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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index T > John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien Quotes

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John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien
(3 Jan 1892 - 2 Sep 1973)

English author who was an Oxford University professor whose scholarly works include Chaucer as a Philologist (1936), but he is most famous for his classic fantasy novels, The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954-55).

Science Quotes by John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien (11 quotes)

He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.
— John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)
Science quotes on:  |  Wisdom (151)

I should regard them [the Elves interested in technical devices] as no more wicked or foolish (but in much the same peril) as Catholics engaged in certain kinds of physical research (e.g. those producing, if only as by-products, poisonous gases and explosives): things not necessarily evil, but which, things being as they are, and the nature and motives of the economic masters who provide all the means for their work being as they are, are pretty certain to serve evil ends. For which they will not necessarily be to blame, even if aware of them.
— John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien
From Letter draft to Peter Hastings (manager of a Catholic bookshop in Oxford, who wrote about his enthusiasm for Lord of the Rings) (Sep 1954). In Humphrey Carpenter (ed.) assisted by Christopher Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1995, 2014), 190, Letter No. 153.
Science quotes on:  |  Aware (18)  |  Blame (17)  |  Catholic (5)  |  Economy (46)  |  Elf (6)  |  Engage (11)  |  Evil (67)  |  Explosive (16)  |  Foolish (16)  |  Gas (46)  |  Lord Of The Rings (6)  |  Master (55)  |  Means (109)  |  Motive (26)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Peril (6)  |  Physical (94)  |  Poison (32)  |  Produce (63)  |  Provide (48)  |  Research (517)  |  Serve (34)  |  Technology (199)  |  Wicked (3)  |  Work (457)

My story [Lord of the Rings] is not an allegory of Atomic power, but of Power (exerted for Domination). Nuclear physics can be used for that purpose. But they need not be. They need not be used at all. If there is any contemporary reference in my story at all it is to what seems to me the most widespread assumption of our time: that if a thing can be done, it must be done. This seems to me wholly false.
— John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien
From Letter draft to Joanna de Bortadano (Apr 1956). In Humphrey Carpenter (ed.) assisted by Christopher Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1995, 2014), 246, Letter No. 186.
Science quotes on:  |  Allegory (6)  |  Assumption (49)  |  Atomic Power (7)  |  Contemporary (22)  |  Domination (12)  |  False (79)  |  Lord Of The Rings (6)  |  Need (211)  |  Nuclear Physics (4)  |  Power (273)  |  Purpose (138)  |  Reference (17)  |  Story (58)  |  Widespread (9)

Such explosives [atomic bombs] in men’s hands, while their moral and intellectual status is declining, is about as useful as giving out firearms to all inmates of a gaol and then saying that you hope ‘this will ensure peace’.
— John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien
From Letter (No. 102) to Christopher Tolkien (9 Aug 1945). In Humphrey Carpenter (ed.) assisted by Christopher Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1995, 2014), 116, Letter No. 102.
Science quotes on:  |  Atomic Bomb (101)  |  Decline (11)  |  Ensure (8)  |  Explosive (16)  |  Give (117)  |  Gun (7)  |  Hope (129)  |  Inmate (3)  |  Intellect (157)  |  Jail (4)  |  Mankind (196)  |  Moral (100)  |  Peace (58)  |  Status (18)  |  Useful (66)  |  War (144)

The High-Elves, … the Noldor or Loremasters, were always on the side of ‘science and technology’, as we should call it: they wanted to have the knowledge that Sauron genuinely had.
— John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien
From Letter draft to Peter Hastings (manager of a Catholic bookshop in Oxford, who wrote about his enthusiasm for Lord of the Rings) (Sep 1954). In Humphrey Carpenter (ed.) assisted by Christopher Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1995, 2014), 190, Letter No. 153.
Science quotes on:  |  Call (68)  |  Elf (6)  |  Genuinely (2)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Lord Of The Rings (6)  |  Science (1699)  |  Technology (199)  |  Want (120)

The news today about ‘Atomic bombs’ is so horrifying one is stunned. The utter folly of these lunatic physicists to consent to do such work for war-purposes: calmly plotting the destruction of the world!
— John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien
From Letter (No. 102) to Christopher Tolkien (9 Aug 1945). In Humphrey Carpenter (ed.) assisted by Christopher Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1995, 2014), 116, Letter No. 102.
Science quotes on:  |  Atomic Bomb (101)  |  Consent (5)  |  Destruction (80)  |  Folly (27)  |  Horrifying (2)  |  Lunatic (4)  |  News (12)  |  Physicist (130)  |  Plot (9)  |  Purpose (138)  |  War (144)  |  Work (457)  |  World (667)

The particular ‘desire’ of the Eregion Elves—an ‘allegory’ if you like of a love of machinery, and technical devices—is also symbolised by their special friendship with the Dwarves of Moria.
— John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien
From Letter draft to Peter Hastings (manager of a Catholic bookshop in Oxford, who wrote about his enthusiasm for Lord of the Rings) (Sep 1954). In Humphrey Carpenter (ed.) assisted by Christopher Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1995, 2014), 190, Letter No. 153.
Science quotes on:  |  Allegory (6)  |  Desire (101)  |  Dwarf (5)  |  Elf (6)  |  Friendship (8)  |  Lord Of The Rings (6)  |  Love (164)  |  Machinery (25)  |  Special (51)  |  Technology (199)

Well the first War of the Machines seems to be drawing to its final inconclusive chapter—leaving, alas, everyone the poorer, many bereaved or maimed and millions dead, and only one thing triumphant: the Machines. As the servants of the Machines are becoming a privileged class, the Machines are going to be enormously more powerful. What’s their next move?
— John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien
Concluding remarks from Letter to his son Christopher (30 Jan 1945). In Humphrey Carpenter (ed.) assisted by Christopher Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1995, 2014), 112, Letter No. 96.
Science quotes on:  |  Dead (45)  |  Inconclusive (2)  |  Machine (133)  |  Million (89)  |  Poorer (2)  |  Triumph (33)  |  War (144)

When you say A[tomic] P[ower] is ‘here to stay’ you remind me that Chesterton said that whenever he heard that, he knew that whatever it referred to would soon be replaced, and thought pitifully shabby and old-fashioned. So-called ‘atomic’ power is rather bigger than anything he was thinking of (I have heard it of trams, gas-light, steam-trains). But it surely is clear that there will have to be some ‘abnegation’ in its use, a deliberate refusal to do some of the things it is possible to do with it, or nothing will stay!
— John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien
From Letter draft to Joanna de Bortadano (Apr 1956). In Humphrey Carpenter (ed.) assisted by Christopher Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1995, 2014), 246, Letter No. 186.
Science quotes on:  |  Atomic Power (7)  |  G. K. Chesterton (49)  |  Deliberate (10)  |  Gas Light (2)  |  Hear (33)  |  Nothing (267)  |  Old-Fashioned (5)  |  Refusal (20)  |  Replace (16)  |  Shabby (2)  |  So-Called (18)  |  Stay (15)  |  Tram (3)

[Lord of the Rings] is … a piece of literature, … and not real history. … Its economics, science, artefacts, religion, and philosophy are defective, or at least sketchy.
— John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien
From Letter draft to Peter Hastings (manager of a Catholic bookshop in Oxford, who wrote about his enthusiasm for Lord of the Rings) (Sep 1954). In Humphrey Carpenter (ed.) assisted by Christopher Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1995, 2014), 188, Letter No. 153.
Science quotes on:  |  Artefact (2)  |  Defective (2)  |  Economics (30)  |  History (302)  |  Literature (64)  |  Lord Of The Rings (6)  |  Philosophy (213)  |  Real (95)  |  Religion (210)  |  Science (1699)

[Tom Bombadil is] an exemplar, a particular embodying of pure (real) natural science: the spirit that desires knowledge of other things, their history and nature, because they are ‘other’ and wholly independent of the enquiring mind, a spirit coeval with the rational mind, and entirely unconcerned with ‘doing’ anything with the knowledge: Zoology and Botany not Cattle-breeding or Agriculture. Even the Elves hardly show this: they are primarily artists.
— John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien
From Letter draft to Peter Hastings (manager of a Catholic bookshop in Oxford, who wrote about his enthusiasm for Lord of the Rings) (Sep 1954). In Humphrey Carpenter (ed.) assisted by Christopher Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1995, 2014), 192, Letter No. 153.
Science quotes on:  |  Agriculture (62)  |  Artist (46)  |  Botany (47)  |  Breeding (11)  |  Cattle (13)  |  Desire (101)  |  Elf (6)  |  Embody (13)  |  History (302)  |  Independent (41)  |  Inquiring (4)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Lord Of The Rings (6)  |  Mind (544)  |  Natural Science (62)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Pure (62)  |  Rational (42)  |  Real (95)  |  Spirit (113)  |  Zoology (28)


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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