101.
Science quotes on:  |  Alive (90)  |  Careless (5)  |  Complete (204)  |  Flourish (34)  |  Fool (116)  |  Information (166)  |  Know (1519)  |  Mechanic (119)  |  Method (506)  |  Mislead (4)  |  Nature (1928)  |  Purpose (317)  |  Romanticize (2)  |  Scientific (940)  |  Scientific Method (176)  |  Scientist (825)  |  Something (719)  |  Soon (186)  |  Technician (9)  |  Thinking (415)  |  Will (2354)

The way to solve the conflict between human values and technological needs is not to run away from technology, that’s impossible. The way to resolve the conflict is to break down the barriers of dualistic thought that prevent a real understanding of what technology is—not an exploitation of nature, but a fusion of nature and the human spirit into a new kind of creation that transcends both.
— Robert Pirsig
In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974).
Science quotes on:  |  Barrier (32)  |  Both (494)  |  Break (99)  |  Conflict (74)  |  Creation (329)  |  Down (455)  |  Exploitation (14)  |  Fusion (16)  |  Human (1470)  |  Impossible (253)  |  Kind (557)  |  Nature (1928)  |  New (1217)  |  Prevent (96)  |  Resolve (41)  |  Run (174)  |  Solve (130)  |  Spirit (265)  |  Technological (61)  |  Technology (261)  |  Thought (954)  |  Transcend (26)  |  Understanding (514)  |  Value (368)  |  Way (1216)

Traditional scientific method has always been at the very best, 20-20 hindsight. It’s good for seeing where you’ve been. It’s good for testing the truth of what you think you know, but it can’t tell you where you ought to go.
— Robert Pirsig
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974), 251.
Science quotes on:  |  Best (459)  |  Good (889)  |  Hindsight (2)  |  Know (1519)  |  Knowledge (1536)  |  Method (506)  |  Scientific (940)  |  Scientific Method (176)  |  Seeing (142)  |  Tell (340)  |  Test (212)  |  Think (1086)  |  Tradition (69)  |  Truth (1062)

When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion.
— Robert Pirsig
As quoted by Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion (2006, 2008), Preface, 28.
Science quotes on:  |  Call (769)  |  Delusion (25)  |  Insanity (8)  |  People (1005)  |  Person (363)  |  Religion (363)  |  Suffering (67)


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
Quotations by: • Albert Einstein • Isaac Newton • Lord Kelvin • Charles Darwin • Srinivasa Ramanujan • Carl Sagan • Florence Nightingale • Thomas Edison • Aristotle • Marie Curie • Benjamin Franklin • Winston Churchill • Galileo Galilei • Sigmund Freud • Robert Bunsen • Louis Pasteur • Theodore Roosevelt • Abraham Lincoln • Ronald Reagan • Leonardo DaVinci • Michio Kaku • Karl Popper • Johann Goethe • Robert Oppenheimer • Charles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about: • Atomic  Bomb • Biology • Chemistry • Deforestation • Engineering • Anatomy • Astronomy • Bacteria • Biochemistry • Botany • Conservation • Dinosaur • Environment • Fractal • Genetics • Geology • History of Science • Invention • Jupiter • Knowledge • Love • Mathematics • Measurement • Medicine • Natural Resource • Organic Chemistry • Physics • Physician • Quantum Theory • Research • Science and Art • Teacher • Technology • Universe • Volcano • Virus • Wind Power • Women Scientists • X-Rays • Youth • Zoology  ... (more topics)
Sitewide search within all Today In Science History pages:
Visit our Science and Scientist Quotations index for more Science Quotes from archaeologists, biologists, chemists, geologists, inventors and inventions, mathematicians, physicists, pioneers in medicine, science events and technology.

Names index: | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

Categories index: | 1 | 2 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |
- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton


by Ian Ellis
who invites your feedback
Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.