Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Religions are more or less "scientific;" sciences are more or less "religious." In both fields, people are more or less true believers or skeptics.

Bertrand Russell said that, “Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don't know.” It seems more accurate to say though that science is for transforming what we don’t know into what we do know and that philosophy is a path for imagining the possible connections between the two and later trying to make sense of the results. Science arose as an alternative to faith and was quickly attacked as an evil seduction away from religion. In the early days, people taking a scientific path were ridiculed, persecuted, tortured, excommunicated, burned at the stake. Today, although obviously responsible for incredible advances in quality of life, medicine, technology, equality, and prosperity in general; science is still ridiculed, ignored, and disbelieved. Many don’t believe in evolution, climate change, or rationality preferring conspiracy theories, superstition, and political demagogues. Perhaps this disrespect and lack of appreciation results more from the fault of philosophy than of science itself.

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Quotes (96)

“There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres.”

Pythagorus 570 – 495 BCE
(of Samos)
"The most influential philosopher of all time"
from Golden Verses of Pythagoras Χρύσεα

Themes: Music Science

41. Distilled Life

“All things are numbers.”

Pythagorus 570 – 495 BCE via Bertrand Russell
(of Samos)
"The most influential philosopher of all time"

Themes: Science

“When in exile and told that the Athenians had condemned him to death because of his blasphemous scientific theories, he replied 'Nature has long since condemned both them and me.'”

Anaxagoras Ἀναξαγόρας 510 – 428 BCE via Will Durant
“The Copernicus and Darwin of his age”

Themes: Science

Happy the man, who, studying nature's laws,
Thro' known effects can trace the secret cause.

Virgil 70 – 19 BCE via John Dryden
(Publius Vergilius Maro)
from Georgics (29 BC)

“Mathematics reminds you of the invisible form of the soul; she gives life to her own discoveries; she awakens the mind and purifies the intellect; she brings light to our intrinsic ideas; she abolishes oblivion and ignorance which are ours by birth.”

Proclus Lycaeus Πρόκλος ὁ Διάδοχος 412 – 485 CE via Morris Kline
"The most influential Ancient Greek philosopher you've never heard of"

Themes: Science

“Poetry, philosophy, and science are 3 different manifestations of the same spiritual force searching for the solution to the riddle of existence; science looking from the physical point of view, philosophy from the mental side, and poetry trying to penetrate the mystery with its vision.”

Solomon ibn Gabirol שלמה בן יהודה אבן גבירול 1021 – 1070 CE via Zangwill, Shan Dao

“Poetry, philosophy, and science are 3 different manifestations of the same spiritual force searching for the solution to the riddle of existence; science looking from the physical point of view, philosophy from the mental side, and poetry trying to penetrate the mystery with its vision.”

Solomon ibn Gabirol שלמה בן יהודה אבן גבירול 1021 – 1070 CE via Zangwill, Shan Dao

“... the fundamental method is to carry out observation and tests.”

Guo Shoujing 郭守敬 1231 – 1316 CE
(Ruosi, Kuo Shou-ching)
One of the history's most influential scientists

Themes: Science

“Study the art of science… Realize that everything connects to everything else.”

Leonardo da Vinci 1452 – 1519 CE

Themes: Art Science Oneness

39. Oneness

“Natural Magick is the chief power of all the natural Sciences; the top, perfection, and active part of Natural Philosophy; which by the assistance of natural forces and faculties, through their mutual & opportune application, performs those things that are above Human Reason.”

Agrippa 1486 – 1535 CE
(Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim)
Historian of the occult and early, important influence on science
from The Vanity of Arts and Sciences​

“We have been kept back from scientific progress by a kind of enchantment and reverence for antiquity, for the authority of those considered great in philosophy, and by general consent.”

Francis Bacon 1561 – 1626 CE via "Aphorisms" (tr: Shan Dao)
from The New Organon, 1620

Themes: Science Progress

“I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.”

Isaac Newton 1642 – 1726 CE

Themes: Science

“Go, wondrous creature, mount where science guides.
Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides;
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
Correct old Time, and regulate the sun;
Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule,
Then drop into thyself and be a fool.”

Alexander Pope 1688 – 1744 CE
Second most quoted English writer
from An Essay on Man, 1736

Themes: Science

“Let me learn for once that nature would have preserved them from science as a mother snatches a dangerous weapon from the hands of her child.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712 – 1778 CE
from The Social Contract

Themes: Science

“All things must be examined, debated, investigated without exception and without regard for anyone's feelings.”

Diderot 1713 – 1784 CE
from Encyclopédie

Themes: Science

“Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition.”

Adam Smith 1723 – 1790 CE
''The Father of Economic Capitalism"
from Wealth of Nations

Themes: Science

“There is no greater impediment to progress in the sciences than the desire to see it take place too quickly.”

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg 1742 – 1799 CE
One of history’s best aphorists

“Science and art belong to the whole world and before them vanish the barriers of nationality.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE
from Maxims

“Scientific progress makes moral progress a necessity; for if man’s power is increased, the checks that restrain him from abusing it must be strengthened.”

Madame de Staël 1766 – 1817 CE
(Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein)
"The greatest woman of her time"

Themes: Science Power

“Nothing is more necessary to the culture of the higher sciences, or of the more elevated departments of science, than meditation”

Alexis de Tocqueville 1805 – 1859 CE
Pioneering researcher into the conflicts between freedom and equality

“Great is the power of steady misrepresentation; the history of science shows that fortunately this power does not long endure.”

Charles Darwin 1809 – 1882 CE
from Descent of Man

Themes: Lies Science

“In Science the paramount appeal is to the Intellect — its purpose being instruction; in Art, the paramount appeal is to the Emotions — its purpose being pleasure.”

George Henry Lewes 1817 – 1878 CE
English philosopher and soul mate to George Eliot
from The Principles of Success in Literature (1865)

Themes: Pleasure Science Art

“The arts and sciences, and a thousand appliances: the wind that blows is all that anybody knows.”

Henry David Thoreau 1817 – 1862 CE
Father of environmentalism and America's first yogi
from Walden or Life in the Woods

38. Fruit Over Flowers

“Science is properly more scrupulous than dogma. Dogma gives a charter to mistake, but the very breath of science is a contest with mistake and must keep the conscience alive. But Alas! The scientific conscience had got into the debasing company of money obligation and selfish respects.”

George Eliot 1819 – 1880 CE
(Mary Anne Evans)
Pioneering literary outsider

from Middlemarch

Themes: Science

“They have science; but in science there is nothing but what is subject to the senses.”

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky Фёдор Миха́йлович Достое́вский 1821 – 1881 CE via Constance Garnett
from Brothers Karamatzov

Themes: Science

“With a cruel analysis that focused on the parts but overlooked the whole, science and intellectuals have left nothing of all that was sacred of old.”

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky Фёдор Миха́йлович Достое́вский 1821 – 1881 CE via Constance Garnett, Shan Dao
from Brothers Karamatzov

“by combining science with religion, the existence of God and immortality of man's spirit may be demonstrated.”

Blavatsky, Helena Еле́на Петро́вна Блава́тская 1831 – 1891 CE
Co-founder of Theosophy
from Isis Unveiled

“the future depends on the present, and the present depends upon the past, and the past is unalterable... the more the past and present are known, the more the future can be predicted... this is the foundation on which morality and science are built.”

Samuel Butler 1835 – 1902 CE
Iconoclastic philosopher, artist, composer, author, and evolutionary theorist
from Erewhon

Themes: Science Time

“Science, like life, feeds on its own decay. New facts burst old rules; then newly divined conceptions bind old and new together into a reconciling law.”

William James 1842 – 1910 CE
"Father of American psychology”
from The Will to Believe

“Anarchism is the usher of science — the master of ceremonies to all forms of truth. It would remove all barriers between the human being and natural development.”

Lucy Parsons 1853 – 1942 CE
(Eldine Gonzalez)
Political activist “more dangerous than a thousand rioters”

Themes: Science Truth

“Science is no illusion. But it would be an illusion to think that we can get elsewhere what science cannot give.”

Sigmund Freud 1856 – 1939 CE

Themes: Illusion Science

“The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.”

Nikola Tesla Никола Тесла 1856 – 1943 CE
from My Inventions

Themes: Science

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”

Nikola Tesla Никола Тесла 1856 – 1943 CE

Themes: Science

“Religion is to mysticism what popularization is to science.”

Henri-Louis Bergson 1859 – 1941 CE

Themes: Science Religion

56. One with the Dust

“Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.”

John Dewey 1859 – 1952 CE
The "Second Confucius"

“The more we multiply means, the less certain and general is the use we are able to make of them... the entire problem is one of the development of science and its application to life”

John Dewey 1859 – 1952 CE
The "Second Confucius"
from Psychology and Social Science

“If all the arts aspire to the condition of music, all the sciences aspire to the condition of mathematics.”

Santayana, George 1863 – 1952 CE
(Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás)
Powerfully influential, true-to-himself philosopher/poet
from Some Turns of Thought, 1933

Themes: Music Science

“The incuriousness—the complete absence of science—of the Roman rich and the Roman rulers was more massive and monumental even than their architecture... Rome was content to feast, exact, grow rich, and watch its' gladiatorial shows without the slightest attempt to learn anything of India, China, Persia, Buddha or Zoroaster...”

H. G. Wells 1866 – 1946 CE
A father of science fiction and One World Government apostle
from Outline of History

“Discussion is impossible with someone who claims not to seek the truth, but already to possess it.”

Romain Rolland 1866 – 1944 CE
“The moral consciousness of Europe”
from Above the Battle

“Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don't know.”

Bertrand Russell 1872 – 1970 CE
“20th century Voltaire”

Themes: Science

“Technological civilization... rests fundamentally on power-driven machinery... science in all its branches - physics, chemistry, biology, and psychology - is the servant and upholder of this system.”

Charles Beard 1874 – 1948 CE
Pioneering progressive historian

“Because we lack [superhuman reason], the conquests of science and technology become a mortal danger to us rather than a blessing.”

Albert Schweitzer 1875 – 1965 CE

“Science is an invaluable tool but only clouds our insight when it claims to being the one and only way of understanding.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE via Shan Dao
Insightful shamanistic scientist

Themes: Science

“In view of its function, religion stands in greater need of a rational foundation of its ultimate principles than even the dogmas of science.”

Muhammad Iqbal محمد اقبال 1877 – 1938 CE

Themes: Religion Science

“A religion contradicting science and a science contradicting religion are equally false.”

Ouspensky Пётр Демья́нович Успе́нский 1878 – 1947 CE
(Pyotr Demianovich Ouspenskii)

Themes: Science Religion

“Psychology is sometimes called a new science. This is quite wrong. Psychology is, perhaps, the oldest science, and, unfortunately, in its most essential features a forgotten science.”

Ouspensky Пётр Демья́нович Успе́нский 1878 – 1947 CE
(Pyotr Demianovich Ouspenskii)

Themes: Science

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel is as good as dead.”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE
from Ideas and Opinions

Themes: Art Science Magic

1. The Unnamed

“I rarely think in words at all.”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE

Themes: Science

64. Ordinary Mind

“science without religion is lame… religion without science is blind”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE

Themes: Religion Science

“Every science begins as philosophy and ends as art... Philosophy accepts the hard and hazardous task of dealing with problems not yet open to the methods of science—good and evil, beauty and ugliness, order and freedom, life and death. When the inquiry yields knowledge susceptible of exact formulation, it is called science.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from The Story of Philosophy

Themes: Science

“Greek religion paved the way for philosophy by emphasizing Fate which became the idea of law, a force more powerful than personal fiat creating the fundamental difference between mythology and science.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE

“Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE

Themes: Science Wisdom

1. The Unnamed

“Progress in knowledge, science, comforts, and power is only progress in means; if there is no improvement in ends, purposes, or desires, progress is a delusion.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE

80. A Golden Age

“Happiness hates the timid! So does science!”

Eugene O'Neill 1888 – 1953 CE

Themes: Science Happiness

“Man has to awaken to wonder — and so perhaps do peoples. Science is a way of sending him to sleep again.”

Ludwig Wittgenstein 1889 – 1951 CE
One of the world's most famous philosophers
from Culture and Value (1980)

“It isn’t only art that is incompatible with happiness, it’s also science. Science is dangerous, we have to keep it most carefully chained and muzzled. ”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Brave New World

Themes: Art Science

“It is only by making psychological and moral experiments that we an discover the intimate nature of mind and its potentialities.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Perennial Philosophy

“Every applied science becomes an art whenever the element of individual interpretation enters in. The more predominant it is, the more trurly is an art—an interpretative art.”

Dane Rudhyar 1895 – 1985 CE
( Daniel Chennevière)
Agent of cultural evolution
from Astrology of Personality, 1936

Themes: Science

“Only the free-wheeling artist-explorer, non-academic, scientist-philosopher, mechanic, economist-poet who has never waited for patron-starting and accrediting of his co-ordinate capabilities holds the prime initiative today.”

Buckminster Fuller 1895 – 1983 CE

28. Turning Back

“[science is] the greatest body of uncriticized dogma we have today”

Scott Milross Buchanan 1895 – 1968 CE

Themes: Science

“Neither your gods, nor your science can save you, can bring you psychological certainty; and you have to accept that you can trust in absolutely nothing.”

Krishnamurti 1895 – 1986 CE
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)

“science itself contradicts the laws on which it was founded, and shows us that what appeared as infallible logic, or an incontrovertible law of cause and effect, is only one of the possible ways of thinking... and that there is another way which we have not even started to explore: the synchronicity of events”

Anagarika​ (Lama) Govinda 1898 – 1985 CE
(Ernst Hoffmann)
Pioneer of Tibetan Buddhism to the West

from Inner Structure of the I Ching

Themes: Science

“Sometimes the more measurable drives out the most important.”

René Dubos 1901 – 1982 CE
Influential scientific environmentalist

Themes: Science

“Our aim as scientists is objective truth; more truth, more interesting truth, more intelligible truth. We cannot reasonably aim at certainty. Once we realize that human knowledge is fallible, we realize also that we can never be completely certain that we have not made a mistake.”

Karl Popper 1902 – 1994 CE
Major Philosopher of Science
from In Search of a Better World (1984)

Themes: Science Mistakes

“One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions.”

Grace Hopper 1906 – 1992 CE
(Grace Brewster Murray Hopper )

Themes: Science

“Science can do everything except lead us out of the dark wood of a meaningless, purposeless, 'accidental' existence.”

E. F. Schumacher 1911 – 1977 CE
The “People's Economist”
from Good Work

Themes: Science

“War is the principle motivational force for the development of science at every level... all the significant discoveries about the natural world have been inspired by the real or imaginary military necessities of their epochs... war has always provided the basic incentive.”

Marshall McLuhan 1911 – 1980 CE
from War and Peace in the Global Village

Themes: War Science

“Natural farming is a method that actually goes a step beyond science... Science never does any more than mimic a virtual image of nature that exists only in the human mind, what it grasps is only an incomplete and inferior imitation of the real thing”

Masanobu Fukuoka 福岡 正信 1913 – 2008 CE
from Road Back to Nature

Themes: Science

“Look at today's scientists who have become the palanquin bearers of rampaging science. They dance about wildly, drunk on the sound of the words, 'high technology.'”

Masanobu Fukuoka 福岡 正信 1913 – 2008 CE via Metreaud
from Road Back to Nature

Themes: Science

“A scientific testing method that takes all relevant factors into account is an impossibility... each researcher seeing just one part of the infinite array of natural factors... Before researchers become researchers, they should become philosophers.”

Masanobu Fukuoka 福岡 正信 1913 – 2008 CE
from One Straw Revolution

“Western civilization is the poorer for having abandoned magic in favor of treating the universe like a piece of clockwork as Newton did”

John Blofeld 1913 – 1987 CE
from Magical Buddhism (1976)

Themes: Science

“Science is founded on uncertainty. Each time we learn something new and surprising, the astonishment comes with the realization that we were wrong before.”

Lewis Thomas 1913 – 1993 CE via On Science and Certainty
Gestaltist of science and art
from Discover Magazine (1980)

Themes: Science

“If science is to become our way of liberation, its theoretical view must be translated into feeling... Western science must have its own yoga, and some outgrowth of psychotherapy is the natural candidate”

Alan Watts 1915 – 1973 CE
from Psychotherapy East and West

Themes: Science

“Science and spirituality will become allies, and human beings will realize a vast potentiality now only dimly felt.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE

Themes: Science

“Isn't the true poet or painter a seer? Isn't he, actually, the only seer we have on earth? Most apparently not the scientist, most emphatically not the psychiatrist.”

J. D. Salinger 1919 – 2010 CE
from Raise High the Roof Beams, Seymour an Introduction

Themes: Science

“This verse celebrates the relativity of reality, thereby aligning itself with modern science, especially Einstein's theory of relativity.”

Ralph Alan Dale 1920 – 2006 CE
Translator, author, visionary
from Tao Te Ching, a new translation and commentary

Themes: Science Reality

2. The Wordless Teachings

“the discovery of inertia and momentum is the greatest insight of western civilization.”

Carlos Castaneda 1925 – 1998 CE

32. Uncontrived Awareness

“A cosmic struggle among ever more complex forms of life has become the anthropic foundational myth of the scientific age.”

Ivan Illich 1926 – 2002 CE
"an archaeologist of ideas"

“The real purpose of the scientific method is to make sure nature hasn’t misled you into thinking you know something you actually don’t know.”

Robert M. Pirsig 1928 – 2017 CE
from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Themes: Science Openness

“Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.”

Martin Luther King Jr. 1929 – 1968 CE
Leading world influence for equality, peace, non-violence, and poverty alleviation

Themes: Science Religion

“Science is not always positive. How many lives were lost from nuclear weapons, and how much energy was lost that could have gone toward the development of countries instead of their destruction? It is unnecessary to believe in developing only in a scientific way. It is also unnecessary to be against the idea of a spiritual path, because those who follow a spiritual path and develop spiritual qualities can help to create peace in the world.”

Thinley Norbu གདུང་སྲས་ཕྲིན་ལས་ནོར་བུ 1931 – 2011 CE
(Kyabjé Dungse)

Themes: Science Religion

“In science, as elsewhere… fashions of the moment, the weight of institutions, and authoritarianism are always to be feared.”

Hubert Reeves 1932 CE –

“When science clearly contradicts Buddhist beliefs, and it is proven, we must reject the earlier beliefs. The Buddha himself made it clear that the final decision for every person must come through investigation and experiment, not by relying solely on religious texts.”

Dalai Lama XIV Tenzin Gyatso 1935 CE – via Thomas Laird
from The Story of Tibet

Themes: Science

“The science of politics should be regarded as great good news since it deepens the student's insight and renders his action skillful... To acquire the ability to bring about a good future situation, it is absolutely necessary to study and science of politics and become a skillful politician.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Political Treatise (1972)

“We know from science that nothing in the universe exists as an isolated or independent entity.”

Meg Wheatley 1944 CE –
Bringing ancient wisdom into the modern world.

“Science and technology do not make us immune to the laws of history.”

J. Rufus Fears 1945 – 2012 CE

Themes: Science

“Buddhists seek to replicate in their own experience the spiritual awakening of the Buddha, while scientists seek to make unprecedented advances in the pursuit of objective knowledge.”

B. Alan Wallace 1950 CE –
(Bruce Alan Wallace)
from Contemplative Science

Themes: Buddhism Science

“the excruciating ache of the awakening love for wisdom… the sacred origin not just of religion but also everything else, of science, technology, education, law, medicine, logic architecture, ordinary daily life”

Peter Kingsley 1953 CE –
from A Story Waiting to Pierce You

“Our ancestors replaced dogma, tradition and authority with reason, debate and institutions of truth-seeking. They replaced superstition and magic with science.”

Steven Pinker 1954 CE –
Humanistic scientist, insightful cultural commentaror
from Enlightenment Now

Themes: Science Magic Belief

“Science is the closest we come to wrestling god.”

Neil Gaiman 1960 CE –
Myth-transmitting creative maelstrom

Themes: Science

“Like an adult no longer interested in children’s games… you lose interest in all the trappings and beliefs that society builds up and tears down — political systems, science and technology, global economy, free society…”

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche རྫོང་གསར་ འཇམ་དབྱངས་ མཁྱེན་བརྩེ་ རིན་པོ་ཆེ། 1961 CE –
(Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche)
"Activity" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
from What Makes You Not a Buddhist

80. A Golden Age

“Until now, capitalism has pirated science and technology... In the 21st century, we should be able to use science and technology to create a waste-free, sustainable world for humans, animals, and plants. This is the highest, and as yet undiscovered, aspiration for science and technology.”

Dzigar Kongtrül Rinpoche ཛི་གར་ཀོང་སྤྲུལ། 1964 CE –
from Minimum Needs and Maximum Contentment

“Science, like a general, is identifying its enemies: received wisdom and untested assumptions; superstition and quackery; the tyrants' fear of educated commoners; and , most pernicious of all, man's fondness for fooling himself.”

David Mitchell 1969 CE –
from Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

“Science itself is in the early stages of becoming sentient... the days are coming when science shall transform what it is to be a human being.”

David Mitchell 1969 CE –
from Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Themes: Science

“Modern science—specifically quantum physics and neuroscience—offers an approach to wisdom in terms that are at once more acceptable and more specifically demonstrable to people living in the 21st century than are the Buddhist insigns into the nature of reality gained through subjective analysis.”

Mingyur Rinpoche 1975 CE –
Modern-day Mahasiddha

from Joy of Living, 2007

Themes: Science

“the mark of science is the willingness to admit failure and try a different tack. That's why scientists learn how to grow better crops and make better medicines, whereas priests and gurus learn only how to make better excuses... why the entire world has increasingly become a single civilization.”

Yuval Harari יובל נח הררי‎ 1976 CE –
Israeli historian, professor, and philosopher

from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Themes: Science Failure


Enlightenment Now

by Steven Pinker

Humanistic scientist, insightful cultural commentaror

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