"To know one's ignorance is the better part of
Lao Zi, Tao Te Ching, no. 71.
on one's own idea and not on the orders of nature, then every effort
will be futile.
Jia Si Xie,
Min Yao Shu (Essential Techniques for the Peasantry), a 6th century
Chinese agricultural encyclopedia.
it would be difficult, not to say impossible, to draw a natural line between the activities of the human tribes which presumably fitted into and formed parts of "biotic communities" and the destructive human activities of the modern world.
Sir Arthur George
Tansley (1871 - 1955) in
All human situations have their inconveniences. We feel those of the present but neither see nor feel those of the future; and hence we often make troublesome changes without amendment, and frequently for the worse.
Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)
make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do
not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances
existing already, given and transmitted from the past.
Karl Marx (1818 - 1883)
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852)
we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of
Werner Heisenberg (1901 - 1976)
If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.
Lord William Thomson Kelvin (1824 - 1907)
is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one
begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
is better to have an approximate answer to the right question than an
exact answer to the wrong one."
John Tukey (1915 - 2000)
"Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unfore seen effects which only too often cancel the first..."
Friedrich Engels (1820 - 1895), in :
The Part Played by Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man (1876)
erroneous stories are those we think we know best - and therefore never
scrutinize or question.
Stephen Jay Gould
come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma
that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though
it had an underlying truth.
Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned
Thomas H. Huxley (1825 - 1895). from The Coming
of Age of The Origin of Species (1880)
Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.
Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.
Philip K. Dick
Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what
they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way.
Unless it's a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.
"In science and human affairs alike we lack the
resources to study more than a fragment of the phenomena that might
advance our knowledge."
William G. Cochran (Sampling Techniques,
1977, Wiley), 1909 - 1980.
you can find something everyone agrees on, it's wrong.
Mo Udall, 1922-1998
The guiding motto in the life of every natural philosopher should be, 'Seek
simplicity and distrust it.'
Alfred North Whitehead
We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on.'
Science has taught … me to be careful how I adopt a
view which jumps with my preconceptions, and to require stronger evidence
for such belief than for one to which I was previously hostile.
Thomas H. Huxley (1825 - 1895). Letter to
Charles Kingsley (23 September 1860)
"Modest doubt is called the beacon of
William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, II, ii,
"One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth
"Probability does not exist."
Bruno de Finetti (Theory of
Probability, 1974, Wiley), 1906 - 1985.
know that one does not know - that is high wisdom. The fault of those
who make mistakes is that they think they know when they do not know."
Lü Shih, Lü Shih Chun Qiu (Master Lü's Spring and
Autumn Annals), 239 BC.
farmers plow in spring, weed in summer, reap in fall, and store away in
winter. Because they do each at the proper season, there is a
never-ending supply of grain and the people have more than enough to
eat. Because the lakes and rivers are watched over carefully and
closed off at the proper time, there is an ever increasing supply of
fish and other water creatures and the people have more than they can
use. Because the felling of trees and cutting of brush is done
only at the proper time, the hills are never denuded and yet the people
have all the wood they need. These are the measures of a sage
Xun Zi, (310-212 BC).
is impossible to step into the same river twice."
Heraclitus, (from Plutarch), 535–475 B.C.
four seasons gave place to one another, produced one another and brought
one another to an end... Those who study the Tao know that they cannot
follow these changes to the ultimate end, nor search out their first
Zhuang Zi, Zhuang Zi.
for me, all I know is I know nothing."
Socrates, Phaedrus, sec. 235.
If a man
will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be
content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties
Sir Francis Bacon,
1561 - 1626
However much you study, you cannot know
Saadi of Shiraz, Thirteenth century Sufi author.
"The Earth is the origin of all things, the
root and garden of all life... water is the blood and breath of the
Earth, flowing and communicating within its body as if in sinews and
Kuan Chung, Kuan Tzu, 330 BC.
phenomena have their causes. If one does not know these
causes, although one may happen to be right about the facts, it is as if
one knew nothing, and in the end one will be bewildered... "
Lü Shih, Lü Shih Chun Qiu (Master Lü's Spring
and Autumn Annals), 239 B.C.
if it happens in the microcosm, it happens also in the great."
"The girls go drawing the water from the brook,
The men go gathering firewood on the hill...
Alive, they are the people of Che'en Village;
Dead, they become the dust of Che'en Village"
Po Chü-I, Ninth Century A.D.
"At sunup to work,
Sundown to rest,
Drinking from a well I dug,
Eating off the fields I plow,
The Emperor and his might- what are they to me?
"As the soft yield of water cleaves obstinate
So to yield with life solves the insoluble:
To yield, I have learned, is to come back again.
But this unworded lesson,
This easy example,
Is lost upon men."
Lao Zi, Tao Te Ching, no. 43.