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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.
the number that see with their own eyes
and feel with their own hearts."
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"
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.
is a delicate little plant which, aside from stimulation, stands
mainly in need of freedom"
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,
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.
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).
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"
a Portrait, p. 102.
of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind"
--Speech Civilization and Science,
October 3, 1933. Quoted in The Times (London), October 4, 1933.
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.
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.
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.
be better if you begin to teach others only after you yourself
have learned something."
--To Arthur Cohen, December 26, 1928.
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
--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,
"I live in
that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the
years of maturity"
--quote from Out of My Later Years,
"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
" 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
--letter to Dutch physicist Heike
Kamerlingh-Onne's widow, February 25, 1926; Einstein Archive
"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.
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."
precious things in life are not those you get for money."
--Ladies Home Journal. December
are like good poems. One may easily get their drift, but they
are not rationally understood."
--quote to Maurice Solovine, April
shy away from questionable undertakings, even when they bear
a high-sounding name."
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.
that a simple and unassuming life is good for everybody, physically
from "The World as I See It" (1930), reprinted in Ideas
and Opinions, 8.
is in fact the only criticism people cannot level against my
from R.W. Clark., Einstein "The Life and Times" 268.
which have guided my way, and time after time have given me the
energy to face life, have been kindness, beauty, and truth."
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."
from "Physics and Reality" (1936), reprinted in Ideas
and Opinions, 290.
me the stubbornness of a mule and a fairly keen scent."
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."
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."
to Anna Meyer-Schmid, May 12, 1909.
is a mimosa when he himself has made a mistake, and a roaring
lion when he discovers a mistake of others."
from Ehlers, Liebes Hertz!, 45.
value of a human being is determined primarily by how he has
attained liberation from the self."
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).
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!,
not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an
instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one's greatest
--quote to Walter Daellenbach, May
"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
--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
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
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
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
--Letter to Elsa Einstein, August
11, 1913; CPAE, Vol. 5, Doc. 466
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]
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.
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.
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.
"Fear or stupidity
has always been the basis of most human actions."
--Letter to E. Mulder, April 1954;
Einstein Archive 60-609.
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
stagnate if it is made to serve practical goals."
--Quoted in Nathan and Norden, Einstein
on Peace, p.402.
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.
not a product of schooling but of the life-long attempt to acquire
--Letter to an admirer, March 22,
1954; quoted in Dukas and Hoffmann, Albert Einstein, the Human
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
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
--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.
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
--Entry into memory book for Professor
Kammerling-Onnes, November 11, 1922; quoted in Dukas and Hoffmann,
Albert Einstein, the Human Side, p.18.
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."
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
--Einstein message for Ben Scheman
dinner, March 1952, AEA 28-931.
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.
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,
did not deem it her business to make the discovery of her laws
easy for us."
--Einstein to Erwin Freundlich, September
"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.
I become more and more stupid, which of course is a very common
--Einstein to Heinrich Zangger, December
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
"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,
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.
mystery of the world is its comprehensibility...The fact that
it is comprehensible is a miracle."
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.
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
--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.
of achievement lies in the achieving."
--Einstein to D. Liberson,
October 28, 1950. AEA 60-297.
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.
inventions emerge only in one's youth. Later one becomes ever
more experienced, famous-and foolish."
--Einstein to Heinrich Zangger,
December 6, 1917. AEA 39-689.
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.
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.
music is so pure and beautiful that I see it as a reflection
of the inner beauty of the universe."
--Quoted in Hermann, Einstein,
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,
"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.
not influence research work, but both are nourished by the same
sort of longing, and they complement each other in the release
--to Paul Plaut, October
23, 1928, AEA 28-065.
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.
is determined...by forces over which we have no control."
--quoted in an interview
by G.S. Viereck, October 26, 1929. Reprinted in "Glimpse
of the Great."1930.
is no price to be paid, it is also not of value."
--Aphorism, June 27,
1920. AEA 36-582.
"Life is sacred,
that is to say, it is the supreme value, to which all other values
--from "Is There a Jewish
Point of View?" (1920s). Reprinted in Ideas and Opinions,
"I never worry
about the future. It comes soon enough."
"I have reached
an age when if someone tells me to wear socks, I don't have to."
--quoted by Alan Shenstone
in Sayen, Einstein in America, 69.
"My life is
a simple thing that would interest no one. It is a known fact
that I was born, and that is all that is necessary."
--quoted in The Tower,
April 13, 1935.
deprivation are the best educators and purifiers."
--to Auguste Hochberger,
July 30, 1919. AEA 43-915.
the joys of others and suffering with them - these are the best
guides for man."
--to V. Bulgakow, November
4, 1931. AEA 45-702.
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