„As touching the gods, I do not know whether they exist or not, nor how they are featured; for there is much to prevent our knowing: the obscurity of the subject and the brevity of human life.“
— Ludwig Wittgenstein Austrian-British philosopher 1889 - 1951
Context: What do I know about God and the purpose of life? I know that this world exists. That I am placed in it like my eye in its visual field. That something about it is problematic, which we call its meaning. This meaning does not lie in it but outside of it. That life is the world. That my will penetrates the world. That my will is good or evil. Therefore that good and evil are somehow connected with the meaning of the world. The meaning of life, i. e. the meaning of the world, we can call God. And connect with this the comparison of God to a father. To pray is to think about the meaning of life. Journal entry (11 June 1916), p. 72e and 73e
„I do not know what postmodern is and how it differs from the premodern, nor do I feel that I ought to know.“
— Leszek Kolakowski Philosopher, historian of ideas 1927 - 2009
"Modernity on Endless Trial" (1986)
„“At least we can put a little sense into life.”
“I don’t know whether we do or whether we find what was always there,” he replied. “Nor do I care greatly. To me, the important thing is that the purpose—order, beauty, spirit, whatever you want to call it—does exist.”“
— Poul Anderson American science fiction and fantasy writer 1926 - 2001
Chapter 18 (p. 148)
„The hardest thing to do is to write straight honest prose on human beings. First you have to know the subject; then you have to know how to write.“
— Ernest Hemingway American author and journalist 1899 - 1961
Context: The hardest thing to do is to write straight honest prose on human beings. First you have to know the subject; then you have to know how to write. Both take a lifetime to learn, and anybody is cheating who takes politics as a way out. All the outs are too easy, and the thing itself is too hard to do.
„"How much do you know?" she said. "Do you know that dreams are illusion?"
"Of course I do," I said. "Every one knows that."
"Oh no they don't," she said, "the mad don't know it."
"That is true," I said.
"And do you know," she said, "that Life is illusion?"“
— Lord Dunsany Irish writer and dramatist 1878 - 1957
Tales of Three Hemispheres http://www.gutenberg.net/dirs/1/1/4/4/11440/11440-8.txt, A Shop In Go-By Street
„I see, indeed I know, that in some sense God is love, and God is wisdom, and God is creative action, yes and God is beauty; but what God actually is, whether the maker of all things, or the fragrance of all things, or just a dream in our own hearts, I have not the art to know. Neither have you, I believe; nor any man, nor any spirit of our humble stature.“
— Olaf Stapledon British novelist and philosopher 1886 - 1950
„I know there is a God, because in Rwanda I shook hands with the devil. I have seen him, I have smelled him and I have touched him. I know the devil exists and therefore I know there is a God.“
— Roméo Dallaire, Shake Hands With The Devil
Shake Hands with the Devil (2003)
„Thus mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true.“
— Bertrand Russell logician, one of the first analytic philosophers and political activist 1872 - 1970
Ch. 5: Mathematics and the Metaphysicians
„How do you know that the incessant progress of science will not compel scientists to consider that life has existed during eternity, and not matter?“
— Louis Pasteur French chemist and microbiologist 1822 - 1895
Context: I have been looking for spontaneous generation for twenty years without discovering it. No, I do not judge it impossible. But what allows you to make it the origin of life? You place matter before life and you decide that matter has existed for all eternity. How do you know that the incessant progress of science will not compel scientists to consider that life has existed during eternity, and not matter? You pass from matter to life because your intelligence of today cannot conceive things otherwise. How do you know that in ten thousand years, one will not consider it more likely that matter has emerged from life? You move from matter to life because your current intelligence, so limited compared to what will be the future intelligence of the naturalist, tells you that things cannot be understood otherwise. If you want to be among the scientific minds, what only counts is that you will have to get rid of a priori reasoning and ideas, and you will have to do necessary deductions not giving more confidence than we should to deductions from wild speculation. Partially quoted in René Dubos, Louis Pasteur: Free Lance of Science, Da Capo Press, Inc., 1950. p 396. Original in French: «La génération spontanée, je la cherche sans la découvrir depuis vingt ans. Non, je ne la juge pas impossible. Mais quoi donc vous autorise à vouloir qu'elle ait été l'origine de la vie? Vous placez la matière avant la vie et vous faites la matière existante de toute éternité. Qui vous dit que, le progrès incessant de la science n'obligera pas les savants, qui vivront dans un siècle, dans mille ans, dans dix mille ans... à affirmer que la vie a été de toute éternité et non la matière.? Vous passez de la matière à la vie parce que votre intelligence actuelle, si bornée par rapport à ce que sera l'intelligence des naturalistes futurs, vous dit qu'elle ne peut comprendre autrement les choses. Qui m'assure que dans dix mille ans on ne considérera pas que c'est de la vie qu'on croira impossible de ne pas passer à la matière? Si vous voulez être au nombre des esprits scientifiques, s, qui seuls comptent, il faut vous débarrasser des idées et des raisonnements a priori et vous en tenir aux déductions nécessaires des faits établis et ne pas accorder plus de confiance qu'il ne faut aux déductions de pures hypothèses." (Pasteur et la philosophie,Patrice Pinet, Editions L'Harmattan, p. 63.
„I do not know whether to be delighted or outraged by the fact that Literary Theory: An Introduction was the subject of a study by a well known U. S. business school, which was intrigued to discover how an academic text could become a best-seller.“
— Terry Eagleton British writer, academic and educator 1943
New Preface to Literary Theory: An Introduction, Anniversary Edition, (2008)
„I do know without fear of contradiction what the definition of life is and it is 12 words long. 'Life is defined by how much you improve the lives of others.'“
— Keith Olbermann American sports and political commentator 1959
" Senior Convocation Speech http://www.news.cornell.edu/campus/Olbermann_speech.html," Cornell University (1998-05-23)
„At no moment do I know what I’m talking about, nor of whom, nor of where, nor how, nor why, but I could employ fifty wretches for this sinister operation and still be short of the fifty-first, to close the circuit, that I know, without knowing what it means.“
— Samuel Beckett Irish novelist, playwright, and poet 1906 - 1989