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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index S > Leo Szilard Quotes

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Leo Szilard
(11 Feb 1898 - 30 May 1964)

Hungarian-American physicist.


Science Quotes by Leo Szilard (4 quotes)

I have been asked whether I would agree that the tragedy of the scientist is that he is able to bring about great advances in our knowledge, which mankind may then proceed to use for purposes of destruction. My answer is that this is not the tragedy of the scientist; it is the tragedy of mankind.
— Leo Szilard
S. R. Weart and G. W. Sallard (eds.), Leo Szilard: His Version of the Facts (1978), 229.
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (123)  |  Answer (201)  |  Asking (23)  |  Destruction (80)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Mankind (196)  |  Proceeding (13)  |  Purpose (138)  |  Question (315)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Tragedy (19)

Leo Szilard’s Ten Commandments:
1. Recognize the connections of things and the laws of conduct of men, so that you may know what you are doing.
2. Let your acts be directed towards a worthy goal, but do not ask if they will reach it; they are to be models and examples, not means to an end.
3. Speak to all men as you do to yourself, with no concern for the effect you make, so that you do not shut them out from your world; lest in isolation the meaning of life slips out of sight and you lose the belief in the perfection of the creation.
4. Do not destroy what you cannot create.
5. Touch no dish, except that you are hungry.
6. Do not covet what you cannot have.
7. Do not lie without need.
8. Honor children. Listen reverently to their words and speak to them with infinite love.
9. Do your work for six years; but in the seventh, go into solitude or among strangers, so that the memory of your friends does not hinder you from being what you have become.
10. Lead your life with a gentle hand and be ready to leave whenever you are called.
— Leo Szilard
Circulated by Mrs. Szilard in July 1964, in a letter to their friends (translated by Dr. Jacob Bronowski). As printed in Robert J. Levine, Ethics and Regulation of Clinical Research (1988), 431.
Science quotes on:  |  Belief (400)  |  Child (189)  |  Concern (76)  |  Conduct (23)  |  Connection (86)  |  Covet (2)  |  Creation (211)  |  Destruction (80)  |  Effect (133)  |  Example (57)  |  Friend (63)  |  Goal (81)  |  Honor (21)  |  Hunger (13)  |  Isolation (26)  |  Law (418)  |  Lie (80)  |  Life (917)  |  Listen (26)  |  Love (164)  |  Meaning (87)  |  Memory (81)  |  Model (64)  |  Need (211)  |  Perfection (71)  |  Recognition (62)  |  Solitude (10)  |  Speaking (38)  |  Stranger (9)  |  Work (457)

Those individuals who give moral considerations a much greater weight than considerations of expediency represent a comparatively small minority, five percent of the people perhaps. But, In spite of their numerical inferiority, they play a major role in our society because theirs is the voice of the conscience of society.
— Leo Szilard
In J. Robert Moskin, Morality in America (1966), 17. Otherwise unconfirmed in this form. Please contact webmaster if you know a primary print source.
Science quotes on:  |  Comparatively (6)  |  Conscience (36)  |  Consideration (65)  |  Expediency (4)  |  Individual (177)  |  Inferiority (7)  |  Major (24)  |  Minority (16)  |  Moral (100)  |  Numerical (5)  |  People (269)  |  Role (35)  |  Small (97)  |  Society (188)  |  Voice (41)  |  Weight (61)

When a scientist says something, his colleagues must ask themselves only whether it is true. When a politician says something, his colleagues must first of all ask, 'Why does he say it?'
— Leo Szilard
The Voice of Dolphins (1961), 25-26. In Don K. Price, The Scientific Estate (1965), 9.
Science quotes on:  |  Science And Politics (13)



Quotes by others about Leo Szilard (1)

I always tried to live up to Leo Szilard's commandment, “don't lie if you don't have to.” I had to. I filled up pages with words and plans I knew I would not follow. When I go home from my laboratory in the late afternoon, I often do not know what I am going to do the next day. I expect to think that up during the night. How could I tell them what I would do a year hence?
In 'Dionysians and Apollonians', Science (2 Jun 1972), 176, 966. Reprinted in Mary Ritchie Key, The Relationship of Verbal and Nonverbal Communication (1980), 318.
Science quotes on:  |  Commandment (6)  |  Filling (6)  |  Following (16)  |  Home (58)  |  Laboratory (120)  |  Lie (80)  |  Night (73)  |  Page (18)  |  Plan (69)  |  Telling (23)  |  Try (103)  |  Word (221)  |  Year (214)


See also:
  • 11 Feb - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Szilard's birth.
  • Genius in the Shadows: A Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb, by William Lanouette and Bela Silard. - book suggestion.

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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