Relevant  Quotations               

in the vein of Conceptualism

Listed Alphabetically by Author or Source.

Attributions have been assiduously verified.

All theories ought to
lend themselves to a
description so simple
that even a child
could understand.

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]
Science News, September 20, 2003, page 186



Any intelligent fool
can make things bigger,
 more complex,
and more violent.

It takes a touch of genius
-- and a lot of courage --
 to move in the
opposite direction.

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]

As far as
the laws of mathematics
refer to reality,
they are not certain,
and as far as they are certain,
they do not refer to reality.

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]


Common sense is the
collection of prejudices
acquired by age eighteen.

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]

Everything should be made
as simple as possible,
but not simpler.

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]
Reader's Digest, October 1977


(concerning God and) "the comprehension of
Reality...that He plays something that
I cannot believe for a single moment."

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]
In a private letter written in 1942 to
Cornelius Lanczos, at Princeton, as quoted in
the book "Albert Einstein, the Human side:
New Glimpses from His Archives."

I fear the day
when the technology
overlaps with our humanity.

The world will only have
a generation of idiots.

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]

I have deep faith
that the principle of the
universe will be
beautiful and simple.

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]

I never worry about the future.

It comes soon enough.

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]

If at first the idea is not absurd,
then there is no hope for it.

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]


Imagination is more
important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.
Albert Einstein [1878-1955]
On Science

It gives me great pleasure
indeed to see the
stubbornness of an
incorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed.

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]


It is not enough that
you should understand

Concern for man...and
his fate must always
form the chief interest
of all...endeavors order that the
creations of our mind
shall be a blessing
and not a curse...

Never forget this...

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]
Address, CalTech 1931

It should be possible to
explain the laws of physics 
to a barmaid.

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]


Nothing happens until something moves.

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]

Nothing that I can do
will change the structure
of the universe.

But maybe,
by raising my voice,
I can help the greatest
of all causes  --  goodwill
among men and
peace on earth.

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]

Only two things are infinite,
the universe and
human stupidity,
and I'm not sure about
the former.

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]

Peace cannot be kept
by force.

It can only be achieved
by understanding.

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]

Since the mathematicians
have invaded the
theory of relativity,
I do not understand it
myself anymore.

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]
Discover Magazine, August 2003

The eternal mystery
of the world is its

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]

The important thing is
not to stop questioning.

has its
own reason for existing.

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]

The only
real valuable thing
is intuition.

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]

The only thing
that interferes
with my learning
is my education.

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]

The release of atom power
has changed everything
except our way of thinking . . .
the solution to this problem
lies in the heart of mankind.

If only I had known,
I should have become a

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]

The secret to creativity
is knowing how to hide

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]


The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]

The world is a dangerous place,
 not because of those who do evil,
 but because of those who look on
 and do nothing...

 Albert Einstein [1878-1955]

Why Socialism?

This crippling of individuals I consider
the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole
educational system suffers from this evil.

... I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through
the establishment of a socialist economy,
accompanied by an educational system
which would be oriented toward social goals.

"Monthly Review," May 1949

Albert Einstein [1878-1955]

I was there when Abbe Georges Lemaître first proposed this [Big Bang] theory. ...There is no rational reason to doubt that the universe has existed indefinitely, for an infinite time. .... It is only myth that attempts to say how the universe came to be, either four thousand or twenty billion years ago.

[Expressing his belief that the Big Bang is a myth devised to explain creation. He said he heard Lemaître (who was, at the time both a member of the Catholic hierarchy and an accomplished scientist) say in private that this theory was a way to reconcile science with St. Thomas Aquinas' theological dictum of creatio ex nihilo—creation out of nothing.]

Hannes Alfvén [1908-1995]
Nobel Laureat, Physics 1970


The key to every man is his thought.

Sturdy and defying though he look,
he has a helm which he obeys,
which is the idea after which all
his facts are classified.

He can only be reformed by
showing him a new idea which
commands his own

Ralph Waldo Emerson [1803-1882]

Why?  And, Why?  And again, Why?

Every Innovator that has Made a Difference
 [Throughout all History]

It is going to be necessary that everything that happens in a finite volume of space and time would have to be analyzable with a finite number of logical operations.

The present theory of physics is not that way...if this proposition [that physics is computer-simulatable] is right, physical law is wrong.

Richard P. Feynman [1918-1988]
Nobel Laureat, Physics 1965
International Journal of Theoretical Physics
21 Nos. 6-7, 468.
Quoted in Brian Rotman, Mathematics as Sign (2000), 82
. is of paramount importance, to recognize...ignorance and...doubt.  ...we propose looking in new directions for new ideas.  ...if we did not have a doubt or recognize ignorance, we would not get any new ideas.  ...scientific knowledge today is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty.  Some of them are most unsure... 

I always live without knowing.  That is easy.  How you get to know is what I want to know.

Richard P. Feynman [1918-1988]
Nobel Laureat, Physics 1965
The Meaning of It All, 1963 Lecture

The theory of gravitation...(is) not understandable
from the laws of stands isolated from...
other theories.

Gravitation is...not understandable in terms of 
other phenomena.

Richard P. Feynman [1918-1988]
Nobel Laureat, Physics 1965

...we are gradually understanding this tremendous world of interconnecting hierarchies. 

Richard P. Feynman [1918-1988]
Nobel Laureat, Physics 1965
The Character of Physical Law, 1965

To solve any problem that
has never been solved before, 
you have to leave the door
to the unknown ajar.

Richard P. Feynman [1918-1988]
Nobel Laureat, Physics 1965

An education isn't
how much you have
committed to memory,
or even how much you know.

It's being able to differentiate
between what you do know
and what you don't.

Anatole France
(Jacques Anatole François Thibault)

The average man
does not know what to do with this life,
yet wants another one which will last forever.

Anatole France
(Jacques Anatole François Thibault)


The whole art of teaching
is only the art of
awakening . . .
natural curiosity . . .

Anatole France
(Jacques Anatole François Thibault)
The Daughter of Clementine, Chapter 4

To know is nothing at all;
to imagine is everything. 

Anatole France
(Jacques Anatole François Thibault)

The Daughter of Clementine, Part II, Chapter 2

It is in the region
of ignorance that
tyranny begins.

Benjamin Franklin

Anger and intolerance
are the twin enemies
of correct understanding.

Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma)

Honest differences are often
a healthy sign of progress.

Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma)

It is unwise
to be too sure of
one's own wisdom.

It is healthy
to be reminded
that the strongest
might weaken and
the wisest might err.

Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma)

Live as if you were to die tomorrow.

Learn as if you were to live forever.

Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma)

No culture can live,
if it attempts
to be exclusive.

Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma)

Prayer is a confession of one's own unworthiness and weakness.

Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) [1869-1948]


Only those things are beautiful
which are inspired by madness
and written by reason.

André Gide [1869-1951]  

People cannot discover new lands until they have the courage to lose sight of the shore.

André Gide [1869-1951]


Three principles the conformability of nature...simplicity, and the "unreasonable effectiveness" of...mathematics in describing...
are...consequences of...the elementary
particles and their interactions.

Those three principles need not
be assumed as...metaphysical...

...they are emergent properties
of the fundamental laws of physics.

Murray Gell-Mann [1929- ] fundamental physics, a beautiful or elegant theory is more likely to be right than a theory that is inelegant.

 A theory appears to be beautiful or elegant (or simple, if you prefer) when it can be expressed concisely in terms of mathematics we already have.

Murray Gell-Mann [1929- ]


There is nothing more frightful
than ignorance in action.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe [1749 - 1832]

Most physicists use quantum theory...for calculating results and don't trouble themselves about "reality."

Nick Herbert
Quantum Reality, 1985

The infinite! No other question has ever moved so profoundly the spirit of man; no other idea has so fruitfully stimulated his intellect; yet no other concept stands in greater need of clarification than that of the infinite . . .

David Hilbert [1862-1943]
as quoted in
To Infinity and Beyond (1987)
Eli Maor; Preface, Page vii

 In scientific work, those who refuse to go beyond fact rarely get as far as fact. 

Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing.

A world of facts lies outside and beyond the world of words.

Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors.

Science is simply common sense at its best -- that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.

Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority.

We shall, sooner or later, arrive at a mechanical equivalent of consciousness.

Thomas Henry Huxley [1825-1895]
President Royal Society, 1883-1885
The Coming of Age of  The Origin of Species, 1880, and other selected works

I never opinions to the creed of any...religion...philosophy... politics...or any thing else where I was capable of thinking for myself.

Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent.

Thomas Jefferson

Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned...

Thomas Jefferson

Creative people live in two worlds. ...the ordinary world... The other is private... this world that...creative acts take place. ...a world with its own passions, elations and is here that, if one is as great as Einstein, one may...hear the voice of God.
The two worlds are...intricately connected.

Mark Kac [1914-1985]
Enigmas of Chance, 1985
Introduction, Page xv

It is all just metaphysical, and in want of an explanation.

C. C. Keiser [1946- ]

invariant for any and all
systems of reference…
for instance,
the principle axes of an ellipse…
should be considered as
the highest ideal in science.

Alfred Korzybski [1879-1950]
Science and Sanity
third edition, 1948, pg. 619

There are two ways
to slice easily through life;
to believe everything or
to doubt everything.

Both ways
save us from thinking.

Alfred Korzybski [1879-1950]

Whatever you say it is, it isn't.

Alfred Korzybski [1879-1950] 1987, a very careful satellite-based experiment...reported an unexpected excess of energy at high frequency...

There is...a rather diffuse, apparently isotropic, X-ray background that is...unexplained.

...this could be due to a uniform intergalactic background of hot gas at a very high temperature (...100 million degrees...).

If this were the case, then almost ten to one hundred times the observed...matter in the universe could be in such a gas.

...such a far beyond any...reasonable physical mechanisms that
 it is not considered...
Lawrence M. Krauss
The Fifth Essence, 1989

The strength of criticism lies in
the weakness of the thing criticized. 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow [1807-1882]

 takes man out of servitude,
 into freedom.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow [1807-1882]

Isaac Newton, who figured out that the fall of
the apple and the orbit of the moon were both
ruled by gravity, made it quite clear that he still
didn't know how gravity worked.

Niels Bohr, the father of the quantum mechanics
that rule the inner world of the atom, said that understanding atoms would require a serious
rethinking of what understanding means.

Los Angeles Times
March 17, 1996

...nature's thing for geometry has gotten so out of hand, some scientists would say, that she has kissed fields such as physics goodbye for good.

Forget forces, particles, fields, gravity, matter, motion--even space and time.

Physics has become a chapter in a geometry book.

"It almost appears that the physics has been absorbed into the geometry,"
  wrote Sir Arthur Eddington.

Los Angeles Times
November 4, 1999

Light is the symbol of truth. 

James Russell Lowell [1819-1891] 

Superstition, idolatry, and hypocrisy have
 ample wages,
but truth goes begging.

Martin Luther [1483-1546]
The Great Catechism, Table Talk, 1569

Scientists must use
the simplest means
of arriving at their results
and exclude everything
not perceived by the senses.


Ernst Mach [1838-1916]
Mach's Principle of Economy

...inspiration (for Pythagorean philosophy) came from the order and harmony of nature...the entire universe.

The Pythagoreans believed...( natural) numbers are the prime cause behind everything...from the laws of musical harmony to the motion of the planets.

"Number rules the universe" was their motto...they meant natural numbers and their ratios...

Eli Maor
e The Story of a Number (1994)
Chapter 6, Page 51

The Almighty...
If you keep His laws
I don't think He can care
a packet of pins whether
you believe in Him or not
W. Somerset Maugham [1874-1965]
Of Human Bondage, 1915




 Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.

John Muir [1838-1914]

When we try to pick out anything by itself,
we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.

John Muir [1838-1914]
My First Summer in the Sierra, 1911

 Gödel's proof...does not mean...
there are truths which are...
incapable of becoming known...

It does not mean...there are
"ineluctable limits to human reason."

 It does mean that...intellect...and principles...await...discovery.

...mathematical propositions which cannot be established by...deduction... established by
meta-mathematical reasoning.

It would be irresponsible to claim...
meta-mathematical arguments are
based on...bare appeals to intuition.

Ernest Nagel and James R. Newman
Godel's Proof, 1958

It is the glory of geometry
that from so few principles,
fetched from without . . .
it is able to accomplish so much.
Isaac Newton, Sir [1642-1727]
California Museum of Science and Industry
Los Angeles

 Ockham's Razor:
A principle of
economy of explanation
named for philosopher
William of Ockham (Occam)
(c. 1285-1350),

also called Law of Parsimony.
It holds that
explanatory principles
should not be
needlessly multiplied;

the simplest proof
is usually the best.

Ockham's Razor
Random House Encyclopedia


en never do evil so completely and cheerfully
as when they do it from a religious conviction

Blaise Pascal, a Catholic Theologian, etc. [1623-1662]




Poetry is always dissident...
a secret form
...of religion...private and...anarchical...
Poetry is individual.

Reality -- everything we are,
everything that envelops us, that sustains and, simultaneously, devours and nourishes us --is richer and more changeable, more alive,
than all the ideas and systems that attempt
to encompass it.

In the process of
reducing nature's...
spontaneity to...our ideas,
we mutilate...its naturalness.

Man, as he confronts
reality...mutilates it,
and submits...nature thought.

Thus we do not...know
reality...only the part
...we...reduce to
language and concepts.

Octavio Paz [1914-1998]
Mexico City
Poetry of Solitude and Poetry of Communion, 1942

What is so remarkable is that
we are answering deep
philosophical questions
with physical measurements.

Saul Perlmutter          

I love mathematics...
because it is beautiful...
man has breathed his spirit of
play into it, and because it has
given him his greatest game --
the encompassing of the infinite.

 Rozsa Peter [1905-1977]
Playing with Infinity, 1943

The universe is full of magical things
patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.

Eden Phillpotts aka
Harrington Hext [1862-1960]

An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: it rarely happens that Saul becomes Paul.

What does happen is that its opponents
gradually die out and that the
growing generation is familiarized
with the idea from the beginning.

Max Planck [1858-1947]
The Philosophy of Physics, 1936

Anybody who has been seriously engaged in scientific work of any kind realizes that over the entrance to the gates of the temple of science are written the words:

Ye must have faith.

It is a quality which the scientist cannot dispense with. 
Max Planck [1858-1947]
Where Is Science Going?, 1932

The syncretistic philosophy expounded by Pythagoras, distinguished chiefly by
 its description of reality in terms of
 arithmetical relationships.

Pythagorean Philosophy [c. 550 B.C.]
The Deluxe American Heritage Dictionary
Third Edition

If you can't explain your theory to a barmaid,
it's probably not a very good theory.

Nobel Laureate: Ernest Rutherford, First Baron [1871-1937]
as quoted by Timothy Ferris [1944- ]
Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series
Volume 30, pages 127-8

The universe, as far as we can observe it, is a wonderful and immense engine.

George Santayana [1863-1952]

The two don't talk physics much at home, she said.

She's interested in
geometrical approaches to
space and time, and he thinks algebraically.

"When he starts talking about
(exotic kinds of) algebras,
I just think, 'Yuuuccckk.' "

'A Lot of It's Guesswork' 

Patricia Schwarz with reference to her husband John Schwarz
Los Angeles Times, November 17, 1999

I cannot teach anybody anything,
I can only make them think.

Socrates [470-399 B.C.]

One thing I would fight for to the end, both in word and deed if I were able -- that if we believed that we must try to find out what is not known, we should be better and braver and less idle than if we believed that what we do not know it is impossible to find out and that we need not even try.

The Meno, as quoted in
The Mind's New Science, 1985
by: Howard Gardiner

This kind of structure (string theory)
 never occurred to anybody before,
but it turns out it's very natural...

It tells us that our imagination
has been very limited.

It shows how little we know about the universe beyond that which we've actually measured.

Andrew Strominger
Los Angeles Times
November 4, 1999

...a method of procedure would be ideal, if it permitted us to explain the meaning of every expression occurring in this science... justify each of its assertions.

...In fact, when one tries to explain the meaning... We...have the beginning of a process which can never be brought to an end...

Alfred Tarski [1902-1983]
Introduction to Logic, 1941

Truth, and truth alone,
is victorious.

The Upanishads

Born in iniquity and conceived in sin, the spirit of nationalism has never ceased to bend human institutions to the service of dissension and distress.

Thorstein Veblen [1857-1929]

Ecrasez l'infame (Crush the evil thing).

Rallying cry at Ferney
referring to religious superstition
Voltaire (Francois Marie Arouet) [1694-1778]

Those who can make you believe absurdities
can make you commit atrocities.

Voltaire (Francois Marie Arouet) [1694-1778]

Life is not complex.  We are complex.
Life is simple,
and the simple thing is the right thing.

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde  [1854-1900]
Passages Journal

A TV Comment on CNN's "Fareed Zacharia GPS," 10-5-2013, regarding U.S.A. democracy:

Something’s deeply rotten with the American system now.

Fareed Zacharia [1964-]
Host of CNN's flagship foreign affairs show
Editor-at-Large, TIME magazine
Editor of Newsweek International
Washington Post columnist
New York Times best-selling author



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There is one Universe.

It is perpetual, in equilibrium;

and, a manifestation of the
Unified Concept; thus;

. . . the Fundamental Postulate.


are a single discipline, Philogic,
which proclaims perpetuity

and the nexus of Life; such is

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