George Sarton quotes

  • The main duty of the historian of mathematics, as well as his fondest privilege, is to explain the humanity of mathematics, to illustrate its greatness, beauty and dignity, and to describe how the incessant efforts and accumulated genius of many generations have built up that magnificent monument, the object of our most legitimate pride as men, and of our wonder, humility and thankfulness, as individuals. The study of the history of mathematics will not make better mathematicians but gentler ones, it will enrich their minds, mellow their hearts, and bring out their finer qualities.
    -- George Sarton

    #Humility #Heart #Pride

  • The intensity of a national culture should be represented by... the general education level and... the exceptional merit of a small elite of pioneers.
    -- George Sarton

    #Pioneers #Culture #Levels

  • In ancient times there was no public education, except that of the forum, the theater, and the street, and the general degree of illiteracy was very high. ...the early men of science were left very much to themselves and such a phrase as "the scientific culture of Alexandria in the third century B.C." does not cover any reality. In a sense, this is still true today; the real pioneers are so far ahead of the crowd (even a very literate crowd) that they remain almost alone...
    -- George Sarton

    #Real #Men #Crowds

  • The whole past and the whole world are alive in my heart, and I shall do my part to communicate their presence to my readers.
    -- George Sarton

    #Heart #Past #Alive

  • A deed happens in a definite place at a definite time, but if it be sufficiently great and pregnant, its virtue radiates everywhere in time and space.
    -- George Sarton

    #Space #Deeds #Virtue

  • If we are generous enough, we can stretch our souls everywhere and everywhen else. If we succeed in doing so, we shall discover that our present embraces the past and the future and that the whole world is our province.
    -- George Sarton

    #Past #Soul #World

  • All men are our brothers. As far as the discovery of the truth is concerned, they are all working for the same purpose; they may be separated by the accidents of space and time, and by the exigencies of race, religion, nationality, and other groupings; from the point of view of eternity they are working together.
    -- George Sarton

    #Brother #Men #Space

  • Men of science have made abundant mistakes of every kind; their knowledge has improved only because of their gradual abandonment of ancient errors, poor approximations, and premature conclusions.
    -- George Sarton

    #Mistake #Men #Errors

  • I am obliged to deal with hundreds of men and to make them live without killing the reader.
    -- George Sarton

    #Men #Killing #Reader

  • Ancient portraits are symbolic images without any immediate relation to the individuals represented; they are not portraits as we understand them. ...It is remarkable that philologists who are capable of carrying accuracy to the extremes in the case of words are as credulous as babies when it comes to "images," and yet an image is so full of information that ten thousands words would not add up to it.
    -- George Sarton

    #Baby #Portraits #Add

  • The whole iconography of ancient science is simply the fruit of wishful thinking.
    -- George Sarton

    #Thinking #Iconography #Fruit

  • My gratitude to them [my first teachers] grows as I myself grow older.
    -- George Sarton

    #Teacher #Gratitude #Firsts

  • It is childish to assume that science began in Greece; the Greek "miracle" was prepared by millenia of work in Egypt, Mesopotamia and possibly in other regions. Greek science was less an invention than a revival.
    -- George Sarton

    #Egypt #Miracle #Greek

  • The Hellenistic world was international to a degree, polyglot and inspired by many religious faiths. ...the Greek ideals were pagan and the Hellenistic age witnessed their death struggle against Asiatic and Egyptian mysteries , on the one side, and against Judaism , on the other.
    -- George Sarton

    #Religious #Struggle #Greek

  • Some forty years of experience in my field as a scholar and as a teacher have given me great confidence mixed with greater humility.
    -- George Sarton

    #Teacher #Humility #Years

  • The history of science should not be an instrument to defend any kind of social or philosophic theory; it should be used only for its own purpose, to illustrate impartially the working of reason against unreason, the gradual unfolding of truth, in all its forms, whether pleasant or unpleasant, useful of useless, welcome or unwelcome.
    -- George Sarton

    #Purpose #Useless #Welcome

  • The historical order is very interesting, but accidental and capricious; if we would to understand the growth of knowledge, we cannot be satisfied with accidents, we must explain how knowledge was gradually built up.
    -- George Sarton

    #Order #Interesting #Historical

  • Wisdom is not mathematical, nor astronomical, nor zoological; when it talks too much of any one thing it ceases to be itself. There are wise physicists, but wisdom is not physical; there are wise physicians, but wisdom is not medical.
    -- George Sarton

    #Wise #Physicians #Too Much

  • On the basis of my historical experience, I fully believe that mathematics of the 25th century will be as different from that of today as the latter is from that of the 16th century.
    -- George Sarton

    #Believe #Historical #Different

  • There are but few saints amongst scientists, as among other men, but truth itself is a goal comparable with sanctity.
    -- George Sarton

    #Men #Goal #Saint

  • We have reason to believe that when, during the crusades, Europe at last began to establish hospitals, they were inspired by the Arabs of near East....The first hospital in Paris, Les Quinze-vingt, was founded by Louis IX after his return from the crusade 1254-1260.
    -- George Sarton

    #Believe #Europe #Paris

  • The main, as well as the least obvious, achievement of the Middle Ages was the creation of the experimental spirit and this was primarily due to the Muslims down to the 12th century.
    -- George Sarton

    #Achievement #Age #Spirit

  • science is the most revolutionary force in the world.
    -- George Sarton

    #World #Revolutionary #Force

  • The chief requisite for the making of a good chicken pie is chicken; no amount of culinary legerdemain can make up for the lack of chicken. In the same way, the chief requisite for the history of science is intimate scientific knowledge; no amount of philosophic legerdemain can make up for its absence.
    -- George Sarton

    #Pie #Way #Absence

  • The ability of nonintelligent people to understand the most complicated mechanisms and to use them has always been to me a cause of astonishment: their inability to understand simple questions is even more astonishing. The general acceptance of simple ideas is difficult and rare, and yet it is only when simple, fundamental, ideas have been accepted that further progress becomes possible on a higher level.
    -- George Sarton

    #Acceptance #Simple #Ideas

  • Erudition without pedantry is as a rare as wisdom itself.
    -- George Sarton

    #Pedantry

  • Hellenic science is a victory of rationalism, which appears greater, not smaller, when one is made to realize that it had been won in spite of the irrational beliefs of the Greek people; all in all, it was a triumph of reason in the face of unreason. Some knowledge of Greek superstitions is needed not only for a proper appreciation of that triumph but also for the justification of occasional failures, such as the many Platonic aberrations.
    -- George Sarton

    #Appreciation #People #Greek

  • Scientific achievements seem evanescent, because the very progress of science causes their supersedure; yet some of them are of so fundamental a nature that they are immortal in a deeper way.
    -- George Sarton

    #Achievement #Progress #Fundamentals

  • From the humanistic point of view every human achievement is unforgettable and immortal in its essence, even if it is replaced by a "better" one.
    -- George Sarton

    #Views #Essence #Achievement

  • Greek culture is pleasant to contemplate because of its great simplicity and naturalness, and because of the absence of gadgets, each of which is sooner or later a cause of servitude.
    -- George Sarton

    #Simplicity #Greek #Causes

  • The rationalism of the creative minds was tempered by abundant fantasies, and the supreme beauty of the monuments was probably spoiled by the circumambient vanities and ugliness; in a few cases the Greeks came as close to perfection as it was possible to do, yet they were human and imperfect.
    -- George Sarton

    #Vanity #Perfection #Creative

  • My main interest... is the love of truth, whether pleasant or not. Truth is self-sufficient, and there is nothing to which it can be subordinated without loss. When truth is made subservient to anything else, however great (say religion), it becomes impure and sordid.
    -- George Sarton

    #Loss #Self #Truth Is

  • The most malicious kind of hatred is that which is built upon a theological foundation.
    -- George Sarton

    #Hatred #Atheism #Foundation