Celebrating 18 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “God does not care about our mathematical difficulties. He integrates empirically.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index P > Category: Phrase

Phrase Quotes (29 quotes)

Developmental Biology, in capitals, is the wave of the future. The creeping reductionism of biochemistry and molecular biology has taken over the cell and heredity, and looks covetously toward the heights of development and evolution. Recent literature is last year. Ancient literature is a decade ago. The rest is history, doubtfully alive. There is no time and often no opportunity to find and study the work of experimental biologists of 50 or 100 years ago, yet that was a time when the world was fresh.
Developmental biology was a lowercase phrase that graduated about 1950 and had previously lived under the cloak of Experimental Zoology
In obituary by Charles R. Scriver, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society (Nov 1999), 45, 33.
Science quotes on:  |  Alive (49)  |  Ancient (106)  |  Biochemistry (46)  |  Biologist (41)  |  Biology (168)  |  Capital (15)  |  Cell (137)  |  Cloak (4)  |  Creep (9)  |  Decade (32)  |  Development (289)  |  Evolution (535)  |  Experimental (20)  |  Find (408)  |  Fresh (30)  |  Future (287)  |  Graduate (13)  |  Height (32)  |  Heredity (53)  |  History (369)  |  Literature (79)  |  Live (272)  |  Molecular Biology (24)  |  Often (106)  |  Opportunity (63)  |  Previously (11)  |  Recent (30)  |  Reductionism (4)  |  Rest (93)  |  Study (476)  |  Time (595)  |  Toward (45)  |  Wave (68)  |  Work (635)  |  World (898)  |  Year (299)  |  Zoology (31)

Every natural scientist who thinks with any degree of consistency at all will, I think, come to the view that all those capacities that we understand by the phrase psychic activities (Seelenthiitigkeiten) are but functions of the brain substance; or, to express myself a bit crudely here, that thoughts stand in the same relation to the brain as gall does to the liver or urine to the kidneys. To assume a soul that makes use of the brain as an instrument with which it can work as it pleases is pure nonsense; we would then be forced to assume a special soul for every function of the body as well.
Carl Vogt
In Physiologische Briefe für Gelbildete aIle Stünde (1845-1847), 3 parts, 206. as translated in Frederick Gregory, Scientific Materialism in Nineteenth Century Germany (1977), 64.
Science quotes on:  |  Body (247)  |  Brain (213)  |  Capacity (64)  |  Consistency (23)  |  Crude (17)  |  Function (131)  |  Gall (3)  |  Instrument (95)  |  Kidney (14)  |  Liver (15)  |  Natural Science (90)  |  Nonsense (41)  |  Psychic (6)  |  Soul (166)  |  Thought (546)  |  Understanding (325)  |  Urine (11)

In the higher walks of politics the same sort of thing occurs. The statesman who has gradually concentrated all power within himself … may have had anything but a public motive… The phrases which are customary on the platform and in the Party Press have gradually come to him to seem to express truths, and he mistakes the rhetoric of partisanship for a genuine analysis of motives… He retires from the world after the world has retired from him.
In The Conquest of Happiness (1930, 2006), 79.
Science quotes on:  |  Analysis (166)  |  Genuine (26)  |  Mistake (132)  |  Motive (33)  |  Party (18)  |  Platform (3)  |  Politics (96)  |  Power (366)  |  Press (21)  |  Public (94)  |  Retire (3)  |  Rhetoric (8)  |  Statesman (18)  |  Truth (928)  |  World (898)

In the history of science and throughout the whole course of its progress we see certain epochs following one another more or less rapidly. Some important view is expressed, it may be original or only revived; sooner or later it receives recognition; fellow-Workers spring up; the outcome of it finds its way into the schools; it is taught and handed down; and we observe, unhappily, that it does not in the least matter whether the view be true or false. In either case its course is the same; in either case it comes in the end to he a mere phrase, a lifeless word stamped on the memory.
In The Maxims and Reflections of Goethe (1906), 184.
Science quotes on:  |  Case (99)  |  Epoch (21)  |  Express (65)  |  False (99)  |  History Of Science (58)  |  Important (205)  |  Lifeless (11)  |  Memory (106)  |  Mere (82)  |  Original (57)  |  Progress (368)  |  Recognition (70)  |  School (119)  |  Teach (188)  |  True (208)  |  View (171)  |  Word (302)

It has been said that [William Gull] “seldom delivered a lecture which was not remarkable for some phrase full of wise teaching, which from its point and conciseness became almost a proverb amongst his pupils.”
Stated in Sir William Withey Gull and Theodore Dyke Acland (ed.), A Collection of the Published Writings of William Withey Gull (1896), xxiv.
Science quotes on:  |  Concise (8)  |  Sir William Withey Gull (39)  |  Lecture (68)  |  Point (123)  |  Proverb (24)  |  Remarkable (48)  |  Teaching (108)  |  Wise (61)

It is the constant aim of the mathematician to reduce all his expressions to their lowest terms, to retrench every superfluous word and phrase, and to condense the Maximum of meaning into the Minimum of language.
In Address (22 Feb 1877) for Commemoration Day at Johns Hopkins University. Published as a pamphlet, and reprinted in The Collected Mathematical Papers of James Joseph Sylvester: (1870-1883) (1909), Vol. 3, 72-73.
Science quotes on:  |  Aim (89)  |  Condense (12)  |  Constant (58)  |  Expression (110)  |  Language (228)  |  Lowest (10)  |  Mathematician (384)  |  Maximum (12)  |  Meaning (113)  |  Minimum (12)  |  Reduce (53)  |  Retrench (2)  |  Superfluous (11)  |  Term (122)  |  Word (302)

Mathematicians are only dealing with the structure of reasoning, and they do not really care what they are talking about. They do not even need to know what they are talking about … But the physicist has meaning to all his phrases. … In physics, you have to have an understanding of the connection of words with the real world.
In The Character of Physical Law (1965), 55.
Science quotes on:  |  Connection (111)  |  Mathematician (384)  |  Meaning (113)  |  Physicist (161)  |  Real (149)  |  Reasoning (100)  |  Structure (225)  |  Understand (340)  |  Word (302)  |  World (898)

Mathematics, among all school subjects, is especially adapted to further clearness, definite brevity and precision in expression, although it offers no exercise in flights of rhetoric. This is due in the first place to the logical rigour with which it develops thought, avoiding every departure from the shortest, most direct way, never allowing empty phrases to enter. Other subjects excel in the development of expression in other respects: translation from foreign languages into the mother tongue gives exercise in finding the proper word for the given foreign word and gives knowledge of laws of syntax, the study of poetry and prose furnish fit patterns for connected presentation and elegant form of expression, composition is to exercise the pupil in a like presentation of his own or borrowed thoughtsand their development, the natural sciences teach description of natural objects, apparatus and processes, as well as the statement of laws on the grounds of immediate sense-perception. But all these aids for exercise in the use of the mother tongue, each in its way valuable and indispensable, do not guarantee, in the same manner as mathematical training, the exclusion of words whose concepts, if not entirely wanting, are not sufficiently clear. They do not furnish in the same measure that which the mathematician demands particularly as regards precision of expression.
In Anleitung zum mathematischen Unterricht in höheren Schulen (1906), 17.
Science quotes on:  |  Adapt (28)  |  Aid (42)  |  Allow (44)  |  Apparatus (37)  |  Avoid (55)  |  Borrow (16)  |  Brevity (7)  |  Clarity (41)  |  Clear (98)  |  Composition (60)  |  Concept (146)  |  Connect (33)  |  Demand (76)  |  Departure (9)  |  Description (84)  |  Development (289)  |  Direct (84)  |  Due (20)  |  Elegant (16)  |  Empty (40)  |  Enter (32)  |  Entirely (33)  |  Excel (4)  |  Exclusion (13)  |  Expression (110)  |  Find (408)  |  First (314)  |  Fit (48)  |  Foreign (26)  |  Form (314)  |  Furnish (42)  |  Give (201)  |  Ground (90)  |  Guarantee (21)  |  Immediate (43)  |  Indispensable (28)  |  Knowledge (1306)  |  Language (228)  |  Law (515)  |  Logical (55)  |  Manner (57)  |  Mathematician (384)  |  Mathematics (1205)  |  Measure (104)  |  Mother Tongue (3)  |  Natural (173)  |  Natural Science (90)  |  Object (175)  |  Particularly (21)  |  Pattern (79)  |  Perception (64)  |  Place (175)  |  Poetry (124)  |  Precision (52)  |  Presentation (18)  |  Process (267)  |  Proper (38)  |  Prose (11)  |  Pupil (36)  |  Regard (95)  |  Respect (86)  |  Rhetoric (8)  |  Rigour (16)  |  Same (156)  |  School (119)  |  Sense (321)  |  Short (51)  |  Statement (76)  |  Study (476)  |  Subject (240)  |  Sufficiently (9)  |  Syntax (2)  |  Teach (188)  |  Thought (546)  |  Training (66)  |  Translation (15)  |  Value (242)  |  Value Of Mathematics (60)  |  Want (176)  |  Word (302)

My reading of Aristotle leads me to believe that in all his work he had always before him the question; What light does this throw on man? But the question was not phrased in his mind—at least, so it appears to me—in the sense of “What light does this throw upon the origin of man,” but rather in the sense “What light does this throw on the way in which man functions and behaves here and now?”
Considering Aristotle as an anthropologist. In 'Review: The Discovery of Man by Stanley Casson', Isis (Jun 1941), 33, No. 2, 303.
Science quotes on:  |  Anthropology (56)  |  Appear (118)  |  Aristotle (163)  |  Behave (17)  |  Belief (504)  |  Function (131)  |  Light (347)  |  Mind (760)  |  Origin Of Man (8)  |  Question (404)  |  Read (145)  |  Work (635)

My visceral perception of brotherhood harmonizes with our best modern biological knowledge ... Many people think (or fear) that equality of human races represents a hope of liberal sentimentality probably squashed by the hard realities of history. They are wrong. This essay can be summarized in a single phrase, a motto if you will: Human equality is a contingent fact of history. Equality is not true by definition; it is neither an ethical principle (though equal treatment may be) nor a statement about norms of social action. It just worked out that way. A hundred different and plausible scenarios for human history would have yielded other results (and moral dilemmas of enormous magnitude). They didn’t happen.
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Action (185)  |  Best (173)  |  Biological (35)  |  Brotherhood (5)  |  Contingent (10)  |  Definition (192)  |  Different (186)  |  Dilemma (8)  |  Enormous (41)  |  Equal (83)  |  Equality (22)  |  Essay (14)  |  Ethical (13)  |  Fact (733)  |  Fear (142)  |  Happen (82)  |  Hard (99)  |  Harmonize (4)  |  History (369)  |  Hope (174)  |  Human (550)  |  Hundred (64)  |  Knowledge (1306)  |  Liberal (8)  |  Magnitude (45)  |  Modern (162)  |  Moral (124)  |  Motto (28)  |  Norm (5)  |  People (390)  |  Perception (64)  |  Plausible (11)  |  Principle (292)  |  Probably (48)  |  Reality (190)  |  Represent (43)  |  Result (389)  |  Scenario (3)  |  Sentimentality (2)  |  Single (120)  |  Social (108)  |  Squash (2)  |  Statement (76)  |  Summarize (10)  |  Think (347)  |  Treatment (100)  |  True (208)  |  Visceral (3)  |  Work (635)  |  Wrong (139)  |  Yield (38)

Next to the word 'Nature,' 'the Great Chain of Being' was the sacred phrase of the eighteenth century, playing a part somewhat analogous to that of the blessed word 'evolution' in the late nineteenth.
The Great Chain of Being (1936), 184.
Science quotes on:  |  18th Century (19)  |  Evolution (535)  |  Great Chain Of Being (2)  |  Nature (1223)

Nothing in the entire universe ever perishes, believe me, but things vary, and adopt a new form. The phrase “being born” is used for beginning to be something different from what one was before, while “dying” means ceasing to be the same. Though this thing may pass into that, and that into this, yet the sums of things remains unchanged.
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Adopt (19)  |  Bear (67)  |  Begin (108)  |  Belief (504)  |  Cease (39)  |  Die (82)  |  Different (186)  |  Entire (47)  |  Form (314)  |  Means (176)  |  New (496)  |  Nothing (395)  |  Pass (93)  |  Perish (29)  |  Remain (113)  |  Same (156)  |  Sum (41)  |  Unchanged (3)  |  Universe (686)  |  Vary (26)

One can learn imitation history—kings and dates, but not the slightest idea of the motives behind it all; imitation literature—stacks of notes on Shakespeare’s phrases, and a complete destruction of the power to enjoy Shakespeare.
In Mathematician's Delight (1943), 8.
Science quotes on:  |  Complete (87)  |  Date (13)  |  Destruction (85)  |  Enjoy (39)  |  History (369)  |  Idea (580)  |  Imitation (23)  |  King (35)  |  Learn (288)  |  Literature (79)  |  Motive (33)  |  Note (34)  |  Power (366)  |  William Shakespeare (102)  |  Slight (31)  |  Stack (2)

One could almost phrase the motto of our modern civilization thus: Science is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In 'The Real Point of Conflict between Science and Religion', collected in Living Under Tension: Sermons On Christianity Today (1941), 140.
Science quotes on:  |  Civilization (175)  |  Modern (162)  |  Motto (28)  |  Science (2067)  |  Shepherd (6)  |  Want (176)

People are usually surprised to discover that I hate the phrase “constitutional rights.” I hate the phrase because it is terribly misleading. Most of the people who say it or hear it have the impression that the Constitution “grants” them their rights. Nothing could be further from the truth. Strictly speaking it is the Bill of Rights that enumerates our rights, but none of our founding documents bestow anything on you at all [...] The government can burn the Constitution and shred the Bill of Rights, but those actions wouldn’t have the slightest effect on the rights you’ve always had.
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Action (185)  |  Bestow (8)  |  Bill (14)  |  Burn (41)  |  Constitution (31)  |  Discover (199)  |  Document (7)  |  Effect (166)  |  Enumerate (3)  |  Far (154)  |  Founding (5)  |  Government (93)  |  Grant (32)  |  Hate (38)  |  Hear (63)  |  Impression (72)  |  Misleading (15)  |  Nothing (395)  |  People (390)  |  Right (197)  |  Say (228)  |  Shred (7)  |  Slight (31)  |  Speak (92)  |  Strictly (13)  |  Surprise (71)  |  Truth (928)  |  Usually (31)

Standing now in diffused light, with the wind at my back, I experience suddenly a feeling of completeness–not a feeling of having achieved something or of being stronger than everyone who was ever here before, not a feeling of having arrived at the ultimate point, not a feeling of supremacy. Just a breath of happiness deep inside my mind and my breast. The summit seemed suddenly to me to be a refuge, and I had not expected to find any refuge up here. Looking at the steep, sharp ridges below us, I have the impression that to have come later would have been too late. Everything we now say to one another, we only say out of embarrassment. I don’t think anymore. As I pull the tape recorder, trancelike, from my rucksack, and switch it on wanting to record a few appropriate phrases, tears again well into my eyes. “Now we are on the summit of Everest,” I begin, “it is so cold that we cannot take photographs…” I cannot go on, I am immediately shaken with sobs. I can neither talk nor think, feeling only how this momentous experience changes everything. To reach only a few meters below the summit would have required the same amount of effort, the same anxiety and burden of sorrow, but a feeling like this, an eruption of feeling, is only possible on the summit itself.
In Everest: Expedition to the Ultimate (1979), 180.
Science quotes on:  |  Achieve (64)  |  Amount (31)  |  Anxiety (20)  |  Anymore (5)  |  Appropriate (28)  |  Arrive (35)  |  Back (104)  |  Begin (108)  |  Below (24)  |  Breast (9)  |  Breath (32)  |  Burden (27)  |  Change (364)  |  Cold (58)  |  Completeness (15)  |  Deep (124)  |  Diffuse (4)  |  Effort (144)  |  Embarrassment (5)  |  Eruption (7)  |  Everest (10)  |  Everyone (34)  |  Everything (181)  |  Expect (44)  |  Experience (342)  |  Eye (222)  |  Feel (167)  |  Find (408)  |  Happiness (94)  |  Immediately (23)  |  Impression (72)  |  Inside (26)  |  Late (52)  |  Light (347)  |  Meter (9)  |  Mind (760)  |  Momentous (4)  |  Photograph (19)  |  Point (123)  |  Possible (158)  |  Pull (22)  |  Reach (121)  |  Record (68)  |  Recorder (4)  |  Refuge (13)  |  Require (85)  |  Ridge (7)  |  Rucksack (3)  |  Same (156)  |  Say (228)  |  Seem (143)  |  Shake (29)  |  Sharp (14)  |  Sorrow (12)  |  Stand (108)  |  Steep (5)  |  Strong (72)  |  Suddenly (17)  |  Summit (15)  |  Supremacy (3)  |  Switch (10)  |  Talk (100)  |  Tape (5)  |  Tear (23)  |  Think (347)  |  Ultimate (84)  |  Want (176)  |  Wind (80)

That small word “Force,” they make a barber's block,
Ready to put on
Meanings most strange and various, fit to shock
Pupils of Newton....
The phrases of last century in this
Linger to play tricks—
Vis viva and Vis Mortua and Vis Acceleratrix:
Those long-nebbed words that to our text books still
Cling by their titles,
And from them creep, as entozoa will,
Into our vitals.
But see! Tait writes in lucid symbols clear
One small equation;
And Force becomes of Energy a mere
Space-variation.
'Report on Tait's Lecture on Force:— B.A., 1876', reproduced in Bruce Clarke, Energy Forms: Allegory and Science in the Era of Classical Thermodynamics (2001), 19. Maxwell's verse was inspired by a paper delivered at the British Association (B.A.. He was satirizing a “considerable cofusion of nomenclature” at the time, and supported his friend Tait's desire to establish a redefinition of energy on a thermnodynamic basis.
Science quotes on:  |  Barber (5)  |  Block (12)  |  Clarity (41)  |  Clinging (3)  |  Creeping (4)  |  Energy (214)  |  Equation (96)  |  Force (249)  |  Lingering (2)  |  Lucidity (5)  |  Meaning (113)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (333)  |  Nomenclature (138)  |  Play (112)  |  Poem (92)  |  Pupil (36)  |  Shock (13)  |  Space (257)  |  Strange (94)  |  Symbol (73)  |  Peter Guthrie Tait (10)  |  Textbook (27)  |  Title (18)  |  Trick (24)  |  Variation (63)  |  Various (47)  |  Vital (39)  |  Word (302)

The expression Similia similibus is a Latin phrase and means that an imaginary disease can best be cured by an imaginary remedy.
In Elbert Hubbard (ed. and publ.), The Philistine (Mar 1908), 26, No. 4, 105. The reference is to the phrase “similia similibus curantur” (similar things take care of similar things; or, like cures like).
Science quotes on:  |  Cure (96)  |  Disease (275)  |  Expression (110)  |  Imagination (275)  |  Latin (33)  |  Remedy (54)

The phrase is self-contradictory; “sense” is never “common”.
In Time Enough for Love: The Lives of Lazarus Long (1973), 47.
Science quotes on:  |  Common Sense (126)  |  Contradict (12)

The popularisation of scientific doctrines is producing as great an alteration in the mental state of society as the material applications of science are effecting in its outward life. Such indeed is the respect paid to science, that the most absurd opinions may become current, provided they are expressed in language, the sound of which recals [sic] some well-known scientific phrase.
'Introductory Lecture on Experimental Physics' (1871). In W. D. Niven (ed.), The Scientific Papers of James Clerk Maxwell (1890), Vol. 2, 242.
Science quotes on:  |  Absurd (30)  |  Alteration (25)  |  Doctrine (75)  |  Language (228)  |  Mind (760)  |  Opinion (176)  |  Respect (86)  |  Science And Society (21)

The prominent reason why a mathematician can be judged by none but mathematicians, is that he uses a peculiar language. The language of mathesis is special and untranslatable. In its simplest forms it can be translated, as, for instance, we say a right angle to mean a square corner. But you go a little higher in the science of mathematics, and it is impossible to dispense with a peculiar language. It would defy all the power of Mercury himself to explain to a person ignorant of the science what is meant by the single phrase “functional exponent.” How much more impossible, if we may say so, would it be to explain a whole treatise like Hamilton’s Quaternions, in such a wise as to make it possible to judge of its value! But to one who has learned this language, it is the most precise and clear of all modes of expression. It discloses the thought exactly as conceived by the writer, with more or less beauty of form, but never with obscurity. It may be prolix, as it often is among French writers; may delight in mere verbal metamorphoses, as in the Cambridge University of England; or adopt the briefest and clearest forms, as under the pens of the geometers of our Cambridge; but it always reveals to us precisely the writer’s thought.
In North American Review (Jul 1857), 85, 224-225.
Science quotes on:  |  Adopt (19)  |  Beauty (248)  |  Brief (20)  |  Cambridge (16)  |  Cambridge University (2)  |  Clear (98)  |  Conceive (39)  |  Corner (30)  |  Defy (7)  |  Delight (66)  |  Disclose (12)  |  Dispense (9)  |  England (40)  |  Exact (68)  |  Explain (107)  |  Exponent (5)  |  Expression (110)  |  Form (314)  |  French (20)  |  Function (131)  |  Geometer (24)  |  Hamilton_William (2)  |  Ignorant (40)  |  Impossible (113)  |  Judge (63)  |  Language (228)  |  Learn (288)  |  Mathematician (384)  |  Mathematics (1205)  |  Mathematics As A Language (20)  |  Mercury (44)  |  Metamorphose (2)  |  More Or Less (8)  |  Obscure (32)  |  Peculiar (45)  |  Person (154)  |  Possible (158)  |  Power (366)  |  Precise (34)  |  Prolix (2)  |  Prominent (6)  |  Quaternion (9)  |  Reason (471)  |  Reveal (52)  |  Right Angle (2)  |  Science (2067)  |  Simple (178)  |  Special (77)  |  Square (24)  |  Thought (546)  |  Translate (8)  |  Treatise (34)  |  Value (242)  |  Verbal (9)  |  Wise (61)  |  Writer (46)

The psychiatric interviewer is supposed to be doing three things: considering what the patient could mean by what he says; considering how he himself can best phrase what he wishes to communicate to the patient; and, at the same time, observing the general pattern of the events being communicated. In addition to that, to make notes which will be of more than evocative value, or come anywhere near being a verbatim record of what is said, in my opinion is beyond the capacity of most human beings.
From The Psychiatric Interview (1954, 1970), 48.
Science quotes on:  |  Best (173)  |  Capacity (64)  |  Communication (76)  |  Considering (6)  |  Doing (36)  |  Event (116)  |  General (160)  |  Human (550)  |  Meaning (113)  |  Note (34)  |  Observation (450)  |  Opinion (176)  |  Patient (125)  |  Pattern (79)  |  Psychiatry (26)  |  Record (68)  |  French Saying (67)  |  Supposition (37)  |  Value (242)  |  Verbatim (2)  |  Wish (92)

The scientist is not much given to talking of the riddle of the universe. “Riddle” is not a scientific term. The conception of a riddle is “something which can he solved.” And hence the scientist does not use that popular phrase. We don’t know the why of anything. On that matter we are no further advanced than was the cavedweller. The scientist is contented if he can contribute something toward the knowledge of what is and how it is.
As quoted in 'Electricity Will Keep The World From Freezing Up', New York Times (12 Nov 1911), SM4.
Science quotes on:  |  Advanced (11)  |  Conception (92)  |  Contribute (27)  |  Knowledge (1306)  |  Popular (29)  |  Riddle (22)  |  Scientist (522)  |  Solution (216)  |  Talking (11)  |  Term (122)  |  Universe (686)

The state exists for man, not man for the state. The same may be said of science. These are old phrases, coined by people who saw in human individuality the highest human value. I would hesitate to repeat them, were it not for the ever recurring danger that they may be forgotten, especially in these days of organization and stereotypes.
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Coin (12)  |  Danger (78)  |  Especially (31)  |  Exist (148)  |  Forget (63)  |  Hesitate (6)  |  High (153)  |  Human (550)  |  Individuality (13)  |  Old (147)  |  Organization (84)  |  People (390)  |  Recur (4)  |  Repeat (41)  |  Same (156)  |  Say (228)  |  Science (2067)  |  See (369)  |  State (137)  |  Stereotype (4)  |  Value (242)

The sun rises. In that short phrase, in a single fact, is enough information to keep biology, physics, and philosophy busy for all the rest of time.
Lifetide: a Biology of the Unconscious (1979)
Science quotes on:  |  Biology (168)  |  Busy (28)  |  Fact (733)  |  Information (122)  |  Keep (100)  |  Philosophy (259)  |  Physics (348)  |  Rest (93)  |  Rise (70)  |  Short (51)  |  Single (120)  |  Sun (276)  |  Time (595)

There is no area in our minds reserved for superstition, such as the Greeks had in their mythology; and superstition, under cover of an abstract vocabulary, has revenged itself by invading the entire realm of thought. Our science is like a store filled with the most subtle intellectual devices for solving the most complex problems, and yet we are almost incapable of applying the elementary principles of rational thought. In every sphere, we seem to have lost the very elements of intelligence: the ideas of limit, measure, degree, proportion, relation, comparison, contingency, interdependence, interrelation of means and ends. To keep to the social level, our political universe is peopled exclusively by myths and monsters; all it contains is absolutes and abstract entities. This is illustrated by all the words of our political and social vocabulary: nation, security, capitalism, communism, fascism, order, authority, property, democracy. We never use them in phrases such as: There is democracy to the extent that… or: There is capitalism in so far as… The use of expressions like “to the extent that” is beyond our intellectual capacity. Each of these words seems to represent for us an absolute reality, unaffected by conditions, or an absolute objective, independent of methods of action, or an absolute evil; and at the same time we make all these words mean, successively or simultaneously, anything whatsoever. Our lives are lived, in actual fact, among changing, varying realities, subject to the casual play of external necessities, and modifying themselves according to specific conditions within specific limits; and yet we act and strive and sacrifice ourselves and others by reference to fixed and isolated abstractions which cannot possibly be related either to one another or to any concrete facts. In this so-called age of technicians, the only battles we know how to fight are battles against windmills.
From 'The Power of Words', collected in Siân Miles (ed.), Simone Weil: An Anthology (2000), 222-223.
Science quotes on:  |  Absolute (98)  |  Abstract (86)  |  Abstraction (38)  |  Accord (36)  |  Act (117)  |  Action (185)  |  Actual (48)  |  Age (178)  |  Apply (77)  |  Area (29)  |  Authority (66)  |  Battle (34)  |  Beyond (105)  |  Capacity (64)  |  Capitalism (7)  |  Casual (7)  |  Change (364)  |  Communism (10)  |  Comparison (64)  |  Complex (95)  |  Concrete (32)  |  Condition (163)  |  Contain (67)  |  Contingency (11)  |  Cover (37)  |  Degree (82)  |  Democracy (26)  |  Device (28)  |  Element (162)  |  Elementary (45)  |  End (195)  |  Entire (47)  |  Entity (31)  |  Evil (79)  |  Exclusively (10)  |  Expression (110)  |  Extent (51)  |  External (57)  |  Fact (733)  |  Far (154)  |  Fascism (3)  |  Fight (44)  |  Fill (61)  |  Fix (25)  |  Greek (73)  |  Idea (580)  |  Illustrate (10)  |  Incapable (17)  |  Independent (67)  |  Intellectual (121)  |  Intelligence (168)  |  Interdependence (4)  |  Interrelation (8)  |  Invade (5)  |  Isolate (22)  |  Keep (100)  |  Know (556)  |  Level (67)  |  Limit (126)  |  Live (272)  |  Lose (94)  |  Mean (101)  |  Means (176)  |  Measure (104)  |  Method (239)  |  Mind (760)  |  Modify (15)  |  Monster (24)  |  Myth (48)  |  Mythology (13)  |  Nation (134)  |  Necessity (143)  |  Objective (66)  |  Order (242)  |  Ourselves (51)  |  P (2)  |  People (390)  |  Play (112)  |  Political (36)  |  Possibly (19)  |  Principle (292)  |  Problem (497)  |  Property (126)  |  Proportion (72)  |  Rational (57)  |  Reality (190)  |  Realm (55)  |  Reference (33)  |  Relate (20)  |  Relation (154)  |  Represent (43)  |  Reserve (15)  |  Revenge (8)  |  Sacrifice (32)  |  Same (156)  |  Science (2067)  |  Security (33)  |  Seem (143)  |  Simultaneous (18)  |  So-Called (21)  |  Social (108)  |  Solve (78)  |  Specific (37)  |  Sphere (58)  |  Store (21)  |  Strive (45)  |  Subject (240)  |  Subtle (34)  |  Superstition (57)  |  Technician (8)  |  Themselves (44)  |  Thought (546)  |  Time (595)  |  Unaffected (4)  |  Universe (686)  |  Vary (26)  |  Vocabulary (5)  |  Whatsoever (9)  |  Windmill (4)  |  Word (302)

When I use the phrase “Cosmic Facts,” the reader is asked not to assume too rigid a meaning for the word “facts”; what is considered factual today is tomorrow recognized as capable of further refinement.
From Of Stars and Men: The Human Response to an Expanding Universe (1958 Rev. Ed. 1964), Foreword.
Science quotes on:  |  Capable (51)  |  Consider (81)  |  Cosmic (47)  |  Fact (733)  |  Further (6)  |  Meaning (113)  |  Recognize (69)  |  Refinement (13)  |  Rigid (13)  |  Today (117)  |  Tomorrow (39)  |  Word (302)

When, however, you see the specification, you will see that the fundamental principles are contained therein. I do not, however, claim even the credit of inventing it, as I do not believe a mere description of an idea that has never been reduced to practice—in the strict sense of that phrase—should be dignified with the name invention.‎
Letter (5 Mar 1877) to Alexander Graham Bell. Quoted in The Bell Telephone (1908), 168.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (504)  |  Claim (71)  |  Credit (20)  |  Description (84)  |  Dignify (2)  |  Fundamental (164)  |  Idea (580)  |  Invention (324)  |  Mere (82)  |  Name (170)  |  Practice (94)  |  Principle (292)  |  Reduce (53)  |  Sense (321)  |  Specification (7)  |  Strict (17)

[Scientists] define these [terms] in tight phrases which convey a meaning only to those who already understand it.
In Science is a Sacred Cow (1950), 31.
Science quotes on:  |  Already (29)  |  Definition (192)  |  Meaning (113)  |  Term (122)  |  Understanding (325)


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 EinsteinIsaac NewtonLord KelvinCharles DarwinSrinivasa RamanujanCarl SaganFlorence NightingaleThomas EdisonAristotleMarie CurieBenjamin FranklinWinston ChurchillGalileo GalileiSigmund FreudRobert BunsenLouis PasteurTheodore RooseveltAbraham LincolnRonald ReaganLeonardo DaVinciMichio KakuKarl PopperJohann GoetheRobert OppenheimerCharles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about:Atomic  BombBiologyChemistryDeforestationEngineeringAnatomyAstronomyBacteriaBiochemistryBotanyConservationDinosaurEnvironmentFractalGeneticsGeologyHistory of ScienceInventionJupiterKnowledgeLoveMathematicsMeasurementMedicineNatural ResourceOrganic ChemistryPhysicsPhysicianQuantum TheoryResearchScience and ArtTeacherTechnologyUniverseVolcanoVirusWind PowerWomen ScientistsX-RaysYouthZoology  ... (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



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