Zitate von Thomas Henry Huxley

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Thomas Henry Huxley

Geburtstag: 4. Mai 1825
Todesdatum: 29. Juni 1895
Andere Namen: Thomas Huxley

Thomas Henry Huxley war ein britischer Biologe und vergleichender Anatom, Bildungsorganisator und Hauptvertreter des Agnostizismus, dessen Begriff er prägte und durchsetzte. Als einflussreicher Unterstützer des Empirismus David Humes und der Evolutionstheorie Charles Darwins hatte er zusätzlich zu seinen eigenen umfangreichen Forschungen, Lehrbüchern und Essays sehr großen Einfluss auf die Entwicklung der Naturwissenschaften im 19. Jahrhundert. Wikipedia

Zitate Thomas Henry Huxley

„Meine Aufgabe ist es, meine Hoffnungen zu lehren, sich den Tatsachen anzupassen, und nicht, die Tatsachen dazu zu zwingen, mit meinen Hoffnungen übereinzustimmen.“

—  Thomas Henry Huxley

Brief an Charles Kingsley, 23. September 1860
Original engl.: "My business is to teach my aspirations to conform themselves to fact, not to try and make facts harmonise with my aspirations."

„Die Unsterblichkeit des Menschen streite ich weder ab noch bestätige ich sie. Ich sehe keinen Grund, daran zu glauben, habe aber auf der anderen Seite keine Möglichkeit, sie als falsch zu beweisen.“

—  Thomas Henry Huxley

Brief an Charles Kingsley, 23. September 1860
Original engl.: "I neither deny nor affirm the immortality of man. I see no reason for believing in it, but, on the other hand, I have no means of disproving it."

„Die große Tragödie der Wissenschaft - die Erledigung einer wunderschönen Hypothese durch eine häßliche Tatsache.“

—  Thomas Henry Huxley

Presidential Address at the British Association for 1870, "Biogenesis and Abiogenesis" (Collected Essays, vol. 8)
Original engl.: "The great tragedy of Science - the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact."

„The saying that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing is, to my mind, a very dangerous adage.“

—  Thomas Henry Huxley

"On Elementary Instruction in Physiology" (1877) http://aleph0.clarku.edu/huxley/CE3/ElPhys.html
1870s
Kontext: The saying that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing is, to my mind, a very dangerous adage. If knowledge is real and genuine, I do not believe that it is other than a very valuable possession, however infinitesimal its quantity may be. Indeed, if a little knowledge is dangerous, where is the man who has so much as to be out of danger?

„If the hypothesis of evolution is true, living matter must have arisen from non-living matter; for by the hypothesis the condition of the globe was at one time such, that living matter could not have existed in it, life being entirely incompatible with the gaseous state.“

—  Thomas Henry Huxley

In the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Ninth edition, (1876) Vol. III, "Biology", p. 689.
Also quoted in Joseph Cook (1878), Biology, with Preludes on Current Events, Houghton, Osgood, p. 39
1870s

„The man of science has learned to believe in justification, not by faith, but by verification.“

—  Thomas Henry Huxley

On the advisableness of improving natural knowledge (1866) http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext01/thx1410.txt
1860s
Quelle: Collected Essays of Thomas Henry Huxley
Kontext: The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin. And it cannot be otherwise, for every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority, the cherishing of the keenest scepticism, the annihilation of the spirit of blind faith; and the most ardent votary of science holds his firmest convictions, not because the men he most venerates hold them; not because their verity is testified by portents and wonders; but because his experience teaches him that whenever he chooses to bring these convictions into contact with their primary source, Nature — whenever he thinks fit to test them by appealing to experiment and to observation — Nature will confirm them. The man of science has learned to believe in justification, not by faith, but by verification.

„The antagonism between science and religion, about which we hear so much, appears to me to be purely factitious“

—  Thomas Henry Huxley

fabricated, on the one hand, by short-sighted religious people who confound a certain branch of science, theology, with religion; and, on the other, by equally short-sighted scientific people who forget that science takes for its province only that which is susceptible of clear intellectual comprehension; and that, outside the boundaries of that province, they must be content with imagination, with hope, and with ignorance.
"The interpreters of Genesis and the interpreters of Nature" (1885) http://aleph0.clarku.edu/huxley/CE4/GeNat.html
1880s

„Once in a generation, a Wallace may be found physically, mentally, and morally qualified to wander unscathed through the tropical wilds of America and of Asia; to form magnificent collections as he wanders; and withal to think out sagaciously the conclusions suggested by his collections: but, to the ordinary explorer or collector, the dense forests of equatorial Asia and Africa“

—  Thomas Henry Huxley

Quelle: 1860s, Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature (1863), Ch.1, p. 36
Kontext: Once in a generation, a Wallace may be found physically, mentally, and morally qualified to wander unscathed through the tropical wilds of America and of Asia; to form magnificent collections as he wanders; and withal to think out sagaciously the conclusions suggested by his collections: but, to the ordinary explorer or collector, the dense forests of equatorial Asia and Africa, which constitute the favourite habitation of the Orang, the Chimpanzee, and the Gorilla, present difficulties of no ordinary magnitude: and the man who risks his life by even a short visit to the malarious shores of those regions may well be excused if he shrinks from facing the dangers of the interior; if he contents himself with stimulating the industry of the better seasoned natives, and collecting and collating the more or less mythical reports and traditions with which they are too ready to supply him. In such a manner most of the earlier accounts of the habits of the man-like Apes originated...

„In virtue of his intelligence the dwarf bends the Titan to his will.“

—  Thomas Henry Huxley

Evolution and Ethics (1893)
Kontext: The history of civilization details the steps by which men have succeeded in building up an artificial world within the cosmos. Fragile reed as he may be, man, as Pascal says, is a thinking reed: there lies within him a fund of energy, operating intelligently and so far akin to that which pervades the universe, that it is competent to influence and modify the cosmic process. In virtue of his intelligence the dwarf bends the Titan to his will. In every family, in every polity that has been established, the cosmic process in man has been restrained and otherwise modified by law and custom; in surrounding nature, it has been similarly influenced by the art of the shepherd, the agriculturist, the artisan. As civilization has advanced, so has the extent of this interference increased; until the organized and highly developed sciences and arts of the present day have endowed man with a command over the course of non-human nature greater than that once attributed to the magicians.... a right comprehension of the process of life and of the means of influencing its manifestations is only just dawning upon us. We do not yet see our way beyond generalities; and we are befogged by the obtrusion of false analogies and crude anticipations. But Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, have all had to pass through similar phases, before they reached the stage at which their influence became an important factor in human affairs. Physiology, Psychology, Ethics, Political Science, must submit to the same ordeal. Yet it seems to me irrational to doubt that, at no distant period, they will work as great a revolution in the sphere of practice.<!--pp.83-84

„The only freedom I care about is the freedom to do right; the freedom to do wrong I am ready to part with on the cheapest terms to any one who will take it of me.“

—  Thomas Henry Huxley

"On Descartes' Discourse touching the method of using one's reason rightly and of seeking scientific truth" (1870) http://aleph0.clarku.edu/huxley/CE1/DesDis.html
1870s
Kontext: If some great Power would agree to make me always think what is true and do what is right, on condition of being turned into a sort of clock and wound up every morning before I got out of bed, I should instantly close with the offer. The only freedom I care about is the freedom to do right; the freedom to do wrong I am ready to part with on the cheapest terms to any one who will take it of me.

„When I reached intellectual maturity and began to ask myself whether I was an atheist, a theist, or a pantheist; a materialist or an idealist; Christian or a freethinker; I found that the more I learned and reflected, the less ready was the answer; until, at last, I came to the conclusion that I had neither art nor part with any of these denominations, except the last.“

—  Thomas Henry Huxley

1880s, Agnosticism (1889)
Kontext: When I reached intellectual maturity and began to ask myself whether I was an atheist, a theist, or a pantheist; a materialist or an idealist; Christian or a freethinker; I found that the more I learned and reflected, the less ready was the answer; until, at last, I came to the conclusion that I had neither art nor part with any of these denominations, except the last. The one thing in which most of these good people were agreed was the one thing in which I differed from them. They were quite sure they had attained a certain "gnosis," — had, more or less successfully, solved the problem of existence; while I was quite sure I had not, and had a pretty strong conviction that the problem was insoluble.
So I took thought, and invented what I conceived to be the appropriate title of "agnostic." It came into my head as suggestively antithetic to the "gnostic" of Church history, who professed to know so much about the very things of which I was ignorant. To my great satisfaction the term took.

„I do not mean to suggest that scientific differences should be settled by universal suffrage, but I do conceive that solid proofs must be met by something more than empty and unsupported assertions.“

—  Thomas Henry Huxley

A Succinct History of the Controversy respecting the Cerebral Structure of Man and the Apes, Evidence as to Man's place in Nature (1863)
1860s
Kontext: I do not mean to suggest that scientific differences should be settled by universal suffrage, but I do conceive that solid proofs must be met by something more than empty and unsupported assertions. Yet during the two years through which this preposterous controversy has dragged its weary length, Professor Owen has not ventured to bring forward a single preparation in support of his often-repeated assertions.
The case stands thus, therefore: Not only are the statements made by me in consonance with the doctrines of the best older authorities, and with those of all recent investigators, but I am quite ready to demonstrate them on the first monkey that comes to hand; while Professor Owen's assertions are not only in diametrical opposition to both old and new authorities, but he has not produced, and, I will add, cannot produce, a single preparation which justifies them.

„In an ideal University, as I conceive it, a man should be able to obtain instruction in all forms of knowledge, and discipline in the use of all the methods by which knowledge is obtained.“

—  Thomas Henry Huxley

Universities, Actual and Ideal (1874)
1870s
Kontext: In an ideal University, as I conceive it, a man should be able to obtain instruction in all forms of knowledge, and discipline in the use of all the methods by which knowledge is obtained. In such a University, the force of living example should fire the student with a noble ambition to emulate the learning of learned men, and to follow in the footsteps of the explorers of new fields of knowledge. And the very air he breathes should be charged with that enthusiasm for truth, that fanaticism of veracity, which is a greater possession than much learning; a nobler gift than the power of increasing knowledge; by so much greater and nobler than these, as the moral nature of man is greater than the intellectual; for veracity is the heart of morality.

„The history of the development of any“

—  Thomas Henry Huxley

Quelle: 1860s, Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature (1863), Ch.2, p. 79
Kontext: The student of development finds, not only that the chick commences its existence as an egg, primarily identical, in all essential respects, with that of the Dog, but that the yelk of this egg undergoes division—that the primitive groove arises, and that the contiguous parts of the germ are fashioned, by precisely similar methods into a young chick, which, at one stage of its existence, is so like the nascent Dog, that ordinary inspection would hardly distinguish the two. The history of the development of any other vertebrate animal, Lizard, Snake, Frog, or Fish, tells the same story.

„Our reverence for the nobility of manhood will not be lessened by the knowledge, that Man, is in substance and in structure, one with the brutes; for“

—  Thomas Henry Huxley

Quelle: 1860s, Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature (1863), Ch.2, p. 132
Kontext: Our reverence for the nobility of manhood will not be lessened by the knowledge, that Man, is in substance and in structure, one with the brutes; for, he alone possesses the marvellous endowment of intelligible and rational speech, whereby, in the secular period of his existence, he has slowly accumulated and organized the experience which is almost wholly lost with the cessation of every individual life in other animals; so that now he stands raised upon it as on a mountain top, far above the level of his humble fellows, and transfigured from his grosser nature by reflecting, here and there, a ray from the infinite source of truth.

„History shows that the human mind, fed by constant accessions of knowledge, periodically grows too large for its theoretical coverings, and bursts them asunder to appear in new habiliments“

—  Thomas Henry Huxley

Quelle: 1860s, Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature (1863), Ch.2, p. 72
Kontext: In a well worn metaphor, a parallel is drawn between the life of man and the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into the butterfly; but the comparison may be more just as well as more novel, if for its former term we take the mental progress of the race. History shows that the human mind, fed by constant accessions of knowledge, periodically grows too large for its theoretical coverings, and bursts them asunder to appear in new habiliments, as the feeding and growing grub, at intervals, casts its too narrow skin and assumes another, itself but temporary. Truly the imago state of Man seems to be terribly distant, but every moult is a step gained, and of such there have been many.

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