Knowledge

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What we call knowledge does not and cannot have the purpose of producing representations of an independent reality, but instead has an adaptive function.
- Ernst von Glasersfeld, 2001

Knowledge is what is known; the confident understanding of a subject, potentially with the ability to use it for a specific purpose. It is a familiarity with someone or something, which can include facts, information, descriptions, or skills acquired through experience or education.

Quotes, ancient history[edit]

Greek[edit]

As for me, all I know is that I know nothing
-Socrates (470-399 BC)
  • For knowing is spoken of in three ways: it may be either universal knowledge or knowledge proper to the matter in hand or actualising such knowledge; consequently three kinds of error also are possible.
    • Aristotle, Prior Analytics (67b 4), tr. by Jonathan Barnes (1984/95)
    • In the General Index of Barnes' translations the term "knowledge" gives 85 references, and this quote is the first.
  • All teaching and all intellectual learning come about from already existing knowledge.
    • Aristotle, Posterior Analytics (71a 1), tr. by Jonathan Barnes (1984/95)
      • Other translations of this quote:
      • All doctrine, and all intellectual discipline, arise from pre-existent knowledge, O.F. Owen (1853)
      • All communications of knowledge from teacher to pupil by way of reasoning pre-suppose some pre-existing knowledge., E.S. Bouchier (1901)
      • All instruction given or received by way of argument proceeds from pre-existent knowledge, G.R.G. Mure (1928).
  • Πάντες ἄνθρωποι τοῦ εἰδέναι ὀρέγονται φύσει. Σημεῖον δ᾽ ἡ τῶν αἰσθήσεων ἀγάπησις: καὶ γὰρ χωρὶς τῆς χρείας ἀγαπῶνται δι᾽ αὑτάς, καὶ μάλιστα τῶν ἄλλων ἡ διὰ τῶν ὀμμάτων. Οὐ γὰρ μόνον ἵνα πράττωμεν ἀλλὰ καὶ μηθὲν μέλλοντες πράττειν τὸ ὁρᾶν αἱρούμεθα ἀντὶ πάντων ὡς εἰπεῖν τῶν ἄλλων. Αἴτιον δ᾽ ὅτι μάλιστα ποιεῖ γνωρίζειν ἡμᾶς αὕτη τῶν αἰσθήσεων καὶ πολλὰς δηλοῖ διαφοράς.
    • All men naturally desire knowledge. An indication of this is our esteem for the senses; for apart from their use we esteem them for their own sake, and most of all the sense of sight. Not only with a view to action, but even when no action is contemplated, we prefer sight, generally speaking, to all the other senses. The reason of this is that of all the senses sight best helps us to know things, and reveals many distinctions.
    • Aristotle, Metaphysics I (980a 21), tr. by Hugh Tredennick.
  • Ne quis nimis. (From the Greek.)
    • Know thyself.
    • Inscription attributed to Chilo of Thales, Pythagoras, Solon, on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.
  • Thales was asked what was very difficult; he said: "To know one's self."
    • Diogenes Laertius, Thales, IX. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • All knowledge, when separated from justice and virtue, is seen to be cunning and not wisdom'.
  • As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.
    • Socrates, Plato, Phædrus, Section CCXXXV. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.

Latin[edit]

  • To wisdom belongs the intellectual apprehension of things eternal; to knowledge, the rational apprehension of things temporal.
    • St. Augustine of Hippo, as quoted in The Anchor Book of Latin Quotations: with English translations‎ (1990) by Norbert Guterman, p. 375.
  • Nam non solum scire aliquid, artis est, sed, quædam ars etiam docendi.
    • Not only is there an art in knowing a thing, but also a certain art in teaching it.
    • Cicero, De Legibus, II. 19. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Minime sibi quisque notus est, et difficillime de se quisque sentit.
    • Every one is least known to himself, and it is very difficult for a man to know himself.
    • Cicero, De Oratore, III. 9. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum.
    • Not to know what happened before one was born is always to be a child.
    • Cicero, De Oratore, XXXIV. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
One cannot know everything.
- Horace
It is well for one to know more than he says
Plautus (254–184 BC)
  • Nec scire fas est omnia.
    • One cannot know everything.
    • Horace, Carmina, IV. 4. 22. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Si quid novisti rectius istis.
    Candidus imperti, si non, his utere mecum.
    • If you know anything better than this candidly impart it; if not, use this with me.
    • Horace, Epistles, I, 6, 67. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • E cœlo descendit nosce te ipsum.
    • This precept descended from Heaven: know thyself.
    • Juvenal, Satires, XI. 27. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Scire est nescire, nisi id me scire alius scierit.
    • To know is not to know, unless someone else has known that I know.
    • Lucilius, Fragment.
  • Quid nobis certius ipsis
    Sensibus esse potest? qui vera ac falso notemus.
    • What can give us more sure knowledge than our senses? How else can we distinguish between the true and the false?
    • Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, I, 700. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Et teneo melius ista quam meum nomen.
    • I know all that better than my own name.
    • Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), IV. 37. 7. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Scire tuum nihil est, nisi te scire hoc sciat alter?
    • Is then thy knowledge of no value, unless another know that thou possessest that knowledge?
    • Persius, Satires, I. 27.
  • Ego te intus et in cute novi.
    • I know you even under the skin.
    • Persius, Satires, III. 30. Same in Erasmus—Adagia. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Plus scire satius est, quam loqui.
    • It is well for one to know more than he says.
    • Plautus, Epidecus, I. 1. 60. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Natura semina scientiæ nobis dedit, scientiam non dedit.
    • Nature has given us the seeds of knowledge, not knowledge itself.
    • Seneca the Younger, Epistolæ Ad Lucilium, CXX. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Namque inscitia est,
    Adversum stimulum calces.
    • For it shows want of knowledge to kick against the goad.
    • Terence, Phormio, I, 24, 27. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Faciunt næ intelligendo, ut nihil intelligant.
    • By too much knowledge they bring it about that they know nothing.
    • Terence, Andria, Prologue, XVII. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.

Bible[edit]

  • Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
  • Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

Another variant:

  • Many will rove about, and the true knowledge will become abundant.
  • In vain have you acquired knowledge if you do not impart it it to others.
  • He that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
    • Ecclesiastes. I. 18. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • I may tell all my bones.
    • Psalms, XXII. 17. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge.
  • O the depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable his judgments are and beyond tracing out his ways are! For “who has come to know Jehovah’s mind, or who has become his adviser?” Or, “who has first given to him, so that it must be repaid to him?” Because from him and by him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.

Eastern philosophy[edit]

  • The Master said, "Yu, shall I teach you what knowledge is? When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it; — this is knowledge."
    • Confucius in The Analects 2:17, as translated by Arthur Waley
    • Variant translation: "Yu, shall I teach you about knowledge? What you know, you know, what you don't know, you don't know. This is knowledge".
  • When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it; this is knowledge.
    • Confucius, Analects, Book II, Chapter XVII. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.

Early Christianity[edit]

To wisdom belongs the intellectual apprehension of things eternal; to knowledge, the rational apprehension of things temporal.
Augustine of Hippo, (354–430)
  • To wisdom belongs the intellectual apprehension of things eternal; to knowledge, the rational apprehension of things temporal.
    • Augustine of Hippo (354–430) As quoted in The Anchor Book of Latin Quotations: with English translations‎ (1990) by Norbert Guterman, p. 375.
  • There is another form of temptation, more complex in its peril. … It originates in an appetite for knowledge. … From this malady of curiosity are all those strange sights exhibited in the theatre. Hence do we proceed to search out the secret powers of nature (which is beside our end), which to know profits not, and wherein men desire nothing but to know.
  • Without any delusive representation of images or phantasms, I am most certain that I am, and that I know and delight in this. In respect of these truths, I am not at all afraid of the arguments of the Academicians, who say, What if you are deceived? For if I am deceived, I am. For he who is not, cannot be deceived; and if I am deceived, by this same token I am. And since I am if I am deceived, how am I deceived in believing that I am? for it is certain that I am if I am deceived. Since, therefore, I, the person deceived, should be, even if I were deceived, certainly I am not deceived in this knowledge that I am.
  • Auctoritas siquidem ex vera ratione processit, ratio vero nequaquam ex auctoritate. Omnis enim auctoritas, quae vera ratione non approbatur, infirma videtur esse. Vera autem ratio, quum virtutibus suis rata atque immutabilis munitur, nullius auctoritatis adstipulatione roborari indigent.
    • For authority proceeds from true reason, but reason certainly does not proceed from authority. For every authority which is not upheld by true reason is seen to be weak, whereas true reason is kept firm and immutable by her own powers and does not require to be confirmed by the assent of any authority.
    • Johannes Scotus Eriugena (815 – c. 877) De Divisione Naturae, Bk. 1, ch. 69; translation by I. P. Sheldon-Williams, cited from Peter Dronke (ed.) A History of Twelfth-Century Western Philosophy (Cambridge: CUP, 1988) p. 2.

Quotes, modern history[edit]

Until 15th century[edit]

The knowledge of anything, since all things have causes, is not acquired or complete unless it is known by its causes.
- Avicenna, 1020.
To ask the proper question is half of knowing
Roger Bacon (c. 1214 – 1294)
  • The knowledge of anything, since all things have causes, is not acquired or complete unless it is known by its causes. Therefore in medicine we ought to know the causes of sickness and health. And because health and sickness and their causes are sometimes manifest, and sometimes hidden and not to be comprehended except by the study of symptoms, we must also study the symptoms of health and disease. Now it is established in the sciences that no knowledge is acquired save through the study of its causes and beginnings, if it has had causes and beginnings; nor completed except by knowledge of its accidents and accompanying essentials. Of these causes there are four kinds: material, efficient, formal, and final.
  • Prima sapientiae clavis definitur, assidua scilicet seu frequens interrogatio … Dubitando enim ad inquisitionem venimus; inquirendo veritatem percipimus.
    • Constant and frequent questioning is the first key to wisdom … For through doubting we are led to inquire, and by inquiry we perceive the truth.
    • Peter Abelard (1079–1142) Sic et Non, Prologus; translation from Frank Pierrepont Graves A History of Education During the Middle Ages and the Transition to Modern Times ([1918] 2005) p. 53.
  • Reason in man is rather like God in the world.
  • Prudens quaestio dimidium scientiae.
    • To ask the proper question is half of knowing
    • Roger Bacon (c. 1214 – 1294) cited in: LIFE, 8 sept 1958, p. 73
      • Other translation: Half of science is asking the right questions.
  • ...if perception is only knowledge or a means towards knowledge; since he who perceives, has knowledge thereby, according to the special character of the senses, by sight of colours, by taste of savours and so forth: then whatsoever has knowledge in whatsoever manner may be said without impropriety in some sense to perceive. Therefore, O Lord, although Thou art not a body, yet of a truth Thou hast in this sense perception in the highest degree, since Thou knowest all things in the highest degree; but not in the sense wherein an animal that has knowledge by means of bodily feeling is said to have perception.
  • Knowledge comes
    Of learning well retain'd, unfruitful else.
    • Dante Alighieri, Vision of Paradise, Canto V, line 41. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • The eye with which I see God is the same with which God sees me. My eye and God's eye is one eye, and one sight, and one knowledge, and one love.
  • Knowledge comes through likeness. And so because the soul may know everything, it is never at rest until it comes to the original idea, in which all things are one. And there it comes to rest in God.
    • Meister Eckhart (c. 1260 - 1328) Sermon 9, as translated in The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church (1999) by Hughes Oliphant Old, Ch. 9 : The German Mystics, p. 449.
  • For the more a man knows, the more worthy he is.
    • Robert of Gloucester, Rhyming Chronicle. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • You must know that if a person, who has attained a certain degree of perfection, wishes to impart to others, either orally or in writing, any portion of the knowledge which he has acquired of these subjects, he is utterly unable to be as systematic and explicit as he could be in a science of which the method is well known. The same difficulties which he encountered when investigating the subject for himself will attend him when endeavouring to instruct others: viz., at one time the explanation will appear lucid, at another time, obscure: this property of the subject appears to remain the same both to the advanced scholar and to the beginner. For this reason, great theological scholars gave instruction in all such matters only by means of metaphors and allegories.

15th century[edit]

  • You must acquire the best knowledge first, and without delay; it is the height of madness to learn what you will later have to unlearn.
    • Desiderius Erasmus Letter to Christian Northoff (1497), as translated in Collected Works of Erasmus (1974), p. 114.
  • If thou knewest the whole Bible by heart, and the sayings of all the philosophers, what would it profit thee without the love of God and without grace?
    • Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471)(Imitation of Christ, I, 1, 8). Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895). p. 365.
  • He knew what is what.
    • John Skelton, Why Come Ye nat to Courte, line 1,106. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.

16th century[edit]

  • I have taken all knowledge to be my province.
Knowledge is power
- Francis Bacon, 1597
Ignorance is the curse of God,
Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.

William Shakespeare (c. 1590-91)
  • Knowledge is power.
    • Francis Bacon, Meditationes Sacræ [Sacred Meditations] (1597) "De Hæresibus" [Of Heresies]
  • Knowledge and human power are synonymous, since the ignorance of the cause frustrates the effect.
    • Francis Bacon, Novum Organum, Aphorism III. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Knowledge bloweth up, but charity buildeth up.
    • Francis Bacon, rendering of I Cor, VIII. I. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est.
  • For knowledge, too, is itself a power.
    • Francis Bacon, Treatise, De Hæresiis. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Scientia non habet inimicum nisi ignorantem
    • Knowledge has no enemy except an ignorant man
    • George Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie (1589), excerpted and translated in Renaissance Debates on Rhetoric (edited by Wayne A. Rebhorn).
  • Que nuist savoir tousjours et tousjours apprendre, fust ce
    D'un sot, d'une pot, d'une que—doufle
    D'un mouffe, d'un pantoufle.
    • What harm in learning and getting knowledge even from a sot, a pot, a fool, a mitten, or a slipper.
    • François Rabelais, Pantagruel (1532), III. 16.
  • Then I began to think, that it is very true which is commonly said, that the one-half of the world knoweth not how the other half liveth.
    • François Rabelais, Works, Book II, Chapter XXXII. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • But the full sum of me * *
    Is an unlesson'd girl, unschool'd, unpractis'd;
    Happy in this, she is not yet so old
    But she may learn.
  • Crowns have their compass—length of days their date—
    Triumphs their tomb—felicity, her fate—
    Of nought but earth can earth make us partaker,
    But knowledge makes a king most like his Maker.
  • And thou my minde aspire to higher things;
    Grow rich in that which never taketh rust.
    • Sir Philip Sidney, Sonnet. Leave me, O Love. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Sweet food of sweetly uttered knowledge.
    • Sir Philip Sidney, Defence of Poesy. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.

17th century[edit]

  • Yet all that I have learn'd (hugh toyles now past)
    By long experience, and in famous schooles,
    Is but to know my ignorance at last.
    Who think themselves most wise are greatest fools.
  • For all knowledge and wonder (which is the seed of knowledge) is an impression of pleasure in itself.
    • Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning (1605), Book I, i, 3.
  • There is oftentimes a great deal of knowledge where there is but little wisdom to improve that knowledge. It is not the most knowing Christian but the most wise Christian that sees, avoids, and escapes Satan's snares. Knowledge without wisdom is like mettle in a blind horse, which is often an occasion of the rider's fall.
    • Thomas Brooks (1608-1680). Quote reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895). p. 365.
  • He knew what's what, and that's as high
    As metaphysic wit can fly.
  • Deep sighted in intelligences,
    Ideas, atoms, influences.
  • Nor do I know what is become
    Of him, more than the Pope of Rome.
    • Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part I (1663-64), Canto III, line 263.
  • He knew whats'ever 's to be known,
    But much more than he knew would own.
It is a truth very certain that, when it is not in our power to determine what is true, we ought to follow what is most probable
- René Descartes (1596–1650)
The end of learning is to know God, and out of that knowledge to love Him and imitate Him.
-John Milton.
  • But ask not bodies (doomed to die),
    To what abode they go;
    Since knowledge is but sorrow's spy,
    It is not safe to know.
    • William Davenant (1606–1668), The Just Italian, Act V, scene 1. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • It is a truth very certain that, when it is not in our power to determine what is true, we ought to follow what is most probable
    • René Descartes (1596–1650). quote reported in: S.H. Wearne (1989) Control of Engineering Project. p. 125.
  • Laissez dire les sots: le savoir a son prix.
    • Let fools the studious despise,
      There's nothing lost by being wise.
    • Jean de La Fontaine, Fables, VIII. 19. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Il connoît l'univers, et ne se connoît pas.
    • He knoweth the universe, and himself he knoweth not.
    • Jean de La Fontaine, Fables, VIII. 26. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Knowledge is folly unless grace guide it.
    • George Herbert (1593-1633). Quote reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 364.
  • The only fence against the world is a thorough knowledge of it, into which a young gentleman should be enter'd by degrees, as he can bear it; and the earlier the better, so he be in safe and skillful hands to guide him. The scene should be gently open'd, and his entrance made step by step, and the dangers pointed out that attend him from several degrees, tempers, designs, and clubs of men. He should be prepared to be shocked by some, and caress'd by others; warned who are like to oppose, who to mislead, who to undermine him, and who to serve him. He should be instructed how to know and distinguish them; where he should let them see, and when dissemble the knowledge of them and their aims and workings.
    • John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693) Sec. 94.
  • Mark what 'tis his mind aims at in the question, and not what words he expresses it in: and when you have informed and satisfied him in that, you shall see how his thoughts will enlarge themselves, and how by fit answers he may be led on farther than perhaps you could have imagine. For knowledge is grateful to the understanding, as light to the eyes.
    • John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693) Sec. 118.
  • I went into the temple, there to hear
    The teachers of our law, and to propose
    What might improve my knowledge or their own.
  • The end of learning is to know God, and out of that knowledge to love Him and imitate Him.
    • John Milton (1608–1674). Quote reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 364.
  • Vous parlez devant un homme à qui tout Naples est connu.
    • You speak before a man to whom all Naples is known.
    • Molière, L'Avare, V. 5. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Faites comme si je ne le savais pas.
    • Act as though I knew nothing.
    • Molière, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, II. 6. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things. As the world, which to the naked eye exhibits the greatest variety of objects, appears very simple in its internal constitution when surveyed by a philosophical understanding, and so much the simpler by how much the better it is understood, so it is in the visions. It is the perfection of God's works that they are all done with the greatest simplicity. He is the God of order and not of confusion. And therefore as they would understand the frame of the world must endeavor to reduce their knowledge to all possible simplicity, so must it be in seeking to understand these visions.
    • Isaac Newton (c.1660-80) fragments from a "Treatise on Revelation", cited in: Richard Olson (1995) Science Deified and Science Defied. p. 125.
  • All things I thought I knew; but now confess
    The more I know, I know, I know the less.
    • John Owen (1616–1683), The works of John Owen, Bk. VI, p. 39; translation from Latin by Thomas Harvey, as cited in Henry Philip Dodd, The Epigrammatists (1870), p. 150.
  • All things I thought I knew; but now confess
    The more I know I know, I know the less.
    • Robert Owen, Works, Book VI. 39. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Knowledge of physical science will not console me for ignorance of morality in time of affliction, but knowledge of morality will always console me for ignorance of physical science.
  • Extremes are for us as though they were not, and we are not within their notice. They escape us, or we them. This is our true state; this is what makes us incapable of certain knowledge and of absolute ignorance... This is our natural condition, and yet most contrary to our inclination; we burn with desire to find solid ground and an ultimate sure foundation whereon to build a tower reaching to the Infinite. But our whole groundwork cracks, and the earth opens to abysses.
  • ..it is impossible that our rational part should be other than spiritual; and if any one maintain that we are simply corporeal, this would far more exclude us from the knowledge of things, there being nothing so inconceivable as to say that matter knows itself. It is impossible to imagine how it should know itself.
  • If you can look into the seeds of time,
    And say which grain will grow and which will not;
    Speak then to me.
  • Yet all that I have learn'd (hugh toyles now past)
    By lone experience, and in famous schooles,
    Is but to know my ignorance at last,
    Who think themselves most wise are greatest fools.
    • William, Earl of Stirling, Recreation with the Muses, London. Fol. 1637, p. 7. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.

18th century[edit]

  • Knowledge is, indeed, that which, next to virtue, truly and essentially raises one man above another.
    • Joseph Addison, The Guardian (1713), Letter of Alexander to Aristotle, No. 111.
  • Knowledge and Wisdom, far from being one,
    Have oft-times no connexion. Knowledge dwells
    In heads replete with thoughts of other men,
    Wisdom in minds attentive to their own.
    • William Cowper, The Task (1785), Book VI, "Winter Walk at Noon", line 88. "Knowledge dwells," etc., found in: Milton, Paradise Lost, VII. Seldon, Table Talk. Young, Satires, VI. Night Thoughts, V.
  • Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much;
    Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.
    • William Cowper, The Task (1785), Book VI, "Winter Walk at Noon", l. 96.
  • What must be the knowledge of Him, from whom all created minds have derived both their power of knowledge, and the innumerable objects of their knowledge! What must be the wisdom of Him, from whom all things derive their wisdom!
    • Timothy Dwight IV (1752 – 1817) Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 275.
  • Life is a jest; and all things show it. I thought so once; and now I know it.
    • John Gay, My Own Epitaph, inscribed on Gay’s monument in Westminster Abbey; also quoted as "I thought so once; but now I know it".
  • Upon the progress of knowledge the whole progress of the human race is immediately dependent: he who retards that, hinders this also. And he who hinders this, — what character does he assume towards his age and posterity? Louder than with a thousand voices, by his actions he proclaims into the deafened ear of the world present and to come — "As long as I live at least, the men around me shall not become wiser or better; — for in their progress I too, notwithstanding all my efforts to the contrary, should be dragged forward in some direction; and this I detest I will not become more enlightened, — I will not become nobler. Darkness and perversion are my elements, and I will summon all my powers together that I may not be dislodged from them."
    • Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1794) "The Vocation of the Scholar", as translated by William Smith, in The Popular Works of Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1889), Vol. I, Lecture IV, p. 188
Upon the progress of knowledge the whole progress of the human race is immediately dependent: he who retards that, hinders this also.
Johann Gottlieb Fichte, 1794
What we do not understand we do not possess.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Was man nicht versteht, besitzt man nicht.
    • What we do not understand we do not possess.
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Sprüche in Prosa. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Eigentlich weiss man nur wenn man wenig weiss; mit dem Wissen wächst der Zweifel.
    • We know accurately only when we know little; with knowledge doubt increases.
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Sprüche in Prosa. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Who can direct, when all pretend to know?
  • Knowledge is more than equivalent to force. The master of mechanicks laughs at strength.
    • Samuel Johnson, The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia (1759), Ch. 13.
  • Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.
    • Samuel Johnson, The History of Rassselas, Prince of Abissinia (1759), Ch. 41.
  • A desire of knowledge is the natural feeling of mankind; and every human being whose mind is not debauched, will be willing to give all that he has to get knowledge.
    • Samuel Johnson (1763), Boswell's Life of Johnson. Conversation on Saturday, July 30, 1763. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.
  • Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.
    • Samuel Johnson, reported in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson (1775). Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • That all our knowledge begins with experience there can be no doubt. For how is it possible that the faculty of cognition should be awakened into exercise otherwise than by means of objects which affect our senses, and partly of them selves produce representations, partly rouse our powers of understanding into activity, to compare, to connect, or to separate these, and so to convert the raw material of our sensuous impressions into a knowledge of objects, which is called experience? In respect of time, therefore, no knowledge of ours is antecedent to experience, but begins with it. But though all our knowledge begins with experience, it by no means follows, that all arises out of experience. For, on the contrary, it is quite possible that our empirical knowledge is a compound of that which we receive through impressions, and that which the faculty of cognition supplies from itself (sensuous impressions giving merely the occasion)... It is, therefore, a question which requires close investigation, and is not to be answered at first sight,—whether there exists a knowledge altogether independent of experience, and even of all sensuous impressions? Knowledge of this kind is called à priori, in contradistinction to empirical knowledge which has its sources à posteriori, that is, in experience.
    • Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (1781, J.M.D. Meiklejohn Tr. 1872) Introduction I. Of the Difference Between Pure and Empirical Knowledge.
  • Wer viel weiss
    Hat viel zu sorgen.
    • He who knows much has many cares.
    • Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Nathan der Weise, IV. 2. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking makes what we read ours.
    • John Locke, Of the Conduct of the Understanding (1706).
  • The improvement of the understanding is for two ends: first, for our own increase of knowledge; secondly, to enable us to deliver and make out that knowledge to others.
    • John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Reading and Study. Appendix B. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Diffused knowledge immortalizes itself.
  • The wish falls often warm upon my heart that I may learn nothing here that I cannot continue in the other world; that I may do nothing here but deeds that will bear fruit in heaven.
    • Jean Paul (1763–1825) Quote reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 366.
  • That virtue only makes our bliss below,
    And all our knowledge is ourselves to know.
  • In vain sedate reflections we would make
    When half our knowledge we must snatch, not take.
  • Far must thy researches go
    Wouldst thou learn the world to know;
    Thou must tempt the dark abyss
    Wouldst thou prove what Being is;
    Naught but firmness gains the prize,
    Naught but fullness makes us wise,
    Buried deep truth e'er lies.
    • Friedrich Schiller, Proverbs of Confucius, Bowring's translation. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Willst du dich selber erkennen, so sieh' wie die andern es treiben;
    Willst du die andern versteh'n, blick in dein eigenes Herz.
    • If you wish to know yourself observe how others act.
      If you wish to understand others look into your own heart.
    • Friedrich Schiller, Votire Tablets, Xenien. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Wouldst thou know thyself, observe the actions of others.
    Wouldst thou other men know, look thou within thine own heart.
  • How empty learning, and how vain is art,
    But as it mends the life, and guides the heart!
    • Edward Young (1683 – April 5, 1765) Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)., p. 366.
  • Much learning shows how little mortals know;
    Much wealth, how little worldlings can enjoy.
    • Edward Young (1683 – April 5, 1765) Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)., p. 366.
  • Oh, be wise, Thou!
    Instructed that true knowledge leads to love.
    • William Wordsworth (1795). lines left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.

19th century[edit]

  • Real knowledge, like every thing else of the highest value, is not to be obtained easily. It must be worked for, — studied for, — thought for, — and, more than all, it must be prayed for.
    • Thomas Arnold (1795-1842). Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895). p. 364.
  • What a man knows should find its expression in what he does. The value of superior knowledge is chiefly in that it leads to a performing manhood.
  • Knowledge by suffering entereth,
    And life is perfected by death.
  • Pursuit of knowledge under difficulties.
    • Lord Brougham, book title of a book published under the superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1830). Duke of Sussex, address to the Royal Society (1839). Prof. Craik, Volume bearing this title (1828).
  • Real knowledge never promoted either turbulence or unbelief; but its progress is the forerunner of liberality and enlightened toleration.
  • The tree of knowledge is not that of life.
  • Knowledge is not happiness, and science
    But an exchange of ignorance for that
    Which is another kind of ignorance.
  • And is this the prime
    And heaven-sprung message of the olden time?
    • Coleridge (1772–1834). Referring to "Know thyself". Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • There's lots of people—this town wouldn't hold them;
    Who don't know much excepting what's told them.
    • Will Carleton (1885) City Ballads, p. 143. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • For love is ever the beginning of Knowledge, as fire is of light.
    • Thomas Carlyle, Essays, Death of Goethe. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • What is all Knowledge too but recorded Experience, and a product of History; of which, therefore, Reasoning and Belief, no less than Action and Passion, are essential materials?
    • Thomas Carlyle, Essays, On History. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
"Knowledge" by Robert Reid, 1896
  • To be conscious that you are ignorant is a great step to knowledge.
  • There is no knowledge that is not power.
  • Our knowledge is the amassed thought and experience of innumerable minds.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims (1876), Quotation and Originality. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Knowledge is the antidote to fear,—
    Knowledge, Use and Reason, with its higher aids.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Society and Solitude, Courage. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • The Doctrine of Knowledge, apart from all special and definite knowing, proceeds immediately upon Knowledge itself, in the essential unity in which it recognises Knowledge as existing; and it raises this question in the first place — How this Knowledge can come into being, and what it is in its inward and essential Nature?
    The following must be apparent: — There is but One who is absolutely by and through himself, — namely, God; and God is not the mere dead conception to which we have thus given utterance, but he is in himself pure Life. He can neither change nor determine himself in aught within himself, nor become any other Being; for his Being contains within it all his Being and all possible Being, and neither within him nor out of him can any new Being arise.
  • The first step to self-knowledge is self-distrust. Nor can we attain to any kind of knowledge, except by a like process.
    • J.C. and A.W. Hare (1827) Guesses at Truth, p. 454. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • There are a multitude of allied branches of knowledge connected with mans condition; the relation of these to political economy is analogous to the connexion of mechanics, astronomy, optics, sound, heat, and every other branch more or less of physical science, with pure mathematics.
    • William Stanley Jevons Letter to Henrietta Jevons (28 February 1858), published in Letters and Journal of W. Stanley Jevons (1886), edited by Harriet A. Jevons, his wife, p. 101.
  • Knowledge of the truth I may perhaps have attained to; happiness certainly not. What shall I do? Accomplish something in the world, men tell me. Shall I then publish my grief to the world, contribute one more proof for the wretchedness and misery of existence, perhaps discover a new flaw in human life, hitherto unnoticed? I might then reap the rare reward of becoming famous, like the man who discovered the spots on Jupiter. I prefer, however, to keep silent.
  • Not if I know myself at all.
    • Charles Lamb (1775–1834), Essays of Elia, The Old and the New Schoolmaster. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • As all true virtue, wherever found, is a ray of the life of the All-Holy; so all solid knowledge, all really accurate thought, descends from the Eternal Reason, and ought, when we apprehend it, to guide us upwards to Him.
    • Henry Liddon (1829–1890). Quote reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895). p. 366.
  • 'Tain't a knowin' kind of cattle
    Thet is ketched with mouldy corn.
    • James Russell Lowell, The Biglow Papers, No. 1, line 3. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • A kind of semi-Solomon, half-knowing everything, from the cedar to the hyssop.
  • Let me always remember that it is not the amount of religious knowledge which I have, but the amount which I use, that determines my religious position and character.
    • Alexander Maclaren (1826–1910). Quote reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895) p. 365.
  • Every addition to true knowledge is an addition to human power.
    • Horace Mann, Lectures and Reports on Education, Lecture I. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • An uneducated population may be degraded; a population educated, but not in righteousness, will be ungovernable. The one may be slaves, the other must be tyrants.
    • Henry Melvill (1798–1871). Quote reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 364.
  • As revelation is the great strengthener of reason, the march of mind which leaves the Bible in the rear, is an advance, like that of our first parents in Paradise, towards knowledge, but, at the same time, towards death.
    • Henry Melvill (1798–1871). Quote reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 364.
  • To understand at all what life means, one must begin with Christian belief. And I think knowledge may be sorrow with a man unless he loves.
    • William Mountford (1816–1885). Quote reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895). p. 364.
  • It is not in the books of the Philosophers, but in the religious symbolism of the Ancients, that we must look for the footprints of Science, and re-discover the Mysteries of Knowledge.
    • Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (1871), Ch. XXXII : Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret.
  • The fear of speculation, the ostensible rush from the theoretical to the practical, brings about the same shallowness in action that it does in knowledge. It is by studying a strictly theoretical philosophy that we become most acquainted with Ideas, and only Ideas provide action with energy and ethical significance.
  • We think so because all other people think so;
    Or because—or because—after all, we do think so;
    Or because we were told so, and think we must think so;
    Or because we once thought so, and think we still think so;
    Or because, having thought so, we think we will think so.
    • Henry Sidgewick (1838 – 1900) . Lines which came to him in his sleep. Referred to by Dr. William Osler, Harveian Oration, given in the South Place Magazine (Feb., 1907). Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Every increase of knowledge may possibly render depravity more depraved, as well as it may increase the strength of virtue. It is in itself only power; and its value depends on its application.
    • Sydney Smith (1771–1845) Quote reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 364.
  • A life of knowledge is not often a life of injury and crime.
    • Sydney Smith, Pleasures of Knowledge. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Every man is a valuable member of society who, by his observations, researches, and experiments, procures knowledge for men … it is in his knowledge that man has found his greatness and his happiness, the high superiority which he holds over the other animals who inhabit the earth with him, and consequently no ignorance is probably without loss to him, no error without evil … the particle and the planet are subject to the same laws, and what is learned of one will be known of the other … I bequeath the whole of my property … to the United States of America to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.
    • James Smithson, various writings, including his will. Inscription, National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.
  • The essential difference between that knowledge which is, and that which is not conclusive evidence of Christian character, lies in this: the object of the one is the agreement of the several parts of a theological proposition; the object of the other is moral beauty, the intrinsic loveliness of God and Divine things. The sinner sees and hates; the saint sees and loves.
    • Gardiner Spring (1785–1873) Quote reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 365.
  • Knowledge alone is the being of Nature,
    Giving a soul to her manifold features,
    Lighting through paths of the primitive darkness,
    The footsteps of Truth and the vision of Song.
    • Bayard Taylor, Kilimandjaro, Stanza 2. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.
  • Who loves not Knowledge? Who shall rail
    Against her beauty? May she mix
    With men and prosper! Who shall fix
    Her pillars? Let her work prevail.
  • For all the talk you hear about knowledge being such a wonderful thing, instinct is worth forty of it for real unerringness.
  • We have not the reverent feeling for the rainbow that the savage has, because we know how it is made. We have lost as much as we gained by prying into that matter.
  • Knowledge, in truth, is the great sun in the firmament. Life and power are scattered with all its beams.
    • Daniel Webster, address delivered at the laying of the Corner-Stone of Bunker Hill Monument (1825). Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Knowledge is the only fountain, both of the love and the principles of human liberty.
    • Daniel Webster, address delivered on Bunker Hill (June 17, 1843). Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • According to the technical language of old writers, a thing and its qualities are described as subject and attributes; and thus a man’s faculties and acts are attributes of which he is the subject. The mind is the subject in which ideas inhere. Moreover, the man’s faculties and acts are employed upon external objects; and from objects all his sensations arise. Hence the part of a man’s knowledge which belongs to his own mind, is subjective: that which flows in upon him from the world external to him, is objective.
    • William Whewell (1840) Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences. Part 1, Book 1, ch. 2, sect. 7.
  • He who binds
    His soul to knowledge, steals the key of heaven.
    • Nathaniel Parker Willis, The Scholar of Thibét Ben Khorat, II. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.

Contemporary quotes[edit]

First half of the 20th century[edit]

  • A man who knows how little he knows is well, a man who knows how much he knows is sick.
Imagination is more important than knowledge.
Albert Einstein, (1931)
  • "Knowledge," in the sense of information, means the working capital, the indispensable resources, of further inquiry; of finding out, or learning, more things. Frequently it is treated as an end in itself, and then the goal becomes to heap it up and display it when called for. This static, cold-storage ideal of knowledge is inimical to educative development.
  • The notion that "applied" knowledge is somehow less worthy than "pure" knowledge, was natural to a society in which all useful work was performed by slaves and serfs, and in which industry was controlled by the models set by custom rather than by intelligence. Science, or the highest knowing, was then identified with pure theorizing, apart from all application in the uses of life; and knowledge relating to useful arts suffered the stigma attaching to the classes who engaged in them.
  • I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.
    • Albert Einstein, in "What Life Means to Einstein: An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck" in The Saturday Evening Post (26 October 1929)
    • Variant: Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
  • Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.
    • Albert Einstein (1931) Cosmic Religion : With Other Opinions and Aphorisms, p. 97.
  • As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it.
    • Albert Einstein as quoted in Paper Prototyping: The Fast and Easy Way to Design and Refine User Interfaces (2003) by Carolyn Snyder.
  • The general policy of the past has been to drive, but the era of force must give way to that of knowledge, and the policy of the future will be to teach and to lead, to the advantage of all concerned.
    • Henry Gantt (1910) Work, Wages, and Profits: Their Influence on the Cost of Living, p. 112.
  • If a man empties his purse into his head no man can take it from him. An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
    • Ben Franklin, as quoted in Exercises in English Grammar (1909) by M. A. Morse.
  • There are gems of wondrous brightness
    Ofttimes lying at our feet,
    And we pass them, walking thoughtless,
    Down the busy, crowded street.
    If we knew, our pace would slacken,
    We would step more oft with care,
    Lest our careless feet be treading
    To the earth some jewel rare.
    • Rudyard Kipling If We Only Understood. Attributed to him in Masonic Standard (May 16, 1908). Not found. Claimed for Bessie Smith. Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • The only link between the verbal and objective world is exclusively structural, necessitating the conclusion that the only content of all 'knowledge' is structural. Now structure can be considered as a complex of relations, and ultimately as multi-dimensional order. From this point of view, all language can be considered as names for unspeakable entities on the objective level, be it things or feelings, or as names of relations. In fact... we find that an object represents an abstraction of a low order produced by our nervous system as the result of a sub-microscopic events acting as stimuli upon the nervous system.
  • 'Whatever you might say the object "is", well it is not.'
    • Alfred Korzybski (1933) Science and Sanity, p. 20.
  • A modern theory of knowledge which takes account of the relational as distinct from the merely relative character of all historical knowledge must start with the assumption that there are spheres of thought in which it is impossible to conceive of absolute truth existing independently of the values and position of the subject and unrelated to the social context.
  • I hold all knowledge that is concerned with things that actually exist – all that is commonly called Science – to be of very slight value compared to the knowledge which, like philosophy and mathematics, is concerned with ideal and eternal objects, and is freed from this miserable world which God has made.
  • All definite knowledge — so I should contend — belongs to science; all dogma as to what surpasses definite knowledge belongs to theology. But between theology and science there is a No Man’s Land, exposed to attack by both sides; this No Man’s Land is philosophy.
  • There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge.
    • Bertrand Russell (1935), In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays, Ch. 2: 'Useless' Knowledge.
  • All schools, all colleges, have two great functions: to confer, and to conceal, valuable knowledge. The theological knowledge which they conceal cannot justly be regarded as less valuable than that which they reveal. That is, when a man is buying a basket of strawberries it can profit him to know that the bottom half of it is rotten.

Second half of the 20th century[edit]

A very great deal more truth can become known than can be proven. ~ Richard Feynman
  • The trouble with people is not that they don't know but that they know so much that ain't so.
    • Attributed to Josh Billings (Henry Wheeler Shaw) by The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (1979), 3d ed., p. 491. Not verified in his writings, although some similar ideas are found in Everybody's Friend, or Josh Billing's Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor (1874). Original spelling is corrected:

      "What little I do know I hope I am certain of" (p. 502).

      "Wisdom don't consist in knowing more that is new, but in knowing less that is false" (p. 430).

      "I honestly believe it is better to know nothing than to know what ain't so" (p. 286).

      Walter Mondale echoed the words above in his first debate with President Ronald Reagan, October 7, 1984, in Louisville, Kentucky: "I'm reminded a little bit of what Will Rogers once said of Hoover. He said it's not what he doesn't know that bothers me, it's what he knows for sure just ain't so". Transcript, The New York Times (October 8, 1984), p. B4. This has not been found in Rogers's work.
  • While knowledge is orderly and cumulative, information is random and miscellaneous.
    • Daniel Boorstin (1989). "Gresham's Law: Knowledge or Information?" Remarks at the White House Conference on Library and Information Services, Washington, November 19, 1979.
  • If on the web you search only for frivolous or sensational news (which are often false and slanderous), you will bring grist to the mill of those who maintain that the era of the web is by no means the “era of knowledge”.
    • Fausto Cercignani in: Brian Morris, Simply Transcribed. Quotations from Writings by Fausto Cercignani, 2014, quote 60.
  • Knowledge makes people special. Knowledge enriches life itself.
  • A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting... Thus a man of knowledge sweats and puffs and if one looks at him he is just like an ordinary man, except that the folly of his life is under his control.
  • Knowledge about the process being modeled starts fairly low, then increases as understanding is obtained and tapers off to a high value at the end.
    • Harold Chestnut (1965) Systems Engineering Tools. p. 130 cited in: Melvin Silverman (1996) The Technical Manager's Handbook: A Survival Guide. p. 74.
  • Knowledge is a deadly friend, If no one sets the rules.The fate of all mankind I see, Is in the hands of fools.
    • King Crimson (1969) Epitaph- In the court of the crimson king.
  • The human sciences have to assume at least an equal responsibility in establishing the foundations of knowledge.
    • Michael Halliday (1987) cited in: Margaret Laing, Keith Williamson (1994) Speaking in Our Tongues. p. 99.
No human mind can comprehend all the knowledge which guides the actions of society.
- Friedrich Hayek, 1960
The more we learn about the world, and the deeper our learning, the more conscious, specific, and articulate will be our knowledge of what we do not know, our knowledge of our ignorance
- Karl Popper, 1963
  • Civilization enables us constantly to profit from knowledge which we individually do not possess and because each individual's use of his particular knowledge may serve to assist others unknown to him in achieving their ends that men as members of civilized society can pursue their individual ends so much more successfully than they could alone.
  • The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.
    • B.B. King, quoted outside the Main Library in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina, in The Charlotte Observer (5 October 1997) Page 2D
  • Knowledge is discovered, when ignorance is lost.
    • Jason F. Klein, "As life is written", Sonoma State University (1992).
  • I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    • Attributed to Robert McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman, by Marvin Kalb, CBS reporter, in TV Guide, 31 March 1984, citing an unspecified press briefing during the Vietnam war.
  • Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable. But there it sits nevertheless, calmly licking its chops.
  • Each part of the mind sees only a little of what happens in some others, and that little is swiftly refined, reformulated and "represented." We like to believe that these fragments have meanings in themselves—apart from the great webs of structure from which they emerge—and indeed this illusion is valuable to us qua thinkers—but not to us as psychologists—because it leads us to think that expressible knowledge is the first thing to study.
  • What is the difference between merely knowing (or remembering, or memorizing) and understanding? ...A thing or idea seems meaningful only when we have several different ways to represent it–different perspectives and different associations. ...Then we can turn it around in our minds, so to speak: however it seems at the moment, we can see it another way and we never come to a full stop. In other words, we can 'think' about it. If there were only one way to represent this thing or idea, we would not call this representation thinking.
  • If we understood something just one way, we would not understand it at all.
  • How can the unknown merit reverence? In other words how can you revere that of which you are ignorant? At the same time, it would be ridiculous to propose that what we know merits reverence. What we know merits any one of a number of things, but it stands to reason reverence isn't one of them. In other words, apart from the known and the unknown, what else is there?
    • Harold Pinter in The Homecoming (1966), Lenny to Teddy in Act Two.
  • The more we learn about the world, and the deeper our learning, the more conscious, specific, and articulate will be our knowledge of what we do not know, our knowledge of our ignorance. For this, indeed, is the main source of our ignorance — the fact that our knowledge can be only finite, while our ignorance must necessarily be infinite.
    • Karl Popper (1963) Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge.
  • To gain knowledge, we must learn to ask the right questions; and to get answers, we must act, not wait for answers to occur to us.
    • Anatol Rapoport (1970) "Modern Systems Theory – An Outlook for Coping with Change".
  • Let no one be deluded that a knowledge of the path can substitute Jor putting one foot in front of the other.
    • M. C. Richards (1916-1999) cited in: David Spohn (1986) Touchstones: A Book of Daily Meditations for Men. p. 22.
  • Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.
    • Carl Sagan (1934–1996) cited in: Kendall F. Haven (2001) That's Weird!: Awesome Science Mysteries. p.x.

21st century[edit]

  • You can't manage knowledge — nobody can. What you can do is to manage the environment in which knowledge can be created, discovered, captured, shared, distilled, validated, transferred, adopted, adapted and applied.
    • Chris Collison and Geoff Parcell, Learning to Fly - Practical Knowledge Management from Leading and Learning Organizations (2005), Chapter 2, pages 24-25.
  • There may be things that are completely unknowable to us, so we must be careful not to treat the limits of our knowledge as sure guides to the limit of what there is.
    • Daniel C. Dennett, Kinds Of Minds: Toward An Understanding Of Consciousness (2008).
  • What we call knowledge does not and cannot have the purpose of producing representations of an independent reality, but instead has an adaptive function.
  • The knowledge that we have can be analogous to a circle. Inside the circle is what we know and what we call knowledge; outside the circle is what we don't know and need to explore. As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it. So the more we know, the more we feel that we don't know.
    • Tian Hao, stating an idea he says had inspired him since childhood, and attributes to Albert Einstein, Electrorheological Fluids: The Non-aqueous Suspensions (2005), Introduction (15 July 2005), p. v.
  • As Immanuel Kant pointed out long ago, learning to learn is one of the things that we cannot learn from experience. [see Kant 18th century quote above on à priori and à posteriori knowledge] ...So although sensations give us "occasions" to learn, this cannot be what makes us "able", to learn, because we first must have the additional knowledge that our brains would need, as Kant has said, to "produce representations" and then "to connect" them. Such additional knowledge would also include inborn ways to recognize correlations and other relations among sensations. I suspect that... our brains are already innately endowed with machinery to help us "to compare, to connect, or to separate" objects so that we can represent them as existing in space.
  • It makes no sense to seek a single best way to represent knowledge—because each particular form of expression also brings its particular limitations. For example, logic-based systems are very precise, but they make it hard to do reasoning with analogies. Similarly, statistical systems are useful for making predictions, but do not serve well to represent the reasons why those predictions are sometimes correct.
  • As we know, There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know, there are known unknowns, that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we do not know we do not know.
  • The knowable world is incomplete if seen from any one point of view, incoherent if seen from all points of view at once, and empty if seen from nowhere in particular.
  • A drop of knowledge is more powerful than a sea of force.

Proverbs[edit]

  • He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool. Shun him.
    He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is simple. Teach him.
    He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep. Wake him.
    He who knows, and knows that he knows, is wise. Follow him.
    • Several variants began appearing in English language periodicals late in the 19th century, typically attributed as an Arabic or Persian proverb. E.g. Cosmopolitan, Volume 23 (May–October 1897), p. 315. Later variants typically use "a child" rather than "simple".
  • Men are four:
    He who knows not and knows not he knows not, he is a fool—shun him;
    He who knows not and knows he knows not, he is simple—teach him;
    He who knows and knows not he knows, he is asleep—wake him;
    He who knows and knows he knows, he is wise—follow him!
    • Lady Burton, Life of Sir Richard Burton. Given as an Arabian Proverb. Another rendering in the Spectator (Aug. 11, 1894), p. 176. In Hesiod, Works and Days, 293. 7. Quoted by Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (c. 325 BC), I. 4. Cicero, Pro Cluent., 31. Livy, Works, XXII. 29.
  • There are four kinds of people, three of which are to be avoided and the fourth cultivated: those who don't know that they don't know; those who know that they don't know; those who don't know that they know; and those who know that they know.
    • Anonymous rendering of the Arab Proverb. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • He that hath knowledge spareth his words.
    • Proverbs, XVII. 27. Cited in: Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.

Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989)[edit]

  • If a man empties his purse into his head no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.
    • Attributed to Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard, in The Home Book of Quotations, ed. Burton Stevenson, 10th ed., p. 1054 (1967), and in The Home Book of American Quotations, ed. Bruce Bohle, p. 220 (1967). Reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).
  • Perplexity is the beginning of knowledge.
    • Khalil Gibran, The Voice of the Master, trans. Anthony R. Ferris (1958), p. 87.
  • A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.
    • James Madison, letter to W. T. Barry (August 4, 1822), in Gaillard Hunt, ed., The Writings of James Madison vol. 9 (1910), p. 103. These words, using the older spelling "Governours", are inscribed to the left of the main entrance, Library of Congress James Madison Memorial Building.
  • They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge.
    • Thomas Brackett Reed, referring to two of his colleagues in the House of Representatives.—Samuel W. McCall, The Life of Thomas Brackett Reed, chapter 21, p. 248 (1914).
  • Give light and the people will find their own way.
    • Scripps-Howard newspapers, motto. It is still in current use and may be found on the masthead of the papers they publish, e.g., The Rocky Mountain News.
  • Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers,…
    • Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "Locksley Hall", line 141, The Poetic and Dramatic Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson, p. 124 (1899).
  • We have not the reverent feeling for the rainbow that a savage has, because we know how it is made. We have lost as much as we gained by prying into that matter.
    • Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad, vol. 2 (vol. 4 of The Writings of Mark Twain), chapter 14, p. 189 (1879, reprinted 1968).

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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