Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority.
No slavery can be abolished without a double emancipation, and the master will benefit by freedom more than the freed-man.
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.
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.
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.
Science commits suicide when it adopts a creed.
I took thought, and invented what I conceived to be the appropriate title of 'agnostic'.
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.
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.
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.
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 ultimate court of appeal is observation and experiment... not authority.
Of moral purpose I see no trace in Nature. That is an article of exclusively human manufacture and very much to our credit.
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.
In scientific work, those who refuse to go beyond fact rarely get as far as fact.
Science has fulfilled her function when she has ascertained and enunciated truth.
My business is to teach my aspirations to confirm themselves to fact, not to try and make facts harmonize with my aspirations.
Nothing can be more incorrect than the assumption one sometimes meets with, that physics has one method, chemistry another, and biology a third.
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.