Special Quotations

Author Quote
Northrop, FS If one makes a false or superficial beginning, no matter how rigorous the methods that follow, the initial error will never be corrected.
Leibniz, Gottfried Let us calculate.
Leibniz, Gottfried Monads are the real atoms of nature.
Lee, Robert E. The education of a man is never completed until he dies.
Sartre, Jean-Paul Those who hide their complete freedom from themselves out of a spirit of seriousness or by means of deterministic excuses, I shall call cowards.
Lao-tse He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.
Hoffmann, Banesh Quantum theory does not hold undisputed sway, but must share dominion with that other rebel sibling—relativity. And although these two bodies together have led to the most penetrating advances in the search for knowledge—they must remain enemies. Their fundamental disagreement will not be resolved until both are subdued by a still more powerful theory that will sweep away our present painfully won fancies concerning such things as space, time, matter, radiation and causality. The nature of this theory may only be surmised—but it will ultimately come down to the very same certainty as to whether our civilization as a whole survives—no more no less.
Barnett, Lincoln The gateway to universal knowledge may be opened by the unified field theory upon which Einstein has been at work for a quarter century. Today the outer limits of man’s knowledge are defined by relativity, the inner limits by the quantum theory. Relativity has shaped all our concepts of space, time, gravitation and the realities that are too remote and too vast to be perceived. Quantum theory has shaped all our concepts of the atom, the basic units of matter and energy, and the realities that are too elusive and too small to be perceived. Yet these two great scientific systems rest on entirely different and unrelated theoretical foundations. The purpose of Einstein’s unified field theory is to construct a bridge between them.
Plato They deem him their worst enemy who tells them the truth.
Lindley, David —concluding paragraph from The End of Physics (1993) The final theory of everything will undoubtedly be a mathematical system of uncommon tidiness and rigor that accommodates the physical facts of the universe as we know it. The mathematical neatness will arrive first followed by its explanatory power. Perhaps one day physicists will find a theory of such compelling beauty that its truth cannot be denied—truth will be beauty and beauty will be truth. The theory will be, in precise terms, a myth. A myth is a story that makes sense on its own terms, offers explanations of everything we see before us, but can neither be disproved nor tested. This theory of everything will indeed spell the end of physics. It will be the end not because physics has been able to explain everything, but because physics has at last reached the end of all the things for which it has the power to explain.
Hawking, Stephen —concluding paragraph from A Brief History of Time (1996) When we combine quantum theory and relativity, there seems to be the possibility that space and time might form a finite, four-dimensional continuum without singularities or boundaries. If we do discover a complete theory of everything, it should be understandable by everyone and not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists and ordinary people, be able to take part in discussing questions as to why both we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we would at last know the mind of God.
Bek, Christopher The theory of one brings the reader face to face with the stunning realization that the universe is bounded—rather than unbounded, as Einstein and others have asserted. The theory of one delivers the ocean. It is the theory that spells the end of physics. It is the monolith of 2001—a spacetime odyssey.
Clinton, President William J If this discovery is confirmed, it will surely be one of the most stunning insights into our universe that science has ever uncovered. Its implications are as far-reaching and awe-inspiring as can be imagined. Even as it promises answers to some of our oldest questions, it poses others even more fundamental. We will continue to listen closely to what it has to say as we continue the search for answers and for knowledge that is as old as humanity itself, but essential to our people’s future.
Shakespeare, William This above all—to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as night follows day, thou canst not then be false to any man.
Kipling, Rudyard If any question why we died tell them because our fathers lied.
King, Martin Luther Jr Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Leibniz, Gottfried Why is there something rather than nothing?
McLaughlin, Mignon Society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers.
Locke, John If the government violates the rights of individual citizens, then the people have the right to get rid of the government.
Millay, Edna St Vincent Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand—come and see my shining palace built upon the sand.
Millikan, Robert I spent ten years of my life testing Einstein’s photoelectric effect theory and its attendant assertion that light exists as particles (ie. light quanta or photons) as well as waves and, contrary to all expectations, I am compelled to argue for it unambiguous verification in spite of its seeming unreasonableness.
Millikan, Robert There are only two kinds of immoral conduct. The first is due to indifference, thoughtlessness and failure to reflect upon what is for the common good. The second is represented by the unpardonable sin that Christ spoke of—which is the deliberate refusal to follow the light when seen.
Miller, Henry There are two paths before us—one backward towards comfort and the security of death and the other forward to nowhere.
Heisenberg, Werner Just as relativity had to abandon the concept of simultaneity, so too does quantum theory have to abandon the concept of electron paths. The history of physics teaches us that the abandonment of earlier concepts is much more difficult than the adaptation of new ones.
Kaku, Michio Relativity asks questions like—Is there a beginning and end to time? Where is the farthest point in the universe? What lies beyond the farthest point? What happened at the point of Creation? By contrast, quantum theory asks the opposite questions—What is the smallest object in the universe? Can matter be divided into smaller and smaller units without limit? In many ways these two theories appear to be exact opposites. Relativity concerns itself the cosmic motion of galaxies and the universe, while quantum mechanics probes the subatomic world.
Kaku, Michio Neither relativity nor quantum theory by themselves provide a satisfactory description of nature. Einstein showed that relativity theory alone cannot form the basis for the unified field theory. Nor is quantum theory satisfactory without relativity. Quantum theory can only be used to calculate the behavior of atoms and not the large-scale behavior of galaxies and the expanding universe. Merging the two theories has consumed the Herculean efforts of scores of theoretical physicists for the past half century. Only in the last few years have physicists finally formulated, with the help of superstring theory, a possible synthesis of the two theories.
Miller, Joaquin If you want immortality then go out and make yourself immortal.
Milton, John None can love freedom but good men. The rest love not freedom but license, which never hath more scope than under tyrants.
Miller, Henry It is silly to go on pretending that we are all brothers under the skin. The truth is more like under the skin we are all cannibals, assassins, traitors, liars, hypocrites and poltroons.
Milton, John Truth is compared in scripture to a streaming fountain—if her waters flow not in perpetual progression then they sicken into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition. A man becomes a heretic in the truth if he believes things without knowing their reason but instead relies on his pastor’s says so or because the assembly so determines. Though his belief may be true, the very truth he holds becomes his heresy.
Miller, Arthur When any creativity becomes useful, it is sucked into the vortex of commercialism, and when a thing becomes commercial, it becomes the enemy of man.
Millay, Edna St Vincent I love humanity but I hate people.
Guiterman, Michael He who learns by finding out has sevenfold the knowledge of he who learns by being told.
Lindley, David The idea that physical quantities do not take on any practical reality until someone measures them offended Einstein to the point where he asked the physicist Abraham Pais whether he believed the Moon really exists when no one is looking at it.
Locke, John He who has raised himself above the alms-basket and, not content to live lazily on scraps of begged opinions, sets his own thoughts on the work to find and follow truth will, whatever he lights-on, not miss the hunter’s satisfaction—every moment of his pursuit will reward his pains with some delight and he will not have reason to think his time ill-spent even when he cannot boast of any great trophy for his efforts.
Shakespeare, William This was something of a paradox for which time now gives its proof.
Barnett, Lincoln The mathematical orthodoxy of the universe enables theorists like Einstein to predict and discover natural laws simply by the solution of equations.
Poe, Edgar Allan The universe begins when God creates a primordial particle out of nothing. From it matter irradiates spherically in all directions in an inexpressibly great yet limited number of unimaginably yet not infinitely minute atoms.
Poe, Edgar Allan Men have called me mad, but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence—whether much that is glorious—whether all that is profound—does not spring from disease of thought—from moods of minds exalted at the expense of general intellect.
Hoffman, Philip Seymour Listen, my advise to you, and I know you think these guys are your friends, if you want to be a true friend to them—be honest and unmerciful.
Barnett, Lincoln The functional harmony of nature Berkeley, Descartes, Spinoza and Einstein attributed to God.
Barnett, Lincoln Right now it is a question whether scientific man is in touch with reality at all—or can ever hope to be.
Barnett, Lincoln The human eye suppresses most of the light in the world and what man perceives of the reality around him is distorted and enfeebled by the limitations of his organ of vision.
Miller, Henry The task the artist implicitly sets for himself is to overthrow existing values and make of the chaos about him an order which is his own. He seeks to sow strife and ferment so that by the achievement of emotional release those who are dead may be restored back to life
Lopez, Jennifer My mind. My rules.
Shakespeare, William
Leibniz, Gottfried/td>

Monads are the real atoms of nature.
Descartes, René Make a simple set of rules and follow them.
Hawking, Stephen Nobody wants to believe the truth is as simple as it is.
Russell, Bertrand Most people would sooner die than think. In fact they do.
Shakespeare, William This was something of a paradox for which time now gives its proof.
Jefferson, Thomas I swear my hostility to every form of tyranny over the mind of man.
Horowitz, Vladimir Mozart is too simple for beginners and too difficult for experts.
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques Man is good by nature and only made bad by institutions.
Devil, The Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know
Voltaire Once a nation begins to think, it is impossible to stop.
Pascal, Blaise A soul weighs more than the whole universe.
God Thou shall have no other god before me.
Descartes, René I do my best thinking in a warm bed.
Hoffmann, Banesh Great science transcends logic.
Jeans, Sir James God is a mathematician.
Goethe, Johann —the last words More light.
Leibniz, Gottfried Nature never makes leaps.
Descartes, René Conquer yourself rather than the world.
Camus, Albert Memory is the enemy of totalitarianism.
Heraclitus One cannot step in the same river twice.
Socrates I would rather die than give up philosophy.
Spinoza, Baruch The true aim of government is liberty.
Spinoza, Baruch Man is deceived if he thinks himself free.
Socrates We must follow the argument wherever it leads.
Socrates Society attacks people early when they are most helpless
Mill, John Stuart Over himself—over his own body and mind—the individual is sovereign.
Nietzsche, Fredrich Man is a rope tied between the beast and the Superman—a rope over the abyss
Hegel, GW There soon creeps in the misconception of already knowing before you actually know.
Augustine, Saint
Frost, Robert We dance around in a ring and suppose while the secret sits in the middle and knows.
Heisenberg, Werner
Gribbin, John The fate of specialists in anyone area of science is to focus more and more narrowly on their special topic, learning more and more about less and less, until eventually they end up knowing everything about nothing.
Hoffman, Philip Seymour The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you are uncool.
Descartes, René if one wishes to better understand the Dark Ages (430-1630) then the most suitable course of action is to turn on the television.
Bek, Christopher If one wishes to better understand the Dark Ages (430-1630) then the most suitable course of action is to turn on the television
Lavine, Thelma The principle concerns expressed by the writers of the Renaissance was the need to restore to man the capacities, strengths and powers of the individual person for which the Dark Ages (430-1630) had denied.
Lavine, Thelma The way in which Plato solved the problems of philosophy was to identify what was true in each of the conflicting philosophies and then marshal these truths into a single, unified, original philosophy of his own.
Schumacher, EF Matter, life, consciousness and self-awareness—these four elements are ontologically—that is, in their fundamental nature—different, incomparable, incommensurable and discontinuous.
Strathern, Paul Leibniz envisioned monads as being like souls—metaphysical, immortal and each one unique. A monad is windowless in that there is no perception or effect on the monads around it—yet, at the same time, each monad is said to mirror the entire universe. Together they exist in an exhaustive hierarchy. Superior monads have a higher degree of consciousness while others are dimmer and mirror the universe much less clearly and distinctly.
Lawrence, DH Everything that can possibly be painted has been painted, every brush-stroke that can possibly be laid on canvas has been laid on. Then suddenly at the age of forty I began painting myself and became fascinated.
Poincaré, Henri A mathematical argument is not a simple juxtaposition of Forms, it is Forms placed in a certain order. And the order in which these elements are arranged is much more important than the elements themselves.
Poincaré, Henri What are the mathematical entities to which we attribute the character of beauty and elegance—and which are capable of developing in us a sort of aesthetic emotion? They are those elements harmoniously disposed so that without effort the mind can embrace their totality while also realizing the details.
Brennan, Richard Nobody had shaken the world of science more than Einstein—and now came along another young upstart German in Heisenberg with still another attack on classical physics.
Brennan, Richard In 1936 the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Johannes Stark and his followers unleashed a newspaper assault in Germany against Jewish physics, by which he meant theoretical physics, which he contrasted with German or experimental physics.
Hall, Calvin While nineteenth-century psychology was busy at work analyzing the conscious mind, psychoanalysis was engaged in explorations of the unconscious mind. Freud felt that consciousness was only a thin slice of the total mind, that like an iceberg, the larger part of it existed below the surface of awareness. Psychologists answered Freud by saying that the notion of an unconscious mind was a contradiction in terms; the mind, by definition, was conscious. The controversy never reached a final conclusion because both psychology and psychoanalysis changed their objective during the twentieth century. Psychology became the science of behavior and psychoanalysis became the science of personality.
Kopp, Sheldon The anti-hero of Franz Kafka’s hauntingly sinister novel, The Castle, is a wandering stranger, perhaps a land-surveyor. He is a hapless wayfarer, searching for some confirmation of his identity. He is K, a man with no more name than that. He strives desperately to attain a place for himself within the authority of The Castle, wishing to trade his lonely rootlessness, his permanent homelessness, for a sense of belonging to something greater than himself. But the harder he tries to make contact with the faceless authorities who run The Castle, the more he is confronted with the frustration of their vagueness and impersonality. He just cannot get the hang of their ambiguous procedures. He is ever in a state of doubt. At times he feels unfairly treated and so responds with ineffectual defiance. But more often, he feels vaguely guilty, as though his frustration must be his own fault. After all, if there is a rule, it must have some meaning. There must be some sense to their incomprehensible regulations. In his isolation and impotence, he senses that the problem must be the result of his own basic inferiority. He is again and again stuck in the obsessional mire of his indecision, his unwillingness to choose between freedom and obligation. He feels that he must keep on trying. There must be a way to satisfy the unclear requirements of the authorities, to behave satisfactorily so that they will accept him. If only he could figure out the rules, then he would follow them.
Oppenheimer, Robert They should give the Nobel Prize to the first guy who doesn’t discover a new subatomic particle.
Einstein, Albert The one thing that I have learned in a long life is that all science measured against reality is primitive and childlike—and yet it is the most precious thing we have.
Einstein, Albert Concern for man himself and his fate must always be the chief interest of all technical endeavors so that the creations of our mind shall become blessings and not a curses to mankind. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations.
Nicoll, Maurice Once in Sunday school while going over the Greek New Testament, I asked a question regarding the meaning of a parable. The headmaster’s answer was so utterly confused and convoluted that I actually experienced my first true moment of consciousness—that is, I suddenly became aware with excruciating clarity that he knew nothing at all. From that moment forward I began to think for myself, or at least knew that I could. I remember clearly the classroom with its windows so high that we could not see out, the desks, the platform on which the headmaster sat, his thin scholarly face, his nervous habits of twitching his mouth and jerking his hands—and then suddenly this profound inner revelation that neither he nor anyone else knew about anything that mattered. It was this threshold moment that was to be the starting point of my liberation from the external world. I knew then for certain that true knowledge could only be arrived at by authentic inner perception—and that all my loathing of religion, as it was taught to me, was at last vindicated.
Locke, John We are compelled by reason to acknowledge the existence of natural, inalienable rights and duties independent of convention, agreement or contract.
Scruton, Roger The totalitarian system embodies the conviction that nothing is sacred. In such a system, human life is driven underground, and the ideas of freedom and responsibility—ideas without which our picture of man as a moral subject disintegrates entirely—have no public recognition and no place in the administrative process.
Scruton, Roger As Kant himself pointed out, the moral law has an absolute character. Rights cannot be arbitrarily overwritten, or weighed against the profit of ignoring them. Duties cannot be arbitrarily set aside, or cancelled by the bad results or due obedience. I must respect your right, regardless of conflicting interests, since you alone can renounce or cancel it. That is the point of the concept—to provide an absolute barrier against invasion. A right is an interest that is given special protection, and cannot be overwritten or cancelled without the consent of the person who possess it. By describing an interest as a right we lift it from the account of cost and benefit, and place it in the sacred precinct of the self. Likewise duty, if it is to exist at all, must have an absolute moral character. In the final analysis, to treat a person as an end rather than a means is to acknowledge their rights against ours, and our duties towards him—and to recognize that neither right nor duty can be cancelled by some other good.
Barnett, Lincoln In this vast cosmic picture the abyss between macrocosmos and microcosmos—the very big and the very little—will be bridged, and the whole complex of the universe will resolve into a homogeneous fabric in which matter and energy are indistinguishable and all forms of motion from the slow wheeling of the galaxies to the wild flight of electrons become simply changes in the structure and concentration of the primordial field.
Heisenberg, Werner The violent reaction to the recent development of modern physics can only be understood when one realizes that the foundations of physics have started moving—and that this motion has caused the feeling that the ground would be cut from science.
Jung, Carl Modern man has acquired the willpower to carryout his work proficiently without recourse to chanting, drumming or praying. He is able to translate his ideas into actions without a hitch, while primitive man was hampered by fears and superstitions at each step along the way. Yet in maintaining his creed, modern man pays the price in a remarkable lack of introspection. He is blind to the fact that, with all his rationality and efficiency, he is possessed by powers beyond his control that keep him restlessly on the run.
Locke, John Individuals have the right to the fruits of their labours only if they leave enough and as good for others.
Bronner, Stephen John Locke and Adam Smith, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Jefferson, Voltaire and others envisioned a new world in which the arbitrary authority of the Church and an arrogant aristocracy would cease to exist; a world in which reason and democracy would temper provincial ethnic and religious hatreds between states and races; a world of unfettered freedom, without radical differences in the distribution of wealth, in which an individual might better his lot through hard work and without fear of obstruction by the state. The constitution was the jewel in the crown of this new world. The individual would be no longer an object of domination but rather a subject vested with rights—a citizen.
Barnett, Lincoln Gradually philosophers and scientists have arrived at the startling conclusion that since every object is simply the sum of its qualities, and since qualities exist only in the mind, the whole objective universe of matter and energy, atoms and stars, does not exist except as a construction of the consciousness—an edifice of conventional symbols shaped by the senses of man.
Jefferson, Thomas On matters of style, swim with the current. On matters of principle, stand like a rock.
Jefferson, Thomas I know no safer depository for the ultimate powers of society than with the people themselves. And if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to shed light on their discretion.
Matrix, Morpheus from the 1999 movie Matrix You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up. And you are here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life. That there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind driving you mad. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. Like everyone you are a slave. You were born into bondage, born into a prison you cannot smell or taste or touch—a prison for your mind.
Einstein, Albert My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals Himself in the slight details that we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.
Hobbes, Thomas Unless sovereignty finds concrete expression in an individual, it neither commands the allegiance of the people nor supports the cohesion of the state.
Palmer, Donald The true philosopher attempts to transcend the purely human perspective and view reality from the perspective of reality itself.
Einstein, Albert The cosmic religious experience is the strongest and noblest mainspring of scientific research.
Russell, Bertrand A pedant is someone who prefers their arguments to be true.
Kennedy, Robert Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.
Lincoln, Abraham Be sure you put your feet in the right place and then stand firm.
Flew, Anthony To be illogical is to be stupid or to be incoherent or to be insufficiently concerned with the truth—or all three together.
Lincoln, Abraham Anyone who makes an assertion without knowing its truthfulness is guilty of falsehood—and the accidental truth of the assertion does not justify the lie.
Microsoft Encarta John Locke argued that sovereignty resides in individuals, not rulers.
Locke, John If the government violates the rights of individuals, then the people have the right to get rid of the government.
Locke, John The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth—and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man but to have only the laws of nature for his rule.
Microsoft Encarta Thomas Jefferson’s belief in the social contract came from British political philosopher John Locke, who argued that government existed by consent of the governed and that people should rebel if their natural rights are violated.
Hampshire, Stuart Until well past the time of Newton there was no distinction between philosophy and science. Natural philosophy was the common term used to describe what we now call both metaphysics and physics.
Heisenberg, Werner In the early twenties we knew that Bohr’s model of the atom could not be correct, but that it pointed in the right direction.
Barnett, Lincoln The functional harmony of nature Berkeley, Descartes, Spinoza and Einstein attributed to God.
Blaise Pascal If Cleopatra’s nose had been shorter, the entire face of the world would be different.
Penrose, Roger I am able to show that space and time come to a physical, rather than merely a metaphysical, end.
Boslough, John Physicists are searching for a single interaction at the heart of the universe that is the key to all physical phenomena.
Boslough, John The universe seems to operate according to several sets of different rules that act in layers independently of one another.
Boslough, John Not all physicists believe that a unified theory is possible. The Austrian physicist Wolfgang Pauli (1900-58) once joked—What God has put asunder, no man shall ever join.
Hoffmann, Banesh The story of relativity tells what happened to science when one provisional theory of space and time yields to another. The story of the quantum tells of adventures which recently befell our theories of matter and radiation, and of their unexpected consequences.
Hoffmann, Banesh The magnificent rise of the quantum to a dominant position in modern science and philosophy is a story of drama and high adventure often well-nigh incredible. It is a chaotic tale, but amid the apparent chaos one gradually discerns a splendid architecture, each discovery, however seemingly irrelevant or nonsensical, falling cunningly into its appointed place till the whole intricate jigsaw is revealed as one of the major discoveries of the human mind.
Hoffmann, Banesh So abstract a matter as the quantum theory serves well as the basis for learned treatises whose pages overflow with the unfriendly symbols of higher mathematics. Here is a glimpse of the scientific theorist at work, pen and paper his implements, as he experiments with ideas. Not the least of his gifts is a talent for reaching valuable conclusions from what later prove to be faulty premises. For his insight is penetrating. Be it a hint here or a clue there, a crude analogy or a wild guess, he fashions working hypotheses from whatever material is at hand, and, with the divine gift of intuition for guide, courageously follows the faintest will-o-the-wisp till it show him the way toward truth.
Hoffmann, Banesh What are those potent wraiths we call space and time, without which our universe would be inconceivable? What is that mystic essence, matter, which exists within us and around in so many wondrous forms; which is at once the servant and master of mind, and holds proud rank in the hierarchy of the universe as a primary instrument of divine creation? And what is that swiftest of celestial messengers, radiation, which leaps the empty vastnesses of space with lightning speed? Though true answers there can be none, science is fated to fret about such problems. It must forever spin tentative theories around them, seeking to entrap therewith some germ of truth upon which to poise its intricate superstructure. The balance is delicate and every change sends tremors coursing through the edifice to its uttermost tip.
jeans, Sir James A soap-bubble with corrugations on its surface is perhaps the best simple and familiar representation of the new universe revealed to us by Einstein’s relativity. The universe is not the interior of the soap-bubble but its surface, and we must always remember that while the surface of the soap bubble has only two dimensions, the universe bubble has four—three spatial and one of temporal. And the substance out of which this bubble is blown, the soap-film, is empty space welded onto empty time.
Wheeler, John When I became interested in gravitation and general relativity, I found myself forced to invent the idea of quantum foam—made up not merely of particles popping into and out of existence without limit, but of spacetime itself churned into a lather of distorted geometry.
Heisenberg, Werner The history of physics in this century teaches us that the abandonment of earlier concepts is much more difficult than the adaptation of new ones.
Poe, Edgar Allan Men have called me mad, but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence—whether much that is glorious—whether all that is profound—does not spring from disease of thought—from moods of minds exalted at the expense of general intellect.
Newton, Sir Isaac I know not what the world thinks of me, but as for myself, I seem to be only a boy playing on the seashore, now and again finding a smoother stone or a more beautiful shell—all the while the great ocean of truth lies undiscovered before me.
Barnett, Lincoln The mathematical orthodoxy of the universe enables theorists like Einstein to predict and discover natural laws simply by the solution of equations.
Hoffmann, Banesh —introductory paragraph from The Strange Story of the Quantum (1947) The story of the quantum is a confused and groping search for knowledge conducted by scientists of many lands on a front far wider than the world of physics had ever seen before—illuminated by flashes of insight, aided by accidents and guesses, and enlivened by coincidences that one would only expect to find in works of fiction. It is the story of turbulent revolution—of the undermining of a complacent physics that had long ruled a limited domain, of a subsequent interregnum predestined for its own destruction by its inherent contradictions, and of the tempestuous emergence of a much more chastened regime—quantum theory. And while quantum theory rules newly discovered land with a firm hand, its victory is not complete. What looks like mere scratches on the brilliant surface of its domain reveal themselves as fascinating crevasses betraying the darkness within and luring the intrepid on to new adventure. Nor does quantum theory hold undisputed sway but must share dominion with that other rebel sibling—relativity. And although together these two bodies have led to the most penetrating advances in the search for knowledge—they must remain enemies. Their fundamental disagreement will not be resolved until both are subdued by a still more powerful theory that will sweep away our present painfully won fancies concerning such things as space, time, matter, radiation and causality. The nature of this theory may only be surmised—but it will ultimately come down to the very same certainty as to whether our civilization as a whole survives—no more no less.
Barnett, Lincoln —concluding paragraph from The Universe and Dr. Einstein (1948) In the evolution of scientific thought, one fact has become impressively clear—that there is no mystery of the physical world which does not point to a mystery beyond itself. All highroads of the intellect, all byways of theory and conjecture lead ultimately to an abyss that human ingenuity can never span. For man is enchained by the very condition of his Being, his finiteness and his involvement in nature. The further he extends his horizons, the more vividly he recognizes the fact that, as the physicist Niels Bohr put it, we are both spectators and actors in the great drama of existence. Man is thus his own greatest mystery. He does not understand the vast veiled universe into which he has been cast for the reason that he does not understand himself. He comprehends little of his organic process and even less of his unique capacity to perceive the world about him in his rationality and his dreams. Least of all does he understand his noblest and most mysterious faculty—the ability to transcend himself by perceiving himself in the act of perception. Man’s inescapable impasse is that he himself is part of the world that he seeks to explore—his body and proud brain are but mosaics of the same elemental particles that compose the dark, drifting clouds of interstellar space. Man is, in the final analysis, merely an ephemeral confirmation of the primordial spacetime field. Standing midway between macrocosm and microcosm, he finds barriers on every side and can perhaps but marvel, as Saint Paul did nineteen hundred years ago in saying that the world was created by the word of God so that what is seen is composed of things which do not appear.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet. Then all things are at risk. It will be as if a conflagration has broken out in a great city—and no man knows what is safe or where it will end.
Pascal, Blaise The art of revolution lies in dislodging established customs by probing down into their origins in order to show how they lack authority and justice. There must be a return to the basic and primordial laws of the state which unjust custom has since eradicated.
Camus, Albert I grew in the sea and poverty was my wealth, then I lost the sea, then all luxury seemed grey, poverty intolerable. Since then, I wait. I wait for the return voyage, the house by the sea, the clear light of day. I wait, I struggle to be polite. People see me pass in elegant cultured streets, I admire the views, I applaud like everyone else, I shake hands, it’s not really me speaking. People praise me, I daydream a little, I’m offended, but show almost no surprise. Then I forget and smile at whoever insults me, or I greet those I love too courteously. What’s to be done if I can only remember a single image? Finally they urge me to say who I am. Still nothing, still nothing.
Camus, Albert Of whom and of what indeed can I say—I know that! This heart within me I can feel, and I judge that it exists. This world I can touch, and I likewise judge that it exists. There ends all my knowledge, and the rest is construction. For if I try to seize this self of which I feel sure, if I try to define and summarize it, it is nothing but water slipping through my fingers. I can sketch one by one all the aspects that it is able to assume, all those likewise that have been attributed to it, this upbringing, this origin, this ardor of these silences, this nobility or this vileness. But aspects cannot be added up. This very heart which is mine will forever remain undefinable to me. Between the certainty I have of my existence and the content I try to give to that assurance, the gap will never be filled. Forever I shall be a stranger to myself. In psychology as in logic, there are truths but no truth. Socrates’ Know thyself has as much value as the Be virtuous of our confessionals. They reveal a nostalgia at the same time as an ignorance. They are sterile exercises on great subjects. They are legitimate insofar as they are approximate.
Skinner, BF from his tellingly entitled 1971 book Beyond Freedom and Dignity Many anthropologists, sociologists and psychologists have used their expert knowledge to prove that man is free, purposeful and responsible. This escape route is slowly being closed as new evidence of the predictability of human behavior is discovered. Any personal exemption from complete determinism is being revoked as scientific analysis progresses—particularly when accounting for the behavior of the individual.
Microsoft Encarta No simple, agreed-upon definition of consciousness exists. Attempts to define consciousness have tended to be merely tautological or descriptive—such as awareness, sensations, thoughts or feelings. In spite of this, the subject of consciousness has had a remarkable history and at one time was the primary subject matter of psychology, although has since suffered an almost complete and total downfall.
Skinner, BF Consciousness? Can you see it? Measure it? Pass it around? Then how is it different than something that does not exist at all?
Sartre, Jean-Paul There we have the absolute truth of consciousness becoming aware of itself. Every theory which takes man out of the moment in which he becomes aware of himself is, at its very beginning, a theory which confounds the truth, for outside the Cartesian cogito, all views are only probable, and a doctrine of probability which is not bound to a truth dissolves into thin air. In order to describe the probable, you must have a firm hold on the true. Therefore, before there can be any truth whatsoever, there must be an absolute truth; and this one is easily arrived at; it is on everyone’s doorstep; it is a matter of grasping it directly
Schumacher, EF Man has the power of life like the plants, the power of consciousness like the animals, and something more—the power of consciousness recoiling upon itself—which is the power of self-awareness. Man is not merely a conscious being, but a being capable of consciousness of his own consciousness—not merely a thinker, but a thinker able to watch and study his own thinking. This power of self-awareness opens up unlimited possibilities for purposeful learning, investigating, exploring and of formulating and accumulating knowledge.
Schumacher, EF People ask for bread and are given stones. They beg for advice on how to be saved and are told that salvation is an infantile neurosis. They long for guidance on how to live responsibly and are told they are machines, like computers, without freewill and therefore without responsibility.
Schumacher, EF People for whom the power of self-awareness is poorly developed cannot grasp it as a separate power and tend to think of it as nothing more than a slight extension of consciousness.
Jaeger, Werner Once a human potentiality is realized, it exists
Alighieri, Dante The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crises.
Einstein, Albert No problem was ever solved by the same mind that created it.
Einstein, Albert When the solution is simple, God has answered.
Stevenson, Adlai during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis Don’t worry. If they’re still sticking to their stonewalling tactics—I’ll get them.
Homer Put me on earth again and I would rather be a serf in the house of some landless man than the king of all these dead men that are done with life.
Solomon, Robert Christ’s teachings encompassed themes that were already central to Jewish thought—for example, love and the importance of helping the unfortunate. But he also taught the by-no-means-orthodox thesis that the Jewish law could be summarized in terms of loving God with one’s whole heart. Christ sharply criticized those who made a great show of their holiness but who failed to show compassion—a theme again borrowed from the Hebrew prophets.
Solomon, Robert Muhammad (570-632) was a merchant in Mecca who became the central prophet and founder of Islam. The term Islam derives from slam and means peace and surrender—namely, the peace that comes from surrendering to the will of God’s sovereignty. Before Islam the religions of the Arabic world involved the worship of many gods—Allah being one of them. Muhammad taught the worship of Allah as the only God, whom he identified as the same God worshipped by Christians and Jews. And Muhammad also accepted the authenticity of both the Jewish prophets and Christ—as do his followers.
Bek, Christopher The word philosophy comes from ancient Greece and is defined as the love of wisdom. Socrates (470-399 BC) set the table for Plato (427-347 BC) by radically insisting that we must first answer the question of what X is before we can say anything else about X. Plato then founded philosophy by daring to ask what existence would be like outside the cave. Plato’s theory of knowledge and theory of Forms holds that true or a priori knowledge must be certain and infallible. The Greeks Thales (624-546 BC) and Pythagoras (582-500 BC) founded geometry as the very first mathematical discipline. Mathematics is the systematic treatment of Forms, the science of drawing conclusion and the primordial foundation of absolutely all other science. While the Church was jumping up and down on everyone’s head in the Western world for over a millennium, Arab mathematicians like Muhammad al-Khwârizmî (780-850) were carrying the ball in founding algebra and algorithms. An algorithm is the procedural method for calculating and drawing conclusions with Arabic numerals and the decimal notation. Al-Khwârizmî served as librarian at the court of Caliph al-Mamun and as astronomer at the Baghdâd observatory. Interestingly, both the terms algebra and algorithm stem from the God, Allah. According to Arab philosophy, mathematics is the way God’s mind works. The Arabs believe that, by understanding mathematics, they are comprehending the mind of God. In fact the very core of their religion lies with the belief that the people must submit to the will of God’s sovereignty—meaning simply that the Godmade laws of nature (ie. mathematics) trump the manmade laws of government. The Latin version of al-Khwârizmî’s work is responsible for a great deal of the mathematical knowledge that resurfaced during the Renaissance. The notion that mathematics and God are the very same thing was adapted as the foundation for the Renaissance by thinkers like Descartes, Pascal, Fermat, Newton, Locke and Berkeley. Then, in what John Stuart Mill called the single greatest advance in the history of science, Descartes fulfilled the Pythagorean dream in conceiving analytic geometry and modern mathematics by synthesizing Greek geometry with Arab algebra.
Bek, Christopher Totalitarianism is the practice of governance that attempts to monopolize all possible influences affecting the behavior of individuals. It atomizes people and existentially alienates them from themselves and each other, thus forcing them to capitulate to the external authority of government in order to survive. Totalitarianism depends upon the masses to control the masses by either physical or metaphysical force. The Canadian Government defines itself as totalitarian in that it denies the children access to the mind of God by buggering them with a wrongheaded education that is founded on a false, flat, dehistorized version of mathematics.
Kennedy, Robert The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of bold projects and new ideas. Rather, it will belong to those who can blend passion, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the great enterprises and ideals of society.
Sayers, Dorothy War is a judgment which overtakes societies that have been living upon ideas that conflict too violently with the laws of nature.
Sayers, Dorothy That Dante’s Inferno is a picture of human society in a state of sin and corruption, everyone will readily agree. And since we are today fairly well convinced that society is in a bad way and not necessarily evolving in the direction of perfectibility, we find it easy enough to recognize the various stages by which the depth of corruption is reached. Futility; lack of a living faith; the drift into loose morality, greedy consumption, financial irresponsibility, and uncontrolled bad temper; a self-opinionated and obstinate individualism; violence, sterility, and lack of reverence for life and property including one’s own; the exploitation of sex, the debasing of language by advertisement and propaganda, the commercializing of religion, the pandering to superstition and the conditioning of people’s minds by mass-hysteria and spell-binding of all kinds, venality and string pulling in public affairs, hypocrisy, dishonesty in material things, intellectual dishonesty, the fomenting of discord (class against class, nation against nation) for what one can get out of it, the falsification and destruction of all the means of communication; the exploitation of the lowest and stupidest mass-emotions; treachery even to the fundamentals of kinship, country, the chosen friend, and the sworn allegiance—these are the all-too-recognizable stages that lead to the cold death of society and the extinguishing of all civilized relations.
Plato A just society will only be possible once philosophers become kings and kings become philosophers.
Kaku, Michio Einstein always began with the simplest possible ideas, and then put them into their proper context. But Einstein failed in his attempt to create a unified field theory because he abandoned this simple conceptual approach and instead resorted to the safety of obscure mathematics.
Kaku, Michio In many ways the destinies of Einstein and Heisenberg were strangely interwoven, although the theories they created, relativity and quantum theory, are universes apart. Both were revolutionary iconoclasts who challenged the established wisdom of their predecessors.
Kaku, Michio While relativity uncovers the secrets of energy, gravity and spacetime—the other theory that dominated the twentieth century, quantum theory, is the theory of matter. What Einstein didn’t realize, as physicists do now, is that the key to the unified field theory is found in the marriage of relativity theory and quantum theory.
Hoffmann, Banesh Quantum theory does not hold undisputed sway, but must share dominion with that other rebel sibling—relativity. And although these two bodies together have led to the most penetrating advances in the search for knowledge—they must remain enemies. Their fundamental disagreement will not be resolved until both are subdued by a still more powerful theory that will sweep away our present painfully won fancies concerning such things as space, time, matter, radiation and causality. The nature of this theory may only be surmised—but it will ultimately come down to the very same certainty as to whether our civilization as a whole survives—no more no less.
Bek, Christopher Freedom is lost when the subject surrenders to the object.
Talbot, Michael One of the most important experiment of the century was performed in 1982 by physicists Alain Aspect, Jean Dalibard, and Gerard Roger of the Institute of Optics at the University of Paris. It focused on the kind of interconnectedness that manifests itself between particles in the classic double-slit experiment. In the 1970s the technology became available to provide evidence that particles believed to be twins were actually connected—but it wasn’t until 1982 that Aspect and his team settled the matter conclusively. When Aspect and his team performed the experiment and tallied the results they discovered that the angles of polarization were indeed correlated in such a way that indicated the photons were instantaneously connected with one another. And this is a mind-boggling finding. It means that some of our most cherished and accepted notions about reality are radically in error. What is all the more astounding is that the Aspect experiment—an experiment which, most assuredly, will eventually change our understanding of reality as much as the revelations of Copernicus or Darwin—went almost completely unnoticed by the mass media. Even the scientific world, as evidenced by the response of the scientific journals, greeted it with an unusual lack of fanfare. Articles appeared announcing the results of the experiment and concluded with remarks such as leads to realities beyond our common experience and indicates that we must be prepared to consider radically new views of reality. But beyond that not much more has been said.
Nietzsche, Friedrich The perfect woman is higher than the perfect man—and also much rarer. One cannot be gentle enough towards women.
Durant, Will Too long have we been fragments, shattered pieces of what might be a whole. How can a great culture grow in an air of patriotic prejudice and narrowing provincialism? The time for petty politics is over—the compulsion to great politics has come. When will the new race of leaders appear?
Durant, Will The problem of politics is to prevent the businessman from ruling. For such a man has the short sight and narrow grasp of a politician, not the long view and wide range of the born aristocrat trained to statesmanship. The finer man has a divine right to rule—ie. the right of superior ability.
Durant, Will Democracy means drift; it means permission given to each part of an organism to do just what it pleases; it means the lapse of coherence and interdependence, the enthronement of liberty and chaos. It means the worship of mediocrity and the hatred of excellence. It means the impossibility of great men—how could great men submit to the indignities and indecencies of an election? What chance would they have? What is hated by the people, as a wolf by the dogs, is the free spirit, the enemy of all fetters, the not-adorer, the man who is not a regular party-member. How can the Superman arise in such a soil? And how can a nation become great when its greatest men lie unused, discouraged, perhaps unknown? Such a society loses character; imitation is horizontal instead of vertical—not the superior man but the majority man becomes the ideal and the model; everybody comes to resemble everybody else; even the sexes approximate—the men become women and the women become men.
Pascal, Blaise Man escapes freedom by means of the two sovereign anodynes of habit and diversion. He chases a bouncing ball or rides to hounds after a fleeing animal—or the ball and fleeing game are pursued through the labyrinth of social intrigue and amusement—anything, so long as he manages to escape from himself.
Hubben, William Modern man wants neither God nor Christ—for what he desires is simply the authority of the Church. He wants the physical security of bread, the spiritual security of dogma, and the so-called proof of the existence of miracles. To follow God irrespective of the consequences presents too great a risk. The Church offers up a lighter burden. It serves, selects and explains the truth, forgives sins and bestows upon man the happiness of children. Yet the price is high. Man must surrender his freedom of thought and, indeed, he willingly does so. He no longer serves God as God demands of him, but only as the Church tells him so. God’s mysteries and miracles are henceforth monopolized and administered by the Church.
Russell, Bertrand I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in it thirty Churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.
Durant, Will Let our students of philosophy enter the world with no favor shown them; they shall compete with men of brawn and men of cunning; in the mart of strife they shall learn from the book of life itself; they shall hurt their fingers and scratch their philosophic shins on the crude realities of the world; they shall earn their bread and butter by the sweat of their brows. This last and sharpest test shall go on ruthlessly for fifteen long years. Those that survive, scarred and fifty, sobered and self-reliant, shorn of scholastic vanity by the merciless friction of life, and armed now with all the wisdom that tradition and experience, culture and conflict, can cooperate to give—these men at last shall become our leaders.
Bernstein, Peter In 1952 a young graduate student named Harry Markowitz studying operations research demonstrated mathematically why putting all your eggs in one basket is an unacceptable strategy and why optimal diversification is the best one can do. His revelation touched off an intellectual movement that has revolutionized Wall Street, corporate finance and decisionmaking of all kinds. Its effects are still being felt today.
Bernstein, Peter To judge the extent to which today’s methods of dealing with risk are either a benefit or a threat, we must know the whole story, from its very beginnings. We must know why people of past times did—or did not—try to tame risk, how they approached the task, what modes of thinking and language emerged from their experience and how their activities interacted with other events, large and small, to change the course of culture. Such a perspective will bring us to a deeper understanding of where we stand, and where we may be heading. Along the way we shall refer often to games of chance, which have applications that extend far beyond the spin of the roulette wheel. Many of the most sophisticated ideas about managing risk and making decisions have developed from the analysis of the most childish of games. One does not have to be a gambler or even an investor to recognize what gambling and investing reveal about risk.
Bek, Christopher Conscious is the perceptual apparatus by which we comprehend reality and the essence of reality is fundamentally different than our conscious perception of it.
Bek, Christopher Socrates said that no god seeks wisdom—for he is already wise. Upon assuming behaviorism, doctors, judges, cops and educators effectively issued press releases declaring themselves gods. As gods, they have no need for soul-searching to solve problems beyond their defined roles. These self-anointed gods instead focus on projecting and enforcing their god-status. What society is left with is a bunch of fragile, narrow-minded egomaniacs who are totally out of their depth when faced with true freedom and responsibility.
Bek, Christopher Those who believe in God strictly of the basis of faith are setting themselves up for failure for the reason that their conception of God is based on a static snapshot that is, by definition, not subject to reason. The Devil is the one who seeks out those who blindly follow. A true God most certainly wants to be constantly challenged by both faith and reason. Kevin Spacey tells us in the 1996 movie The Usual Suspects that the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist. And now we know the second greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world we can know God by faith alone.
Bek, Christopher Relativity is the natural law of spacetime based on lightspeed. Quantum theory is the natural law of matter based on Planck’s constant. The theory of one unites relativity and quantum theory by recognizing lightspeed and Planck’s constant as the same boundary of spacetime. Sir James Jeans once described Einstein’s relativistic universe as the surface of four-dimensional soap bubbles. John Wheeler once described the universe as empty curved spacetime churned into lathering distorted geometry of quantum foam formed in the wake of electrons and positrons popping into and out of existence without limit—revealing that relativistic bubbles are thus equivalent to quantum foam.
Solomon, Robert Jewish religion stresses the fact that Scripture can be interpreted on many different levels.
Christ I will lead the blind by a road they do not know, by paths they have not known I will guide them, I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I will do—I will not forsake them.
Christ No one goes to God who does not go through me.