Quotations Archive

 

Bruce Alberts

We always underestimated cells. Undoubtedly, we still do today.

Cell. February 6, 1998.

 

alroyphoto3.jpg

Daniel Alroy

"Two implicit tenets of Cognitive Science are Physicalism and the view of the brain as a biological computer (a universal Turing Machine).  

Physicalism takes the mind to be causally inert; the computer model of the brain takes it to be multiply realizable.  

Cognitive Science thus implies that neither the mind nor the brain matters: the first, because it can make no difference; the last, because it can be different."

"Current neuroscientific research shows that sensations are evoked by the brain. For example, the electrical stimulation of the auditory brain evokes sensations of sound in children that were born deaf due to dysfunction in the auditory nerve. This fact proves that sound is neither a property of air vibration nor does it originate from the ears. Yet, present-day knowledge is still based on the factually false notion - sensations are imported into the brain. It is therefore necessary now to make explicit the epistemological consequences of replacing the factually false assumption by its direct opposite."

2014

 

Neural impulses from the senses to the brain convey information, not sensation. The direct electrical stimulation of the cortex produces sensations. Hence, such sensations are evoked in the brain, and not received from the senses, nor from the outside world through the senses. More specifically, the experience of light is evoked in the brain and not received from the eyes. Consequently, the born blind, too, would experience light in response to electrical brain stimulation. The luminosity of light is not a property of electromagnetic radiation. If the experience of light is private, then so are the visual observations it makes possible.

Synthese, 1995

 

Jeremy Bentham

Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne... The principle of utility recognizes this subjection, and assumes it for the foundation of that system, the object of which is to rear the fabric of felicity by the hands of reason and of law. Systems which attempt to question it, deal in sounds instead of sense, in caprice instead of reason, in darkness instead of light.

The Principles of Morals and Legislation. 1789

 

blackburn.jpg

Simon Blackburn

"In place of reason, persuasion, and in place of knowledge we have consensus."

What Philosophy Is. Edited by H. Carel and D. Gomez.

 

bohr.jpg

Neils Bohr

"In our description of nature the purpose is not to disclose the real essence of the phenomena but only to track down, so far as it is possible, relations between the manifold aspects of our experience."

Atomic theory and the description of nature. 1934

 

"Any science that deals with living organisms must cover the phenomenon of consciousness, because consciousness, too, is part of reality."

Recorded in discussion with Werner Heisenberg in Physics and Beyond. London: Allen and Unwin. 1971, p. 114.

 

Wolfgang von Buddenbrock

We are trapped in the escape-proof prison of our brain and sensory centers. In the light of what we know this is no longer a hypothesis but an indisputable fact.  But the human mind rebels against it.

The Senses. Tr. by Frank Gaynor. 1953/1958. Ann Arbor. The University of Michigan Press.

 

Julian Cribb

".... the exact number of chemicals marketed globally is unknown. One guide is the number registered with EU, which stands at 144,000. Of these, roughly a third are thought to be harmful, but the vast majority have not been assessed for human or environment safety."

Author of Poisoned Planet (2015). Quoted in Toxic Shockers. The New Scientist. November 29 - December 5, 2014. p. 39

 

Charles Darwin

"It has, I think, now been shewn that man and the higher animals, especially the primates, have some few instincts in common.  So in regard to mental qualities, their transmission is manifest in our dogs, horses and other domestic animals. Besides special tastes and habits, general intelligence, courage, bad and good temper, etc are certainly transmitted."

The Descent of man and selection in relation to sex. 1871. London. John Murray.

 

Paul Charles William Davies

… the map is distinct from the territory. Even if there could exist a cosmic computer so unthinkably powerful that it would be capable of simulating exactly the activity of every atom in the universe, surely, the computer doesn’t actually contain a planet Earth moving in space, any more than the bible contains Adam and Eve? A computer simulation is usually regarded as just a representation, or an image, of reality. How could anybody claim that the activity going on inside an electronic computer could ever create a real world?

Is the Universe a Computer? The Mind of God – The Scientific Basis for a Rational World. 1992.  p. 124.


debroglie.jpg

Louis de Broglie

We clearly understand how, for instance, light may be collected by our eye, act on the retina, induce in our optic nerve an electrical influx which excites certain nerve cells in our brain, but the transformation of these purely physical phenomena into the conscious perception of a luminous sensation remains astounding and almost inconceivable.

1985.

 

descartesyoung.jpg

René Descartes

"…we observe in the nerves no difference which may cause us to judge that some convey to the brain from the organs of the external sense any one thing rather than another, nor again that anything is conveyed there excepting the local motion of the nerves themselves. And we see that this local motion excites in us not only the sensation of pleasure and pain, but also the sensations of sound and light."

"Nothing comes from external objects to our mind through the organs of sense save certain corporeal motions... but not even these motions, and the configurations to which they give rise, are conceived by us as they occur in the sense-organs... Whence it follows that the very ideas of motions and configurations are innate in us. So much more the ideas of pain, colors, sounds, and the like be innate, so that our mind can, on the occasion of certain corporeal motions, display them to itself; for they have no similarity to the corporeal motions."

Principles of Philosophy. Part IV. Translated by Haldane and Ross.

On using knowledge to improve the human condition

For even the mind is so dependent on the temperament and on the disposition of the organs of the body, so that if it is possible to find some means that generally renders men more wise and more capable than they have been up to now, I believe that we must seek for it in medicine … We could be spared an infinity of diseases, of the body as well of the mind, and perhaps also the enfeeblement of old age, if we had enough knowledge of their causes and all the remedies which nature has provided us.

Discourse on Method

 

democritus.jpg

Democritus

"Galenous has presented us with a fragment (Diels, fragment 135), in which Democritus introduces the intellect having an argument with the senses about what is ‘real’. The former says: 'Ostensibly there is color, ostensibly sweetness, ostensibly bitterness, but actually only atoms and void', to which the senses retort: 'Poor intellect, do you hope to defeat us while from us you borrow your evidence? Your victory is your defeat.'"

Deals, Fragment 135.

 

dyson.jpg

Freeman Dyson

"The essential characteristic of life is homeostasis, the ability to maintain a steady state at more or less constant chemical balance in a changing environment. Homeostasis is the machinery 0f chemical controls and feedback cycles, which make sure that each molecular species in a cell is produced in the right proportions, not too much, and not too little."

"Homeostasis is the preservation of the chemical architecture of a population in local conditions and in the numbers of molecules of various kinds. Genetic information is carried in the architecture and not in the individual components. But we do not know to define architecture of how to quantify homeostasis."

Why life is so complicated? 1985/2004.

 

 

Arthur S. Eddington

Science is concerned with the rational correlation of experience rather than with the discovery of fragments of absolute truth abot an external world.

1939. The Philosophy of Physical Science. p. 184

 

einstein.jpg

Albert Einstein.

"One can best appreciate from the study of living things, how primitive physics still is."

 In a letter to Leo Szilard.

"The words or the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought. The psychical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be 'voluntarily' reproduced and combined… The above-mentioned elements are, in my case, of visual and some of muscular type. Conventional words or other signs have to be sought for laboriously only in a secondary stage, when the mentioned associative play is sufficiently established and can be reproduced at will."

Quoted in An Essay on the Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field by Jacques Hadamard. 1944

It is my conviction that pure mathematical construction enables us to discover the concepts and the laws connecting them, which give us the key to the understanding of the phenomena of Nature.

On the Method of Theoretical Physics. Oxford University Press. 1933.

 

feynman.jpg

Richard Feynman

"Philosophy of science is as useful to the scientist as is ornithology is to birds."

The problem of existence is a very interesting and difficult one. If you do mathematics, which is simply working out the consequences of assumptions, you’ll discover for instance a curious thing if you add the cubes of integers. One cubed is one, two cubed is two times two times two, that’s eight, and three cubed is three times three times three, that’s is twenty-seven. If you add the cubes of these, one plus eight, plus twenty-seven – let’s stop here – that would be thirty-six. And that is the square number, six, and that number is the sum of the same numbers, one plus two plus three.... Now, that fact which I’ve just told you about might not have been known to you before. You might say “Where is it, what is it, where is it located, what kind o reality does it have?” And yet you came upon it. When you discover these things, you get the feeling that they were true before you found them. So you get the idea that somehow they existed somewhere, but there is nowhere for such things. It’s just a feeling.... Well, in the case of physics we have double trouble.We came upon these mathematical interrelationships but they apply to the universe, so the problem of where is doubly confusing..... Those are philosophical questions that I do not know how to answer.

Quoted in Superstrings: A Theory of Everything? By PCW Davies and JR Brown. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1988.

 

galileo.jpg

Galileo Galilei

"…Hence I think that tastes, odors, colors and so on are no more than names so far as the objects in which we place them is concerned, and that they reside only in consciousness."

 A letter to the illustrious and very reverend Don Virginio Cesarini. The Assayer. 1623. Translated by Burtt. 

 

Francis-Galton.jpg

Francis Galton

"It is a drawback to me in writing, and still more in explaining myself, that I do not think as easily in words as otherwise. It often happens that after being hard at work, and having arrived at results that are perfectly clear and satisfactory to myself when I try to express them in language I feel that I must begin by putting myself upon quite another intellectual plane. I have to translate my thoughts into a language that does not run very evenly with them. I therefore waste a vast deal of time in seeking appropriate words and phrases, and am conscious, when required to speak on a sudden, of being often very obscure through mere verbal maladroitness, and not through want of clearness of perception. That is one of the small annoyances of my life."

Quoted by Roger Penrose in The Emperor's New Mind - Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics. 1989.

 

gardner.jpg

John H. Martin  & Esther P. Gardner

"Colors, tones, smells and tastes are mental constructions created by the brain out of sensory experience. They do not exist, as such, outside the brain."

 “Coding of sensory information.” Principles of Neural Science.  4th  ed.  Eric R. Kendal, James H. Schwartz and Thomas M. Jessell (eds.). 2000.   

 

godel.jpg

Kurt Gödel

The a priori is greatly neglected. [1] 

The a priori is very powerful. [2]

[1] In Rudy Rucker’s Infinity and the mind. 1982. P. 181.

[2] In Rudy Rucker’s The lifebox, the seashell, and the soul. 2005. p.8.

 

Even if the finite brain cannot store an infinite amount of information, the spirit may be able to. The brain is a computing machine [situated in the special manner of being] connected with a spirit. If the brain is taken as physical and as a digital computer, from quantum mechanics there are then only a finite number of states. Only by connecting it to a spirit might it work in some other way. (Wang 1993: 127)

Wang H. (1993), 'On Physicalism and Algorithmism: Can Machines Think, Philosophia Mathematica, 1: 97-138.

 

Ragnar Granit

"Conscious awareness has been an enormous asset in the evolution of higher organisms."

The purposive brain. Cambridge, Mass. The MIT Press. pp. 75-6, 1980

No soon is one - with Sherrington - prepared to look on conciousness as an emergent novelty, the greatest of Nature's innumerable inventions, than it becomes imperative to regard it as a cause on a par with other causative agents, moving muscles in speech and laughter, in posture and precision grip, and thus also moving the world.

The purposive brain. Cambridge, Mass. The MIT Press. pp. 215, 1980

 

Jacques Hadamard

I insist that words are totally absent from my mind when I really think and shall completely align my case with Galton in the sense that even after reading or hearing a question, every word disappears the very moment I am beginning to think it over; and I fully agree with Schopenhauer when he writes, ‘thoughts die the moment they are embodied in words’.

The psychology of invention in the mathematical field. 1945.  Princeton University Press.

 

Prof. Stephen D. H. Hsu

"The best humans have not been produced yet, the smartest humans, the longest lived humans... If you want to produce smart humans, nice humans, honorable humans, caring humans, whatever it is, those are traits that are related to the presence or absence of certain genes and we'll have much finer control over the types of people that are born in the future through this... which switches do you turn on or off to do that? ... We do it with cows, we have super cows and super chickens... We've pushed those animals in directions we want to push them, but we haven't really pushed ourselves, and I think people will push themselves."

Paul Knoepfler. GMO Sapiens: The Life-Changing Science of Designer Babies. 2016

 

Thomas Huxley

How is it that anything so remarkable as a state of consciousness comes about as a result of irritating nervous tissue, is just unaccountable as the appearance od Djin when Aladdin rubbed his lamp.

1886

 

Jeffrey Alan Gray

We have used a method (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to visualize the activity of the brain in a group of such (coloured hearing) synaesthetes when they were listening to words.  The words activates just and only that part of the visual system (known as ‘V4’) which is activated in normal individuals by the sight of coloured patterns, as distinct from the same patterns presented in black and white.  Now, if V4 is damaged, say in a car accident, there is a complete loss of all sense of colour: the unfortunate individual henceforth experiences the world only in varying shades of grey.  So activity in V4 is both necessary (the brain damage case) and sufficient (coloured hearing synaesthesia) for the existence of color.  It is here, not on the surface of objects, that color is constructed.

Consciousness – Creeping Up On The Hard Problem. 2004. Oxford University Press.  p. 12

 

haldane.jpg

John B. S, Haldane. 

Teleology is like a mistress one is ashamed to be seen with in public, but one cannot live without.

The world is not only queerer than anyone has imagined, but queerer than anyone can imagine.

 

hardy.jpg

G. H. Hardy

"I believe that mathematical reality lies outside us, that our function is to discover or observe it, and that the theorems which we prove, and which we describe grandiloquently as our "creations," are simply the notes of our observations."

 In Mathematician's Apology. 1941

 

C. L. Hardin

"It would seem unwise in the extreme for any philosopher to advance an account of the ontology of color which bets that the consensus of opinion of visual science is wrong."

Color for philosophers. 1988. p. 60  

 

heisenberg.jpg

Werner Heisenberg.

"I think that modern physics has definitely decided in favor of Plato.  In fact, the smallest units of matter are not physical objects in the ordinary sense; they are forms, ideas which can be expressed unambiguously only in mathematical language."

 

Heraclitus

Whoever cannot seek the unforseen sees nothing, for known way is impasse.

Wistom. The Quantum World.  p.190. 

 

hertz5.jpg

Heinrich Hertz

"One cannot escape the feeling that these mathematical formulas have an independent existence of their own, and they are wiser than even their discoverers, that we get more out of them than was originally put into them."

Quoted by M. Kline in Mathematics. 1980. OUP. Page 338.

 

hume.jpg

David Hume

We speak not strictly and philosophically when we talk of the combat of reason and of passion. Reason is, and only ought to be, the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.

A Treatise of Human Nature. 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press. 1740/1974.

 

On the primacy of personal and societal goals

Reason is, and only ought to be, the slave of the passions.

The safety of the people is the supreme law:  All other particular laws are subordinate to it, and dependent on it:

 

Steve Jobs

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

In a 2005 commencement speech.

 

jung.jpg

Carl Jung

It is almost absurd prejudice to suppose that existence can be only physical. As a matter of fact, the only form of existence of which we have immediate knowledge is psychic (i.e. in the mind). We might as well say, on the contrary, that physical existence is a mere inference, since we know of matter only in so far as we perceive psychic images mediated by the senses.

 

Christof Koch

"Scientists today are groping in the dark for an answer, as much as they did in the 19th century. We don’t understand how mind emerges out of this vast collection of neurons. We have no intuition. It is like rubbing a lamp and a genie appears."

2005

 

Rolf William Landauer

"People occasionally stretch the definition of a computer to the point of meaninglessness." To me a computer is something which you load ones and zeros into it, you get going and you get ones and zeros out at the end of it in a very similar format, ready if necessary to put into the next computer program. There's a standardized format for the input and the output. Once you back away from that I think it loses all meaning. There are a number of papers which more or less equate any physical process, any evolution of a system, to a computation. And I think that's giving up on the meaning of computation."

May 16, 1995. Interview at The IBM Watson Research Center

 

laplace.jpg

Pierre-Simon Laplace

"Those principles [involved in reasoning]are so fine and so numerous that a very delicate and very clear sense is needed to perceive them, and to judge rightly and justly when they are perceived, without for the most part being able to demonstrate them in order as in mathematics. Mathematicians wish to treat matters of perception mathematically, and make themselves ridiculous. The mind does it tacitly, naturally, and without technical rules."

Pensees. 1670.

 

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

It must be confessed, moreover, that perception and that which depend on it, are inexplicable by mechanical causes, that is, by figures and motions. And, supposing that there were a machine so constructed as to think, feel and have perception, we could conceive of it as enlarged and preserving the same proportions, so that we may enter it as into a mill. And this granted, we should only find, on visiting it, pieces that push against one another, but never anything by which 

Monadology. Section 17.  1714/1989

 

Abraham Lincoln

About ten days ago, I began to dream… There seemed to be death-like stillness about me. I then heard subdued sobs…. I arrived at the East Room…. Before me was a catafalque…. on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, some gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others were weeping pitifully. “Who is dead in the White House?” I demanded…. The President… He was killed by an assassin. ”Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which woke me up from my dream.  I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since.

Recollections of Abraham Lincoln 1847-1865. W. H. Lamon. Special legacy reprint series. Kessinger Publishing.

 

Thomas Robert Malthus

The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.

An Essay on the Principle of Population. 1803.

 

Lynn Margulis

Neither DNA, nor an other kind of molecule can, by itself, explain life.

What is Life? 2000

 

maxwell.jpg

James Clerk Maxwell

 "Colour is a mental science."

On Colour Vision. Proceedings of the Royal Institute, GB 6:  260-271. 1872.

What is done by what is called myself is, I feel, done by something greater then myself.

On his deathbed.  1879. 

About the relation of the mind and brain: "but does not the way to it lie through the very den of the metaphysician, strewn with the bones of former explorers and abhorred by every man of science?"

 

 

Colin McGinn

How is it possible for conscious states to depend on brain states? How can technicolour phenomenology arise from soggy grey matter? What makes the bodily organ we call the brain so radically different from other bodily organs, say the kidneys – the body parts without a trace of consciousness? How could the aggregation of millions of individual insentient neurons generate subjective awareness? We know that brains are the de facto causal basis for consciousness, but we have, it seems, no understanding whatever, of how this can be so.

Can we solve the mind/body problem? Mind. July 1989

 

 

 

newton.jpg

Issac Newton

"And if at any time I speak of Light and Rays as coloured or endued with Colours, I would be understood to speak not philosophically and properly, but grossly, and according to such Conceptions as vulgar People in seeing all these Experiments would be apt to frame.  For the Rays, to speak properly are notcoloured. In them there is nothing else than a certain Power and Disposition to stir up a Sensation of this or that Colour. For as Sound in a Bell or musical String, or other sounding Body, is nothing but a trembling Motion, and in the Air nothing but motion propagated from the Object, and in the Sensorium ‘tis a Sense of that Motion under the Form of Sound; so Colours in the Object are nothing but a Disposition to reflect  this or that sort of Rays more copiously than the Rest; in the Rays are nothing but their Dispositions to propagate this or that Motion into the Sensorium, and in the Sensorium they are Sensations of those Motions under the Form of Colours."

 Opticks:  Or, A Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light. 1704.

 

 

300x300.jpg

Nicomachus (60 - 120 A.D)

“All things that have been arranged by nature according to a workmanlike plan appear, both individually and as a whole, as singled out and set in order by Foreknowledge and Reason, which created all according to Number, conceivable to mind only and therefore wholly immaterial; yet real; indeed, the really real, the eternal.”

Quoted in Number, The Language of Science, Tobias Dantzig. 4th edition 1954

 

Wilder Penfield

"I’ll tell you one thing: it is not in the cerebral cortex."

Wilder Penfield, responding to the question about the location of consciousness.

 

Sir Roger Penrose

"I imagine that whenever the mind perceives a mathematical idea it makes contact with Plato's world of mathematical concepts ... When one 'sees' a mathematical truth, one's consciousness breaks through into this world of idea, and makes direct contact with it... When mathematicians communicate, this is made possible by each one having a direct route to truth, the consciousness of each being in a position to perceive mathematical truths directly, through this process of 'seeing.' Since each can make contact with Plato's world directly, they can more readily communicate with each other than one might have expected. The mental images that each one has, when making this Platonic contact, might be rather different in each case, but communication is possible because each is directly in contact with same eternally existing Platonic world!"

The Emperor's New Mind - Concerning Computers, Minds, and The Laws of Physics. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989. p. 428.

The complete details of  the complication of the structure of Mandelbroth’ set cannot really be fully comprehended by any of us, nor can it be fully revealed by any computer.  It would seem that this structure is just not a part of our minds, but  it has a reality of its own … The computer is being used in essentially the same way that the experimental physicist uses a piece of experimental apparatus to explore the structure of the physical world. The Mandelbroth set is not an invention of the human mind: it was a discovery. Like Mount Everest, the Mandelbroth set is just there.

The Emperor's New Mind - Concerning Computers, Minds, and The Laws of Physics. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.

I point out that there could well be room, within physical laws, for an action that is not algorithmic - i.e., that cannot be properly stimulated by an computer - though I argue that it is likely that such non-algorithmic action can arise only in an area of physics where there is an important gap in our present physical understanding: the no-man's-land between quantum and classical physics. (Mathematical processes of a non-algorithmic kind certainly do exist, but the question I am raising is whether such processes have a role to play in physics). I also argue that there is good evidence that conscious thinking is itself not an algorithmic activity, and that consequently the brain must be making use of non-algorithmic physical processes in an essential way whenever consciousness comes into play. There must accordingly be aspects of the brain's action that cannot be properly stimulated by the action of a computer, in the sense that we understand the term 'computer' today.

Penrose R et al. 1990: Discussion of The Emperor's New Mind. Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 13: 643-705. Reprinted from Gillies D. Artificial Intelligence and Scientific Method. 1996. Oxford University Press.

 

Max Planck

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

Scientific autobiography and other papers. 1949.  pp 33-4.

 

Henri Poincaré

“Does the harmony which human intelligence thinks it discovers in Nature exist apart from such intelligence? 

Assuredly, no. A reality completely independent of the spirit that conceives it, sees it or feels it, is an impossibility. 

A world so external as that, even if it existed, would be forever inaccessible to us.

What we call “objective reality” is strictly speaking, that which is common to several thinking beings and might be common to all; this common part, we shall see, can only be the harmony expressed by mathematical laws."

in The Value of Science.

 

Rudy Rucker (Rudolf von Bitter Rucker)

The fact is that a priori mathematical considerations can lead to empirically determined physical truths.

Infinity and the Mind – The Science and Philosophy of the Infinite. 1982.

 

viscount-Ridley1.jpg

Matthew White Ridley, 5th Viscount Ridley

When human cloning becomes possible, will it be ethical?… We have drummed into our skulls with every science fiction film the Faustian sermon that to tamper with nature is to invite diabolic revenge.   We have grown cautious.  Or at least we as voters. As consumers, we may well act differently. Cloning may not happen because the majority approves, but because the minority acts. 

Genome –Autobiography of a species in 23 Chapters.  1999.  p. 216

 

Bertrand Russell

"It is sometimes said that ‘light is a form of wave-motion,’ but this is misleading, for the light which we immediately see, which we know directly by means of our senses, is not a form of wave-motion, but quite different – something which we all know if  we are not blind, though we cannot describe it so as to convey our knowledge to a man who is blind. A wave-motion, on the contrary, could quite well be described to a blind man, since he can acquire a knowledge of space by the sense of touch; and he can experience wave-motion by sea voyage almost as well as we can. But this, which the blind man can understand, is not what we mean by light: we mean by light just that which a blind man can never understand, and which we can never describe to him."

The problems of philosophy. 1912/1999

 

schrodinger.jpg

Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger

"The sensation of color cannot be accounted for by the physicist’s objective picture of light-waves."

The Mystery of Sensual Qualities in Matter and Mind.

 

"The sensation of colour cannot be accounted for by the physicist's objective picture of light-waves. Could the physiologist account for it, if he had fuller knowledge than he has of the processes in the retina and the nervous processes set up by them in the optical nerve bundles and in the brain? I do not think so."

What Is Life? & Mind and Matter. Cambridge University Press. 1974

 

Lee M. Silver

We are going to be able to manipulate and control the genes that we give our children. All of these new technologies are going to change humankind as we know it.

Frontline interview.  www.pbs.org

 

Baron Snow (Charles Snow Percy)

A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold:  it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is the scientific equivalent of:  Have you read a work of Shakespeare's?

I now believe that if I had asked an even simpler question — such as, What do you mean by mass, or acceleration, which is the scientific equivalent of saying, Can you read? — not more than one in ten of the highly educated would have felt that I was speaking the same language. So the great edifice of modern physics goes up, and the majority of the cleverest people in the western world have about as much insight into it as their Neolithic ancestors would have had.

The Two Cultures.  1959

 

Carl Sagan

The blueprints, detailed instructions, and job orders for building you from scratch would fill about 1,000 encyclopedia volumes if written in English. Yet, every cell in your body has a set of these encyclopedias.

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. 1995. New York: Ballantine

 

sperry.jpg

Roger Sperry

"… nerve impulses are essentially homogenous in quality and are transmitted as ‘common currency’ throughout the nervous system.  Impulses traveling in the optic, auditory, proprioceptive, and other sensory pathways are, accordingly, believed to be similar in nature."

granit"When an electric stimulus is applied to a given sensory field of the cerebral cortex in a conscious human subject, it produces a sensation of the appropriate modality for that particular locus. That is, a visual sensation from the visual cortex, an auditory sensation from the auditory cortex, and so on."

1952.

 

Impulses traveling in the optic, auditory, proprioceptive, and other sensory pathways are, accordingly, believed to be similar in nature.  It is not the quality of the sensory nerve impulses that determines their diverse conscious properties but rather the different areas f the brain into which they discharge. … When an electric stimulus is applied to a given sensory field of the cerebral cortex in a conscious human subject, it produces a sensation of the appropriate modality for that particular locus, that is a visual sensation from the visual cortex, an auditory sensation from the auditory cortex, and so on.

Neurology and the Mind-Body Problem. American Scientist. 1952. 40: 291-312.

 

L. Susan Stebbing

It is worth noticing that most physicists who have attempted to construct a philosophy upon the basis of their physical researches have ended by elaborating some form of idealism. I at least have met none who have attempted to derive new arguments in favor of materialism.

Philosophy and the physicists. 1944/58.. Pp265-6 New York, N. Y: Dover.

 

Alan Turing

The digital computers considered in the last section may be classified among the ‘discrete state machines. These are the machines which move by sudden jumps or clicks from one quite definite state to another. These states are sufficiently definite for the possibility of confusion between them to be ignored. Strictly speaking there are no such machines. Everything really moves continuously. 

Computing Machinery and Intelligence. Mind. October 1950.

 

George Wald

Consciousness is not just an epiphenomenon, a strange concomitant of neural activity that we project onto the physical reality.  On the contrary, all that we know, including all of our science, is in our consciousness. It is a part, not of the superstructure, but of the foundation. 

The quote was found in a secondary source.  We would appreciate a note as to the primary source.

 

James Watson

"Francis Crick and I brought together chemistry and biology. The next century will bring together biology and psychology."

2003

 

John A. Wheeler

"We live on an island of knowledge surrounded by a sea of ignorance. As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance."

Scientific American. 1992, Vol. 267

 

E.O Wilson

Only in the last moment in history has the delusion arisen the people can flourish apart from the rest of the living world.

 

Eugene P. Wigner

We know many laws of nature and we hop and expect to discover more. Nobody can foresee the next such law that will be discovered. Nevertheless, there is a structure in laws of nature which we call the laws of invariance. This structure is so far-reaching in some cases that the laws of nature wee guessed on the basis of the postulate that they fit into the invariance structure.

Quoted from Perfect Symmetry by Heinz R. Pagels. 1985

 

Lewis Wolpert

"Cells are, in a way, more complex than the embryo itself... However clever you think cells are, they are almost always far cleverer."

Developmental Biology - A Very Short Introduction. 2011. Oxford University Press. p. 11.

 

Semir Zeki

If, for example, one were to view an orange or banana in a room lit by tungsten light, and then in a room lit by fluorescent light and then, successively, in a daylight, on a cloudy day and on a sunny day, ans at dawn and at dusk, one would find that the orange would continue to look orange in colour, and the banana will continue to look yellow. There may be some changes in the shade of the yellow and orange, but the color will remain the same. Yet, if one were to measure the wavelength composition of the light reflected by these surfaces in the different conditions, one will find profound variations.  In natural viewing conditions there is thus no prespecified wavelength composition or code that leads to a particular colour and to that color alone. Indeed, if the color of objects changes with every change in the illumination in which they are viewed then colour will lose its significance as a biological signaling mechanism since the object could not then be faithfully recognized by its colour any more.     

A Vision of the Brain. 1993. Blackwell Scientific Publications. Oxford

 

© 2017 Daniel Alroy