Jacques Monod quotes

  • A totally blind process can by definition lead to anything; it can even lead to vision itself.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Vision #Definitions #Blind

  • A curious aspect of the theory of evolution is that everybody thinks he understands it.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Thinking #Evolution #Curious

  • Chance alone is at the source of every innovaton, of all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, only chance, absolute but blind liberty is at the root of the prodigious edifice that is evolution... It today is the sole conceivable hypothesis, the only one that squares with observed and tested fact. Stating life began by the chance collision of particles of nucleic acid in the "prebiotic soup."
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Squares #Roots #Liberty

  • Evolution in the biosphere is therefore a necessarily irreversible process defining a direction in time; a direction which is the same as that enjoined by the law of increasing entropy, that is to say, the second law of thermodynamics. This is far more than a mere comparison: the second law is founded upon considerations identical to those which establish the irreversibility of evolution. Indeed, it is legitimate to view the irreversibility of evolution as an expression of the second law in the biosphere.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Views #Expression #Law

  • Je cherche à comprendre.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Science

  • Biology occupies a position among the sciences at once marginal and central. Marginal because-the living world constituting but a tiny and very "special" part of the universe-it does not seem likely that the study of living beings will ever uncover general laws applicable outside the biosphere. But if the ultimate aim of the whole of science is indeed, as I believe, to clarify man's relationship to the universe, then biology must be accorded a central position . . .
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Believe #Men #Law

  • Man's destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Destiny #Men #Duty

  • One may well find oneself beginning to doubt whether all this could conceivably be the product of an enormous lottery presided over by natural selection, blindly picking the rare winners from among numbers drawn at utter random...nevertheless although the miracle of life stands "explained" it does not strike us as any less miraculous. As Francois Mauriac wrote, What this professor says is far more incredible than what we poor Christians believe.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Christian #Believe #Numbers

  • ...the scientific attitude implies what I call the postulate of objectivity-that is to say, the fundamental postulate that there is no plan, that there is no intention in the universe. Now, this is basically incompatible with virtually all the religious or metaphysical systems whatever, all of which try to show that there is some sort of harmony between man and the universe and that man is a product-predictable if not indispensable-of the evolution of the universe.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Religious #Attitude #Men

  • Man finally knows that he is alone in the indifferent immensity of the Universe, from which he emerged by accident.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Art #Philosophy #Men

  • Even today a good many distinguished minds seem unable to accept or even to understand that from a source of noise natural selection alone and unaided could have drawn all the music of the biosphere. In effect natural selection operates upon the products of chance and can feed nowhere else; but it operates in a domain of very demanding conditions, and from this domain chance is barred. It is not to chance but to these conditions that eveloution owes its generally progressive cource, its successive conquests, and the impresssion it gives of a smooth and steady unfolding.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Acceptance #Giving #Mind

  • In science there is and will remain a Platonic element which could not be taken away without ruining it. Among the infinite diversity of singular phenomena science can only look for invariants.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Taken #Diversity #Looks

  • The future of mankind is going to be decided within the next two generations, and there are two absolute requisites: We must aim at a stable-state society [with limited population growth] and the destruction of nuclear stockpiles. ... Otherwise I don't see how we can survive much later than 2050.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Two #Growth #Next

  • The fundamental biological variant is DNA. That is why Mendel's definition of the gene as the unvarying bearer of hereditary traits, its chemical identification by Avery (confirmed by Hershey), and the elucidation by Watson and Crick of the structural basis of its replicative invariance, are without any doubt the most important discoveries ever made in biology. To this must be added the theory of natural selection, whose certainty and full significance were established only by those later theories.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Dna #Discovery #Doubt

  • Among all the occurrences possible in the universe the a priori probability of any particular one of them verges upon zero. Yet the universe exists; particular events must take place in it, the probability of which (before the event) was infinitesimal. At the present time we have no legitimate grounds for either asserting or denying that life got off to but a single start on earth, and that, as a consequence, before it appeared its chances of occurring were next to nil. ... Destiny is written concurrently with the event, not prior to it.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Zero #Destiny #Next

  • Man at last knows that he is alone in the unfeeling immensity of the universe, out of which he emerged only by chance. Neither his destiny nor his duty have been written down. The kingdom above or the darkness below: it is for him to choose.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Destiny #Men #Darkness

  • Armed with all the powers, enjoying all the wealth they owe to science, our societies are still trying to practice and to teach systems of values already destroyed at the roots by that very science. Man knows at last that he is alone in the indifferent immensity of the universe, whence which he has emerged by chance. His duty, like his fate, is written nowhere.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Fate #Men #Practice

  • One of the great problems of philosophy, is the relationship between the realm of knowledge and the realm of values. Knowledge is what is; values are what ought to be. I would say that all traditional philosophies up to and including Marxism have tried to derive the "ought" from the "is." My point of view is that this is impossible, this is a farce.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Philosophy #Knowledge #Views

  • Another curious aspect of the theory of evolution is that everybody thinks he understands it. I mean philosophers, social scientists, and so on. While in fact very few people understand it, actually, as it stands, even as it stood when Darwin expressed it, and even less as we now may be able to understand it in biology.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Mean #Thinking #People

  • There are living systems; there is no'living matter'.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Matter

  • In science, self-satisfaction is death. Personal self-satisfaction is the death of the scientist. Collective self-satisfaction is the death of the research. It is restlessness, anxiety, dissatisfaction, agony of mind that nourish science.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Science #Self #Agony

  • The scientific attitude implies the postulate of objectivity-that is to say, the fundamental postulate that there is no plan; that there is no intention in the universe.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Attitude #Objectivity #Fundamentals

  • Modern societies accepted the treasures and the power offered them by science. But they have not accepted - they have scarcely even heard - its profounder message: the defining of a new and unique source of truth, and the demand for a thorough revision of ethical premises, for a complete break with the animist tradition, the definitive abandonment of the 'old covenant', the necessity of forging a new one. Armed with all the powers, enjoying all the riches they owe to science, our societies are still trying to live by and to teach systems of values already blasted at the root by science itself.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Unique #Roots #Trying

  • What is true for E. coli is also true for the elephant.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Elephants

  • Every living being is also a fossil. Within it, all the way down to the microscopic structure of its proteins, it bears the traces if not the stigmata of its ancestry.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Life #Ancestry #Way

  • Chance and necessity.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Chance

  • There are living systems; there is no living "matter." No substance, no single molecule, extracted and isolated from a living being possess, of its own, the aforementioned paradoxical properties. They are present in living systems only; that is to say, nowhere below the level of the cell.
    -- Jacques Monod

    #Cells #Matter #Molecules