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Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index L > Category: Lethargic

Lethargic Quotes (2 quotes)

As lightning clears the air of impalpable vapours, so an incisive paradox frees the human intelligence from the lethargic influence of latent and unsuspected assumptions. Paradox is the slayer of Prejudice.
In George Edward Martin, The Foundations of Geometry and the Non-Euclidean Plane (1982), 110.
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Why does such and such animal feed only on flesh, while another on plants? Where does one get the finesse of its sense of smell, or that of its hearing? What is the source of the prodigious strength of the muscles of birds? How is this force used to produce this amazing movement of flight? How does it come about that the bird sees equally well at quite different distances? What is the cause of the range and variety of its voice? Why is a reptile so lethargic? Why does a worm stay alive long after being divided? Why can a zoophyte live equally well with some parts of its body cut off? Is it presumed there could be natural history without these questions, and thousands of others like them, and do we think we can answer without a thorough comparative anatomy?
From 'Lettre à M. de la Cépède', collected in G. L. Duvernpy (ed.) Leçons d’Anatomie Comparée de Georges Cuvier: Tome IV, Première Partie: Corrigée et Augmentée (2nd ed. 1833), xxij. As translated and tweaked by Webmaster using online translation sites from the original French: “Pourquoi tel animal ne se nourrit-il que de chair, tel autre que de végétaux? D’où celui-ci tire-t-il la finesse de son odorat, ou celle de son ouïe? Quelle est la source de la force prodigieux des muscles des oiseaux? Comment cette force est-elle employée à produire ce mouvement si étonnant du vol? D’où viens que l’oiseau voit également bien à des distances si differentes? Quelles sont les causes de l’etendue, et de la variété de sa voix? Pourquoi tel reptile, est-il si engourdie? Pourquoi tel ver, conserve-t-il de la vie long-temps après être divisé? Pourquoi tel zoophyte peut-il vivre égalment bien, quelque partie de son corps que l’on en retranche. Suppose-t-on qu’il puisse exister une histoire naturelle sans ces questions, et des millieurs d’autres semblables, et des milliers d’autres semblables, y soient traitées, et croit-on pouvoir y répondre sans une anatomie compárée profonde?” [John Abernethy used this quote in a lecture to illustrate what animating motive caused Cuvier to strive so hard to find answers.]
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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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