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2083 quotes found  
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3896Dan BrownThe hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a time of moral crisis, remain neutral.Morality
7661Sigmund FreudRather than living our lives ourselves, we are lived by unknown and uncontrollable forces.Psychology
7943Vilayanur RamachandranPeople often ask how I got interested in the brain; my rethorical answer is: 'How can anyone NOT be interested in it?' Everything you call 'human nature' and consciousness arises from it.Mind
10274Theodore RooseveltSpeak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.Miscellaneous
10252Yuval Noah HarariHistory isn’t a single narrative, but thousands of alternative narratives. Whenever we choose to tell one, we are also choosing to silence others.Miscellaneous
10251Yuval Noah HarariA meaningful life can be extremely satisfying even in the midst of hardship, whereas a meaningless life is a terrible ordeal no matter how comfortable it is.Miscellaneous
10250Yuval Noah HarariTwo thousand years of monotheistic brainwashing have caused most Westerners to see polytheism as ignorant and childish idolatry. This is an unjust stereotype.Miscellaneous
10249Yuval Noah HarariSapiens rule the world because only they can weave an intersubjective web of meaning: a web of laws, forces, entities and places that exist purely in their common imagination. This web allows humans alone to organise crusades, socialist revolutions and human rights movements.Miscellaneous
10248Yuval Noah HarariPeople easily understand that ‘primitives’ cement their social order by believing in ghosts and spirits, and gathering each full moon to dance together around the campfire. What we fail to appreciate is that our modern institutions function on exactly the same basis.Miscellaneous
10247Yuval Noah HarariMost sociopolitical hierarchies lack a logical or biological basis – they are nothing but the perpetuation of chance events supported by myths.Miscellaneous
10246Yuval Noah HarariLarge numbers of strangers can cooperate successfully by believing in common myths. Any large-scale human cooperation – whether a modern state, a medieval church, an ancient city or an archaic tribe – is rooted in common myths that exist only in people’s collective imagination.Miscellaneous
10245Yuval Noah HarariHierarchies serve an important function. They enable complete strangers to know how to treat one another without wasting the time and energy needed to become personally acquainted.Miscellaneous
10244Yuval Noah HarariIn the 300 years of the crucifixion of Christ to the conversion of Emperor Constantine, polytheistic Roman emperors initiated no more than four general persecutions of Christians. Local administrators and governors incited some anti-Christian violence of their own. Still, if we combine all the victims of all these persecutions, it turns out that in these three centuries the polytheistic Romans killed no more than a few thousand Christians. In contrast, over the course, of the next 1,500 years, Christians slaughtered Christians by the millions, to defend slightly different interpretations of the religion of love and compassion.Miscellaneous
10243Yuval Noah HarariWe do not become satisfied by leading a peaceful and prosperous existence. Rather, we become satisfied when reality matches our expectations. The bad news is that as conditions improve, expectations balloon.Miscellaneous
10242Yuval Noah HarariNothing captures the biological argument better than the famous New Age slogan: ‘Happiness begins within.’ Money, social status, plastic surgery, beautiful houses, powerful positions – none of these will bring you happiness. Lasting happiness comes only from serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.Miscellaneous
10241VoltaireThere is no God, but don’t tell that to my servant, lest he murder me at night.Religion
10240Yuval Noah HarariMoney is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised.Miscellaneous
10239Yuval Noah HarariEvolution has made Homo sapiens, like other social mammals, a xenophobic creature. Sapiens instinctively divide humanity into two parts, ‘we’ and ‘they’.Miscellaneous
10238Yuval Noah HarariThe romantic contrast between modern industry that “destroys nature” and our ancestors who “lived in harmony with nature” is groundless. Long before the Industrial Revolution, Homo sapiens held the record among all organisms for driving the most plant and animal species to their extinctions. We have the dubious distinction of being the deadliest species in the annals of life.Miscellaneous
10237Yuval Noah HarariCulture tends to argue that it forbids only that which is unnatural. But from a biological perspective, nothing is unnatural. Whatever is possible is by definition also natural. A truly unnatural behaviour, one that goes against the laws of nature, simply cannot exist, so it would need no prohibition.Miscellaneous
10236Yuval Noah HarariConsistency is the playground of dull minds.Miscellaneous
10235Yuval Noah HarariHow do you cause people to believe in an imagined order such as Christianity, democracy or capitalism? First, you never admit that the order is imaginedHuman nature
10234Yuval Noah HarariYou could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.Human nature
6938Jiddu KrishnamurtiI am asking myself what is fear: not what I am afraid of. I lead a certain kind of life; I think in a certain pattern; I have certain beliefs and dogmas and I don't want those patterns of existence to be disturbed because I have my roots in them. I don't want them to be disturbed because the disturbance produces a state of unknowing and I dislike that. If I am torn away from everything I know and believe, I want to be reasonably certain of the state of things to which I am going. So the brain cells have created a pattern and those brain cells refuse to create another pattern which may be uncertain. The movement from certainty to uncertainty is what I call fear.Fear
10208Ludwig von BertalanffyHere appear to exist general system laws which apply to any system of a particular type, irrespective of the particular properties of the systems and the elements involved. Compared to the analytical procedure of classical science with resolution into component elements and one-way or linear causality as basic category, the investigation of organized wholes of many variables requires new categories of interaction, transaction, organization, teleology.Miscellaneous
10209Ludwig von BertalanffyThese considerations lead to the postulate of a new scientific discipline which we call general system theory. It's subject matter is formulation of principles that are valid for "systems" in general, whatever the nature of the component elements and the relations or "forces" between them.Miscellaneous
10207Ludwig von BertalanffyIn our considerations we started with a general definition of "systems" defined as a "set of elements standing in interrelations... No special hypothesis or statement were made about the nature of the system, of its elements or the relations between them. Nevertheless from this purely formal definition of "system" many properties follow which in part are expressed in laws well-known in various fields of science, and in part concern concepts previously regarded as anthropomorphic, vitalistic. or metaphysical. The parallelism of general conceptions or even special laws in different fields therefore is a consequence of the fact that those are concerned with "systems" and that certain general principles apply to systems irrespective of their nature.Miscellaneous
10206Ludwig von BertalanffyWe can also say: While we can conceive of a sum being composed gradually, as system as total of parts with its interrelations has to be conceived of as being composed instantly.Miscellaneous
10205Ludwig von BertalanffyGeneral system theory, therefore, is a general science of "wholeness...The meaning of the somewhat mystical expression, "The whole is more that the sum of its parts" is simply that constitutive characteristics are not explanable from the characteristics of the isolated parts. The characteristics of the complex, therefore, appear as "new" or "emergent.Miscellaneous
10204Ludwig von BertalanffyIt is necessary to study not only parts and processes in isolation, but also to solve the decisive problems found in organization and order unifying them, resulting from dynamic interaction of parts, and making the the behavoir of the parts different when studied in isolation or within the whole...Miscellaneous
10203Ludwig von BertalanffyEntities of an essentially new sort are entering the sphere of scientific thought. Classical science in its diverse disciplines, be it chemistry, biology, psychology or the social sciences, tried to isolate the elements of the observed universe - chemical compounds and enzymes, cells, elementary sensations, freely competing individuals, what not -- expecting that, by putting them together again, conceptually or experimentally, the whole or system - cell, mind, society - would result and be intelligible. Now we have learned that for an understanding not only the elements but their interrelations as well are required...Miscellaneous
10202Ludwig von BertalanffyIt is the 'zoomorphic' or 'rattomorphic' fallacy - the expressed or implicit contention that there is no essential difference between rat and man - which makes American psychology so profoundly disturbing.Miscellaneous
10201Ludwig von BertalanffyThe fact that a theory so vague, so insufficiently verifiable, and so far from the criteria otherwise applied in 'hard' science has become a dogma can only be explained on sociological grounds.Miscellaneous
10200Ludwig von BertalanffyPeople are not machines, but in all situations where they are given the opportunity, they will act like machines.Miscellaneous
10199Ludwig von BertalanffyWe are seeking another basic outlook: the world as an organization. This would profoundly change categories of our thinking and influence our practical attitudes. We must envision the biosphere as a whole with mutually reinforcing or mutually destructive inter-dependencies.Miscellaneous
10198Ludwig von BertalanffyWholeness [Ganzheit], Gestalt, is the primary attribute of life.Miscellaneous
10197Ludwig von BertalanffyThe characteristic of the organism is first that it is more than the sum of its parts and second that the single processes are ordered for the maintenance of the whole.Miscellaneous
10196Ludwig von BertalanffyThe characteristic of life does not lie in a distinctiveness of single life processes. [Lebensvorgänge], but rather in a certain order among all the processes.Miscellaneous
10195Ludwig von BertalanffyGeneral Systems Theory... possibly the model of the world as a great organization can help to reinforce the sense of reverence for the living which we have almost lost.Miscellaneous
10194Ludwig von BertalanffyBiological communities are systems of interacting components and thus display characteristic properties of systems, such as mutual interdependence, self-regulation, adaptation to disturbances, approach to states of equilibrium, etc.Miscellaneous
10193Ludwig von BertalanffyConcepts like those of organization, wholeness, directiveness, teleology, control, self-regulation, differentiation, and the like are alien to conventional science. However, they pop up everywhere in the biological, behavioral, and social sciences and are, in fact, indispensable for dealing with living organisms or social groups. Thus, a basic problem posed to modem science is a general theory of organization. General Systems Theory is, in principle, capable of giving exact definitions for such concepts.Miscellaneous
10192Ludwig von BertalanffyScientists, operating in the various disciplines, are encapsulated in their private universe, and it is difficult to get word from one cocoon to the other.Miscellaneous
10191Ludwig von BertalanffyWe are seeking for another basic outlook - the world as organization. This would profoundly change the categories of our thinking and influence our practical attitudes. We must envision the biosphere as a whole with mutually reinforcing or mutually destructive interdependencies.Miscellaneous
10190Ludwig von BertalanffyWe are confronted with problems of organized complexity... organization runs through all levels of reality and science.Miscellaneous
10189Ludwig von BertalanffyIf someone were to analyze current notions and fashionable catchwords, he would find "systems" high on the list. The concept has pervaded all fields of science and penetrated into popular thinking, jargon and mass media.Miscellaneous
10188Ludwig von BertalanffyModern science is characterized by its ever-increasing specialization, necessitated by the enormous amount of data, the complexity of techniques and of theoretical structures within every field. Thus science is split into innumerable disciplines continually generating new subdisciplines. In consequence, the physicist, the biologist, the psychologist and the social scientist are, so to speak, encapusulated in their private universes, and it is difficult to get word from one cocoon to the other.Miscellaneous
10187Ludwig von BertalanffyIt is necessary to study not only parts and processes in isolation, but also to solve the decisive problems found in organization and order unifying them, resulting from dynamic interaction of parts, and making the the behavoir of the parts different when studied in isolation or within the whole.Miscellaneous
10186Ludwig von BertalanffyWe find systems which by their very nature and definition are not closed systems. Every living organism is essentially an open system. It maintains itself in a continuous inflow and outflow, a building up and breaking down of components, never being, so long as it is alive, in a state of chemical and thermodynamic equilibrium but maintained in a so-called steady state which is distinct from the latter.Miscellaneous
10185Ludwig von BertalanffyProgress is only possible by passing from a state of undifferentiated wholeness to differentiation of parts.Miscellaneous
10184Ludwig von BertalanffyTherefore, general systems theory should be, methodologically, an important means of controlling and instigating the transfer of principles from one field to another, and it will no longer be necessary to duplicate or triplicate the discovery of the same principles in different fields isolated from the other.Miscellaneous
10183Ludwig von BertalanffyScience in the past (and partly in the present), was dominated by one-sided empiricism. Only a collection of data and experiments were considered as being ‘scientific’ in biology (and psychology); forgetting that a mere accumulation of data, although steadily piling up, does not make a science.Miscellaneous
10182Ludwig von BertalanffyConventional physics deals only with closed systems, i.e. systems which are considered to be isolated from their environment... However, we find systems which by their very nature and definition are not closed systems. Every living organism is essentially an open system. It maintains itself in a continuous inflow and outflow, a building up and breaking down of components, never being, so long as it is alive, in a state of chemical and thermodynamic equilibrium but maintained in a so-called steady state which is distinct from the latter.Miscellaneous
10181Ludwig von BertalanffyBiologically, life is not maintenance or restoration of equilibrium but is essentially maintenance of disequilibria, as the doctrine of the organism as open system reveals. Reaching equilibrium means death and consequent decay. Psychologically, behaviour not only tends to release tensions but also builds up tensions; if this stops, the patient is a decaying mental corpse in the same way a living organism becomes a body in decay when tensions and forces keeping it from equilibrium have stopped.Miscellaneous
10180Ludwig von BertalanffyThe concept of man as mass robot was both an expression of and a powerful motive force in industrialized mass society. It was the basis for behavioural engineering in commercial, economic, political and other advertising and propaganda; the expanding economy of the 'affluent society' could not subsist without such manipulation. Only by manipulating humans ever more into Skinnerian rats, robots buying automata, homeostatically adjusted conformers and opportunists (or, bluntly speaking, into morons and zombies) can this great society follow its progress toward ever increasing gross national product.Miscellaneous
10179Ludwig von BertalanffyOur civilization seems to be suffering a second curse of Babel: Just as the human race builds a tower of knowledge that reaches to the heavens, we are stricken by a malady in which we find ourselves attempting to communicate with each other in countless tongues of scientific specialization... The only goal of science appeared to be analytical, i.e., the splitting up of reality into ever smaller units and the isolation of individual causal trains...We may state as characteristic of modern science that this scheme of isolable units acting in one-way causality has proven to be insufficient. Hence the appearance, in all fields of science, of notions like wholeness, holistic, organismic, gestalt, etc., which all signify that, in the last resort, we must think in terms of systems of elements in mutual interaction.Miscellaneous
10178Ludwig von BertalanffyAlso the principle of stress, so often invoked in psychology, psychiatry, and psychosomatics, needs some reevaluation. As everything in the world, stress too is an ambivalent thing. Stress is not only a danger to life to be controlled and neutralized by adaptive mechanisms; it also creates higher life.Miscellaneous
4435Ignazio SiloneLiberty is the possibility of doubting, the possibility of making a mistake, the possibility of searching and experimenting, the possibility of saying No to any authority - literary, artistic, philosophic, religious, social, and even political.Freedom
10148Alfred KorzybskiIt requires no great wisdom, it needs only a little reflection, to see that, if we humans radically misconceive the nature of man—if we regard man as being something which he is not, whether it be something higher than man or lower—we thereby commit an error so fundamental and far reaching as to produce every manner of confusion and disaster in individual life, in community life and in the life of the race.Miscellaneous
10140George H. MeadThe behaviour of an individual can be understood only in terms of the behavior of the whole social group of which he is a member, since his individual acts are involved in larger, social acts which go beyond himself and which implicate the other members of that group.Miscellaneous
10135Alfred KorzybskiWe argue so much today about 'democracy' versus 'totalitarianism'. Democracy presupposes intelligence of the masses;* totalitarianism does not to the same degree. But a 'democracy' without intelligence of the masses under modern conditions can be a worse human mess than any dictatorship could be.
Democracy
3072Soren KierkegaardPeople demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid.Freedom
10013Gregory BatesonA human being in relation with another has very limited control over what happens in that relationship. He is a part of a two-person unit, and the control which any part can have over any whole is strictly limited.Miscellaneous
10006Bruno CancellieriPeople can be divided in two categories: those who cause changes, and those who adapt to changes caused by other people.Changing
9926Erich FrommA sane society is that which corresponds to the needs of man — not necessarily to what he feels to be his needs, because even the most pathological aims can be felt subjectively as that which the person wants most; but to what his needs are objectively, as they can be ascertained by the study of man. It is our first task then, to ascertain what is the nature of man, and what are the needs which stem from this nature.Psychology
9915Stafford BeerManagement problems are not respecters of the company organization, nor of the talents of the people appointed to solve them.Miscellaneous
9914Stafford BeerThe aim of management science is to display the best course of action in a given set of circumstances, and this must include all the circumstances.Miscellaneous
9913Stafford BeerThe purpose of a system is what it does. There is after all, no point in claiming that the purpose of a system is to do what it constantly fails to do.Miscellaneous
9912Jacques MonodBiology occupies a position among the sciences at once marginal and central. Marginal because -- the living world constituting but a tiny and very "special" part of the universe -- it does not seem likely that the study of living beings will ever uncover general laws applicable outside the biosphere. But if the ultimate aim of the whole of science is indeed, as I believe, to clarify man's relationship to the universe, then biology must be accorded a central position.Miscellaneous
9911Jacques MonodArmed with all the powers, enjoying all the wealth they owe to science, our societies are still trying to practice and to teach systems of values already destroyed at the roots by that very science. Man knows at last that he is alone in the indifferent immensity of the universe, whence which he has emerged by chance. His duty, like his fate, is written nowhere.Miscellaneous
9910Jacques MonodIn science, self-satisfaction is death. Personal self-satisfaction is the death of the scientist. Collective self-satisfaction is the death of the research. It is restlessness, anxiety, dissatisfaction, agony of mind that nourish science.Miscellaneous
9909Jacques MonodThere are living systems; there is no living "matter." No substance, no single molecule, extracted and isolated from a living being possess, of its own, the aforementioned paradoxical properties. They are present in living systems only; that is to say, nowhere below the level of the cell.Miscellaneous
9907Jacques MonodOne of the great problems of philosophy is the relationship between the realm of knowledge and the realm of values. Knowledge is what is; values are what ought to be.Miscellaneous
9906Jacques MonodI would say that all traditional philosophies up to and including Marxism have tried to derive the 'ought' from the 'is.' My point of view is that this is impossible; this is a farce.Miscellaneous
9905Jacques MonodChance alone is at the source of all novelty, all creation in the biosphere.Miscellaneous
9904Jacques MonodWhat I have tried to show is that the scientific attitude implies what I call the postulate of objectivity - that is to say, the fundamental postulate that there is no plan, that there is no intention in the universe.Miscellaneous
9903Jacques MonodThe ancient covenant is in pieces; man knows at last that he is alone in the universe's unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty. The kingdom above or the darkness below: it is for him to choose.Miscellaneous
9902Jacques MonodModern societies accepted the treasures and the power offered them by science. But they have not accepted - they have scarcely even heard - its profounder message: the defining of a new and unique source of truth, and the demand for a thorough revision of ethical premises, for a complete break with the animist tradition, the definitive abandonment of the 'old covenant', the necessity of forging a new one. Armed with all the powers, enjoying all the riches they owe to science, our societies are still trying to live by and to teach systems of values already blasted at the root by science itself.Miscellaneous
9901Jacques MonodThe future of mankind is going to be decided within the next two generations, and there are two absolute requisites: We must aim at a stable-state society [with limited population growth] and the destruction of nuclear stockpiles. … Otherwise I don't see how we can survive much later than 2050.Miscellaneous
9900Jacques Monod...the scientific attitude implies what I call the postulate of objectivity—that is to say, the fundamental postulate that there is no plan, that there is no intention in the universe. Now, this is basically incompatible with virtually all the religious or metaphysical systems whatever, all of which try to show that there is some sort of harmony between man and the universe and that man is a product—predictable if not indispensable—of the evolution of the universe.Miscellaneous
9899Jacques MonodThe fundamental biological variant is DNA. That is why Mendel's definition of the gene as the unvarying bearer of hereditary traits, its chemical identification by Avery (confirmed by Hershey), and the elucidation by Watson and Crick of the structural basis of its replicative invariance, are without any doubt the most important discoveries ever made in biology. To this must be added the theory of natural selection, whose certainty and full significance were established only by those later theories.Miscellaneous
9880Gregory BatesonIf it were possible adequately to present the whole of a culture , stressing every aspect exactly as appears in the culture itself, no single detail would appear bizarre or strange or arbitrary to the reader, but rather the details would all appear natural and reasonable as they do to the natives who have lived all their lives within the culture.Miscellaneous
9879Gregory BatesonA man walking is never in balance, but always correcting for imbalance.Miscellaneous
9878Gregory BatesonPerhaps there is no such thing as unilateral power. After all, the man in power depends on receiving information all the time from outside. He responds to that information just as much as he causes things to happen... it is an interaction, and not a lineal situation.Miscellaneous
9877Gregory BatesonSchizophrenia --its nature, etiology, and the kind of therapy to use for it--remains one of the most puzzling of the mental illnesses. The theory of schizophrenia presented here is based on communications analysis, and specifically on the Theory of Logical Types. From this theory and from observations of schizophrenic patients is derived a description, and the necessary conditions for, a situation called the "double bind"--a situation in which no matter what a person does, he "can't win." It is hypothesized that a person caught in the double bind may develop schizophrenic symptomsMiscellaneous
9876Gregory BatesonLogic cannot model causal systems, and paradox is generated when time is ignored [as in logic].Miscellaneous
9875Gregory BatesonThe wise legislator will only rarely initiate a new rule of behaviour; more usually he will confine himself to affirming in law what has already become the custom of the people.Miscellaneous
9874Gregory BatesonEvolution has long been badly taught. In particular, students - and even professional biologists - acquire theories of evolution without any deep understanding of what problem these theories attempt to solve. They learn but little of the evolution of evolutionary theory.Miscellaneous
9873Gregory BatesonLife and 'Mind' are systemic processes.Miscellaneous
9872Gregory BatesonNo organism can afford to be conscious of matters with which it could deal at unconscious levels. Broadly, we can afford to sink those sorts of knowledge which continue to be true regardless of changes in the environment, but we must maintain in an accessible place all those controls of behavior which must be modified for every instance. The economics of the system, in fact, pushes organisms toward sinking into the unconscious those generalities of relationship which remain permanently true and toward keeping within the conscious the pragmatic of particular instances.Miscellaneous
9871Gregory BatesonCreative thought must always contain a random component.Miscellaneous
9870Gregory BatesonPlay is the establishment and exploration of relationship.Miscellaneous
9869Gregory BatesonThere are many matters and many circumstances in which consciousness is undesirable and silence is golden, so that secrecy can be used as a marker to tell us that we are approaching the holy.Miscellaneous
9868Gregory BatesonMultiple descriptions are better than one.Miscellaneous
9867Gregory BatesonThe map is not the territory (coined by Alfred Korzybski), and the name is not the thing named.Miscellaneous
9866Gregory BatesonScience probes; it does not prove.Miscellaneous
9865Gregory BatesonDesired substance, things, patterns, or sequences of experience that are in some sense "good" for the organism - items of diet, conditions of life, temperature, entertainment, sex, and so forth - are never such that more of the something is always better than less of the something. Rather, for all objects and experiences, there is a quantity that has optimum value. Above that quantity, the variable becomes toxic. To fall below that value is to be deprived.Miscellaneous
9864Gregory BatesonOur initial sensory data are always "first derivatives," statements about differences which exist among external objects or statements about changes which occur either in them or in our relationship to them. Objects and circumstances which remain absolutely constant relative to the observer, unchanged either by his own movement or by external events, are in general difficult and perhaps always impossible to perceive. What we perceive easily is difference and change and difference is a relationship.Miscellaneous
9863Gregory BatesonWisdom is the intelligence of the system as a whole.Wisdom
9862Gregory BatesonThe creature that wins against its environment destroys itself.Miscellaneous
9861Gregory BatesonThere are times when I catch myself believing that there is such a thing as something; which is separate from something else.Miscellaneous
2083 quotes found