Thomas Henry Huxley Quotes

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The doctrine that all men are, in any sense, or have been, at any time, free and equal, is an utterly baseless fiction -Thomas Henry Huxley
There is the greatest practical benefit in making a few failures early in life. -Thomas Henry Huxley
'Infidel' is a term of reproach, which Christians and Mohammedans, in their modesty, agree to apply to those who differ from them -Thomas Henry Huxley
It sounds paradoxical to say the attainment of scientific truth has been effected, to a great extent, by the help of scientific errors -Thomas Henry Huxley
Follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss Nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. -Thomas Henry Huxley
Logical consequences are the scare-crows of fools and the beacons of wise men -Thomas Henry Huxley
There is no greater mistake than the hasty conclusion that opinions are worthless because they are badly argued -Thomas Henry Huxley
There are savages without God in any proper sense of the word, but none without ghosts. -Thomas Henry Huxley
In Paley's famous illustration, the adaptation of all the parts of the watch to the function, or purpose, of showing the time, is held to be evidence that the watch was specially contrived to that end; on the ground, that the only cause we know of, competent to produce such an effect as a watch which shall keep time, is a contriving intelligence adapting the means directly to that end. Suppose, however, that any one had been able to show that the watch had not been made directly by any person, but that it was the result of the modification of another watch which kept time but poorly; and that this again had proceeded from a structure which could hardly be called a watch at all-seeing that it had no figures on the dial and the hands were rudimentary; and that going back and back in time we came at last to a revolving barrel as the earliest traceable rudiment of the whole fabric. And imagine that it had been possible to show that all these changes had resulted, first, from a tendency of the structure to vary indefinitely; and secondly, from something in the surrounding world which helped all variations in the direction of an accurate time-keeper, and checked all those in other directions; then it is obvious that the force of Paley's argument would be gone. For it would be demonstrated that an apparatus thoroughly well adapted to a particular purpose might be the result of a method of trial and error worked by unintelligent agents, as well as of the direct application of the means appropriate to that end, by an intelligent agent. Now it appears to us that what we have here, for illustration's sake, supposed to be done with the watch, is exactly what the establishment of Darwin's Theory will do for the organic world. For the notion that every organism has been created as it is and launched straight at a purpose, Mr. Darwin substitutes the conception of something which may fairly be termed a method of trial and error. Organisms vary incessantly; of these variations the few meet with surrounding conditions which suit them and thrive; the many are unsuited and become extinguished.

Thomas Henry Huxley
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History warns us... that it is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions. -Thomas Henry Huxley
The scientific spirit is of more value than its products, and irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors. -Thomas Henry Huxley
It is my conviction that, with the spread of true scientific culture, whatever may be the medium, historical, philological, philosophical, or physical, through which that culture is conveyed, and with its necessary concomitant, a constant elevation of the standard of veracity, the end of the evolution of theology will be like its beginning-it will cease to have any relation to ethics. I suppose that, so long as the human mind exists, it will not escape its deep-seated instinct to personify its intellectual conceptions. The science of the present day is as full of this particular form of intellectual shadow-worship as is the nescience of ignorant ages. The difference is that the philosopher who is worthy of the name knows that his personified hypotheses, such as law, and force, and ether, and the like, are merely useful symbols, while the ignorant and the careless take them for adequate expressions of reality. So, it may be, that the majority of mankind may find the practice of morality made easier by the use of theological symbols. And unless these are converted from symbols into idols, I do not see that science has anything to say to the practice, except to give an occasional warning of its dangers. But, when such symbols are dealt with as real existences, I think the highest duty which is laid upon men of science is to show that these dogmatic idols have no greater value than the fabrications of men's hands, the stocks and the stones, which they have replaced.

Thomas Henry Huxley
I am too much of a skeptic to deny the possibility of anything. -Thomas Henry Huxley
What we call rational grounds for our beliefs are often extremely irrational attempts to justify our instincts. -Thomas Henry Huxley
For once reality and his brains came into contact and the result was fatal. -Thomas Henry Huxley
If I may paraphrase Hobbes's well-known aphorism, I would say that 'books are the money of Literature, but only the counters of Science. -Thomas Henry Huxley
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