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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index W > Robert Whytt Quotes

Thumbnail of Robert Whytt (source)
Robert Whytt
(6 Sep 1714 - 15 Apr 1766)

Scottish physician and neurophysiologist who studied unconscious reflexes, “dropsy of the brain” (tubercular meningitis), and the treatment of urinary bladder stones. From 1761, he was physician to King George III in Scotland.

Science Quotes by Robert Whytt (4 quotes)

Oil painting of Robert Whytt, head and shoulders, facing forward
Robert Whytt (1738)
Oil painting by G.B. Bellucci. Credit: Wellcome Collection (source)
Although we may be at a loss to explain the nature of that substance in the nerves, by whose intervention the mind seems enabled to act upon the muscles; and though we may be unacquainted with the intimate structure of those fibres upon which this substance operates, yet we have no room to doubt that voluntary motion is produced by the immediate energy of the mind; manifold experience convincing us, that though there be required certain conditions in the body in order to its performance, it is nevertheless owing to the will.
— Robert Whytt
In An Essay on the Vital and Other Involuntary Motions of Animals (1751), 2.
Science quotes on:  |  Energy (373)  |  Fibre (6)  |  Mind (1377)  |  Muscle (47)  |  Nerve (82)  |  Operate (19)  |  Structure (365)  |  Unacquainted (3)  |  Voluntary (6)

Nature, as far as we can judge from the plan and scheme of things surrounding us, delights in simplicity and uniformity, and, by general laws applied to particular bodies, produces a vast variety of operations; nor is it at all improbable that an animal body is a system regulated much after the same manner.
— Robert Whytt
In An Essay on the Vital and Other Involuntary Motions of Animals (1751), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (651)  |  Nature (2017)  |  Regulate (11)  |  Simplicity (175)  |  Uniformity (38)

People make the mistake of talking about “natural laws”. There are no natural laws. There are only temporary habits of nature.
— Robert Whytt
In Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead, as recorded by Lucien Price (1954), 367. As cited in G. Debrock (ed.), Process Pragmatism: Essays on a Quiet Philosophical Revolution (2003), 94.
Science quotes on:  |  Habit (174)  |  Law (913)  |  Mistake (180)  |  Natural (810)  |  Natural Law (46)  |  Nature (2017)  |  People (1031)  |  Person (366)  |  Talking (76)  |  Temporary (24)

That many very remarkable change and involuntary motions are sudden produced in the body by various affections of the mind, is undeniably evinced from a number of facts. Thus fear often causes a sudden and uncommon flow of pale urine. Looking much at one troubled with sore eyes, has sometimes affected the spectator with the same disease.—Certain sounds cause a shivering over the whole body.—The noise of a bagpipe has raised in some persons an inclination to make urine.—The sudden appearance of any frightful object, will, in delicate people, cause an uncommon palpitation of the heart.—The sight of an epileptic person agitated with convulsions, has brought on an epilepsy; and yawning is so very catching, as frequently to be propagated through whole companies.
— Robert Whytt
In An Essay on the Vital and Other Involuntary Motions of Animals (1751), 253-254.
Science quotes on:  |  Affection (44)  |  Appearance (145)  |  Body (557)  |  Cause (561)  |  Certain (557)  |  Change (639)  |  Convulsion (5)  |  Delicate (45)  |  Disease (340)  |  Epilepsy (3)  |  Eye (440)  |  Fact (1257)  |  Facts (553)  |  Fear (212)  |  Flow (89)  |  Fright (11)  |  Heart (243)  |  Inclination (36)  |  Involuntary (4)  |  Looking (191)  |  Mind (1377)  |  Motion (320)  |  Noise (40)  |  Number (710)  |  Object (438)  |  People (1031)  |  Person (366)  |  Produced (187)  |  Propagation (15)  |  Sight (135)  |  Sound (187)  |  Sudden (70)  |  Through (846)  |  Urine (18)  |  Various (205)  |  Whole (756)  |  Will (2350)  |  Yawn (2)

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  • 6 Sep - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Whytt's birth.

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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