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