Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Observation

"And the more we realize our own imperfections and limitations, the more we realize, too,that God has a right to be loved above all things by reason of His infinite wisdom and His infinite goodness. Our final observation is this: the supreme truth has Himself spoken to us: He hasrevealed Himself to us, as yet in an obscure manner, but it is the foundation ofour Christian faith. It is in the name of this supreme truth that Jesus speaks,when He says: “In truth, in truth, I say to you.” He is Himself the truth and the life,and by His help from day to day we must gradually live a better life. This far surpasses Plato’s ideal; no longer is it an abstract, philosophic ascent to the supreme truth, but the supreme truth which condescends to reach down to us inorder to raise us up to Himself." - Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, fully Réginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange

"You cannot help being a politician. You cannot live for an hour without being a politician. But what a man generally means when he says that he is not a politician I am afraid is this--that he has been all his life enjoying his political privilege and grossly neglecting his political duties; and in that sense the observation is scarcely to his credit. As a matter of fact, politics, properly understood, is simply Science of Life--the doctrine of the way in which I am to do my duty to my neighbor, which is an essential part of true religion. It is nothing in the world except religion applied to human society; in fact, it is the practical recognition of the Second Table of the Law of God." - Hugh Price Hughes

"The third aspect of my subject is that of science as a method of finding things out. This method is based on the principle that observation is the judge of whether something is so or not. All other aspects and characteristics of science can be understood directly when we understand that observation is the ultimate and final judge of the truth of an idea. But prove used in this way really means test, in the same way that a hundred-proof alcohol is a test of the alcohol, and for people today the idea really should be translated as, " - Richard Feynman, fully Richard Phillips Feynman

"Enter now the theory of quantum mechanics to upend our ideas about the physical nature of the world. Physicists were discovering in their laboratories that the basic properties of atomic particles were being altered just by the simple act of measuring them. Soon after it was discovered that, in certain experimental arrangements, particles at the atomic level do not fully exist prior to being observed. The activity of conscious observation and measurement was actually bringing particles into full existence! This suggests that reality may not be pre-given and "objective," but rather that it is being..." - Richard Tarnas, fully Richard Theodore Tarnas

"No, the Golden Mean is not a sunny, untroubled nullity, but a deep awareness of possibilities, with one eye cocked toward Comedy and the other eye skewed toward Tragedy, and out of this feat of balanced observation emerges Humor, not as a foolish amusement or an escape from reality, but as a breadth of perception, and what Heracleitus called an attunement of opposite tensions, like that of the bow and the lyre. A reconciliation of opposites, indeed." - Robertson Davies

"It is owing to our limitations that a thing appears to us as single and separate when in truth it is not a separate thing at all." - Rudolf Steiner, fully Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner

"Let them call it mischief; Then it is past and prosper'd, 'twill be virtue." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"There is no part of history so generally useful as that which relates to the progress of the human mind, the gradual improvement of reason, the successive advances of science, the vicissitudes of learning and ignorance, the extinction and resuscitation of arts, and the revolutions of the intellectual world. - If accounts of battles and invasions are peculiarly the business of princes, the useful and elegant arts are not to be neglected, and those who have kingdoms to govern have understandings to cultivate." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"This day, much against my will, I did in Drury Lane see two or three houses marked with a red cross upon the doors, and 'Lord have mercy upon us' writ there — which was a sad sight to me, being the first of that kind that to my remembrance I ever saw. It put me into an ill conception of myself and my smell, so that I was forced to buy some roll-tobacco to smell to and chaw — which took away the apprehension." - Samuel Pepys

"The world will change for the better when people decide they are sick and tired of being sick and tired of the way the world is, and decide to change themselves." - Sidney Madwed

"It has been demonstrated that a species of penicillium produces in culture a very powerful antibacterial substance which affects different bacteria in different degrees. Generally speaking it may be said that the least sensitive bacteria are the Gram-negative bacilli, and the most susceptible are the pyogenic cocci ... In addition to its possible use in the treatment of bacterial infections penicillin is certainly useful... for its power of inhibiting unwanted microbes in bacterial cultures so that penicillin insensitive bacteria can readily be isolated." - Alexander Fleming, fully Sir Alexander Fleming

"What a blessing this smoking is! Perhaps the greatest that we owe to the discovery of America." - Arthur Helps, fully Sir Arthur Helps

"I say, Watson,’ he whispered, ‘would you be afraid to sleep in the same room as a lunatic, a man with softening of the brain, an idiot whose mind has lost its grip?’ ‘Not in the least,’ I answered in astonishment. ‘Ah, that’s lucky,’ he said, and not another word would he utter that night." - Arthur Conan Doyle, fully Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle

"I think it well ... for the man in the street to realize that there is no power on earth that can protect him from being bombed. Whatever people may tell him, the bomber will always get through. The only defense is offence, which means that you will have to kill women and children more quickly than the enemy if you want to save yourselves." - Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl of Bewdley

"History employs evolution to structure biological events in time." - Stephan Jay Gould

"I am not, personally, a believer or a religious man in any sense of institutional commitment or practice. But I have a great respect for religion, and the subject has always fascinated me, beyond almost all others (with a few exceptions, like evolution and paleontology)." - Stephan Jay Gould

"No more harmful nonsense exists than [the] common supposition that deepest insight into great questions about the meaning of life or the structure of reality emerges most readily when a free, undisciplined, and uncluttered (read, rather, ignorant and uneducated) mind soars above mere earthly knowledge and concern." - Stephan Jay Gould

"This essay treats the most celebrated story in the extreme simplification in an adult parasite - in the interests of illuminating, reconciling, and, perhaps, even resolving two major biases that have so hindered our understanding of natural history: the misequation of evolution with progress, and the undervaluing of an organism by considering only its adult form and not the entire life cycle." - Stephan Jay Gould

"When we seek a textbook case for the proper operation of science, the correction of certain error offers far more promise than the establishment of probable truth. Confirmed hunches, of course, are more upbeat than discredited hypotheses. Since the worst traditions of popular writing falsely equate instruction with sweetness and light, our promotional literature abounds with insipid tales in the heroic mode, although tough stories of disappointment and loss give deeper insight into a methodology that the celebrated philosopher Karl Popper once labeled as conjecture and refutation." - Stephan Jay Gould

"As I shall describe, the prospects for finding such a theory seem to be much better now because we know so much more about the universe. But we must beware of overconfidence - we have had false dawns before! At the beginning of this century, for example, it was thought that everything could be explained in terms of the properties of continuous matter, such as elasticity and heat conduction. The discovery of atomic structure and the uncertainty principle put an emphatic end to that. Then again, in 1928, physicist and Nobel Prize winner Max Born told a group of visitors to Gottingen University, Physics, as we know it, will be over in six months. His confidence was based on the recent discovery by Dirac of the equation that governed the electron. It was thought that a similar equation would govern the proton, which was the only other particle known at the time, and that would be the end of theoretical physics. However, the discovery of the neutron and of nuclear forces knocked that one on the head too. Having said this, I still believe there are grounds for cautious optimism that we may now be near the end of the search for the ultimate laws of nature." - Stephen Hawking

"Einstein is the only figure in the physical sciences with a stature that can be compared with Newton. Newton is reported to have said If I have seen further than other men, it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants. This remark is even more true of Einstein who stood on the shoulders of Newton. Both Newton and Einstein put forward a theory of mechanics and a theory of gravity but Einstein was able to base General Relativity on the mathematical theory of curved spaces that had been constructed byRiemann while Newton had to develop his own mathematical machinery. It is therefore appropriate to acclaim Newton as the greatest figure in mathematical physics and the Principia is his greatest achievement." - Stephen Hawking

"In the Universe it may be that Primitive life is very common and intelligent life is fairly rare. Some would say it has yet to occur on Earth." - Stephen Hawking

"There is no way that we can predict the weather six months ahead beyond giving the seasonal average" - Stephen Hawking

"This required abandoning the idea that there is a universal quantity called time that all clocks measure. Instead, everyone would have his own personal time. The clocks of two people would agree if they were at rest with respect to each other but not if they were moving. This has been confirmed by a number of experiments, including one in which an extremely accurate timepiece was flown around the world and then compared with one that had stayed in place. If you wanted to live longer, you could keep flying to the east so the speed of the plane added to the earth" - Stephen Hawking

"With the success of scientific theories in describing events, most people have come to believe that God allows the universe to evolve according to a set of laws and does not intervene in the universe to break these laws. However, the laws do not tell us what the universe should have looked like when it started -- it would still be up to God to wind up the clockwork and choose how to start it off. So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?" - Stephen Hawking

"He was welcome everywhere he went, and was well-aware of his inability to tolerate solitude. He felt no inclination to be alone and avoided it as far as possible; he didn't really want to become any better acquainted with himself. He knew that if he wanted to show his talents to best advantage, he needed to strike sparks off other people to fan the flames of warmth and exuberance in his heart. On his own he was frosty, no use to himself at all, like a match left lying in its box." - Stefan Zweig

"The great man has more of human nature than other men organized in him." - Theodore Parker

"The fact is that when you make the other suffer, he will try to find relief by making you suffer more. The result is an escalation of suffering on both sides." - Thich Nhất Hanh

"Ignorance of the law is no good excuse, where every man is bound to take notice of the laws to which he is subject." - Thomas Hobbes

"The first and fundamental law of Nature, which is, to seek peace and follow it." - Thomas Hobbes

"A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fi fty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine." - Thomas Jefferson

"Some are whigs, liberals, democrats, call them what you please. Others are tories, serviles, aristocrats, andc. The latter fear the people, and wish to transfer all power to the higher classes of society; the former consider the people as the safest depository of power in the last resort; they cherish them therefore, and wish to leave in them all the powers to the exercise of which they are competent." - Thomas Jefferson

"'Ouch' is not independent of social training. One has only to prick a foreigner to appreciate that it is an English word." - Willard Quine, fully Willard Van Orman Quine

"To inquire and to create;—these are the grand centres around which all human pursuits revolve, or at least to these objects do they all more or less directly refer." - Wilhelm von Humboldt, fully Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand von Humboldt

"Voltaire has said if you want to talk to me knew what it says and select your saying. How could shrink and talk turns to if he dared section Almtnaakecon determine their and Jmlhm words, this is the first and the other in logic, and his heart and soul, that the subject is important in an interview to the most serious types of definition, identification and examination. It's a tough way, and exam where there is no mercy for the mind" - Will Durant, fully William James "Will" Durant

"Personally I don’t think you can make a lawyer honest by an act of the Legislature. You’ve got to work on his conscience. And his lack of a conscience is what makes him a lawyer." - Will Rogers, fully William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers

"Winter lies too long in country towns; hangs on until it is stale and shabby, old and sullen. On the farm the weather was the great fact, and men's affairs went on underneath it, as the streams creep under the ice. But in Black Hawk the scene of human life was spread out shrunken and pinched, frozen down to the bare stalk." - Willa Cather, fully Willa Sibert Cather

"We can, for instance, predict the probability for finding the electron at a later time at a given point in the cloud chamber. It should be emphasized, however, that the probability function does not in itself represent a course of events in the course of time. It represents a tendency for events and our knowledge of events." - Werner Heisenberg, fully Werner Karl Heisenberg

"The first [quality] to be named must always be the power of attention, of giving one's whole mind to the patient without the interposition of anything of oneself. It sounds simple but only the very greatest doctors ever fully attain it. ... The second thing to be striven for is intuition. This sounds an impossibility, for who can control that small quiet monitor? But intuition is only interference from experience stored and not actively recalled. ... The last aptitude I shall mention that must be attained by the good physician is that of handling the sick man's mind." - Wilfred Trotter, fully Wilfred Batten Lewis Trotter

"Fancy being remembered around the world for the invention of a mouse!" - Walt Disney, fully Walter Elias "Walt" Disney

"For oral cultures, the cosmos is an ongoing event with man at its center. Only after print and the extensive experience with maps that print implemented would human beings, when they thought about the cosmos or universe or "world", think primarily of something laid out before their eyes ready to be "explored"." - Walter J. Ong, fully Walter Jackson Ong

"In the printed book, these vague psychic "places" became quite physically and visibly localized. A new noetic world was shaping up, spatially organized. In this new world, the book was less like an utterance, and more like a thing." - Walter J. Ong, fully Walter Jackson Ong

"I am an expert of electricity. My father occupied the chair of applied electricity at the state prison." - W. C. Fields, stage name for William Claude Dukenfield

"It is no good my telling you. One never believes other people's experiences and one is only very gradually convinced by one's own." - Vita Sackville-West, fully The Hon Victoria Mary Sackville-West, Lady Nicolson

"Consequently, since this study is vast in extent, embellished and enriched as it is with many different kinds of learning, I think that men have no right to profess themselves architects hastily, without having climbed from boyhood the steps of these studies and thus, nursed by the knowledge of many arts and sciences, having reached the heights of the holy ground of architecture." - Vitruvius, fully Marcus Vitruvius Pollio NULL

"The evolution of sense is, in a sense, the evolution of nonsense." - Vladimir Nabokov, fully Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov

"The thoughts cannot be suppressed nor can they be thrown away anywhere, you can only watch them, not naming them as good or bad. Then you are free from the roles of an experiencer and an actor, you enter into the state of an observer of non-reactional attention." - Vimala Thakar

"To be ready for social responsibility, we will have to be mercilessly honest with ourselves. Wherever we are, we are responsible to resist injustice, to be willing to put our comforts, securities, our lives at stake in fearless non-cooperation with injustice and exploitation. If we adopt all the habit patterns of the enslaved—the fear, the acceptance of tyranny, the intellectual and emotional blindness to injustice—we deserve the inevitable consequences that are descending upon us in a dark storm cloud. If we are submissive, clinging to our small islands of security, naturally terror will reign. If we are willing to allow all others to perish—the peoples of other countries, races, castes, cultures, religions; the other creatures of the earth—so that we may flourish and endlessly increase our network of pleasures and comforts, obviously we are doomed to rot and decay. The callousness of letting others be abused so that our petty little lives will be undisturbed, so that all the comforts of a lovely home, pleasant meals, and good entertainment will not be threatened, portends doom for us all." - Vimala Thakar

"Adolescents are not monsters. They are just people trying to learn how to make it among the adults in the world, who are probably not so sure themselves." - Virginia Satir

"Americans used to be 'citizens.' Now we are 'consumers." - Vicki Robin