Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Albert Einstein

German-born American Physicist, Humanitarian, Philosopher

"One should guard against preaching to young people success in the customary form as the main aim in life. The most important motive for work in school and in life is pleasure in work, pleasure in its result, and the knowledge of the value of the result to the community."

"Our task must be to free ourselves...by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty."

"People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubborn, persistent illusion."

"Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking."

"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."

"Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means."

"Small is the number of them that see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts."

"Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value."

"Take care not to make the intellect our god; it has powerful muscles but no personality."

"The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits."

"The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. We will not solve the problems of the world from the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. More than anything else, this new century demands new thinking: We must change our materially based analyses of the world around us to include broader, more multidimensional perspectives. "

"The most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is good as dead."

"The most important human endeavor is the striving for morality in our actions. Our inner balance and even our very existence depend on it. Only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity to life."

"The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once."

"The only source of knowledge is experience."

"The only sure way to avoid making mistakes is to have no new ideas."

"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education."

"The pioneers of a warless world are the [youth] who refuse military service."

"The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives."

"The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking... the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker."

"The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one."

"The right to search for the truth implies also a duty; one must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be the truth."

"The search for truth is more precious than its possession."

"The trite objects of human efforts--possessions, outward success, luxury--have always seemed to me contemptible."

"The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not what he is able to receive."

"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing."

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is. I believe in the latter."

"This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career."

"Time and again, the passion for understanding has led to the illusion that man is able to comprehend the objective world rationally, by pure thought, without any empirical foundations - in short, by metaphysics."

"To me the worst thing seems to be a school principally to work with methods of fear, force and artificial authority. Such treatment destroys the sound sentiments, the sincerity and the self-confidence of pupils and produces a subservient subject."

"True religion is real living; living with all one's soul, with all one's goodness and righteousness."

"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth."

"We have to do the best we can. This is our sacred human responsibility."

"Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character."

"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 prefer to make up my own quotes and attribute them to very smart people, so that I can use them to win arguments. "

"Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it."

"You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created."

"You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war."

"A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it "

"A finely tempered nature longs to escape from the personal life into the world of objective perception and thought. "

"A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth. "

"A friend is someone who knows the melody of your heart, and she plays to you if you forget it. "

"A happy man is too satisfied with the present to dwell too much on the future."

"A life directed chiefly toward the fulfillment of personal desires will sooner or later always lead to bitter disappointment."

"A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depends on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the measure as I have received and am still receiving."

"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot. "

"A man's actions are determined by necessity, external and internal. "

"A new idea comes suddenly and in a rather intuitive way. But intuition is nothing but the outcome of earlier intellectual experience."