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Who said: “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”
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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index T > Thales Quotes

Thales
(c. 624 B.C. - c. 546 B.C.)

Greek philosopher.

Science Quotes by Thales (3 quotes)

All things are from water and all things are resolved into water.
— Thales
Aetius 1.3.1., in H. Diels, Doxographi Graeci (1879), 276. Trans. R. W. Sharples.
Science quotes on:  |  Creation (211)  |  Resolution (16)  |  Water (244)

I will be sufficiently rewarded if when telling it to others you will not claim the discovery as your own, but will say it was mine.
— Thales
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Claim (52)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Reward (38)  |  Say (126)  |  Sufficiently (6)  |  Tell (67)

It is said that Thales of Miletus, who was the first of the Greeks to devote himself to the study of the stars, was on one occasion so intent upon observing the heavens that he fell into a well, whereupon a maidservant laughed and remarked, “In his zeal for things in the sky he does not see what is at his feet.”
— Thales
Apocryphal story, as given in Richard A. Gregory, Discovery: Or, The Spirit and Service of Science (1916), 21.
Science quotes on:  |  Astronomy (175)  |  Fall (89)  |  Foot (39)  |  Heavens (16)  |  Observation (418)  |  See (197)  |  Sky (68)  |  Zeal (7)



Quotes by others about Thales (4)

It is a vulgar belief that our astronomical knowledge dates only from the recent century when it was rescued from the monks who imprisoned Galileo; but Hipparchus … who among other achievements discovered the precession of the eqinoxes, ranks with the Newtons and the Keplers; and Copernicus, the modern father of our celestial science, avows himself, in his famous work, as only the champion of Pythagoras, whose system he enforces and illustrates. Even the most modish schemes of the day on the origin of things, which captivate as much by their novelty as their truth, may find their precursors in ancient sages, and after a careful analysis of the blended elements of imagination and induction which charaterise the new theories, they will be found mainly to rest on the atom of Epicurus and the monad of Thales. Scientific, like spiritual truth, has ever from the beginning been descending from heaven to man.
Lothair (1879), preface, xvii.
Science quotes on:  |  Astronomy (175)  |  Atom (251)  |  Nicolaus Copernicus (44)  |  Epicurus (6)  |  Galileo Galilei (101)  |  Hipparchus (3)  |  Imagination (209)  |  Imprison (8)  |  Johannes Kepler (72)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (258)  |  Pythagoras (27)  |  Theory (582)

No one can read the history of astronomy without perceiving that Copernicus, Newton, Laplace, are not new men, or a new kind of men, but that Thales, Anaximenes, Hipparchus, Empodocles, Aristorchus, Pythagorus, Oenipodes, had anticipated them.
In The Conduct of Life (1904), 18.
Science quotes on:  |  Anaximenes (5)  |  Anticipation (11)  |  Astronomy (175)  |  Nicolaus Copernicus (44)  |  Hipparchus (3)  |  History (302)  |  History Of Astronomy (2)  |  Kind (99)  |  Pierre-Simon Laplace (50)  |  Man (345)  |  New (340)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (258)  |  Perception (53)

Thales thought that water was the primordial substance of all things. Heraclitus of Ephesus… thought that it was fire. Democritus and his follower Epicurus thought that it was the atoms, termed by our writers “bodies that cannot be cut up” or, by some “indivisibles.” The school of the Pythagoreans added air and the earthy to the water and fire. Hence, although Democritus did not in a strict sense name them, but spoke only of indivisible bodies, yet he seems to have meant these same elements, because when taken by themselves they cannot be harmed, nor are they susceptible of dissolution, nor can they be cut up into parts, but throughout time eternal they forever retain an infinite solidity.
Vitruvius
In De Architectura, Book 2, Chap 2, Sec. 1. As translated in Morris Hicky Morgan (trans.), Vitruvius: The Ten Books on Architecture (1914), 42.
Science quotes on:  |  Air (151)  |  Atom (251)  |  Cut (36)  |  Democritus of Abdera (16)  |  Earth (487)  |  Element (129)  |  Epicurus (6)  |  Eternal (43)  |  Fire (117)  |  Heraclitus (14)  |  Indivisible (7)  |  Primordial (7)  |  Pythagoras (27)  |  Solid (34)  |  Substance (73)  |  Water (244)

Marx founded a new science: the science of history. … The sciences we are familiar with have been installed in a number of great “continents”. Before Marx, two such continents had been opened up to scientific knowledge: the continent of Mathematics and the continent of Physics. The first by the Greeks (Thales), the second by Galileo. Marx opened up a third continent to scientific knowledge: the continent of History.
In Lenin and Philosophy, and Other Writings (1971), 4.
Science quotes on:  |  Galileo Galilei (101)  |  Greek (46)  |  History (302)  |  Lenin_Vladimir (3)  |  Karl Marx (21)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Physics (301)  |  Science (1699)


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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