Quotations about   absurdity

Note that not all quotations have been tagged, so the Search function may find additional quotations on this topic.



But in my college days I discovered that nothing can be imagined which is too strange or incredible to have been said by some philosopher.

[Mais ayant appris dès le collège qu’on ne sauroit rien imaginer de si étrange et si peu croyable, qu’il n’ait été dit par quelqu’un des philosophes.]

René Descartes (1596-1650) French philosopher, mathematician
Discourse on Method [Discours de la méthode], Part 2 (1637) [tr. Cottingham, Stoothoff (1985)]
    (Source)


See Cicero. (Source (French)). Alternate translations:

For having learnt from the very School, That one can imagin nothing so strange or incredible, which had not been said by some one of the Philosophers.
[tr. Newcombe ed. (1649)]

But I had become aware, even so early as during my college life, that no opinion, however absurd and incredible, can be imagined, which has not been maintained by some on of the philosophers.
[tr. Veitch (1901)]

But I had been taught, even in my College days, that there is nothing imaginable so strange or so little credible that it has not been maintained by one philosopher or another.
[tr. Haldane, Ross (1911)]

One cannot conceive anything so strange and so implausible that it has not already been said by one philosopher or another.

 
Added on 30-Dec-21 | Last updated 4-Jun-22
Link to this post | 1 comment
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Descartes, René

Science is in far greater danger from the absence of challenge than from the coming of any number of even absurd challenges.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
“The Role of the Heretic,” Foreword to Donald W. Goldsmith (ed.), Scientists Confront Velikovsky (1977)
    (Source)
 
Added on 3-Nov-21 | Last updated 3-Nov-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Asimov, Isaac

I’m filled with a desire for clarity and meaning within a world and condition that offers neither.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
The Myth of Sisyphus” (1942)
 
Added on 7-Jan-21 | Last updated 7-Jan-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Camus, Albert

Always struck by the “comical” aspect of everything in Algeria connected with death. I find nothing more justified. Impossible to exaggerate the ridiculous quality of an event that is normally accompanied by sweat and gurgling. Similarly, it could not be too far demoted from the sacred status normally attributed to it. Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear. And from this point of view, death is no more worthy of respect than Nero or the inspector at my local police station.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
Notebooks: 1935-1942, Notebook 3, Nov 1939 [tr. Thody (1963)]
    (Source)
 
Added on 31-May-19 | Last updated 16-May-22
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Camus, Albert

The most absurd customs and the most ridiculous ceremonies are everywhere excused by an appeal to the phrase, but that’s the tradition. This is exactly what the Hottentots say when Europeans ask them why they eat grasshoppers and devour their body lice. That’s the tradition, they explain.

Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
Maxims and Thoughts, ch. 3, #249 (1796)
    (Source)
 
Added on 14-Aug-17 | Last updated 14-Aug-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Chamfort, Nicolas

That which seems the height of absurdity in one generation often becomes the height of wisdom in the next.

mill-height-of-absurdity-wisdom-wist_info-quote

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher and economist
(Attributed)
    (Source)


Often cited from a quote in Adlai Stevenson, Call to Greatness (1954), but appears earlier in, e.g., National Magazine (Nov 1911). Unverified in Mills' writings.
 
Added on 15-Dec-16 | Last updated 15-Dec-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Mill, John Stuart

If you can’t joke about the most horrendous things in the world, what’s the point of jokes? What’s the point in having humor? Humor is to get us over terrible things. That’s all it’s for. That’s why you should laugh at funerals. Of course it’s the wrong thing to say. That’s why it’s funny.

Gervais - humor terrible things - wist_info quote

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Interview with Chris Heath, GQ (15 May 2013)
    (Source)
 
Added on 7-Jul-16 | Last updated 7-Jul-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Gervais, Ricky

Scientists have calculated that the chances of something so patently absurd actually existing are millions to one. But magicians have calculated that million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Mort (1987)
 
Added on 19-Aug-15 | Last updated 19-Aug-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Pratchett, Terry

Every absurdity has now a champion to defend it: and as he is generally much in the wrong, so he has always much to say; for error is ever talkative.

Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774) Irish poet, playwright, novelist
The Traveller: Or, A Prospect of Society (1764)
 
Added on 7-Aug-14 | Last updated 7-Aug-14
Link to this post | 1 comment
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Goldsmith, Oliver

A sense of humor keen enough to show a man his own absurdities will keep him from the commission of all sins, or nearly all, save those that are worth committing.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler, ch. 1, “Life” (1912)
 
Added on 31-Jul-14 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Butler, Samuel

The religion of one seems madnesse unto another.

Thomas Browne (1605-1682) English physician and author
Hydriotaphia, or Urne-Buriall, ch. 4 (1658)
    (Source)
 
Added on 7-Mar-14 | Last updated 4-Aug-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Browne, Thomas

Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #135 (2 Jul 1751)
    (Source)
 
Added on 1-Feb-13 | Last updated 26-Jun-22
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Johnson, Samuel

Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder is the sport of every wind. With such persons gullability which they call faith takes the helm from the hand of reason and the mind becomes a wreck.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to James Smith (8 Dec 1822)
    (Source)
 
Added on 13-Jun-11 | Last updated 13-Jul-22
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Jefferson, Thomas

There is no absurdity, however palpable, which cannot be firmly implanted in the minds of all, if only one begins to inculcate it before the early age of six by constantly repeating it to them with an air of great solemnity.

[Es giebt keine Absurdität , die so handgreiflich wäre , daß man sie nicht allen Menden fest in den Kopf regen könnte, wenn man nur schon vor ihrem sechsten Jahre anfienge, sie ihnen einzuprägen, indem manunabläffig und mit feierlichstem Ernst sie ihnen vorsagte.]

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Parerga and Paralipomena, Vol. 2, ch. 26 “Psychological Observations [Psychologische Bemerkungen],” § 344 (1851) [tr. Payne (1974)]
    (Source)


(Source (German)). Alternate translations:

There is no absurdity so palpable but that it may be firmly planted in the human head if you only begin to inculcate it before the age of five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity.
[tr. Saunders (1851)]

There is no absurdity, however palpable it may be, which may not be fixed in the minds of all men, if it is inculcated before they are six years old by continual and earnest repetition.
[tr. Dircks(1897)]
 
Added on 22-Feb-11 | Last updated 14-Sep-22
Link to this post | 1 comment
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Schopenhauer, Arthur

Formerly there were those who said: You believe things that are incomprehensible, inconsistent, impossible because we have commanded you to believe them; go then and do what is unjust because we command it. Such people show admirable reasoning. Truly, whoever is able to make you absurd is able to make you unjust. If the God-given understanding of your mind does not resist a demand to believe what is impossible, then you will not resist a demand to do wrong to that God-given sense of justice in your heart. As soon as one faculty of your soul has been dominated, other faculties will follow as well. And from this derives all those crimes of religion which have overrun the world.

[Il y a eu des gens qui ont dit autrefois: Vous croyez des choses incompréhensibles, contradictoires, impossibles, parce que nous vous l’avons ordonné; faites donc des choses injustes parce que nous vous l’ordonnons. Ces gens-là raisonnaient à merveille. Certainement qui est en droit de vous rendre absurde est en droit de vous rendre injuste. Si vous n’opposez point aux ordres de croire l’impossible l’intelligence que Dieu a mise dans votre esprit, vous ne devez point opposer aux ordres de malfaire la justice que Dieu a mise dans votre coeur. Une faculté de votre âme étant une fois tyrannisée, toutes les autres facultés doivent l’être également. Et c’est là ce qui a produit tous les crimes religieux dont la terre a été inondée.]

Voltaire (1694-1778) French writer [pseud. of Francois-Marie Arouet]
Questions sur les miracles (1765)
    (Source)


Commonly translated: "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."
 
Added on 11-Jun-08 | Last updated 19-Dec-19
Link to this post | 2 comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Voltaire

Somehow or other no statement is too absurd for some philosophers to make.

[Sed nescio quo modo nihil tam absurde dici potest quod non dicatur ab aliquo philosophorum.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Divinatione [On Divination], Book 2, ch. 58 (2.58) / sec. 119 (45 BC) [tr. Falconer (1923)]
    (Source)


See also Descartes and Russell. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:
  • "In short, somehow or other, I know nothing is so absurd as not to have found an advocate in one of the philosophers." [tr. Yonge (1853)]
  • "There is nothing so absurd but some philosopher has said it." [Most common English translation, e.g.]
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
Link to this post | 1 comment
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Cicero, Marcus Tullius