Quotes on the natural sciences

Quotes on the natural sciences

These quotes on the natural sciences will help you to explore its nature, form links with other WOKs and AOKs, and provide discussion points for TOK lessons. They will also support you as you address knowledge questions within your TOK essay and TOK presentation.

Consideration points

  1. What do the quotes suggest about the nature of the natural sciences as an area of knowledge?
  2. What do they suggest about the purpose of the natural sciences?
  3. Are the quotes consistent, or do they clash about the role it plays as an area of knowledge, and its relationship with others WOKs and AOKs?
  4. Can you think of other ways of knowing and areas of knowledge that these quotes relate to?
  5. How many of these thinkers are you familiar with? Research the ones you haven’t come across before – and, indeed, the ones you think you already know. Click on the names to take you to the corresponding Wikipedia article, although this should only be used as a starting point for your research.

Finally, how would you use the quotes to construct a typical IB Diploma TOK essay title? Look at previous TOK essay titles, and see if you can compose something similar (and think about how you’d go about structuring it)

1. The nature and purpose of the natural sciences

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not “Eureka!” (I found it!) but “That’s funny…”
Isaac Asimov
The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them.
William Lawrence Bragg
But in science the credit goes to the man who convinces the world, not to the man to whom the idea first occurs.
Francis Darwin
Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.
Immanuel Kant
The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he’s one who asks the right questions.
Claude Lévi-Strauss
If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.
Isaac Newton
Vanity of science. Knowledge of physical science will not console me for ignorance of morality in time of affliction, but knowledge of morality will always console me for ignorance of physical science.
Blaise Pascal
Science is not about control. It is about cultivating a perpetual condition of wonder in the face of something that forever grows one step richer and subtler than our latest theory about it. It is about reverence, not mastery.
Richard Powers
Even if the open windows of science at first make us shiver after the cosy indoor warmth of traditional humanizing myths, in the end the fresh air brings vigour, and the great spaces have a splendour of their own.
Bertrand Russell
When Kepler found his long-cherished belief did not agree with the most precise observation, he accepted the uncomfortable fact. He preferred the hard truth to his dearest illusions; that is the heart of science.
Carl Sagan

2. The natural sciences and emotion

Science is not only a disciple of reason but, also, one of romance and passion.
Stephen Hawking

3. The natural sciences and imagination

Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.
John Dewey
Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of science.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The greatest discoveries of science have always been those that forced us to rethink our beliefs about the universe and our place in it.
Robert L. Park

4. The natural sciences and language

Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone.
Albert Einstein

5. The natural sciences and memory

Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, tradition and myth frame our response.
Arthur M. Schlesinger

6. The natural sciences and reason

Science is the father of knowledge, but opinion breeds ignorance.
Reason, Observation, and Experience – the Holy Trinity of Science.
Robert G. Ingersoll
Science, at bottom, is really anti-intellectual. It always distrusts pure reason, and demands the production of objective fact.
H.L. Mencken

7. The natural sciences and the arts

Art is the tree of life. Science is the tree of death.
William Blake
Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars – mere globs of gas atoms. I, too, can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more?
Richard P. Feynman
Science and art belong to the whole world, and before them vanish the barriers of nationality.
Johann von Goethe

8. The natural sciences and ethics

The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.
Isaac Asimov
But in science the credit goes to the man who convinces the world, not to the man to whom the idea first occurs.
Francis Darwin
Science is global. Einstein’s equation, E=mc2, has to reach everywhere. Science is a beautiful gift to humanity, we should not distort it. Science does not differentiate between multiple races.
Abdul Kalam
Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Science can teach us, and I think our own hearts can teach us, no longer to look around for imaginary supports, no longer to invent allies in the sky, but rather to look to our own efforts here below to make this world a fit place to live in, instead.
Bertrand Russell
I am compelled to fear that science will be used to promote the power of dominant groups rather than to make men happy.
Bertrand Russell

9. The natural sciences and history

To know the history of science is to recognize the mortality of any claim to universal truth.
Evelyn Fox Keller

10. The natural sciences and mathematics

All science requires mathematics. The knowledge of mathematical things is almost innate in us. This is the easiest of sciences, a fact which is obvious in that no one’s brain rejects it; for laymen and people who are utterly illiterate know how to count and reckon.
Roger Bacon

11. The natural sciences and religion

The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.
Richard Dawkins
Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
Albert Einstein
In science, ‘fact’ can only mean ‘confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.’ I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.
Stephen Jay Gould
A year spent in artificial intelligence is enough to make one believe in God.
Alan Perlis
Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition.
Adam Smith

Cite this page as: Dunn, Michael. Quotes on the natural sciences (10th May 2013). theoryofknowledge.net. http://www.theoryofknowledge.net/areas-of-knowledge/the-natural-sciences/quotes-on-the-natural-sciences/ Last accessed: 23rd February 2017


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