Albert Einstein, agnostic Jewish German-Swiss-Austrian-American physicist

From Wikiquote

Albert Einstein (14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was an agnostic Jewish German-Swiss-Austrian-American physicist who is widely regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time. He is best-known for his Special and General Theories of Relativity, but contributed in other areas of physics. He became famous for his explanation of the photoelectric effect (for which he received the Nobel Prize).

General sources

Mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing — a somewhat unfamiliar conception for the average mind.

Concepts that have proven useful in ordering things easily achieve such authority over us that we forget their earthly origins and accept them as unalterable givens.

Youth

A happy man is too satisfied with the present to dwell too much on the future. “My Future Plans” an essay written at age 17 for school exam (18 September 1896) The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein Vol. 1 (1987) Doc. 22

1900s

Dear Habicht, / Such a solemn air of silence has descended between us that I almost feel as if I am committing a sacrilege when I break it now with some inconsequential babble… / What are you up to, you frozen whale, you smoked, dried, canned piece of soul…? Opening of a letter to his friend Conrad Habicht in which he describes his four revolutionary “Annus Mirabilis” papers. (May 1905)

E = mc² The equivalence of matter and energy was originally expressed by the equation m = L/c², which easily translates into the far more well known E = mc² in Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content? published in the Annalen der Physik (27 September 1905) : “If a body gives off the energy L in the form of radiation, its mass diminishes by L/c².”
In a later statement explaining the ideas expressed by this equation, Einstein summarized: “It followed from the special theory of relativity that mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing — a somewhat unfamiliar conception for the average mind. Furthermore, the equation E = mc², in which energy is put equal to mass, multiplied by the square of the velocity of light, showed that very small amounts of mass may be converted into a very large amount of energy and vice versa. The mass and energy were in fact equivalent, according to the formula mentioned before. This was demonstrated by Cockcroft and Walton in 1932, experimentally.” Atomic Physics (1948) by the J. Arthur Rank Organisation, Ltd. (mp3 audio file of Einstein’s voice)

We shall therefore assume the complete physical equivalence of a gravitational field and a corresponding acceleration of the reference system. Statement of the equivalence principle in Yearbook of Radioactivity and Electronics (1907)

1910s

It is by no means an idle game if we become practiced in analyzing long-held commonplace concepts and showing the circumstances on which their justification and usefulness depend…

If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German and Germany will declare that I am a Jew. How does it happen that a properly endowed natural scientist comes to concern himself with epistemology? Is there not some more valuable work to be done in his specialty? That’s what I hear many of my colleagues ask, and I sense it from many more. But I cannot share this sentiment. When I think about the ablest students whom I have encountered in my teaching — that is, those who distinguish themselves by their independence of judgment and not just their quick-wittedness — I can affirm that they had a vigorous interest in epistemology. They happily began discussions about the goals and methods of science, and they showed unequivocally, through tenacious defense of their views, that the subject seemed important to them .
Concepts that have proven useful in ordering things easily achieve such authority over us that we forget their earthly origins and accept them as unalterable givens. Thus they might come to be stamped as “necessities of thought,” “a priori givens,” etc. The path of scientific progress is often made impassable for a long time by such errors. Therefore it is by no means an idle game if we become practiced in analysing long-held commonplace concepts and showing the circumstances on which their justification and usefulness depend, and how they have grown up, individually, out of the givens of experience. Thus their excessive authority will be broken. They will be removed if they cannot be properly legitimated, corrected if their correlation with given things be far too superfluous, or replaced if a new system can be established that we prefer for whatever reason. Obituary for physicist and philosopher Ernst Mach, Physikalische Zeitschrift 17 (1916)

I am by heritage a Jew, by citizenship a Swiss, and by makeup a human being, and only a human being, without any special attachment to any state or national entity whatsoever. Letter to Alfred Kneser (7 June 1918); Doc. 560 in The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein Vol. 8

I have also considered many scientific plans during my pushing you around in your pram! Letter to his son Hans Albert Einstein (June 1918)

Make a lot of walks to get healthy and don’t read that much but save yourself some until you’re grown up. Letter to his son Eduard Einstein (June 1918)

Dear mother! Today a joyful notice. H. A. Lorentz has telegraphed me that the English expeditions have really proven the deflection of light at the sun. Postcard to his mother Pauline Einstein (1919)

By an application of the theory of relativity to the taste of readers, today in Germany I am called a German man of science, and in England I am represented as a Swiss Jew. If I come to be represented as a bête noire, the descriptions will be reversed, and I shall become a Swiss Jew for the Germans and a German man of science for the English! Statement to The Times [London] (28 November 1919), quoted in The New Quotable Einstein (2005) by Alice Calaprice ISBN 0-691-12075-7
Variant: If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German and Germany will declare that I am a Jew. (Address to the French Philosophical Society at the Sorbonne (6 April 1922); French press clipping (7 April 1922) [Einstein Archive 36-378] and Berliner Tageblatt (8 April 1922) [Einstein Archive 79-535])
Variant translation: If my theory of relativity is proven correct, Germany will claim me as a German and France will say I am a man of the world. If it’s proven wrong, France will say I am a German and Germany will say I am a Jew.
Variant: If relativity is proved right the Germans will call me a German, the Swiss will call me a Swiss citizen, and the French will call me a great scientist. If relativity is proved wrong the French will call me a Swiss, the Swiss will call me a German and the Germans will call me a Jew.

1920s

How much do I love that noble man
More than I could tell with words…

Subtle is the Lord, but malicious He is not.

The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the “old one.” I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice.

Whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use. It is the theory which decides what can be observed.

I believe in Spinoza’s God, Who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God Who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind. How much do I love that noble man
More than I could tell with words
I fear though he’ll remain alone
With a holy halo of his own. Poem by Einstein on Spinoza (1920), as quoted in Einstein and Religion (1999) by Max Jammer “Einstein’s Poem on Spinoza” (with scans of original German manuscript) at Leiden Institute of Physics, Leiden University

We may assume the existence of an aether; only we must give up ascribing a definite state of motion to it, i.e. we must by abstraction take from it the last mechanical characteristic which Lorentz had still left it. … But this ether may not be thought of as endowed with the quality characteristic of ponderable inedia, as consisting of parts which may be tracked through time. The idea of motion may not be applied to it. On the irrelevance of the luminiferous aether hypothesis to physical measurements, in an address at the University of Leiden (5 May 1920)

I am neither a German citizen, nor do I believe in anything that can be described as a “Jewish faith.” But I am a Jew and glad to belong to the Jewish people, though I do not regard it in any way as chosen. Letter to Central Association of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith, 3 [5] April 1920, as quoted in Alice Calaprice, The Ultimate Quotable Einstein (2010), p. 195; citing Israelitisches Wochenblatt, 42 September 1920, CAPE, Vol. 7, Doc. 37, and Vol. 9, Doc 368.

Raffiniert ist der Herrgott, aber boshaft ist er nicht. Subtle is the Lord, but malicious He is not.
Remark made during Einstein’s first visit to Princeton University. (April 1921)] as quoted in Einstein (1973) by R.W. Clark, Ch. 14. “God is slick, but he ain’t mean” is a variant translation of this (1946) Unsourced variant: “God is subtle but he is not malicious.”
When asked what he meant by this he replied. “Nature hides her secret because of her essential loftiness, but not by means of ruse.” (Die Natur verbirgt ihr Geheimnis durch die Erhabenheit ihres Wesens, aber nicht durch List.) As quoted in Subtle is the Lord — The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein (1982) by Abraham Pais einsteinandreligion.com Originally said to Princeton University mathematics professor Oscar Veblen, May 1921, while Einstein was in Princeton for a series of lectures, upon hearing that an experimental result by Dayton C. Miller of Cleveland, if true, would contradict his theory of gravitation. But the result turned out to be false. Some say by this remark Einstein meant that Nature hides her secrets by being subtle, while others say he meant that nature is mischievous but not bent on trickery. [The Yale Book of Quotations, ed. Fred R. Shapiro, 2006]

Variant translation: God may be sophisticated, but he’s not malicious. As quoted in Cherished Illusions (2005) by Sarah Stern, p. 109

I have second thoughts. Maybe God is malicious.
Said to Vladimir Bargmann, as quoted in Einstein in America (1985) by Jamie Sayen , indicating that God leads people to believe they understand things that they actually are far from understanding; also in The Yale Book of Quotations (2006), ed. Fred R. Shapiro

I was sitting in a chair in the patent office at Bern when all of sudden a thought occurred to me: If a person falls freely he will not feel his own weight. I was startled. This simple thought made a deep impression on me. It impelled me toward a theory of gravitation. Einstein in his Kyoto address (14 December 1922), talking about the events of “probably the 2nd or 3rd weeks” of October 1907, quoted in Why Did Einstein Put So Much Emphasis on the Equivalence Principle? by Dr. Robert J. Heaston in Equivalence Principle – April 2008 (15th NPA Conference) who cites A. Einstein. “How I Constructed the Theory of Relativity,” Translated by Masahiro Morikawa from the text recorded in Japanese by Jun Ishiwara, Association of Asia Pacific Physical Societies (AAPPS) Bulletin, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 17-19 (April 2005).

Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the “old one.” I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice. Letter to Max Born (4 December 1926); The Born-Einstein Letters (translated by Irene Born) (Walker and Company, New York, 1971) ISBN 0-8027-0326-7. This quote is commonly paraphrased “God does not play dice” or “God does not play dice with the universe”, and other slight variants.

Whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use. It is the theory which decides what can be observed. Objecting to the placing of observables at the heart of the new quantum mechanics, during Heisenberg’s 1926 lecture at Berlin; related by Heisenberg, quoted in Unification of Fundamental Forces (1990) by Abdus Salam ISBN 0521371406

Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in point of fact, religious. Response to atheist Alfred Kerr in the winter of 1927, who after deriding ideas of God and religion at a dinner party in the home of the publisher Samuel Fischer, had queried him “I hear that you are supposed to be deeply religious” as quoted in The Diary of a Cosmopolitan (1971) by H. G. Kessler

I believe in Spinoza’s God, Who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God Who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind. In response the telegrammed question of New York’s Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein in (24 April 1929): “Do you believe in God? Stop. Answer paid 50 words.” Einstein replied in only 25 (German) words. Spinoza’s ideas of God are often characterized as being pantheistic.
Expanding on this he later wrote: “I can understand your aversion to the use of the term ‘religion’ to describe an emotional and psychological attitude which shows itself most clearly in Spinoza… I have not found a better expression than ‘religious’ for the trust in the rational nature of reality that is, at least to a certain extent, accessible to human reason.” As quoted in Einstein : Science and Religion by Arnold V. Lesikar

If A is success in life, then A = x + y + z. Work is x, play is y and z is keeping your mouth shut. Said to Samuel J Woolf, Berlin, Summer 1929. Cited with additional notes in The Ultimate Quotable Einstein by Alice Calaprice and Freeman Dyson, Princeton UP (2010) p 230

1930s

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.

I believe that whatever we do or live for has its causality; it is good, however, that we cannot see through to it. Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. Letter to his son Eduard (5 February 1930), as quoted in Walter Isaacson, Einstein: His Life and Universe (2007), p. 367

I believe that whatever we do or live for has its causality; it is good, however, that we cannot see through to it. Interview with Rabindranath Tagore (14 April 1930), published in The Religion of Man (1930) by Rabindranath Tagore, p. 222, and in The Tagore Reader (1971) edited by Amiya Chakravarty

The really good music, whether of the East or of the West, cannot be analyzed. Interview with Rabindranath Tagore (14 April 1930), published in The Religion of Man (1930) by Rabindranath Tagore, p. 222, and in The Tagore Reader (1971) edited by Amiya Chakravarty

To punish me for my contempt of authority, Fate has made me an authority myself. Aphorism for a friend (18 September 1930) [Einstein Archive 36-598]; as quoted in Albert Einstein: Creator and Rebel (1988) by Banesh Hoffman

I never think of the future. It comes soon enough. Attributed in The Encarta Book of Quotations to an interview at Belgenland (December 1930), which was the ship on which he arrived in New York that month.[specific citation needed]

It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind. Letter to Vegetarian Watch-Tower (27 December 1930)

I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war. Interview with George Sylvester Viereck (January 1931)

I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research. Cosmic Religion : With Other Opinions and Aphorisms (1931) by Albert Einstein, p. 97; also in Transformation : Arts, Communication, Environment (1950) by Harry Holtzman, p. 138

I see a clock, but I cannot envision the clockmaker. The human mind is unable to conceive of the four dimensions, so how can it conceive of a God, before whom a thousand years and a thousand dimensions are as one ? From Cosmic religion: with other opinions and aphorisms (1931), Albert Einstein, pub. Covici-Friede. Quoted in The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press; 2nd edition (May 30, 2000); Page 208, ISBN 0691070210

For any one who is pervaded with the sense of causal law in all that happens, who accepts in real earnest the assumption of causality, the idea of a Being who interferes with the sequence of events in the world is absolutely impossible. Neither the religion of fear nor the social-moral religion can have any hold on him. As quoted in Has Science Discovered God? : A Symposium of Modern Scientific Opinion (1931) by Edward Howe Cotton, p. 101

Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing that people do — but gravitation cannot be held responsible for it. As an eminent pioneer in the realm of high frequency currents… I congratulate you on the great successes of your life’s work. Einstein’s letter to Nikola Tesla for Tesla’s 75th birthday (1931)

Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing that people do — but gravitation cannot be held responsible for it. Jotted (in German) on the margins of a letter to him (1933). As quoted in Albert Einstein, The Human Side : New Glimpses From His Archives (1981) ISBN 0691023689
Unsourced variants: Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love. / You can’t blame gravity for falling in love.

Our experience hitherto justifies us in trusting that nature is the realization of the simplest that is mathematically conceivable. I am convinced that purely mathematical construction enables us to find those concepts and those lawlike connections between them that provide the key to the understanding of natural phenomena. Useful mathematical concepts may well be suggested by experience, but in no way can they be derived from it. Experience naturally remains the sole criterion of the usefulness of a mathematical construction for physics. But the actual creative principle lies in mathematics. Thus, in a certain sense, I take it to be true that pure thought can grasp the real, as the ancients had dreamed. from On the Method of Theoretical Physics, p. 183. The Herbert Spencer Lecture, delivered at Oxford (10 June 1933). Quoted in Einstein’s Philosophy of Science

I am the one to whom you wrote in care of the Belgian Academy… Read no newspapers, try to find a few friends who think as you do, read the wonderful writers of earlier times, Kant, Goethe, Lessing, and the classics of other lands, and enjoy the natural beauties of Munich’s surroundings. Make believe all the time that you are living, so to speak, on Mars among alien creatures and blot out any deeper interest in the actions of those creatures. Make friends with a few animals. Then you will become a cheerful man once more and nothing will be able to trouble you.
Bear in mind that those who are finer and nobler are always alone — and necessarily so — and that because of this they can enjoy the purity of their own atmosphere.
I shake your hand in heartfelt comradeship, E. Response to a letter from an unemployed professional musician (5 April 1933) as quoted in Albert Einstein: The Human Side (1981) edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman ISBN 0691023689
The editors precede this passage thus, “Early in 1933, Einstein received a letter from a professional musician who presumably lived in Munich. The musician was evidently troubled and despondent, and out of a job, yet at the same time, he must have been something of a kindred spirit. His letter is lost, all that survives being Einstein’s reply….Note the careful anonymity of the first sentence — the recipient would be safer that way:” Albert Einstein: The Human Side concludes with this passage, followed by the original passages in German.

It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience. It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience. “On the Method of Theoretical Physics” The Herbert Spencer Lecture, delivered at Oxford (10 June 1933); also published in Philosophy of Science, Vol. 1, No. 2 (April 1934), pp. 163-169., p. 165. [thanks to Dr. Techie @ http://www.wordorigins.org and JSTOR]
There is a quote attributed to Einstein that may have arisen as a paraphrase of the above quote, commonly given as “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” or “Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
This may seem very similar to Occam’s razor which advocates the simplest solution. However, it is normally taken to be a warning against too much simplicity. Dubbed ‘Einstein’s razor’, it is used when an appeal to Occam’s razor results in an over-simplified explanation that leads to a false conclusion.
The earliest known appearance of Einstein’s razor is an essay by Roger Sessions in the New York Times (8 January 1950)[1], where Sessions appears to be paraphrasing Einstein: “I also remember a remark of Albert Einstein, which certainly applies to music. He said, in effect, that everything should be as simple as it can be, but not simpler.”
Another early appearance, from Time magazine (14 December 1962)[2]: “We try to keep in mind a saying attributed to Einstein—that everything must be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler.”

There is not the slightest indication that [nuclear energy] will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will. “Atom Energy Hope is Spiked By Einstein / Efforts at Loosing Vast Force is Called Fruitless,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (29 December 1934) It was following the breakthroughs by Enrico Fermi and others did the use of nuclear power become plausible.

All of science is nothing more than the refinement of everyday thinking. “Physics and Reality” in the Journal of the Franklin Institute Vol. 221, Issue 3 (March 1936)

It has often been said, and certainly not without justification, that the man of science is a poor philosopher. Why then should it not be the right thing for the physicist to let the philosopher do the philosophizing? Such might indeed be the right thing to do a time when the physicist believes he has at his disposal a rigid system of fundamental laws which are so well established that waves of doubt can’t reach them; but it cannot be right at a time when the very foundations of physics itself have become problematic as they are now. At a time like the present, when experience forces us to seek a newer and more solid foundation, the physicist cannot simply surrender to the philosopher the critical contemplation of theoretical foundations; for he himself knows best and feels more surely where the shoe pinches. In looking for an new foundation, he must try to make clear in his own mind just how far the concepts which he uses are justified, and are necessities. “Physics and Reality” in the Journal of the Franklin Institute Vol. 221, Issue 3 (March 1936)

All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree… The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.
While this often-quoted version is given in Einstein: A Biography (1954) by Antonina Vallentin, p. 24, as from Einstein’s article “Physics and Reality” in Journal of the Franklin Institute (March 1936), in the actual article “Physics and Reality,” reprinted in Out of My Later Years (1956), the quote is: One may say “the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.” (This rendition reads as if he is quoting or paraphrasing the statement of someone else — perhaps Immanuel Kant, whom he cites in the next sentence.)
Other variants: The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility… The fact that it is comprehensible is a miracle.
One may say the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility. As quoted in Disturbing the Universe (1979)], by Freeman Dyson Ch. 5

The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is at all comprehensible. As quoted in Speaking of Science (2000) by Michael Fripp

Human knowledge and skills alone cannot lead humanity to a happy and dignified life. Humanity has every reason to place the proclaimers of high moral standards and values above the discoverers of objective truth. All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. It is no mere chance that our older universities developed from clerical schools. Both churches and universities — insofar as they live up to their true function — serve the ennoblement of the individual. They seek to fulfill this great task by spreading moral and cultural understanding, renouncing the use of brute force.
The essential unity of ecclesiastical and secular institutions was lost during the 19th century, to the point of senseless hostility. Yet there was never any doubt as to the striving for culture. No one doubted the sacredness of the goal. It was the approach that was disputed. “Moral Decay” (1937); Later published in Out of My Later Years (1950)

Our time is distinguished by wonderful achievements in the fields of scientific understanding and the technical application of those insights. Who would not be cheered by this? But let us not forget that human knowledge and skills alone cannot lead humanity to a happy and dignified life. Humanity has every reason to place the proclaimers of high moral standards and values above the discoverers of objective truth. What humanity owes to personalities like Buddha, Moses, and Jesus ranks for me higher than all the achievements of the enquiring and constructive mind.
What these blessed men have given us we must guard and try to keep alive with all our strength if humanity is not to lose its dignity, the security of its existence, and its joy in living. Written statement (September 1937) as quoted in Albert Einstein, The Human Side: New Glimpses From His Archives (1981) edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman ISBN 0691023689

By the way, there are increasing signs that the Russian trials are not faked, but that there is a plot among those who look upon Stalin as a stupid reactionary who has betrayed the ideas of the revolution. Though we find it difficult to imagine this kind of internal thing, those who know Russia best are all more or less of the same opinion. I was firmly convinced to begin with that it was a case of a dictator’s despotic acts, based on lies and deception, but this was a delusion. Letter to Max Born (no date, 1937 or 1938); The Born-Einstein Letters (translated by Irene Born) (Walker and Company, New York, 1971) ISBN 0-8027-0326-7. Born commented: “The Russian trials were Stalin’s purges, with which he attempted to consolidate his power. Like most people in the West, I believed these show trials to be the arbitrary acts of a cruel dictator. Einstein was apparently of a different opinion: he believed that when threatened by Hitler the Russians had no choice but to destroy as many of their enemies within their own camp as possible. I find it hard to reconcile this point of view with Einstein’s gentle, humanitarian disposition.”

I consider it important, indeed urgently necessary, for intellectual workers to get together, both to protect their own economic status and, also, generally speaking, to secure their influence in the political field. In a comment explaining why he joined the American Federation of Teachers local number 552 as a charter member (1938)

What these blessed men have given us we must guard and try to keep alive with all our strength if humanity is not to lose its dignity, the security of its existence, and its joy in living. Physical concepts are free creations of the human mind, and are not, however it may seem, uniquely determined by the external world. In our endeavor to understand reality we are somewhat like a man trying to understand the mechanism of a closed watch. He sees the face and the moving hands, even hears its ticking, but he has no way of opening the case. If he is ingenious he may form some picture of a mechanism which could be responsible for all the things he observes, but he may never be quite sure his picture is the only one which could explain his observations. He will never be able to compare his picture with the real mechanism and he cannot even imagine the possibility or the meaning of such a comparison. But he certainly believes that, as his knowledge increases, his picture of reality will become simpler and simpler and will explain a wider and wider range of his sensuous impressions. He may also believe in the existence of the ideal limit of knowledge and that it is approached by the human mind. He may call this ideal limit the objective truth. The Evolution of Physics (1938) (co-written with Leopold Infeld)

Fundamental ideas play the most essential role in forming a physical theory. Books on physics are full of complicated mathematical formulae. But thought and ideas, not formulae, are the beginning of every physical theory. The ideas must later take the mathematical form of a quantitative theory, to make possible the comparison with experiment. The Evolution of Physics (1938) (co-written with Leopold Infeld)

Generations to come, it may well be, will scarce believe that such a man as this one ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth. Statement on the occasion of Gandhi’s 70th birthday (1939) Einstein archive 32-601, published in Out of My Later Years (1950).
Variant: Generations to come, it may be, will scarcely believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.

1940s

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds… Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly. Letter to Morris Raphael Cohen, professor emeritus of philosophy at the College of the City of New York, defending the appointment of Bertrand Russell to a teaching position (19 March 1940).
Variant: Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence and fulfills the duty to express the results of his thoughts in clear form.

Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater. Letter to Barbara Lee Wilson (7 January 1943), Einstein Archives 42-606

Why is it that nobody understands me and everybody likes me? Statement (12 March 1944), as quoted in Space (1978; 2007) by Jean de Climont
Variants:
Why is it that nobody understands me, yet everybody likes me? As quoted in The Dark Side of Shakespeare : An Elizabethan Courtier, Diplomat, Spymaster, & Epic Hero (2003) by W. Ron Hess

Everyone likes me, yet nobody understands me. As quoted in “The culture of Einstein” at MSNBC (18 March 2005)

I fully agree with you about the significance and educational value of methodology as well as history and philosophy of science. So many people today — and even professional scientists — seem to me like someone who has seen thousands of trees but has never seen a forest. A knowledge of the historic and philosophical background gives that kind of independence from prejudices of his generation from which most scientists are suffering. This independence created by philosophical insight is — in my opinion — the mark of distinction between a mere artisan or specialist and a real seeker after truth. Letter to Robert A. Thorton, Physics Professor at University of Puerto Rico (7 December 1944) [EA-674, Einstein Archive, Hebrew University, Jerusalem]. Thorton had written to Einstein on persuading colleagues of the importance of philosophy of science to scientists (empiricists) and science.

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is. As quoted in Journal of France and Germany (1942 – 1944) by Gilbert Fowler White, in excerpt published in Living with Nature’s Extremes : The Life of Gilbert Fowler White (2006) by Robert E. Hinshaw, p. 62. From the context it seems that White did not specify whether he had heard Einstein himself say this or whether he was repeating a quote that had been passed along by someone else, so without a primary source the validity of this quote should be considered questionable, especially given that elsewhere Einstein defined a “miracle” as a type of event he did not believe was possible—Einstein on Religion by Max Jammer (1999) quotes on p. 89 from a 1931 conversation Einstein had with David Reichinstein, where Reichinstein brought up philosopher Arthur Liebert’s argument that the indeterminism of quantum mechanics might allow for the possibility of miracles, and Einstein replied that Liebert’s argument dealt “with a domain in which lawful rationality [determinism] does not exist. A ‘miracle,’ however, is an exception from lawfulness; hence, there where lawfulness does not exist, also its exception, i.e., a miracle, cannot exist.” (‘Dort, wo eine Gesetzmässigkeit nicht vorhanden ist, kann auch ihre Ausnahme, d.h. ein Wunder, nicht existieren.’ D. Reichenstein, Die Religion der Gebildeten (1941), p. 21)
Variant: There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. As quoted in From Yale to Jail : The Life Story of a Moral Dissenter‎ (1993) by David T. Dellinger, p. 418

I received your letter of June 10th. I have never talked to a Jesuit priest in my life and I am astonished by the audacity to tell such lies about me. From the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist. Letter to Guy H. Raner Jr. (2 July 1945), responding to a rumor that a Jesuit priest had caused Einstein to convert to Christianity, quoted in an article by Michael R. Gilmore in Skeptic magazine, Vol. 5, No. 2, (1997)

When the expected course of everyday life is interrupted, we are like shipwrecked people on a miserable plank in the open sea, having forgotten where they came from and not knowing whither they are drifting… For the most part we humans live with the false impression of security and a feeling of being at home in a seemingly trustworthy physical and human environment. But when the expected course of everyday life is interrupted, we are like shipwrecked people on a miserable plank in the open sea, having forgotten where they came from and not knowing whither they are drifting. But once we fully accept this, life becomes easier and there is no longer any disappointment. Letter (26 April 1945); as quoted in Albert Einstein, The Human Side: New Glimpses From His Archives (1981) edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman ISBN 0691023689

Our world faces a crisis as yet unperceived by those possessing power to make great decisions for good or evil. The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparallel catastrophe. From the article “Atomic Education Urged by Einstein”, New York Times (25 May 1946). The article reported on a telegram sent out by Einstein to “several hundred prominent Americans”, asking for contributions to a nationwide campaign by the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists to “to let the people know that a new type of thinking is essential” in the age of atomic weapons.

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels. From “Atomic Education Urged by Einstein”, New York Times (25 May 1946), and later quoted in the article “The Real Problem is in the Hearts of Man” by Michael Amrine, from the New York Times Magazine (23 June 1946). A slightly modified version of the 23 June article was reprinted in Einstein on Peace by Otto Nathan and Heinz Norden (1960), and it was also reprinted in Einstein on Politics by David E. Rowe and Robert Schulmann (2007), p. 383.
In The New Quotable Einstein (2005), editor Alice Calaprice suggests that two quotes attributed to Einstein which she could not find sources for, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them” and “The world we have created today as a result of our thinking thus far has problems which cannot be solved by thinking the way we thought when we created them,” may both be paraphrases of the 1946 quote above.
In the 23 June article Einstein expanded somewhat on the original quote from the 25 May article: Many persons have inquired concerning a recent message of mine that “a new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels.” Often in evolutionary processes a species must adapt to new conditions in order to survive. Today the atomic bomb has altered profoundly the nature of the world as we knew it, and the human race consequently finds itself in a new habitat to which it must adapt its thinking. In the light of new knowledge, a world authority and an eventual world state are not just desirable in the name of brotherhood, they are necessary for survival. In previous ages a nation’s life and culture could be protected to some extent by the growth of armies in national competition. Today we must abandon competition and secure cooperation. This must be the central fact in all our considerations of international affairs; otherwise we face certain disaster. Past thinking and methods did not prevent world wars. Future thinking must prevent wars.

The position in which we are now is a very strange one which in general political life never happened. Namely, the thing that I refer to is this: To have security against atomic bombs and against the other biological weapons, we have to prevent war, for if we cannot prevent war every nation will use every means that is at their disposal; and in spite of all promises they make, they will do it. At the same time, so long as war is not prevented, all the governments of the nations have to prepare for war, and if you have to prepare for war, then you are in a state where you cannot abolish war.
This is really the cornerstone of our situation. Now, I believe what we should try to bring about is the general conviction that the first thing you have to abolish is war at all costs, and every other point of view must be of secondary importance. Address to the symposium “The Social Task of the Scientist in the Atomic Era” at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey (17 November 1946)

It is a scale of proportions which makes the bad difficult and the good easy. Er ist eine Skala der Proportionen, die das Schlechte schwierig und das Gute leicht macht. It is a scale of proportions which makes the bad difficult and the good easy. On the Modulor. Letter sent to Le Corbusier (1946); quoted in Modulor (1953)

Had I known that the Germans would not succeed in producing an atomic bomb, I would not have lifted a finger. Had I known that the Germans would not succeed in producing an atomic bomb, I would not have lifted a finger. Discussing the letter he sent Roosevelt raising the possibility of atomic weapons. from “Atom: Einstein, the Man Who Started It All,” Newsweek Magazine (10 March 1947)

When I examine myself and my methods of thought I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge. Cited as conversation between Einstein and János Plesch in János : The Story of a Doctor (1947), by János Plesch, translated by Edward FitzGerald

“In December, 1947, it was reported that Einstein stated the following: ‘I came to America because of the great, great, freedom which I heard existed in this country. I made a mistake in selecting America as a land of freedeom, a mistake I cannot repair in the balance of my life.’” Attributed in FBI Memo, February 13, 1950 (item 61-4099-25 in Einstein’s FBI file—Page 74 in FBI FOIA PDF file 1a). There is no other information in the FBI’s released files as to the source of this.

I agree with your remark about loving your enemy as far as actions are concerned. But for me the cognitive basis is the trust in an unrestricted causality. “I cannot hate him, because he must do what he does.” That means for me more Spinoza than the prophets. On the Christian maxim “Love thy enemy”, in a letter to Michele Besso (6 January 1948)

A wonder of such nature I experienced as a child of 4 or 5 years, when my father showed me a compass. That this needle behaved in such a determined way did not at all fit into the nature of events, which could find a place in the unconscious world of concepts (effect connected with direct “touch”). I can still remember—or at least believe I can remember—that this experienced made a deep and lasting impression upon me. Something deeply hidden had to be behind things. What man sees before him from infancy causes no reaction of this kind; he is not surprised over the falling of bodies, concerning wind and rain, nor concerning the moon or about the fact that the moon does not fall down, nor concerning the differences between living and non-living matter.
At the age of 12 I experienced a second wonder of a totally different nature: in a little book dealing with Euclidean plane geometry, which came into my hands at the beginning of a schoolyear. Here were assertions, as for example the intersection of the three altitudes of a triangle in one point, which—though by no means evident—could nevertheless be proved with such certainty that any doubt appeared to be out of the question. This lucidity and certainty made an indescribable impression upon me. That the axioms had to be accepted unproved did not disturb me. In any case it was quite sufficient for me if I could peg proofs upon propositions the validity of which did not seem to me to be dubious. From Einstein’s “Autobiographical Notes” in Albert Einstein : Philosopher-Scientist (1949) edited by Paul A. Schilpp, reprinted in A Stubbornly Persistent Illusion: The Essential Scientific Works of Albert Einstein

Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it. As quoted by Virgil Henshaw in Albert Einstein : Philosopher Scientist (1949) edited by Paul A. Schilpp

Since the mathematicians have invaded the theory of relativity, I do not understand it myself anymore. As quoted in the essay “To Albert Einstein’s Seventieth Birthday” by Arnold Sommerfeld, in Albert Einstein : Philosopher-Scientist (1949) edited by Paul A. Schilpp (p. 102). The essay, originally published as “Zum Siebzigsten Geburtstag Albert Einsteins” in Deutsche Beiträge (Eine Zweimonatsschrift) Vol III, No 2, 1949, was translated specifically for the book by Schilpp.

I do not know how the Third World War will be fought, but I can tell you what they will use in the Fourth—rocks! From an interview with Alfred Werner, Liberal Judaism 16 (April-May 1949), 12. Einstein Archive 30-1104. Sourced in The New Quotable Einstein by Alice Calaprice (2005), p. 173.
Different versions are attributed to conversations as early as 1948 (e.g. The Rotarian, 72 (6), June 1948, p. 9: “I don’t know. But I can tell you what they’ll use in the fourth. They’ll use rocks!”); perhaps in the Werner interview he was repeating a quip that he had thought of earlier. Another variant (‘I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones’) is attributed to an unidentified letter to Harry S. Truman in “The culture of Einstein” by Alex Johnson, MSNBC, (18 April 2005)

A new idea comes suddenly and in a rather intuitive way. But intuition is nothing but the outcome of earlier intellectual experience. Letter to Dr. H. L. Gordon (May 3, 1949 – AEA 58-217) as quoted in Einstein: His Life and Universe (2007) by Walter Isaacson ISBN 9780743264730

I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being. Letter to Guy H. Raner Jr. (28 September 1949), from article by Michael R. Gilmore in Skeptic magazine, Vol. 5, No. 2 (1997)

The reciprocal relationship of epistemology and science is of noteworthy kind. They are dependent on each other. Epistemology without contact with science becomes an empty scheme. Science without epistemology is — insofar as it is thinkable at all — primitive and muddled. However, no sooner has the epistemologist, who is seeking a clear system, fought his way through to such a system, than he is inclined to interpret the thought-content of science in the sense of his system and to reject whatever does not fit into his system. The scientist, however, cannot afford to carry his striving for epistemological systematic that far. He accepts gratefully the epistemological conceptual analysis; but the external conditions, which are set for him by the facts of experience, do not permit him to let himself be too much restricted in the construction of his conceptual world by the adherence to an epistemological system. He therefore must appear to the systematic epistemologist as a type of unscrupulous opportunist: he appears as realist insofar as he seeks to describe a world independent of the acts of perception; as idealist insofar as he looks upon the concepts and theories as free inventions of the human spirit (not logically derivable from what is empirically given); as positivist insofar as he considers his concepts and theories justified only to the extent to which they furnish a logical representation of relations among sensory experiences. He may even appear as Platonist or Pythagorean insofar as he considers the viewpoint of logical simplicity as an indispensible and effective tool of his research. Contribution in Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist, P.A. Schilpp, ed. (The Library of Living Philosophers, Evanston, IL (1949), p. 684). Quoted in Einstein’s Philosophy of Science.

1950s

Taken on the whole, I would believe that Gandhi’s views were the most enlightened of all the political men in our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit… not to use violence in fighting for our cause, but by non-participation in what we believe is evil. United Nations radio interview recorded in Einstein’s study, Princeton, New Jersey, (1950)

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe”, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security. Letter of 1950, as quoted in The New York Times (29 March 1972) and The New York Post (28 November 1972). However, The New Quotable Einstein by Alice Calaprice (Princeton University Press, 2005: ISBN 0691120749), p. 206, has a different and presumably more accurate version of this letter, which she dates to February 12, 1950 and describes as “a letter to a distraught father who had lost his young son and had asked Einstein for some comforting words”:

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of piece of mind.

I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs. Statement upon joining the Montreal Pipe Smokers Club. (1950)

I have found no better expression than “religious” for confidence in the rational nature of reality, insofar as it is accessible to human reason. Whenever this feeling is absent, science degenerates into uninspired empiricism. Letter to Maurice Solovine, (1 January 1951) [Einstein Archive 21-174]; published in Letters to Solovine (1993)

I believe, indeed, that overemphasis on the purely intellectual attitude, often directed solely to the practical and factual, in our education, has led directly to the impairment of ethical values. I am not thinking so much of the dangers with which technical progress has directly confronted mankind, as of the stifling of mutual human considerations by a “matter-of-fact” habit of thought which has come to lie like a killing frost upon human relations. … The frightful dilemma of the political world situation has much to do with this sin of omission on the part of our civilization. Without “ethical culture,” there is no salvation for humanity. “The Need for Ethical Culture” celebrating the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Ethical Culture Society, founded by Felix Adler (5 January 1951).

Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one’s living at it. Letter to California student E. Holzapfel (March 1951) Einstein Archive 59-1013, quoted in Albert Einstein, the Human Side (1979) by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, and in The New Quotable Einstein (2005) by Alice Calaprice

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious. Letter to Carl Seelig (11 March 1952), Einstein Archives 39-013

A truly rational theory would allow us to deduce the elementary particles (electron,etc.) and not be forced to state them a priori. Letter to Michele Besso (10 September 1952), Letter n°190, Correspondance, 1903-1955, by Pierre Speziali, Michele Angelo Besso, published by Hermann, 1972

What lead me more or less directly to the special theory of relativity was the conviction that the electromotive force acting on a body in motion in a magnetic field was nothing else but an electric field. Letter to the Michelson Commemorative Meeting of the Cleveland Physics Society (1952), as quoted by R.S.Shankland, Am J Phys 32, 16 (1964), p35, republished in A P French, Special Relativity, ISBN 0177710756

Common sense is nothing more than a deposit of prejudices laid down by the mind before you reach eighteen. As quoted in Mathematics, Queen and Servant of the Sciences (1952) by Eric Temple Bell. Bell did not indicate if he heard the quote from Einstein himself though, and The Quotable Einstein by Alice Calaprice lists this as “probably not by Einstein”, so its accuracy is questionable.
Unsourced variant : Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.

What I particularly admire in him is the firm stand he has taken, not only against the oppressors of his countrymen, but also against those opportunists who are always ready to compromise with the Devil. He perceives very clearly that the world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it. Einstein’s tribute to Pablos Casals (30 March 1953), in Conversations with Casals (1957), by Josep Maria Corredor, translated from Conversations avec Pablo Casals : souvenirs et opinions d’un musicien (1955).
Variant: The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.

The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. … For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them. Gutkind Letter (3 January 1954), “Childish superstition: Einstein’s letter makes view of religion relatively clear”. The Guardian. 13 May 2008.

If I would be a young man again and had to decide how to make my living, I would not try to become a scientist or scholar or teacher. I would rather choose to be a plumber or a peddler in the hope to find that modest degree of independence still available under present circumstances. Letter to the editor of The Reporter about the situation of scientists in America (13 October 1954).

It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. Letter to an atheist (1954) as quoted in Albert Einstein: The Human Side (1981) edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman ISBN 0691023689

The idea of achieving security through national armament is, at the present state of military technique, a disastrous illusion. Ideas and Opinions (1954)

The theory of relativity is a beautiful example of the basic character of the modern development of theory. That is to say, the hypotheses from which one starts become ever more abstract and more remote from experience. But in return one comes closer to the preeminent goal of science, that of encompassing a maximum of empirical contents through logical deduction with a minimum of hypotheses or axioms. The intellectual path from the axioms to the empirical contents or to the testable consequences becomes, thereby, ever longer and more subtle. The theoretician is forced, ever more, to allow himself to be directed by purely mathematical, formal points of view in the search for theories, because the physical experience of the experimenter is not capable of leading us up to the regions of the highest abstraction. Tentative deduction takes the place of the predominantly inductive methods appropriate to the youthful state of science. Such a theoretical structure must be quite thoroughly elaborated in order for it to lead to consequences that can be compared with experience. It is certainly the case that here, as well, the empirical fact is the all-powerful judge. But its judgment can be handed down only on the basis of great and difficult intellectual effort that first bridges the wide space between the axioms and the testable consequences. The theorist must accomplish this Herculean task with the clear understanding that this effort may only be destined to prepare the way for a death sentence for his theory. One should not reproach the theorist who undertakes such a task by calling him a fantast; instead, one must allow him his fantasizing, since for him there is no other way to his goal whatsoever. Indeed, it is no planless fantasizing, but rather a search for the logically simplest possibilities and their consequences. Ideas and Opinions (1954), pp. 238-239. Quoted in Einstein’s Philosophy of Science

Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. Letter to the family of his lifelong friend Michele Besso, after learning of his death, (March 1955) as quoted in Science and the Search for God Disturbing the Universe (1979) by Freeman Dyson Ch. 17 “A Distant Mirror” ; also quoted at Einstein’s God (NPR)

The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing. The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when contemplating the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of the mystery every day. The important thing is not to stop questioning; never lose a holy curiosity. Statement to William Miller, as quoted in LIFE magazine (2 May 1955)

Try to become not a man of success, but try rather to become a man of value. As quoted by LIFE magazine (2 May 1955)

That is simple my friend: because politics is more difficult than physics. Response to being asked why people could discover atomic power, but not the means to control it, as quoted in The New York Times (22 April 1955)

Posthumous publications

These can be particularly problematic, especially where earlier sources are not cited at all. Equations are more important to me, because politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity. Helle Zeit, Dunkle Zeit: In Memoriam Albert Einstein (1956) edited by Carl Seelig, p. 71

Was mich eigentlich interessiert, ist, ob Gott die Welt hätte anders machen können; das heisst, ob die Forderung der logischen Einfachheit überhaupt eine Freiheit lässt. Quoted by Ernst G. Straus, who was Einstein’s assistant from 1944 to 1948, in Carl Seelig, Helle Zeit—Dunkel Zeit (Europa Verlag, Zurich, 1956), p. 72
What I am really interested in is knowing whether God could have created the world in a different way; in other words, whether the requirement of logical simplicity admits a margin of freedom. As translated in Max Jammer, Einstein and Religion (PrincetonUniversity Press, 1999), p. 124

What I’m really interested in is whether God could have made the world in a different way; that is, whether the necessity of logical simplicity leaves any freedom at all. As translated in Gerald Holton, The Scientific Imagination: Case Studies (Cambridge University Press, 1978), p. xii.

When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity. An explanation of relativity which he gave to his secretary Helen Dukas to convey to non-scientists and reporters, as quoted in Best Quotes of ’54, ’55, l56 (1957) by James B. Simpson; also in Expandable Quotable Einstein (2005) edited by Alice Calaprice
This was also quoted by Steve Mirsky in Scientific American (September 2002). Vol. 287, Iss. 3; pg. 102, but within a satirical piece, where the “original source” is cited as being a fictitious magazine:

Amazingly, the pretty girl/hot stove quote is actually the abstract from a short paper written by Einstein that appeared in the now defunct Journal of Exothermic Science and Technology (JEST, Vol. 1, No. 9; 1938). Paraphrased variant: Put your hand on a hot stove and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.

What is thought to be a “system” is after all, just conventional, and I do not see how one is supposed to divide up the world objectively so that one can make statements about parts. I just want to explain what I mean when I say that we should try to hold on to physical reality.
We are … all aware of the situation regarding what will turn out to be the basic foundational concepts in physics: the point-mass or the particle is surely not among them; the field, in the Faraday-Maxwell sense, might be, but not with certainty. But that which we conceive as existing (“real”) should somehow be localized in time and space. That is, the real in one part of space, A, should (in theory) somehow “exist” independently of that which is thought of as real in another part of space, B. If a physical system stretches over A and B, then what is present in B should somehow have an existence independent of what is present in A. What is actually present in B should thus not depend the type of measurement carried out in the part of space A; it should also be independent of whether or not a measurement is made in A.
If one adheres to this program, then one can hardly view the quantum-theoretical description as a complete representation of the physically real. If one attempts, nevertheless, so to view it, then one must assume that the physically real in B undergoes a sudden change because of a measurement in A. My physical instincts bristle at that suggestion.
However, if one renounces the assumption that what is present in different parts of space has an independent, real existence, then I don’t see at all what physics is supposed to be describing. For what is thought to be a “system” is after all, just conventional, and I do not see how one is supposed to divide up the world objectively so that one can make statements about parts. “What must be an essential feature of any future fundamental physics?” Letter to Max Born; published in Albert Einstein-Hedwig und Max Born (1969) “Briefwechsel 1916-55”

On quantum theory I use up more brain grease (rough translation of German idiom) than on relativity. Quoted by Otto Stern, a colleague of Einstein in Zurich from 1912 to 1914, in a 1962 oral history interview with Thomas S. Kuhn

In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognise, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support of such views. Statement to German anti-Nazi diplomat and author Prince Hubertus zu Lowenstein around 1941, as quoted in his book Towards the Further Shore : An Autobiography (1968)

Through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached the conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true. The consequence was a positively fanatic orgy of freethinking coupled with the impression that youth is intentionally being deceived by the state through lies; it was a crushing impression. Mistrust of every kind of authority grew out of this experience, a skeptical attitude toward the convictions that were alive in any specific social environment — an attitude that has never again left me, even though, later on, it has been tempered by a better insight into the causal connections. Autobiographical Notes (1979) Edited by Paul Arthur Schilpp

Then I would have felt sorry for the dear Lord. The theory is correct. As quoted in Reality and Scientific Truth : Discussions with Einstein, von Laue, and Planck (1980) by Ilse Rosenthal-Schneider, p. 74
When asked by a student what he would have done if Sir Arthur Eddington’s famous 1919 gravitational lensing experiment, which confirmed relativity, had instead disproved it.

If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or objects. As quoted by Ernst Straus in Einstein: A Centenary Volume by A.P. French (1980), p. 32.

In the temple of science are many mansions, and various indeed are they that dwell therein and the motives that have led them thither. Nature shows us only the tail of the lion. But I do not doubt that the lion belongs to it even though he cannot at once reveal himself because of his enormous size. As quoted by Abraham Pais in Subtle is the Lord:The Science and Life of Albert Einstein (1982) ISBN 0-192-80672-6

I said before, the most beautiful and most profound religious emotion that we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. And this mysticality is the power of all true science. If there is any such concept as a God, it is a subtle spirit, not an image of a man that so many have fixed in their minds. In essence, my religion consists of a humble admiration for this illimitable superior spirit that reveals itself in the slight details that we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. As quoted in The Private Albert Einstein (1992) by Peter A. Bucky and Allen G. Weakland, p. 86

Development of Western Science is based on two great achievements — the invention of the formal logical system (in Euclidean geometry) by the Greek philosophers, and the discovery of the possibility to find out causal relationships by systematic experiment (during the Renaissance). In my opinion, one has not to be astonished that the Chinese sages have not made these steps. The astonishing thing is that these discoveries were made at all. As quoted in Cleopatra’s Nose, Essays on the Unexpected (1995) by Daniel J Boorstin, p. 3

Deep religiosity… found an abrupt ending at the age of twelve, through the reading of popular scientific books. As quoted in Einstein, History, and Other Passions (1996), by Gerald Holton, p. 172

There comes a time when the mind takes a higher plane of knowledge but can never prove how it got there. All great discoveries have involved such a leap. As quoted in Futurevision : Ideas, Insights, and Strategies (1996) by Howard F. Didsbury, p. 104

Never memorize what you can look up in books. As quoted in “Recording the Experience” (10 June 2004) at The Library of Congress

Working on the final formulation of technological patents was a veritable blessing for me. It enforced many-sided thinking and also provided important stimuli to physical thought. [Academia] places a young person under a kind of compulsion to produce impressive quantities of scientific publications — a temptation to superficiality. As quoted in “Who Knew?” at NationalGeographic.com (May 2005)

Even on the most solemn occasions I got away without wearing socks and hid that lack of civilisation in high boots. Albert Einstein in a letter to his cousin and second wife Elsa, during a visit to the University of Oxford, in collection donated to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel by Einstein’s stepdaughter Margot, as quoted in “Einstein in no-sock shock”, New Scientist (15 July 2006)

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. As quoted in The Rhythm of Life : Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose (2004) by Matthew Kelly, p. 80

Principles of Research (1918)

Address at the Physical Society, Berlin, for Max Planck’s 60th birthday

The state of mind which enables a man to do work of this kind is akin to that of the religious worshiper or the lover; the daily effort comes from no deliberate intention or program, but straight from the heart. In the temple of science are many mansions, and various indeed are they that dwell therein and the motives that have led them thither. Many take to science out of a joyful sense of superior intellectual power; science is their own special sport to which they look for vivid experience and the satisfaction of ambition; many others are to be found in the temple who have offered the products of their brains on this altar for purely utilitarian purposes. Were an angel of the Lord to come and drive all the people belonging to these two categories out of the temple, the assemblage would be seriously depleted, but there would still be some men, of both present and past times, left inside. Our Planck is one of them, and that is why we love him.
I am quite aware that we have just now lightheartedly expelled in imagination many excellent men who are largely, perhaps chiefly, responsible for the buildings of the temple of science; and in many cases our angel would find it a pretty ticklish job to decide. But of one thing I feel sure: if the types we have just expelled were the only types there were, the temple would never have come to be, any more than a forest can grow which consists of nothing but creepers. For these people any sphere of human activity will do, if it comes to a point; whether they become engineers, officers, tradesmen, or scientists depends on circumstances.
Now let us have another look at those who have found favor with the angel. Most of them are somewhat odd, uncommunicative, solitary fellows, really less like each other, in spite of these common characteristics, than the hosts of the rejected. What has brought them to the temple? That is a difficult question and no single answer will cover it.
The state of mind which enables a man to do work of this kind is akin to that of the religious worshiper or the lover; the daily effort comes from no deliberate intention or program, but straight from the heart.
Man tries to make for himself in the fashion that suits him best a simplified and intelligible picture of the world; he then tries to some extent to substitute this cosmos of his for the world of experience, and thus to overcome it. This is what the painter, the poet, the speculative philosopher, and the natural scientist do, each in his own fashion. Each makes this cosmos and its construction the pivot of his emotional life, in order to find in this way the peace and security which he cannot find in the narrow whirlpool of personal experience. Variant translation: One of the strongest motives that lead men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one’s own ever-shifting desires. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from the personal life into the world of objective perception and thought. With this negative motive goes a positive one. Man seeks to form for himself, in whatever manner is suitable for him, a simplified and lucid image of the world, and so to overcome the world of experience by striving to replace it to some extent by this image. This is what the painter does, and the poet, the speculative philosopher, the natural scientist, each in his own way. Into this image and its formation, he places the center of gravity of his emotional life, in order to attain the peace and serenity that he cannot find within the narrow confines of swirling personal experience.
As quoted in The Professor, the Institute, and DNA (1976) by Rene Dubos; also in The Great Influenza (2004) by John M. Barry

The supreme task of the physicist is to arrive at those universal elementary laws from which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction. There is no logical path to these laws; only intuition, resting on sympathetic understanding of experience, can reach them. In this methodological uncertainty, one might suppose that there were any number of possible systems of theoretical physics all equally well justified; and this opinion is no doubt correct, theoretically. But the development of physics has shown that at any given moment, out of all conceivable constructions, a single one has always proved itself decidedly superior to all the rest. Variant, from Preface to Max Planck’s Where is Science Going? (1933): The supreme task of the physicist is the discovery of the most general elementary laws from which the world-picture can be deduced logically. But there is no logical way to the discovery of these elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance, and this Einfühlung [literally, empathy or ‘feeling one’s way in’]’ is developed by experience.

I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.

Viereck interview (1929)

“What Life Means to Einstein: An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck” The Saturday Evening Post (26 October 1929) p. 17. As reported in Einstein — A Life (1996) by Denis Brian, when asked about a clipping from a magazine article reporting his comments on Christianity as taken down by Viereck, Einstein carefully read the clipping and replied, “That is what I believe.” As a child, I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.
Jesus is too colossal for the pen of phrasemongers, however artful. No man can dispose of Christianity with a bon mot.
No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.
It’s possible to be both. Nationalism is an infantile disease, the measles of mankind. When asked by Viereck if he considered himself to be a German or a Jew. Quoted in Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson, p. 386.

If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music… I do know that I get most joy in life out of my violin. As quoted in “What Life Means to Einstein : An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck” in The Saturday Evening Post, Vol. 202 (26 October 1929), p. 113 , also in Glimpses of the Great (1930) by George Sylvester Viereck

I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. As quoted in “What Life Means to Einstein : An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck” in The Saturday Evening Post, Vol. 202 (26 October 1929), p. 117

I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. I’m not an atheist and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see a universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws, but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations. I am fascinated by Spinoza’s pantheism, but admire even more his contributions to modern thought because he is the first philosopher to deal with the soul and the body as one, not two separate things. As quoted in Glimpses of the Great (1930) by G. S. Viereck There have been disputes on the accuracy of this quotation.
Variant, from Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson, p. 386: I’m not an atheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written these books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws.

I am a determinist. I do not believe in free will. Jews believe in free will. They believe that man shapes his own life. I reject that doctrine. In that respect I am not a Jew. Quoted in Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson, p. 387

I am fascinated by Spinoza’s pantheism, but I admire even more his contribution to modern thought because he is the first philosopher to deal with the soul and body as one, and not two separate things. Quoted in Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson, p. 387

Wisehart interview (1930?)

Every man knows that in his work he does best and accomplishes most when he has attained a proficiency that enables him to work intuitively. That is, there are things which we come to know so well that we do not know how we know them. So it seems to me in matters of principle. Perhaps we live best and do things best when we are not too conscious of how and why we do them.
I do not believe in a God who maliciously or arbitrarily interferes in the personal affairs of mankind. My religion consists of an humble admiration for the vast power which manifests itself in that small part of the universe which our poor, weak minds can grasp!
Much reading after a certain age diverts the mind from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking, just as the man who spends too much time in the theaters is apt to be content with living vicariously instead of living his own life.
I have only two rules which I regard as principles of conduct. The first is: Have no rules. The second is: Be independent of the opinion of others.
M. K. Wisehart, A Close Look at the World’s Greatest Thinker, American Magazine, June 1930. Quotes from the interview appear on pp. 52-53 of The Twelve Powers of Man by Charles Fillmore

Religion and Science (1930)

New York Times Magazine (9 November 1930)

Everything that the human race has done and thought is concerned with the satisfaction of deeply felt needs and the assuagement of pain.

It is precisely among the heretics of every age that we find men who were filled with this highest kind of religious feeling and were in many cases regarded by their contemporaries as atheists, sometimes also as saints. Everything that the human race has done and thought is concerned with the satisfaction of deeply felt needs and the assuagement of pain. One has to keep this constantly in mind if one wishes to understand spiritual movements and their development. Feeling and longing are the motive force behind all human endeavor and human creation, in however exalted a guise the latter may present themselves to us.
The desire for guidance, love, and support prompts men to form the social or moral conception of God. This is the God of Providence, who protects, disposes, rewards, and punishes; the God who, according to the limits of the believer’s outlook, loves and cherishes the life of the tribe or of the human race, or even of life itself; the comforter in sorrow and unsatisfied longing; he who preserves the souls of the dead. This is the social or moral conception of God.
The Jewish scriptures admirably illustrate the development from the religion of fear to moral religion, a development continued in the New Testament. The religions of all civilized peoples, especially the peoples of the Orient, are primarily moral religions. The development from a religion of fear to moral religion is a great step in peoples’ lives. And yet, that primitive religions are based entirely on fear and the religions of civilized peoples purely on morality is a prejudice against which we must be on our guard. The truth is that all religions are a varying blend of both types, with this differentiation: that on the higher levels of social life the religion of morality predominates. Variant translation: It is easy to follow in the sacred writings of the Jewish people the development of the religion of fear into the moral religion, which is carried further in the New Testament. The religions of all civilized peoples, especially those of the Orient, are principally moral religions. An important advance in the life of a people is the transformation of the religion of fear into the moral religion.

Common to all these types is the anthropomorphic character of their conception of God. In general, only individuals of exceptional endowments, and exceptionally high-minded communities, rise to any considerable extent above this level. But there is a third stage of religious experience which belongs to all of them, even though it is rarely found in a pure form: I shall call it cosmic religious feeling. It is very difficult to elucidate this feeling to anyone who is entirely without it, especially as there is no anthropomorphic conception of God corresponding to it.
The individual feels the futility of human desires and aims and the sublimity and marvelous order which reveal themselves both in nature and in the world of thought. Individual existence impresses him as a sort of prison and he wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole. The beginnings of cosmic religious feeling already appear at an early stage of development, e.g., in many of the Psalms of David and in some of the Prophets. Buddhism, as we have learned especially from the wonderful writings of Schopenhauer, contains a much stronger element of this. The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man’s image; so that there can be no church whose central teachings are based on it. Hence it is precisely among the heretics of every age that we find men who were filled with this highest kind of religious feeling and were in many cases regarded by their contemporaries as atheists, sometimes also as saints. Looked at in this light, men like Democritus, Francis of Assisi, and Spinoza are closely akin to one another.

It is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it. How can cosmic religious feeling be communicated from one person to another, if it can give rise to no definite notion of a God and no theology? In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it.
The man who is thoroughly convinced of the universal operation of the law of causation cannot for a moment entertain the idea of a being who interferes in the course of events — provided, of course, that he takes the hypothesis of causality really seriously. He has no use for the religion of fear and equally little for social or moral religion. A God who rewards and punishes is inconceivable to him for the simple reason that a man’s actions are determined by necessity, external and internal, so that in God’s eyes he cannot be responsible, any more than an inanimate object is responsible for the motions it undergoes. Science has therefore been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hopes of reward after death. Variant: “It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I also cannot imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere” has been cited as a statement that precedes the last three sentences here, but this might have originated in a paraphrase, a transcription error, or a misquotation; it does not appear in any editions of the essay which have thus far been checked.

It is therefore easy to see why the churches have always fought science and persecuted its devotees. On the other hand, I maintain that the cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest motive for scientific research. Only those who realize the immense efforts and, above all, the devotion without which pioneer work in theoretical science cannot be achieved are able to grasp the strength of the emotion out of which alone such work, remote as it is from the immediate realities of life, can issue. What a deep conviction of the rationality of the universe and what a yearning to understand, were it but a feeble reflection of the mind revealed in this world, Kepler and Newton must have had to enable them to spend years of solitary labor in disentangling the principles of celestial mechanics! Those whose acquaintance with scientific research is derived chiefly from its practical results easily develop a completely false notion of the mentality of the men who, surrounded by a skeptical world, have shown the way to kindred spirits scattered wide through the world and through the centuries. Only one who has devoted his life to similar ends can have a vivid realization of what has inspired these men and given them the strength to remain true to their purpose in spite of countless failures. It is cosmic religious feeling that gives a man such strength. A contemporary has said, not unjustly, that in this materialistic age of ours the serious scientific workers are the only profoundly religious people.
The scientific organization and comprehensive exposition in accessible form of the Talmud has a twofold importance for us Jews. It is important in the first place that the high cultural values of the Talmud should not be lost to modern minds among the Jewish people nor to science, but should operate further as a living force. In the second place, The Talmud must be made an open book to the world, in order to cut the ground from under certain malevolent attacks, of anti-Semitic origin, which borrow countenance from the obscurity and inaccessibility of certain passages in the Talmud.
To support this cultural work would thus mean an important achievement for the Jewish people.
From a letter by Albert Einstein to Professor Chaim Tchernowitz of the Jewish Institute of Religion in New York (Hebrew Union College). December 31. 1930, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (Jewish Daily Bulletin)[fix citation]

Schopenhauer’s saying, that “a man can do as he will, but not will as he will,” has been an inspiration to me since my youth up, and a continual consolation and unfailing well-spring of patience in the face of the hardships of life…

Mein Weltbild (1931)

“Mein Weltbild” (1931) [i.e. My World-view, or My View of the World or The World As I See It (as translated for the title essay of the 1949 book: “The World As I See It”) ] Various translated editions have been published of this essay; or portions of it, including one titled “What I Believe”; another compilation which includes it is Ideas and Opinions (1954) How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people — first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving…
In human freedom in the philosophical sense I am definitely a disbeliever. Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity. Schopenhauer’s saying, that “a man can do as he will, but not will as he will,” has been an inspiration to me since my youth up, and a continual consolation and unfailing well-spring of patience in the face of the hardships of life, my own and others’. This feeling mercifully mitigates the sense of responsibility which so easily becomes paralyzing, and it prevents us from taking ourselves and other people too seriously; it conduces to a view of life in which humor, above all, has its due place.
I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves — this critical basis I call the ideal of a pigsty. The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. Without the sense of kinship with men of like mind, without the occupation with the objective world, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific endeavors, life would have seemed empty to me. The trite objects of human efforts — possessions, outward success, luxury — have always seemed to me contemptible.

My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. Variant translation: I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves — such an ethical basis I call more proper for a herd of swine. The ideals which have lighted me on my way and time after time given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Without the sense of fellowship with men of like mind, of preoccupation with the objective, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific research, life would have seemed to me empty. The ordinary objects of human endeavor — property, outward success, luxury — have always seemed to me contemptible.

My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities.
I gang my own gait and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties I have never lost an obstinate sense of detachment, of the need for solitude — a feeling which increases with the years. Variant translation: I am truly a ‘lone traveler’ and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude…

My political ideal is democracy. Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized. It is an irony of fate that I myself have been the recipient of excessive admiration and reverence from my fellow-beings, through no fault, and no merit, of my own. The cause of this may well be the desire, unattainable for many, to understand the few ideas to which I have with my feeble powers attained through ceaseless struggle. I am quite aware that for any organization to reach its goals, one man must do the thinking and directing and generally bear the responsibility. But the led must not be coerced, they must be able to choose their leader.

The really valuable thing in the pageant of human life seems to me not the State but the creative, sentient individual, the personality… An autocratic system of coercion, in my opinion, soon degenerates. For force always attracts men of low morality, and I believe it to be an invariable rule that tyrants of genius are succeeded by scoundrels. For this reason I have always been passionately opposed to systems such as we see in Italy and Russia to-day. Variant translation: In my opinion, an autocratic system of coercion soon degenerates; force attracts men of low morality…

The really valuable thing in the pageant of human life seems to me not the State but the creative, sentient individual, the personality; it alone creates the noble and the sublime, while the herd as such remains dull in thought and dull in feeling.
This topic brings me to that worst outcrop of the herd nature, the military system, which I abhor. That a man can take pleasure in marching in formation to the strains of a band is enough to make me despise him. He has only been given his big brain by mistake; a backbone was all he needed. This plague-spot of civilization ought to be abolished with all possible speed. Heroism by order, senseless violence, and all the pestilent nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism — how I hate them! War seems to me a mean, contemptible thing: I would rather be hacked in pieces than take part in such an abominable business.
He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilisation should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science… The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery — even if mixed with fear — that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man. Variant translations: The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. It was the experience of mystery — even if mixed with fear — that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms — it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.
The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science. Anyone to whom this feeling is alien, who is no longer capable of wonderment and lives in a state of fear is a dead man. To know that what is impenetrable for us really exists and manifests itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, whose gross forms alone are intelligible to our poor faculties — this knowledge, this feeling … that is the core of the true religious sentiment. In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself among profoundly religious men.
As quoted in After Einstein : Proceedings of the Einstein Centennial Celebration (1981) by Peter Barker and Cecil G. Shugart, p. 179

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. As quoted in Introduction to Philosophy (1935) by George Thomas White Patrick and Frank Miller Chapman, p. 44

The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle.
He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.

I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the type of which we are conscious in ourselves. An individual who should survive his physical death is also beyond my comprehension, nor do I wish it otherwise; such notions are for the fears or absurd egoism of feeble souls. Variant translation: I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own — a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms. As quoted in his obituary in The New York Times (19 April 1955)

It is enough for me to contemplate the mystery of conscious life perpetuating itself through all eternity, to reflect upon the marvelous structure of the universe which we dimly perceive, and to try humbly to comprehend an infinitesimal part of the intelligence manifested in nature. As quoted in Introduction to Philosophy (1935) by George Thomas White Patrick and Frank Miller Chapman, p. 44

Variant translations:
I am satisfied with the mystery of life’s eternity and with a knowledge, a sense, of the marvelous structure of existence — as well as the humble attempt to understand even a tiny portion of the Reason that manifests itself in nature.
Enough for me the mystery of the eternity of life, and the inkling of the marvellous structure of reality, together with the single-hearted endeavor to comprehend a portion, be it never so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature.

Although I am a typical loner in daily life, my consciousness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice has preserved me from feeling isolated.

My Credo (1932)

Speech to the German League of Human Rights, Berlin (Autumn 1932); as published in Einstein: A Life in Science (1994) by Michael White and John Gribbin This repeats or revises some statements and ideas of Mein Weltbild (1931). (Full text online) Our situation on this earth seems strange. Every one of us appears here involuntarily and uninvited for a short stay, without knowing the whys and the wherefore. In our daily lives we only feel that man is here for the sake of others, for those whom we love and for many other beings whose fate is connected with our own. I am often worried at the thought that my life is based to such a large extent on the work of my fellow human beings and I am aware of my great indebtedness to them.
I do not believe in freedom of the will. Schopenhauer’s words: “Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills” accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile me with the actions of others even if they are rather painful to me. This awareness of the lack of freedom of will preserves me from taking too seriously myself and my fellow men as acting and deciding individuals and from losing my temper.
My passion for social justice has often brought me into conflict with people, as did my aversion to any obligation and dependence I do not regard as absolutely necessary. I always have a high regard for the individual and have an insuperable distaste for violence and clubmanship.
All these motives made me into a passionate pacifist and anti-militarist. I am against any nationalism, even in the guise of mere patriotism. Privileges based on position and property have always seemed to me unjust and pernicious, as did any exaggerated personality cult.
I am an adherent of the ideal of democracy, although I well know the weaknesses of the democratic form of government. Social equality and economic protection of the individual appeared to me always as the important communal aims of the state.
Although I am a typical loner in daily life, my consciousness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice has preserved me from feeling isolated.
The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as all serious endeavor in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness.
In this sense I am religious. To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all that there is.

Obituary for Emmy Noether (1935)

Emmy Noether, letter to the Editor of The New York Times, published May 5, 1935 Full text online The efforts of most human-beings are consumed in the struggle for their daily bread, but most of those who are, either through fortune or some special gift, relieved of this struggle are largely absorbed in further improving their worldly lot. Beneath the effort directed toward the accumulation of worldly goods lies all too frequently the illusion that this is the most substantial and desirable end to be achieved; but there is, fortunately, a minority composed of those who recognize early in their lives that the most beautiful and satisfying experiences open to humankind are not derived from the outside, but are bound up with the development of the individual’s own feeling, thinking and acting. The genuine artists, investigators and thinkers have always been persons of this kind. However inconspicuously the life of these individuals runs its course, none the less the fruits of their endeavors are the most valuable contributions which one generation can make to its successors.
In the judgment of the most competent living mathematicians, Fräulein Noether was the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began.
Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas. One seeks the most general ideas of operation which will bring together in simple, logical and unified form the largest possible circle of formal relationships. In this effort toward logical beauty spiritual formulas are discovered necessary for the deeper penetration into the laws of nature.

Science and Religion (1941)
Science, Philosophy and Religion, A Symposium, published by the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion in Their Relation to the Democratic Way of Life, Inc., New York (1941); later published in Out of My Later Years (1950) Full text online

A religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt of the significance and loftiness of those superpersonal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of rational foundation. They exist with the same necessity and matter-of-factness as he himself. It would not be difficult to come to an agreement as to what we understand by science. Science is the century-old endeavor to bring together by means of systematic thought the perceptible phenomena of this world into as thoroughgoing an association as possible. To put it boldly, it is the attempt at the posterior reconstruction of existence by the process of conceptualization. But when asking myself what religion is I cannot think of the answer so easily. And even after finding an answer which may satisfy me at this particular moment, I still remain convinced that I can never under any circumstances bring together, even to a slight extent, the thoughts of all those who have given this question serious consideration.
A person who is religiously enlightened appears to me to be one who has, to the best of his ability, liberated himself from the fetters of his selfish desires and is preoccupied with thoughts, feelings, and aspirations to which he clings because of their superpersonal value. It seems to me that what is important is the force of this superpersonal content and the depth of the conviction concerning its overpowering meaningfulness, regardless of whether any attempt is made to unite this content with a divine Being, for otherwise it would not be possible to count Buddha and Spinoza as religious personalities. Accordingly, a religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt of the significance and loftiness of those superpersonal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of rational foundation. They exist with the same necessity and matter-of-factness as he himself. In this sense religion is the age-old endeavor of mankind to become clearly and completely conscious of these values and goals and constantly to strengthen and extend their effect. If one conceives of religion and science according to these definitions then a conflict between them appears impossible. For science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of its domain value judgments of all kinds remain necessary.
A conflict arises when a religious community insists on the absolute truthfulness of all statements recorded in the Bible. This means an intervention on the part of religion into the sphere of science; this is where the struggle of the Church against the doctrines of Galileo and Darwin belongs. On the other hand, representatives of science have often made an attempt to arrive at fundamental judgments with respect to values and ends on the basis of scientific method, and in this way have set themselves in opposition to religion. These conflicts have all sprung from fatal errors.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. Even though the realms of religion and science in themselves are clearly marked off from each other, nevertheless there exist between the two strong reciprocal relationships and dependencies. Though religion may be that which determines the goal, it has, nevertheless, learned from science, in the broadest sense, what means will contribute to the attainment of the goals it has set up. But science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion. To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason. I cannot conceive of a genuine scientist without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
Though I have asserted above that in truth a legitimate conflict between religion and science cannot exist, I must nevertheless qualify this assertion once again on an essential point, with reference to the actual content of historical religions. This qualification has to do with the concept of God. During the youthful period of mankind’s spiritual evolution human fantasy created gods in man’s own image, who, by the operations of their will were supposed to determine, or at any rate to influence, the phenomenal world. Man sought to alter the disposition of these gods in his own favor by means of magic and prayer. The idea of God in the religions taught at present is a sublimation of that old concept of the gods. Its anthropomorphic character is shown, for instance, by the fact that men appeal to the Divine Being in prayers and plead for the fulfillment of their wishes.

A doctrine which is able to maintain itself not in clear light but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress. Nobody, certainly, will deny that the idea of the existence of an omnipotent, just, and omnibeneficent personal God is able to accord man solace, help, and guidance; also, by virtue of its simplicity it is accessible to the most undeveloped mind. But, on the other hand, there are decisive weaknesses attached to this idea in itself, which have been painfully felt since the beginning of history. That is, if this being is omnipotent, then every occurrence, including every human action, every human thought, and every human feeling and aspiration is also His work; how is it possible to think of holding men responsible for their deeds and thoughts before such an almighty Being? In giving out punishment and rewards He would to a certain extent be passing judgment on Himself. How can this be combined with the goodness and righteousness ascribed to Him?
The main source of the present-day conflicts between the spheres of religion and of science lies in this concept of a personal God.

Science not only purifies the religious impulse of the dross of its anthropomorphism but also contributes to a religious spiritualization of our understanding of life. When the number of factors coming into play in a phenomenological complex is too large, scientific method in most cases fails us. One need only think of the weather, in which case prediction even for a few days ahead is impossible. Nevertheless no one doubts that we are confronted with a causal connection whose causal components are in the main known to us.
Occurrences in this domain are beyond the reach of exact prediction because of the variety of factors in operation, not because of any lack of order in nature.
The more a man is imbued with the ordered regularity of all events the firmer becomes his conviction that there is no room left by the side of this ordered regularity for causes of a different nature. For him neither the rule of human nor the rule of divine will exists as an independent cause of natural events. To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering with natural events could never be refuted, in the real sense, by science, for this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been able to set foot.
But I am persuaded that such behavior on the part of the representatives of religion would not only be unworthy but also fatal. For a doctrine which is able to maintain itself not in clear light but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress. In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests. In their labors they will have to avail themselves of those forces which are capable of cultivating the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in humanity itself. This is, to be sure, a more difficult but an incomparably more worthy task.
Science not only purifies the religious impulse of the dross of its anthropomorphism but also contributes to a religious spiritualization of our understanding of life.
The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.

Today we must abandon competition and secure cooperation. This must be the central fact in all our considerations of international affairs; otherwise we face certain disaster.

Only Then Shall We Find Courage (1946)

New York Times Magazine (23 June 1946) Many persons have inquired concerning a recent message of mine that “a new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels.”
Often in evolutionary processes a species must adapt to new conditions in order to survive. Today the atomic bomb has altered profoundly the nature of the world as we know it, and the human race consequently finds itself in a new habitat to which it must adapt its thinking.
In light of new knowledge…an eventual world state is not just desirable in the name of brotherhood, it is necessary for survival… Today we must abandon competition and secure cooperation. This must be the central fact in all our considerations of international affairs; otherwise we face certain disaster. Past thinking and methods did not prevent world wars. Future thinking must prevent wars.
As the issues are greater than men ever sought to realize before, the recriminations will be fiercer and pride more desperately hurt. It may help to recall that many recognized before the bomb ever fell that the time had already come when we must learn to live in One World.
The stakes are immense, the task colossal, the time is short. But we may hope — we must hope — that man’s own creation, man’s own genius, will not destroy him. Scholars, indeed all men, must move forward in the faith of that philosopher who held that there is no problem the human reason can propound which the human reason cannot reason out.

Religion and Science: Irreconcilable? (1948)

The Christian Register (June 1948); republished in Ideas and Opinions (1954) Full text online Does there truly exist an insuperable contradiction between religion and science? Can religion be superseded by science? The answers to these questions have, for centuries, given rise to considerable dispute and, indeed, bitter fighting. Yet, in my own mind there can be no doubt that in both cases a dispassionate consideration can only lead to a negative answer. What complicates the solution, however, is the fact that while most people readily agree on what is meant by “science,” they are likely to differ on the meaning of “religion.”

Religion is concerned with man’s attitude toward nature at large, with the establishing of ideals for the individual and communal life, and with mutual human relationship. Science, in the immediate, produces knowledge and, indirectly, means of action. It leads to methodical action if definite goals are set up in advance. For the function of setting up goals and passing statements of value transcends its domain. While it is true that science, to the extent of its grasp of causative connections, may reach important conclusions as to the compatibility and incompatibility of goals and evaluations, the independent and fundamental definitions regarding goals and values remain beyond science’s reach.
As regards religion, on the other hand, one is generally agreed that it deals with goals and evaluations and, in general, with the emotional foundation of human thinking and acting, as far as these are not predetermined by the inalterable hereditary disposition of the human species. Religion is concerned with man’s attitude toward nature at large, with the establishing of ideals for the individual and communal life, and with mutual human relationship. These ideals religion attempts to attain by exerting an educational influence on tradition and through the development and promulgation of certain easily accessible thoughts and narratives (epics and myths) which are apt to influence evaluation and action along the lines of the accepted ideals.
It is this mythical, or rather this symbolic, content of the religious traditions which is likely to come into conflict with science. This occurs whenever this religious stock of ideas contains dogmatically fixed statements on subjects which belong in the domain of science. Thus, it is of vital importance for the preservation of true religion that such conflicts be avoided when they arise from subjects which, in fact, are not really essential for the pursuance of the religious aims.
The moral attitudes of a people that is supported by religion need always aim at preserving and promoting the sanity and vitality of the community and its individuals, since otherwise this community is bound to perish. A people that were to honor falsehood, defamation, fraud, and murder would be unable, indeed, to subsist for very long.
The great moral teachers of humanity were, in a way, artistic geniuses in the art of living.
While religion prescribes brotherly love in the relations among the individuals and groups, the actual spectacle more resembles a battlefield than an orchestra. Everywhere, in economic as well as in political life, the guiding principle is one of ruthless striving for success at the expense of one’s fellow men. This competitive spirit prevails even in school and, destroying all feelings of human fraternity and cooperation, conceives of achievement not as derived from the love for productive and thoughtful work, but as springing from personal ambition and fear of rejection.
There are pessimists who hold that such a state of affairs is necessarily inherent in human nature; it is those who propound such views that are the enemies of true religion, for they imply thereby that religious teachings are Utopian ideals and unsuited to afford guidance in human affairs. The study of the social patterns in certain so-called primitive cultures, however, seems to have made it sufficiently evident that such a defeatist view is wholly unwarranted.
While it is true that scientific results are entirely independent from religious or moral considerations, those individuals to whom we owe the great creative achievements of science were all of them imbued with the truly religious conviction that this universe of ours is something perfect and susceptible to the rational striving for knowledge. If this conviction had not been a strongly emotional one and if those searching for knowledge had not been inspired by Spinoza’s Amor Dei Intellectualis, they would hardly have been capable of that untiring devotion which alone enables man to attain his greatest achievements.

The man who regards his own life and that of his fellow creatures as meaningless is not merely unfortunate but almost disqualified for life.

The World As I See It (1949)

For the title essay in this work see Mein Weltbild (1931) above.

The Meaning of Life

What is the meaning of human life, or of organic life altogether? To answer this question at all implies a religion. Is there any sense then, you ask, in putting it? I answer, the man who regards his own life and that of his fellow creatures as meaningless is not merely unfortunate but almost disqualified for life.

Good and Evil

The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained to liberation from the self.

Society and Personality

When we survey our lives and endeavors we soon observe that almost the whole of our actions and desires are bound up with the existence of other human beings. We see that our whole nature resembles that of the social animals. We eat food that others have grown, wear clothes that others have made, live in houses that others have built. The greater part of our knowledge and beliefs has been communicated to us by other people through the medium of a language which others have created. Without language our mental capacities would be poor indeed, comparable to those of the higher animals; we have, therefore, to admit that we owe our principal advantage over the beasts to the fact of living in human society. The individual, if left alone from birth would remain primitive and beast-like in his thoughts and feelings to a degree that we can hardly conceive. The individual is what he is and has the significance that he has not so much in virtue of his individuality, but rather as a member of a great human society, which directs his material and spiritual existence from the cradle to the grave.

The example of great and pure characters is the only thing that can produce fine ideas and noble deeds. A man’s value to the community depends primarily on how far his feelings, thoughts, and actions are directed towards promoting the good of his fellows. We call him good or bad according to how he stands in this matter. It looks at first sight as if our estimate of a man depended entirely on his social qualities.
And yet such an attitude would be wrong. It is clear that all the valuable things, material, spiritual, and moral, which we receive from society can be traced back through countless generations to certain creative individuals. The use of fire, the cultivation of edible plants, the steam engine — each was discovered by one man.
Only the individual can think, and thereby create new values for society — nay, even set up new moral standards to which the life of the community conforms. Without creative, independently thinking and judging personalities the upward development of society is as unthinkable as the development of the individual personality without the nourishing soil of the community.
The health of society thus depends quite as much on the independence of the individuals composing it as on their close political cohesion.

Of Wealth

I am absolutely convinced that no wealth in the world can help humanity forward, even in the hands of the most devoted worker in this cause. The example of great and pure characters is the only thing that can produce fine ideas and noble deeds. Money only appeals to selfishness and always tempts its owners irresistibly to abuse it.
Can anyone imagine Moses, Jesus, or Gandhi armed with the money-bags of Carnegie?

Religion in Science

You will hardly find one among the profounder sort of scientific minds without a peculiar religious feeling of his own. But it is different from the religion of the naive man. For the latter God is a being from whose care one hopes to benefit and whose punishment one fears; a sublimation of a feeling similar to that of a child for its father, a being to whom one stands to some extent in a personal relation, however deeply it may be tinged with awe. But the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. The future, to him, is every whit as necessary and determined as the past. There is nothing divine about morality, it is a purely human affair. His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection. This feeling is the guiding principle of his life and work, in so far as he succeeds in keeping himself from the shackles of selfish desire. It is beyond question closely akin to that which has possessed the religious geniuses of all ages.

Greeting to G. Bernard Shaw

There are few enough people with sufficient independence to see the weaknesses and follies of their contemporaries and remain themselves untouched by them. And these isolated few usually soon lose their zeal for putting things to rights when they have come face to face with human obduracy. Only to a tiny minority is it given to fascinate their generation by subtle humour and grace and to hold the mirror up to it by the impersonal agency of art. To-day I salute with sincere emotion the supreme master of this method, who has delighted — and educated — us all.

Some Notes on my American Impressions

first published as “My First Impression of the U.S.A.” (1921)

The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law… The cult of individual personalities is always, in my view, unjustified. To be sure, nature distributes her gifts variously among her children. But there are plenty of the well-endowed ones too, thank God, and I am firmly convinced that most of them live quiet, unregarded lives. It strikes me as unfair, and even in bad taste, to select a few of them for boundless admiration, attributing superhuman powers of mind and character to them. This has been my fate, and the contrast between the popular estimate of my powers and achievements and the reality is simply grotesque. The consciousness of this extraordinary state of affairs would be unbearable but for one great consoling thought: it is a welcome symptom in an age which is commonly denounced as materialistic, that it makes heroes of men whose ambitions lie wholly in the intellectual and moral sphere. This proves that knowledge and justice are ranked above wealth and power by a large section of the human race. My experience teaches me that this idealistic outlook is particularly prevalent in America, which is usually decried as a particularly materialistic country.
The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in the United States is closely connected with this.
The United States is the most powerful technically advanced country in the world to-day. Its influence on the shaping of international relations is absolutely incalculable. But America is a large country and its people have so far not shown much interest in great international problems, among which the problem of disarmament occupies first place today. This must be changed, if only in the essential interests of the Americans. The last war has shown that there are no longer any barriers between the continents and that the destinies of all countries are closely interwoven. The people of this country must realize that they have a great responsibility in the sphere of international politics. The part of passive spectator is unworthy of this country and is bound in the end to lead to disaster all round.

If one purges the Judaism of the Prophets and Christianity as Jesus Christ taught it of all subsequent additions, especially those of the priests, one is left with a teaching which is capable of curing all the social ills of humanity.
Christianity and Judaism
If one purges the Judaism of the Prophets and Christianity as Jesus Christ taught it of all subsequent additions, especially those of the priests, one is left with a teaching which is capable of curing all the social ills of humanity.
It is the duty of every man of good will to strive steadfastly in his own little world to make this teaching of pure humanity a living force, so far as he can. If he makes an honest attempt in this direction without being crushed and trampled under foot by his contemporaries, he may consider himself and the community to which he belongs lucky.

Unconfirmed:

The following quotes have been cited as being from The World As I See It but are not in later abridged editions of the original 1949 book and thus these citations are not yet confirmed. May the conscience and the common sense of the peoples be awakened, so that we may reach a new stage in the life of nations, where people will look back on war as an incomprehensible aberration of their forefathers!
The state is made for man, not man for the state. And in this respect science resembles the state.

“Why Socialism?” (1949)

Monthly Review New York (May 1949) Modern anthropology has taught us, through comparative investigation of so-called primitive cultures, that the social behavior of human beings may differ greatly, depending upon prevailing cultural patterns and the types of organisation which predominate in society. It is on this that those who are striving to improve the lot of man may ground their hopes: human beings are not condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate.
The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist. The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. In so far as the labor contract is free what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists’ requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.
I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.
The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor — not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules.
I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralisation of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?
Clarity about the aims and problems of socialism is of greatest significance in our age of transition. Since, under present circumstances, free and unhindered discussion of these problems has come under a powerful taboo, I consider the foundation of this magazine to be an important public service. Referring to the Monthly Review, in which the essay was published.

On the Generalized Theory of Gravitation (1950)

Scientific American (April 1950) This is the reason why all attempts to obtain a deeper knowledge of the foundations of physics seem doomed to me unless the basic concepts are in accordance with general relativity from the beginning. This situation makes it difficult to use our empirical knowledge, however comprehensive, in looking for the fundamental concepts and relations of physics, and it forces us to apply free speculation to a much greater extent than is presently assumed by most physicists.
I do not see any reason to assume that the heuristic significance of the principle of general relativity is restricted to gravitation and that the rest of physics can be dealt with separately on the basis of special relativity, with the hope that later on the whole may be fitted consistently into a general relativistic scheme. I do not think that such an attitude, although historically understandable, can be objectively justified. The comparative smallness of what we know today as gravitational effects is not a conclusive reason for ignoring the principle of general relativity in theoretical investigations of a fundamental character. In other words, I do not believe that it is justifiable to ask: What would physics look like without gravitation?

Out of My Later Years (1950)

A collection of Einstein’s essays which cover a period of 1934 to 1950. Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.
For scientific endeavor is a natural whole the parts of which mutually support one another in a way which, to be sure, no one can anticipate. On scientific freedom and holism or holistic science, p. 12

The highest principles for our aspirations and judgments are given to us in the Jewish-Christian religious tradition. It is a very high goal which, with our weak powers, we can reach only very inadequately, but which gives a sure foundation to our aspirations and valuations. On religion and society, p. 27.

I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity. p.13

Everyone is aware of the difficult and menacing situation in which human society — shrunk into one community with a common fate — now finds itself, but only a few act accordingly. Most people go on living their every-day life: half frightened, half indifferent, they behold the ghostly tragi-comedy which is being performed on the international stage before the eyes and ears of the world. But on that stage, on which the actors under the floodlights play their ordained parts, our fate of tomorrow, life or death of the nations, is being decided. “The Menace of Mass Destruction” in Out of My Later Years (1950)

And certainly we should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no presonality. It cannot lead, it can only serve; and it is not fastidious in its choice of a leader. This characteristic is reflected in the qualities of its priests, the intellectuals. The intellect has a sharp eye for methods and tools, but is blind to ends and values. So it is no wonder that this fatal blindness is handed on from old to young and today involves a whole generation. wonder that this fatal blindness is handed on from old to young and today involves a whole generation. p. 260 Out of My Later Years – Revised reprint edition (1995)

Essay to Leo Baeck (1953)

Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods. Statements by Einstein from Essays Presented to Leo Baeck on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday (1954), p. 26; Baeck’s birthday was 23 May 1953; Einstein Archives 28-962, as quoted in The Ultimate Quotable Einstein (2005) edited by Alice Calaprice, p. 188 Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.
In order to be a perfect member of a flock of sheep, one has to be foremost, a sheep.
Hail to the man who went through life always helping others, knowing no fear, and to whom aggressiveness and resentment are alien. Such is the stuff of which the great moral leaders are made.
The attempt to combine wisdom and power has only rarely been successful, and then only for a short while.
Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions. Also in Ideas and Opinions (1954)

Albert Einstein: The Human Side (1954)

Politics is a pendulum whose swings between anarchy and tyranny are fueled by perpetually rejuvenated illusions.

The mystical trend of our time, which shows itself particularly in the rampant growth of the so-called Theosophy and Spiritualism, is for me no more than a symptom of weakness and confusion.

Nothing truly valuable arises from ambition or from a mere sense of duty; it stems rather from love and devotion towards men and towards objective things. Politics is a pendulum whose swings between anarchy and tyranny are fueled by perpetually rejuvenated illusions. p. 38

I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it. p. 39 – 17 July 1953 – unsent letter

The mystical trend of our time, which shows itself particularly in the rampant growth of the so-called Theosophy and Spiritualism, is for me no more than a symptom of weakness and confusion. Since our inner experiences consist of reproductions, and combinations of sensory impressions, the concept of a soul without a body seem to me to be empty and devoid of meaning. p. 40 – 5 Feb 1921

Nothing truly valuable arises from ambition or from a mere sense of duty; it stems rather from love and devotion towards men and towards objective things. p. 46 – 30 July 47 – letter

In my opinion, condemning the Zionist movement as “nationalistic” is unjustified. Consider the path by which Herzl came to his mission. Initially he had been completely cosmopolitan. But during the Dreyfus trial in Paris he suddenly realized with great clarity how precarious was the situation of the Jews in the western world. And courageously he drew the conclusion that we are discriminated against or murdered not because we are Germans, Frenchmen, Americans, etc. of the “Jewish faith” but simply because we are Jews. Thus already our precarious situation forces us to stand together irrespective of our citizenship.
Zionism gave the German Jews no great protection against annihilation. But it did give the survivors the inner strength to endure the debacle with dignity and without losing their healthy self respect. Keep in mind that perhaps a similar fate could be lying in wait for your children. pp. 63-64 – c. 1946

It seems hard to sneak a look at God’s cards. But that He plays dice and uses “telepathic” methods… is something that I cannot believe for a single moment. p. 68 – letter to Cornel Lanczos, 21 Mar 1942

Philosophy is like a mother who gave birth to and endowed all the other sciences. Therefore, one should not scorn her in her nakedness and poverty, but should hope, rather, that part of her Don Quixote ideal will live on in her children so that they do not sink into philistinism. p. 106 – 28 Sep 32

There has been an earth for a little more than a billion years. As for the question of the end of it I advise: Wait and see! p. 34 – 19 Jun 51

If the believers of the present-day religions would earnestly try to think and act in the spirit of the founders of these religions then no hostility on the basis of religion would exist among the followers of the different faiths. Even the conflicts and the realm of religion would be exposed as insignificant. p. 96 – 27 Jan 47 – statement to Christian conference

Albert Einstein: A guide for the perplexed (1979)

The most important tool of the theoretical physicist is his wastebasket. –Told by P. Morrison in “Albert Einstein: 14 March, 1879—18 April, 1955 A guide for the perplexed” by Kenneth Brecher, in Nature 278, 215-218 (15 March 1979). The article is described as “A brief collection of direct and indirect quotations by or about Albert Einstein.
Physics is essentially an intuitive and concrete science. Mathematics is only a means for expressing the laws that govern phenomena. — From Lettre à Maurice Solvine, by A. Einstein (Gauthier-Villars: Paris 1956). In Brecher, Ibid.
Who would have thought around 1900 that in fifty years time we would know so much more and understand so much less. — Albert Einstein and the Cosmic World Order, by C. Lanczos (Wiley, New York, 1956). In Brecher, Ibid.

Sidelights on Relativity (1983)

ISBN 048624511X How can it be that mathematics, being after all a product of human thought which is independent of experience, is so admirably appropriate to the objects of reality? Is human reason, then, without experience, merely by taking thought, able to fathom the properties of real things?
One reason why mathematics enjoys special esteem, above all other sciences, is that its laws are absolutely certain and indisputable, while those of other sciences are to some extent debatable and in constant danger of being overthrown by newly discovered facts.
As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.
I never commit to memory anything that can easily be looked up in a book.

Einstein’s God (1997)

Einstein’s God — Albert Einstein’s Quest as a Scientist and as a Jew to Replace a Forsaken God (1997) by Robert N. Goldman ISBN 1568219830 The bigotry of the nonbeliever is for me nearly as funny as the bigotry of the believer.

I have always believed that Jesus meant by the Kingdom of God the small group scattered all through time of intellectually and ethically valuable people. A man who is convinced of the truth of his religion is indeed never tolerant. At the least, he is to feel pity for the adherent of another religion but usually it does not stop there. The faithful adherent of a religion will try first of all to convince those that believe in another religion and usually he goes on to hatred if he is not successful. However, hatred then leads to persecution when the might of the majority is behind it.
In the case of a Christian clergyman, the tragic-comical is found in this: that the Christian religion demands love from the faithful, even love for the enemy. This demand, because it is indeed superhuman, he is unable to fulfill. Thus intolerance and hatred ring through the oily words of the clergyman. The love, which on the Christian side is the basis for the conciliatory attempt towards Judaism is the same as the love of a child for a cake. That means that it contains the hope that the object of the love will be eaten up… Letter to Rabbi Solomon Goldman of Chicago’s Anshe Emet Congregation

If I would follow your advice and Jesus could perceive it, he, as a Jewish teacher, surely would not approve of such behavior. Reply to a Roman Catholic student urging him to pray to Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and convert to Christianity.

The fact that man produces a concept “I” besides the totality of his mental and emotional experiences or perceptions does not prove that there must be any specific existence behind such a concept. We are succumbing to illusions produced by our self-created language, without reaching a better understanding of anything. Most of so-called philosophy is due to this kind of fallacy.
One has a feeling that one has a kind of home in this timeless community of human beings that strive for truth. … I have always believed that Jesus meant by the Kingdom of God the small group scattered all through time of intellectually and ethically valuable people.
To take those fools in clerical garb seriously is to show them too much honor. Comment on the Union of Orthodox Rabbis after expelling a rabbi because of his disbelief in God as a personal entity.

Einstein and Religion (1999)

Einstein and Religion: Physics and Theology (1999) by Max Jammer ISBN 069110297X when I was a fairly precocious young man, the nothingness of the hopes and strivings which chases most men restlessly through life came to my consciousness with considerable vitality. Moreover, I soon discovered the cruelty of that chase, which in those years was more carefully covered up by hypocrisy and glittering words than is the case today. By the mere existence of his stomach, everyone was condemned to participate in that chase. Moreover, it was possible to satisfy the stomach by such participation, but not man insofar as he is a thinking and feeling being. As the first way out, there was religion, which is implanted into every child by way of the traditional education machine. Thus I came—despite the fact that I was the son of entirely irreligious (Jewish) parents—to a deep religiosity. From Einstein’s “Autobiographical Notes” in Albert Einstein : Philosopher-Scientist (1949) edited by Paul A. Schilpp (p. 3).

Through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached the conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true. The consequence was a positively fanatic [orgy of] freethinking coupled with the impression that youth is intentionally being deceived by the state through lies; it was a crushing impression. Suspicion against every kind of authority grew out of this experience, a skeptical attitude towards the convictions which were alive in any specific social environment—an attitude which has never again left me, even though later on, because of a better insight into the causal connections, it lost some of its original poignancy. From Einstein’s “Autobiographical Notes” in Albert Einstein : Philosopher-Scientist (1949) edited by Paul A. Schilpp (p. 5).

It is quite clear to me that the religious paradise of youth, which was thus lost, was a first attempt to free myself from the chains of the “merely personal,” from an existence which is dominated by wishes, hopes, and primitive feelings. Out yonder there was this huge world, which exists independently of us human beings and which stands before us like a great, eternal riddle, at least partially accessible to our inspection and thinking. The contemplation of this world beckoned like a liberation, and I soon noticed that many a man whom I had learned to esteem and to admire had found inner freedom and security in devoted occupation with it. The mental grasp of this extrapersonal world within the frame of the given possibilites swam as [the] highest aim half consciously and half unconsciously before my mind’s eye. Similar motivated men of the present and of the past, as well as the insights which they had achieved, were the friends which could not be lost. The road to this paradise was not as comfortable and alluring as the road to the religious paradise; but it has proved itself as trustworthy, and I have never regretted having chosen it. From Einstein’s “Autobiographical Notes” in Albert Einstein : Philosopher-Scientist (1949) edited by Paul A. Schilpp (p. 5).

We followers of Spinoza see our God in the wonderful order and lawfulness of all that exists and in its soul (“Beseeltheit”) as it reveals itself in man and animal. It is a different question whether belief in a personal God should be contested. Freud endorsed this view in his latest publication. I myself would never engage in such a task. For such a belief seems to me preferable to the lack of any transcendental outlook of life, and I wonder whether one can ever successfully render to the majority of mankind a more sublime means in order to satisfy its metaphysical needs. From a letter to Eduard Büsching (25 October 1929) after Büsching sent Einstein a copy of his book Es gibt keinen Gott [There Is no God]. Einstein responded that the book only dealt with the concept of a personal God.

Speaking of the spirit that informs modern scientific investigations, I am of the opinion that all the finer speculations in the realm of science spring from a deep religious feeling, and that without such a feeling they would not be fruitful. I also believe that, this kind of religiousness, which makes itself felt today in scientific investigations, is the only creative religious activity of our time. The art of today can hardly be looked upon at all as expressive of our religious instincts. From a 1930 interview with J. Murphy and J. W. N. Sullivan.

Scientific research is based on the assumption that all events, including the actions of mankind, are determined by the laws of nature. Therefore, a research scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by a prayer, that is, by a wish addressed to a supernatural Being. However, we have to admit that our actual knowledge of these laws is only an incomplete piece of work (unvollkommenes Stückwerk), so that ultimately the belief in the existence of fundamental all-embracing laws also rests on a sort of faith. All the same, this faith has been largely justified by the success of science. On the other hand, however, every one who is seriously engaged in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that the laws of nature manifest the existence of a spirit vastly superior to that of men, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. The pursuit of science leads therefore to a religious feeling of a special kind, which differs essentially from the religiosity of more naive people. 24 January 1936 letter in response to a sixth-grader (Phyllis Wright) asking whether scientists pray, and if so, what they pray for

I was barked at by numerous dogs who are earning their food guarding ignorance and superstition for the benefit of those who profit from it. Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is of the same kind as the intolerance of the religious fanatics and comes from the same source. They are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who—in their grudge against the traditional “opium for the people”—cannot bear the music of the spheres. The Wonder of nature does not become smaller because one cannot measure it by the standards of human moral and human aims. From a 7 August 1941 letter discussing responses to his essay “Science and Religion” (1941)

I have found no better expression than “religious” for confidence in the rational nature of reality as it is accessible to human reason. Wherever this feeling is absent, science degenerates into uninspired empiricism. … I cannot accept your opinion concerning science and ethics or the determination of aims. What we call science has the sole purpose of determining what is. The determining of what ought to be is unrelated to it and cannot be accomplished methodically. Science can only arrange ethical propositions logically and furnish the means for the realization of ethical aims, but the determination of aims is beyond its scope. At least that is the way I see it. From a letter to his friend Maurice Solovine, 1 January 1951

The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive. However, I am also not a “Freethinker” in the usual sense of the word because I find that this is in the main an attitude nourished exclusively by an opposition against naive superstition. My feeling is insofar religious as I am imbued with the consciousness of the insufficiency of the human mind to understand deeply the harmony of the Universe which we try to formulate as “laws of nature.” It is this consciousness and humility I miss in the Free-thinker mentality. From a letter to Beatrice F. in response to a question about whether he was a “free thinker”, 17 December 1952

About God, I cannot accept any concept based on the authority of the Church. As long as I can remember, I have resented mass indoctrination. I do not believe in the fear of life, in the fear of death, in blind faith. I cannot prove to you that there is no personal God, but if I were to speak of him, I would be a liar. I do not believe in the God of theology who rewards good and punishes evil. My God created laws that take care of that. His universe is not ruled by wishful thinking, but by immutable laws. From an interview with William Hermanns in the summer of 1954

I want to know how God created this world. I’m not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details. E. Salaman, “A Talk with Einstein,” The Listener 54 (1955): 370-371

It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropomorphic concept which I cannot take seriously. I feel also not able to imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere. My views are near to those of Spinoza: admiration for the beauty of and belief in the logical simplicity of the order and harmony which we can grasp humbly and only imperfectly. I believe that we have to content ourselves with our imperfect knowledge and understanding and treat values and moral obligations as a purely human problem—the most important of all human problems. From a letter to Murray W. Gross, 26 April 1947

Disputed

It is high time the ideal of success should be replaced with the ideal of service … Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile. With no known citation to an Einstein work, this statement appears in this form in the Bulletin of the National Association of Secondary-School Principals, Vol. 45, (1961); variant: “Only a life in the service of others is worth living”. The second part of the quote appears in A Treasury of Jewish Quotations by Joseph L. Baron (1977), p. 7, where it is attributed to “Youth, June 1932,” but it isn’t clear what source this is referring to.

It’s become appallingly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity. As quoted in Voices of Truth : Conversations with Scientists, Thinkers, and Healers (2000) by Nina L. Diamond, p. 429; no publication of this statement has been located prior to it’s use in the film Powder (1995) written by Victor Salva, where it is presented as a quote of Einstein.

The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. As quoted in How to Think like Einstein : Simple Ways to Break the Rules and Discover Your Hidden Genius (2000); in the earliest occurence of this yet located, in The Art of the Shmooze (1998) by Bret Saxon and Steve Stein, p. 156, it is implied to be something said by Conan O’Brien, but no definite citation is provided.

Misattributed

Contempt prior to investigation is what enslaves a mind to Ignorance. This or similiar statements are more often misattributed to Herbert Spencer, but the source of the phrase “contempt prior to investigation” seems to have been William Paley, in A View of the Evidences of Christianity (1794): The infidelity of the gentile world, and that more especially of men of rank and learning in it, is resolved into a principle which, in my judgement, will account for the inefficacy of any argument, or any evidence whatever, viz. contempt prior to examination.

Being a lover of freedom, when the revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but, no, the universities immediately were silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks. Then I looked to individual writers who, as literary guides of Germany, had written much and often concerning the place of freedom in modern life; but they, too, were mute.

Only the church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly.
Attributed in “The Conflict Between Church And State In The Third Reich”, by S. Parkes Cadman, La Crosse Tribune and Leader-Press (28 October 1934)[3]. The quote is preceded by “In this connection it is worth quoting in free translation a statement made by Professor Einstein last year to one of my colleagues who has been prominently identified with the Protestant church in its contacts with Germany.” [Emphasis added.] While based on something that Einstein said, Einstein himself stated that the quote was not an accurate record of his words or opinion. After the quote appeared in Time magazine, (23 December 1940), p. 38, a minister in Harbor Springs, Michigan wrote to Einstein to check if the quote was real. Eintein wrote back “It is true that I made a statement which corresponds approximately with the text you quoted. I made this statement during the first years of the Nazi-Regime — much earlier than 1940 — and my expressions were a little more moderate.” (March 1943) [4]
In a later letter to Rev. Cornelius Greenway of Brooklyn, who asked if Einstein would write out the statement in his own hand, Einstein was more vehement in his repudiation of the statement (14 November 1950) [5]:

The wording of the statement you have quoted is not my own. Shortly after Hitler came to power in Germany I had an oral conversation with a newspaper man about these matters. Since then my remarks have been elaborated and exaggerated nearly beyond recognition. I cannot in good conscience write down the statement you sent me as my own.

The matter is all the more embarrassing to me because I, like yourself, I am predominantly critical concerning the activities, and especially the political activities, through history of the official clergy. Thus, my former statement, even if reduced to my actual words (which I do not remember in detail) gives a wrong impression of my general attitude.

In his original statement Einstein was probably referring to the actions of the Emergency Covenant of Pastors organized by Martin Niemöller, and the Confessing Church which he and other prominent churchmen such as Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer established in opposition to Nazi policies. Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion for the future: It transcends a personal God, avoids dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural and the spiritual, and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity. Variant: The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism.
These two statements are very similar, widely quoted, and seem to paraphrase some ideas in the essay “Religion and Science”, but neither has been properly sourced. Notable Einstein scholars such as John Stachel and Thomas J. McFarlane (author of Buddha and Einstein: The Parallel Sayings) know of this statement but have not found any source for it. Any information on any definite original sources for these is welcome.
This quote does not actually appear in “Albert Einstein: The Human Side” as is sometimes claimed.

Evil is the absence of God. This statement has been attributed to others before Einstein; its first attribution to Einstein appears to have been in an email story that began circulating in 2004. See the Urban Legends Reference Pages for more discussion.

Two things inspire me to awe: the starry heavens and the moral universe within. If Einstein said this, he was almost certainly quoting philosopher Immanuel Kant (from the conclusion to the Critique of Pure Reason (1788).

The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education. This is similar to a quote attributed to Mark Twain: “I never let my schooling get in the way of my education”.

You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother. variant: If you can’t explain something to a six-year-old, you really don’t understand it yourself.
Frequently attributed to Richard Feynman
Probably based on a similar quote about explaining physics to a “barmaid” by Ernest Rutherford
P. 418 of Einstein: His Life and Times by Ronald W. Clark says that Louis de Broglie did attribute a similar statement to Einstein: To de Broglie, Einstein revealed an instinctive reason for his inability to accept the purely statistical interpretation of wave mechanics. It was a reason which linked him with Rutherford, who used to state that “it should be possible to explain the laws of physics to a barmaid.” Einstein, having a final discussion with de Broglie on the platform of the Gare du Nord in Paris, whence they had traveled from Brussels to attend the Fresnel centenary celebrations, said “that all physical theories, their mathematical expressions apart ought to lend themselves to so simple a description ‘that even a child could understand them.’ ”
Clark’s book does not give a reference for this specific statement by de Broglie, but it follows a quote by de Broglie in the previous paragraph which is attributed to de Broglie’s book New Perspectives in Physics, so this may come from the same source. Cf. this from Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Cat’s Cradle:

Dr. Hoenikker used to say that any scientist who couldn’t explain to an eight-year-old what he was doing was a charlatan. Die Astrologie ist eine Wissenschaft für sich. Aber eine wegweisende. Ich habe viel aus ihr gelernt und vielen Nutzen aus ihr ziehen können. Die physikalischen Erkenntnisse unterstreichen die Macht der Sterne über irdisches Geschick. Die Astrologie aber unterstreicht in gewissem Sinne wiederum die physikalischen Erkenntnisse. Deshalb ist sie eine Art Lebens-elixier für die Gesellschaft!
English: Astrology is a science in itself and contains an illuminating body of knowledge. It taught me many things, and I am greatly indebted to it. Geophysical evidence reveals the power of the stars and the planets in relation to the terrestrial. In turn, astrology reinforces this power to some extent. This is why astrology is like a life-giving elixir to mankind. German quote attributed to Einstein in Huters astrologischer Kalender 1960 [A]
Translated by Tad Mann, unidentified 1987 work
Contradicted by Denis Hamel, The End of the Einstein-Astrology-Supporter Hoax, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 31, No. 6 (Nov-Dec 2007), pp. 39-43
Alice Calaprice, The Expanded Quotable Einstein: “Attributed to Einstein […] An excellent example of a quotation someone made up and attributed to Einstein in order to lend an idea credibility.”

If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination … no more men! A variant – “Professor Einstein, the learned scientist, once calculated that if all bees disappeared off the earth, four years later all humans would also have disappeared” – appears in The Irish Beekeeper, v.19-20, 1965-66, p74, citing Abeilles et Fleurs (Bees and Flowers, the house magazine of Union Nationale de l’Apiculture Française) for June 1965. Snopes.com mentions its use in a beekeepers’ protest in 1994 in Europe [6] suggesting invention and attribution to Einstein for political reasons.

The most fundamental question we can ever ask ourselves is whether or not the universe we live in is friendly or hostile. This has been quoted in a relatively few places on the internet, but seems to have no earlier source than an obscure web essay “Reinventing Failure: Designing Success” by Harald Anderson, where the statement seems to have been a loose summation of Einstein’s ideas rather than a quote: “Albert Einstein once commented that the most fundamental question we can ever ask ourselves is whether or not the universe we live in is friendly or hostile. He hypothesized that your answer to that question would determine your destiny.
Quoted in Morris Berman: Coming to Our Senses (1989) pp. 41

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Variously misattributed to figures also including Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain. The earliest known occurrence, and probable origin, cites to Rita Mae Brown.

The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it. As quoted in Breakthrough : Israel in a Changing World (1996) by Gad Yaacobi, p. 98
Variant: The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. As quoted in Conscious Courage : Turning Everyday Challenges Into Opportunities (2004) by Maureen Stearns, p. 99

Though widely attributed in these forms, they are apparently paraphrased from the quote in Conversations with Casals (1957) listed above.

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. From William Bruce Cameron’s Informal Sociology: A Casual Introduction to Sociological Thinking (1963), p. 13. The comment is part of a longer paragraph and does not appear in quotations in Cameron’s book, and other sources such as The Student’s Companion to Sociology (p. 92) attribute the quote to Cameron. A number of recent books claim that Einstein had a sign with these words in his office in Princeton, but until a reliable historical source can be found to support this, skepticism is warranted. The earliest source on google books that mentions the quote in association with Einstein and Princeton is Charles A. Garfield’s 1986 book Peak Performers: The New Heroes of American Business, in which he wrote on p. 156: Albert Einstein liked to underscore the micro/macro partnership with a remark from Sir George Pickering that he chalked on the blackboard in his office at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education. This was simply cited as an anonymous saying in the earliest publication which has been located: How to Give a Damn Good Speech: Even When You Have No Time to Prepare (2000) by Philip R. Theibert; the earliest attribution of this to Einstein yet located is in Miracles (2003) by W. Sumner Davis, p. 5, it has since become attributed to Einstein in several publications, but without citation of an original source.

If only I had known, I should have become a watch-maker. According to The Quote Verifier (2006) by Ralph Keyes, Einstein never said any such thing. Keyes notes that Einstein “did use similar words to make a very different point” when he wrote, in a 1954 letter to the editor at The Reporter magazine, “If I would be a young man again and had to decide how to make my living, I would not try to become a scientist or scholar or teacher. I would rather choose to be a plumber or a peddler in the hope to find that modest degree of independence still available under present circumstances.”

Quotes about Einstein

Arranged alphabetically by author I was particularly won over by his sweet disposition, by his general kindness, by his simplicity, and by his friendliness. Occasionally, gaiety would gain the upper hand and he would strike a more personal note and even disclose some detail of his day-to-day life. Then again, reverting to his characteristic mood of reflection and meditation, he would launch into a profound and original discussion of a variety of scientific and other problems. I shall always remember the enchantment of all those meetings, from which I carried away an indelible impression of Einstein’s great human qualities. Louis de Broglie, New Perspectives in Physics, p. 182

Like many other great scientists he does not fit the boxes in which popular polemicists like to pigeonhole him. … It is clear for example that he had respect for the religious values enshrined within Judaic and Christian traditions … but what he understood by religion was something far more subtle than what is usually meant by the word in popular discussion. John Brooke, as quoted in “Childish superstition: Einstein’s letter makes view of religion relatively clear” in The Guardian (13 May 2008)

Einstein was a giant. His head was in the clouds, but his feet were on the ground. Those of us who are not so tall have to choose! Richard Feynman, as quoted in Collective Electrodynamics : Quantum Foundations of Electromagnetism (2002) by Carver A. Mead, p. xix

Much later, when I was discussing cosmological problems with Einstein, he remarked that the introduction of the cosmological term was the biggest blunder he ever made in his life. George Gamow, in his autobiography My World Line: An Informal Autobiography (1970), p. 44. Here the “cosmological term” refers to the cosmological constant in the equations of general relativity, whose value Einstein initially picked to ensure that his model of the universe would neither expand nor contract; if he hadn’t done this he might have theoretically predicted the universal expansion that was first observed by Edwin Hubble.

I like quoting Einstein. Know why? Because nobody dares contradict you. Studs Terkel, as quoted in “Voice of America” in The Guardian (1 March 2002)

Einstein explained his theory to me every day, and on my arrival I was fully convinced that he understood it. Attributed to Chaim Weizmann, after a long trans-Atlantic journey; Simpson’s Contemporary Quotations (6822) credits Nigel Calder, Einstein’s Universe (1979); a slightly different version appears in David Bodanis, E=mc², which credits Carl Seelig, Albert Einstein: A Documentary Biography (1956), pp. 80–81

[H]is work revolved around three rules which apply to all science, our problems, and times: 1. Out of clutter, find simplicity; 2. From discord make harmony; and finally 3. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. John Archibald Wheeler, interviewed in Cosmic Search Vol. 1, No. 4 (1979). The three principles are sometimes attributed to Einstein himself, but no source can be found showing that Einstein stated them, and Wheeler didn’t indicate in the interview whether he was quoting something Einstein had told him or giving his own description of how Einstein worked.

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Author: Gordon S. Bowman III

Writer, Visual Artist, Blogger, Advocate

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