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Memorable Albert Einstein Quotes

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"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, and his eyes are dimmed."

--"The World As I See It," originally published in FORUM AND CENTURY, 1931.


"Try to become not a man of success, but try rather to become
a man of value."

--quoted by William Miller, Life magazine. May 2, 1955.


"Small is the number that see with their own eyes
and feel with their own hearts."

--Albert Einstein.


"I'm enough of an artist to draw freely on my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited; imagination encircles the world."

--Quoted in interview by G.S. Viereck, October 26, 1929. Reprinted in "Glimpses of the Great" (1930).


"The more success the quantum theory has, the sillier it looks"

--from a letter to Heinrich Zangger, May 20, 1912. AEA 39-655.


"A man must learn to understand the motives of human beings, their illusions, and their sufferings."

--from an interview in the New York Times, September 1952.


"Curiosity is a delicate little plant which, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom"

--Autobiographical Notes. 1949.


"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge in the field of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods."

--contribution to a publication commemorating the eightieth birthday of German rabbi and theologian Leo Baeck, 1953.


"I believe in intuitions and inspirations. I sometimes feel that I am right. I do not know if I am.

--G.S. Viereck interview, October 26, 1929, reprinted in "Glimpses of the Great" (1930).


"A happy man is too satisfied with the present to dwell
too much on the future."

--from My Future Plans, September 18, 1896. CPAE, Vol 1., Doc. 22.


"The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when contemplating the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of the mystery every day. The important thing is not to stop questioning; never lose a holy curiosity."

--from statement to William Miller, as quoted in LIFE magazine (2 May 1955).


"The most important endeavor is the striving for morality in our actions. Our inner balance and even our very existence depend on it. Only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity for life"

--Einstein, a Portrait, p. 102.


"The monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind"

--Speech Civilization and Science, October 3, 1933. Quoted in The Times (London), October 4, 1933.


"Science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion...The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind"

--SCIENCE, PHILOSOPHY, AND RELIGION: A SYMPOSIUM, 1941.


"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly."

--letter to Morris Raphael Cohen, professor emeritus of philosophy at the College of the City of New York, defending the controversial appointment of Bertrand Russell to a teaching position, March 19, 1940.


"What can the schools do to defend democracy? Should they preach a specific political doctrine? I believe they should not. If they are able to teach young people to have a critical mind and a socially oriented attitude, they will have done all that is necessary."

--message to the New Jersey Education Association, Atlantic City, 1939.


"It would be better if you begin to teach others only after you yourself have learned something."

--To Arthur Cohen, December 26, 1928. AEA 25-044.


"Taken on the whole, I would believe that Gandhi's views were the most enlightened of all the political men in our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit...not to use violence in fighting for our cause, but by non-participation in what we believe is evil."

--United Nations radio interview recorded in Einstein's study, Princeton, New Jersey, 1950.


"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common."

--address to a group of children, 1934.


"I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity"

--quote from Out of My Later Years, p. 13.


"I am content in my later years. I have kept my good humor and take neither myself nor the next person seriously."

--to P. Moos, March 30, 1950, AEA 60-587.


" is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us; our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life."

--letter to Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh-Onne's widow, February 25, 1926; Einstein Archive 14-389.


"It is not so very important for a person to learn facts. For that he does not really need a college. He can learn them from books. The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks."

--1921, on Thomas Edison's opinion that a college education is useless; quoted in Frank, Einstein: His Life and Times, p. 185.


"Science will stagnate if it is made to serve practical goals."

--Quoted in Nathan and Norden, Einstein on Peace, p. 402.


"After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are always artists as well."

--Remark made in 1923; recalled by Archibald Henderson, Durham Morning Herald, August 21, 1955; Einstein Archive 33-257.


"I have not eaten enough of the tree of knowledge, though in my profession I am obligated to feed on it regularly."

--Albert Einstein


"The most precious things in life are not those you get for money."

--Ladies Home Journal. December 1946.


"Good acts are like good poems. One may easily get their drift, but they are not rationally understood."

--quote to Maurice Solovine, April 9, 1947.


"One must shy away from questionable undertakings, even when they bear a high-sounding name."

--quote to Maurice Solovine, spring 1923.


"It is not so important where one settles down. The best thing is to follow your instincts without too much reflection."

--quote from The World As I See It, 1930, reprinted in Ideas and Opinions, 8.


"I believe that a simple and unassuming life is good for everybody, physically and mentally."

--quote from "The World as I See It" (1930), reprinted in Ideas and Opinions, 8.


"Mysticism is in fact the only criticism people cannot level against my theory."

--quote from R.W. Clark., Einstein "The Life and Times" 268.


"...The ideals which have guided my way, and time after time have given me the energy to face life, have been kindness, beauty, and truth."

--quote from "The World as I See It" (1930). Reprinted in Ideas and Opinions, 9.


"All of science is nothing more than the refinement of everyday thinking."

--quote from "Physics and Reality" (1936), reprinted in Ideas and Opinions, 290.


"God gave me the stubbornness of a mule and a fairly keen scent."

--quote from G.J. Whitrow, Einstein: The Man and His Achievement, 91.


"When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute - and it's longer than any hour. That's relativity."

--quote from Journal of Exothermic Science and Technology (JEST, Vol. 1, No. 9; 1938).


"I have remained a simple fellow who asks nothing of the world; only my youth is gone - the enchanting youth that forever walks on air."

--quote to Anna Meyer-Schmid, May 12, 1909.


"A scientist is a mimosa when he himself has made a mistake, and a roaring lion when he discovers a mistake of others."

--quote from Ehlers, Liebes Hertz!, 45.


"The true value of a human being is determined primarily by how he has attained liberation from the self."

--quote from Einstein Archive 60-492, 1932; published in Mein Weltbild.


"A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

--quoted in H. Eves Mathematical Circles Adieu (Boston 1977).


"The life of the individual has meaning only insofar as it aids in making the life of every living thing nobler and more beautiful..."

--quoted in Ehlers, Liebes Hertz!, 162.


"One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one's greatest efforts."

--quote to Walter Daellenbach, May 31, 1915.


"I have little patience with scientists who take a board of wood, look for its thinnest part, and drill a great number of holes where drilling is easy."

--Albert Einstein (quoted by Philipp Frank in "Einstein's Philosophy of Science," Reviews of Modern Physics, Vol 21, No. 3 July 1949.


"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile."

--quote to The New York Times, June 20, 1932. AEA 29-041


"Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing that people do-but gravitation cannot be held responsible for it."

--quote to Fred Wall, 1933.


"Work is the only thing that gives substance to life."

--quote to son Hans Albert, January 4, 1937.


"Look deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."

--To Margot Einstein, after his sister's Maja's death, 1951; quote by Hanna Loewy in A&E Television Einstein Biography, VPI International, 1991.


" and knowledge is one of the finest attributes of man - though often it is most loudly voiced by those who strive for it the least."

--quote from The Goal of Human Existence, April 11, 1943. [AEA 28-587]


"I am also convinced that one gains the purest joy from spirited things only when they are not tied in with earning one's livelihood."

--quote to L. Manners, March 19, 1954. [AEA 60-401]


"Why is it that nobody understands me, yet everybody likes me."

--quote from New York Times, March 12, 1944


"It is abhorrent to me when a fine intelligence is paired
with an unsavory character."

--quote to Jacob Laub, May 19, 1909 [AEA 15-480]


"True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist."

--quote to Ernst Bloch, November 15, 1950 [AEA 34-332]


"I have firmly decided to bite the dust with a minimum of medical assistance when my time comes, and up to then to sin to my wicked heart's content."

--Letter to Elsa Einstein, August 11, 1913; CPAE, Vol. 5, Doc. 466


"Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us; our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life."

--Letter to Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh-Onne's widow, February 25, 1926; [AEA 14-389]


"Strange is our situation here on earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose."

--quote from "My Credo," 1932. [AEA 28-218]


"If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things."

--quote by Ernst Straus, in French, Einstein: A Centenary Volume, p. 32.


"Music does not influence research work, but both are nourished by the same sort of longing, and they complement each other in the release they offer."

--letter to Paul Plaut, October 23, 1928; Einstein Archive 28-065; quoted in Dukas and Hoffmann, Albert Einstein, the Human Side, p. 78.


"Never regard your study as a duty, but as the enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal job and to the profit of the community to which your later work belongs."

--In the Princeton freshman publication The Dink, 1933; quoted in Don Oberdorfer, Princeton: The First 250 Years (Princeton University Press, 1955), p. 127.


"Fear or stupidity has always been the basis of most human actions."

--Letter to E. Mulder, April 1954; Einstein Archive 60-609.


"Children don't heed the life experiences of their parents, and nations ignore history. Bad lessons always have to be learned anew."

--Aphorism, October 12, 1923; Einstein Archive 36-589.


"Science will stagnate if it is made to serve practical goals."

--Quoted in Nathan and Norden, Einstein on Peace, p.402.


"In one's youth every person and every event appear to be unique. With age one becomes much more aware that similar events recur. Later on, one is less often delighted or surprised, but also less disappointed than in earlier years."

--Letter to Queen Elizabeth of Belgium, January 3, 1954; Einstein Archive 32-408.


"Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the life-long attempt to acquire it."

--Letter to an admirer, March 22, 1954; quoted in Dukas and Hoffmann, Albert Einstein, the Human Side, p.44.


"Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it. One should earn one's living by work of which one is sure one is capable. Only when we do not have to be accountable to anybody can we find joy in scientific endeavor."

--Letter to an admirer, March 24, 1951; quoted in Dukas and Hoffmann, Albert Einstein, the Human Side, p.57.


"What Artistic and Scientific Experience Have in Common - Where the world ceases to be the scene of our personal hopes and wishes, where we face it as free beings admiring, asking, and observing, there we enter the realm of Art and Science. If what is seen and experienced is portrayed in the language of logic, we are engaged in science. If it is communicated through forms whose connections are not accessible to the conscious mind but are recognized intuitively as meaninful, then we are engaged in art. Common to both is the loving devotion to that which transcends personal concerns and volition."

--response to the editor of a German magazine dealing with modern art requesting a short article, January 27, 1921; quoted in Dukas and Hoffmann, Albert Einstein, the Human Side, p.37.


"It is true that the grasping of truth is not possible without empirical basis. However, the deeper we penetrate and the more extensive and embracing our theories become the less empirical knowledge is needed to determine those theories."

--Einstein to T. McCormack, December 9, 1952, AEA 36-549.


"As for , I know from my own painful searching, with its many blind alleys, how hard it is to take a reliable step, be it ever so small, towards the understanding of that which is truly significant."

--Letter to an admirer, February 13, 1934; quoted in Dukas and Hoffmann, Albert Einstein, the Human Side, p.18.


"The scientific theorist is not to be envied. For Nature, or more precisely experiment, is an exorable and not very friendly judge of his work. It never says "yes" to a theory. In the most favorable cases it says "Maybe," and in the great majority of cases simply "No." If an experiment agrees with a theory it means for the latter "Maybe," and if it does not agree it means "No." Probably every theory will some day experience its "No" - most theories, soon after conception."

--Entry into memory book for Professor Kammerling-Onnes, November 11, 1922; quoted in Dukas and Hoffmann, Albert Einstein, the Human Side, p.18.


"There comes a time when the mind takes a higher plane of knowledge but can never prove how it got there. All great discoveries have involved such a leap."


"A society's competitive advantage will come not from how well its schools teach the multiplication and periodic table, but from how well they stimulate imagination and creativity."

--Einstein to Vivienne Anderson, May 12, 1953, AEA 60-716.


"It is important to foster individuality for only the individual can produce the new ideas."

--Einstein message for Ben Scheman dinner, March 1952, AEA 28-931.


"The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think."

--New York Times, May 18, 1921; Frank 1947, 185; Brian 1966, 129, Illy, 25-32.
Frank, P. 1947. Einstein: A Centenary Volume. Cambridge, Mass.; Harvard University Press.; Brian, D. 1996. Einstein: A Life. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.; Illy, J., ed. 2005, February. "Einstein Due Today." Manuscript. (Courtesy of the Einstein Papers Project, Pasadena.)


"A new idea comes suddenly and in a rather intuitive way, but intuition is nothing but the outcome of earlier intellectual experience."

--Einstein to Dr. H.L. Gordon, May 3, 1949, AEA 58-217.


"The simplest picture one can form about the creation of an empirical science is along the lines of an inductive method. Individual facts are selected and grouped together so that the laws that connect them become apparent...However, the big advances in scientific knowledge originated in this way only to a small degree...The truly great advances in our understanding of nature originated in a way almost diametrically opposed to induction. The intuitive grasp of the essentials of a large complex of facts leads the scientist to the postulation of a hypothetical basic law or laws. From these laws, he derives his conclusions."

--Einstein, Induction and Deduction in Physics, Berliner Togeblatt, Dec. 25, 1919, CPAE 7:28.


"But nature did not deem it her business to make the discovery of her laws easy for us."

--Einstein to Erwin Freundlich, September 1, 1911.


"One of the strongest motives that leads men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness. Such men make this cosmos and its construction the pivot of their emotional life, in order to find the peace and security which they cannot find in the narrow whirlpool of personal experience."

--Einstein, "Principles of Research," 1918, in Einstein Albert, Ideas and Opinions, New York: Random House, 224.


"With fame I become more and more stupid, which of course is a very common phenomenon."

--Einstein to Heinrich Zangger, December 24, 1919.


"Belief in an external world independent of the perceiving subject is the basis of all natural science."

--Einstein, "Maxwell's Influence on the Evolution of the Idea of Physical Reality," 1931, in Einstein, Albert, Ideas and Opinions, New York: Random House, 266.


"It is open to every man to choose the direction of his striving and every man may take comfort from the fine saying that is more precious than its possession."

--William Laurence, "Einstein Baffled by Cosmos Riddle," New York Times, May 16, 1940.


"Look into nature, and then you will understand it better."

--Einstein to Lina Kocherthaler, July 27, 1951, AEA 38-303; Sayen, Jamie, 1985, Einstein in America: The Scientist's Conscience in the Age of Hitler and Hiroshima. New York: Crown, 231.


"The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility...The fact that it is comprehensible is a miracle."

--Einstein, "Physics and Reality," Journal of the Franklin Institute (Mar. 1936), in Einstein, 1954, Ideas and Opinions. New York: Random House, 292.


"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."

--Einstein to Carl Seelig, March 11, 1952, AEA 39-013.


"One must divide one's time between politics and equations. But our equations are much more important to me, because politics is for the present, while our equations are for eternity."

--Einstein, quoted by Ernst Straus in Seelig, Helle Zeit, dunkle Zeit, 71.


"I think we have to safeguard ourselves against people who are a menace to others, quite apart from what may have motivated their deeds."

--Einstein to Otto Juliusburger, April 11, 1946, AEA 38-228.


"I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves--such an ethical basis I call the ideal of a pigsty...The ideals which have guided my way, and time after time have given me the energy to face life, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth."

--Einstein, from "The World as I See It" (1930).


"I do not like to state an opinion on a matter unless I know the precise facts."

--Einstein, quoted in an interview, New York Times, August 12, 1945.


"It is not so important where one settles down. The best thing is to follow your instincts without too much reflection."

--Einstein to Max Born, March 3, 1920. AEA 8-146.


"The value of achievement lies in the achieving."

--Einstein to D. Liberson, October 28, 1950. AEA 60-297.


"...behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable."

--Einstein to Alfred Kerr, approximately 1927. Quoted in Brian, Einstein, a Life. 161.


"If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician....I live my day dreams in music...I get most joy in my life out of my violin."

--Einstein to G.S. Viereck in the Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929.


"Truly novel inventions emerge only in one's youth. Later one becomes ever more experienced, famous-and foolish."

--Einstein to Heinrich Zangger, Decembrer 6, 1917. AEA 39-689.


"My scientific work is motivated by an irrestible longing to understand the secrets of nature not by other feelings."

--Einstein to T. Lentz, August 20, 1949. AEA 58-418.


"Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free but are just as causally bound as the stars in their motions."

--Statement to the Spinoza Society of America. September 22, 1932. AEA 33-291.


"Mozart's music is so pure and beautiful that I see it as a reflection of the inner beauty of the universe."

--Quoted in Hermann, Einstein, 158.


"The only way to escape the corruptible effect of praise is to go on working."

--Quoted by Lincoln Barnett in the article, "On His Centennial the Spirit of Einstein Abides in Princeton," Smithsonian, February 1979, 74.


"The aim (of education) must be the training of independently acting and thinking individuals who, however, see in the service to the community their highest life problem."

--from Address, October 15, 1936. Reprinted in Ideas and Opinions, 60.


"Music does not influence research work, but both are nourished by the same sort of longing, and they complement each other in the release they offer."

--to Paul Plaut, October 23, 1928, AEA 28-065.


"The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained liberatioin from the self."

--from Mein Weltbild, 1934. Reprinted in Ideas and Opinions, 12.


"I very rarely think in words at all. A thoughtcomes, and I may try to express in words afterwards."

--quoted in M. Wertheimer, Productive Thinking, 1959.


"We must recognize what in our accepted tradition is damaging to our fate and dignity--and shape our lives accordingly."

--quoted in New York Times, May 4, 1946.


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