Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Albert Einstein

German-born American Physicist, Humanitarian, Philosopher

"If they want to see me, I'm here. If they want to see my clothes, open my closet and show them. "

"If tomorrow were never to come, it would not be worth living today. "

"If we consider that part of the theory of relativity which may nowadays in a sense be regarded as bone fide scientific knowledge, we note two aspects which have a major bearing on this theory. The whole development of the theory turns on the question of whether there are physically preferred states of motion in Nature (physical relativity problem). Also, concepts and distinctions are only admissible to the extent that observable facts can be assigned to them without ambiguity (stipulation that concepts and distinctions should have meaning). This postulate, pertaining to epistemology, proves to be of fundamental importance."

"If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?"

"If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over? "

"If you want to find out anything from the theoretical physicists about the methods they use, I advise you to stick closely to one principle: don't listen to their words, fix your attention on their deeds. To him who is a discoverer in this field the products of his imagination appear so necessary and natural that he regards them, and would like to have them regarded by others, not as creations of thought but as given realities."

"If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or objects."

"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales. When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking. "

"I'm constantly thinking for many months and months and years, ninety-nine times and the conclusion is wrong. For the hundredth I'm right. "

"I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see a universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws, but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations. "

"Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions."

"Imagination is the highest form of research. "

"In essence, the conflict that exists today is no more than an old-style struggle for power, once again presented to mankind in semi religious trappings. The difference is that, this time, the development of atomic power has imbued the struggle with a ghostly character; for both parties know and admit that, should the quarrel deteriorate into actual war, mankind is doomed. Despite this knowledge, statesmen in responsible positions on both sides continue to employ the well-known technique of seeking to intimidate and demoralize the opponent by marshaling superior military strength. They do so even though such a policy entails the risk of war and doom. Not one statesman in a position of responsibility has dared to pursue the only course that holds out any promise of peace, the course of supranational security, since for a statesman to follow such a course would be tantamount to political suicide. Political passions, once they have been fanned into flame, exact their victims… [These were his last words]"

"In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this religious feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it. "

"In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep."

"In quitting this strange world he has once again preceded me by just a little. That doesn't mean anything. For us convinced physicists, the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, albeit a persistent one. "

"In scientific thinking are always present elements of poetry. Science and music requires a thought homogeneous. "

"In the beginning (if there was such a thing), God created Newton's laws of motion together with the necessary masses and forces. This is all; everything beyond this follows from the development of appropriate mathematical methods by means of deduction."

"In the matter of physics, the first lessons should contain nothing but what is experimental and interesting to see. A pretty experiment is in itself often more valuable than twenty formulae extracted from our minds. "

"In the temple of science are many mansions, and various indeed are they that dwell therein and the motives that have led them thither. Many take to science out of a joyful sense of superior intellectual power; science is their own special sport to which they look for vivid experience and the satisfaction of ambition; many others are to be found in the temple who have offered the products of their brains on this altar for purely utilitarian purposes. Were an angel of the Lord to come and drive all the people belonging to these two categories out of the temple, the assemblage would be seriously depleted, but there would still be some men, of both present and past times, left inside. Our Planck is one of them, and that is why we love him."

"In the view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support of such views. "

"Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death."

"Intelligence is not the ability to store information, but to know where to find it. "

"Is it not better for a man to die for a cause in which he believes, such as peace, than to suffer for a cause in which he does not believe, such as war? "

"Is there not a certain satisfaction in the fact that natural limits are set to the life of the individual, so that at its conclusion it may appear as a work of art."

"It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience."

"It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubbornness of an incorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed."

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity. "

"It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty. To the contrary, I believe it would be possible to rob even a healthy beast of prey of its voraciousness, if it were possible, with the aid of a whip, to force the beast to devour continuously, even when not hungry. "

"It is better to believe than to disbelieve; in doing you bring everything to the realm of possibility. "

"It is certainly true that principles cannot be more securely founded than on experience and consciously clear thinking."

"It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil spirit of man. "

"It is harder to crack prejudice than an atom. "

"It is humankind's duty to respect all life, not only animals have feelings but even also trees and plants. "

"It is important to foster individuality, for only the individual can produce the new ideas. "

"It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder."

"It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living, by its purely physical effect on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind. "

"It is not by sitting still at a grand distance and calling the human race larvae that men are to be helped. "

"It is not enough that you should understand about applied science in order that your work may increase man's blessings. Concern for man himself and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavors... in order that the creations of our minds shall be a blessing and not a curse to mankind. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations."

"It is not that I'm so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer. "

"It is not the fruits of scientific research that elevate man and enrich his nature, but the urge to understand, the intellectual work, creative or receptive."

"It is open to every man to choose the direction of his striving; and also every man may draw comfort from Lessing's fine saying, that the search for truth is more precious than its possession."

"It is our American habit if we find the foundations of our educational structure unsatisfactory to add another story or wing. "

"It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely."

"It is the duty of every citizen according to his best capacities to give validity to his convictions in political affairs."

"It is the theory which decides what we can observe."

"It is this mythical, or rather symbolic, content of the religious traditions which is likely to come into conflict with science. This occurs whenever this religious stock of ideas contains dogmatically fixed statements on subjects which belong in the domain of science. "

"It is very difficult to explain this feeling to anyone who is entirely without it, especially as there is no anthropomorphic conception of God corresponding to it. The individual feels the nothingness of human desires and aims and the sublimity and marvelous order which reveal themselves both in Nature and in the world of though. He looks upon individual existence as a sort of prison and wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole. "

"It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom. Without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail. "

"It must be conceded that a theory has an important advantage if its basic concepts and fundamental hypotheses are 'close to experience,' and greater confidence in such a theory is certainly justified. There is less danger of going completely astray, particularly since it takes so much less time and effort to disprove such theories by experience. Yet more and more, as the depth of our knowledge increases, we must give up this advantage in our quest for logical simplicity in the foundations of physical theory."