Hilary Putnam quotes

  • Science is wonderful at destroying metaphysical answers, but incapable of providing substitute ones. Science takes away foundations without providing a replacement. Whether we want to be there or not, science has put us in the position of having to live without foundations. It was shocking when Nietzsche said this, but today it is commonplace; our historical position-and no end to it is in sight-is that of having to philosophise without 'foundations'.
    -- Hilary Putnam

    #Science #Sight #Historical

  • ...while there is such a thing as correctness in ethics, in interpretation, in mathematics, the way to understand that is not by trying to model it on the ways in which we get things right in physics....
    -- Hilary Putnam

    #Philosophical #Trying #Way

  • I think part of the appeal of mathematical logic is that the formulas look mysterious - you write backward Es!
    -- Hilary Putnam

    #Writing #Thinking #Looks

  • No sane person should believe that something is subjective merely because it cannot be settled beyond controversy.
    -- Hilary Putnam

    #Believe #Should #Controversy

  • The physicist who states a law of nature with the aid of a mathematical formula is abstracting a real feature of a real material world, even if he has to speak of numbers, vectors, tensors, state-functions, or whatever to make the abstraction.
    -- Hilary Putnam

    #Real #Law #Numbers

  • It was Rudolf Carnap's dream for the last three decades of his life to show that science proceeds by a formal syntactic method; today no one to my knowledge holds out any hope for that project.
    -- Hilary Putnam

    #Dream #Three #Today

  • I can only please one person per day. Today isn't your day, tomorrow doesn't look good either.
    -- Hilary Putnam

    #Looks #Today #Tomorrow

  • Cut the pie any way you like, "meanings" just ain't in the head!
    -- Hilary Putnam

    #Cutting #Pie #Way

  • ... causes (pains) are not logical constructions out of their effects (behaviour).
    -- Hilary Putnam

    #Pain #Behaviour #Causes

  • If the world were to end tomorrow and we could choose to save only one thing as the explanation and memorial to who we were, then we couldn't do better than the Natural History Museum, although it wouldn't contain a single human. The systematic Linnean order, the vast inquisitiveness and range of collated knowledge and beauty would tell all that is the best of us.

  • If nobody said anything unless he knew what he was talking about, a ghastly hush would descend upon the earth.

  • I am putting together a secular bible. My Genesis is when the apple falls on Newton's head.

  • When I wake to the gift of yet another sunrise my first thought is to rouse him and say, I owe you the sight of morning.

  • I never set my sights low. I've always believed most people are ruined by the limitations they put on themselves. I was never afraid to take that step, to see what I was capable of doing. Does luck play a role in success, particularly in a creative field? Sure it does. But if you don't have the balls to give it a shot, you're destined to fail.

  • She was--I keep using the past tense; I ought to say she is--one of those people who, at first sight, look plain, are quiet, unassertive, unmemorable even. But who, when they start to talk and you get to know them, become more and more attractive and impressive, and you see that in fact they are beautiful. Not conventionally beautiful, not celebrity beautiful, but beautiful all through.

  • Got a brand new semi-automatic weapon with a laser sight. Oh, I'm praying that somebody tries to break in here tonight.

  • The greater the lie, the greater the chance that it will be believed.

  • Purely historical thought is nihilistic; it wholeheartedly accepts the evil of history.

  • A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.