Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"What is called affluence - the consequence of the type of rapid economic development which occurred from about the middle of the nineteenth century - is in a real sense an abundance not just of serious problems which machines cannot solve, but of hopeless poverty: the physical insecurity, personal unhappiness, the intensified morality, the sense of being dwarfed by vast and uncontrollable physical, mechanical and corporate structures, the hatred and contempt of other peoples, the lack of opportunity for contemplation, the loss of community life." - Charles Richard Hensman

"The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do." -

"Machines are beneficial to the degree that they eliminate the need for labor, harmful to the degree that they eliminate the need for skill." - W. H. Auden, fully Wystan Hugh Auden

"In all human activities, it is not ideas or machines that dominate; it is people. I have heard people speak of “the effect of personality on science.” But this is a backward thought. Rather, we should talk about he effect of science on personalities. Science is not the dispassionate analysis of impartial data. It is the human, and thus passionate, exercise of skill and sense on such date. Science is not an exercise in objectivity, but, more accurately, an exercise in which objectivity is prized." - Philip J. Hilts, fully Philip James Hilts

"“The last word” is the most dangerous of internal machines; and husband and wife should no more fight to get it than they would struggle for the possession of a lighted bombshell." -

"[Paraphrase from “Brain and Mind” article] “Local” healing reflects information from subtle bioenergy fields. By contrast, healing that appears non-local in space and time may be mediated by “information associated with conscious intention”... In electromagnetic healing... the living human organism contains many highly sensitive natural oscillators that join to form a collective “biofield.” This field is “a collective property of the organism and cannot be reduced to biomolecular events.” In this case, information is transmitted by external fields of similar frequency, with healing occurring through a “tuning” effect... “Information is about relationship and exists only in relationship.” Therefore, information grounded in love - “the highest-quality relationship” - may produce healing by overcoming information originated from the more mechanical levels of physical organization... “For science and medicine to embrace life’s full capacity and the full human potential we need to go beyond mechanical concepts that were developed for machines.”" - Beverly Rubik

"The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do." -

"There may be enough poetry in the whir of our machines so that our machine age will become immortal." - Owen D. Young

"Are we all just “dancing to the DNA”… or are human beings more than amoral biochemical machines?" - Joe Boot

"Most of the dangerous aspects of technological civilization arise, not from its complexities, but from the fact that modern man has become more interested in the machines and industrial goods themselves than in their use to human ends." - René Dubos, fully René Jules Dubos

"The greatest task before civilization at present is to make machines what they ought to be, the slaves, instead of the masters of men." - Havelock Ellis, fully Henry Havelock Ellis

"Words can become idols, and machines can become idols; leaders, the state, power, and political groups may also serve. Science and the opinion of one’s neighbors can become idols, and God has become an idol for many." - Erich Fromm, fully Erich Seligmann Fromm

"Darwin’s and Huxley’s picture of man’s place in the universe prepared the way for the Holocaust… Darwin the scientist directly inspired Nietzsche’s superman theory and the Nazi corollary that some people were subhuman… People have to learn to stop thinking of other people as machines and learn to think of them as men and women possessed of souls… History doesn’t need another one hundred million deaths to prove that scientific atheism is a form of mental illness." - John Koster

"As nearly as I can see, all the new isms – Socialism, Communism, Fascism, and especially the late but not lamented Technocracy – outdo even Capitalism itself in their preoccupation with one thing: The distribution of more machine-made commodities to more people. They all proceed on the theory that if we can all keep warm and full, and all own a Ford and a radio, the good life will follow. Their programs differ only in ways to mobilize machines to this end. Though they despise each other, they are all, respect of this objective, as identically alike as peas in a pod. They are competitive apostles of a single creed: salvation by machinery." - Aldo Leopold

"It is… a clear sign of modern man’s profound degradation that the idea of annihilating his precious machines, his adored machines, is so shocking to him, whereas he considers with such coldness the massacre of millions of people by the same machines." - Georges Bernanos

"The time that one gains cannot be accumulated in a storehouse; it is contradictory to want to save up existence, which, the fact is, exists only by being spent and there is a good case for showing that airplanes, machines, the telephone, and the radio do not make men of today happier than those of former times." - Simone de Beauvoir, fully Simone-Ernestine-Lucie-Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir

"The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do." - B. F. Skinner, fully Burrhus Frederic "B.F." Skinner

"“The last word” is the most dangerous of internal machines; and husband and wife should no more fight to get it than they would struggle for the possession of a lighted bombshell." - Douglas William Jerrold

"In the development of both capitalism and communism, as we visualize them in the next fifty or a hundred years, the processes that encourage human alienation will continue. Both systems are developing into managerial societies, their inhabitants well fed, well clad, having their wishes satisfied, and not having wishes that cannot be satisfied. Men are increasingly automatons, who make machines which act like men and produce men who act like machines; there reason deteriorates while their intelligence rises, thus creating the dangerous situation of equipping man with the greatest material power without the wisdom to use it." - Erich Fromm, fully Erich Seligmann Fromm

"Muscles are in a most intimate and peculiar sense the organs of the will. They have built all the roads, cities and machines in the world, written all the books, spoken all the words, and, in fact done everything that man has accomplished with matter. Character might be a sense defined as a plexus of motor habits." - Granville Stanley Hall

"Ours is the age which is proud of machines that think and suspicious of men who try to." - Howard Mumford Jones

"As machines get to be more and more like men, men will come to be more like machines." - Joseph Wood Krutch

"We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Instant success is the order of the day; "I want it now!" I wonder whether this is not part of our corruption by machines. Machines do things very quickly and outside the natural rhythm of the few things that we still do...anything at all that cannot be hurried, have a very particular value." - May Sarton, pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton

"A human being is like a computer that is capable of thousands of things. But we put in a card that only lets it do one thing. Until you change the card, that is all the computer will do: that one thing, over and over and over. That is the state in which we function and we believe that no other cards exist, that this card is the one and only card that we can function upon. I say that the difference between human beings and machines is that we make the cards. So, when one card doesn´t work, take it out and put in a new card." - Moshé Feldenkreis, fully Moshé Pinchas Feldenkrais

"For a while I gave myself up entirely to the intense enjoyment of picturing machines and devising new forms. It was a mental state of happiness about as complete as I have ever known in life. … When natural inclination develops into a passionate desire, one advances towards his goal in seven−league boots. In less than two months I evolved virtually all the types of motors and modifications of the system which are now identified with my name, and which are used under many other names all over the world. It was, perhaps, providential that the necessities of existence commanded a temporary halt to this consuming activity of the mind." - Nikola Tesla

"I do not hesitate to state here for future reference and as a test of the accuracy of my scientific forecast that flying machines and ships propelled by electricity transmitted without wire will have ceased to be a wonder in ten years from now. I would say five were it not that there is such a thing as “inertia of human opinion” resisting revolutionary ideas." - Nikola Tesla

"You will be surprised to know that your education is against intelligence. Society needs imitators. It wants you to be good in memorizing, not in becoming intelligent. It wants you to become good machines, not beautiful people; efficient machines, but machines all the same. It needs you to function well, but it does not want you to be more conscious. Then you would start saying no to many things; you will not be so obedient." - Osho, born Chandra Mohan Jain, also known as Acharya Rajneesh and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh NULL

" Real creativity will die out. Instead, we shall get a multitude of mediocre pseudo-thinkers and vulgar groups and organizations. Our belief systems will turn into a strange chaotic stew of science, philosophy, and magical beliefs. “Quantitative colossalism will substitute for qualitative refinement.” What is biggest will be regarded as best. Instead of classics, we shall have best-sellers. Instead of genius, technique. Instead of real thought, Information. Instead of inner value, glittering externality. Instead of sages, smart alecs. The great cultural values of the past will be degraded; “Michelangelos and Rembrandts will be decorating soap and razor blades, washing machines and whiskey bottles.”" - Pitirim A. Sorokin, fully Pitirim Alexandrovich (Alexander) Sorokin

"In the same decade in which writers are discovering the emotional importance of childhood and are unmasking the devastating consequences of the way power is secretly exercised under the disguise of child-rearing, students of psychology are spending four years at the universities learning to regard human beings as machines in order to gain a better understanding of how they function. When we consider how much time and energy is devoted during these best years to wasting the last opportunities of adolescence and to suppressing, by means of the intellectual disciplines, the feelings that emerge with particular force at this age, then it is no wonder that the people who have made this sacrifice victimize their patients and clients in turn, treating them as mere objects of knowledge instead of as autonomous, creative beings. There are some authors of so-called objective, scientific publications in the field of psychology who remind me of the officer in Kafka's Penal Colony in their zeal and their consistent self-destructiveness. In the unsuspecting, trusting attitude of Kafka's convicted prisoner, on the other hand, we can see the students of today who are so eager to believe that the only thing that counts in their four years of study is their academic performance and that human commitment is not required." - Alice Miller, née Rostovski

"Another weakness of materialism was its whole-hearted identification of itself with the principles of elementary mechanics. It was naively scientific. We may call this species of materialism reductive materialism. . . . By its very principle evolutionary materialism is opposed to reductive materialism. It is not finalistic, or teleological, in the old sense . . . but it does not hold that relations in nature are external and that things are machines of atomic complexity. Organization and wholes are genuinely significant." - R. W. Sellars, fully Roy Wood Sellars

"We have too many cellphones. We've got too many Internets. We have got to get rid of those machines. We have too many machines now." - Ray Bradbury, fully Ray Douglas Bradbury

"I specifically paused to show that, if there were such machines with the organs and shape of a monkey or of some other non-rational animal, we would have no way of discovering that they are not the same as these animals. But if there were machines that resembled our bodies and if they imitated our actions as much as is morally possible, we would always have two very certain means for recognizing that, none the less, they are not genuinely human. The first is that they would never be able to use speech, or other signs composed by themselves, as we do to express our thoughts to others. For one could easily conceive of a machine that is made in such a way that it utters words, and even that it would utter some words in response to physical actions that cause a change in its organs" - René Descartes

"Then I had shown, in the same place, what the structure of the nerves and muscles of the human body would have to be in order for the animal spirits in the body to have the power to move its members, as one sees when heads, soon after they have been cut off, still move and bite the ground even though they are no longer alive; what changes must be made in the brain to cause waking, sleep and dreams; how light, sounds, odours, tastes, warmth and all the other qualities of external objects can impress different ideas on it through the senses; how hunger, thirst, and the other internal passions can also send their ideas there; what part of the brain should be taken as 'the common sense', where these ideas are received; what should be taken as the memory, which stores the ideas, and as the imagination, which can vary them in different ways and compose new ones and, by the same means, distribute the animal spirits to the muscles, cause the limbs of the body to move in as many different ways as our own bodies can move without the will directing them, depending on the objects that are present to the senses and the internal passions in the body. This will not seem strange to those who know how many different automata or moving machines can be devised by human ingenuity, by using only very few pieces in comparison with the larger number of bones, muscles, nerves, arteries, veins and all the other parts in the body of every animal. They will think of this body like a machine which, having been made by the hand of God, is incomparably better structured than any machine that could be invented by human beings, and contains many more admirable movements." - René Descartes

"If you don't know anything about computers, just remember that they are machines that do exactly what you tell them but often surprise you in the result." - Richard Dawkins

"Survival machines began as passive receptacles for the genes, providing little more than walls to Protect them from the chemical warfare of their rivals and the ravages of accidental molecular bombardment. In the early days they 'fed' on organic molecules freely available in the soup. This easy life came to an end when the organic food in the soup, which had been slowly built up under the energetic influence of centuries of sunlight, was all used up, A major branch of survival machines, now called plants, started to use sunlight directly themselves to build up complex molecules from simple ones, re-enacting at much higher speed the synthetic processes of the original soup." - Richard Dawkins

"The argument of this book is that we, and all other animals, are machines created by our genes" - Richard Dawkins

"The evolution of the capacity to simulate seems to have culminated in subjective consciousness. Why this should have happened is, to me, the most profound mystery facing modern biology. There is no reason to suppose that electronic computers are conscious when they simulate, although we have to admit that in the future they may become so. Perhaps consciousness arises when the brain's simulation of the world becomes so complete that it must include a model of itself...Whatever the philosophical problems raised by consciousness, for the purpose of this story it can be thought of as the culmination of an evolutionary trend towards the emancipation of survival machines as executive decision-takers from their ultimate masters, the genes. Not only are brains in charge of the day-to-day running of survival machine affairs, they have also acquired the ability to predict the future and act accordingly. They even have the power to rebel against the dictates of their genes, for instance in refusing to have as many children as they are able to. But in this respect man is a very special case, as we shall see." - Richard Dawkins

"To a survival machine, another survival machine (which is not its own child or another close relative) is part of its environment, like a rock or a river or a lump of food. It is something that gets in the way, or something that can be exploited. It differs from a rock or a river in one important respect: it is inclined to hit back. This is because it too is a machine that holds its immortal genes in trust for the future, and it too will stop at nothing to preserve them. Natural selection favors genes that control their survival machines in such a way that they make the best use of their environment. This includes making the best use of other survival machines, both of the same and of different species." - Richard Dawkins

"We are survival machines " - Richard Dawkins

"I hate this fast growing tendency to chain men to machines in big factories and deprive them of all joy in their efforts - the plan will lead to cheap men and cheap products." - Richard Wagner, fully Wilhelm Richard Wagner

"Isn't it better to talk about the relative merits of washing machines than the relative strength of rockets? Isn't this the kind of competition you want?" - Richard Nixon, fully Richard Milhous Nixon

"Of the seven experiments, the ones that have been most investigated so far have been the pets. The dogs who know when their masters for coming home, and the sense of being stared at." - Rupert Sheldrake, fully Alfred Rupert Sheldrake

"Science, after all, is only an expression for our ignorance of our own ignorance." - Samuel Butler

"What is faith but a kind of betting or speculation after all? It should be, I bet that my Redeemer liveth." - Samuel Butler

"Scientists have power by virtue of the respect commanded by the discipline... We live with poets and politicians, preachers and philosophers. All have their ways of knowing, and all are valid in their proper domain. The world is too complex and interesting for one way to hold all the answers." - Stephan Jay Gould

"Zoocentrism is the primary fallacy of human sociobiology, for this view of human behavior rests on the argument that if the actions of lower animals with simple nervous systems arise as genetic products of natural selection, then human behavior should have a similar basis." - Stephan Jay Gould

"If time is money, it seems moral to save time, above all one's own, and such parsimony is excused by consideration for others. One is straight-forward." - Theodor W. Adorno, born Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund

"The boy who is going to make a great man must not make up his mind merely to overcome a thousand obstacles, but to win in spite of a thousand repulses and defeats." - Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

"Faced by the supercilious contempt of friends as well as the hatred of our avowed enemies, and wondering what there is in us to hate, we have considered ourselves and found ourselves quite decent, harmless and easygoing people who only ask to be left alone to make money and have a good time. The keystone of our admittedly nebulous optimism is that if everyone is left alone to take care of his own interests, the laws of economics will benignly take care of the needs of all, and anyone who is not a slacker can get rich. But this philosophy of life is questioned, and when it is questioned we also are forced to examine our beliefs. And when we examine them we find we are not too sure just what they are. We tend to operate on sentiments of good will or civilization rather than on deeply based convictions." - Thomas Merton