THE WIT AND WISDOM OF ALBERT EINSTEIN

Ol' Albert In the past, it never occurred to me that every casual remark of mine would be snatched up and recorded. Otherwise I would have crept further into my shell.

If you can't explain something to a six-year-old, you really don't understand it yourself.

The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.

I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own -- a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms.

If people are good only because they fear punishment and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.

Our task must be to free ourselves...by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.

To my mind to kill in war is not a whit better than to commit ordinary murder.

The ideals which have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth.

I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.

I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?

Reading after a certain age diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking, just as the man who spends too much time in the theater is tempted to be content with living vicariously instead of living his own life.

Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it.

Never stop questioning--curiosity has its own reason for existence.

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.

A person starts to live when he can live outside himself.

A + B + C = Success if, A = Hard Work, B = Hard Play, C = Keeping your mouth shut.

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

The illusion that we are separate from one another is an optical delusion of our consciousness.

The more I study physics, the more I am drawn to metaphysics.

God is subtle, but he is not malicious.

If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.

Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from that of their social environment.

In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep.

A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received.

Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect, as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.

The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.

He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt.

He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice.

The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.

The true value of a human being is determined primarily by how he has attained liberation from the self.

Curiosity is a delicate little plant which, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom.

Past thinking and methods did not prevent world wars. Future thinking must.

One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one's greatest efforts.
       - 1915 letter to a student

Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.

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.

What I see in Nature is a grand design that we can understand only imperfectly, one with which a responsible person must look at with humility. This is a genuine religious feeling and has nothing to do with mysticism.

If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German and Germany will declare that I am a Jew.

A theory can be proved by experiment; but no path leads from experiment to the birth of a theory.

Creating a new theory is not like destroying an old barn and erecting a skyscraper in its place. It is rather like climbing a mountain, gaining new and wider views, discovering unexpected connections between our starting point and its rich environment.

Einstein's Three Rules of Work: 1) Out of clutter find simplicity; 2) From discord find harmony; 3) In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.

I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for every one, best for both the body and the mind.

Intellectuals solve problems: geniuses prevent them.

I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right.

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.

In my experience, the best creative work is never done when one is unhappy.

Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone.

Only a life lived in the service to others is worth living.

The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.

The cult of individual personalities is always, in my view, unjustified. To be sure, nature distributes her gifts variously among her children. But there are plenty of the well-endowed ones too, thank God, and I am firmly convinced that most of them live quiet, unregarded lives. It strikes me as unfair, and even in bad taste, to select a few of them for boundless admiration, attributing superhuman powers of mind and character to them. This has been my fate, and the contrast between the popular estimate of my powers and achievements and the reality is simply grotesque.

Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.

We should take care not to make intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

Strange is our situation here on Earth.

Man usually avoids attributing cleverness to somebody else -- unless it is an enemy.

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 this, I have never lost a sense of distance and the need for solitude.

Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.

Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.

Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.

It is impossible to get anywhere without sinning against reason.

A finely tempered nature longs to escape from the personal life into the world of objective perception and thought.

Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.

It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.

The wireless telegraph is not difficult to understand. The ordinary telegraph is like a very long cat. You pull the tail in New York, and it meows in Los Angeles. The wireless is the same, only without the cat.

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.

I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.

If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.

The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.

I am doing just fine, considering that I have survived Nazism and two wives.

The fear of death is the most unjustified of all fears, for there's no risk of accident for someone who's dead.

School failed me, and I failed the school. It bored me. The teachers behaved like Feldwebel (sergeants). I wanted to learn what I wanted to know, but they wanted me to learn for the exam. What I hated most was the competitive system there, and especially sports. Because of this, I wasn't worth anything, and several times they suggested I leave. This was a Catholic School in Munich. I felt that my thirst for knowledge was being strangled by my teachers; grades were their only measurement. How can a teacher understand youth with such a system?

I do not believe in the immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it.

The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.

Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.

It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.

Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.

The only real valuable thing is intuition.

The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this.

Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.

Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.

Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can be attained only through understanding.

I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details.

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.

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing.

Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism -- how passionately I hate them!

Equations are more important to me, because politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity.

Politics is a pendulum whose swings between anarchy and tyranny are fueled by perennially rejuvenated illusions.

Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.

When the solution is simple, God is answering. Where the world ceases to be the scene of our personal hopes and wishes, where we face it as free beings admiring, asking and observing, there we enter the realm of Art and Science.

A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.

To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering with natural events could never be refuted, in the real sense, by science, for this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been able to set foot. But I am persuaded that such behavior on the part of the representatives of religion would not only be unworthy but also fatal. For a doctrine which is able to maintain itself not in clear light, but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress.

The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.

Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love.

A man sits with a pretty girl for an hour and it seems shorter than a minute. But tell that same man to sit on a hot stove for a minute, it is longer than any hour. That's relativity.

Under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us; our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction.

Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.

Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it.

The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.

Never regard study as a duty, but as the enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later work belongs.

The grand aim of all science is to cover the greatest number of empirical facts by logical deduction from the smallest number of hypotheses or axioms.

One of the strongest motives that lead men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one's own ever-shifting desires.

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. This insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms— this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong in the ranks of devoutly religious men.

It would be a sad situation if the wrapper were better than the meat wrapped inside it.

The scientist is activated by a wonder and awe before the mysterious comprehensibility of the universe which is yet finally beyond his grasp. In its profoundest depths it is inaccessible to man.

Every kind of peaceful cooperation among men is primarily based on mutual trust and only secondarily on institutions such as courts of justice and police.

The concern for man and his destiny must always be the chief interest of all technical effort. Never forget it among your diagrams and equations.

The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.

If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture, let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophies.

The new release of atomic energy has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one...Since I do not foresee that atomic energy is to be a great boon for a long time, I have to say that for the present it is a menace. Perhaps it is well that it should be. It may intimidate the human race to bring order into its international affairs, which, without the pressure of fear, it undoubtedly would not do.

An important thing is never to stop questioning.

To punish me for my contempt of authority, Fate has made me an authority myself.

A finely tempered nature longs to escape from his noisy cramped surroundings into the silence of the high mountains where the eye ranges freely through the still pure air and fondly traces out the restful contours apparently built for eternity.

All men should let their conduct be guided by the same principles, and those principles should be such, that by following them there should accrue to all as great a measure as possible of security and satisfaction, and as small a measure of suffering.

It is the privilege of man's moral genius, impersonated by inspired individuals, to advance ethical axioms which are so comprehensive and so well founded that men will accept them as grounded in the vast mass of their individual emotional experience. Ethical axioms are found and tested not very differently from the axioms of science. Truth is what stands the test of experience.

To act intelligently in human affairs is possible only if an attempt is made to understand the thoughts, motives and apprehensions of one's opponent so fully that one can see the world through his eyes. All well-meaning people should try to contribute as much as possible to improving such mutual understanding.

Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.

The knowledge of truth as such is wonderful, but it is so little capable of acting as a guide that it cannot prove even the justification and the value of the aspiration towards that very knowledge of truth. Here we face, therefore, the limits of the purely rational conception of our existence.

To stimulate creativity, one must develop the childlike inclination for play and the childlike desire for recognition.

The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.

Our defense is not in armaments, nor in science, nor in going underground. Our defense is in law and order.

Physical concepts are free creations of the human mind, and are not, however it may seem, uniquely determined by the external world.

Science is the attempt to make the chaotic diversity of our sense-experience correspond to a logically uniform system of thought.

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.

Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.

The tyranny of the ignoramuses is insurmountable and assured for all time.

A human being is part of a whole, called by us the "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest--a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests.

We must learn to see the world anew.

I want to go when I want. It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share; it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.

Perfection of means and confusion of goals seem—in my opinion—to characterize our age.

The man of science is a poor philosopher.

There could be no fairer destiny for any physical theory than that it should point the way to a more comprehensive theory in which it lives on as a limiting case.

The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.

We still do not know one thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us.

I want to be cremated so people won't come to worship at my bones.

Warp back to the main Cosmos.

Quotes about Cats

Please let me know of any quotes by Einstein that are not here. Send them to cyberkedi-at-hotmail-d-com.