Bewildering Quotes (5 quotes)
A right understanding of the words which are names of names, is of great importance in philosophy. The tendency was always strong to believe that whatever receives a name must be an entity or being, having an independent existence of its own; and if no real entity answering to the name could be found, men did not for that reason suppose that none existed, but imagined that it was something peculiarly abstruse and mysterious, too high to be an object of sense. The meaning of all general, and especially of all abstract terms, became in this way enveloped in a mystical haze; and none of these have been more generally misunderstood, or have been a more copious source of futile and bewildering speculation, than some of the words which are names of names. Genus, Species, Universal, were long supposed to be designations of sublime hyperphysical realities; Number, instead of a general name of all numerals, was supposed to be the name, if not of a concrete thing, at least of a single property or attribute.
Fiction is, indeed, an indispensable supplement to logic, or even a part of it; whether we are working inductively or deductively, both ways hang closely together with fiction: and axioms, though they seek to be primary verities, are more akin to fiction. If we had realized the nature of axioms, the doctrine of Einstein, which sweeps away axioms so familiar to us that they seem obvious truths, and substitutes others which seem absurd because they are unfamiliar, might not have been so bewildering.
The extraordinary development of mathematics in the last century is quite unparalleled in the long history of this most ancient of sciences. Not only have those branches of mathematics which were taken over from the eighteenth century steadily grown, but entirely new ones have sprung up in almost bewildering profusion, and many of them have promptly assumed proportions of vast extent.
The progress of Science is generally regarded as a kind of clean, rational advance along a straight ascending line; in fact it has followed a zig-zag course, at times almost more bewildering than the evolution of political thought. The history of cosmic theories, in particular, may without exaggeration be called a history of collective obsessions and controlled schizophrenias; and the manner in which some of the most important individual discoveries were arrived at reminds one more of a sleepwalker’s performance than an electronic brain’s.
Then followed months of intense thought in order to find out what the bewildering chaos of scattered observations meant until one day all of a sudden the whole became as clear and comprehensible as if it were illuminated with a flash of light … There are not many joys in human life equal to the joy of the sudden birth of a generalisation illuminating the mind after a long period of patient research.”