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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index T > Henry Thoreau Quotes > Truth

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Henry Thoreau
(12 Jul 1817 - 6 May 1862)

American writer, naturalist, philosopher and poet who is best known for his study of nature, while retired to live in a hut beside Walden Pond at Concord (4 Jul 1845-6 Sep 1847). Thereafter, he wrote two books: A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849) and Walden, or Life in the Woods (1854).


Henry Thoreau Quotes on Truth (6 quotes)

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Henry Thoreau quote Dews of fresh and living truth
photo credit: Inspired Images CC0 (source)
Even the facts of science may dust the mind by their dryness, unless they are … rendered fertile by the dews of fresh and living truth. Knowledge does not come to us by details, but in flashes of light from heaven.
— Henry Thoreau
Essay, first published as 'Life Without Principle', Atlantic Monthly (Oct 1863). Collected in Yankee in Canada, Etc., (1866) 267. Also excerpted in H.G.O. Blake (ed.), Thoreau's Thoughts: Selections From the Writings of Henry David Thoreau (1890, 2005), 102.
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How indispensable to a correct study of Nature is a perception of her true meaning. The fact will one day flower out into a truth. The season will mature and fructify what the understanding had cultivated. Mere accumulators of facts—collectors of materials for the master-workmen—are like those plants growing in dark forests, which “put forth only leaves instead of blossoms.”
— Henry Thoreau
(16 Dec 1837). In Henry David Thoreau and Bradford Torrey (ed.), The Writings of Henry Thoreau: Journal: I: 1837-1846 (1906), 18.
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Men are probably nearer the essential truth in their superstitions than in their science.
— Henry Thoreau
Journal, 27 Jun 1852, in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau (1906), Vol. 10, 158.
Science quotes on:  |  Essential (210)  |  Nearer (45)  |  Superstition (70)  |  Truth (1109)

The eye which can appreciate the naked and absolute beauty of a scientific truth is far more rare than that which is attracted by a moral one.
— Henry Thoreau
In A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1862), 381.
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The most distinct and beautiful statement of any truth [in science] must take at last the mathematical form.
— Henry Thoreau
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1862), 381.
Science quotes on:  |  Beautiful (271)  |  Beauty (313)  |  Distinct (98)  |  Form (976)  |  Last (425)  |  Mathematics (1395)  |  Most (1728)  |  Must (1525)  |  Statement (148)  |  Truth (1109)

We have heard much about the poetry of mathematics, but very little of it has yet been sung. The ancients had a juster notion of their poetic value than we. The most distinct and beautiful statements of any truth must take at last the mathematical form.
— Henry Thoreau
In A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1862), 381.
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See also:
  • 12 Jul - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Thoreau's birth.
  • Henry Thoreau - context of quote “Dews of fresh and living truth” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Henry Thoreau - context of quote “Dews of fresh and living truth” - Large image (800 x 400 px)

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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