Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Erwin Schrödinger, fully Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger

Austrian Physicist, Awarded the Nobel Prize Winner in Physics and Max Planck Medal

"Eternally and always there is only now, one and the same now; the present is the only thing that has no end."

"We should not expect the natural sciences to give us direct insight into the nature of the spirit."

"Whatever you see as duality is unreal."

"The world is given to me only once, not one existing and one perceived. Subject and object are only one. The barrier between them cannot be said to have broken down as a result of recent experience in the physical sciences, for this barrier does not exist."

"What we observe as material bodies and forces are nothing but shapes and variations in the structure of space. "

"Nirvana is a state of pure blissful knowledge... It has nothing to do with the individual. The ego or its separation is an illusion. Indeed in a certain sense two "I"'s are identical namely when one disregards all special contents — their Karma. The goal of man is to preserve his Karma and to develop it further... when man dies his Karma lives and creates for itself another carrier."

"No self is of itself alone. It has a long chain of intellectual ancestors. The "I" is chained to ancestry by many factors ... This is not mere allegory, but an eternal memory."

"For a solitary animal egoism is a virtue that tends to preserve and improve the species: in any kind of community it becomes a destructive vice."

"A careful analysis of the process of observation in atomic physics has shown that the subatomic particles have no meaning as isolated entities, but can only be understood as interconnections between the preparation of an experiment and the subsequent measurement. Quantum physics thus reveals a basic oneness of the universe. The mathematical framework of quantum theory has passed countless successful tests and is now universally accepted as a consistent and accurate description of all atomic phenomena. The verbal interpretation, on the other hand, i.e. the metaphysics of quantum physics, is on far less solid ground. In fact, in more than forty years physicists have not been able to provide a clear metaphysical model. "

"The plurality that we perceive is only an appearance; it is not real."

"The multiplicity is only apparent. This is the doctrine of the Upanishads. And not of the Upanishads only. The mystical experience of the union with God regularly leads to this view, unless strong prejudices stand in the way. Multiplicity is only apparent, in truth, there is only one mind... Multiplicity is only apparent, in truth, there is only one mind."

"We must therefore not be discouraged by the difficulty of interpreting life by the ordinary laws of physics. For that is just what is to be expected from the knowledge we have gained of the structure of living matter. We must also be prepared to find a new type of physical law prevailing in it. Or are we to term it a non-physical, not to say a super-physical, law?"

"I am born into an environment — I know not whence I came nor whither I go nor who I am. This is my situation as yours, every single one of you. The fact that everyone always was in this same situation, and always will be, tells me nothing. Our burning question as to the whence and whither — all we can ourselves observe about it is the present environment. That is why we are eager to find out about it as much as we can. That is science, learning, knowledge; it is the true source of every spiritual endeavour of man. We try to find out as much as we can about the spatial and temporal surroundings of the place in which we find ourselves put by birth"

"I consider it extremely doubtful whether the happiness of the human race has been enhanced by the technical and industrial developments that followed in the wake of rapidly progressing natural science."

"You may ask — you are bound to ask me now: What, then, is in your opinion the value of natural science? I answer: Its scope, aim and value is the same as that of any other branch of human knowledge. Nay, none of them alone, only the union of all of them, has any scope or value at all, and that is simply enough described: it is to obey the command of the Delphic deity: gnothi seauton... get to know yourself!"

"I insist upon the view that 'all is waves'."

"Knowledge, feeling, and choice are essentially eternal and unchangeable and numerically one in all men, nay in all sensitive beings. But not in this sense — that you are a part, a piece, of an eternal, infinite being, an aspect or modification of it... For we should then have the same baffling question: which part, which aspect are you? what, objectively, differentiates it from the others? No, but, inconceiveable as it seems to ordinary reason, you — and all other conscious beings as such — are all in all. Hence, this life of yours... is, in a certain sense, the whole... This, as we know, is what the Brahmins express in that sacred, mystic formula... 'Tat tvam asi' — this is you. Or, again, in such words as 'I am in the east and in the west, I am below and above, I am this whole world.'"

"Consciousness is never experienced in the plural, only in the singular. Not only has none of us ever experienced more than one consciousness, but there is also no trace of circumstantial evidence of this ever happening anywhere in the world. If I say that there cannot be more than one consciousness in the same mind, this seems a blunt tautology — we are quite unable to imagine the contrary."

"I am very astonished that the scientific picture of the real world around me is deficient. It gives a lot of factual information, puts all our experience in a magnificently consistent order, but it is ghastly silent about all and sundry that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It cannot tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet, physical pain and physical delight; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good or bad, God and eternity. Science sometimes pretends to answer questions in these domains, but the answers are very often so silly that we are not inclined to take them seriously."

"The observing mind is not a physical system, it cannot interact with any physical system. And it might be better to reserve the term "subject" for the observing mind. ... For the subject, if anything, is the thing that senses and thinks. Sensations and thoughts do not belong to the "world of energy.""

"We do not belong to this material world that science constructs for us. We are not in it; we are outside. We are only spectators. The reason why we believe that we are in it, that we belong to the picture, is that our bodies are in the picture. Our bodies belong to it. Not only my own body, but those of my friends, also of my dog and cat and horse, and of all the other people and animals. And this is my only means of communicating with them."

"In particular, and most importantly, this is the reason why the scientific worldview contains of itself no ethical values, no esthetical values, not a word about our own ultimate scope or destination, and no God, if you please. Whence came I and whither go I?"

"The material world has only been constructed at the price of taking the self, that is, mind, out of it, removing it; mind is not part of it."

"Science cannot tell us a word about why music delights us, of why and how an old song can move us to tears."

"There is obviously only one alternative, namely the unification of minds or consciousnesses. Their multiplicity is only apparent, in truth there is only one mind."

"There is no kind of framework within which we can find consciousness in the plural; this is simply something we construct because of the temporal plurality of individuals, but it is a false construction... The only solution to this conflict insofar as any is available to us at all lies in the ancient wisdom of the Upanishad... Vedanta teaches that consciousness is singular, all happenings are played out in one universal consciousness and there is no multiplicity of selves."

"Nature has no reverence towards life. Nature treats life as though it were the most valueless thing in the world.... Nature does not act by purposes."

"Matter and energy seem granular in structure, and so does 'life', but not so mind. "

"From all we have learnt about the structure of living matter, we must be prepared to find it working in a manner that cannot be reduced to the ordinary laws of physics. And that not on the ground that there is any 'new force' or what not, directing the behavior of the single atoms within a living organism, but because the construction is different from anything we have yet tested in the physical laboratory. "

"[A living organism] ... feeds upon negative entropy ... Thus the device by which an organism maintains itself stationary at a fairly high level of orderliness (= fairly low level of entropy) really consists in continually sucking orderliness from its environment. "

"The task is ... not so much to see what no one has yet seen; but to think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees. "

"I shall quite briefly mention here the notorious atheism of science. The theists reproach it for this again and again. Unjustly. A personal God can not be encountered in a world picture that becomes accessible only at the price that everything personal is excluded from it... We know that whenever God is experienced, it is an experience exactly as real as a direct sense impression, as real as one’s own personality. As such He must be missing from the space-time picture. ‘I do not meet with God in space and time’, so says the honest scientific thinker, and for that reason he is reproached by those in whose catechism it is nevertheless stated: ‘God is Spirit’."

"Physical theory in its present stage strongly suggests the indestructibility of Mind in Time."

"Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else."

"The image of the world around us that science provides is highly deficient. It supplies a lot of factual information, and puts all our experience in magnificently coherent order, but keeps terribly silent about everything close to our hearts, everything that really counts for us."

"The present is the only things that has no end."

"In the overwhelming majority of phenomena whose regularity and invariability have led to the formulation of the postulate of causality, the common element underlying the consistency observed - is chance."

"Consciousness is a singular of which the plural is unknown. It is not possible that this unity of knowledge,feelings,and choice which you call your own should have sprung into being from nothingness at a given moment not so long ago;rather,this knowledge,feeling, and choice are essentially eternal and unchangeable and numerically one in all people,nay in all sensitive beings. "

"A careful analysis of the process of observation in atomic physics has shown that the subatomic particles have no meaning as isolated entities, but can only be understood as interconnections between the preparation of an experiment and the subsequent measurement."

"An animal that embarks on forming states without greatly restricting egoism will perish."

"[Plato] was the first to envisage the idea of timeless existence and to emphasize it—against reason—as a reality, more [real] than our actual experience…"

"A living organism... feeds upon negative entropy... Thus the device by which an organism maintains itself stationary at a fairly high level of orderliness (= fairly low level of entropy) really consists in continually sucking orderliness from its environment."

"Conditions are admittedly such that we can always manage to make doing each concrete individual case without the two different aspects leading to different expectations as to the result of certain experiments. We cannot, however, manage to make do with such old, familiar, and seemingly indispensable terms as "real" or "only possible"; we are never in a position to say what really is or what really happens, but we can only say what will be observed in any concrete individual case. Will we have to be permanently satisfied with this...? On principle, yes. On principle, there is nothing new in the postulate that in the end exact science should aim at nothing more than the description of what can really be observed. The question is only whether from now on we shall have to refrain from tying description to a clear hypothesis about the real nature of the world. There are many who wish to pronounce such abdication even today. But I believe that this means making things a little too easy for oneself."

"BohrÂ’s standpoint, that a space-time description is impossible, I reject a limine. Physics does not consist only of atomic research, science does not consist only of physics, and life does not consist only of science. The aim of atomic research is to fit our empirical knowledge concerning it into our other thinking. All of this other thinking, so far as it concerns the outer world, is active in space and time. If it cannot be fitted into space and time, then it fails in its whole aim and one does not know what purpose it really serves."

"Democritus introduces the intellect having an argument with the senses about what is 'real'."

"God knows I am no friend of probability theory, I have hated it from the first moment when our dear friend Max Born gave it birth. For it could be seen how easy and simple it made everything, in principle, everything ironed and the true problems concealed. Everybody must jump on the bandwagon [Ausweg]. And actually not a year passed before it became an official credo, and it still is"

"Every complete set of chromosomes contains the full code; so there are, as a rule, two copies of the latter in the fertilized egg cell, which forms the earliest stage of the future individual. In calling the structure of the chromosome fibres a code-script we mean that the all-penetrating mind, once conceived by Laplace, to which every causal connection lay immediately open, could tell from their structure whether the egg would develop, under suitable conditions, into a black cock or into a speckled hen, into a fly or a maize plant, a rhododendron, a beetle, a mouse or a woman. To which we may add, that the appearances of the egg cells are very often remarkably similar; and even when they are not, as in the case of the comparatively gigantic eggs of birds and reptiles, the difference is not so much in the relevant structures as in the nutritive material which in these cases is added for obvious reasons. But the term code-script is, of course, too narrow. The chromosome structures are at the same time instrumental in bringing about the development they foreshadow. They are law-code and executive power, or, to use another simile, they are architect's plan and builder's craft-in one."

"I belong to those theoreticians who know by direct observation what it means to make a measurement. Methinks it were better if there were more of them."

"I don't like it, and I'm sorry I ever had anything to do with it. [talking about Quantum Physics]"

"For thousands of years men have striven and suffered and begotten and woman have brought forth in pain. A hundred years ago, perhaps, another man sat on this spot; like you he gazed with awe and yearning in his heart at the dying light on the glaciers. Like you he was begotten of man and born of woman. He felt pain and brief joy as you do. Wash someone else? Was it not you yourself? What is this Self of yours? What was the necessary condition for making the thing conceived this time into you, just you and not someone else?"