Knowledge Quotes

Below you will find our collection of inspirational, wise, and humorous old Knowledge Quotes, Knowledge sayings, and Knowledge proverbs, collected over the years from a variety of sources.

May these Knowledge Quotes from around the world inspire you to never give up and keep working towards your goals. Who knows—success could be just around the corner.

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.

From M. Fethullah Gulen

All of us are travelers, and the worlds are multicolored exhibitions and rich and colorful books. We were sent to study these books, increase our spiritual knowledge, and uplift others. This colorful and pleasurable journey is a one-time event. For those whose feelings are alert and whose hearts are awake, this journey is more than enough to establish a Paradise-like garden. But for those whose eyes are covered, it is as if they have lived but one breath. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Although science and all branches of knowledge are beneficial to almost everyone, one cannot possibly acquire all of them, for people’s life-spans and resources are limited. Therefore, learn and use only that which benefits yourself and humanity at large. Do not waste your life. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Appropriate language is an inexhaustible source of blessing for the learner. Those who possess such a source are always sought by people, like a source of fresh water, and lead people to what is good. Knowledge consisting of empty theories and unabsorbed pieces of learning, which arouses suspicions in minds and darkens hearts, is like a “pile of garbage” around which desperate and confused souls flounder. – M. Fethullah Gulen

At the beginning of this century, some short-sighted materialists made science into an idol and sacrificed everything to it, while the most famous scientist of the century was criticizing this tendency in a pleasant way by saying: “Science without religion is blind; religion without science is lame.” What would they have said if they saw those of today who are both blind and lame? – M. Fethullah Gulen

Avoiding the positive sciences fearing that they will lead to atheism is naivety, and seeing them as contradictory with religion and faith and as vehicles for the rejection of religion is prejudice and ignorance. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Claiming that the positive sciences are of no value is ignorance and bigotry; rejecting everything else outside their fields is a crude fanaticism. Realizing that there is still a great deal to be learned signifies true scientific mentality and sound thinking. – M. Fethullah Gulen

One who profoundly thinks about and evaluates nature and the laws of life will see the coquetry of eternal beauty in everything, and hear the consecration of Infinite Power in every sound—from flowers’ shining colors to swaying of tree branches, from frightening thunderclaps to sparrows’ harmonious songs. Such people see the traces and works of a Divine source manifested in the phenomena and laws such as light and heat, gravitation and chemical reaction, and the directing of animate beings. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Parents should feed their children’s minds of with knowledge and science before they become engaged in useless things, for souls devoid of truth and knowledge are fields in which all kinds of evil thoughts are grown and cultivated. – M. Fethullah Gulen

People are esteemed and appreciated in proportion to the profundity and content of their knowledge. The knowledge of those who spread gossip and idle talk is nothing more than gossip and idle talk. On the other hand, truly valuable indeed are those who use their knowledge as a prism to perceive things and events, as a light to illuminate “space” to the darkest points, and to reach the most transcendent truths. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Right decisions depend on having a sound mind and on sound thinking. As science and knowledge illuminates and develop one’s mind, those deprived of science and knowledge cannot reach right decisions and are always exposed to deception and misguidance. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Science and knowledge should seek to uncover the nature of men and women and the mysteries of creation. Any knowledge, however scientific, is not true knowledge if it does not shed light on the mysteries of human nature and the dark areas of existence.

Science and technology are beneficial to the degree that they guarantee human happiness and help us attain true humanity. If they are developed to harm humanity, they become devils blocking our road. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Science is to perceive the reality of science,
Science consists in knowledge of the self;
If, then, you do not know yourself,
I wonder what kind of education you have had. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Since “real” life is possible only through knowledge, those who neglect learning and teaching are considered “dead” even though they are still alive, for we were created to learn and to communicate what we have learned to others. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Status and merit acquired through knowledge and science are higher and more lasting than status and merit obtained through other means. This is true for two reasons: Knowledge will enrapture its possessors, when they reach the other world, with the pleasure of the positions acquired while in this world. In addition, it will keep its possessors away from bad morals in this world and cause them to attain many virtues. – M. Fethullah Gulen

The purpose of learning is to make knowledge a guide for your life, to illuminate the road to human perfection. Any knowledge that does not fulfill these functions is a burden for the learner, and any science that does not direct one toward sublime goals is only deception. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Those who are truly human continue to learn, teach, and inspire others. It is difficult to regard as truly human those who are ignorant and have no desire to learn. It is also questionable whether a learned person who does not pursue self-renewal and self-reform, and thereby set an example for others, is truly human. – M. Fethullah Gulen

True scientists base their study and research on true reports, correct expositions, and scientific experiments. As a result, they have peace of mind and solve their problems with ease. However, those who do not know the truth are buffeted constantly by changing aims and methods, and so are always disillusioned. – M. Fethullah Gulen

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Quotes, ancient history


  • I cannot look at something through someone else’s eyes. I can only truly know something which I know.
    • Zhuangzi, The Book of Chuang Tzu, as translated by M. Palmer, et. al. (Penguin: 1996), p. 12
  • Everyone in the world knows how to seek for knowledge that they do not have, but do not know how to find what they already know.
    • Zhuangzi, The Book of Chuang Tzu, as translated by M. Palmer, et. al. (Penguin: 1996), p. 80


  • 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.
  • He who chooses to know for the sake of knowing will choose most readily that which is most truly knowledge.
    • Aristotle, Metaphysics book 1, part 2, 982a31, Complete Works (1984), vol. 2, p. 1554.
  • γνῶθι σεαυτόν.
    • Know thyself.
    • Inscription attributed to Chilo of Thales, Pythagoras, Solon, on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.
  • This is the bitterest pain among men, to have much knowledge but no power.
    • Herodotus Book 9, Ch. 16
    • Variant translations:
      • Of all men’s miseries the bitterest is this: to know so much and to have control over nothing.
      • The most hateful torment for men is to have knowledge of everything but power over nothing.
  • 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.
  • Πᾶσα τε ἐπιστήμη χωριζομένη δικαιοσύνης καὶ τῆς ἄλλης ἀρετῆς πανουργία, οὐ σοφία φαίνεται.
    • All knowledge, when separated from justice and the other virtues, is seen to be cunning and not wisdom.
    • Plato, Menexenus.
  • Ἕν οἶδα, ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα.
    • As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.
    • Socrates, PlatoPhædrus, Section CCXXXV. Cited in: Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Φεῦ φεῦ, φρονεῖν ὡς δεινὸν ἔνθα μὴ τέλη / λύῃ φρονοῦντι…
    • Alas, how dreadful knowledge of the truth can be when there’s no help in truth!
    • Variant: Wisdom is a curse when wisdom does nothing for the man who has it.
    • Sophocles Oedipus Rex Line 316/7.


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


  • Do you know how God controls the clouds and how he causes the lightning to flash from his cloud? Do you know how the clouds float? These are the wonderful works of the One perfect in knowledge.
    • Book of Job 37: 15-16, NWT
  • They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
    • Isaiah 11:9 (KJV)
    • Variant translation:
    • The earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.
      • Isaiah 11:9b (NWT)
  • 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.
    • The Bible (KJV), Proverbs 24:3-4.
  • Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
    • Daniel 12:4 (KJV)
  • The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
    • David, Psalms 19:1-2 (KJV)
  • In vain have you acquired knowledge if you do not impart it it to others.
    • Deuteronomy Rabbah (c. 450–900).
  • He that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
    • Ecclesiastes. I. 18. Cited in: Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
    • Solomon, Proverbs 1:7 (KJV)
    • Variant translation:
    • The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge. Wisdom and discipline are what mere fools have despised.
      • Proverbs 1:7 (New World Translation)
  • When wisdom enters your heart
And knowledge becomes pleasant to your soul,
Thinking ability will keep watch over you,
And discernment will safeguard you,
To save you from the bad course,
From the man speaking perverse things,
From those leaving the upright paths
To walk in the ways of darkness.

  • Solomon, Book of Proverbs 2: 10-13, NWT
  • Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge.
    • Solomon, Proverbs 12:1.
  • O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
    • Romans 11:33 (KJV)
    • Variant translation:
  • 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.
    • Romans 11:33-35 (New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures)

Eastern philosophy

  • 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

  • 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.
    • Augustine of Hippo (354–430) X, 35
  • 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.
    • Augustine of Hippo (354–430) XI, 26, Parts of this passage has been heavily compared with later statements of René Descartes.
  • The one who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.
    • Paul of Tarsus, First Epistle to the Corinthians 8:2


Quotes, modern history

Until 15th century

  • A name made great is a name destroyed. He who does not increase his knowledge decreases it.
    • Hillel the Elder Pirkei Avot 1:13
  • 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.
    • Avicenna (c. 1020) “On Medicine”.
  • 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.
    • Anselm of Canterbury (1077/78) Proslogion, chapter 5, translated by Clement C. J. Webb (1903).
  • 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.
    • Meister Eckhart (c. 1260 – 1328).
  • 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.
    • Maimonides (c. 1190) Guide for the Perplexed
  • sic: si omnes homines natura scire desiderant, ergo maxime scientiam maxime desiderabunt. Ita arguit Philosophus I huius cap. 2. Et ibidem subdit: “quae sit maxime scientia, illa scilicet quae est circa maxime scibilia”. Maxime autem dicuntur scibilia dupliciter: uel quia primo omnium sciuntur sine quibus non possunt alia sciri; uel quia sunt certissima cognoscibilia. Utroque autem modo considerat ista scientia maxime scibilia. Haec igitur est maxime scientia, et per consequens maxime desiderabilis.
    • If all men by nature desire to know, then they desire most of all the greatest knowledge of science. So the Philosopher argues in chap. 2 of his first book of the work [Metaphisics]. And he immediately indicates what the greatest science is, namely the science which is about those things that are most knowable. But there are two senses in which things are said to be maximally knowable: either [1] because they are the first of all things known and without them nothing else can be known; or [2] because they are what are known most certainly. In either way, however, this science is about the most knowable. Therefore, this most of all is a science and, consequently, most desirable…”
    • Duns Scotus Quaestiones subtilissimae de metaphysicam Aristotelis, as translated in: William A. Frank, Allan Bernard Wolter (1995) Duns Scotus, metaphysician. p. 18-19

15th century

  • 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). Quote reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895). p. 365.
  • Every man naturally desires knowledge; but what good is knowledge without fear of God? Indeed a humble rustic who serves God is better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of the stars.
    • Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471), Imitation of Christ
  • Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is very unwise.
    • Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471), Imitation of Christ
  • 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

  • I have taken all knowledge to be my province.
    • Francis Bacon, letter to Lord Burleigh, 1592.
  • Knowledge is power.
    • Francis Bacon, Meditationes Sacræ [Sacred Meditations] (1597) “De Hæresibus” [Of Heresies]
    • Also in Leviathan (1651) by Thomas Hobbes, Chapter X.
  • 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, TreatiseDe Hæresiis. Cited in: Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • I find that even those that have sought knowledge for itself, and not for benefit, or ostentation, or any practicable enablement in the course of their life, have nevertheless propounded to themselves a wrong mark, namely, satisfaction, which men call truth, and not operation. For as in the courts and services of princes and states, it is a much easier matter to give satisfaction than to do the business; so in the inquiring of causes and reasons it is much easier to find out such causes as will satisfy the mind of man and quiet objections, than such causes as will direct him and give him light to new experiences and inventions.
    • Francis Bacon, Valerius Terminus: Of the Interpretation of NatureWorks, vol. 1, p. 87.
  • Manners must adorn knowledge, and smooth its way through the world. Like a great rough diamond, it may do very well in a closet by way of curiosity, and also for its intrinsic value; but it will never be worn, nor shine, if it is not polished.
    • Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, Letters (July 1, 1748).
  • 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.
  • And seeing ignorance is the curse of God,
    Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.

    • William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part II (c. 1590-91), Act IV, scene 7, line 78.
  • Too much to know is to know naught but fame.
    • William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost (c. 1595-6), Act I, scene 1, line 92.
  • 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.

    • William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (late 1590s), Act III, scene 2, line 159.
  • 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.

    • William Shakespeare on King James I. See Payne Collier, Life of Shakespeare. Cited in: Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • 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

  • 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.

    • William Alexander, 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.
  • 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.

    • Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part I (1663-64), Canto I, line 149.
  • Deep sighted in intelligences,
    Ideas, atoms, influences.

    • Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part I (1663-64), Canto I, line 533.
  • 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.

    • Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part II (1664), Canto III, line 297.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Virtue is harder to be got than knowledge of the world; and, if lost in a young man, is seldom recovered.
    • John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693) Sec. 70.
  • 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.
  • For in particulars our knowledge begins, and so spreads itself, by degrees, to generals [Footnote: This is the order in time of the conscious acquistion of knowledge that is human. The Essay might be regarded as a commentary on this one sentence. Our intellectual progress is from particulars and involuntary recipiency, through reactive doubt and criticism, into what is at last reasoned faith.]. Though afterwards the mind takes the quite contrary course, and having drawn its knowledge into as general propositions as it can, makes those familiar to its thoughts, and accustoms itself to have recourse to them, as to the standards of truth and falsehood. [Footnote: This is the philosophic attitude. Therein one consciously apprehends the intellectual necessities that were UNCONCIOUSLY PRESUPPOSED, its previous intellectual progress. In philosophy we ‘draw our knowledge into as general propositions as it can’ be made to assume, and thus either learn to see it as an organic while in a speculative unity, or learn that it cannot be so seen in a finite intelligence, and that even at the last it must remain ‘broken’ and mysterious in the human understanding.]

John Locke, An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding, Book IV Of Knowledge And Probability Chapter 7 Of Maxims

    • John Locke, An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding, Book IV Of Knowledge And Probability Chapter 7 Of Maxims
  • I went into the temple, there to hear
    The teachers of our law, and to propose
    What might improve my knowledge or their own.

    • John Milton, Paradise Regained (1671), Book I, line 211.
  • 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.
    • Blaise Pascal (1669) Pensées, Chapter 67.
  • Nous sommes sur un milieu vaste, toujours incertains et flottants entre l’ignorance et la connaissance ; et si nous pensons aller plus avant, notre objet branle, et échappe nos prises ; il se dérobe, et fuit d’une fuite éternelle : rien ne le peut arrêter. C’est notre condition naturelle et, toutefois, la plus contraire à notre inclination. Nous brûlons du désir d’approfondir tout et d’édifier une tour qui s’élève jusqu’à l’infini. Mais tout notre édifice craque, et la terre s’ouvre jusqu’aux abîmes.
    • 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.
    • Blaise Pascal (1669) Pensées, Chapter 72
  • 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.
    • Blaise Pascal (1669) Pensées, Chapter 72
  • We know what we are, but know not what we may be.
    • William Shakespeare, Hamlet (1600-02), Act IV, scene 5, line 42.
  • If you can look into the seeds of time,
    And say which grain will grow and which will not;
    Speak then to me.

    • William Shakespeare, Macbeth (1605), Act I, scene 3, line 58.

18th century

  • 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
  • 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?
    • Oliver Goldsmith, The Traveller (1764), line 64.
  • 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.
    • Samuel Johnson, in James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson (1791), Vol. II, 18 April 1775, p. 258.
  • 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 themselves 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.
    • Sir James Mackintosh, Vindiciæ Gallicæ (1791).
  • A little knowledge is a dangerous thing
    • Variant of “A little learning is a dangerous thing” of Alexander Pope’s Essay on Criticism
  • That virtue only makes our bliss below,
    And all our knowledge is ourselves to know.

    • Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man (1733-34), Epistle IV, line 397.
  • In vain sedate reflections we would make
    When half our knowledge we must snatch, not take.

    • Alexander Pope, Moral Essays (1731-35), Epistle I, line 39.
  • 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 TabletsXenien. 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.

    • Friedrich Schiller (1796), Tabulae Votivae (Votive Tablets) “The Key”; tr. Edgar Alfred Bowring, The Poems of Schiller, Complete (1851).
  • 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

  • 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.
    • Christian Nestell Bovee, Intuitions and Summaries of Thought (1862), Volume II, p. 24.
  • Knowledge by suffering entereth,
    And life is perfected by death.

    • Elizabeth Barrett Browning, A Vision of Poets (1844), “Conclusion”, St. 37.
  • 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.
    • Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux, Quote reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895) p. 366.
  • The tree of knowledge is not that of life.
    • Lord Byron, Manfred (1817), Act I, scene 1.
  • Knowledge is not happiness, and science
    But an exchange of ignorance for that
    Which is another kind of ignorance.

    • Lord Byron, Manfred (1817), Act II, scene 4.
  • 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.
  • To be conscious that you are ignorant is a great step to knowledge.
    • Benjamin Disraeli, Sybil (1845), Book I, Chapter V.
  • How calmly and genially the mind apprehends one after another the laws of physics! What noble emotions dilate the mortal as he enters into the counsels of the creation, and feels by knowledge the privilege to Be! His insight refines him. The beauty of nature shines in his own breast. Man is greater that he can see this, and the universe less, because Time and Space relations vanish as laws are known.
    Here again we are impressed and even daunted by the immense Universe to be explored. “What we know, is a point to what we do not know.”

    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature (1849) Introduction, p. 37.
  • There is no knowledge that is not power.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Society and Solitude (1870), “Old Age”.
  • 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 SolitudeCourage. 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.

    • Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1810) Outline of the Doctrine of Knowledge. I.
  • 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 man’s 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.
    • Soren Kierkegaard Either/Or Part I, Swenson p. 34, 1843.
  • Not if I know myself at all.
    • Charles Lamb (1775–1834), Essays of EliaThe Old and the New Schoolmaster. Quote reported in Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • Knowledge, when only the possession of a few, has almost always been turned to iniquitous purposes.
    • Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Romance and Reality (1831), Vol I, Chapter 19
  • Who knows how many links we may have to ascend in the vast cycle of worlds around, ere we arrive at the one which is knowledge — where we may look before, and after, and judge of the whole ? How many stages of probation may we yet have to pass !
    • Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Francesca Carrara (1834), Vol.II, Chapter 30
  • 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.
    • Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay, (About Brougham). Life and Letters, Volume I, p. 175. Quote reported in Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Only by knowledge of that which is not thyself, shall thyself be learned.
    • Owen Meredith (pseudonym of Robert Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Earl of Lytton), “Γνωι Σεαυτον” (“Know Thyself”), in The Poetical Works of Owen Meredith (1867), Volume I, p. 247.
  • 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.
    • Friedrich Schelling (1802) Lectures on the Method of Academic Study.
  • 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.
    • Alfred Tennyson, Locksley Hall (1842), Stanza 71.
  • 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.

    • Alfred Tennyson, In Memoriam A.H.H. (1849), CXIV.
  • For all the talk you hear about knowledge being such a wonderful thing, instinct is worth forty of it for real unerringness.
    • Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894).
  • 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.
    • Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad (1880).
  • 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.
  • Logic and sermons never convince,
    The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul.
    (Only what proves itself to every man and woman is so,
    Only what nobody denies is so.)

    • Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself” (1855) Leaves of Grass (1855)
  • 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.
Intelligence Brain Mind Mindset Reality Perception


Contemporary quotes

First half of the 20th century

  • A man who knows how little he knows is well, a man who knows how much he knows is sick.
    • Witter Bynner, The Way of Life (1944).
  • Do you, good people, believe that Adam and Eve were created in the Garden of Eden and that they were forbidden to eat from the tree of knowledge? I do. The church has always been afraid of that tree. It still is afraid of knowledge. Some of you say religion makes people happy. So does laughing gas. So does whiskey. I believe in the brain of man. I’m not worried about my soul.
    • Clarence Darrow in a debate with religious leaders in Kansas City, as quoted in a eulogy for Darrow by Emanuel Haldeman-Julius (1938)
  • “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.
    • John Dewey (1916) Democracy and Education.
  • 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.
    • John Dewey (1916) Democracy and Education.
  • 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)
    • Quoted by: Jeff Nilsson, Imagination is more important than knowledge, The Saturday Evening Post, 20 March 2010
    • Variants:
      • 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.
  • I want to know God’s thoughts — the rest are mere details.
    • Albert Einstein, as quoted in “Einstein’s Unfinished Symphony” at BBC Science & Nature
  • 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.
  • I must know everything. I must penetrate the heart of his secret! I must become Caligari!
  • Hans Janowitz, Carl Mayer; The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
  • 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.
    • Alfred Korzybski (1933) Science and Sanity, p. 20.
  • ‘Whatever you might say the object “is”, well it is not.’
    • Alfred Korzybski (1933) Science and Sanity, p. 20.
  • Without love the acquisition of knowledge only increases confusion and leads to self-destruction.
    • Jiddu Krishnamurti, Education and the Significance of Life (1953), Harper, p. 47.
  • 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.
    • Karl Mannheim (1929) Ideology and Utopia.
  • 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.
    • Bertrand Russell Letter to Gilbert Murray, April 3, 1902.
  • The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.
    • Bertrand Russell (1925) What I Believe.
  • 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.
    • Bertrand Russell (1925) A History of Western Philosophy. p. xiii.
  • There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge.
    • Bertrand Russell (1935), In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays, Ch. 2: ‘Useless’ Knowledge.
  • Technical knowledge, we have seen, is susceptible of formulation in rules, principles, directions, maxims – comprehensively, in propositions. It is possible to write down technical knowledge in a book. Consequently, it does not surprise us that when an artist writes about his art, he writes only about the technique of his art. This is so, not because he is ignorant of what may be called the aesthetic element, or thinks it unimportant, but because what he has to say about that he has said already (if he is a painter) in his pictures, and he knows no other way of saying it. And the same is true when a religious man writes about his religion or a cook about cookery. And it may be observed that this character of being susceptible of precise formulation gives to technical knowledge at least the appearance of certainty: it appears to be possible to be certain about a technique. On the other hand, it is a characteristic of practical knowledge that it is not susceptible of formulation of this kind. Its normal expression is in a customary or traditional way of doing things, or, simply, in practice. And this gives it the appearance of imprecision and consequently of uncertainty, of being a matter of opinion, of probability rather than truth. It is, indeed, a knowledge that is expressed in taste or connoisseurship, lacking rigidity and ready for the impress of the mind of the learner.
    Technical knowledge can be learned from a book; it can be learned in a correspondence course. Moreover, much of it can be learned by heart, repeated by rote, and applied mechanically: the logic of the syllogism is a technique of this kind. Technical knowledge, in short, can be both taught and learned in the simplest meanings of these words. On the other hand, practical knowledge can neither be taught nor learned, but only imparted and acquired. It exists only in practice, and the only way to acquire it is by apprenticeship to a master – not because the master can teach it (he cannot), but because it can be acquired only by continuous contact with one who is perpetually practising it. In the arts and in natural science what normally happens is that the pupil, in being taught and in learning the technique from his master, discovers himself to have acquired also another sort of knowledge than merely technical knowledge, without it ever having been precisely imparted and often without being able to say precisely what it is. Thus a pianist acquires artistry as well as technique, a chess-player style and insight into the game as well as a knowledge of the moves, and a scientist acquires (among other things) the sort of judgement which tells him when his technique is leading him astray and the connoisseurship which enables him to distinguish the profitable from the unprofitable directions to explore.

    • Michael Oakeshott, “Rationalism in Politics” (1947), published in Rationalism in Politics and other essays (1962)
  • It would be easier to break up a theme of Beethoven with dissecting knife or acid than to break up the soul by methods of abstract thought. Nature-knowledge and man-knowledge have neither ways nor aims in common.
    • Oswald Spengler, Decline of the West, Volume 1, C. Atkinson, trans., p. 300
  • Nur dem, der Glück verachtet, wird Erkenntnis.
    • Knowledge comes only to those who despise happiness.
    • Georg Trakl, „Gesang zur Nacht”
  • 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.
    • Mark Twain, Notebook (1908).
  • Under the world view possessed by medieval scholars, the path of learning was a path of self-deprecation. … An opposite conception comes in with Bacon’s “knowledge is power.” If the aim of knowledge is domination, it is hardly to be supposed that the possessors of knowledge will be indifferent to their importance. On the contrary, they begin to swell; the seek triumphs in the

material world (knowledge being meanwhile necessarily degraded to skills) which inflate their egotism and self-consideration. Such is a brief history of how knowledge passes from a means of spiritual redemption to a basis for intellectual pride.

    • Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences (Chicago: 1948), p. 72

Second half of the 20th century

  • Knowledge is indivisible. When people grow wise in one direction, they are sure to make it easier for themselves to grow wise in other directions as well. On the other hand, when they split up knowledge, concentrate on their own field, and scorn and ignore other fields, they grow less wise — even in their own field.
  • Isaac Asimov, The Roving Mind (1983), chapter 25.
  • There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known
    Nothing you can see that isn’t shown
    There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be
    It’s easy

    • All You Need is Love, The Beatles, written by John Lennon, Paul McCartney
  • Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.
    • Sharon Begley (1956); misattributed to Carl Sagan (1934–1996) cited in: “Seeking Other Worlds (Profile of Carl Sagan)” (1977 15 August 1977), Newsweek, Volume 90. p. 53.
  • 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.
  • How wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. If in fact the frontiers of knowledge are being pushed further and further back (and that is bound to be the case), then God is being pushed back with them, and is therefore continually in retreat. We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don’t know.
    • Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison (1967), p. 311
  • 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.
    • Ben Carson (1996) Think Big (p. 207).
  • 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.
    • Carlos Castaneda (1971) Separate Reality: Conversations With Don Juan. p. 85.
  • 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.
  • There’s no earthly way of knowing
    Which direction we are going
    There’s no knowing where we’re rowing
    Or which way the river’s flowing
    Is it raining?
    Is it snowing?
    Is a hurricane a-blowing?
    Not a speck of light is showing
    So the danger must be growing
    Are the fires of hell a-glowing?
    Is the grisly reaper mowing?
    Yes, the danger must be growing
    ‘Cause the rowers keep on rowing
    And they’re certainly not showing
    Any signs that they are slowing!

    • Willie Wonka, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl, Pg. 84-85 (1964)
  • A very great deal more truth can become known than can be proven.
    • Richard Feynman, in his Nobel Lecture “The Development of the Space-Time View of Quantum Electrodynamics” (11 December 1965)
  • Various attempts have been made in recent years to state necessary and sufficient conditions for someone’s knowing a given proposition. The attempts have often been such that they can be stated in a form similar to the following:
    (a) S knows that P IFF (i) P is true, (ii) S believes that P, and (iii) S is justified in believing that P.
    … These … examples show that definition (a) does not state a sufficient condition for someone’s knowing a given proposition.

    • Edmund L. Gettier, “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?”, Analysis, Vol. 23, No. 6 (Jun., 1963)
    • On Gettier problem
  • Nothing can be achieved without knowledge, and yet everything can be achieved just through a pure heart.
    • Haidakhan Babaji cited in: Gaura Devi. (1990). Babaji’s Teachings, P.7.
  • 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.
  • I hold that every bit of definite knowledge has to have a mathematical aspect
  • Charles Hartshorne, “Charles Hartshorne, Philosophy,” in interview with Steven Vita, Veery journal (1996)
  • No human mind can comprehend all the knowledge which guides the actions of society.
    • Friedrich Hayek (1960) The Constitution of Liberty.
  • 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.
    • Friedrich Hayek (1960) The Constitution of Liberty.
  • All types of knowledge, ultimately mean self knowledge.
    • Bruce Lee, Bruce Lee: The Lost Interview (1971).
  • 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.
    • H. L. Mencken, Minority Report (1956).
  • 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.
    • Marvin Minsky, “K-Linesː A Theory of Memory” Cognitive Science 4, pp.117-133 (1980).
  • 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.
    • Marvin Minsky, “Music, Mind, and Meaning” (1981).
  • 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.
  • I think of the need for more wisdom in the world, to deal with the knowledge that we have. At one time we had wisdom, but little knowledge. Now we have a great deal of knowledge, but do we have enough wisdom to deal with that knowledge?
    • Jonas Salk, in Academy of Achievement interview, in San Diego, California (16 May 1991).
  • Knowledge is not eating, and we cannot expect to devour and possess what we mean. Knowledge is recognition of something absent; it is a salutation, not an embrace.
    • George Santayana in: Analytical Philosophy of Knowledge, CUP Archive, p. 60.
  • Ideas are everywhere, but knowledge is rare.
    • Thomas Sowell, Knowledge and Decisions (1980), Ch. 1 : The Role of Knowledge
  • Knowledge is in the end based on acknowledgement.
    • Ludwig Wittgenstein in: Robert J. Yanal Hitchcock as Philosopher, McFarland, 2 June 2005, p. 16.

21st century

  • A deep consideration of the essence of knowledge should reveal how knowledge corresponds to the truth. … Darkness reigns when knowledge is silent. … Knowledge is a unique kind of property, indeed: you can share it with others, while still possessing it. … There is a fascinating entanglement of science and knowledge, which is expressed as scientific knowledge.
    • Eraldo Banovac, Reasonably Through Life (2019), Chapter “About knowledge”, pages 25-31, ISBN: 9781092742719.
  • 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.
  • While knowledge is increasingly being viewed as a commodity or intellectual asset, there are some paradoxical characteristics of knowledge that are radically different from other valuable commodities. These knowledge characteristics include the following:
    • Using knowledge does not consume it.
    • Transferring knowledge does not result in losing it.
    • Knowledge is abundant, but the ability to use it is scarce.
    • Much of an organization’s valuable knowledge walks out the door at the end of the day.

    • Kimiz Dalkir, Knowledge Management in Theory and Practice, 2nd ed. (2011), Chap. 1 : Introduction to Knowledge Management
  • 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.
    • Ernst von Glasersfeld, cited in Fox (2001, p. 27).
  • 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.
    • Marvin Minsky, The Emotion Machine (2006).
  • 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.
    • Marvin Minsky, The Emotion Machine (2006).
  • May I free myself from the labyrinth of knowledge
    • Suman Pokhrel, Song of Soul
  • 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.
    • Donald Rumsfeld, Department of Defense news briefing, 12 February 2002.
  • I draw [a] distinction between knowledge and information. You can find information online very easily. Knowledge is another matter altogether. Now, this is not something new about the Internet [but] a basic feature of human life that while information is easy, knowledge is difficult. There has never been a shortage of mere data and opinion in human life. It’s a very old observation that the most ignorant people are usually full of opinions, while many of the most knowledgeable people are full of doubt. Other people are certainly sources of knowledge, but they are also sources of half-truths, confusion, misinformation, and lies. If we simply want information from others, it is easy to get; if we want knowledge in any strong sense of the word, it is very difficult.
    • Larry Sanger, How the Internet Is Changing What We (Think We) Know, from a speech in Upper Arlington Public Library (23 January 2008)
  • 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.
    • Richard Shweder (2003). Why do Men Barbecue?
  • Knowledge is one of the most scarce of all resources and a pricing system economizes on its use by forcing those with the most knowledge of their own particular situation to make bids for goods and resources based on that knowledge, rather than on their ability to influence other people in planning commissions, legislatures, or royal palaces.
    • Thomas Sowell, Basic Economics (2010), Ch. 2. The Role of Prices
  • Academia is to knowledge what prostitution is to love.
    • Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms (2010) Preludes, p.4.
  • The sucker’s trap is when you focus on what you know and what others don’t know, rather than the reverse.
    • Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms (2010) The Universal and the Particular, p. 56.


  • 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

  • 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).

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