"To us, men of the West, a very strange thing happened at the turn of the century; without noticing it, we lost science, or at least the thing that had been called by that name for the last four centuries. What we now have in place of it is something different, radically different, and we don't know what it is. Nobody knows what it is."
"The statements of science are hearsay, reports from a world outside the world we know. What the poet tells us has long been knownto us all, and forgotten. His knowledge is of our world, the world we are both doomed and privileged to live in, and it is a knowledge of ourselves, of the human condition, the human predicament."
"A religious creed differs from a scientific theory in claiming to embody eternal and absolutely certain truth, whereas science isalways tentative, expecting that modification in its present theories will sooner or later be found necessary, and aware that its method is one which is logically incapable of arriving at a complete and final demonstration."
"It seems to me that science has a much greater likelihood of being true in the main than any philosophy hitherto advanced (I do not, of course, except my own). In science there are many matters about which people are agreed; in philosophy there are none. Therefore, although each proposition in a science may be false, and it is practically certain that there are some that are false, yet we shall be wise to build our philosophy upon science, because the risk of error in philosophy is pretty sure to be greater than in science. If we could hope for certainty in philosophy, the matter would be otherwise, but so far as I can see such a hope would be a chimerical."
"In astronomy, the law of gravitation is plainly better worth knowing than the position of a particular planet on a particular night, or even on every night throughout a year. There are in the law a splendour and simplicity and sense of mastery which illuminate a mass of otherwise uninteresting details.... But in history the matter is far otherwise.... Historical facts, many of them, have an intrinsic value, a profound interest on their own account, which makes them worthy of study, quite apart from any possibility of linking them together by means of causal laws."
"There's a great difference between knowing that a thing is so, and knowing how to use that knowledge for the good of mankind. Thetrouble with a scientist is we quickly tire of our discoveries. We hand them over to people who are not ready for them, while we go off again into the darkness of ignorance, searching for other discoveries, which will be mishandled in just the same way when the time comes."
"There are three kinds of explanation in science: explanations which throw a light upon, or give a hint at a matter; explanations which do not explain anything; and explanations which obscure everything."
"Two Chinamen visiting Europe went to the theatre for the first time. One of them occupied himself with trying to understand the theatrical machinery, which he succeeded in doing. The other, despite his ignorance of the language, sought to unravel the meaning of the play. The former is like the astronomer, the latter the philosopher."
"My father was serious; he was all uniformity; he was systematical, and, like all systematick reasoners, he would move both heaven and earth, and twist and torture every thing in nature to support his hypothesis."
"While the scientist, on the one hand, is concerned with giving a faithful description of facts, on the other, he has the equally important task of construing them in relation to some explanatory conjecture. Similarly the historian has a double duty: both of reporting the past as nearly as possible as it passed or was lived through by men at the time (without doctoring up events to fit later developments or some more "enlightened reading" of them); and second, of interpreting their import in the light of a present hypothesis."
"These modern ingenious sciences and arts do not affect me as those more venerable arts of hunting and fishing, and even of husbandry in its primitive and simple form; as ancient and honorable trades as the sun and moon and winds pursue, coeval with the faculties of man, and invented when these were invented. We do not know their John Gutenberg, or Richard Arkwright, though the poets would fain make them to have been gradually learned and taught."
"After sitting in my chamber many days, reading the poets, I have been out early on a foggy morning and heard the cry of an owl ina neighboring wood as from a nature behind the common, unexplored by science or by literature."