Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"Reality comes into being only when the mind is still, not made still. Therefore, there must be no disciplining of the mind to be still. When you discipline yourself, it is merely a projected desire to be in a particular state. Such a state is not the state of passivity... Liberation is from moment to moment in the understanding of what is, when the mind is free, not made free. It is only a free mind that can discover, not a mind molded by a belief or shaped according to a hypothesis. Such a mind cannot discover. There can be no freedom is there is conflict, for conflict is the fixing of the self in relationship." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"The shrewd guess, the fertile hypothesis, the courageous leap to a tentative conclusion - these are the most valuable coins of the thinker at work." -

"I have steadily endeavored to keep my mind free so as to give up any hypothesis, however much beloved... as soon as facts are shown to be opposed to it." - Charles Darwin, fully Charles Robert Darwin

"To believe in something not yet proved and to underwrite it with our lives; it is the only way we can leave the future open. Man, surrounded by facts, permitting himself no surprise, no intuitive flash, no great hypothesis, no risk, is in a locked cell. Ignorance cannot seal the mind and imagination more securely." - Lillian Smith, fully Lillian Eugenia Smith

"God outside of us is a hypothesis; God inside of us is an experience." -

"Detachment of doctrine from devotion, detachment of reason from reverence, of scrutiny from the sense of the ineffable reduces God as a challenge to a logical hypothesis… God is relevant only when overwhelmingly urgent." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"The law of duty demands moral perfection or holiness. But this is impossible in our present life, therefore it can only be attained by an indefinite progress, and this progress is only possible under the hypothesis of an existence and a personality that re indefinitely prolonged." - P. A. R. Janet and G. Sèailles

"Creation is not an instantaneous act, but is an eternal process. The immanence of God which follows from this hypothesis is the pledge that evil and error, ugliness and imperfection are not ultimate. Evil has reference to the distance which good has to traverse. Error is the stage on the pathway to truth." - Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, fully Sir or Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

"Belief in the intrinsic unity of knowledge – the reality of the labyrinth – rides ultimately on the hypothesis that every mental process has a physical grounding and is consistent with the natural sciences." -

"If there should be any [persons], who though ignorant in Mathematics, yet pretending a skill in those Learnings, should dare, upon the authority of some place of Scripture wrested to their purpose, to condemn and censure my Hypothesis, I value them not, but shall slight their inconsiderate judgment." - Nicholas Copernicus

"I cannot give any scientist of any age better advice than this: the intensity of conviction that a hypothesis is true has no bearing over whether it is true or not." - Peter Medawar, fully Sir Peter Brian Medawar

"Properly, there is no other knowledge but that which is got by working; the rest is yet all a hypothesis of knowledge; a thing to be argued of in schools; a thing floating in the clouds. endless logic vortices, till we try and fix it." - Thomas Carlyle

"Every science begins as philosophy and ends as art; it arises in hypothesis and flows into achievement. " - Will Durant, fully William James "Will" Durant

"The world would be consistent without God; it would also be consistent with God; whichever hypothesis a man adopts will fit experience equally well." - William Ernest Hocking

"A fact is a simple statement that everyone believes. It is innocent, unless found guilty. A hypothesis is a novel suggestion that no one wants to believe. It is guilty, until found effective. " - Edward Teller

"One must credit an hypothesis with all that has had to be discovered in order to demolish it. " - Jean Rostand

"The man of science who cannot formulate a hypothesis is only an accountant of phenomena. " - Pierre Lecomte du Noüy

"To find the point where hypothesis and fact meet; the delicate equilibrium between dream and reality; the place where fantasy and earthly things are metamorphosed into a work of art; the hour when faith in the future becomes knowledge of the past; to lay down one's power for others in need; to shake off the old ordeal and get ready for the new; to question, knowing that never can the full answer be found; to accept uncertainties quietly, even our incomplete knowledge of God; this is what man's journey is about, I think." - Lillian Smith, fully Lillian Eugenia Smith

"If far-reaching discoveries regarding the nature of matter and energy and the laws which govern the Universe have been made and worked on by civilizations that have disappeared, and if some of them have been preserved throughout the ages (which is by no means certain) this could only have been done by people of superior intelligence and in a language necessarily incomprehensible to the ordinary man. If, however, we reject this hypothesis we can nevertheless imagine, from one age to another, a succession of beings of exceptional gifts able to communicate with one another. Such beings are well aware that it is not in their interests to display their powers openly." - Louis Pauwels

"The quantum hypothesis will eventually find its exact expression in certain equations which will be a more exact formulation of the law of causality. " - Max Planck, fully Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck

"It's my hypothesis that the individual is not a pre-given entity which is seized on by the exercise of power. The individual, with his identity and characteristics, is the product of a relation of power exercised over bodies, multiplicities, movements, desires, forces." - Michel Foucault

"In both social and natural sciences, the body of positive knowledge grows by the failure of a tentative hypothesis to predict phenomena the hypothesis professes to explain; by the patching up of that hypothesis until someone suggests a new hypothesis that more elegantly or simply embodies the troublesome phenomena, and so on ad infinitum. In both, experiment is sometimes possible, sometimes not (witness meteorology). In both, no experiment is ever completely controlled, and experience often offers evidence that is the equivalent of controlled experiment. In both, there is no way to have a self-contained closed system or to avoid interaction between the observer and the observed. The Gödel theorem in mathematics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle in physics, the self-fulfilling or self-defeating prophecy in the social sciences all exemplify these limitations. " - Milton Friedman, fully John Milton Friedman

"Creationists sometimes claim that scientists have a vested interest in the concept of biological evolution and are unwilling to consider other possibilities. But this claim, too, misrepresents science. Scientists continually test their ideas against observations and submit their work to their colleagues for critical peer review of ideas, evidence, and conclusions before a scientific paper is published in any respected scientific journal. Unexplained observations are eagerly pursued because they can be signs of important new science or problems with an existing hypothesis or theory. History is replete with scientists challenging accepted theory by offering new evidence and more comprehensive explanations to account for natural phenomena. Also, science has a competitive element as well as a cooperative one. If one scientist clings to particular ideas despite evidence to the contrary, another scientist will attempt to replicate relevant experiments and will not hesitate to publish conflicting evidence. If there were serious problems in evolutionary science, many scientists would be eager to win fame by being the first to provide a better testable alternative. That there are no viable alternatives to evolution in the scientific literature is not because of vested interests or censorship but because evolution has been and continues to be solidly supported by evidence." - National Academy of Sciences NULL

"There Is No God. This negation must be understood solely to affect a creative Deity. The hypothesis of a pervading Spirit co-eternal with the universe remains unshaken." - Percy Bysshe Shelley

"It is a common failing–and one that I have myself suffered from–to fall in love with a hypothesis and to be unwilling to take no for an answer. A love affair with a pet hypothesis can waste years of precious time. There is very often no finally decisive yes, though quite often there can be a decisive no. " - Peter Medawar, fully Sir Peter Brian Medawar

"There is nothing distinctively scientific about the hypothetico-deductive process. It is not even distinctively intellectual. It is merely a scientific context for a much more general stratagem that underlies almost all regulative processes or processes of continuous control, namely feedback, the control of performance by the consequences of the act performed. In the hypothetico-deductive scheme the inferences we draw from a hypothesis are, in a sense, its logical output. If they are true, the hypothesis need not be altered, but correction is obligatory if they are false. The continuous feedback from inference to hypothesis is implicit in Whewell's account of scientific method; he would not have dissented from the view that scientific behaviour can be classified as appropriately under cybernetics as under logic. " - Peter Medawar, fully Sir Peter Brian Medawar

"Before entering upon the subject-matter of these new memoirs, I must explain an hypothesis which will undoubtedly seem strange, but in the absence of which it is impossible for me to proceed intelligibly: I mean the hypothesis of a God." - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

"Tormented by conflicting feelings, I appealed to reason; and it is reason which, amid so many dogmatic contradictions, now forces the hypothesis upon me. A priori dogmatism, applying itself to God, has proved fruitless: who knows whither the hypothesis, in its turn, will lead us?" - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

"Even facts become fictions without adequate ways of seeing the facts. We do not need theories so much as the experience that is the source of the theory. We are not satisfied with faith, in the sense of an implausible hypothesis irrationally held: we demand to experience the evidence." - R. D. Laing, fully Ronald David Laing

"Either admit that God is a scientific hypothesis and let him submit to the same judgment as any other scientific hypothesis. Or admit that his status is no higher than that of fairies and river sprites." - Richard Dawkins

"It really comes down to parsimony, economy of explanation. It is possible that your car engine is driven by psychokinetic energy, but if it looks like a petrol engine, smells like a petrol engine and performs exactly as well as a petrol engine, the sensible working hypothesis is that it is a petrol engine. Telepathy and possession by the spirits of the dead are not ruled out as a matter of principle. There is certainly nothing impossible about abduction by aliens in UFOs. One day it may be happen. But on grounds of probability it should be kept as an explanation of last resort. It is unparsimonious, demanding more than routinely weak evidence before we should believe it. If you hear hooves clip-clopping down a London street, it could be a zebra or even a unicorn, but, before we assume that it's anything other than a horse, we should demand a certain minimal standard of evidence." - Richard Dawkins

"Science offers us an explanation of how complexity (the difficult) arose out of simplicity (the easy). The hypothesis of God offers no worthwhile explanation for anything, for it simply postulates what we are trying to explain. It postulates the difficult to explain, and leaves it at that. We cannot prove that there is no God, but we can safely conclude the He is very, very improbable indeed." - Richard Dawkins

"If, in some cataclysm, all scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generation of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is the atomic hypothesis (or atomic fact, or whatever you wish to call it) that all things are made of atoms - little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another. In that one sentence you will see an enormous amount of information about the world, if just a little imagination and thinking are applied." - Richard Feynman, fully Richard Phillips Feynman

"It always bothers me that according to the laws as we understand them today, it takes a computing machine an infinite number of logical operations to figure out what goes on in no matter how tiny a region of space and no matter how tiny a region of time ... I have often made the hypothesis that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement, that in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple. ... But this speculation is of the same nature as those other people make - 'I like it', 'I don't like it' - and it is not good to be too prejudiced about these things." - Richard Feynman, fully Richard Phillips Feynman

"The Requisites of a good Hypothesis are: That It be Intelligible. That It neither Assume nor Suppose anything Impossible, unintelligible, or demonstrably False. That It be consistent with Itself. That It be lit and sufficient to Explicate the Phaenomena, especially the chief. That It be, at least, consistent, with the rest of the Phaenomena It particularly relates to, and do not contradict any other known Phaenomena of nature, or manifest Physical Truth. The Qualities and Conditions of an Excellent Hypothesis are: That It be not Precarious, but have sufficient Grounds In the nature of the Thing Itself or at least be well recommended by some Auxiliary Proofs. That It be the Simplest of all the good ones we are able to frame, at least containing nothing that is superfluous or Impertinent. That It be the only Hypothesis that can Explicate the Phaenomena; or at least, that do's Explicate them so well. That it enable a skilful Naturailst to foretell future Phaenomena by the Congruity or Incongruity to it; and especially the event of such Experlm'ts as are aptly devis'd to examine It, as Things that ought, or ought not, to be consequent to It." - Robert Boyle

"To reestablish peace and harmony on earth... and to bring the glory of God back to earth, is proclaimed on every page of the Word of God as the result and aim of Torah." - Samson Raphael Hirsch

"Nonetheless, it still remains true that as a set of cognitive beliefs, religious doctrines constitute a speculative hypothesis of an extremely low order of probability." - Sidney Hook

"Philosophy, most broadly viewed, is the critical survey of existence from the standpoint of value." - Sidney Hook

"By abolishing private property one takes away the human love of aggression." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"I respect Kirkpatrick both for his sponges and for his numinous nummulosphere. It is easy to dismiss a crazy theory with laughter that debars any attempt to understand a man's motivation—and the nummulosphere is a crazy theory. I find that few men of imagination are not worth my attention. Their ideas may be wrong, even foolish, but their methods often repay a close study. […] The different drummer often beats a fruitful tempo." - Stephan Jay Gould

"The telephone is the greatest single enemy of scholarship; for what our intellectual forebears used to inscribe in ink now goes once over a wire into permanent oblivion." - Stephan Jay Gould

"The miser, starving his brother's body, starves also his own soul, and at death shall creep out of his great estate of injustice, poor and naked and miserable." - Theodore Parker

"His parentage was obscure; his condition poor; his education null; his natural endowments great; his life correct and innocent: he was meek, benevolent, patient, firm, disinterested, and of the sublimest eloquence. The disadvantages under which his doctrines appear are remarkable. Like Socrates and Epictetus, he wrote nothing himself." - Thomas Jefferson

"When it is faithful to Jesus, the church will see the hegemonic economic political-military-ideological force of the U.S. empire as destructive and eventually lethal." - Walter Brueggemann

"Nothing, indeed, could be more unlike the tone of the [Patristic] Fathers, than the cold, passionless, and prudential theology of the eighteenth century; a theology which regarded Christianity as an admirable auxiliary to the police force, and a principle of decorum and of cohesion in society, but which carefully banished from it all enthusiasm, veiled or attenuated all its mysteries, and virtually reduced it to an authoritative system of moral philosophy." - W. E. H. Lecky, fully William Edward Hartpole Lecky

"The best government is a benevolent tyranny tempered by an occasional assassination." - Voltaire, pen name of François-Marie Arouet NULL

"It takes time for a fruit to mature and acquire sweetness and become eatable; time is a prime factor for most good fortunes." - Atharva Veda, or Atharvaveda

"When a man has his heart in the right place and good taste, he can not only do well in politics but is even predetermined for it. If someone is modest and does not yearn for power, he is certainly not ill-equipped to engage in politics; on the contrary, he belongs there. What is needed in politics is not the ability to lie but rather the sensibility to know when, where, how and to whom to say things." - Václav Havel

"To view attention as a special state of intelligence, and to distinguish it from consciousness, is utterly inept." - William Hamilton, fully Sir William Hamilton, 9th Baronet

"I am against bigness and greatness in all their forms, and with the invisible molecular moral forces that work from individual to individual, stealing in through the crannies of the world like so many soft rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, and yet rending the hardest monuments of mans pride, if you give them time. The bigger the unit you deal with, the hollower, the more brutal, the more mendacious is the life displayed. So I am against all big organizations as such, national ones first and foremost; against all big successes and big results; and in favor of the eternal forces of truth which always work in the individual and immediately unsuccessful way, under-dogs always, till history comes, after they are long dead, and puts them on top. You need take no notice of these ebullitions of spleen, which are probably quite unintelligible to anyone but myself." - William James