I was often humiliated to see men disputing for a piece of bread, just as animals might have done. My feelings on this subject have very much altered since I have been personally exposed to the tortures of hunger. I have discovered, in fact, that a man, whatever may have been his origin, his education, and his habits, is governed, under certain circumstances, much more by his stomach than by his intelligence and his heart.
"The History of My Youth", p. 55.
On certain occasions, the eyes of the mind can supply the want of the most powerful telescopes, and lead to astronomical discoveries of the highest importance.
Laplace, p. 347.
The calculus of probabilities, when confined within just limits, ought to interest, in an equal degree, the mathematician, the experimentalist, and the statesman.
Laplace, p. 364.
The ancients had a taste, let us say rather a passion, for the marvellous, which caused them to forget even the sacred duties of gratitude. Observe them, for example, grouping together the lofty deeds of a great number of heroes, whose names they have not even deigned to preserve, and investing the single personage of Hercules with them. The lapse of ages has not rendered us wiser in this respect. In our own time the public delight in blending fable with history. In every career of life, in the pursuit of science especially, they enjoy a pleasure in creating Herculeses.
Joseph Fourier, p. 408.
Let us award a just, a brilliant homage to those rare men whom nature has endowed with the precious privilege of arranging a thousand isolated facts, of making seductive theories spring from them; but let us not forget to state, that the scythe of the reaper had cut the stalks before one had thought of uniting them into sheaves!
Joseph Fourier, p. 409.
In the experimental sciences, the epochs of the most brilliant progress are almost always separated by long intervals of almost absolute repose.
Joseph Fourier, p. 411.
Tel est le privilége du génie : il aperçoit, il saisit des rapports, là où des yeux vulgaires lie voient que des faits isolés.
Such is the privilege of genius; it perceives, it seizes relations where vulgar eyes see only isolated facts.