Thomas Huxley

(Thomas Henry Huxley)

Quote Topics Cited
Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Fact I know; and Law I know; but what is this Necessity, save an empty shadow of my own mind's throwing? Miscellaneous
I would rather be the offspring of two apes than be a man and afraid to face the truth. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
If a little knowledge is dangerous, where is the man who has so much as to be out of danger? Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
It is futile to expect a hungry and squalid population to be anything but violent and gross. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
It is much better to want a teacher than to want the desire to learn. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
It is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and end in superstitions. Human Nature
It ought not to be unpleasant to say that which one honestly believes or disbelieves. That it so constantly is painful to do so, is quite enough obstacle to the progress of mankind in that most valuable of all qualities, honesty of word or of deed Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
My colleagues have learned to respect nothing but evidence, and to believe that their highest duty lies in submitting to it, however it may jar against their inclinations. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising ;Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
No human being or society ... ever did or ever will come to much unless their conduct was governed and guided by the love of some ethical ideal Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
One of the unpardonable sins, in the eyes of most people, is for a man to go about unlabeled. The world regards such a person as the police do an unmuzzled dog, not under proper control. Liberals & Conservatives
Science commits suicide when it adopts a creed. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Science is organized common sense where many a beautiful theory was killed by an ugly fact. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Since the cosmic process of evolution is amoral, there is no guarantee that good will win out over evil, that human society will thrive rather than fail. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
Size is not grandeur, and territory does not make a nation. Expansionism, Colonialism & Imperialism
That mysterious independent variable of political calculation, Public Opinion. Public Opinion & Polling
That which lies before the human race is a constant struggle to maintain and improve Human Nature
The antagonism between science and religion, about which we hear so much, appears to me purely factitious, fabricated on the one hand by short-sighted religious people, who confound ... theology with religion; and on the other by equally short-sighted scientific people who forget that science takes for its province only that which is susceptible of clear intellectual comprehension. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
The foundation of morality is to have done, once and for all, with lying. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
The great tragedy of Science --- the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
The intelligence which has converted the brother of the wolf into the faithful guardian of the flock ought to be able to do something towards curbing the instincts of savagery in civilized men. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
The known is finite, the unknown is infinite. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The only freedom I care about is the freedom to do right; the freedom to do wrong I am ready to part with on the cheapest terms to anyone who will take it of me. Freedom & Liberty
The results of political changes are hardly ever those which their friends hope or their foes fear. Hope ;Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
There is another fallacy which appears to me to pervade the so-called “ethics of evolution.” It is the notion that because, on the whole, animals and plants have advanced in perfection of organization by means of the struggle for existence and the consequent “survival of the fittest;” therefore men in society, men as ethical beings, must look to the same process to help them towards perfection. I suspect that this fallacy has arisen out of the unfortunate ambiguity of the phrase “survival of the fittest.” “Fittest” has a connotation of “best;” and about “best” there hangs a moral flavour. In cosmic nature, however, what is “fittest” depends upon the conditions. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
There is nothing so tragic as when a beautiful theory is killed by an ugly fact. Miscellaneous
All truth, in the long run, is only common sense clarified. Truth
Books are the money of Literature, but only the counters of Science. Money, Coins & Minting ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Ecclesiasticism in science is only unfaithfulness to truth. Truth ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Economy does not lie in sparing money, but in spending it wisely. Money, Coins & Minting
Freedom and order are not incompatible... truth is strength... free discussion is the very life of truth. Life ;Freedom & Liberty
History warns us that it is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions. History
I am content with nothing, restless and ambitious... and I despise myself for the vanity, which formed half the stimulus to my exertions. Oh would that I were one of those plodding wise fools who having once set their hand to the plough go on nothing doubting.
I believe that history might be, and ought to be, taught in a new fashion so as to make the meaning of it as a process of evolution intelligible to the young. History
I do not say think as I think, but think in my way. Fear no shadows, least of all in that great spectre of personal unhappiness which binds half the world to orthodoxy.
I protest that if some great Power would agree to make me always think what is true and do what is right, on condition of being turned into a sort of clock and would up every morning before I got out of bed, I should instantly close with the offer. Morning ;Power
I take it that the good of mankind means the attainment, by every man, of all the happiness which he can enjoy without diminishing the happiness of his fellow men. Happiness & Unhappiness
I took thought, and invented what I conceived to be the appropriate title of 'agnostic'.
If a man cannot do brain work without stimulants of any kind, he had better turn to hand work it is an indication on Nature's part that she did not mean him to be a head worker. Nature ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
In science, as in art, and, as I believe, in every other sphere of human activity, there may be wisdom in a multitude of counsellors, but it is only in one or two of them. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
In scientific work, those who refuse to go beyond fact rarely get as far as fact. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
It is because the body is a machine that education is possible. Education is the formation of habits, a superinducing of an artificial organization upon the natural organization of the body. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
It is not to be forgotten that what we call rational grounds for our beliefs are often extremely irrational attempts to justify our instincts.
It is not who is right, but what is right, that is of importance.
It is one of the most saddening things in life that, try as we may, we can never be certain of making people happy, whereas we can almost always be certain of making them unhappy. Life
It is the customary fate of new truths, to begin as heresies, and to end as superstitions.
Learn what is true in order to do what is right. Truth
Logical consequences are the scarecrows of fools and the beacons of wise men.
Make up your mind to act decidedly and take the consequences. No good is ever done in this world by hesitation.
Misery is a match that never goes out.
My business is to teach my aspirations to confirm themselves to fact, not to try and make facts harmonize with my aspirations. Business, Commerce & Finance
My experience of the world is that things left to themselves don't get right.
No delusion is greater than the notion that method and industry can make up for lack of mother-wit, either in science or in practical life. Life ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
No slavery can be abolished without a double emancipation, and the master will benefit by freedom more than the freed-man. Freedom & Liberty
Nothing can be more incorrect than the assumption one sometimes meets with, that physics has one method, chemistry another, and biology a third.
Of moral purpose I see no trace in Nature. That is an article of exclusively human manufacture and very much to our credit. Nature
Patience and tenacity are worth more than twice their weight of cleverness. Patience
Proclaim human equality as loudly as you like, Witless will serve his brother. Equality & Equal Opportunity
Science and literature are not two things, but two sides of one thing. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Science has fulfilled her function when she has ascertained and enunciated truth. Truth ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Science is nothing, but trained and organized common sense. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Science reckons many prophets, but there is not even a promise of a Messiah. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every conceived notion, follow humbly wherever and whatever abysses nature leads, or you will learn nothing. Nature
Surely there is a time to submit to guidance and a time to take one's own way at all hazards. Time
Teach a child what is wise, that is morality. Teach him what is wise and beautiful, that is religion! Religion & God
The best men of the best epochs are simply those who make the fewest blunders and commit the fewest sins.
The Bible has been the Magna Carta of the poor and of the oppressed.
The chess-board is the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature. The player on the other side is hidden from us. Nature
The child who has been taught to make an accurate elevation, plan, and section of a pint pot has had an admirable training in accuracy of eye and hand.
The doctrine that all men are, in any sense, or have been, at any time, free and equal, is an utterly baseless fiction. Time
The great thing in the world is not so much to seek happiness as to earn peace and self-respect. Happiness & Unhappiness ;War & Peace
The great tragedy of science - the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, skepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Religion & God
The known is finite, the unknown infinite; intellectually we stand on an islet in the midst of an illimitable ocean of inexplicability. Our business in every generation is to reclaim a little more land, to add something to the extent and the solidity of our possessions. Business, Commerce & Finance
The man of science has learned to believe in justification, not by faith, but by verification. Religion & God ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
The medieval university looked backwards; it professed to be a storehouse of old knowledge. The modern university looks forward, and is a factory of new knowledge. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
The more rapidly truth is spread among mankind the better it will be for them. Only let us be sure that it is the truth. Truth
The most considerable difference I note among men is not in their readiness to fall into error, but in their readiness to acknowledge these inevitable lapses.
The only medicine for suffering, crime, and all other woes of mankind, is wisdom. Teach a man to read and write, and you have put into his hands the great keys of the wisdom box. But it is quite another thing to open the box.
The only question which any wise man can ask himself, and which any honest man will ask himself, is whether a doctrine is true or false.
The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man's foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher.
The scientific imagination always restrains itself within the limits of probability.
The scientific spirit is of more value than its products, and irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors.
The struggle for existence holds as much in the intellectual as in the physical world. A theory is a species of thinking, and its right to exist is coextensive with its power of resisting extinction by its rivals. Power
The ultimate court of appeal is observation and experiment... not authority.
The world is neither wise nor just, but it makes up for all its folly and injustice by being damnably sentimental.
There is but one right, and the possibilities of wrong are infinite.
There is no sea more dangerous than the ocean of practical politics none in which there is more need of good pilotage and of a single, unfaltering purpose when the waves rise high. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
There is the greatest practical benefit in making a few failures early in life. Life
Time, whose tooth gnaws away everything else, is powerless against truth. Truth ;Time
Try to learn something about everything and everything about something. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training