Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein by Paul Ehrenfest

These 25 Quotes Take You Inside Albert Einstein's Revolutionary Mind

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STEVEN BENNA AND DRAKE BAER, BUSINESS INSIDER
4 SEP 2015
 

Over the years, Albert Einstein's name has become synonymous with genius. In his lifetime, Einstein changed the world, describing the workings of reality better than anyone since Isaac Newton and revealing the capabilities of the atom bomb. In 1999, Time named him Person of the Century.

 

Here are 25 of Einstein's most telling quotes; each will take you inside the mind of the legend.

On authority

"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth."

[The Curious History of Relativity]

On scope

"Nature shows us only the tail of the lion. But there is no doubt in my mind that the lion belongs with it even if he cannot reveal himself to the eye all at once because of his huge dimension."

[Smithsonian, February 1979]

On politics

"I am by heritage a Jew, by citizenship a Swiss, and by makeup a human being, and only a human being, without any special attachment to any state or national entity whatsoever."

[The Yale Book of Quotations]

On certainty

"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."

On humility

"As a human being, one has been endowed with just enough intelligence to be able to see clearly how utterly inadequate that intelligence is when confronted with what exists."

[Letter to Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, September 1932]

On relativity

"When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute - and it's longer than any hour. That's relativity."

[The Yale Book of Quotations

On his growth

"It is true that my parents were worried because I began to speak fairly late, so that they even consulted a doctor. I can't say how old I was - but surely not less than three."

[Letter, 1954]

On common sense

"Common sense is nothing more than a deposit of prejudices laid down in the mind before you reach eighteen." 

[The Universe and Dr. Einstein]

On success

"If A is a success in life, then A equals X plus Y plus Z. Work is X; Y is play, and Z is keeping your mouth shut."

[The Yale Book of Quotations]

On nationalism

"Nationalism is an infantile sickness. It is the measles of the human race." 

[Albert Einstein, the Human Side]

On mystery

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."

[The World As I See It, 1930]

On solitude

"My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. I am truly a 'lone traveler' and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude."

[The World As I See It, 1930]

On presentation

"If I were to start taking care of my grooming, I would no longer be my own self."

[Letter, December 1913]

On imagination

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."

[Smithsonian, February 1979] 

On motivation

"The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. Without the sense of kinship with men of like mind, without the occupation with the objective world, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific endeavors, life would have seemed empty to me. The trite objects of human efforts - possessions, outward success, luxury - have always seemed to me contemptible."

[The World As I See It, 1930]

On education

"The aim [of education] must be the training of independently acting and thinking individuals who, however, see in the service to the community their highest life problem."

[Address, October 1936]

On ambition

"Nothing truly valuable arises from ambition or from a mere sense of duty; it stems rather from love and devotion towards men and towards objective things."

[Letter, July 1947]

On learning

"Most teachers waste their time by asking questions that are intended to discover what a pupil does not know, whereas the true art of questioning is to discover what the pupil does know or is capable of knowing."

[Conversations with Albert Einstein, 1920]

On thinking

"I very rarely think in words at all. A thought comes, and I may try to express in words afterwards."

[Productive Thinking, 1959]

On life

"A happy man is too satisfied with the present to dwell too much on the future." 

[Smithsonian, February 1979]

On curiosity

"The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."

[Nova]

On work ethic

"The state of mind which enables a man to do work of this kind ... is akin to that of the religious worshipper or the lover; the daily effort comes from no deliberate intention or program, but straight from the heart." 

[Speech, 1918]

On childhood

"The ordinary adult never gives a thought to space-time problems ... I, on the contrary, developed so slowly that I did not begin to wonder about space and time until I was an adult. I then delved more deeply into the problem than any other adult or child would have done."

[Letter, 1956]

On the role of science

"One thing I have learned in a long life: That all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike - and yet it is the most precious thing we have."

[Albert Einstein: Creator and Rebel, 1972]

On the hustle

"The only way to escape the corruptible effect of praise is to go on working." 

[Smithsonian, February 1979]

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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