- It strikes me as unfair and even in bad taste, to select a few . . . for boundless ADMIRATION attributing superhuman power of mind and character to them. This has been my fate . . .
- The release of ATOM POWER has changed everything except our way of THINKING, and thus we are being DRIVEN unarmed towards a CATASTROPHE . . . The solution of this problem lies in the heart of MANKIND.
- About ten years ago I spoke with Einstein about the astonishing fact that so many ministers of various denominations are strongly interested in the theory of relativity. Einstein said that according to his estimation there are more CLERGYMEN interested in relativity than physicists. A little puzzled
I asked him how he could explain this strange fact. He answered, a little smiling:
"Because clergymen are interested in the GENERAL LAWS of NATURE and physicists, very often, are not."
- Another day Frank spoke with Einstein about a certain physicist
who had very little success in his research work. Mostly he attacked
problems which offered tremendous difficulties. He applied
penetrating analysis and succeeded only in discovering more and more
difficulties. By most of his colleagues he was not rated very
highly. Einstein, however, said about him: "I admire this type of man.
I have little patience with SCIENTISTS who take a board of wood, 1ook
for its thinnest part and drill a great number of holes where drilling is easy.
- The normal adult never bothers his head about SPACE-TIME PROBLEMS.
Everything there is to be thought about, in his opinion, has already been done
in early CHILDHOOD. I, on the contrary, developed so slowly that I only began to wonder about SPACE and Time when I was already grown up. In consequence, I probed deeper into
the problem than an ordinary CHILD would have done.
- The most INCOMPREHENSIBLE thing about the world is its
COMPREHENSIBILITY. Alternatively . The most INCOMPREHENSIBLE thing about the universe is that it is COMPREHENSIBLE.
- CONCEPTS can never be regarded as logical derivatives of sense
impression. But didactic and heuristic objectives make such a notion
inevitable. Moral: it is impossible to get anywhere without sinning
against reason: in other words, one cannot build a house or a bridge
without the use of a scaffolding which, of course, is not part of
- It is quite true that our CONVICTIONS can best be supported
by experience and by clear thinking. In this respect one must agree
without reservation with the extreme rationalist. The weakness of
latter's conception, however, is that those convictions which are
necessary and decisive in our behaviour and judgements are NOT built
up solely by this sound SCIENTIFIC approach.
For the SCIENTIFIC method can only tell us how facts are
interrelated and how they determine one another. To strive after such
objective knowledge is one of man's most valuable attributes and you
will surely not think that I wish to belittle the achievements and
heroic efforts of men in the field. But it is equally clear that
KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT IS does NOT IMMEDIATELY show the way to what OUGHT
TO BE. One may have complete knowledge of what is and yet be unable
to deduce from it what the goal of human endeavour should be.
- The COSMIC RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE is the strongest and the noblest
driving force behind SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH.
- Buddhism, as we have learnt from the wonderful writing of
Schopenhauer, contains a strong element of COSMIC RELIGIOUS FEELING.
It is very difficult to explain this feeling to anyone who is
entirely without it, especially as there is no anthropomorphic
conception of God corresponding to it. The individual feels the
NOTHINGNESS of human desires and aims and the sublimity and marvellous
order which reveal themselves both in nature and in the world of
thought. He looks upon individual existence as a sort of prison and
wants to experience the universe as a SINGLE SIGNIFICANT WHOLE."
- The reciprocal relationship of EPISTEMOLOGY and SCIENCE is of
noteworthy kind. They are dependent upon each other. Epistemology
without contact with science becomes an empty scheme. Science without
epistemology is - insofar as it is thinkable at all - primitive and
muddled. However, no sooner has the epistemologist who is seeking a
clear system, fought his way through such a system, than he is
inclined to interpret the thought-content of science in the sense of
his SYSTEM and to reject whatever does not fit into his system. The
SCIENTIST, however, cannot afford to carry his striving for
epistemological systematic that far. He accepts gratefully the
epistemological conceptual analysis; but the external conditions,
which are set for him by the facts of experience, do not permit him to
let himself be too much restricted in the construction of his
conceptual world by the adherence to an epistemological system. He
therefore must appear to the systematic epistemologist as a type of
unscrupulous opportunist: he appears as realist insofar as he seeks
to describe a world independent of the acts of perception; as idealist
insofar as he looks upon the concepts and theories as the free
inventions of the human spirit (not logically derivable from what is
empirically given); as positivist in sofar as he considers his concepts
and theories justified only to the extent to which they furnish a
logical representation of relations among sensory experiences. He may
even appear as Platonist or Pythagorean insofar as he considers the
viewpoint of logical simplicity as an indispensable and effective tool
of his research.
All of this is splendidly elucidated in Lenzen's and Northrop's
essays. . . .
- EXPERIMENT alone can decide on TRUTH ... But the AXIOMATIC
BASIS of PHYSICS cannot be extracted from EXPERIMENT.
- More careful reflection teaches us, however, that the special
theory of relativity does not compel us to deny ETHER. We may assume
the existence of an ether; only we must give up describing a definite
state of motion to it, i.e., we must by abstraction take from it the
last mechanical characteristic which Lorentz had still left it ....
[There] is a weighty argument to be adduced in favour of the ether
hypothesis. To deny ether is ultimately to assume that empty space
has no physical qualities whatever. The fundamental facts of
mechanics do not harmonize with this view. ... According to the
general theory of relativity space without ether is unthinkable; for
in such space there would not only be no propagation of light, but
also no possibility of existence for standards of space and time
(measuring-rods and -clocks), nor therefore any space-time intervals
in the physical sense.
- A leader (Mahatma Gandhi) of his people, unsupported by any
outward authority: a politician whose success rests not upon craft
or mastery of technical devices, but simply on the convincing power
of his personality; a victorious fighter who has always scorned the use
of force; a MAN of WISDOM and HUMILITY, armed with resolve and
inflexible consistency, who has devoted all his strength to the
uplifting of his people and the betterment of their lot; a man who
confronted the brutality of Europe with the DIGNITY of the SIMPLE
HUMAN BEING, and thus at all times risen superior.
GENERATIONS TO COME, IT MAY BE, WILL SCARCE BELIEVE THAT SUCH A
ONE AS THIS EVER IN FLESH AND BLOOD WALKED UPON THIS EARTH.
- It is an encouraging symptom of out time - often decried as
materialistic - that it chooses its HEROES from individuals whose
goals lie completely in the INTELLECTUAL and SPIRITUAL sphere."
- The IDEALS which have always shone before me are GOODNESS,
BEAUTY and TRUTH. To make a goal of comfort or happiness has never,
appealed to me; a system of ethics built on this basis would be
sufficient only for a herd of cattle.
Possession, outward success, publicity, luxury - to me these have
always been contemptible. I believe that a SIMPLE and UNASSUMING
MANNER OF LIFE is best for every one, both for the body and the mind.
- For us believing physicists the distinction between past,
present and future is only an ILLUSION, even if a stubborn one.
- IMAGINATION is more important than KNOWLEDGE. For KNOWLEDGE. For knowledge is
limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating
progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a
factor in SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH.
- Lack of IMAGINATION circumscribed our affections, and our task
was to FREE OURSELVES and EMBRACE ALL NATURE. A suitably tall order.
- The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the
measure and the sense in which he has attained LIBERATION from the
- What is the meaning of human LIFE, or of organic life
altogether? To answer this question at all implies a RELIGION.
Is there any sense then, you ask, in putting it? I answer, the man who
regards his own life and that of his fellow creatures as meaningless
is not merely unfortunate, but almost disqualified for life.
- How can it be that MATHEMATICS, a product of human thought
independent of experience, is so admirably adapted to the objects of REALITY?
- But the creative principle resides in MATHEMATICS. In a certain
sense, therefore, I hold it true that PURE THOUGHT can grasp reality,
as the ancients dreamed.
- EXPERIENCE remains, of course, the sole criterion of the
physical utility of a MATHEMATICAL CONSTRUCTION. But the creative
principle resides in MATHEMATICS.
- As far as the MATHEMATICAL THEOREMS refer to reality, they are
not sure, and as far as they are sure, they do not refer to reality . . . The progress entailed by AXIOMATIC consists in the clean-cut separation of the logical form and the realistic and intuitive
contents. . . . The AXIOMS are voluntary creations of the human MIND . . . .
To this interpretation of GEOMETRY I attach great importance for
should I not have been acquainted with it, I would never have been
able to develop the theory of relativity.
- Our experience hitherto justifies us in believing that nature is
the realization of the simplest conceivable MATHEMATICAL IDEAS. I am
convinced that we can discover by purely MATHEMATiCAL CONSTRUCTIONS
the concepts and laws connecting them with each other, which furnish
the key to the understanding of natural phenomena. EXPERIENCE may
suggest the appropriate mathematical concepts, but they most certainly
cannot be deduced from it. Experience remains, of course, the sole
criterion of the utility of a MATHEMATICAL CONSTRUCTION. But the creative
principle resides in MATHEMATICS. In a certain sense, therefore, I hold it true that pure thought can can grasp REALITY as the ancients dreamed.
- The strange conclusion to which we have come is this -
that now it appears that space will have to be regarded as a primary thing and
that MATTER is derived from it, so to speak, as a secondary result.
Space is now turning around and eating up MATTER.
- BEETHOVEN created his music, but MOZART's music is so pure that
it seems to have been everpresent in the universe, waiting to be
discovered by the master.
- The most BEAUTIFUL thing we can experience is the MYSTERIOUS. It is the source of all true art and science.
- "The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. I
is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true ART and
true SCIENCE. Who ever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no
longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
- Still there are moments when one feels free from one's own
identification with human limitations and inadequacies. At such
moments, one imagines that one stands on some spot of a small planet,
gazing in amazement at the cold yet profoundly moving beauty of the
ETERNAL, the UNFATHOMABLE: life and death flow into one, and there
neither evolution nor destiny; only BEING."
- The DISCOVERY of NUCLEAR CHAIN REACTION need not bring about the
destruction of mankind any more than the discovery of MATCHES.
- ... this WORLD is so enormously interesting if one looks at it
OBJECTIVELY, and not as we believe it ought to be - and is not.
- PHYSICAL CONCEPTS are free CREATIONS of the human mind, and are not
, however it may seem, uniquely determined by the eternal world.
In our endeavour to understand reality, we are somewhat like a man
trying to understand the mechanism of a closed watch. He sees the
face and the moving hands, even hears its ticking, but he has no way
of opening the case. If he is ingenious he may form some picture of
a mechanism which could be responsible for all the things he observes,
but he may never be quite sure his picture is the only one which could
explain his observations. He will never be able to compare his
picture with the real mechanism and he cannot even imagine the
possibility of the meaning of such a comparison.
- A man (Max Planck) to whom it has been given to bless the world
with a GREAT CREATIVE IDEA has no need for the PRAISE of POSTERITY.
His very achievement has already conferred a higher boon upon him.
Yet it is good - indeed, it is indispensable - that representative
of all who strive for TRUTH and KNOWLEDGE should be gathered today
from the four corners of the globe. They are to bear witness that
even in these times of ours when political passion and brute force
hang like swords over the anguished and fearful heads of men, the
standard of our IDEAL SEARCH for TRUTH is being held aloft undimmed,
This ideal, a bond forever uniting scientists of all times and in all
places, was embodied with rare completeness in MAX PLANCK.
- Yes, we now have to divide up our time like that, between POLITICS
and EQUATIONS. But to us our equations are far more important, for
POLITICS are only a matter of PRESENT CONCERN. A MATHEMATICAL
EQUATION STANDS FOR EVER.
- A human being is a part of the whole, called by us 'Universe', a
part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts
and feelings as something separated from the rest - a kind of optical
delusion of his consciousness. The delusion is a kind of PRISON for
us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few
persons nearest to us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our
circle of COMPASSION to embrace all living creatures and the whole
nature in its beauty.
- A theory can be PROVED by experiment; but no path leads from
experiment to the birth of a theory.
- REASON of course is weak, when measured against its never-ending
task. Weak, indeed, compared with the follies and passions of
mankind, which, we must admit, almost entirely control our human
destinies, in great things and small. Yet the works of the
UNDERSTANDING OUTLAST THE NOISY BUSTLING GENERATIONS and SPREAD LIGHT
and WARMTH ACROSS THE CENTURIES. Consoled to this thought let us
turn, in these unquiet days, to the memory of NEWTON, who three
hundred years ago was given to mankind. To think of him is to think
of his work. For such a man can be understood only by thinking of him
as a scene on which the struggle for eternal TRUTH took place.
- . . . every REFERENCE BODY has its own particular time; unless
we are told the reference body to which the statement refers, there is
no meaning in a statement of the time of an event.
- All RELIGIONS, ARTS and SCIENCES are branches of the same tree.
All these aspirations are directed toward ENNOBLING MAN' S LIFE,
lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual
toward FREEDOM . . . . . the enoblement of the individual . . .
to acknowledge the QUEST for OBJECTIVE TRUTH and KNOWLEDGE
as man's highest and eternal aim. I am firmly convinced that the
passionate will for JUSTICE and truth has done more to improve man's condition than calculating
political shrewdness which in the long run only breeds general
distrust. Who can doubt that Moses was a better leader of humanity
than Machiavelli . . .to rejoice in humanity.
- Now, even though the realms of RELIGION and SCIENCE in
themselves are clearly marked off from each other, nevertheless there
exist between them the two strong reciprocal relationships and
dependencies. Though religion may be that which determines the goal,
it has, nevertheless, learned from SCIENCE, in the broadest sense
what means will contribute to the goals it has set up. But science
can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the
aspiration towards truth and understanding. This source of feeling,
however, springs from the sphere of religion. To this there also
belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for
the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to
reason. I cannot conceive a genuine scientist without that profound
faith. The situation may be expressed by an image:
SCIENCE without RELIGION is lame, RELIGION without SCIENCE is
- The RELIGION of the future, a COSMIC RELIGION, should transcend
a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology, covering both the
natural and the spiritual. It should be based on a religious sense
arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual.
- One thing I have learnt in a long life is that all our SCIENCE
measured against REALITY is primitive and childlike - and yet it is
the most precious thing we have.
- SCIENCE is not just a collection of LAWS, a catalogue of
unrelated FACTS. It is a creation of the human mind, with its freely
invented IDEAS and CONCEPTS. PHYSICAL THEORIES try to form a PICTURE
of REALITY and to establish its connection with the wide world of
sense impressions. Thus the only justification for our mental
structures is whether or in what way our theories form such a link.
- It stands to the everlasting credit of SCIENCE that by acting on the human mind it has overcome man's insecurity before himself and before nature. In creating elementary MATHEMATICS the Greeks fort the first time wrought a system of thought whose conclusions no one could escape. The scientists of the Renaissance then devised the combination of systematic experiment with mathematical method. This union made possible such precision in the formulation of natural laws
and such certainty in checking them by experience that as a result there was no longer room for basic differences of opinion in natural science. Since that time each generation has built up the heritage of knowledge and understanding, without the slightest danger of a crisis that might jeopardize the whole structure.
The general public may be able to follow the details of scientific research to only a modest degree; but it can register at least one great and important gain: confidence that human thought is dependable and NATURAL LAW universal.
- ... free and responsible development of the individual, so that he may plan his powers freely and gladly in the service of mankind . . .divinization of humanity . . . And the high destiny of the individual is to serve rather than to rule, or to impose himself in any other way.
- Insofar as we may at all claim that SLAVERY has been abolished
today, we owe its abolition to the practical consequences of SCIENCE."
54."Not only stimulating to the layman, but also will tend to counteract a too narrow SPECIALIZATION on the part of the PROFESSIONAL MATHEMATICIAN.
- TIME and SPACE are modes by which we think and not conditions in which we live.
- The knowledge of TRUTH as such is wonderful, but it is so little capable of acting as a guide that it cannot prove even the justification and the value of the aspiration towards that very
knowledge of TRUTH. Here we face, therefore, the limits of the purely rational conception of our existence.
- There are no great discoveries or great progress so long as there is an UNHAPPY CHILD on the earth.
- It is essential that the student acquires an UNDERSTANDING of and a FEELING for VALUES. He must acquire a vivid sense of the beautiful and morally good.. Otherwise he, with specialized
knowledge, more closely resembles a well-trained dog than a harmoniously developed person.
- I am absolutely convinced that no WEALTH in the world can help humanity forward, even in the hands of the most devoted worker in this cause. The example of great and pure characters is the only thing that can produce fine ideas and noble deeds. Money only appeals to selfishness and always tempts its owners irresistibly to abuse it. Can anyone imagine Moses, Jesus, or Gandhi armed with the money-bags of Carnegie?
- One result can prove me WRONG.
- "the only way to escape the personal corruption of praise is to go on working . . . WORK. THERE IS NOTHING ELSE.
- Asked what he had to say about his favourite composer BACH, Albert Einstein replied: "Listen to his work, play it, honor it, . . . and otherwise shut up about it.
- My political ideal is DEMOCRACY. Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized. It is an irony of fate that I myself have been the recipient of excessive ADMIRATION and reverence from my fellow-beings, through no fault and no merit, of my own.
- the PIiILOSOPHERS (Plato and Kant) had a harmful effect upon the progress of SCIENTIFIC THINKING in removing certain fundamental concepts from the domain of empiricism where they are under our control, to the intangible heights of the A PRIORI.
- The city [Shanghai) showed the difference in the social position of European and CHINESE which makes the later revolutionary events partially comprehensible. In Shanghai, the Europeans form a class of masters, while the Chinese are their servants ... the CHINESE are the poorest people of
the earth, cruelly abused and treated worse than cattle . . . This is a working, groaning, yet stolid people.
- All knowledge of reality starts from EXPERIENCE and ends in it. Experience alone can decide on TRUTH.
- The belief in an EXTERNAL WORLD independent of the perceiving subject is the basis of all NATURAL SCIENCE.
- Man can find MEANING in LIFE, short and perilous as it is, only through DEVOTING HIMSELF to SOCIETY.
- T he present difficulties of his science force the physicist to come to grips with PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS to a greater degree than was the case with earlier generations.
- It is not enough that you understand APPLIED SCIENCE as such. CONCERN for MAN HIMSELF must always constitute the chief objective of all TECHNOLOGICAL effort.
- whoever undertakes to set himself up to judge in the field of TRUTH and KNOWLEDGE is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods.
- One can give good reasons why reality cannot as earlier be represented by a CONTINUOUS field. From the quantum phenomena it appears to follow with certainty that a finite system of finite energy can be completely described by a finite set of numbers (quantum numbers). This does not seem to be in accordance with a continuum theory and must lead to an attempt to find a purely algebraic theory for the description if reality. But nobody knows how to obtain the basis of such a theory.
- Most of the fundamental ideas of SCIENCE are essentially SIMPLE and may, as a rule, be expressed in a LANGUAGE COMPREHENSIBLE to everyone.
- The man who regards his LIFE as meaningless is not merely unhappy but hardly fit for life.