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Thomas Henry Huxley quotes (showing 1-30 of 92)

“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. I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do this.”
Thomas Henry Huxley, Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley - Volume 1
“The man of science has learned to believe in justification, not by faith, but by verification.”
Thomas Henry Huxley, Collected Essays Of Thomas Henry Huxley
“I am too much of a skeptic to deny the possibility of anything.”
Thomas Henry Huxley, Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley - Volume 1
“It was badly received by the generation to which it was first addressed, and the outpouring of angry nonsense to which it gave rise is sad to think upon. But the present generation will probably behave just as badly if another Darwin should arise, and inflict upon them that which the generality of mankind most hate—the necessity of revising their convictions. Let them, then, be charitable to us ancients; and if they behave no better than the men of my day to some new benefactor, let them recollect that, after all, our wrath did not come to much, and vented itself chiefly in the bad language of sanctimonious scolds. Let them as speedily perform a strategic right-about-face, and follow the truth wherever it leads.”
Thomas Henry Huxley, On the Reception of the 'Origin of Species'
“What we call rational grounds for our beliefs are often extremely irrational attempts to justify our instincts.”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“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. We know that his play is always fair, and patient. But also we know, to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance.”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“It is far better for a man to go wrong in freedom than to go right in chains.”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“The science, the art, the jurisprudence, the chief political and social theories, of the modern world have grown out of Greece and Rome—not by favour of, but in the teeth of, the fundamental teachings of early Christianity, to which science, art, and any serious occupation with the things of this world were alike despicable.”
Thomas Henry Huxley, Agnosticism and Christianity and Other Essays
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. And even a cursory glance at the history of the biological sciences during the last quarter of a century is sufficient to justify the assertion, that the most potent instrument for the extension of the realm of natural knowledge which has come into men's hands, since the publication of Newton's ‘Principia’, is Darwin's ‘Origin of Species.”
Thomas Henry Huxley, On the Reception of the 'Origin of Species'
“[Responding to the Bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce's question whether he traced his descent from an ape on his mother's or his father's side]

A man has no reason to be ashamed of having an ape for his grandfather. If there were an ancestor whom I should feel shame in recalling it would rather be a man—a man of restless and versatile intellect—who … plunges into scientific questions with which he has no real acquaintance, only to obscure them by an aimless rhetoric, and distract the attention of his hearers from the real point at issue by eloquent digressions and skilled appeals to religious prejudice.”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“We live in a world which is full of misery and ignorance, and the plain duty of each and all of us is to try to make the little corner he can influence somewhat less miserable and somewhat less ignorant than it was before he entered.”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“Sit down before fact like a little child, and be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss Nature leads or you shall learn nothing.”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“Extinguished theologians lie about the cradle of every science as the strangled snakes beside that of Hercules; and history records that whenever science and orthodoxy have been fairly opposed, the latter has been forced to retire from the lists, bleeding and crushed if not annihilated; scotched, if not slain.”
Thomas Henry Huxley, Lay Sermons, Addresses, and Reviews
“Science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“Agnosticism simply means that a man shall not say that he knows or believes that for which he has no grounds for professing to believe.”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“It is not what we believe, but why we believe it. Moral responsibility lies in diligently weighing the evidence. We must actively doubt; we have to scrutinize our views, not take them on trust. No virtue attached to blindly accepting orthodoxy, however 'venerable'...”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not. It is the first lesson that ought to be learned and however early a man's training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“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.”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“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.”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“Science commits suicide when it adopts a creed.”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“To a clear eye the smallest fact is a window through which the infinite may be seen.”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“It is wrong for a man to say that he is certain of the objective truth of any proposition unless he can produce evidence which logically justifies that certainty.”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“There is the greatest practical benefit in making a few failures early in life.”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“For once reality and his brains came into contact and the result was fatal.”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“If a little knowledge is dangerous, where is the man who has so much as to be out of danger?”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“God give me strength to face a fact though it slay me.”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“Do what you can to do what you ought, and leave hoping and fearing alone.”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“The only medicine for suffering, crime, and all the other woes of mankind, is wisdom.”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“History warns us that it is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions.”
Thomas Henry Huxley
“Trust a witness in all matters in which neither his self-interest, his passions, his prejudices, nor the love of the marvellous is strongly concerned. When they are involved, require corroborative evidence in exact proportion to the contravention of probability by the thing testified.”
Thomas Henry Huxley, Essays Upon Some Controverted Questions

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