Celebrating 20 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition, we must lead it... That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index W > Alfred North Whitehead Quotes > Truth

Thumbnail of Alfred North Whitehead (source)
Alfred North Whitehead
(15 Feb 1861 - 30 Dec 1947)

English mathematician and philosopher who worked in logic, physics, and later in his life spent more time on the philosophy of science and metaphysics. He worked with Bertrand Russell on Principia Mathematica which shows that logic underlies all mathematics.



Apart from blunt truth, our lives sink decadently amid the perfume of hints and suggestions.
— Alfred North Whitehead
In Adventures of Ideas (1933), 321.
Science quotes on:  |  Amid (2)  |  Blunt (5)  |  Hint (21)  |  Live (629)  |  Sink (37)  |  Suggestion (46)  |  Truth (1062)

Aristotle discovered all the half-truths which were necessary to the creation of science.
— Alfred North Whitehead
From Dialogue XLII in Alfred North Whitehead and Lucien Price (ed.), Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead (1954, 1977), 344.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4107)  |  Aristotle (173)  |  Creation (329)  |  Discover (553)  |  Discovery (785)  |  Necessary (363)  |  Science (3880)  |  Truth (1062)

In modern times the belief that the ultimate explanation of all things was to be found in Newtonian mechanics was an adumbration of the truth that all science, as it grows towards perfection, becomes mathematical in its ideas.
— Alfred North Whitehead
In An Introduction to Mathematics (1911), 13-14. [To suggest, disclose, or outline partially, produces an “adumbration”, which gives only the main facts and not the details. —Webmaster]
Science quotes on:  |  All (4107)  |  Become (815)  |  Belief (578)  |  Explanation (234)  |  Find (999)  |  Grow (238)  |  Idea (845)  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  Mechanic (119)  |  Mechanics (132)  |  Modern (385)  |  Modern Times (2)  |  Newtonian (3)  |  Perfection (130)  |  Science (3880)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Time (1877)  |  Truth (1062)  |  Ultimate (146)

Inventive genius requires pleasurable mental activity as a condition for its vigorous exercise. “Necessity is the mother of invention” is a silly proverb. “Necessity is the mother of futile dodges” is much closer to the truth. The basis of growth of modern invention is science, and science is almost wholly the outgrowth of pleasurable intellectual curiosity.
— Alfred North Whitehead
In 'Technical Education and Its Relation to Science and Literature', The Aims of Education and Other Essays (1917), 69.
Science quotes on:  |  Activity (210)  |  Basis (173)  |  Closer (43)  |  Condition (357)  |  Curiosity (128)  |  Dodge (3)  |  Exercise (110)  |  Futile (11)  |  Genius (285)  |  Growth (188)  |  Intellect (233)  |  Intellectual (255)  |  Invention (377)  |  Mental (177)  |  Modern (385)  |  Mother (114)  |  Mother Of Invention (6)  |  Necessity (191)  |  Pleasure (179)  |  Progress (468)  |  Proverb (27)  |  Require (219)  |  Science (3880)  |  Silly (17)  |  Truth (1062)  |  Wholly (88)

It is more important that a proposition be interesting than it be true. … But of course a true proposition is more apt to be interesting than a false one.
— Alfred North Whitehead
In Adventures of Ideas (1933, 1967), 244.
Science quotes on:  |  Apt (9)  |  Course (408)  |  False (100)  |  Important (210)  |  Interesting (153)  |  More (2559)  |  Proposition (123)  |  Truth (1062)

It is rigid dogma that destroys truth; and, please notice, my emphasis is not on the dogma, but on the rigidity. When men say of any question, “This is all there is to be known or said of the subject; investigation ends here,” that is death. It may be that the mischief comes not from the thinker but for the use made of his thinking by late-comers. Aristotle, for example, gave us our scientific technique … yet his logical propositions, his instruction in sound reasoning which was bequeathed to Europe, are valid only within the limited framework of formal logic, and, as used in Europe, they stultified the minds of whole generations of mediaeval Schoolmen. Aristotle invented science, but destroyed philosophy.
— Alfred North Whitehead
Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead, as recorded by Lucien Price (1954, 2001), 165.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4107)  |  Aristotle (173)  |  Death (391)  |  Destroy (180)  |  Dogma (48)  |  End (590)  |  Framework (31)  |  Generation (242)  |  Instruction (91)  |  Investigation (231)  |  Known (454)  |  Late (118)  |  Limit (281)  |  Limited (102)  |  Logic (287)  |  Mind (1339)  |  Mischief (13)  |  Notice (77)  |  Philosophy (382)  |  Please (65)  |  Proposition (123)  |  Question (622)  |  Reasoning (207)  |  Rigid (24)  |  Rigidity (5)  |  Say (984)  |  Science (3880)  |  Scientific (940)  |  Scientific Method (176)  |  Sound (183)  |  Subject (522)  |  Technique (80)  |  Thinker (39)  |  Thinking (415)  |  Thought (954)  |  Truth (1062)  |  Use (766)  |  Whole (738)

Knowledge does not keep any better than fish. You may be dealing with knowledge of the old species, with some old truth; but somehow or other it must come to the students, as it were, just drawn out of the sea and with the freshness of its immediate importance.
— Alfred North Whitehead
In 'Universities and Their Function', The Aims of Education and Other Essays (1929), 98.
Science quotes on:  |  Better (488)  |  Education (379)  |  Fish (121)  |  Freshness (8)  |  Immediate (95)  |  Importance (287)  |  Keeping (9)  |  Knowledge (1536)  |  Must (1526)  |  Old (480)  |  Other (2236)  |  Sea (309)  |  Somehow (48)  |  Species (402)  |  Student (301)  |  Truth (1062)

Science repudiates philosophy. In other words, it has never cared to justify its truth or explain its meaning.
— Alfred North Whitehead
Lowell Lecture (Feb 1925), 'The Origins of Modern Science', collected in Science and the Modern World (1925), 17.
Science quotes on:  |  Car (71)  |  Care (186)  |  Explain (322)  |  Explanation (234)  |  Justification (49)  |  Meaning (235)  |  Never (1087)  |  Other (2236)  |  Philosophy (382)  |  Repudiate (7)  |  Science (3880)  |  Truth (1062)  |  Word (622)

The point of mathematics is that in it we have always got rid of the particular instance, and even of any particular sorts of entities. So that for example, no mathematical truths apply merely to fish, or merely to stones, or merely to colours. So long as you are dealing with pure mathematics, you are in the realm of complete and absolute abstraction. … Mathematics is thought moving in the sphere of complete abstraction from any particular instance of what it is talking about.
— Alfred North Whitehead
In Science and the Modern World: Lowell Lectures, 1925 (1925), 31.
Science quotes on:  |  Absolute (146)  |  Abstraction (47)  |  Application (242)  |  Apply (160)  |  Color (138)  |  Complete (204)  |  Dealing (10)  |  Entity (35)  |  Fish (121)  |  Instance (33)  |  Long (789)  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  Merely (316)  |  Moving (11)  |  Particular (76)  |  Point (580)  |  Pure (292)  |  Pure Mathematics (67)  |  Realm (85)  |  Rid (13)  |  Sort (49)  |  Sphere (116)  |  Stone (162)  |  Talking (76)  |  Thought (954)  |  Truth (1062)

The point of mathematics is that in it we have always got rid of the particular instance, and even of any particular sorts of entities. So that for example, no mathematical truths apply merely to fish, or merely to stones, or merely to colours. … Mathematics is thought moving in the sphere of complete abstraction from any particular instance of what it is talking about.
— Alfred North Whitehead
In 'Mathematics', Science and the Modern World (1926, 2011), 27.
Science quotes on:  |  Abstraction (47)  |  Apply (160)  |  Color (138)  |  Complete (204)  |  Entity (35)  |  Fish (121)  |  Instance (33)  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  Merely (316)  |  Move (216)  |  Particular (76)  |  Point (580)  |  Rid (13)  |  Sort (49)  |  Sphere (116)  |  Stone (162)  |  Talking (76)  |  Thought (954)  |  Truth (1062)

The results of science are never quite true. By a healthy independence of thought perhaps we sometimes avoid adding other people’s errors to our own.
— Alfred North Whitehead
In 'Space, Time and Relativity', The Aims of Education and Other Essays (1929), 149.
Science quotes on:  |  Avoid (116)  |  Error (321)  |  Healthy (68)  |  Independence (34)  |  Never (1087)  |  Other (2236)  |  People (1005)  |  Result (678)  |  Science (3880)  |  Thought (954)  |  Truth (1062)

There are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.
— Alfred North Whitehead
In Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead (1954), 16.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4107)  |  Devil (31)  |  Half (56)  |  Truth (1062)  |  Trying (144)  |  Whole (738)

To come very near to a true theory, and to grasp its precise application, are two different things, as the history of science teaches us. Everything of importance has been said before by someone who did not discover it.
— Alfred North Whitehead
In The Organisation of Thought (1917), 127. Collected in The Interpretation of Science: Selected Essays (1961), 33.
Science quotes on:  |  Application (242)  |  Different (577)  |  Discover (553)  |  Discovery (785)  |  Everything (476)  |  History (675)  |  History Of Science (64)  |  Importance (287)  |  Precise (68)  |  Science (3880)  |  Someone (22)  |  Theory (972)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Truth (1062)  |  Two (937)


See also:

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 Einstein • Isaac Newton • Lord Kelvin • Charles Darwin • Srinivasa Ramanujan • Carl Sagan • Florence Nightingale • Thomas Edison • Aristotle • Marie Curie • Benjamin Franklin • Winston Churchill • Galileo Galilei • Sigmund Freud • Robert Bunsen • Louis Pasteur • Theodore Roosevelt • Abraham Lincoln • Ronald Reagan • Leonardo DaVinci • Michio Kaku • Karl Popper • Johann Goethe • Robert Oppenheimer • Charles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about: • Atomic  Bomb • Biology • Chemistry • Deforestation • Engineering • Anatomy • Astronomy • Bacteria • Biochemistry • Botany • Conservation • Dinosaur • Environment • Fractal • Genetics • Geology • History of Science • Invention • Jupiter • Knowledge • Love • Mathematics • Measurement • Medicine • Natural Resource • Organic Chemistry • Physics • Physician • Quantum Theory • Research • Science and Art • Teacher • Technology • Universe • Volcano • Virus • Wind Power • Women Scientists • X-Rays • Youth • Zoology  ... (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


by Ian Ellis
who invites your feedback
Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.