Henry David Thoreau Quotations: Science
I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes . . . When I ask for a garment of a particular form, my tailoress tells me gravely, "They do not make them so now," not emphasizing the "They" at all, as if she quoted an authority as impersonal as the Fates . . . We worship not the Graces, nor the Parcae, but Fashion. She spins and weaves and cuts with full authority. The head monkey at Paris puts on a traveller's cap, and all the monkeys in America do the same . . .—Walden
If there is not something mystical in your explanation—something unexplainable—some elements of mystery, it is quite insufficient. If there is nothing in it which speaks to my imagination, what boots it? What sort of science is that which enriches thee understanding but robs the imagination?—Journal, 25 December 1851
In all the dissertations on language, men forget the language. that is, that is really universal, the inexpressible meaning that is in all things and everywhere, with which the morning and evening teem.—Journal, 23 August 1845
In music are the centripetal and centrifugal forces. The universe needed only to hear a divine harmony that every star might fall into its proper place and assume a true sphericity.—Journal, 3 July 1840
In our science and philosophy, even, there is commonly no true and absolute account of things. The spirit of sect and bigotry has planted its hoof amid the stars. You have only to discuss the problem, whether the stars are inhabited or not, in order to discover it.—"Life Without Principle"
It is with science as with ethics,—we cannot know truth by contrivance and method; the Baconian is as false as any other, and with all the helps of machinery and the arts, the most scientific will still be the healthiest and friendliest man, and possess a more perfect Indian wisdom.—"Natural History of Massachusetts"
One sentence of perennial poetry would make me forget—would atone for volumes of mere science.—Journal, 5 August 1851
One studies books of science merely to learn the language of naturalists—to be able to communicate with them.—Journal, 23 March 1853
Science is always brave, for to know, is to know good; doubt and danger quail before her eyes. What the coward overlooks in his hurry, she calmly scrutinizes, breaking ground like a pioneer for the array of arts that follow her train.—"Natural History of Massachusetts"
Science is inhuman. Things seen with a microscope begin to be insignificant.—Journal, 1 May 1859