exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity
“The British Empiricists were correct, in that, knowledge does arise from experience; however, it is a mistake to assume that just because knowledge arises from experience that it is grounded in experience.” Kant (paraphrased)
Editor's 1-Minute Essay: Experience
Fritjof Capra: “When carbon (C), Oxygen (O) and hydrogen (H) atoms bond in a certain way to form sugar, the resulting compound has a sweet taste. The sweetness resides neither in the C, nor in the O, nor in the H; it resides in the pattern that emerges from their interaction. It is an emergent property. Moreover, strictly speaking, is not a property of the chemical bonds. It is a sensory experience that arises when the sugar molecules interact with the chemistry of our taste buds, which in turns causes a set of neurons to fire in a certain way. The experience of sweetness emerges from that neural activity.”
life in a concentration camp tore open the human soul and exposed its depths
Viktor Frankl, Man's Search For Meaning (see extended quote)
From all this we may learn that there are two races of
men in this world, but only these two — the "race" of the
decent man and the "race" of the indecent man. Both are
found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society.
No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people. In
this sense, no group is of "pure race" — and therefore one
occasionally found a decent fellow among the camp guards.
Life in a concentration camp tore open the human soul
and exposed its depths. Is it surprising that in those depths
we again found only human qualities which in their very
nature were a mixture of good and evil? The rift dividing
good from evil, which goes through all human beings,
reaches into the lowest depths and becomes apparent even
on the bottom of the abyss which is laid open by the con-
Sinibaldi: “When experience has proved a physical fact, one must give up reasoning.”
George Greenstein: “When I was in college studying science, I found the experience fundamentally unsatisfying. I was continually oppressed by the feeling that my only role was to “shut up and learn.” I felt there was nothing I could say to my instructors that they would find interesting. … As I sat in the science lecture hall, I was utterly silent. That’s not a good state to be in when you are 19 years old.”
Edward R. Murrow: "Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices - just recognize them."
Phil Jackson: "Winning is important to me, but what brings me real joy is the experience of being fully engaged in whatever I'm doing."
Malcolm Gladwell: "We learn by example and by direct experience because there are real limits to the adequacy of verbal instruction."
William Faulkner: "A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others."
Grenville Kleiser: "It is possible to make each year bring with it a lasting gift to add to the fullness of experience, to be treasured up, savored, and remembered. They need not be startling, these gifts of the years; they may be things that lie within the reach of all."
Ray Lyman Wilbur: "It is not how much you know about life but how you live your life that counts. Those who can avoid mistakes by observing the mistakes of others are most apt to keep free from sorrow. In a world full of uncertainties, the record of what has gone before--human experience--is as sure and reliable as anything of which we know."
Margaret Mead: "As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate lovingly, our own."
George Henry Lewes: “Science is the systematic classification of experience.”
Mae C. Jemison: “Science provides an understanding of a universal experience, and arts provides a universal understanding of a personal experience.”
John Keats: “Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced -- even a proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it.”
George Bernard Shaw: “If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.”
Norman Vincent Peale: “One of the greatest moments in anybody's developing experience is when he no longer tries to hide from himself but determines to get acquainted with himself as he really is.”
Persian proverb: “He who has been bitten by a snake fears a piece of string.”
Karl Marx: “Experience praises the most happy the one who made the most people happy.”
Aldous Huxley: “From their experience or from the recorded experience of others (history), men learn only what their passions and their metaphysical prejudices allow them to learn.”
Sir William Ramsay: “Chemistry and physics are experimental sciences; and those who are engaged in attempting to enlarge the boundaries of science by experiment are generally unwilling to publish speculations; for they have learned, by long experience, that it is unsafe to anticipate events. It is true, they must make certain theories and hypotheses. They must form some kind of mental picture of the relations between the phenomena which they are trying to investigate, else their experiments would be made at random, and without connection.”
Mark Twain: “Experience, the only logic sure to convince a diseased imagination and restore it to rugged health.”
Albert Einstein: “Here arises a puzzle that has disturbed scientists of all periods. How can it be that mathematics, being after all a product of human thought which is independent of experience, is so admirably appropriate to the objects of reality? Is human reason, then, without experience, merely by taking thought, able to fathom the properties of real things?”
A. C. Grayling: “I despise people who depend on these things [heroin and cocaine]. If you really want a mind-altering experience, look at a tree.”
Edward O. Wilson: “I had this experience at the age of eight. My parents gave me a microscope. I don’t recall why, but no matter. I then found my own little world, completely wild and unconstrained, no plastic, no teacher, no books, no anything predictable. At first I did not know the names of the water-drop denizens or what they were doing. But neither did the pioneer microscopists. Like them, I graduated to looking at butterfly scales and other miscellaneous objects. I never thought of what I was doing in such a way, but it was pure science. As true as could be of any child so engaged, I was kin to Leeuwenhoek, who said that his work “was not pursued in order to gain the praise I now enjoy, but chiefly from a craving after knowledge, which I notice resides in me more that most other men.”
Patrick Henry: “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know no way of judging of the future but by the past.”
David Hume: “In reality, all Arguments from Experience are founded on the Similarity which we discover among natural Objects, and by which we are induc'd to expect effects similar to those which we have found to follow from such Objects. And tho' none but a Fool or Madman will ever pretend to dispute the Authority of Experience, or to reject that great Guide of human Life, it may surely be allow'd a Philosopher to have so much Curiosity at least as to examine the Principle of human Nature, which gives this mighty Authority to Experience, and makes us draw Advantage from that Similarity which Nature has plac'd among different Objects. From Causes which appear similar we expect similar Effects. This is the Sum of our experimental Conclusions.”
Jacob Bronowski: “Induction is the process of generalizing from our known and limited experience, and framing wider rules for the future than we have been able to test fully. At its simplest, then, an induction is a habit or an adaptation—the habit of expecting tomorrow’s weather to be like today’s, the adaptation to the unwritten conventions of community life.”
Albert Einstein: “It is difficult even to attach a precise meaning to the term “scientific truth.” So different is the meaning of the word “truth” according to whether we are dealing with a fact of experience, a mathematical proposition or a scientific theory. “Religious truth” conveys nothing clear to me at all.”
William Stanley Jevons: “It is usual to say that the two sources of experience are Observation and Experiment. When we merely note and record the phenomena which occur around us in the ordinary course of nature we are said to observe. When we change the course of nature by the intervention of our will and muscular powers, and thus produce unusual combinations and conditions of phenomena, we are said to experiment. [Sir John] Herschel has justly remarked that we might properly call these two modes of experience passive and active observation. In both cases we must certainly employ our senses to observe, and an experiment differs from a mere observation in the fact that we more or less influence the character of the events which we observe. Experiment is thus observation plus alteration of conditions.”
Albert Einstein: “Man tries to make for himself in the fashion that suits him best a simplified and intelligible picture of the world; he then tries to some extent to substitute this cosmos of his for the world of experience, and thus to overcome it. This is what the painter, the poet, the speculative philosopher, and the natural scientist do, each in his own fashion. Each makes this cosmos and its construction the pivot of his emotional life, in order to find in this way the peace and security which he cannot find in the narrow whirlpool of personal experience.”
Wernher von Braun: “My experiences with science led me to God. They challenge science to prove the existence of God. But must we really light a candle to see the sun?”
Sir John William Strutt: “One's instinct is at first to try and get rid of a discrepancy, but I believe that experience shows such an endeavour to be a mistake. What one ought to do is to magnify a small discrepancy with a view to finding out the explanation.”
Albert Einstein: “Our experience up to date justifies us in feeling sure that in Nature is actualized the ideal of mathematical simplicity. It is my conviction that pure mathematical construction enables us to discover the concepts and the laws connecting them, which gives us the key to understanding nature… In a certain sense, therefore, I hold it true that pure thought can grasp reality, as the ancients dreamed.”
William T Harris: “Philosophy is not a science of things in general, but a science that investigates the presuppositions of experience and discovers the nature of the first principle.”
Ernst Mach: “Physics is experience, arranged in economical order.”
George Santayana: “Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Robert Green Ingersoll: “Reason, Observation, and Experience—the Holy Trinity of Science.”
Carl Sagan: “Religions are tough. Either they make no contentions which are subject to disproof or they quickly redesign doctrine after disproof. … near the core of the religious experience is something remarkably resistant to rational inquiry.”
George E.P. Box: “Samuel Pierpoint Langley, … one of the most distinguished scientists in the United States … evidently believed that a full sized airplane could be built and flown largely from theory alone. This resulted in two successive disastrous plunges into the Potomac River, the second of which almost drowned his pilot. This experience contrasts with that of two bicycle mechanics Orville and Wilbur Wright who designed, built and flew the first successful airplane. But they did this after hundreds of experiments extending over a number of years.”
William Wickenden: “Science began to be powerful when it began to be cumulative, when observers began to preserve detailed records, to organize cooperating groups in order to pool and criticize their experiences.”
Thomas Henry Huxley: “Some experience of popular lecturing had convinced me that the necessity of making things plain to uninstructed people, was one of the very best means of clearing up the obscure corners in one's own mind.”
Claude Bernard: “Speaking concretely, when we say “making experiments or making observations,” we mean that we devote ourselves to investigation and to research, that we make attempts and trials in order to gain facts from which the mind, through reasoning, may draw knowledge or instruction. Speaking in the abstract, when we say “relying on observation and gaining experience,” we mean that observation is the mind's support in reasoning, and experience the mind's support in deciding, or still better, the fruit of exact reasoning applied to the interpretation of facts. It follows from this that we can gain experience without making experiments, solely by reasoning appropriately about well- established facts, just as we can make experiments and observations without gaining experience, if we limit ourselves to noting facts. Observation, then, is what shows facts; experiment is what teaches about facts and gives experience in relation to anything.”
Sir Isaac Newton: “The best and safest way of philosophising seems to be, first to enquire diligently into the properties of things, and to establish those properties by experiences [experiments] and then to proceed slowly to hypotheses for the explanation of them. For hypotheses should be employed only in explaining the properties of things, but not assumed in determining them; unless so far as they may furnish experiments.”
Albert Einstein: “The efforts of most human-beings are consumed in the struggle for their daily bread, but most of those who are, either through fortune or some special gift, relieved of this struggle are largely absorbed in further improving their worldly lot. Beneath the effort directed toward the accumulation of worldly goods lies all too frequently the illusion that this is the most substantial and desirable end to be achieved; but there is, fortunately, a minority composed of those who recognize early in their lives that the most beautiful and satisfying experiences open to humankind are not derived from the outside, but are bound up with the development of the individual's own feeling, thinking and acting. The genuine artists, investigators and thinkers have always been persons of this kind. However inconspicuously the life of these individuals runs its course, none the less the fruits of their endeavors are the most valuable contributions which one generation can make to its successors.”
Albert Einstein: “The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. It was the experience of mystery–even if mixed with fear–that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms–it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.”
Susanne K. Langer: “The faith of scientists in the power and truth of mathematics is so implicit that their work has gradually become less and less observation, and more and more calculation. The promiscuous collection and tabulation of data have given way to a process of assigning possible meanings, merely supposed real entities, to mathematical terms, working out the logical results, and then staging certain crucial experiments to check the hypothesis against the actual empirical results. But the facts which are accepted by virtue of these tests are not actually observed at all. With the advance of mathematical technique in physics, the tangible results of experiment have become less and less spectacular; on the other hand, their significance has grown in inverse proportion. The men in the laboratory have departed so far from the old forms of experimentation—typified by Galileo's weights and Franklin's kite—that they cannot be said to observe the actual objects of their curiosity at all; instead, they are watching index needles, revolving drums, and sensitive plates. No psychology of 'association' of sense-experiences can relate these data to the objects they signify, for in most cases the objects have never been experienced. Observation has become almost entirely indirect; and readings take the place of genuine witness.”
Albert Einstein: “The final results [of his work on the theory of relativity] appear almost simple; any intelligent undergraduate can understand them without much trouble. But the years of searching in the dark for a truth that one feels, but cannot express; the intense effort and the alternations of confidence and misgiving, until one breaks through to clarity and understanding, are only known to him who has himself experienced them.”
J. Robert Oppenheimer: “A discovery in science, or a new theory, even when it appears most unitary and most all-embracing, deals with some immediate element of novelty or paradox within the framework of far vaster, unanalysed, unarticulated reserves of knowledge, experience, faith, and presupposition. Our progress is narrow; it takes a vast world unchallenged and for granted. This is one reason why, however great the novelty or scope of new discovery, we neither can, nor need, rebuild the house of the mind very rapidly. This is one reason why science, for all its revolutions, is conservative. This is why we will have to accept the fact that no one of us really will ever know very much. This is why we shall have to find comfort in the fact that, taken together, we know more and more.”
Jacques Maritain: “A single idea, if it is right, saves us the labor of an infinity of experiences.”
Leonardo da Vinci: “Although nature commences with reason and ends in experience it is necessary for us to do the opposite, that is to commence as I said before with experience and from this to proceed to investigate the reason.”
Wilfred Trotter: “An event experienced is an event perceived, digested, and assimilated into the substance of our being, and the ratio between the number of cases seen and the number of cases assimilated is the measure of experience.”
Max Ludwig Henning Delbrück: “Any living cell carries with it the experience of a billion years of experimentation by its ancestors. (1949)”
Wilfred Trotter: “The first [quality] to be named must always be the power of attention, of giving one's whole mind to the patient without the interposition of anything of oneself. It sounds simple but only the very greatest doctors ever fully attain it. … The second thing to be striven for is intuition. This sounds an impossibility, for who can control that small quiet monitor? But intuition is only interference from experience stored and not actively recalled. … The last aptitude I shall mention that must be attained by the good physician is that of handling the sick man's mind.”
Lewis Thomas: “The greatest achievements in the science of this [twentieth] century are themselves the sources of more puzzlement than human beings have ever experienced. Indeed, it is likely that the twentieth century will be looked back at as the time when science provided the first close glimpse of the profundity of human ignorance. We have not reached solutions; we have only begun to discover how to ask questions.”
Sir John William Strutt: “The history of science teaches only too plainly the lesson that no single method is absolutely to be relied upon, that sources of error lurk where they are least expected, and that they may escape the notice of the most experienced and conscientious worker.”
Wolfgang Pauli: “The kinetic concept of motion in classical theory will have to undergo profound modifications. (That is why I also avoided the term “orbit” in my paper throughout.) … We must not bind the atoms in the chains of our prejudices—to which, in my opinion, also belongs the assumption that electron orbits exist in the sense of ordinary mechanics—but we must, on the contrary, adapt our concepts to experience.”
George Eliot: “Is it not rather what we expect in men, that they should have numerous strands of experience lying side by side and never compare them with each other?”
Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Our knowledge is the amassed thought and experience of innumerable minds.”
Henry Ford: “If you take all the experience and judgment of men over fifty out of the world, there wouldn't be enough left to run it.”
Eleanor Roosevelt: “Your ambition should be to get as much life out of living as you possibly can, as much enjoyment, as much interest, as much experience, as much understanding. Not simply be what is generally called a success."
Pema Chodron: “In practicing meditation, we're not trying to live up to some kind of ideal -- quite the opposite. We're just being with our experience, whatever it is.”
Twyla Tharp: “Optimism with some experience behind it is much more energizing than plain old experience with a certain degree of cynicism.”
Mary H. Waldrip: “Just when you think you've graduated from the school of experience, someone thinks up a new course.”
Joseph Campbell: “People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances without own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
Michael Korda: “Never walk away from failure. On the contrary, study it carefully and imaginatively for its hidden assets.”
Mark Twain: “The person who has had a bull by the tail once has learned 60 or 70 times as much as a person who hasn't.”
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg: “The more experiences and experiments accumulate in the exploration of nature, the more precarious the theories become. But it is not always good to discard them immediately on this account. For every hypothesis which once was sound was useful for thinking of previous phenomena in the proper interrelations and for keeping them in context. We ought to set down contradictory experiences separately, until enough have accumulated to make building a new structure worthwhile.”
Albert Einstein: “The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mystical. It is the power of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms — this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong to the rank of devoutly religious men.”
R. Buckminster Fuller: “The National Science Foundation asked the great “breakthrough” scientists what they felt to be the most dominantly favorable factor in their educational experience. The answer was almost uniformly, “Intimate association with a great, inspiring teacher.”
Alfred North Whitehead: “The task of a university is to weld together imagination and experience.”
Albert Einstein: “The theoretical idea … does not arise apart from and independent of experience; nor can it be derived from experience by a purely logical procedure. It is produced by a creative act. Once a theoretical idea has been acquired, one does well to hold fast to it until it leads to an untenable conclusion.”
Daniel J. Boorstin: “The traveler was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. He goes sight-seeing.”
Henry Thoreau: “The true man of science will know nature better by his finer organization; he will smell, taste, see, hear, feel, better than other men. His will be a deeper and finer experience.”
Kahlil Gibran: Seek you counsel of the aged for their eyes have looked on the faces of the years and their ears have hardened to the voices of Life. Even if their counsel is displeasing to you, pay heed to them.”
Napoleon Hill: “It takes half your life before you discover life is a do-it-yourself project.
Aldous Huxley: “Experience teaches only the teachable.”
Henry James: “The power to guess the unseen from the seen, to trace the implications of things, to judge the whole piece by the pattern, the condition of feeling life in general so completely that you are well on your way to knowing any particular corner of it --this cluster of gifts may almost be said to constitute experience.”
Henry James: “Deep experience is never peaceful.”
Franz Kafka: “It is not necessary that you leave the house. Remain at your table and listen. Do not even listen, only wait. Do not even wait, be wholly still and alone. The world will present itself to you for its unmasking, it can do no other, in ecstasy it will writhe at your feet.”
Nicolas Chamfort: “Man arrives as a novice at each age of his life.”
Samuel Taylor Coleridge: “To most men experience is like the stern lights of a ship, which illuminate only the track it has passed.”
Leonardo da Vinci: “Experience does not err. Only your judgments err by expecting from her what is not in her power.
Norbert Wiener: “The way of pure research is opposed to all the copy-book maxims concerning the virtues of industry and a fixed purpose, and the evils of guessing, but it is damned useful when it comes off. It is the diametrical opposite of Edison’s reputed method of trying every conceivable expedient until he hit the right one. It requires, not diligence, but experience, information, and a good nose for the essence of a problem.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero: “The wise are instructed by reason; ordinary minds by experience; the stupid, by necessity; and brutes by instinct.”
Rachel Carson: “This notion that ‘science’ is something that belongs in a separate compartment of its own, apart from everyday life, is one that I should like to challenge. We live in a scientific age; yet we assume that knowledge of science is the prerogative of only a small number of human beings, isolated and priest-like in their laboratories. This is not true. It cannot be true. The materials of science are the materials of life itself. Science is part of the reality of living; it is the what, the how, and the why of everything in our experience. It is impossible to understand man without understanding his environment and the forces that have molded him physically and mentally.”
Sharon Salzberg: “We can travel a long way and do many things, but our deepest happiness is not born from accumulating new experiences. it is born from letting go of what is unnecessary, and knowing ourselves to be always at home.”
Friedrich Nietzsche: “A strong and secure man digests his experiences (deeds and misdeeds alike) just as he digests his meat, even when he has some bits to swallow… Experience, as a desire for experience, does not come off. We must not study ourselves while having an experience.”
Blaise Pascal: “Two things control men's nature, instinct and experience.”
Georg C. Lichtenberg: “What is the good of drawing conclusions from experience? I don't deny we sometimes draw the right conclusions, but don't we just as often draw the wrong ones?”
Abraham Lincoln: “We know nothing of what will happen in future, but by the analogy of experience.”
John Locke: “No man's knowledge here can go beyond his experience.”
James Russell Lowell: “One thorn of experience is worth a whole wilderness of warning.”
Oscar Wilde: “We can have in life but one great experience at best, and the secret of life is to reproduce that experience as often as possible.”
Henry David Thoreau: "We should come home from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day with new experience and character."
Henry Reed: “Intuition is the very force or activity of the soul in its experience through whatever has been the experience of the soul itself.”
Anne Frank: Then, without realizing it, you try to improve yourself at the start of each new day; of course, you achieve quite a lot in the course of time. Anyone can do this, it costs nothing and is certainly very helpful. Whoever doesn't know it must learn and find by experience that a quiet conscience makes one strong.”
Samuel Smiles: “We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.”
Edith Wharton: “Life is the only real counselor; wisdom unfiltered through personal experience does not become a part of the moral tissue.”
Alfred Russel Wallace: “To say that mind is a product or function of protoplasm, or of its molecular changes, is to use words to which we can attach no clear conception. You cannot have, in the whole, what does not exist in any of the parts; and those who argue thus should put forth a definite conception of matter, with clearly enunciated properties, and show, that the necessary result of a certain complex arrangement of the elements or atoms of that matter, will be the production of self-consciousness. There is no escape from this dilemma—either all matter is conscious, or consciousness is something distinct from matter, and in the latter case, its presence in material forms is a proof of the existence of conscious beings, outside of, and independent of, what we term matter. The foregoing considerations lead us to the very important conclusion, that matter is essentially force, and nothing but force; that matter, as popularly understood, does not exist, and is, in fact, philosophically inconceivable. When we touch matter, we only really experience sensations of resistance, implying repulsive force; and no other sense can give us such apparently solid proofs of the reality of matter, as touch does. This conclusion, if kept constantly present in the mind, will be found to have a most important bearing on almost every high scientific and philosophical problem, and especially on such as relate to our own conscious existence.”
Kenneth L. Franklin: “Vannevar Bush has said that there is no more thrilling experience for a man than to be able to state that he has learned something no other person in the world has ever known before him. … I have been lucky enough to be included in such an event.”
Chuck Yeager: “Later, I realized that the mission had to end in a let-down because the real barrier wasn’t in the sky but in our knowledge and experience of supersonic flight.”
Roger Asham: “Learning teacheth more in one year than experience in twenty.”
Bo C. Malmstrom: “Life is order, death is disorder. A fundamental law of Nature states that spontaneous chemical changes in the universe tend toward chaos. But life has, during milliards of years of evolution, seemingly contradicted this law. With the aid of energy derived from the sun it has built up the most complicated systems to be found in the universe—living organisms. Living matter is characterized by a high degree of chemical organisation on all levels, from the organs of large organisms to the smallest constituents of the cell. The beauty we experience when we enjoy the exquisite form of a flower or a bird is a reflection of a microscopic beauty in the architecture of molecules.”
John Stuart Mill: “Logic does not pretend to teach the surgeon what are the symptoms which indicate a violent death. This he must learn from his own experience and observation, or from that of others, his predecessors in his peculiar science. But logic sits in judgment on the sufficiency of that observation and experience to justify his rules, and on the sufficiency of his rules to justify his conduct. It does not give him proofs, but teaches him what makes them proofs, and how he is to judge of them.”
Albert Einstein: “The only source of knowledge is experience.”
Kant (paraphrased): “The British Empiricists were correct, in that, knowledge does arise from experience; however, it is a mistake to assume that just because knowledge arises from experience, that it is grounded in experience.”
John Locke: “Let us then suppose the Mind to be, as we say, white Paper, void of all Characters, without any Ideas; How comes it to be furnished? Whence comes it by that vast store, which the busy and boundless Fancy of Man has painted on it, with an almost endless variety? Whence has it all the materials of Reason and Knowledge? To this I answer, in one word, from Experience: In that, all our Knowledge is founded; and from that it ultimately derives it self. Our Observation employ'd either about external, sensible Objects; or about the internal Operations of our Minds, perceived and reflected on by our selves, is that, which supplies our Understandings with all the materials of thinking.”
Samuel Butler: “Don't learn to do, but learn in doing. Let your falls not be on a prepared ground, but let them be bona fide falls in the rough and tumble of the world.”
Albert Camus: “You can't create experience. You must undergo it.”
Aldous Huxley: “Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.”
Henry James: Experience is never limited, and it is never complete; it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider-web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness, and catching every air-borne particle in its tissue.”
James Baldwin: “Experience that destroys innocence also leads one back to it.”
Sir Oliver Lodge: Some say "you cannot be as sure as you are of sensory experience. I say I can. A physicist is never limited to direct sensory impressions; he has to deal with a multitude of conceptions and things for which he has no physical organ - the dynamical theory of heat, for instance, and of gases, the theories of electricity, of magnetism, of chemical affinity, of cohesion ... [which] lead him into regions where sight and hearing and touch are impotent as direct witnesses, where they are no longer efficient guides."
Roger Asham: “We know by experience itself, that … we find out but a short way, by long wandering.”
John Dewey: “The scientific method is the only authentic means at our command for getting at the significance of our everyday experiences of the world in which we live. It means that scientific method provides a working pattern of the way in which and the conditions under which experiences are used to lead ever onward and outward. … Consequently, whatever the level of experience, we have no choice but either to operate in accord with the pattern it provides or else to neglect the place of intelligence in the development and control of a living and moving experience.”
George Santayana: “The scientific value of truth is not, however, ultimate or absolute. It rests partly on practical, partly on aesthetic interests. As our ideas are gradually brought into conformity with the facts by the painful process of selection,—for intuition runs equally into truth and into error, and can settle nothing if not controlled by experience,—we gain vastly in our command over our environment. This is the fundamental value of natural science.”
Rudolf Carnap: “The self is the class (not the collection) of the experiences (or auto-psychological states). The self does not belong to the expression of the basic experience, but is constructed only on a very high level.”
I. Bernard Cohen: “The seventeenth century witnessed the birth of modern science as we know it today. This science was something new, based on a direct confrontation of nature by experiment and observation. But there was another feature of the new science—a dependence on numbers, on real numbers of actual experience.”
Roger Bacon: "The strongest arguments prove nothing so long as the conclusions are not verified by experience. Experimental science is the queen of sciences and the goal of all speculation.”
Ray Lyman Wilbur: “In a world full of uncertainties, the record of what has gone before--human experience--is as sure and reliable as anything of which we know.”
Barry LePatner: "Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment."
Henry Miller: "All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditated act without benefit of experience."
Goethe: "The further one advances in experience, the closer one comes to the unfathomable; the more one learns to utilize experience, the more one recognizes that the unfathomable is of no practical value."
Talmud: "For the unlearned, old age is winter; for the learned, it is the season of the harvest."
Soren Kierkegaard: "Life must be understood backwards; but... it must be lived forward."
Lawrence Hargrave: “We must remember that all our [models of flying machine] inventions are but developments of crude ideas; that a commercially successful result in a practically unexplored field cannot possibly be got without an enormous amount of unremunerative work. It is the piled-up and recorded experience of many busy brains that has produced the luxurious travelling conveniences of to-day, which in no way astonish us, and there is no good reason for supposing that we shall always be content to keep on the agitated surface of the sea and air, when it is possible to travel in a superior plane, unimpeded by frictional disturbances.”
Harry Emerson Fosdick: “We must take the abiding spiritual values which inhere in the deep experiences of religion in all ages and give them new expression in terms of the framework which our new knowledge gives us. Science forces religion to deal with new ideas in the theoretical realm and new forces in the practical realm.”
Jacob Bronowski: “We receive experience from nature in a series of messages. From these messages we extract a content of information: that is, we decode the messages in some way. And from this code of information we then make a basic vocabulary of concepts and a basic grammar of laws, which jointly describe the inner organization that nature translates into the happenings and the appearances we meet.”
John McCarthy: “We shall therefore say that a program has common sense if it automatically deduces for itself a sufficient wide class of immediate consequences of anything it is told and what it already knows. ... Our ultimate objective is to make programs that learn from their experience as effectively as humans do.”
Jiddu Krishnamurti: “If you are lucky and work very hard, you may someday get to experience freedom from the known.”
Peter Block: “The value of another's experience is to give us hope, not to tell us how or whether to proceed.”
Heinrich Heine: “Experience is a good school. But the fees are high.”
Sylvia Boorstein: “Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of present experience. It isn't more complicated than that.”
Judy Collins: Experience is how life catches up with us and teaches us to love and forgive each other.”
Immanuel Kant: “All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.”
Barbara De Angelis: “When you make a commitment to a relationship, you invest your attention and energy in it more profoundly because you now experience ownership of that relationship.”
Dag Hammarskjold: “Never, 'for the sake of peace and quiet,' deny your own experience or convictions.”
Goethe: “What friends do with us and for us is a real part of our life; for it strengthens and advances our personality. The assault of our enemies is not part of our life ; it is only part of our experience ; we throw it off and guard ourselves against it as against frost, storm, rain, hail, or any other of the external evils which may be expected to happen.”
Friedrich Nietzsche: “What I then got hold of, something frightful and dangerous, a problem with horns but not necessarily a bull, in any case a new problem—today I should say that it was the problem of science itself, science considered for the first time as problematic, as questionable. But the book in which my youthful courage and suspicion found an outlet—what an impossible book had to result from a task so uncongenial to youth! Constructed from a lot of immature, overgreen personal experiences, all of them close to the limits of communication, presented in the context of art—for the problem of science cannot be recognized in the context of science—a book perhaps for artists who also have an analytic and retrospective penchant (in other words, an exceptional type of artist for whom one might have to look far and wide and really would not care to look).”
David Hume: “What is possible can never be demonstrated to be false; and 'tis possible the course of nature may change, since we can conceive such a change. Nay, I will go farther, and assert, that he could not so much as prove by any probable arguments, that the future must be conformable to the past. All probable arguments are built on the supposition, that there is this conformity betwixt the future and the past, and therefore can never prove it. This conformity is a matter of fact, and if it must be proved, will admit of no proof but from experience. But our experience in the past can be a proof of nothing for the future, but upon a supposition, that there is a resemblance betwixt them. This therefore is a point, which can admit of no proof at all, and which we take for granted without any proof.”
Augustine: “My mind withdrew its thoughts from experience, extracting itself from the contradictory throng of sensuous images that it might find out what that light was wherein it was bathed.... And thus, with the flash of one hurried glance, it attained to the vision of That Which Is.”
J. Robert Oppenheimer: “Science starts with preconception, with the common culture, and with common sense. It moves on to observation, is marked by the discovery of paradox, and is then concerned with the correction of preconception. It moves then to use these corrections for the designing of further observation and for more refined experiment. And as it moves along this course the nature of the evidence and experience that nourish it becomes more and more unfamiliar; it is not just the language that is strange [to common culture].”
George Santayana: “Science, then, is the attentive consideration of common experience; it is common knowledge extended and refined. Its validity is of the same order as that of ordinary perception; memory, and understanding. Its test is found, like theirs, in actual intuition, which sometimes consists in perception and sometimes in intent. The flight of science is merely longer from perception to perception, and its deduction more accurate of meaning from meaning and purpose from purpose. It generates in the mind, for each vulgar observation, a whole brood of suggestions, hypotheses, and inferences. The sciences bestow, as is right and fitting, infinite pains upon that experience which in their absence would drift by unchallenged or misunderstood. They take note, infer, and prophesy. They compare prophesy with event, and altogether they supply—so intent are they on reality—every imaginable background and extension for the present dream.”
Maria Montessori: “Scientific observation has established that education is not what the teacher gives; education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment. The task of the teacher becomes that of preparing a series of motives of cultural activity, spread over a specially prepared environment, and then refraining from obtrusive interference. Human teachers can only help the great work that is being done, as servants help the master. Doing so, they will be witnesses to the unfolding of the human soul and to the rising of a New Man who will not be a victim of events, but will have the clarity of vision to direct and shape the future of human society.”
Charles Darwin: “When we no longer look at an organic being as a savage looks at a ship, as something wholly beyond his comprehension; when we regard every production of nature as one which has had a long history; when we contemplate every complex structure and instinct as the summing up of many contrivances, each useful to the possessor, in the same way as any great mechanical invention is the summing up of the labour, the experience, the reason, and even the blunders of numerous workmen; when we thus view each organic being, how far more interesting, I speak from experience, does the study of natural history become!”
Francis Bacon: “The men of experiment are like the ant, they only collect and use; the reasoners resemble spiders, who make cobwebs out of their own substance. But the bee takes the middle course: it gathers its material from the flowers of the garden and field, but transforms and digests it by a power of its own. Not unlike this is the true business of philosophy (science); for it neither relies solely or chiefly on the powers of the mind, nor does it take the matter which it gathers from natural history and mechanical experiments and lay up in the memory whole, as it finds it, but lays it up in the understanding altered and disgested. Therefore, from a closer and purer league between these two faculties, the experimental and the rational (such as has never been made), much may be hoped.”
Barbara Tuchman: “Learning from experience is a faculty almost never practiced.”
Edward Gibbon: “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know no way of judging of the future but by the past.:
Pete Seeger: “Education is when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get if you don't.”
Ethel Barrymore: “You must learn day by day, year by year, to broaden your horizon. The more things you love, the more you are interested in, the more you enjoy, the more you are indignant about, the more you have left when anything happens.”
Max Planck: “The worth of a new idea is invariably determined, not by the degree of its intuitiveness—which incidentally, is to a major extent a matter of experience and habit—but by the scope and accuracy of the individual laws to the discovery of which it eventually leads.”
W. Edwards Deming: “Theory is a window into the world. Theory leads to prediction. Without prediction, experience and examples teach nothing.”
John Wilder Tukey: “There are diverse views as to what makes a science, but three constituents will be judged essential by most, viz: (1) intellectual content, (2) organization into an understandable form, (3) reliance upon the test of experience as the ultimate standard of validity. By these tests, mathematics is not a science, since its ultimate standard of validity is an agreed-upon sort of logical consistency and provability.”
Max Wertheimer: “The question is whether an approach in piecemeal terms, through blind connections, is or is not adequate to interpret actual thought processes and the role of the past experience as well. Past experience has to be considered thoroughly, but it is ambiguous in itself; so long as it is taken in piecemeal, blind terms it is not the magic key to solve all problems.”
James Boswell: "Men are wise in proportion, not to their experience, but to their capacity for experience."
William Hazlitt: "You know more of a road by having traveled it than by all the conjectures and descriptions in the world."
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: “To live means to experience--through doing, feeling, thinking. Experience takes place in time, so time is the ultimate scarce resource we have. Over the years, the content of experience will determine the quality of life. Therefore one of the most essential decisions any of us can make is about how one's time is allocated or invested."
Eleanor Roosevelt: "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do."
Oscar Wilde: “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes."
Ralph Waldo Emerson: "The years teach much which the days never know."
Thomas S. Kuhn: “Concerned to reconstruct past ideas, historians must approach the generation that held them as the anthropologist approaches an alien culture. They must, that is, be prepared at the start to find that natives speak a different language and map experience into different categories from those they themselves bring from home. And they must take as their object the discovery of those categories and the assimilation of the corresponding language.”
Sir Martin Ryle: “During the war years I worked on the development of radar and other radio systems for the R.A.F. and, though gaining much in engineering experience and in understanding people, rapidly forgot most of the physics I had learned.”
Nikola Tesla: “Ere long intelligence—transmitted without wires—will throb through the earth like a pulse through a living organism. The wonder is that, with the present state of knowledge and the experiences gained, no attempt is being made to disturb the electrostatic or magnetic condition of the earth, and transmit, if nothing else, intelligence.”
Thomas Edison: “I was always afraid of things that worked the first time. Long experience proved that there were great drawbacks found generally before they could be got commercial; but here was something there was no doubt of. [when his tin-foil cylinder phonograph first played back his voice recording of “Mary had a little lamb.”]
Jean-Baptiste-André Dumas: “I would efface the word atoms from science, persuaded that it goes further than experience... In chemistry we should never go further than experience. Could there be any hope of ever identifying the minuscule entities?”
David Hume: “If ... the past may be no Rule for the future, all Experience becomes useless and can give rise to no Inferences or Conclusions.”
Stanley Rosenthal: “If this seems complex, the reason is because Tao is both simple and complex. It is complex when we try to understand it, and simple when we allow ourselves to experience it.”
Auguste Rodin: “Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.”
Bertrand Russell: “In the revolt against idealism, the ambiguities of the word ''experience'' have been perceived, with the result that realists have more and more avoided the word.”
George Bernard Shaw: “Men are wise in proportion, not to their experience, but to their capacity for experience.”
Lord Alfred Tennyson: “Men may rise on stepping-stones of their dead selves to higher things.”
Henry David Thoreau: “Experience is in the fingers and head. The heart is inexperienced.”
Mark Twain: “We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it -- and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again -- and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”
Aldous Huxley: "Experience is not a matter of having actually swum the Hellespont, or danced with the dervishes, or slept in a doss-house. It is a matter of sensibility and intuition, of seeing, and hearing the significant thing, of paying attention at the right moments, of understanding and coordinating. Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.”
Douglas Adams: "Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.”
Mary Catherine Bateson: “Insight, I believe, refers to the depth of understanding that comes by setting experiences, yours and mine, familiar and exotic, new and old, side by side, learning by letting them speak to one another.”
Pearl S. Buck: “One faces the future with one's past.”
Felix Adler: “Every dogma, every philosophic or theological creed, was at its inception a statement in terms of the intellect of a certain inner experience.”
Ellen Russell Emerson: “Hermit and stoic as [Thoreau] was, he was really fond of sympathy, and threw himself heartily and childlike into the company of young people whom he loved, and whom he delighted to entertain, as he only could, with the varied and endless anecdotes of his experiences by field and river: and he was always ready to lead a huckleberry-party or a search for chestnuts and grapes.”
Linus Pauling: “You have to have a lot of ideas. First, if you want to make discoveries, it's a good thing to have good ideas. And second, you have to have a sort of sixth sense—the result of judgment and experience—which ideas are worth following up. I seem to have the first thing, a lot of ideas, and I also seem to have good judgment as to which are the bad ideas that I should just ignore, and the good ones, that I'd better follow up.”
Shirley Tilghman: “Where you were born, into what family you are born, what their resources are, are to a large extent are going to determine the quality of education you receive, beginning in preschool and moving all the way up through college. And what this is going to create in America is a different kind of aristocracy that's going to be self-perpetuating, unless we find ways to break that juggernaut... I think what that really reflects is the fact that resources, and not wealth necessarily, but just good middle-class resources, can buy quality of experience for children.”
Albert Einstein: “[Kepler] had to realize clearly that logical-mathematical theoretizing, no matter how lucid, could not guarantee truth by itself; that the most beautiful logical theory means nothing in natural science without comparison with the exactest experience. Without this philosophic attitude, his work would not have been possible.”