Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Inquiry

"Scientific principles and laws do not lie on the surface of nature. They are hidden, and must be wrested from nature by an active, and elaborate technique of inquiry... Pure reasoning as a means of arriving at truth is like the spider who spins a web out of himself. The web is orderly and elaborate, but is s only a trap." - John Dewey

"We should not be too hasty in bestowing either our praise or censure on mankind, since we shall often find such a mixture of good and evil in the same character, that it may require a very accurate judgment and a very elaborate inquiry to determine on which side the balance turns." - Henry Fielding

"Nominally a great age of scientific inquiry, ours has actually become an age of superstition about the infallibility of science; of almost mystical faith in its nonmystical methods; above all... of external verities; of traffic-cop morality and rabbit-test truth." - Louis Kronenberger

"Anyone who wants to be cured of ignorance must confess it... Wonder is the foundation of all philosophy, inquiry its progress, ignorance its end." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"Inquiry is a duty, and error in research is not a sin." - Benjamin ben Moses, or Benjamin Nahawandi or Benyamin ben Moshe al-Nahawendi

"It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry." - Thomas Paine

"Reason itself... demands that we recognize the limited place of the virtues of cognition, inquiry, and the cerebral side of life. An adequate account of rationality must rightly stress its importance and primacy while recognizing that the intellectual virtues are only limited components of the good life." - Nicholas Rescher

"As one may bring himself to believe almost anything he is inclined to believe, it makes all the difference whether we begin or end with the inquiry, "What is truth?"" - Richard Whately

"All calm inquiry conducted among those who have their main principles of judgment in common, leads, if not to an approximation of views, yet, at least, to an increase of sympathy." - Thomas Arnold, aka Thomas "Tom" Arnold the Younger

"Doubt is an incentive to search for truth, and patient inquiry leads the way to it." - Kenneth Eldon Bailey

"Free inquiry, if restrained within due bounds, and applied to proper subjects, is a most important privilege of the human mind; and if well conducted, is one of the greatest friends to truth. But when reason knows neither its office nor its limits, and when employed on subjects foreign to its jurisdiction, it then becomes a privilege dangerous to be exercised." - Jean-Henri Merle d'Aubigné

"It is in fact nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curious of inquiry. 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." - Albert Einstein

"To regard teachers - in our entire educational system from the primary grades to the university - as priests of our democracy is therefore not to indulge in hyperbole. It is the special task of teachers to foster those habits of open-mindedness and critical inquiry which alone make for responsible citizens, who in turn, make possible an enlightened and effective public opinion." - Felix Frankfurter

"No man’s conscience can tell him the rights of another man; they; must be known by rational investigation or historical inquiry." -

"Wonder is the foundation of all philosophy, inquiry the progress, ignorance the end... It's a sign of contraction of the mind when it is content or of weariness." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"Inquiry is human; blind obedience brutal. Truth never loses by the one but often suffers by the other... O God, help us not to despise or oppose what we do not understand." - William Penn

"Disagreement is refreshing when two men lovingly desire to compare their view to find out truth. Controversy is wretched when it is only an attempt to prove another wrong. Religious controversy does only harm. It destroys humble inquiry after truth, and throws all the energies into an attempt to prove ourselves right - a spirit in which no man gets at truth." -

"Truth should be the first lesson of the child and the last aspiration of manhood; for it has been well said that the inquiry of truth, which is the love-making of it, the knowledge of truth, which is the presence of it, and the belief of truth, which is the enjoying of it, is the sovereign good of human nature." - John Greenleaf Whittier

"In fact we say that an intention is good, that is, right in itself, but that an action does not bear any good in itself but proceeds from a good intention. Whence when the same thing is done by the same man at different times, by the diversity of his intention, however, his action is now said to be good, now bad." - Peter Abelard, Latin: Petrus Abaelardus or Abailard; French: Pierre Abélard

"To approach the living question with the mind alone is impossible. The intellect must be coupled with feeling in order to stir a person to authentic inquiry. Real philosophy recognizes that ideas have sensations and emotions connected with them, and that one responds to them with the whole of oneself." - Jacob Needleman

"The fact that religions can be so shamelessly dishonest, so contemptuous of the intelligence of their adherents, and still flourish does not speak very well for the tough-mindedness of the believers. But it does not indicate, if a demonstration were needed, that near the core of the religious experience is something remarkably resistant to rational inquiry." - Carl Sagan

"In every step of the inquiry we are compelled to feel and acknowledge the immeasurable disproportion between the size of the object and the capacity of the human mind. We may strive to abstract the notions of time, of space, and of matter, which so closely adhere to all the perceptions of our experimental knowledge. But as soon as we presume to reason of infinite substance, of spiritual generation, as often as we deduce any positive conclusions from a negative idea, we are involved in darkness, perplexity, and inevitable contradiction." - Edward Gibbon

"There are three parts in truth: first, the inquiry, which is the wooing of it; secondly, the knowledge of it, which is the presence of it; and thirdly, the brief, which is the enjoyment of it." - Francis Bacon

"Mindful inquiry can heal low self-esteem, for the simple reason that a low self-estimation is really a wrong calculation, a misperception of reality." - Jon Kabat-Zinn

"The spirit of inquiry is fundamental to living mindfully... Inquiry doesn’t mean looking for answers, especially quick answers which come out of superficial thinking. It means asking without expecting answers, just pondering the question, carrying the wondering with you." - Jon Kabat-Zinn

"Instead of encouraging the student to devote himself to his studies for the sake of studying, instead of encouraging in him a real love for his subject and for inquiry, he is encouraged to study for the sake of his personal career; he is led to acquire only such knowledge as is serviceable in getting him over the hurdles which he must clear for the sake of his advancement." - Karl Popper, fully Sir Karl Raimund Popper

"Even if the Universe existed for man’s sake and man existed for the purpose of serving God, one must still ask: What is the end of serving God? He does not become more perfect if all His creatures serve Him. Nor would he lose anything if nothing existed beside Him. It might perhaps be replied that the service of God is not intended for God’s perfection, but for our own. Then, however, the question arises: What is the object of our being perfect? Pressing the inquiry as to the purpose of Creation, we must at last arrive at the answer: it was the will of God. Logic as well as tradition prove clearly that the Universe does not exist for man’s sake, but that all things in it exist each for its own sake." - Maimonides, given name Moses ben Maimon or Moshe ben Maimon, known as "Rambam" NULL

"The data from indigenous science are not used to control the forces of nature; instead, the data tell us ways and means of accommodating nature... The purpose of indigenous science is to maintain balance... Indigenous science is holistic, drawing on all senses including the spiritual and psychic realm. Indigenous science collapses time ands space, with the result that our fields of participation and inquiry extend into and overlap with past and present." - Apela Colorado, aka Pamela Colorado

"It is by losing himself in the objective, in inquiry, creation, and craft, that a man becomes something." - Paul Goodman

"Addictive spirituality creates dependence in the practitioner (frequently to authoritarian leaders and their communities), an avoidance of personal responsibility, and loss of individuality through social controls, such as fear, guilt, or greed for power or bliss. It also tends to suppress rational inquiry into the teachings. Healthy spirituality, on the other hand, supports the practitioner's freedom, autonomy, self-esteem, and social responsibility. It is based on experience, rather than belief or dogma; it does not create idols out of spiritual teachers; and it empowers students by emphasizing democratic forms of learning and teaching, rather than the authoritarian model that has dominated spiritual life for millennia." - Ronald S. Miller

"A wise man's question is half the answer... Inquiry is man's finest quality." - Salomon ibn Gabirol, aka Solomon ben Judah or Avicebron

"All calm inquiry conducted among those who have their main principles of judgment in common, leads, if not to an approximation of views, yet, at least, to an increase of sympathy." - Thomas Arnold

"A subtle thought that is in error may yet give rise to fruitful inquiry that can establish truths of great value. " - Isaac Asimov, born Isaak Yudovich Ozimov

"For the total development of the human being, solitude as a means of cultivating sensitivity becomes a necessity. One has to know what it means to be alone, what it is to meditate, what it is to die; and the implications of solitude, of meditation, of death, can be known only by seeking them out. These implications cannot be taught, they must be learnt. One can indicate, but learning by what is indicated is not the experiencing of solitude or meditation. To experience what is solitude and what is meditation, one must be in in a state of inquiry; only a mind that is in a state of inquiry is capable of learning. But when inquiry is suppressed by previous knowledge, or by the authority and experience of another, then learning becomes mere imitation, and imitation causes a human being to repeat what is learnt without experiencing it." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"Faith in the possibilities of continued and rigorous inquiry does not limit access to truth to any channel or scheme of things. It does not first say that truth is universal and then add there is but one road to it." - John Dewey

"Seeking is a necessary preliminary to finding, and one who cannot endure the hardship of inquiry cannot expect to harvest the fruit of knowledge." - John of Salisbury NULL

"An immense field for inquiry is opened once the organic ties of social orientation are followed up into muscle, nerve and skeleton. Not only individual development or abnormality can be followed through the soma but ever wider cultural and racial attitude development." - Moshé Feldenkreis, fully Moshé Pinchas Feldenkrais

"Down the millennia of its existence, Hinduism has made a priceless contribution to the collective religious life of mankind through the remarkable findings of her many brilliant mystics and philosophers, as set forth in a voluminous literature. Perhaps, however, her most significant contribution to the universal body of religious inquiry is the persistent, unshakable belief that union with the Divine is attainable while one is still on earth. Moreover, any man in India is at liberty to pursue salvation after his own fashion with no danger of finding himself at some point branded as heretic. Indeed, heresy in Hinduism is virtually impossible, for as the authoritative Upanishads firmly state: “Reality of One though sages call it by different names." - Nancy Wilson Ross

"The inquiry method is motivated by Postman and Weingartner's recognition that good learners and sound reasoners center their attention and activity on the dynamic process of inquiry itself, not merely on the end product of static knowledge. They write that certain characteristics are common to all good learners saying that all good learners have: Self-confidence in their learning ability - Pleasure in problem solving - A keen sense of relevance - Reliance on their own judgment over other people's or society's - No fear of being wrong - No haste in answering - Flexibility in point of view - Respect for facts, and the ability to distinguish between fact and opinion - No need for final answers to all questions, and comfort in not knowing an answer to difficult questions rather than settling for a simplistic answer." - Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner

"In an attempt to instill students with these qualities and behaviors, a teacher adhering to the inquiry method in pedagogy must behave very differently from a traditional teacher. Postman and Weingartner suggest that inquiry teachers have the following characteristics : They avoid telling students what they "ought to know". They talk to students mostly by questioning, and especially by asking divergent questions. They do not accept short, simple answers to questions. They encourage students to interact directly with one another, and avoid judging what is said in student interactions. They do not summarize students' discussion. They do not plan the exact direction of their lessons in advance, and allow it to develop in response to students' interests. Their lessons pose problems to students. They gauge their success by change in students' inquiry behaviors (with the above characteristics of "good learners" as a goal)." - Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner

"Any situation in which some men prevent others from engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence… to alienate humans from their own decision making is to change them into objects. " - Paulo Freire

"For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other. " - Paulo Freire

"Any situation in which some individuals prevent others from engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence. The means used are not important; to alienate human beings from their own decision-making is to change them into objects." - Paulo Freire

"The sciences of observation and experiment are alike in this, that their aim is to detect the constant or recurring features in all events of a certain kind. A meteorologist studies one cyclone in order to compare it with others ; and by studying a number of them he hopes to find out what features in them are constant, that is, to find out what cyclones as such are like. But the historian has no such aim. If you find him on a certain occasion studying the Hundred Years War or the Revolution of 1688, you cannot infer that he is in the preliminary stages of an inquiry whose ultimate aim is to reach conclusions about wars or revolutions as such. If he is in the preliminary stages of any inquiry, it is more likely to be a general study of the Middle Ages or the seventeenth century. This is because the sciences of observation and experiment are organized in one way and history is organized in another. In the organization of meteorology, the ulterior value of what has been observed about one cyclone is conditioned by its relation to what has been observed about other cyclones. In the organization of history, the ulterior value of what is known about the Hundred Years War is conditioned, not by its relation to what is known about other wars, but by its relation to what is known about other things that people did in the Middle Ages." - R. G. Collingwood, fully Robert George Collingwood

"A university's essential character is that of being a center of free inquiry and criticism " - Richard Hofstadter

"As we have seen, an adaptive challenge consists of a gap between the shared values people hold and the reality of their lives, or of a conflict among people in a community over values or strategy. 1. What’s causing the distress? 2. What internal contradictions does the distress represent? 3. What are the histories of these contradictions? 4. What perspectives and interests have I and others come to represent to various segments of the community that are now in conflict? 5. In what ways are we in the organization or working group mirroring the problem dynamics in the community?" - Ronald A. Heifetz

"I should like to like Schumann’s music better than I do; I dare say I could make myself like it better if I tried; but I do not like having to try to make myself like things; I like things that make me like them at once and no trying at all." - Samuel Butler

"Where grief is fresh, any attempt to divert it only irritates." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"Like the bee, gathering honey from different flowers, the wise man accepts the essence of different scriptures and sees only the good in all religions." - Shrimad Bhagavatam, or the Bhâgavata Purâna, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, or Bhāgavata NULL

"Carrie felt this as a personal reproof. She read Dora Thorne, or had a great deal in the past. It seemed only fair to her, but she supposed that people thought it very fine. Now this clear- eyed, fine-headed youth, who looked something like a student to her, made fun of it. It was poor to him, not worth reading. She looked down, and for the first time felt the pain of not understanding." - Theodore Dreiser, fully Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser