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Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index I > Category: Inhabitation

Inhabitation Quotes (2 quotes)

Changements arrivées dans le globe: Quand on a vu de ses yeux une montagne s’avancer dans une plaine, c’est-à-dire un immense rocher de cette montagne se détacher et couvrir des champs, un château tout entier enfoncé dans la terre, un fleuve englouti qui sort ensuite de son abîme, des marques indubitables qu’un vaste amas d’eau inondait autrefois un pays habité aujourd’hui, et cent vestiges d’autres révolutions, on est alors plus disposé à croire les grands changements qui ont altéré la face du monde, que ne l’est une dame de Paris qui sait seulement que la place où est bâtie sa maison était autrefois un champ labourable. Mais une dame de Naples, qui a vu sous terre les ruines d’Herculanum, est encore moins asservie au préjugé qui nous fait croire que tout a toujours été comme il est aujourd’hui.
Changes That Have Occurred in the Globe: When we have seen with our own eyes a mountain progressing into a plain; that is to say, an immense boulder separating from this mountain and covering the fields; an entire castle broken into pieces over the ground; a river swallowed up which then bursts out from its abyss; clear marks of a vast amount of water having once flooded regions now inhabited, and a hundred vestiges of other transformations, then we are much more willing to believe that great changes altered the face of the earth, than a Parisian lady who knows only that the place where her house was built was once a cultivated field. However, a lady from Naples who has seen the buried ruins of Herculaneum, is much less subject to the bias which leads us to believe that everything has always been as it is today.
From article 'Changements arrivées dans le globe', in Dictionnaire philosophique (1764), collected in Œuvres Complètes de Voltaire (1878), Vol. 2, 427-428. Translated by Ian Ellis.
Science quotes on:  |  Abyss (23)  |  Alteration (25)  |  Belief (504)  |  Bias (16)  |  Boulder (7)  |  Breaking (3)  |  Built (7)  |  Buried (2)  |  Castle (5)  |  Change (364)  |  Country (147)  |  Cover (37)  |  Disappearance (22)  |  Earth (638)  |  Entire (47)  |  Erosion (19)  |  Eye (222)  |  Face (108)  |  Field (171)  |  Flood (36)  |  Geologic History (2)  |  Herculaneum (4)  |  House (43)  |  Knowledge (1306)  |  Lady (11)  |  Land (115)  |  Mark (42)  |  Mountain (145)  |  Move (94)  |  Paris (11)  |  Place (175)  |  Plain (33)  |  River (79)  |  Rock (125)  |  Ruin (25)  |  Sinking (6)  |  Today (117)  |  Transformation (54)  |  Vast (89)  |  Vestige (5)  |  Water (293)

For myself, I like a universe that, includes much that is unknown and, at the same time, much that is knowable. A universe in which everything is known would be static and dull, as boring as the heaven of some weak-minded theologians. A universe that is unknowable is no fit place for a thinking being. The ideal universe for us is one very much like the universe we inhabit. And I would guess that this is not really much of a coincidence.
Concluding paragraph, 'Can We know the Universe? Reflections on a Grain of Salt', Broca's Brain (1979, 1986), 21.
Science quotes on:  |  Being (41)  |  Boredom (9)  |  Coincidence (13)  |  Dullness (4)  |  Heaven (153)  |  Ideal (72)  |  Knowledge (1306)  |  Mind (760)  |  Static (8)  |  Theologian (15)  |  Thinking (231)  |  Universe (686)  |  Unknown (107)  |  Weak (44)

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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