Celebrating 19 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem it will avail us little to solve all others.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index P > Category: Postulate

Postulate Quotes (38 quotes)

...the scientific attitude implies what I call the postulate of objectivity—that is to say, the fundamental postulate that there is no plan, that there is no intention in the universe. Now, this is basically incompatible with virtually all the religious or metaphysical systems whatever, all of which try to show that there is some sort of harmony between man and the universe and that man is a product—predictable if not indispensable—of the evolution of the universe.
Quoted in John C. Hess, 'French Nobel Biologist Says World Based On Chance', New York Times (15 Mar 1971), 6. Cited in Herbert Marcuse, Counter-Revolution and Revolt (1972), 66.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Attitude (82)  |  Call (769)  |  Evolution (590)  |  Fundamental (250)  |  Harmony (102)  |  Intention (46)  |  Man (2251)  |  Metaphysical (38)  |  Objectivity (16)  |  Plan (117)  |  Product (160)  |  Religion (361)  |  Religious (126)  |  Say (984)  |  Scientific (941)  |  Show (346)  |  System (537)  |  Try (283)  |  Universe (857)  |  Whatever (234)

An amino acid residue (other than glycine) has no symmetry elements. The general operation of conversion of one residue of a single chain into a second residue equivalent to the first is accordingly a rotation about an axis accompanied by translation along the axis. Hence the only configurations for a chain compatible with our postulate of equivalence of the residues are helical configurations.
[Co-author with American chemist, ert B. Corey (1897-1971) and H. R. Branson]
'The Structure of Proteins: Two Hydrogen-bonded Helical Configurations of the Polypeptide Chain', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (1951), 37, 206.
Science quotes on:  |  Acid (83)  |  Amino Acid (11)  |  Author (167)  |  Axis (9)  |  Chain (50)  |  Chemist (156)  |  Compatibility (4)  |  Configuration (7)  |  Conversion (17)  |  Element (310)  |  Equivalence (6)  |  Equivalent (45)  |  First (1283)  |  General (511)  |  Helix (10)  |  Operation (213)  |  Other (2236)  |  Residue (9)  |  Rotation (12)  |  Single (353)  |  Symmetry (43)  |  Translation (21)

Any conception which is definitely and completely determined by means of a finite number of specifications, say by assigning a finite number of elements, is a mathematical conception. Mathematics has for its function to develop the consequences involved in the definition of a group of mathematical conceptions. Interdependence and mutual logical consistency among the members of the group are postulated, otherwise the group would either have to be treated as several distinct groups, or would lie beyond the sphere of mathematics.
In 'Mathematics', Encyclopedia Britannica (9th ed.).
Science quotes on:  |  Assign (13)  |  Beyond (308)  |  Complete (204)  |  Completely (135)  |  Conception (154)  |  Consequence (203)  |  Consistency (31)  |  Consistent (48)  |  Definite (110)  |  Definition (221)  |  Definitions and Objects of Mathematics (33)  |  Determine (144)  |  Develop (268)  |  Distinct (97)  |  Element (310)  |  Finite (59)  |  Function (228)  |  Group (78)  |  Interdependence (4)  |  Involve (90)  |  Involved (90)  |  Lie (364)  |  Logical (55)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Mean (809)  |  Means (579)  |  Member (41)  |  Mutual (52)  |  Number (699)  |  Otherwise (24)  |  Say (984)  |  Several (32)  |  Specification (7)  |  Sphere (116)  |  Treat (35)

But in the present century, thanks in good part to the influence of Hilbert, we have come to see that the unproved postulates with which we start are purely arbitrary. They must be consistent, they had better lead to something interesting.
In A History of Geometrical Methods (1940, reprint 2003), 423.
Science quotes on:  |  Arbitrary (26)  |  Better (486)  |  Century (310)  |  Consistent (48)  |  Good (889)  |  David Hilbert (46)  |  Influence (222)  |  Interesting (153)  |  Lead (384)  |  Must (1526)  |  Present (619)  |  Purely (109)  |  See (1081)  |  Something (719)  |  Start (221)  |  Thank (46)  |  Thanks (26)  |  Unproven (5)

Consciousness is not sharply defined, but fades into sub-consciousness; and beyond that we must postulate something indefinite but yet continuous with our mental nature. This I take it be the world-stuff.
From Gifford Lecture, Edinburgh, (1927), 'Reality', collected in The Nature of the Physical World (1928), 280.
Science quotes on:  |  Beyond (308)  |  Consciousness (123)  |  Continuous (82)  |  Indefinite (20)  |  Mental (177)  |  Must (1526)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Something (719)  |  World (1774)

Detest it as lewd intercourse, it can deprive you of all your leisure, your health, your rest, and the whole happiness of your life.
Having himself spent a lifetime unsuccessfully trying to prove Euclid’s postulate that parallel lines do not meet, Farkas discouraged his son János from any further attempt.
Letter (1820), to his son, János Bolyai. Translation as in Dirk Jan Struik, A concise history of mathematics (2nd Ed., 1948), 253.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  All (4108)  |  Attempt (251)  |  Deprive (12)  |  Detest (5)  |  Do (1908)  |  Euclid (54)  |  Happiness (115)  |  Health (193)  |  Himself (461)  |  Leisure (24)  |  Lewd (2)  |  Life (1795)  |  Parallel (43)  |  Prove (250)  |  Rest (280)  |  Spent (85)  |  Trying (144)  |  Whole (738)

Do not try the parallels in that way: I know that way all along. I have measured that bottomless night, and all the light and all the joy of my life went out there.
Having himself spent a lifetime unsuccessfully trying to prove Euclid's postulate that parallel lines do not meet, Farkas discouraged his son János from any further attempt.
Letter (4 Apr 1820), to his son, János Bolyai. In J. J. O'Connor and E. F. Robertson, 'Farkas Wolfgang Bolyai' (Mar 2004), web article in MacTutor..
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  All (4108)  |  Attempt (251)  |  Bottomless (6)  |  Discouragement (8)  |  Do (1908)  |  Euclid (54)  |  Himself (461)  |  Joy (107)  |  Know (1518)  |  Life (1795)  |  Light (607)  |  Night (120)  |  Parallel (43)  |  Prove (250)  |  Spent (85)  |  Try (283)  |  Trying (144)  |  Way (1217)

For God’s sake, please give it up. Fear it no less than the sensual passion, because it, too, may take up all your time and deprive you of your health, peace of mind and happiness in life.
Having himself spent a lifetime unsuccessfully trying to prove Euclid's postulate that parallel lines do not meet, Farkas discouraged his son János from any further attempt.
Letter (1820) to his son, János Bolyai. Translation as in Philip J. Davis and Reuben Hersh, The Mathematical Experience (1981), 220. In Bill Swainson, Encarta Book of Quotations (2000), 124.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  All (4108)  |  Attempt (251)  |  Deprive (12)  |  Discouragement (8)  |  Do (1908)  |  Euclid (54)  |  Fear (197)  |  God (757)  |  Happiness (115)  |  Health (193)  |  Himself (461)  |  Life (1795)  |  Mind (1338)  |  Parallel (43)  |  Passion (114)  |  Peace (108)  |  Peace Of Mind (4)  |  Please (65)  |  Prove (250)  |  Sake (58)  |  Sensual (2)  |  Spent (85)  |  Time (1877)  |  Trying (144)

Hitherto the principle of causality was universally accepted as an indispensable postulate of scientific research, but now we are told by some physicists that it must be thrown overboard. The fact that such an extraordinary opinion should be expressed in responsible scientific quarters is widely taken to be significant of the all-round unreliability of human knowledge. This indeed is a very serious situation.
In Max Planck and James Vincent Murphy (trans.), Where is Science Going?, (1932), 66.
Science quotes on:  |  Accept (191)  |  Acceptance (52)  |  All (4108)  |  Causality (11)  |  Express (186)  |  Expression (175)  |  Extraordinary (79)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Human (1468)  |  Indeed (324)  |  Indispensability (2)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Must (1526)  |  Opinion (281)  |  Overboard (3)  |  Physicist (259)  |  Principle (507)  |  Research (664)  |  Responsibility (66)  |  Scientific (941)  |  Serious (91)  |  Seriousness (10)  |  Significance (113)  |  Significant (74)  |  Situation (113)  |  Telling (23)  |  Throw (43)

I approached the bulk of my schoolwork as a chore rather than an intellectual adventure. The tedium was relieved by a few courses that seem to be qualitatively different. Geometry was the first exciting course I remember. Instead of memorizing facts, we were asked to think in clear, logical steps. Beginning from a few intuitive postulates, far reaching consequences could be derived, and I took immediately to the sport of proving theorems.
Autobiography in Gösta Ekspong (ed.), Nobel Lectures: Physics 1996-2000 (2002), 115.
Science quotes on:  |  Adventure (56)  |  Approach (108)  |  Ask (411)  |  Beginning (305)  |  Biography (240)  |  Bulk (24)  |  Consequence (203)  |  Course (409)  |  Different (577)  |  Exciting (47)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Facts (553)  |  First (1283)  |  Geometry (255)  |  Immediately (114)  |  Intellectual (255)  |  Logic (287)  |  Proof (287)  |  Remember (179)  |  School (219)  |  Sport (22)  |  Step (231)  |  Theorem (112)  |  Think (1086)

I defend the following postulate as an indisputable principle: that each nerve fibre originates as a process from a single cell. This is its genetic, nutritive, and functional center; all other connections of the fibre are either indirect or secondary.
'Zur Geschichte des menschlichen Rückenmarkes und der Nervenwurzeln' (1887). Trans. Edwin Clarke and C. D. O'Malley, The Human Brain and Spinal Cord (1968), 103.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Cell (138)  |  Connection (162)  |  Genetic (108)  |  Indirect (18)  |  Nerve (79)  |  Originate (36)  |  Other (2236)  |  Principle (507)  |  Process (423)  |  Single (353)

I have done a terrible thing: I have postulated a particle that cannot be detected.
After postulating the existence of the neutrino, a particle with no mass and no electric charge, in order to balance an equation. In an article in Mercury, 29, 29, it is stated, without citation, that “the day after making the proposal Pauli told his colleague Walter Baade.” Webmaster has looked, but not yet found a primary source. Can you help?
Science quotes on:  |  Balance (77)  |  Charge (59)  |  Detect (44)  |  Electric (76)  |  Equation (132)  |  Existence (456)  |  Mass (157)  |  Neutrino (11)  |  Order (632)  |  Particle (194)  |  Terrible (38)  |  Thing (1915)

I have tried to avoid long numerical computations, thereby following Riemann’s postulate that proofs should be given through ideas and not voluminous computations.
In Report on Number Theory (1897). As given in epigraph, without citation, in Eberhard Zeidler and Juergen Quandt (trans.), Nonlinear Functional Analysis and its Applications: IV: Applications to Mathematical Physics (2013), 448.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Avoid (116)  |  Computation (24)  |  Idea (843)  |  Long (790)  |  Number (699)  |  Numerical (39)  |  Proof (287)  |  Bernhard Riemann (7)  |  Through (849)  |  Try (283)

I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.
Quoted in The Observer (25 Jan 1931). Cited in Joseph H. Fussell, 'Where is Science Going?: Review and Comment', Theosophical Path Magazine, January to December 1933 (2003), 199.
Science quotes on:  |  Behind (137)  |  Consciousness (123)  |  Derivation (13)  |  Everything (476)  |  Existence (456)  |  Fundamental (250)  |  Matter (798)  |  Regard (305)  |  Talk (100)

Thomas Robert Malthus quote Food is necessary to…existence
colorization © todayinsci (Terms of Use) (source)

Please respect the colorization artist’s wishes and do not copy this image for ONLINE use anywhere else.

Thank you.

For offline use, click Terms of Use tab on top menu.

I think I may fairly make two postulata. First, That food is necessary to the existence of man. Secondly, That the passion between the sexes is necessary and will remain nearly in its present state. These two laws ever since we have had any knowledge of mankind, appear to have been fixed laws of our nature; and, as we have not hitherto seen any alteration in them, we have no right to conclude that they will ever cease to be what they are now, without an immediate act of power in that Being who first arranged the system of the universe; and for the advantage of his creatures, still executes, according to fixed laws, all its various operations.
First 'Essay on the Principle of Population' (1798), reprinted in Parallel Chapters from the First and Second editions of An Essay on the Principle of Population (1895), 6.
Science quotes on:  |  According (237)  |  Act (272)  |  Advantage (134)  |  All (4108)  |  Alteration (30)  |  Arranged (4)  |  Being (1278)  |  Cease (79)  |  Conclude (65)  |  Creator (91)  |  Creature (233)  |  Execute (7)  |  Existence (456)  |  First (1283)  |  Fixed (17)  |  Food (199)  |  God (757)  |  Immediate (95)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Law (894)  |  Law Of Nature (72)  |  Man (2251)  |  Mankind (339)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Nearly (137)  |  Necessary (363)  |  Operation (213)  |  Operations (107)  |  Passion (114)  |  Power (746)  |  Present (619)  |  Remain (349)  |  Right (452)  |  Sex (69)  |  State (491)  |  Still (613)  |  System (537)  |  Think (1086)  |  Two (937)  |  Universe (857)  |  Various (200)  |  Will (2355)

If diphtheria is a disease caused by a microorganism, it is essential that three postulates be fulfilled. The fulfilment of these postulates is necessary in order to demonstrate strictly the parasitic nature of a disease:
1) The organism must be shown to be constantly present in characteristic form and arrangement in the diseased tissue.
2) The organism which, from its behaviour appears to be responsible for the disease, must be isolated and grown in pure culture.
3) The pure culture must be shown to induce the disease experimentally.
An early statement of Koch's postulates.
Mittheilungen aus den Kaiserliche Gesundheitsamt (1884) Vol. 2. Trans. T. D. Brock, Robert Koch: A Life in Medicine and Bacteriology (1988), 180.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Arrangement (91)  |  Behaviour (41)  |  Characteristic (148)  |  Culture (143)  |  Demonstrate (76)  |  Diphtheria (2)  |  Disease (328)  |  Early (185)  |  Essential (199)  |  Experiment (695)  |  Form (959)  |  Induce (22)  |  Isolation (31)  |  Microorganism (28)  |  Must (1526)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Necessary (363)  |  Order (632)  |  Organism (220)  |  Parasite (33)  |  Present (619)  |  Pure (291)  |  Statement (142)  |  Tissue (45)

If we consider that part of the theory of relativity which may nowadays in a sense be regarded as bone fide scientific knowledge, we note two aspects which have a major bearing on this theory. The whole development of the theory turns on the question of whether there are physically preferred states of motion in Nature (physical relativity problem). Also, concepts and distinctions are only admissible to the extent that observable facts can be assigned to them without ambiguity (stipulation that concepts and distinctions should have meaning). This postulate, pertaining to epistemology, proves to be of fundamental importance.
'Fundamental ideas and problems of the theory of relativity', Lecture delivered to the Nordic Assembly of Naturalists at Gothenburg, 11 Jul 1923. In Nobel Physics 1901-1921 (1998), 482.
Science quotes on:  |  Admissible (6)  |  Ambiguity (17)  |  Aspect (124)  |  Bone (95)  |  Concept (221)  |  Consider (416)  |  Development (422)  |  Distinction (72)  |  Epistemology (8)  |  Extent (139)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Facts (553)  |  Fundamental (250)  |  Importance (286)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Major (84)  |  Meaning (233)  |  Motion (310)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Observable (21)  |  Physical (508)  |  Problem (676)  |  Prove (250)  |  Question (621)  |  Regard (305)  |  Relativity (88)  |  Scientific (941)  |  Sense (770)  |  State (491)  |  Theory (970)  |  Theory Of Relativity (33)  |  Turn (447)  |  Two (937)  |  Whole (738)

In every science certain things must be accepted as first principles if the subject matter is to be understood; and these first postulates rest upon faith.
As quoted, without citation, in Ronald Keast, Dancing in the Dark: The Waltz in Wonder of Quantum Metaphysics (2009), 104-105. If you know a primary source, please contact Webmaster.
Science quotes on:  |  Accept (191)  |  Certain (550)  |  Faith (203)  |  First (1283)  |  Matter (798)  |  Must (1526)  |  Principle (507)  |  Rest (280)  |  Science (3879)  |  Subject (521)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Understanding (513)  |  Understood (156)

It hath been an old remark, that Geometry is an excellent Logic. And it must be owned that when the definitions are clear; when the postulata cannot be refused, nor the axioms denied; when from the distinct contemplation and comparison of figures, their properties are derived, by a perpetual well-connected chain of consequences, the objects being still kept in view, and the attention ever fixed upon them; there is acquired a habit of reasoning, close and exact and methodical; which habit strengthens and sharpens the mind, and being transferred to other subjects is of general use in the inquiry after truth.
In 'The Analyst', in The Works of George Berkeley (1898), Vol. 3, 10.
Science quotes on:  |  Acquired (78)  |  Attention (190)  |  Axiom (63)  |  Being (1278)  |  Comparison (102)  |  Connect (125)  |  Consequence (203)  |  Contemplation (73)  |  Definition (221)  |  Deny (66)  |  Distinct (97)  |  Exact (68)  |  Excellent (28)  |  Figure (160)  |  General (511)  |  Geometry (255)  |  Habit (168)  |  Inquiry (78)  |  Logic (287)  |  Methodical (8)  |  Mind (1338)  |  Must (1526)  |  Object (422)  |  Old (481)  |  Other (2236)  |  Perpetual (57)  |  Reasoning (207)  |  Refuse (42)  |  Sharpen (22)  |  Still (613)  |  Strengthen (23)  |  Subject (521)  |  Truth (1057)  |  Use (766)  |  Value Of Mathematics (60)  |  View (488)

It would be foolish to give credit to Euclid for pangeometrical conceptions; the idea of geometry deifferent from the common-sense one never occurred to his mind. Yet, when he stated the fifth postulate, he stood at the parting of the ways. His subconscious prescience is astounding. There is nothing comperable to it in the whole history of science.
Ancient Science And Modern Civilization (1954, 1959), 28. In George Edward Martin, The Foundations of Geometry and the Non-Euclidean Plane (1982), 130.
Science quotes on:  |  Astounding (9)  |  Common (436)  |  Common Sense (130)  |  Conception (154)  |  Euclid (54)  |  Foolish (40)  |  Geometry (255)  |  History (673)  |  History Of Science (63)  |  Idea (843)  |  Mind (1338)  |  Never (1087)  |  Nothing (966)  |  Prescience (2)  |  Science (3879)  |  Sense (770)  |  Way (1217)  |  Whole (738)

Just as the introduction of the irrational numbers … is a convenient myth [which] simplifies the laws of arithmetic … so physical objects are postulated entities which round out and simplify our account of the flux of existence… The conceptional scheme of physical objects is [likewise] a convenient myth, simpler than the literal truth and yet containing that literal truth as a scattered part.
In J. Koenderink Solid Shape (1990.), 16.
Science quotes on:  |  Account (192)  |  Arithmetic (136)  |  Concept (221)  |  Contain (68)  |  Convenience (50)  |  Entity (35)  |  Existence (456)  |  Flux (21)  |  Introduction (35)  |  Irrational Number (3)  |  Law (894)  |  Literal (11)  |  Myth (56)  |  Number (699)  |  Object (422)  |  Physical (508)  |  Scattered (5)  |  Scheme (57)  |  Simpler (8)  |  Simplify (13)  |  Truth (1057)

Now that we locate them [genes] in the chromosomes are we justified in regarding them as material units; as chemical bodies of a higher order than molecules? Frankly, these are questions with which the working geneticist has not much concern himself, except now and then to speculate as to the nature of the postulated elements. There is no consensus of opinion amongst geneticists as to what the genes are—whether they are real or purely fictitious—because at the level at which the genetic experiments lie, it does not make the slightest difference whether the gene is a hypothetical unit, or whether the gene is a material particle. In either case the unit is associated with a specific chromosome, and can be localized there by purely genetic analysis. Hence, if the gene is a material unit, it is a piece of chromosome; if it is a fictitious unit, it must be referred to a definite location in a chromosome—the same place as on the other hypothesis. Therefore, it makes no difference in the actual work in genetics which point of view is taken. Between the characters that are used by the geneticist and the genes that his theory postulates lies the whole field of embryonic development.
'The Relation of Genetics to Physiology and Medicine', Nobel Lecture (4 Jun 1934). In Nobel Lectures, Physiology or Medicine 1922-1941 (1965), 315.
Science quotes on:  |  Actual (117)  |  Analysis (233)  |  Character (243)  |  Chemical (292)  |  Chromosome (23)  |  Chromosomes (17)  |  Concern (228)  |  Consensus (8)  |  Definite (110)  |  Development (422)  |  Difference (337)  |  Element (310)  |  Embryo (28)  |  Experiment (695)  |  Field (364)  |  Gene (98)  |  Genetic (108)  |  Geneticist (16)  |  Himself (461)  |  Hypothesis (296)  |  Lie (364)  |  Location (15)  |  Material (353)  |  Molecule (174)  |  Must (1526)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Opinion (281)  |  Order (632)  |  Other (2236)  |  Particle (194)  |  Point (580)  |  Point Of View (80)  |  Purely (109)  |  Question (621)  |  Specific (95)  |  Speculation (126)  |  Theory (970)  |  View (488)  |  Whole (738)  |  Work (1351)

On principle, there is nothing new in the postulate that in the end exact science should aim at nothing more than the description of what can really be observed. The question is only whether from now on we shall have to refrain from tying description to a clear hypothesis about the real nature of the world. There are many who wish to pronounce such abdication even today. But I believe that this means making things a little too easy for oneself.
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Aim (165)  |  Belief (578)  |  Clear (100)  |  Description (84)  |  Easy (204)  |  End (590)  |  Exact Science (10)  |  Hypothesis (296)  |  Little (707)  |  Making (300)  |  Mean (809)  |  Means (579)  |  More (2559)  |  Nature (1926)  |  New (1216)  |  Nothing (966)  |  Observe (168)  |  Observed (149)  |  Oneself (33)  |  Principle (507)  |  Pronounce (10)  |  Question (621)  |  Real (149)  |  Really (78)  |  Refrain (9)  |  Science (3879)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Tie (38)  |  Today (314)  |  Wish (212)  |  World (1774)

Rules of Thumb
Thumb’s First Postulate: It is better to use a crude approximation and know the truth, plus or minus 10 percent, than demand an exact solution and know nothing at all.
Thumb’s Second Postulate: An easily understood, workable falsehood is more useful than a complex incomprehensible truth.
Anonymous
In Arthur Bloch, The Complete Murphy's Law: A Definitive Collection (1991), 126.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  All (4108)  |  Approximation (31)  |  Better (486)  |  Complex (188)  |  Complexity (111)  |  Crude (31)  |  Demand (123)  |  Ease (35)  |  Exactness (29)  |  Falsehood (28)  |  First (1283)  |  Incomprehensibility (2)  |  Incomprehensible (29)  |  Know (1518)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  More (2559)  |  Nothing (966)  |  Plus (43)  |  Rule (294)  |  Rule Of Thumb (3)  |  Solution (267)  |  Thumb (17)  |  Truth (1057)  |  Understanding (513)  |  Understood (156)  |  Use (766)  |  Useful (250)  |  Usefulness (86)

Scientists and particularly the professional students of evolution are often accused of a bias toward mechanism or materialism, even though believers in vitalism and in finalism are not lacking among them. Such bias as may exist is inherent in the method of science. The most successful scientific investigation has generally involved treating phenomena as if they were purely materialistic, rejecting any metaphysical hypothesis as long as a physical hypothesis seems possible. The method works. The restriction is necessary because science is confined to physical means of investigation and so it would stultify its own efforts to postulate that its subject is not physical and so not susceptible to its methods.
The Meaning of Evolution: A Study of the History of Life and of its Significance for Man (1949), 127.
Science quotes on:  |  Accusation (6)  |  Belief (578)  |  Believer (25)  |  Bias (20)  |  Confinement (4)  |  Effort (227)  |  Evolution (590)  |  Exist (443)  |  Hypothesis (296)  |  Inherent (42)  |  Investigation (230)  |  Involved (90)  |  Lacking (2)  |  Long (790)  |  Materialism (11)  |  Mean (809)  |  Means (579)  |  Mechanism (96)  |  Metaphysical (38)  |  Metaphysics (50)  |  Method (505)  |  Methods (204)  |  Most (1731)  |  Necessary (363)  |  Necessity (191)  |  Phenomenon (318)  |  Physical (508)  |  Possible (552)  |  Professional (70)  |  Purely (109)  |  Rejection (34)  |  Restriction (11)  |  Science (3879)  |  Scientific (941)  |  Scientific Method (175)  |  Scientist (820)  |  Student (300)  |  Stultify (5)  |  Subject (521)  |  Success (302)  |  Successful (123)  |  Treatment (130)  |  Vitalism (5)  |  Work (1351)

Since the seventeenth century, physical intuition has served as a vital source for mathematical porblems and methods. Recent trends and fashions have, however, weakened the connection between mathematics and physics; mathematicians, turning away from their roots of mathematics in intuition, have concentrated on refinement and emphasized the postulated side of mathematics, and at other times have overlooked the unity of their science with physics and other fields. In many cases, physicists have ceased to appreciate the attitudes of mathematicians. This rift is unquestionably a serious threat to science as a whole; the broad stream of scientific development may split into smaller and smaller rivulets and dry out. It seems therefore important to direct our efforts towards reuniting divergent trends by classifying the common features and interconnections of many distinct and diverse scientific facts.
As co-author with David Hilbert, in Methods of Mathematical Physics (1937, 1989), Preface, v.
Science quotes on:  |  17th Century (16)  |  Appreciate (63)  |  Appreciation (34)  |  Attitude (82)  |  Ceasing (2)  |  Century (310)  |  Classification (97)  |  Common (436)  |  Concentration (29)  |  Connection (162)  |  Development (422)  |  Direct (225)  |  Directing (5)  |  Distinct (97)  |  Divergence (6)  |  Divergent (6)  |  Diverse (17)  |  Dry (57)  |  Effort (227)  |  Emphasis (17)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Facts (553)  |  Fashion (30)  |  Feature (44)  |  Field (364)  |  Importance (286)  |  Interconnection (12)  |  Intuition (75)  |  Mathematician (387)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Method (505)  |  Methods (204)  |  Other (2236)  |  Overlook (31)  |  Overlooking (3)  |  Physic (517)  |  Physical (508)  |  Physicist (259)  |  Physics (533)  |  Problem (676)  |  Recent (77)  |  Refinement (17)  |  Rift (3)  |  Rivulet (5)  |  Root (120)  |  Science (3879)  |  Scientific (941)  |  Serious (91)  |  Serving (15)  |  Side (233)  |  Source (93)  |  Stream (81)  |  Threat (30)  |  Time (1877)  |  Trend (22)  |  Turning (5)  |  Unity (78)  |  Unquestionably (3)  |  Vital (85)  |  Weakening (2)  |  Whole (738)

Stay your rude steps, or e’er your feet invade
The Muses’ haunts,ye sons of War and Trade!
Nor you, ye legion fiends of Church and Law,
Pollute these pages with unhallow’d paw!
Debased, corrupted, grovelling, and confin’d,
No definitions touch your senseless mind;
To you no Postulates prefer their claim,
No ardent Axioms your dull souls inflame;
For you no Tangents touch, no Angles meet,
No Circles join in osculation sweet!
From poem, with co-authors John Hookham Frere, George Canning and George Ellis, The Loves of the Triangles: A Mathematical and Philosophical Poem, Canto I, collected in Poetry of the Anti-Jacobin (1854), 124.
Science quotes on:  |  Angle (20)  |  Axiom (63)  |  Church (56)  |  Circle (110)  |  Claim (146)  |  Definition (221)  |  Dull (54)  |  Law (894)  |  Legion (4)  |  Mind (1338)  |  Muse (10)  |  Soul (226)  |  Step (231)  |  Sweet (39)  |  Tangent (6)  |  Touch (141)  |  War (225)

The functional validity of a working hypothesis is not a priori certain, because often it is initially based on intuition. However, logical deductions from such a hypothesis provide expectations (so-called prognoses) as to the circumstances under which certain phenomena will appear in nature. Such a postulate or working hypothesis can then be substantiated by additional observations ... The author calls such expectations and additional observations the prognosis-diagnosis method of research. Prognosis in science may be termed the prediction of the future finding of corroborative evidence of certain features or phenomena (diagnostic facts). This method of scientific research builds up and extends the relations between the subject and the object by means of a circuit of inductions and deductions.
In 'The Scientific Character of Geology', The Journal of Geology (Jul 1961), 69, No. 4, 454-5.
Science quotes on:  |  A Priori (26)  |  Author (167)  |  Build (204)  |  Call (769)  |  Certain (550)  |  Certainty (174)  |  Circuit (29)  |  Circumstance (136)  |  Circumstances (108)  |  Corroboration (2)  |  Deduction (82)  |  Diagnosis (64)  |  Evidence (248)  |  Expectation (65)  |  Extend (128)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Facts (553)  |  Functional (10)  |  Future (429)  |  Hypothesis (296)  |  Induction (77)  |  Intuition (75)  |  Logic (287)  |  Mean (809)  |  Means (579)  |  Method (505)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Object (422)  |  Observation (555)  |  Phenomenon (318)  |  Prediction (82)  |  Prognosis (5)  |  Relation (157)  |  Research (664)  |  Science (3879)  |  Scientific (941)  |  Scientific Method (175)  |  So-Called (71)  |  Subject (521)  |  Substantiate (4)  |  Term (349)  |  Validity (47)  |  Will (2355)  |  Working (20)

The method of “postulating” what we want has many advantages; they are the same as the advantages of theft over honest toil.
In Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy (1919), 71.
Science quotes on:  |  Advantage (134)  |  Honest (50)  |  Method (505)  |  Same (157)  |  Toil (25)  |  Want (497)

The reasoning of mathematicians is founded on certain and infallible principles. Every word they use conveys a determinate idea, and by accurate definitions they excite the same ideas in the mind of the reader that were in the mind of the writer. When they have defined the terms they intend to make use of, they premise a few axioms, or self-evident principles, that every one must assent to as soon as proposed. They then take for granted certain postulates, that no one can deny them, such as, that a right line may be drawn from any given point to another, and from these plain, simple principles they have raised most astonishing speculations, and proved the extent of the human mind to be more spacious and capacious than any other science.
In Diary, Works (1850), Vol. 2, 21.
Science quotes on:  |  Accurate (86)  |  Assent (12)  |  Astonishing (27)  |  Axiom (63)  |  Capacious (2)  |  Certain (550)  |  Convey (16)  |  Define (49)  |  Definition (221)  |  Deny (66)  |  Determinate (6)  |  Draw (137)  |  Evident (91)  |  Excite (15)  |  Extent (139)  |  Founded (20)  |  Give (202)  |  Grant (73)  |  Human (1468)  |  Human Mind (128)  |  Idea (843)  |  Infallible (15)  |  Intend (16)  |  Line (91)  |  Mathematician (387)  |  Mind (1338)  |  More (2559)  |  Most (1731)  |  Must (1526)  |  Nature Of Mathematics (80)  |  Other (2236)  |  Plain (33)  |  Point (580)  |  Premise (37)  |  Principle (507)  |  Propose (23)  |  Prove (250)  |  Raise (35)  |  Reader (40)  |  Reasoning (207)  |  Right (452)  |  Same (157)  |  Science (3879)  |  Self (267)  |  Self-Evident (21)  |  Simple (406)  |  Soon (186)  |  Spacious (2)  |  Speculation (126)  |  Term (349)  |  Terms (184)  |  Use (766)  |  Word (619)  |  Writer (86)

The scientific attitude implies the postulate of objectivity—that is to say, the fundamental postulate that there is no plan; that there is no intention in the universe.
Interview with John C. Hess, 'French Nobel Biologist Says World Based on Chance Leaves Man Free to Choose His Own Ethical Values', New York Times (15 Mar 1971), 6.
Science quotes on:  |  Attitude (82)  |  Fundamental (250)  |  Intention (46)  |  Objectivity (16)  |  Plan (117)  |  Say (984)  |  Scientific (941)  |  Universe (857)

The theory that gravitational attraction is inversely proportional to the square of the distance leads by remorseless logic to the conclusion that the path of a planet should be an ellipse, … It is this logical thinking that is the real meat of the physical sciences. The social scientist keeps the skin and throws away the meat. … His theorems no more follow from his postulates than the hunches of a horse player follow logically from the latest racing news. The result is guesswork clad in long flowing robes of gobbledygook.
In Science is a Sacred Cow (1950), 149-150.
Science quotes on:  |  Attraction (56)  |  Conclusion (254)  |  Distance (161)  |  Ellipse (8)  |  Follow (378)  |  Gambler (7)  |  Gravitation (70)  |  Guesswork (4)  |  Horse (74)  |  Hunch (5)  |  Inversely Proportional (7)  |  Lead (384)  |  Logic (287)  |  Long (790)  |  Meat (16)  |  More (2559)  |  New (1216)  |  News (36)  |  Path (144)  |  Physical (508)  |  Physical Science (101)  |  Planet (356)  |  Result (677)  |  Science (3879)  |  Scientist (820)  |  Skin (47)  |  Social (252)  |  Social Science (35)  |  Square (70)  |  Theorem (112)  |  Theory (970)  |  Thinking (414)

The velocity of light is one of the most important of the fundamental constants of Nature. Its measurement by Foucault and Fizeau gave as the result a speed greater in air than in water, thus deciding in favor of the undulatory and against the corpuscular theory. Again, the comparison of the electrostatic and the electromagnetic units gives as an experimental result a value remarkably close to the velocity of light–a result which justified Maxwell in concluding that light is the propagation of an electromagnetic disturbance. Finally, the principle of relativity gives the velocity of light a still greater importance, since one of its fundamental postulates is the constancy of this velocity under all possible conditions.
Studies in Optics (1927), 120.
Science quotes on:  |  Against (332)  |  Air (347)  |  All (4108)  |  Comparison (102)  |  Conclusion (254)  |  Condition (356)  |  Constancy (12)  |  Constant (144)  |  Corpuscle (13)  |  Disturbance (31)  |  Electromagnetic (2)  |  Electrostatic (7)  |  Experiment (695)  |  Experimental (192)  |  Favor (63)  |  Jean-Bernard-Léon Foucault (3)  |  Fundamental (250)  |  Greater (288)  |  Importance (286)  |  Light (607)  |  Maxwell (42)  |  James Clerk Maxwell (87)  |  Measurement (174)  |  Most (1731)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Possible (552)  |  Principle (507)  |  Propagation (14)  |  Relativity (88)  |  Result (677)  |  Speed (65)  |  Speed Of Light (17)  |  Still (613)  |  Theory (970)  |  Unit (33)  |  Value (365)  |  Velocity (48)  |  Water (481)  |  Wave (107)

There is a noble vision of the great Castle of Mathematics, towering somewhere in the Platonic World of Ideas, which we humbly and devotedly discover (rather than invent). The greatest mathematicians manage to grasp outlines of the Grand Design, but even those to whom only a pattern on a small kitchen tile is revealed, can be blissfully happy. … Mathematics is a proto-text whose existence is only postulated but which nevertheless underlies all corrupted and fragmentary copies we are bound to deal with. The identity of the writer of this proto-text (or of the builder of the Castle) is anybody’s guess. …
In 'Mathematical Knowledge: Internal, Social, and Cultural Aspects', Mathematics As Metaphor: Selected Essays (2007), 4.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  All (4108)  |  Anybody (42)  |  Bound (119)  |  Builder (12)  |  Castle (5)  |  Copy (33)  |  Deal (188)  |  Design (195)  |  Devoted (59)  |  Discover (553)  |  Existence (456)  |  Fragmentary (8)  |  Grand (27)  |  Grasp (61)  |  Great (1574)  |  Greatest (328)  |  Guess (61)  |  Happy (105)  |  Humble (50)  |  Humbly (8)  |  Idea (843)  |  Identity (19)  |  Invent (51)  |  Kitchen (13)  |  Manage (23)  |  Mathematician (387)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Nevertheless (90)  |  Noble (90)  |  Outline (11)  |  Pattern (110)  |  Platonic (3)  |  Reveal (148)  |  Revealed (60)  |  Small (477)  |  Text (14)  |  Tile (2)  |  Towering (11)  |  Underlie (18)  |  Vision (123)  |  World (1774)  |  Writer (86)

This relation logical implication is probably the most rigorous and powerful of all the intellectual enterprises of man. From a properly selected set of the vast number of prepositional functions a set can be selected from which an infinitude of prepositional functions can be implied. In this sense all postulational thinking is mathematics. It can be shown that doctrines in the sciences, natural and social, in history, in jurisprudence and in ethics are constructed on the postulational thinking scheme and to that extent are mathematical. Together the proper enterprise of Science and the enterprise of Mathematics embrace the whole knowledge-seeking activity of mankind, whereby “knowledge” is meant the kind of knowledge that admits of being made articulate in the form of propositions.
In Mathematics as a Culture Clue: And Other Essays (1947), 127.
Science quotes on:  |  Activity (210)  |  All (4108)  |  Articulate (7)  |  Being (1278)  |  Construct (124)  |  Doctrine (75)  |  Embrace (46)  |  Enterprise (54)  |  Ethic (40)  |  Ethics (50)  |  Extent (139)  |  Form (959)  |  Function (228)  |  History (673)  |  Imply (17)  |  Infinite (231)  |  Intellect (233)  |  Intellectual (255)  |  Kind (557)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Logic (287)  |  Man (2251)  |  Mankind (339)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Most (1731)  |  Natural (796)  |  Natural Science (128)  |  Number (699)  |  Powerful (139)  |  Proper (144)  |  Proposition (123)  |  Rigorous (48)  |  Scheme (57)  |  Science (3879)  |  Seeking (31)  |  Select (44)  |  Sense (770)  |  Set (394)  |  Social (252)  |  Social Science (35)  |  Thinking (414)  |  Together (387)  |  Vast (177)  |  Whole (738)

We may summarize … the fundamental characteristics and limitations of mathematics as follows: mathematics is ultimately an experimental science, for freedom from contradiction cannot be proved, but only postulated and checked by observation, and similarly existence can only be postulated and checked by observation. Furthermore, mathematics requires the fundamental device of all thought, of analyzing experience into static bits with static meanings.
In The Nature of Physical Theory (1936), 58.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Analyze (10)  |  Characteristic (148)  |  Check (24)  |  Contradiction (68)  |  Device (70)  |  Existence (456)  |  Experience (467)  |  Experimental (192)  |  Follow (378)  |  Freedom (129)  |  Fundamental (250)  |  Limitation (47)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Meaning (233)  |  Observation (555)  |  Prove (250)  |  Require (219)  |  Science (3879)  |  Static (8)  |  Summarize (10)  |  Thought (953)  |  Ultimately (55)

[The] first postulate of the Principle of Uniformity, namely, that the laws of nature are invariant with time, is not peculiar to that principle or to geology, but is a common denominator of all science. In fact, instead of being an assumption or an ad hoc hypothesis, it is simply a succinct summation of the totality of all experimental and observational evidence.
'Critique of the Principle of Uniformity', in C. C. Albritton (ed.), Uniformity and Simplicity (1967), 29.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Assumption (92)  |  Being (1278)  |  Common (436)  |  Evidence (248)  |  Experimental (192)  |  Fact (1210)  |  First (1283)  |  Geology (220)  |  Hypothesis (296)  |  Invariant (10)  |  Law (894)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Observational (15)  |  Peculiar (113)  |  Principle (507)  |  Science (3879)  |  Summation (3)  |  Time (1877)  |  Totality (15)  |  Uniformity (37)

… There can be no doubt about faith and not reason being the ultima ratio. Even Euclid, who has laid himself as little open to the charge of credulity as any writer who ever lived, cannot get beyond this. He has no demonstrable first premise. He requires postulates and axioms which transcend demonstration, and without which he can do nothing. His superstructure indeed is demonstration, but his ground his faith. Nor again can he get further than telling a man he is a fool if he persists in differing from him. He says “which is absurd,” and declines to discuss the matter further. Faith and authority, therefore, prove to be as necessary for him as for anyone else.
In The Way of All Flesh (1917), 319-320.
Science quotes on:  |  Absurd (59)  |  Authority (95)  |  Axiom (63)  |  Being (1278)  |  Beyond (308)  |  Charge (59)  |  Credulity (14)  |  Decline (26)  |  Demonstration (113)  |  Discuss (22)  |  Do (1908)  |  Doubt (304)  |  Euclid (54)  |  Faith (203)  |  First (1283)  |  Fool (116)  |  Ground (217)  |  Himself (461)  |  Indeed (324)  |  Little (707)  |  Man (2251)  |  Matter (798)  |  Necessary (363)  |  Nothing (966)  |  Open (274)  |  Premise (37)  |  Prove (250)  |  Ratio (39)  |  Reason (744)  |  Require (219)  |  Say (984)  |  Transcend (26)  |  Writer (86)


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.